Lecture Videos with Blogs

The Korean War Remembered: An international Perspective

How is the Korean War remembered by the nations involved in the conflict of 1950-1953? How can a war that is not yet ended be memorialized and consigned to history? Korea remains the “forgotten war” for many Americans – overshadowed by the victory of the “greatest generation” just five years earlier. Even today, as tensions rise on the Korean peninsula, most Americans hold only vague memories of the war’s causes and its significant consequences in shaping the international order of East Asia. The war is ever present, however, in the lives and memories of Koreans living both North and South of the DMZ; and, on a divided Korea peninsula, competing historical narratives vie to establish legitimacy for rival regimes and complicate any effort at reconciliation. Meanwhile, the People's Republic of China holds its own unique understanding of the war and its significance.

This presentation will examine the evolving international memory of the war from June 1950 to the present in an international context. The public memory of the Korean War in the United States, the two Koreas, China and United Nations Command allies will all receive attention. Of special note will be the belated efforts to honor the service of Korean War veterans in the United States, South Korea and elsewhere. As diplomats and political leaders struggle to resolve international conflict, endeavors to memorialize the Korean War have brought to the public a fresh awareness and a greater understanding of the war’s troubled legacy.


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Understanding the Importance of Classifying Old Maps of Korea

Old maps are fascinating since they don’t depict the world as we see it nowadays. Dr. Savenije will show about 75 maps (with and without Korea) to show what the west knew about the Korea going back to about 1500.

He will also talk about the importance of classifying these maps based on the shape they had from this.

Japan and Korea have been arguing for a long time which name of the East-Sea/Japanese sea is the correct one, Dr. Savenije will show that these arguments are invalid for many reasons. There’s even a group of people who argues that Korea should be written with a C as in Corea, he will also show why these arguments are wrong.

Dr. Savenijewill show in a selection of about 60 old maps dating from about 1568 to 1894 to make my point. Showing the earliest map from Van Langeren in Van Linschoten (1595) and an odd exception by the Portuguese cartographer Vaz Dourado which was only discovered in the last century, till the pretty accurate German map of 1894 of Carl Flemming.

Based on the available information you could see the shape of Korea evolving from a circle island, an upside triangle attached to China, a pendula shaped peninsula which sometimes was attached to and sometimes separated from the mainland, then for a short time a square to a peninsula in the shape approaching the real shape. Till when finally the French procured a map which was based on a map stolen by a Chinese general and given to the Jesuits who were mapping China. The last shape lasted the longest, for about 100 years till the Germans started making maps which finalized in the map above and which was pretty accurate.

Henny Savenije hails from the Netherlands and was always fascinated by history, maps and Asia (in that order). Strangely enough he first got a masters in math and a PhD in psychology but after his first visit to Korea he seriously started to do research into the early Dutch documents of Korea.

A Dutch adventure in Asia (the adventures of a Dutch soldier, a dairy kept from 1895-1705) (in print)

An article in Korean about Hendrick Hamel in a magazine for KLM April 2000.
Hamel's Journal: A modern translation of the Journal in Dutch. Ad Donker B.V. Rotterdam 2003
Hamel's Journal in Korean Hamel Bokoseo, M&B, Seoul, 2003
Korean Cartography in a historic perspective, paper presented at the 11th Conference about the name of the East Sea in Washington, DC, 2005
The Japanese Sea, a sign of Japanese aggression? paper presented at the 12th Conference about the name of the East Sea in Seoul, South Korea, 2006


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Asian Beliefs How Chinese Zodiac Signs Affect Women

Folk beliefs in the power of the Chinese zodiac signs to affect fortunes of human beings have flourished for millennia in Asian regions. Even today, in Korea and elsewhere, in tandem with world-record-breaking scientific and technological advances, the zodiac myths exert power over men and women, and contribute to the creation of various societal phenomena, including the dramatically fluctuating birth rates, increased abortions of female fetuses in certain years, population imbalances, and popularity (or unpopularity) of persons of certain signs as marriage or business partners.

