The Korean enlightenment period, 1896-1910, was characterized by intellectual experimentation and adaptation, as the leading intellectuals attempted to reconcile the new ideas and models originating from the West, as well as from contemporary Japan and China, with the very powerful equivalents from the Korean-Confucian tradition, and in constant consideration of the real circumstances of the day. This study examines a key example of the reformulation of a traditional concept, that of kukka (commonly translated as “state”). The new meanings involved a wider array of concerns, including political legitimacy, sovereignty, and even rights. Furthermore, the notion of kukka provided the enlightenment activists an opportunity to get to the heart of their urgent concerns: What kind of Korean nation and polity should prevail in the brave new world of competing civilizations, and what should the enlightenment intellectuals’ role be in this process?
Two competing revisions of this ancient term emerged—one insisting that the kukka constituted a collective entity of people, land, and government and the other adopting a perspective that equated kukka with the ruling authority, or the “state.” This study argues that the former, collectivist notion of the kukka was the first and foremost reconceptualization of this term in the Korean enlightenment period. Furthermore, the two contrasting concepts of kukka corresponded to differing views about the appropriate political form for Korea at the time. Ironically, while those who adopted the Western-oriented, statist notion of kukka called for an authoritarian ruling order dominated by a powerful state, the intellectuals who advocated the more liberal, people-centered concept of the collective kukka attempted to reconcile their political theory with, of all things, Confucian teachings. The Confucian intellectual tradition supported these activists’ collectivist definition of kukka by establishing the concept of kukka-as-family, by providing a holistic connection between individual self-cultivation and the condition of the larger kukka, and by validating the efforts of sagely activists, such as the enlightenment thinkers, in working to save the kukka. In an important sense, the enlightenment project can be viewed as the latest in a long history of Confucian reform movements in Korea.
Eroticism and Buddhism in Han Yongun’s Your Silence
Gregory N. Evon, 25
Han Yongun (1879-1944) is chiefly remembered as a participant in the March First Independence Movement of 1919 and as the author of Your Silence. For these reasons he holds an important place within Koreans’ collective memory of their nation’s troubled modern history. Although much has been written about him and Your Silence, little attention has been given to the eroticism in the work. This article offers a perspective on the collection’s eroticism, Han’s overturning of Buddhism’s negation of desire, and thus his unusual attitude toward women.
The I Ching in Late-Chosôn Thought
Wai-ming Ng, 53
The Korean national flag, taegukki, consists of t’ai chi (Great Ultimate) and four trigrams, symbolizing the balance of yin-yang, heaven and earth, and sun and moon. It serves as a reminder of the peculiar role of the I Ching (Yokkyong) in Korean thought and culture. The I Ching was imported to Korea no later than the fourth century, and penetrated into different aspects of Korean life, including politics, economics, ethics, philosophy, art, science, and religion. It was studied at official academies, and had been included in the civil service examination. Sung commentaries on the I Ching came to Korea during the twelfth century, and soon replaced Han commentaries as the main reference. Following the adoption of the Chu Hsi school as the official learning, Korean Confucianism reached its apex in the Chosôn period (1392-1910). Regardless of the importance of the I Ching in Korean thought and culture, very few studies have been done. This paper attempts to deepen our understanding of late-Chosôn Confucianism through an examination of its I Ching scholarship, focusing on the Chu Hsi school in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the school of practical learning (sirhak) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In the postcolonial (post-1948) period in South Korea, South Chôlla and North Chôlla provinces, which collectively constitute the Honam region (hereafter simply referred to as Chôlla), have come to occupy a marginal place in the political economy of Korean development and a peripheral, even counter-hegemonic, place in national politics. In addition, the region has long suffered the stigma of social discrimination and the humiliation of cultural and ideological subordination within the Korean nation-state. This article explores the imagined map of Chôlla as it has been constituted structurally and textually, both historically and more recently. I argue that the historical and contemporary processes of marginalization have collectively supplied both the catalyst and reference point for popular struggle in the region. Since Chôlla occupies a central place in Korean popular literature, the main part of the essay considers the ways Chôlla figures in populist texts. This literary reconstitution of the region, I suggest, in turn contributes to its reproduction as a radical region.
