Korean Studies, vol. 36 (2012)


Mapping Japan in Chosŏn Korea: Images in the Government Report Haedong chegukki
Kenneth R. Robinson, 1

The Chosŏn Korea government compiled a handbook on relations with Japanese and Ryukyuan contacts in the early 1470s. This report, titled Haedong chegukki and extant today as a printing from 1512, included several maps of Japan prepared by the Chosŏn government. Historians of cartography and foreign relations commonly refer to these images as Japanese Gyōki-style maps of Japan based upon the design of the Japanese islands and provinces. However, Korean mapmakers compiled these maps to be read and for state use, thus placing Japan as a foreign country and inscribing into the images discourses of interaction that would be legible to government officials.
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Korean Studies, vol. 33 (2009)

Korean Studies 33 cover

Cultural Change in Korean Films

Transitional Emotions: Boredom and Distraction in Hong Sang-su’s Travel Films
Youngmin Choe, 1

This article explores the cultural significance of boredom and distraction in postmodern Korea by focusing on Hong Sang-su’s holiday films. It posits that Hong’s films about characters attempting to escape from the banalities of urban life can be seen to reveal, stylistically and thematically, the emotions and anxieties unleashed by excessive leisure in neoliberal Korea. By re-casting the absence of events in Hong’s films as an existing affect of lacking, it challenges the adequacy of pre-existing affective paradigms in the understanding of boredom in neoliberal Korea. In recognition of the transient stage in which boredom as emotion finds itself, it proposes categorizing emotions at such historical junctures as ‘‘transitional emotions,’’ drawing on theories that socialize rather than psychologize emotion by locating them as circulating intersubjectively.

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Korean Studies 32 (2008)

KS 32 cover

Korean Minorities in the Age of Globalization

Between Defector and Migrant: Identities and Strategies of North Koreans in South Korea
Byung-Ho Chung, 1

This article examines the structural conditions and the individual strategies of North Koreans in South Korea. It provides a historical account on the changing social definitions of and policies toward North Korean border-crossers and how the changing conditions have affected their identities and lives. It also gives an ethnographic account of the difficulties and risks of individuals whose identities are caught between ‘‘defector’’ and ‘‘migrant.’’ The problems they face in capitalist South Korea are examined in the major areas of social transition—arrival, orientation, residence, consumption, work, education, and ideology—focusing on individual strategies that negotiate cultural differences between the two Koreas.

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Korean Studies, vol. 30 (2006)

Guest Editor: Kenneth R. Robinson


Guest Editor’s Introduction
Kenneth R. Robinson, 1

Economic Growth in P’yŏngan Province and the Development of Pyongyang in the Late Chosŏn Period
Soo-chang Oh, 3

Pyongyang, one Korea’s oldest cities, was considered an important defense site during the Koryŏ dynasty, but did not develop significantly until the Chosŏn dynasty in the seventeenth century. This was partly because of its border location and unsuitability for farming but most of all because of discrimination by the central government. After the eighteenth century, however, Pyongyang led in the social development of Chosŏn. With stability in the relationship with Qing China, the area was free from the threat of war. The accumulated money and grains were used to entertain foreign diplomats and prepare for war while also providing commercial capital. The fact that the traditional ruling order and ideology were not strong was an advantage for the development of commerce. On the other hand, the government tried to induce Pyongyang’s development within the system, as by, for example, holding a special civil service examination and recruiting members for the Royal Guard. During that time, Pyongyang progressed and continued to develop as the new urban cultural center of the region.

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Korean Studies, vol. 29 (2005)


Yayoi Wave, Kofun Wave, and Timing: The Formation of the Japanese People and Japanese Language, p. 1
Wontack Hong

A sudden change in climate, such as the commencement of a Little Ice Age, may have prompted the southern peninsular rice farmers to cross the Korea Strait ca. 300 B.C.E. in search of warmer and moister land. This may answer the timing of the “Yayoi Wave.” Evidence confirms the seminal role played by peninsular peoples in the formation of Middle and Late Tomb culture and the inadequacy of the “evolutionary” thesis, restoring our attention to the “event” thesis. Around 300–400 C.E., a drought may well have forced the Paekche farmers around the Han River basin to search for a new territory. This may answer the timing of the “Kofun Wave.”

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Korean Studies, vol. 28 (2004)


An Introduction to the Samguk Sagi, p. 1
Edward J. Shultz

Korea’s oldest extant historical source is the Samguk sagi, which was compiled by Kim Pusik (1075–1151) and others during Injong’s reign (1122–1146) in the Koryo kingdom. This history and its compilers have been at the center of controversy as critics have challenged the work’s accuracy and its omissions. Despite its failings, this history is a reaffirmation of Koryo’s identity, which had been seriously challenged by events of the early twelfth century and is an excellent expression of that society’s values and historical understanding.

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Korean Studies, vol. 27 (2003)


Prince Misahun: Silla’s Hostage to Wa from the Late Fourth Century, p. 1
Chizuko T. Allen

Three of the oldest extant chronicles of Korea and Japan, the Samguk sagi, the Samguk yusa, and the Nihon shoki, recount the story of the Silla prince Misahun’s escape from extended captivity in Wa. Regarding Wa as the early Yamato confederacy based in western Japan, this article clarifies the chronology and characteristics of the Misahun incident in reference to the series of related events described by the inscription on the Koguryo king Kwanggaet’o’s stele. Between 391 and 399, Silla succumbed to Wa’s military attacks and sent Misahun to Wa as a means of appeasement. Silla, however, soon chose to return to Koguryo’s sphere of influence to ward off further Wa assaults. After Koguryo annihilated the Wa forces, Silla managed to retrieve the prince from Wa with a clever scheme. Unlike Paekche’s reciprocal relationship with Wa, Silla’s relationship with Wa was unilateral, based on the latter’s incessant demands.

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Korean Studies, vol. 26, no. 2 (2002)


Buddhism and Polity in Early Sixth-Century Paekche
Jonathan W. Best, 165

Using written and material evidence to criticize the Samguk sagi’s relatively static depiction of the Paekche political structure and court culture, this article examines the importance of Buddhism in the early sixth-century political and cultural transformation of the kingdom, which passes virtually unnoticed in the Samguk sagi. Prior to the end of the fifth century, court life in Paekche was similar in notable respects to that of contemporary Koguryo, which, in turn, was partly influenced by earlier Chinese forms. At this early time, Buddhism was acknowledged by Paekche’s kings but neither held a prominent place in the court nor played a significant role in policies of state. This changed after the loss of the Han River valley to Koguryo in 475. Paekche’s early sixth-century kings Muryong and Song evidently recognized that if the dynasty was to survive, a fundamental restructuring of the kingdom had to occur. The court intensified diplomatic and cultural ties to China. The ardently Buddhist Liang emperor Wu Di evidently inspired Paekche to enhance its patronage of Buddhism and to use it to centralize and strengthen royal authority.

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