In China, Korea, and other Asian countries, such beliefs enable expanding commercial activities, such as fortune telling, match making, and shamanistic rituals. Presenting numerous images and a discussion of philosophies, such as Taoism and the Yin-and-Yang-and-Five-Elements School of Philosophy, which contributed to the formation of the zodiac signs and related practices including geomancy and feng shui, the lecturer will discuss how Asian beliefs in Chinese zodiac signs continue to impact lives, particularly those of women.

The lecturer’s talk on this topic can be listened to at: KKFI FM 90.1, “Every Woman,” 8/05/2017, http://www.kkfi.org/program-episodes/...

Maija Rhee Devine earned her B.A. from Sogang University and an M.A. in English literature at St. Louis University. She is the author of The Voices of Heaven (2013), an award-winning autobiographical novel about Korea, and a book of poetry, Long Walks on Short Days (2013). Her short stories, essays, and poems have been published in literary journals in the United States, including The Kenyon Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Boulevard, and The North American Review, and in anthologies. Her poems also appeared in Wilderness, a Korean literary journal.

She has taught English and Eastern Civilization at Soodo Women’s Teachers College (Sejong University), Sogang University, Xavier University, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Kansas.

Her TEDx Talk about today’s gender issues in Korea and other Asian countries is at: http://youtu.be/GFD-6JFLF5A. Her work-in-progress is a nonfiction book, World War II Comfort Women Experiences. Her numerous op-eds on this topic were published in The Korea Times and The Kansas City Star.

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Lecture Video: The Earliest Commercial Korean Music Recordings and Their Historical Significance


Lecturer: Jihoon Suk

In the first decade of the 20th century, the newly-established record industries in North America and Europe were eager to expand their market to all over the world. Starting in 1902, the London-based Gramophone and Typewriter (G&T) company began a series of recording sessions in non-Western countries, usually referred to as "recording expeditions," to record music and other types of performing arts for potential customers in the non-Western world.

During these recording expeditions, there were always "intermediaries" in the area, who, not only acted as "talent scouts" to find performers willing to make recordings, but also acted as sales agents for the recording companies. Korea was no exception in the eyes of the executives of the G&T company. The 101 sides of Korean recordings recorded by the company (but eventually produced by its American affiliate, Victor Talking Machine Co.) in 1906, were the direct results of their third major recording expedition to Asia.

The musical importance of these 1906 Korean recordings cannot be stressed enough, as they provide rich resources for studying the earliest attainable forms of Korean pre-modern music. Their production history also reveals an interesting dynamic between the Western record companies and the Korean public, which paralleled the socio-economic effects and outcomes of the coming of the "West" to the "East" at the turn of the 20th century. (It even reveals a surprising connection with the RAS!)

This lecture will include a demonstration of early sound recording technologies, both playback and recording technologies using period equipment. It will also include several sound clips of several extant 1906 Victor Korean recordings.

Jihoon Suk received a BA and MA in Korean modern history from Yonsei University. While he calls himself a "generalist" in terms of his knowledge on Korean history, his primary research focuses on the roles of the modern non-textual media (sound recordings, films, and photographs), as it was one of the most crucial factors shaping the modern perception of Korean "traditional culture" or "national culture" as we see today.

He is also an avid collector of vintage sound recordings, which led to his involvement with the Korean 78rpm Discography Project and Archive (http://www.78archive.co.kr), a near-complete online database of Korean commercial records issued between 1907 and 1945. He also has been working with various museums and archives in Korea and around the world, including the Independence Hall Museum of Korea, the Korean Film Archive, the National Gugak Center, U.S. Library of Congress, The New York Public Library, and the University of Hawaii-Manoa.


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Lecture Video: The Korean Red Pine: a companion from cradle to grave

Despite the ecological and landscape importance and the public popularity of conifers, especially in the case of the Korean red pine (Pinus densiflora S & Z) or Sonamu in Korean, not much scientific and cultural information related to this familiar conifer is available. At present, red pine forest occupies 22.7 percent of the total Korean forest are, 1,447,439 square kilometers in extent. It is not merely a conifer that occurs on the mountains. The Korean red pine tree has long been regarded as a vital link between nature and people from the cradle to the grave in the Korean context, and Korean culture is often known as the Pine Tree Culture in comparison with the Oak culture of Europe.

