Colloquium: Koryŏ and Korea Today

photo: Edward J. ShultzThink much about the Kore­an king­dom of Koryŏ (918‑1392) these days? Prob­a­bly not, unless you’re one of the small num­ber of schol­ars spe­cial­iz­ing in that peri­od. His­to­ri­an Edward J. Shultz—who is one of those scholars—wants to tell you why some con­sid­er­a­tion of Koryŏ even at this late date will reward the effort. He will do so in a Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­qui­um Tues­day, March 10, 2015, at 4:00 p.m.

Shultz sug­gests that those who do not know about and appre­ci­ate the his­to­ry of Koryŏ are miss­ing one of the great sto­ries of Korea’s past and are lack­ing back­ground infor­ma­tion impor­tant for under­stand­ing Korea today. What hap­pened one hun­dred or even five hun­dred years ago still car­ries mean­ing today, he says.

The study of Koryŏ reveals that the king­dom was very much in the main­stream of world his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ments. It was a soci­ety that embraced mer­it as an avenue for advance­ment, it led the world in print­ing tech­nol­o­gy, it demand­ed that its his­to­ri­ans be free from out­side influ­ences, it grap­pled with issues of nation­al­ism ver­sus inter­na­tion­al­ism, it pur­sued a for­eign pol­i­cy based on hard real­ism, it open­ly bor­rowed from oth­er cul­tures, it devel­oped a clear iden­ti­ty of being Kore­an, and it pro­duced artis­tic mas­ter­pieces of world renown. All this was made even rich­er by its embrac­ing of a plu­ral­ist pos­ture that allowed com­pet­ing ide­olo­gies and points of view to exist side by side. In this respect, Shultz says, Koryŏ was very mod­ern. How we look at this past can tell us much about what we are think­ing or expe­ri­enc­ing today.

Edward J. Shultz is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of his­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai’i at Mānoa and inter­im chan­cel­lor of Hawai’i Tokai Inter­na­tion­al Col­lege. He is a for­mer dean of the UH School of Pacif­ic and Asian Stud­ies and for­mer direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies. Shultz is the author of Gen­er­als and Schol­ars: Mil­i­tary Rule in Medieval Korea and numer­ous arti­cles on the his­to­ry of Koryŏ and is the trans­la­tor, with Hugh Kang, of the Koguryŏ Annals of the Samguk Sagi and book two of Koryŏsa Chŏryo.

The col­lo­qui­um will be held in the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies con­fer­ence room from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­quia are free and open to the pub­lic. The Cen­ter is locat­ed at 1881 East-West Road on the UH Mānoa cam­pus. Paid park­ing is avail­able in the lot mau­ka of the CKS build­ing else­where on cam­pus. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, includ­ing arrange­ments for access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone the Cen­ter at (808) 956‑7041.