An Interview with Korean Studies Editor Christopher J. Bae

Christopher J. BaeThe University of Hawai‘i Press Journals Department has published on on-line interview with the new editor of Korean Studies, Prof. Christopher J. Bae.

Bae, a University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa professor of anthropology, recently became chair of the Center for Korean Studies Publications Committee and with that became also the editor of the Center’s journal and manager of its book series.

In the interview, Bae talks briefly about the history and scope of the journal, published continuously since 1977, and about its prospects under his editorship. The University of Hawai‘i Press is co-publisher of Korean Studies and of the Center’s book series, Hawai‘i Studies on Korea, initiated in 2000 and now numbering fifteen titles.

The full text of the interview can be found on the UH Press Journals Department blog.

See the Center for Korean Studies Web site for more information about Korean Studies and the Hawai‘i Studies on Korea book series.

Call for Papers: Identity and Transnational Mobility

Goethe University Frankfurt
Korean Studies at Goethe-University of Frankfurt invites proposals for presentations to be delivered at an international conference, “Identity and Transnational Mobility In and Out of Korea,” February 22-23, 2018. The conference will examine important socioeconomic aspects of transnational mobility in and out of Korea as well as the process in which overseas Koreans and migrants in South Korea gain agency and negotiate multiple identities.

Proposals are welcome for papers on all aspects of identity and transnational mobility in and out of Korea, including, but not limited to, transnational mobility/migration and belonging in historical and contemporary contexts, media consumption and ICTs in transnational migration, issues concerning migrants in South Korea, and Korean diaspora and ethnic return migration.

Prospective participants should submit a proposal including an abstract of three hundred words and a curriculum vitae and to Mi-Jeong Jo at and Professor Yonson Ahn at Proposals are due by August 20, 2017. Successful applicants will be notified by September 24 and will be required to submit a full paper (5,500–7,000 words including bibliography and endnotes) by December 31, 2017.

Selected papers presented at the conference will be considered for publication as part of an edited volume. The selected papers will be required to consider comments and discussion made during the conference and must be submitted by mid-April, 2018.

The conference is sponsored by the Academy of Korean Studies, the Republic of Korea Ministry of Education, and Goethe-University of Frankfurt.

Questions regarding the conference should be directed to Mi-Jeong Jo.

SSRC 2017 Korean Studies Dissertation Workshop Scheduled for August

SSRC dissertation workshop
The 2017 Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Korean Studies Dissertation Workshop will take place August 11-15 at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, New York. The workshop is intended to create a network of advanced graduate students and faculty by providing an opportunity for exchange of critical feedback on dissertations in progress. Twelve students will be selected to work with three faculty members during the program.

The workshop invites applications from students in all fields in the social sciences and humanities who have not yet begun fieldwork, who are currently in the field, or who are in the process of writing their dissertations.

Full-time advanced graduate students, regardless of citizenship, are eligible to participate in the workshop. Applicants must have ABD (all but dissertation) status and an approved dissertation prospectus at the time of application, but cannot have completed writing for final submission. Special consideration will be given to students from universities that are not major Korean studies institutions. The deadline for applications is June 15, 2017.

This year’s faculty mentors are Suzy Kim of Rutgers University; Robert Oppenheim of the University of Texas, Austin; and Youngju Ryu of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

To the extent its budget allows, SSRC will cover all travel to the workshop and will fully cover participants’ lodging and meals for the duration of the workshop. The Academy of Korean Studies is providing funding for the program.

For further information about the workshop, see or contact the Social Science Research Council at 300 Cadman Plaza West, 15th Floor, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201.

For the application form and related instructions, see

New Center Book Explores Catholicism in Chosŏn Korea

Catholics and Anti-Catholicism cover
The Center for Korean Studies and the University of Hawai‘i Press have released the fifteenth volume in their Hawai‘i Studies on Korea series: Catholics and Anti-Catholicism in Chosŏn Korea by Don Baker with Franklin Rausch.

The book is available now from the University of Hawai‘i Press directly or though book dealers. The principal author, Don Baker, is professor of Korean civilization in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia. His co-author, Franklin Rausch, is an assistant professor in the Department of History and Philosophy at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina.

Korea’s first significant encounter with the West occurred with the emergence of a Korean Catholic community in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Decades of persecution followed, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Korean Catholics. In this book, Baker provides an analysis of late-Chosŏn (1392–1897) thought, politics, and society to help readers understand the response of Confucians to Catholicism and of Korean Catholics to years of violent harassment.

Baker’s analysis is informed by two important documents translated with the assistance of Franklin Rausch and annotated here for the first time: an anti-Catholic essay written in the 1780s by Confucian scholar Ahn Chŏngbok (1712–1791) and a firsthand account of the 1801 anti-Catholic persecution by one of its last victims, the religious leader Hwang Sayŏng (1775–1801).

Ahn’s essay, Conversation on Catholicism, reveals Confucian assumptions about Catholicism. It is based on the scholar’s exchanges with his son-in-law, who joined the small group of Catholics in the 1780s. Ahn argues that Catholicism is immoral because it puts more importance on the salvation of one’s soul than on what is best for one’s family or community. Conspicuously absent from his Conversation is the reason behind the conversions of his son-in-law and a few other young Confucian intellectuals.

Baker examines numerous Confucian texts of the time to argue that, in the late eighteenth century, Korean Confucians were tormented by a growing concern over human moral frailty. Some came to view Catholicism as a way to overcome moral weakness, become virtuous, and, in the process, gain eternal life. These anxieties are echoed in Hwang’s Silk Letter, in which he details for the bishop in Beijing his persecution and the decade preceding it. He explains why Koreans joined (and some abandoned) the Catholic faith and their devotion to the new religion in the face of torture and execution.

These two texts together reveal much about not only Korean beliefs and values of two centuries ago, but also how Koreans viewed their country and their king as well as China and its culture.

For more information about this and other titles in the Hawai‘i Studies on Korea series, follow this link.

China’s Korean Policy Under Xi Jinping

Calling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program “an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority,” American officials are emphasizing the critical role of China in pressuring Pyongyang to denuclearize. President Donald Trump, who long criticized China for “having done little to help,” now praises Chinese leader Xi Jinping. But has China’s North Korea policy actually changed that dramatically?

Wang Jianwei photoThat’s the fundamental question Professor Jianwei Wang of the University of Macao will take up in a brown bag seminar presentation sponsored by the East-West Center Research Program Thursday, May 18, 2017. The seminar will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Burns Hall room 3012.

Wang, who is currently a POSCO visiting fellow at the East-West Center, will examine the extent to which Xi Jinping’s Korean policy differs from the policies of his predecessors. In particular, he will look at Xi’s approach to balance relations with North Korea and South Korea, how his Korean policy influences Sino-American relations, and the prospects of more consequential cooperation between the United States and China on North Korea?

Jianwei Wang is a professor in the Department of Government and Public Administration and director of the Institute of Global and Public Affairs at the University of Macao. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. His teaching and research focus on Sino-American relations, Chinese foreign policy, and East Asian international relations. He has published extensively in these areas.

For further information, contact Cynthia Nakachi ( in the East-West Center Program Office.