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Autumn Mountains with the RAS-KB

Dear members and friends of the RASKB

Autumn is the most beautiful season in Korea and in the coming weeks the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch is organizing 3 excursions offering a chance to enjoy Korea's autumn mountain scenery.

On Saturday, October 20 -- Sunday, October 21, our Honorary General Manager, Sue Bae, is leading her favourite overnight trip, to Seorak-san, where she gives participants the choice between hiking (a little course or a longer one) and spending hours bathing in a huge Spa. This is the top season for Seorak-san viewing and we need to know very soon if you are interested as hotel rooms will soon be unobtainable. See here for more information.

On Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 9:00am to 12:00pm, Ms. Won-Na Cha is offering a repeat of her much-appreciated Fortress Wall of Bugaksan Hike, a short hike inside Seoul, using public transport, for those with little time. See here for more information.

On Saturday, November 3 -- Sunday, November 4, David Mason will lead an excursion to Jiri-san and Namwon, in the south-west. Jiri Mountain is a majestic massif and the autumn foliage reaches its peak there later than in Seorak-san. David is famed for his deep knowledge of sacred mountains, of which Jiri-san is chief, and of temples which abound there. See here for more information.

If you are interested in joining any of these excursions, please email royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

I hope you all enjoy a very happy Chuseok

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB

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See a traditional court dance on October 3rd

A professor of Korean dance, (Ms.) Park Eun-young (who has spent most of her outstanding career researching classical court dance) is going to present a remarkable authentic reinactment of court ceremony, complete with dance. The exciting thing about this event is that it will not be held in a theatre, but rather in the exact location within the palace where it was originally performed.

Professor Park would especially like as many interested foreigners as possible to come to the performance. Seating is very limited-- only approximately 200 seats will be available within the palace courtyard and all other members of the audience will have to stand.

This performance is a court ceremony originally held in February 1829 at Changkyeonggung Palace. It was performed in honor of King Sunjo’s 40th birthday and to mark the 30th anniversary of his accession to the throne. The dance was created by his son, Crown Prince Hyomyeong (1809-1830).

On October 3, not only will the dance be performed but also the rituals, music and actual site of the original dance will be used in an “Evening of Decorum” in honor of Foundation Day.

Date: October 3, 2012 (It's Wednesday, and a holiday--Korean Foundation Day)
Time: 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Venue: Changgyeonggung (so, outdoors)
If you would like to attend this event (there is no charge)
please send an email to Suzanna Samstag at jiyunsmom@hotmail.com as soon as possible.

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Check Out Pictures From The Andong International Mask Dance & Hahoe Village

For more pictures from our trip to Andong, see our Facebook page. To learn more about the upcoming October 6-7 RAS trip to Andong, see here.

Upcoming tours with expert guides you can't find anywhere else

Dear Members and Friends of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch

I would like to stress how important the Leader is on our excursions. This month and next we are offering some very special trips with very special leaders. I think you will enjoy them. Please send an email to royalasiatickorea@gmail.com if you are interested in joining us on any of these excursions

Br Anthony
President, RASKB

Many of you will know Peter Bartholomew, our previous President. He has lived in Korea for some 45 years and he knows more about Joseon era buildings than almost anyone in the world. He is offering to lead two excursions in the coming weeks,
both of them among our most famous for the quality of their content. This coming Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 9:00am to 6:00pm he will be taking us to Suwon. Click here to see pictures from a previous trip to Suwon.

Of course, Suwon might not sound very exotic, but it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997. The Joseon period walls are unique in having been designed and built in just a few years in the 1790s under the leadership of one man, Dasan (Jeong Yan-Yong), one of Korea's greatest scholars. They protect a palace built to house the king on visits to his father's grave, but this was no ordinary father and no ordinary king, the story of Prince Sado's death in a rice-chest on the order of the previous king his father haunts the imagination. For more information, please click here.