The Korean red pine tree has been a dominant plant species for a long period of time, and has served as the key tree species maintaining ecosystems and landscapes, as well as being an important tree with respect to culture and the local economy. The Korean red pine has provided a wide range of seasonal produce required for the daily life of the common people, including foodstuff, firewood, tools, timber for shelter and coffins, especially when the country was in absolute poverty. The Korean red pine tree had a great impact on people’s everyday life. It is also well-known for its popularity in traditional painting as one of the ten longevity symbols, and is also regarded as a symbol of fidelity, loyalty and eternity, along with bamboos.

The pine tree has been in existence in the Korean peninsula since the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era. Data from 1454 to 1931 have been obtained from seven historical documents and used to interpret the history of the Korean red pine. Historical records for conifers mainly contain descriptions of its use for timber, pine boards for royal coffins, diverse by-products, such as pine resin, pine mushrooms, seeds, and medicinal items. In recent years the Korean red pine has encountered a series of ecological challenges, such as cutting, forest fire, insect outbreak, regional development, and climate change.

Woo-seok Kong is a Professor of Biogeography in Kyung Hee University, Seoul. He is author of The Plant Geography of Korea (1993, Kluwer Academic Publisher), and several Korean books such as Conifer Science (2016, Geobook), Climate Change and Ecosystem (2012, Geobook), Biogeography and Ecology of Korean Plants (2007, Geobook), Ecosystem of DPRK (North Korea) (2006, Jipmundang), and Vegetation History of the Korean Peninsula (Acanet, 2003).

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Lecture Video: King of the Dragons

Lecturer: David A. Mason

Dragons have always played a key role in Oriental traditions, especially in religious and governmental artworks. They are plentifully employed in Korean royal palaces, Shamanic and Confucian shrines, and Buddhist temples as uplifting and protective spiritual guardians of the heavens. They are found depicted on furniture and on many artifacts, believed to bring good fortune to the owners.

“Dragon” is one of the 12 auspicious figures of the oriental zodiac, as the leader of them all. The word itself is heavily employed in all eastern languages, and appears within an extremely high percentage of place names and other names, in comparison with other words. Looking deeper, in Korea they are presented much less as motifs of heaven-granted authority as in China, but more as symbols of the vital energies of water and its life-sustaining cycles as it moves through transformations – and the depictions have subtle characteristic differences.

Most Korean Buddhist temples have at least a small shrine for Yong-wang the dragon-king, and he also appears in Guardian Assembly Icons and some paintings of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. There are many interesting myths about appearances and behavior of this royal figure within Korean Daoist, Buddhist and folklore traditions. This lecture will explain about dragons and their monarch, and the role they play in eastern spirituality, while showing many colorful photos of the artworks and shrines.

David A. Mason is a Professor of Korean and International Cultural Tourism at Sejong University, Seoul Campus, and a longtime researcher on the religious characteristics of Korea's mountains. A native of the USA, he has been living in South Korea for 33 years now. He has authored and edited ten books on Korean culture and tourism, including Spirit of the Mountains about Korea's traditions of sacred mountains, the English Encyclopedia of Korean Buddhism, and Solitary Sage: The Profound Life, Wisdom and Legacy of Korea’s ‘Go-un’ Choi Chi-won. His popular website on sacred Korean mountains and mountain-spirit traditions can be found at www.san-shin.org

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Lecture Video: Remembering Yongsan Garrison: An Urban Memory Archive Project

In 2017, United States Forces Korea (USFK) officially began the process of returning Yongsan Garrison to the Korean government. According to the current master plan, the Base is to be turned into one of the largest urban parks in Asia. In order to make room for trees and meadows, about 90% of the buildings on the Base will be removed. And the remaining buildings will be renovated into museums and recreational facilities. Official records will help military historians write about YSG’s role in bringing peace to the region. But that’s only half of the story. For US servicemen and their families who served in Korea, YSG provided homes to families, schools for children, and recreational venues for friends and guests.

