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238Journal of Korean Studies It is surely not an easy task to take this further step in translation — to breathe the life of a distinct person into the words of a narrator or character — but the failure to make such an investment in most of the work published to date has resulted in many wasted pages and volumes that call themselves "literature" while actually being little more than boring readers, like the Latin trots we used to read in high school. Perhaps the translator should try to become the character or narrator while searching for the appropriate words in a given situation, asking, "How would character X say this in his own words, were he speaking English?"8 In so doing, the translator's focus would naturally shift from the words on the Korean printed page to the fictional character whom those words are meant to conjure. Then, freed from the tyrannical hold of the words, the translator could at last begin to convey more of what the author meant, rather than only what he said. Marshall R. Pihl University of Hawaii Human Rights in Korea: Historical Perspectives. William Shaw, ed. Cambridge: Harvard Council on East Asian Studies, 1991 Pp. xiv, 350. Global political transformation during the past half decade has tended to render historically quaint, if not obsolete, much scholarly work in progress or about to be written. Studies on human rights in East Asia have been especially — and, with exception perhaps for China, thankfully — hard hit by the political changes that have taken place throughout the region. At no time since perhaps the 1920s have the forces of state repression been so much at bay. Political reform has become a dominant theme, the Korean peninsula north and south included. For a collection of essays on human rights in Korea begun in earnest injthe mid-1980s but not published until 1991 to survive as a coherent and current contribution is in itself a remarkable feat. 8. This is a process suggestive of improvisational theater, where the actor must get into character before being able to perform a role believably. Book Reviews239 Human Rights in Korea is no less significant in substance. Well edited, often provocative, and consistently insightful, it provides the reader with one of the best collections of studies on Korea law and politics yet published in English. The approach is largely historical with separate divisions for late-nineteenth century foundations, the legacy of Japanese colonial rule, and the postwar experience. Vipan Chandra and William Shaw each contribute to the first. Chandra gives a broad account of the intellectual stirrings and attempted law reforms at the end of the nineteenth century. In effect he defines what is meant by "human rights" in the contributions that follow: an emphasis on formal, procedural rights in criminal trials together with legal protections for expression of political dissent and reform. Shaw adds a brief rejoinder, asserting a more positive view of traditional institutions and processes. He and Michael iRobinson then combine to describe Korean social reform movements during Japanese colonial rule and the tensions within them produced by nationalism and colonial repression. The late Gregory Henderson authored the essay on what can be fairly called the failure of reform under the United Sates military occupation, followed appropriately by an even harsher appraisal of U.S. foreign policy toward Korea in the 1970s and 1980s by Jerome Cohen and Edward Baker. James West joins Baker in analyzing the 1987 constitutional reforms and prospects for the future. A brief and more apologetic appraisal of U.S. policies by Donald MacDonald and an epilogue placing the Korean experience within the matrix of similar movements toward legal reform by Lawrence Beer conclude the volume. Human Rights in Korea achieves a principal goal. As noted by Shaw in his introduction, the work as a whole persuasively refutes the usual fare of simplistic justification and condemnation. Those who seek support either to excuse or to vilify will be disappointed. The authors have instead provided a remarkably objective and analytically keen appraisal of the Korean experience. The volume begins by questioning whether the protection of human rights is alien to Korea's legal tradition. Essays by Chandra, Shaw, and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1665
Print ISSN
0731-1613
Pages
pp. 238-243
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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