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Hawaii Studies on Korea

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Hawaii Studies on Korea

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Crisis in North Korea

by Andrei Lankov

North Korea remains the most mysterious of all Communist countries. The acute shortage of available sources has made it a difficult subject of scholarship. Through his access to Soviet archival material made available only a decade ago, contemporary North Korean press accounts, and personal interviews, Andrei Lankov presents for the first time a detailed look at one of the turning points in North Korean history: the country’s unsuccessful attempts to de-Stalinize in the mid-1950s. He demonstrates that, contrary to common perception, North Korea was not a realm of undisturbed Stalinism; Kim Il Sung had to deal with a reformist opposition that was weak but present nevertheless. Lankov traces the impact of Soviet reforms on North Korea, placing them in the context of contemporaneous political crises in Poland and Hungary. He documents the dissent among various social groups (intellectuals, students, party cadres) and their attempts to oust Kim in the unsuccessful "August plot" of 1956. His reconstruction of the Peng-Mikoyan visit of that year—the most dramatic Sino-Soviet intervention into Pyongyang politics—shows how it helped bring an end to purges of the opposition. The purges, however, resumed in less than a year as Kim skillfully began to distance himself from both Moscow and Beijing. The final chapters of this fascinating and revealing study deal with events of the late 1950s that eventually led to Kim’s version of "national Stalinism." Lankov unearths data that, for the first time, allows us to estimate the scale and character of North Korea’s Great Purge.

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Eastern Learning and the Heavenly Way

The Tonghak and Chondogyo Movements and the Twilight of Korean Independence

Carl Young

Tonghak, or Eastern Learning, was the first major new religion in modern Korean history. Founded in 1860, it combined aspects of a variety of Korean religious traditions. Because of its appeal to the poor and marginalized, it became best known for its prominent role in the largest peasant rebellion in Korean history in 1894, which set the stage for a wider regional conflict, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895. Although the rebellion failed, it caused immense changes in Korean society and played a part in the war that ended in Japan's victory and its eventual rise as an imperial power. It was in this context of social change and an increasingly perilous international situation that Tonghak rebuilt itself, emerging as Ch’ŏndogyo (Teaching of the Heavenly Way) in 1906. During the years before Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910, Ch’ŏndogyo continued to evolve by engaging with new currents in social and political thought, strengthening its institutions, and using new communication technologies to spread its religious and political message. The story of Tonghak and Ch’ŏndogyo is an example of how new religions interact with their surrounding societies and how they consolidate and institutionalize themselves as they become more established.

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Education Fever

Michael J. Seth

In the half century after 1945, South Korea went from an impoverished, largely rural nation ruled by a succession of authoritarian regimes to a prosperous, democratic industrial society. No less impressive was the country's transformation from a nation where a majority of the population had no formal education to one with some of the world's highest rates of literacy, high school graduates, and university students. Drawing on their premodern and colonial heritages as well as American education concepts, South Koreans have been largely successful in creating a schooling system that is comprehensive, uniform in standard, and universal. The key to understanding this educational transformation is South Korean society's striking, nearly universal preoccupation with schooling-what Korean's themselves call their "education fever."

This volume explains how Koreans' concern for achieving as much formal education as possible appeared immediately before 1945 and quickly embraced every sector of society. Through interviews with teachers, officials, parents, and students and an examination of a wide range of written materials in both Korean and English, Michael Seth explores the reasons for this social demand for education and how it has shaped nearly every aspect of South Korean society. He also looks at the many problems of the Korean educational system: the focus on entrance examinations, which has tended to reduce education to test preparation; the overheated competition to enter prestige schools; the enormous financial burden placed on families for costly private tutoring; the inflexibility created by an emphasis on uniformity of standards; and the misuse of education by successive governments for political purposes.

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Koreo-Japonica

A Re-evaluation of a Common Genetic Origin

Alexander Vovin

The Japonic (Japanese and Ryukyuan) portmanteau language family and the Korean language have long been considered isolates on the fringe of northeast Asia. Although in the last fifty years many specialists in Japonic and Korean historical linguistics have voiced their support for a genetic relationship between the two, this concept has not been endorsed by general historical linguists and no significant attempts have been made to advance beyond the status quo. Alexander Vovin, a longtime advocate of the genetic relationship view, engaged in a reanalysis of the known data in the hope of finding evidence in support of this position. In the process of his work, however, he became convinced that the multiple similarities between Japonic and Korean are the result of several centuries of contact and do not descend from a hypothetical common ancestor.

