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.

Critical Issues Forum Cancelled

The Center for Korean Studies regrets to announce the cancellation of the Forum on Critical Issues in Korean Studies scheduled to be held at the Center February 21-22, 2017. An effort will be made to reschedule the appearance by Janet Poole at a later date.

Center for Korean Studies Announces Recipients of 2016-2017 Scholarships

image: CKS scholarshipsTwenty-eight students in Korea-related studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa will receive scholarship aid through the Center for Korean Studies during the 2016‒2017 academic year. Center scholarship awards for the academic year total $63,000. The recipients and their awards are listed below.

Descriptions of the scholarships administered by the Center for Korean Studies and instructions for applying for them can be found at http://bit.ly/1PiGU2A. The deadline for applying for Center-managed scholarships for the 2017–2018 academic year is February 3, 2017.

Donald C.W. Kim Graduate Scholarship

  • Bonnie Fox, M.A., Korean Flagship Program ($7,500)
  • Esther Yi, M.A., Korean Flagship Program ($7,500)

Herbert H. Lee Scholarships

  • Ji Hyun Choi, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and Economics ($1,000)
  • Clara Hur, M.A., Asian Studies Program ($4,000)
  • Anna Jang, J.D., Richardson School of Law ($4,000)
  • GiHyun Kim, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and Communication ($1,500)
  • Ah Lim Om, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and ICS ($1,500)
  • David Suh, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and Economics ($1,500)

N.H. Paul Chung Endowed Graduate Scholarship

  • Jai Eun Kim, M.A., Korean Flagship Program ($4,000)
  • Joseph Oh, M.A., Korean Flagship Program ($3,300)

Yŏng-Min Endowed Scholarship

  • Tanya Fitzgerald, M.A., Asian Studies Program ($2,000)
  • Sukyoung Myung, Ph.D., Political Science ($2,000)
  • Kyoung Won Oh, Ph.D., Korean Language ($1,660)
  • Sooran Pak, Ph.D., Korean Language ($640)

Dong Jae and Hyung Ja Lee Endowed Scholarship

  • Joanna Mills, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and Theatre ($1,900)

Center for Korean Studies Graduate Scholarships

  • Hyunjung An, Ph.D., Korean Linguistics ($1,660)
  • Yoonjung Cha, Ph.D., Social Work ($1,000)
  • Won Geun Choi, Ph.D., Political Science ($1,000)
  • Chiyeon Hwang, Ph.D., Korean Literature ($1,000)
  • HyeJin Kim, Ph.D., Korean Literature ($1,000)
  • Hee Jin Lee, M.A., Korean Linguistics ($1,000)
  • Jee Hyun Lee, Ph.D., Korean Linguistics ($1,660)
  • Sooran Pak, Ph.D., Korean Language ($1,020)
  • Hye Young Smith, Ph.D., Korean Language ($1,660)

Center for Korean Studies Undergraduate Scholarships

  • Connie Chong, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and Second Language Studies ($1,500)
  • Joseph Gaenzle, B.A., Korean Flagship Program ($1,000)
  • Dean Kira, B.A., Korean Flagship Program ($1,000)
  • Joanna Mills, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and Theatre ($1,500)
  • Ga Young Park, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and Biology ($1,500)
  • Eun-hae Whang, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and Travel Industry Management ($1,500)

In addition to these scholarships, federally funded Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships, administered through the School of Pacific and Asian Studies, will go to twelve Mānoa students for the study of Korean. These awards consist of stipends and tuition allowances. The recipients for the 2016‒2017 academic year are:

  • Yeajin Kim, B.A., Korean Flagship Program
  • Brian H. Kim, M.A., Korean Flagship Program
  • Kelly Watts, M.A., Korean Flagship Program
  • Brian J. Kim, M.A., Korean Flagship Program

The following students are receiving FLAS grants to study Korean during the summer of 2016:

  • Clara Hur, M.A., Asian Studies Program
  • Kyle Akuya, B.A., Korean Flagship Program and Second Language Studies
  • Aaron Allen, B.A., Korean Flagship Program
  • Victoria Meza, B.A., Korean Flagship Program
  • Maile Pan, B.A., Korean Flagship Program

UH Student is Winner of Overseas Korean Broadcasting Award

overseas Korean broadcasting award winner Seola KimUniversity of Hawaii at Mānoa graduate student Seola Kim is the Grand Prize winner in the 2015 Overseas Korean Broadcasting Award competition. Kim was cited for the program “Gugak Gallery,” which she hosts on Radio Seoul Hawaii in Honolulu. Kim is a Ph.D. student in composition in the UH Mānoa Music Department. She is an accomplished player of the Korean traditional instrument ajeng and is a former vice-chief ajeng player of the Korean National Gugak Orchestra. Her program “Gugak Gallery” is the only overseas Korean radio program that specializes in Korean traditional music, or gugak, and introduces listeners in Hawaii to a variety of modern and classical Korean traditional music. “Gugak Gallery” is broadcast on Radio Seoul Hawaii at 1540 AM every Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon.

overseas Korean broadcasting award winner Seola Kim in Radio Seoul Hawaii studio

Seola Kim, far right, at work in the Radio Seoul Hawaii studio.

Fall Film Series a Casualty of Hot Air

still from past film seriesWith considerable regret, the Center for Korean Studies will forego its usual fall film series. For many years, the Center has offered free screenings of topical series of Korean films, some recent and some vintage, during both fall and spring semesters.

The decision not to schedule the series this fall resulted from the failure of the Center’s air-conditioning system in May. The system has remained out of order throughout this unusually hot Hawai’i summer. University authorities have provided no target date for restoration of the air conditioning.

As a result of the heat, fall-semester language classes, usually held in the Center’s classroom, have been relocated, and groups wishing to schedule public events at the Center have been redirected. The Center library reading room remains available for use thanks to the use of portable air conditioners. The same solution was not deemed feasible for the large auditorium space.

The Center’s administration optimistically expects to resume film screenings during the spring semester. Watch for future announcements.