Then on Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 8:00am to Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 8:00pm Peter Bartholomew will lead our annual overnight visit to Gangneung on the East coast. Largely untouched by the Korean War, Gangneung contains a considerable number of outstanding buildings from the Joseon era, including the complex of buildings known as Seongyo-jang, a complete aristocratic residence where the original family still resides, and where we will spend the night in (luxurious) Joseon style! Along the shores of Gyeong-po Lake there are several beautiful pavilions designed for relaxed enjoyment of the view over the water, where generations of scholars composed poems while drinking wine and listening to music. We might try to imitate them. For full information see here. Pictures from a previous RASKB trip to Gangneung and the East Sea can be found here.

We are also planning some shorter walking tours, for those who prefer brief, intense explorations. Robert Fouser is by now well-known for his love of Seoul's surviving older neighborhoods and he will be taking groups through several fascinating areas in the coming weeks:

On Saturday, September 29, 2012: 1:30-4:30. Prof. Fouser will lead a group through Seochon, the very special area to the West of Gyeongbok-gung, a truly human neighborhood where many simple people live, run shops, and where the residents are trying to maintain humane values against the pressures of consumerism. For more information, click here.

On Saturday, October 6, 2012: 13:00-16:30. he will walk us through Daehangno and Hyehwa-dong, viewing the buildings surviving from older days and evoking the past in this very vibrant area which once housed Seoul National University. Click here for more information.

Finally, on Saturday, October 27, 2012: 13:30-18:00 Dr. Fouser will take us on a stroll through Old Incheon: "A Walk through Korean History since 1876." Chemulpo was the old name for Incheon and it was the port through which many of the early missionaries, diplomats and merchants came to Korea. As we walk through the streets, we will view the many surviving buildings built by the American and British missionaries and businessmen, as well as the Japanese traders and bankers, and we will end our walk among the buildings of the Chinese neighborhood, where many restaurants invite us to linger. Additional information about the tour to Incheon can be found here. Pictures from our last trip to Incheon can be found here.

 

RASKB Excursion to Andong October 6-7

Dear RASKB members and friends,

Our next overnight excursion will take place on Saturday, October 6, 2012 to Sunday, October 7, 2012. It will take us to Andong and we will spend the night in traditional Korean family homes in Hahoe Village. There we will view the evening's traditional firework and fire festival at the riverside. This is the 15th Annual Andong International Mask Dance Festival and we hope that on Sunday it will be possible to view the extremely exciting cheonnyeonnori, a game where two opposing groups clash, chant, and throw their shoes around, as well as performances by local shamans etc. Full details are here.

I am writing now because we need to have some idea of the number of rooms we should reserve. Therefore, if you think you will probably be joining us for this excursion, please send us an email to royalasiatickorea@gmail.com, indicating the names of those intending to join, the number of rooms needed, and a contact telephone number.

Final confirmation and payment can be made later, but because of the many people visiting Hahoe Village for the festival, we must make provisional reservations now.

This is a fascinating trip, we visit other interesting places in Andong as well, and I hope that many will want to come along.

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB

 

Check out the Willard Straight Collection of Old Photographs of Korea

Click here to see old pictures of Korea from the Willard Straight Collection in the Cornell University Library.

Special RASKB Event

One very special upcoming event:
A professor of Korean dance, (Ms.) Park Eun-young (who has spent most of her outstanding career researching classical court dance) is going to present a remarkable authentic reinactment of court ceremony, complete with dance. The exciting thing about this event is that it will not be held in a theatre, but rather in the exact location within the palace where it was originally performed.

Professor Park would especially like as many interested foreigners as possible to come to the performance. Seating is very limited-- only approximately 200 seats will be available within the palace courtyard and all other members of the audience will have to stand.

This performance is a court ceremony originally held in February 1829 at Changkyeonggung Palace. It was performed in honor of King Sunjo’s 40th birthday and to mark the 30th anniversary of his accession to the throne. The dance was created by his son, Crown Prince Hyomyeong (1809-1830).

On October 3, not only will the dance be performed but also the rituals, music and actual site of the original dance will be used in an “Evening of Decorum” in honor of Foundation Day.

Date: October 3, 2012 (It's Wednesday, and a holiday--Korean Foundation Day)
Time: 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Venue: Changgyeonggung (so, outdoors)
If you would like to attend this event (there is no charge)
please send an email to Suzanna Samstag at jiyunsmom@hotmail.com as soon as possible.