In Koreo-Japonica, Vovin carefully reviews recent advances in the reconstruction of both language families. His detailed analysis of most of the morphological and lexical comparisons offered so far shows that whenever the proposed comparisons are not due to pure chance, they can almost always be explained as borrowings from Korean into a central group of Japanese dialects from roughly between the third and eighth centuries A.D. The remaining group of lexical (but not morphological) comparisons that cannot be explained in this way is, he argues, too small to serve as proof of even a distant genetic relationship.

In this volume, a leading historical linguist presents a significant challenge to a view widely held by Japonic and Korean historical linguistics on the relationship between the two language families and offers material support for the skepticism long espoused by general historical linguists on the matter. His findings will both challenge and illuminate issues of interest to all linguists working with language contact and typology as well as those concerned with the prehistory and early history of East Asia.

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Laying Claim to the Memory of May

A Look Back at the 1980 Kwangju Uprising

by Linda S. Lewis

The Kwangju Uprising--"Korea's Tiananmen"--is one of the most important political events in late twentieth-century Korean history. What began as a peaceful demonstration against the imposition of military rule in the southwestern city of Kwangju in May 1980 turned into a bloody people's revolt. In the two decades since, memories of the Kwangju Uprising have lived on, assuming symbolic importance in the Korean democracy movement, underlying the rise in anti-American sentiment in South Korea, and shaping the nation's transition to a civil society. Nonetheless it remains a contested event, the subject still of controversy, confusion, international debate, and competing claims. As one of the few Western eyewitnesses to the Uprising, Linda Lewis is uniquely positioned to write about the event. In this innovative work on commemoration politics, social representation, and memory, Lewis draws on her fieldwork notes from May 1980, writings from the 1980s, and ethnographic research she conducted in the late 1990s on the memorialization of Kwangju and its relationship to changes in the national political culture. Throughout, the chronological organization of the text is crisscrossed with commentary that provocatively disrupts the narrative flow and engages the reader in the reflexive process of remembering Kwangju over two decades. Highly original in its method and approach, Laying Claim to the Memory of May situates this seminal event in a broad historical and scholarly context. The result is not only the definitive history of the Kwangju Uprising, but also a sweeping overview of Korean studies over the last few decades.

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Min Yong-hwan

A Political Biography

by Michael Finch

The diplomat and scholar-official Min Yông-hwan (1861-1905), described by one contemporary Western observer as "undoubtably the first Korean after the emperor," is best remembered in Korean historiography for his pioneering diplomacy at the courts of Tsar Nicholas II and Queen Victoria in the late 1890s. Furthermore, he is considered to be the foremost patriot of Korea's Taehan era (1897-1907). This pioneering study of Min Yông-hwan is long overdue and provides us with a new perspective on a period of Korean history that still casts its shadow over the region today. This new biography of Min contributes substantially to our understanding of this period by looking beyond the established view of Korea as being polarized between reformists and reactionaries in the late Choson era. In doing so, it provides us with deeper insight into the full range of responses of the late Choson leadership to the dual challenges of internal stagnation and external intervention at the juncture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in the recent history of Korea, late nineteenth century imperialism, and Russian, Japanese, American, and British foreign policy in northeast Asia.

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Non-Traditional Security Issues in North Korea

Edited by Kyung-Ae Park

The concept of security has undergone significant change in the past few decades. Traditionally thought of in terms of the state-centric, militarily focused, realist discourse, the concept of security has been broadened to include a greater number of potential threats and an increased number of relevant actors. Yet, despite the great changes in security scholarship, the vast majority of studies on North Korea continue to focus primarily on the country’s nuclear weapons program, its military, and other traditional security issues surrounding Pyongyang. While North Korea captures headlines with its aggressive behavior and growing nuclear arsenal, the ground-level threats to average, everyday North Koreans go largely unnoticed. This groundbreaking volume seeks to refocus research on North Korean security from the traditional to largely unexplored non-traditional security (NTS) issues.

