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.

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.

Subventions for Academic Publications on Korean History

Univ. of Pennsylvania publication subventionsThe James Joo-Jin Kim Pro­gram in Kore­an Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia has announced a pro­gram of pub­li­ca­tion sub­ven­tions for Eng­lish-lan­guage aca­d­e­m­ic mono­graphs and edit­ed vol­umes on Kore­an his­to­ry. Pro­pos­als will be accept­ed from pub­lish­ers and reviewed on a rolling basis. Inter­est­ed authors should inform their pub­lish­ers of the avail­abil­i­ty of these sub­ven­tions and urge them to sub­mit pro­pos­als. Request amount should be with­in an ordi­nary range.

Pro­pos­als should include the fol­low­ing infor­ma­tion:

  1. Project title
  2. Descrip­tion (up to 500 words)
  3. Detailed bud­get, includ­ing oth­er sources of fund­ing
  4. Detailed list of writ­ers, trans­la­tors, and edi­tors, and their bios (each one page)
  5. Intro­duc­tion and a con­tent chap­ter from the pub­li­ca­tion
  6. Time­frame for com­ple­tion
  7. Esti­mat­ed print run and num­ber of pages
  8. Mar­ket­ing and pub­lic­i­ty plan
  9. Infor­ma­tion about the pub­lish­er
  10. Infor­ma­tion about the exter­nal review process
  11. Oth­er rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion

Pro­pos­als should be accom­pa­nied by a cov­er let­ter addressed to Pro­fes­sor Eugene Y. Park (epa@sas.upenn.edu), Direc­tor, James Joo-Jin Kim Pro­gram in Kore­an Stud­ies. Pro­pos­als and requests for fur­ther infor­ma­tion may be sent to:

Melis­sa DiFrancesco (meljen@sas.upenn.edu)
Asso­ciate Direc­tor, James Joo-Jin Kim Pro­gram in Kore­an Stud­ies
Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia
642 Will­liams Hall
255 South 36th Street
Philadel­phia, PA 19104 USA

For more infor­ma­tion about the James Joo-Jin Pro­gram in Kore­an Stud­ies at Penn, see http://www.sas.upenn.edu/koreanstudies/.

New Look at Tonghak and Ch’ŏndogyo Movements in CKS Book Series

Book coverHis­to­ri­an Carl F. Young has under­tak­en a new study of the inter­nal devel­op­ments in the Tong­hak and Ch’ŏndogyo move­ments between 1895 and 1910. The results are pre­sent­ed in the lat­est vol­ume in the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies Hawai’i Stud­ies on Korea book series, East­ern Learn­ing and the Heav­en­ly Way: The Tong­hak and Ch’ŏndogyo Move­ments and the Twi­light of Kore­an Inde­pen­dence. The book, just issued, is co-pub­lished by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai’i Press.

Tong­hak, or East­ern Learn­ing, was the first major new reli­gion in mod­ern Kore­an his­to­ry. Found­ed in 1860, it com­bined aspects of a vari­ety of Kore­an reli­gious tra­di­tions. Because of its appeal to the poor and mar­gin­al­ized, it became best known for its role in the largest peas­ant rebel­lion in Kore­an his­to­ry in 1894, which set the stage for a wider region­al con­flict, the Sino-Japan­ese War of 1894–1895. Although the rebel­lion failed, it caused immense changes in Kore­an soci­ety and played a part in the war that end­ed in Japan’s vic­to­ry and its even­tu­al rise as an impe­r­i­al pow­er.

Draw­ing on a vari­ety of sources in sev­er­al lan­guages such as reli­gious his­to­ries, doc­tri­nal works, news­pa­pers, gov­ern­ment reports, and for­eign diplo­mat­ic reports, Young explains how Tong­hak sur­vived the tur­moil fol­low­ing the failed 1894 rebel­lion to set the foun­da­tions for Ch’ŏndogyo’s impor­tant role in the Japan­ese colo­nial peri­od. The sto­ry of Tong­hak and Ch’ŏndogyo not only is an exam­ple of how new reli­gions inter­act with their sur­round­ing soci­eties and how they con­sol­i­date and insti­tu­tion­al­ize them­selves as they become more estab­lished; it also reveals the process­es by which Kore­ans coped and engaged with the chal­lenges of social, polit­i­cal, and eco­nom­ic change and the loom­ing dark­ness that would result in the extin­guish­ing of nation­al inde­pen­dence at the hands of Japan’s expand­ing empire.

photo: Carl YoungCarl Young is an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor in the His­to­ry Depart­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of West­ern Ontario in Lon­don, Cana­da. A grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don, his research inter­ests focus on reli­gious social move­ments, nation­al­ism, and impe­ri­al­ism in mod­ern Asia, cen­ter­ing espe­cial­ly on Korea and Japan. He also has a strong inter­est in com­par­a­tive world his­to­ry and cross-cul­tur­al inter­ac­tion between dif­fer­ent world regions. His pre­vi­ous research has includ­ed a com­par­i­son of South Kore­an min­jung (pop­u­lar) the­ol­o­gy and Latin Amer­i­can lib­er­a­tion the­ol­o­gy in the 1970s and 1980s. For more infor­ma­tion about the book, vis­it the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai’i Press Web site.