Gender Politics in the Korean Transition to Democracy
Jeong-Lim Nam, 94
This article investigates how a variety of Korea women’s groups contributed to the processes of breaking down military rule in the late 1980s. Excluded from formal politics, Korean women partook in the struggles for democracy through alternative channels such as grassroots women’s groups, labor uprisings, and political mobilization as mothers and wives. Their vigorous activism significantly shaped the direction, outcome, and strategies of the Korean democratic struggles. Women’s involvement in the prodemocracy movement, on the other hand, affected the goals and the strategies of progressive women’s-movement groups formed in the 1980s. This study expands the class-centered perspective of Korean democratization by incorporating women’s participation and contributions in the process.
This article examines the social values and criticism contained in the Pari kongju muga, a narrative shaman’s song that has long been orally transmitted over much of the Korean peninsula. Although this song has an important religious function in shamanistic eschatology, this study is primarily concerned with the social values and convictions reflected in the narrative. Particularly, this analysis enables an understanding of the social ethics most important to late-Chosôn females–the primary adherents and celebrants of the shamanistic religion. Among these values, the most prominent is the strong critique of the dominant Neo-Confucian ideology, especially the practices surrounding male-child preference. Hence, this textual examination recognizes female aspirations in the late-Chosôn period.
Pre-Hankul Materials, Koreo-Japonic, and Altaic
Alexander Vovin, 142
Although limited in number and thus far underused, Old Korean and Early Middle Korean data are valuable to comparative linguists. This article discusses several lexical items and grammatical morphemes from this body of data and demonstrates their significance for comparative Koreo-Japonic and Altaic studies. The author proposes a number of etymologies for the first time and, in several cases, refines etymologies suggested by others.
Korean History Studies in Japan: The 1999 Shigaku Zasshi Review of Historiography
Furuhata Toru, Morihira Masahiko, and Song Yon’ok, 156
Shigaku zasshi, the leading history journal in Japan, devotes its fifth issue every year to historiography reviews of scholarship published in Japan over the previous year on various national and regional histories. The reviews for Korean history are written by specialists and introduce and direct readers to publications in many fields, including archaeology, economic history, and social history. The summaries are not as lengthy as those prepared for Japanese and Chinese histories, but a glance at those written since 1949 shows the growth of Korean history studies in Japan, the emergence of successive generations of scholars, the breadth of topics being investigated, and the diversity of methodologies and interpretations.
Keith Pratt and Richard Rutt with James Hoare, Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary
reviewed by Edward J. Shultz, 175
Soon-Won Park, Colonial Industrialization and Labor in Korea
reviewed by Dennis McNamara, 177
Crawford F. Sams, “Medic”: The Mission of an American Military Doctor in Occupied Japan and Wartorn Korea
reviewed by Bryan Ross, 178
Helen-Louise Hunter, Kim Il-song’s North Korea
reviewed by Barbara L. Mori, 183
Geir Helgesen, Democracy and Authority in Korea: The Cultural Dimension in Korean Politics
reviewed by Joel Motsay, 188
Brenda L. Kwon, Beyond Ke’eaumoku: Koreans, Nationalism, and Local Cultures in Hawai’i
reviewed by Lili M. Kim, 191
Suh Ji-moon, trans., The Golden Phoenix: Seven Contemporary Korean Short Stories
reviewed by Bruce Fulton, 195
Young-Key Kim-Renaud, ed., The Korean Alphabet: Its History and Structure
reviewed by Florian Coulmas, 198
Samuel E. Martin, Consonant Lenition in Korean and the Macro-Altaic Question
reviewed by John B. Whitman, 201
Institute of Language Education of Ewha Womans University, Pathfinder in Korean
reviewed by Minju Kim, 206
Hye-Won Choi, Optimizing Structure in Context: Scrambling and Information Structure
reviewed by Jae Yeon Kim, 207