In the wake of political succession to Kim Jung Un, the issue of non-traditional security is increasingly important. From the lasting effects of the famine of the 1990s to continued food shortages and the growing marketization of North Korean society, the Pyongyang regime is facing diverse and unprecedented challenges. This book offers cutting-edge analyses of emerging North Korean NTS issues by the world’s leading specialists in the field. It looks at these issues and their effects at the local, regional, and international level, as well as examining the international community’s efforts to promote an NTS approach to North Korea. More specifically, the volume addresses the traditional and non-traditional security paradigms, energy security, gender security, transnational organized crime, the internal and external dimensions of North Korea’s food security, the “Responsibility to Protect,” refugee issues and international law, and the role of NGOs in promoting NTS in North Korea.

As the global community begins to move toward a more people-centered approach to security and foreign policy, work such as that presented in this thought-provoking volume will be increasingly vital to scholars, policymakers, and interested citizens.

Contributors: Tsuneo Akaha, Peter Hayes, Brendan Howe, W. Randall Ireson, David C. Kang, Shin-wha Lee, Mark Manyin, Kyung-Ae Park, Scott Snyder, Jae-Jung Suh, David von Hippel.

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Questioning Minds

Short Stories by Modern Korean Women Writers

translated and with an introduction by Yung-Hee Kim

Available for the first time in English, the ten short stories by modern Korean women collected here touch in one way or another on issues related to gender and kinship politics. All of the protagonists are women who face personal crises or defining moments in their lives as gender-marked beings in a Confucian, patriarchal Korean society. Their personal dreams and values have been compromised by gender expectations or their own illusions about female existence. They are compelled to ask themselves "Who am I?" "Where am I going?" "What are my choices?" Each story bears colorful and compelling testimony to the life of the heroine. Some of the stories celebrate the central character’s breakaway from the patriarchal order; others expose sexual inequality and highlight the struggle for personal autonomy and dignity. Still others reveal the abrupt awakening to mid-life crises and the seasoned wisdom that comes with accepting the limits of old age.

The stories are arranged in chronological order, from the earliest work by Korea’s first modern woman writer in 1917 to stories that appeared in 1995—approximately one from each decade. Most of the writers presented are recognized literary figures, but some are lesser-known voices. The introduction presents a historical overview of traditions of modern Korean women’s fiction, situating the selected writers and their stories in the larger context of Korean literature. Each story is accompanied by a biographical note on the author and a brief critical analysis. A selected bibliography is provided for further reading and research.

Questioning Minds marks a departure from existing translations of Korean literature in terms of its objectives, content, and format. As such it will contribute to the growth of Korean studies, increasing the availability of material for teaching Korean literature in English, and stimulate readership of its writers beyond the confines of the peninsula.

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Sitings

Critical Approaches to Korean Geography

edited by Timothy R. Tangherlini and Sallie Yea

Arranged around a set of provocative themes, the essays in this volume engage in the discussion from various critical perspectives on Korean geography. Part One, "Geographies of the (Colonial) City," focuses on Seoul during the Japanese colonial occupation from 1910–1945 and the lasting impact of that period on the construction of specific places in Seoul. In Part Two, "Geographies of the (Imagined) Village," the authors delve into the implications for the conceptions of the village of recent economic and industrial development. In this context, they examine both constructed space, such as the Korean Folk Village, and rural villages that were physically transformed through the processes of rapid modernization. The essays in "Geographies of Religion" (Part Three) reveal how religious sites are historically and environmentally contested as well as the high degree of mobility exhibited by sites themselves. Similarly, places that exist at the margins are powerful loci for the negotiation of identity and aspects of cultural ideology. The final section, "Geographies of the Margin," focuses on places that exist at the margins of Korean society.

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Voices from the Straw Mat

Toward an Ethnography of Korean Story Singing

Chan E. Park

From its humble "straw mat" origins to its paradoxical status as a national treasure, p'ansori has survived centuries of change and remains the primary source of Korean narrative and poetic consciousness. In this innovative work, Chan Park celebrates her subject not as a static phenomenon but a living, organic tradition adapting to an ever-shifting context. Drawing on her extensive literary and performance backgrounds, Park provides insights into the relationship between language and music, singing and speaking, and traditional and modern reception. Her "performance-centered" approach to p'ansori informs the discussion of a wide range of topics, including the amalgamation of the dramatic, the narrative, and the poetic; the invocation of traditional narrative in contemporary politics; the vocal construction of gender; and the politics of preservation.

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