Two reminders:

1. Our next lecture will be on Wednesday September 12 at 7:30 pm in Somerset Palace, when Professor Robert Provine will lecture about the earliest surviving recording of Korean music, made on 24 July 1896, when three young Korean men in Washington DC were recorded on Edison wax cylinders as they sang traditional songs. Professor Provine is an expert in Korean music and an old friend of the RAS, some of you may recall the lecture he gave us on Nov. 6 1974.

2. Next Saturday, September 15, one of our members, Tobias Lehmann, who lives in Gongju, joined by a local historian, will help us to explore Gongju, the previous capital of the Baekje kingdom during the three kingdoms period. The excursion will focus on some selected sights, mostly related to Buddhism. This should be a particularly interesting visit and it is not too far from Seoul.

I look forward to seeing many of you at these events

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB

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RASKB Lecture Video: Girls' Generation? Gender, (Dis)Empowerment and K-pop by Dr. Stephen Epstein

This lecture is from October 2011 and was given by Dr. Stephen Epstein. The lecture is available as both a video and as an audio recording only. It was filmed by Henry Hwang. Check out our upcoming lectures and previous lecture videos (North Korea and rewriting Korean history).

Audio Only

The hottest phrase in Korea nowadays is undeniably 'girl group.' But girl group fever is more than just a trend: it's symbolic of a cultural era that is embracing the expulsion of authoritarian ideology." So reads the content blurb for a story on the rise of girl groups in the March 2010 issue of Korea, a public relations magazine published under the auspices of the Korean Culture and Information Service. Nonetheless, despite official, top-down promotion and cheerful assertions that this phenomenon is a liberating pop movement, a reading of the lyrics and visual codes of the music videos of popular contemporary Korea girl groups raises serious questions about the empowering nature of "Girl Group Fever.

This lecture will engage in a close analysis of the music and videos of groups such as the Wonder Girls, Girls' Generation, KARA, T-ara and the discourse that has surrounded their rise to popularity in South Korea, in order to challenge the notion that contemporary consumer society is making a radical break from more traditional, deeply embedded power structures and argue that a set of recurrent tropes in the studied media and marketing presentation of Korean girl groups undercuts claims to a progressive ethos.

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The RASKB Returns to Life: 1911

Brother Anthony of Taizé

This was the context in which, on January 23, 1911, the RASKB was reborn, at a meeting attended by eight men and one woman. Only two of the original founders of the RASKB were present at the January 1911 meeting, James Gale and the Methodist missionary doctor William Benton Scranton (1856-1922). The meeting was held in Scranton’s Sanitarium.

When the RASKB was revived, the first President elected was the British consul at Chemulpo, Arthur Hyde Lay (1865 - 1934). Lay was born in China, educated in Britain and arrived in Japan in 1887 as an interpreter trainee. From 1899 until 1902 he worked in Japan as an interpreter but seems to have mastered Korean by 1904. He published Chinese Characters for the Use of Students of the Japanese Language in 1898. He served as British Consul at Chemulpo (Incheon) in 1911, then went to be consul in Hawai’i (1912) and Shimonoseki (1913). From 1914 until 1927 he was British consul-general in Seoul and seems to have developed a great affection for Korea. However, Ku Daeyeol notes that “Lay had a stereotyped view of Korea, commonly shared by almost all Western diplomats. In a report he wrote following his retirement, he recalled that the Korean political situation had been dismal before the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, and concluded that the country still lacked the ability to maintain an autonomous government.” In October 1911, Lay was obliged to resign as President of the RASKB since he was leaving Korea for Hawai’i. His son has written that he had grown so attached to Korea that he did everything to have his posting to Hawai’i cancelled. He was replaced as President by James S. Gale, who resigned in February 1916, allowing Lay, now back as British Consul-General in Seoul, to be re-elected President for another year before he was replaced by Bishop Trollope.

