- Editor's Note
The digital transformation of Korean studies in the past two decades has reshaped all areas of research, from conceptualization to publication, a change perhaps most profoundly felt in the humanities. In recognition and celebration of this transformation, this journal has assembled a special section on digital Korean studies. It is an outcome of a three-year-long project dexterously organized and guest-edited by Javier Cha and Barbara Wall, a process that included joyful workshops in Seoul and Copenhagen. The twelve special section articles deal with the diverse terrain of knowledge production in Korean studies made possible by groundbreaking digital and computational methods.
The special section begins with Javier Cha and Barbara Wall's overview of the methodology pertaining to digital studies, along with the summary of the articles. Then Hyeok Hweon Kang and Michelle Suh's article introduces the marvelous search engine called Silloker, which they created to search across multiple digital archives on premodern Korea. A stellar demonstration of cross-cultural study is found in Shoufu Yin's paper on the comparative analysis of civil service examination topics in Korea and China between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Circulation and network are prominent themes in the special section. Sol Jung's fascinating study examines the market circulation of Korean tea bowls in sixteenth century Japan, while Barbara Wall and Dong Myong Lee's article makes a compelling inquiry into the numerous versions of the classic East Asian story The Journey to the West existing in Korea. The [End Page v] network of readers of the Tang poet Du Fu in late Chosŏn Korea is the focus of Jamie Jungmin Yoo, Kiho Sung, and Changhee Lee's captivating study. Network—in the form of poetry societies, in nineteenth century Chosŏn Korea—is also at the center of Jing Hu's illuminating piece.
Discourse analysis is the primary method in two articles. Jacob Reidhead's highly relevant study is a critical look at the changing discourse on North Korean human rights in contemporary South Korea. The politicization of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea is adroitly scrutinized in Liora Sarfati and Guy Shababo's analysis of Facebook postings.
In Benoit Berthelier's piece, North Korea's level of digitalization is compared with South Korea's digital processing system, with a call for cooperation between the two countries toward a unified digital future. While acknowledging the seismic influence of digital humanities, Javier Cha sheds light on current challenges arising from the immensity of digital materiality and big data. In the Epilogue, Wayne de Fremery pushes for greater theoretical contemplation with the notion of copying in digital computation as a way toward deep learning.
Beyond the special section, the volume includes excellent research articles. Veli-Matti Karhulati, Katriina Heljakka, and Dongwon Jo have written a creative sociotechnical account of the toy crane game and its resonance in contemporary South Korea. Jeong-Mi Lee revisits the complex relationship between Chosŏn Korea and Tokugawa Japan in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The intrepid piece by Albert Graves takes the reader into Tokyo's Korean gay bars in the 2000s and explores the intersectionality between race and sexuality.
The volume is capped by five pertinent book reviews. Yeseung Yun reviews Adam Bohnet's Turning Toward Edification: Foreigners in Chosŏn Korea. Sojeong Park reviews Kyung Hyun Kim's Hegemonic Mimicry: Korean Popular Culture of the Twenty-first Century. Minyoung Kim reviews Yoonkyung Lee's Between the Streets and the Assembly: Social Movements, Political Parties, and Democracy in Korea. Jinwon Kim reviews Seo Young Park's Stitching the 24-Hour City: Life, Labor, and the Problem of Speed in Seoul. And Benjamin Engel reviews Ingu Hwang's Human Rights and Transnational Democracy in South Korea. It is the journal's aim that this sizeable volume will be useful in the hands of many Korea researchers. [End Page vi]