One other diplomat who clearly played a vital role in the 1911 RASKB revival was the American consul-general George Hawthorne Scidmore (1854-1922). A career diplomat, he first came to Yokohama (Japan) in 1881 after several years in Europe, served in Oceania 1891-4, returned to Japan, then served as consul-general in Seoul 1909-13 during the annexation, before becoming consul-general in Yokohama, where he died. Several RASKB meetings were held at his invitation in the US Consulate General. Ku Daeyeol writes: “George Scidmore, the American consul general at the time of annexation, supported Japanese policy, as he had been impressed by Japan's efficient reform drive in his previous appointments in many Japanese ports, which he deemed to contrast the corrupt Korea that lacked any reform drive.”

The first lecture given to the resurrected Society, at a meeting held on March 4, 1911, in the U.S. Consulate on the invitation of Scidmore, was titled “The Old People and the New Government.” It was given by Midori Komatsu, the Japanese Director of Foreign Affairs of the Government General of Chosen. It was the first paper published in Volume Four of Transactions a few months later. Komatsu’s paper was a formal justification for the annexation of Chosen, based on claims that Korea had “originally” been a state founded from Japan, that the two peoples were “really” one “race”, and as such it was natural and desirable for them to be reunited.

It is sometimes claimed that the Japanese imposed the paper on an unwilling Society but this is fairly clearly not the case. First of all, it must be said that in early 1911 a large majority of the foreigners living in Korea still considered the annexation in a positive light. Besides, the accounts of the Council’s meetings published in Transactions Volume IV Part 2 make it clear that it was the president, Mr. Lay, and James Gale who decided on February 8, 1911, that this should be the first paper. Then, on March 4th, the paper was given in the US Consulate on the invitation of George Scidmore with nine RASKB members present, as well as “many guests,” “including members of the local diplomatic corps and ladies.” At the end, the Chairman (Lay) proposed a “hearty vote of thanks.” Later, on April 12, the Council met and “directed” the Recording Secretary (James Gale) to ask Mr. Komatsu for a copy of his paper for publication.

Two other papers were given by Japanese speakers that same year and were published in other parts of the same volume of Transactions, after which no papers by Japanese were ever given or published. One, that by Isoh Yamagata, the editor of the Seoul Press, evokes in cheerful tones the restoration of cordial relations between Japan and Korea after the Imjin War. The Seoul Press was the only English-language newspaper allowed in Korea and its role was to express the official Japanese version of events. The other, on “Coinage of Old Korea” by Morihiro Ichihara, who had earned a Ph.D. in finance from Yale and was first governor of the Bank of Chosen (I909-I915), begins: “To find and destroy the venerable old coins of Korea and replace them with new ones . . . has been my duty for many years.” It ends: “New Chosen begins its career with new vigor and strength as a part of the Empire of Japan.”

It is hard to know what was in the minds of Lay, Scidmore and Gale in deciding to invite these very highly placed, offical Japanese speakers, or to sense what considerations, if any, led to the invitations. That the Western diplomats and missionaries were still trying to be positive about Japan’s ways of dealing with Korea and optimistic about the future seems clear. Within ten years, by the time of the March 1 1919 uprising, much had changed but it is easy to imagine that the RASKB Council of early 1911 felt that they could deal with the top members of the Japanese administration as reasonable, educated gentlemen like themselves. They might even have hoped that by bringing them into the Society they would help them better understand the concerns of the western community in Seoul, and the demands of the civilized world. They very quickly learned that they were wrong.

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RASKB Activities for September

Dear Members and Friends of the RASKB

I hope that you have spent a restful summer. The heat in Korea has been challenging and now we are expecting a major typhoon. Perhaps after that we will feel that autumn is coming, the most beautiful season in Korea. I am writing to send you the list of our planned lectures and other activities for September and October. Full details for each of these and a tentative list of planned excursions through to the end of the year are available in our home page. I feel very glad that we have such a varied set of interesting topics lined up for you all to enjoy.

Please tell me or one of our Council members if you have suggestions for other activities, interesting potential speakers, or attractive destinations for excursions. I hope you will introduce the RASKB to friends and colleagues who have recently arrived in Korea and do not so far know about us. We are always happy to welcome new members, Korean and non-Korean, anyone fascinated by Korea past and present and eager to learn more.

In Korea, the autumn is traditionally a favored time for reading. If anyone is interested in reading books about Korea written by early travelers, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, I have included in my own home page a long list of such books which are freely available through the Internet, usually in PDF and other useful formats. Or you might like to buy one of the many books available from the RASKB. In the coming weeks we are hoping to make our office a more attractive place to visit and buy books, I will tell you more soon.

Our home page includes the RAS-KB Blog, which urgently needs more people reading it and writing for it. Take a look!

I hope you all know that the RAS-KB / Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch is present on Facebook in a variety of ways. Explore them!

Please note that our first September lecture will be on a Wednesday instead of the usual Tuesday, Wednesday September 12 at 7:30 pm.

With all my best wishes for the coming time.

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB

Lectures

Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 7:30pm

Revolutionaries, Nursery Rhymes, and Edison Wax Cylinders: The Remarkable Tale of the Earliest Sound Recordings of Korean Music    

Dr. Robert Provine

Tuesday, September 25, 2012, 7:30pm

The Decision on War in Korea: Revelations from the Russian Archives

Dr. Kathryn Weathersby.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 7:30pm

Korea’s Responses to AIDS

Sister Miriam Cousins.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 7:30pm

Categorizing Migrants: the Making of Multicultural Society in South Korea

Daisy Y. Kim.

Excursions

Cheong-Pyeong Boat Excursion

Saturday, September 1, 2012 - 8:30am to 7:30pm

Leader: Sue Bae

Land of Tea and Exile: South Jeolla Province

Saturday, September 8, 2012 - 8:00am to Sunday, September 9, 2012 - 8:00pm

Leader: Brother Anthony

Discovering Gongju and Its Neighborhood: Baekche History and Culture

Saturday, September 15, 2012 - 8:00am to 8:00pm.

Leaders: Tobias Lehmann and Jo Gi-Ho

Visit to Suwon-Hwaryeongjeon, Haeng-Gung and Hwaseong Fortress

Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 9:00am to 6:00pm.

Leader: Mr. Peter Bartholomew
 
Seochon: Wandering Seoul's Last "Untouched" Neighborhood

Saturday, September 29, 2012: 1:30-4:30

Leader: Dr. Robert J. Fouser

Andong & Hahoe Village,

Saturday-Sunday, October 6-7

Leader: Jennifer Flinn

Daehangno and Hyehwa-dong: An Architectural Walk

Saturday, October 6, 2012: 13:00-16:30

Leader: Dr. Robert J. Fouser

King Sejong and Hangeul walk in central Seoul

Saturday, October 13

Leader: Robert Fouser

Gangneung (Kangnŭng), Province of Gangwon-Do (Kangwŏn-Do)

Saturday-Sunday, October 13-14, 2012

Leader: Mr. Peter Bartholomew

Old Incheon: A Walk through Korean History since 1876

Saturday, October 27, 2012: 13:30-18:00

Leader: Dr. Robert J. Fouser

RAS Reading Club

To learn about Korea and develop cultural literacy through reading
works of Korean literature (in English translation). The next meeting
will be held on Monday September 10 at 7 pm in the Inje
University building, discussing “Mother’s Hitching Post” by Park
Wan-so.  (See map in “Library” in our home page).

Contact: Bob Fouser   kagoshimabob@gmail.com

RAS Photo Special Interest Group

We are organizing a monthly photography special interest group, the RAS
Photo SIG, to help people improve their photographic skills. Meetings
are usually held once a month in the Inje University building (See map
in “Library” in our home page). The first meeting after the summer will
take place on Wednesday, September 5 at 7:00pm..

Contact: Tom Coyner    tom@softlandingkorea.com

National Museum of Korea: RASKB lecture-visit

We are offering a monthly in-depth tour of one portion of the National
Museum of Korea with an English-speaking member of their staff. The next
such visit, focussing on Buddhist sculpture, will be held on Wednesday 19 September,
starting at 7:00 pm. There is no charge; it is open to RASKB members
only. Those wishing to attend should send an email with the subject
“National Museum Tour” to royalasiatickorea@gmail.com. The visit is
limited to 20 people, on a first come first served basis.

For full details of all upcoming events see the RAS web page http://www.raskb.com/

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Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
왕립아세아학회한국지부
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is open Monday through Friday from 10 to 5 but we are short staffed and there are meetings elsewhere often: please call or email before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796
Email - royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

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