The social history of the Garrison’s occupants is on the verge of being lost forever. Before all the families and friends move out of YSG completely, we need to capture their lives and experiences on the Base. We need to record the stories and memories at the locations where they took place. These can be archived digitally for future generations. This digital database is the foundation for the Yongsan Legacy project: a “virtual monument” of Yongsan Garrison. Yongsan Legacy is an online platform. It will be also a cultural monument; the culture of all those who served in Yongsan Garrison will be appreciated by generations to come. Narratives of YSG will be captured and shared freely from the perspectives of the people who lived on the Base. Largely hidden from public view, its value is yet to be fully understood and explored by local citizens and the rest of Korea. That is what the Yongsan Legacy project wants to discover and share.

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Lecture Video: South Korea’s “IMF Crisis”


After prolonged rapid growth, often characterized as the Miracle on the Han, South Korea joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), sometimes described as a club for middle-income countries, in December 1996. One year later, sharply changing fortunes forced the ROK Government to seek an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, in December 1997. Twenty years after onset of the IMF Crisis, this lecture will summarize precipitating events, crisis effects, and responses by the Government of Korea and the IMF as well as the World Bank. The lecture will go beyond standard explanations to suggest a perhaps-surprising origin for the crisis. At its conclusion, the lecture will offer an assessment of long-term effects from South Korea’s IMF crisis.

William P. Mako retired from the World Bank in 2014. During 1998 – 2002, he advised Korea’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) on chaebol restructuring; negotiated corporate restructuring conditions for a $2 billion World Bank loan; negotiated and supervised a separate technical assistance loan; participated in IMF program monitoring and Article IV consultation missions; and participated in a joint IMF-World Bank assessment of South Korea’s financial sector. Since 2014, he has been teaching economic development at the KDI School of Public Policy & Management, Kyung Hee University, and L’institut des études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po).

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Lecture Video: James Scarth Gale, Korean Literature in hanmun, and Allo-metropolitan Missionary Orientalism


In this lecture, I give an overview of my forthcoming book by the same title. Based largely on the James Scarth Gale papers held by the Fisher Rare Book Library (University of Toronto), this project examines and contextualizes James Scarth Gale’s forty-year career as a missionary scholar in Korea (1888-1927) and argues that Gale is a foundational but largely forgotten and underappreciated figure in the history of modern Korean Studies, particularly as concerns traditional Korean literary culture and literary history—topics that remain underexplored in English-language scholarship to this day. The Gale Papers force a reevaluation of our image of Gale and his legacy: from that of missionary, lexicographer, historian, and occasional translator of premodern fiction, to dedicated bibliophile, and champion, prolific translator and interpreter of Korean literature and literary culture in Literary Sinitic.
The project approaches Gale’s scholarly legacy by focusing on his Korean bibliomania, and is divided into two parts. Part One analyzes Gale’s collecting of old Korean books, his study and translation of them in collaboration with his Korean ‘pundits’, and the relationship of his literary and scholarly work to broader questions of ‘Orientalism’ in general and missionary orientalism, in particular. One key argument is that for Gale, ‘Korean literature’ existed almost exclusively in the cosmopolitan code of Literary Sinitic (‘Classical Chinese’); modern Korean literature was barely getting off the ground in the 1920s when Gale retired, and he was dismissive of vernacular literary production, both premodern and modern. A second key argument is that Gale strove through all of his activities to demonstrate that Korea was a ‘civilized nation’ and a ‘nation of scholars and books’, whose deep historical engagement with Chinese civilization and thought had prepared it for Christianity and its one Great Book. A third key argument is that Gale’s literary and bibliophilic project amounted to a major intervention into defining—in a contested and transnational intellectual field in colonial Korea in the 19teens and 1920s—the premodern Korean literary tradition and canon; a full accounting of his book collecting and translation projects sheds new light on the process by which the modern notion of the ‘Korean Classics’ was constructed. A final question the book poses concerns the relative oblivion into which Gale’s work fell: why is he largely forgotten today, even in Korea, and why was the bulk of his work never published?

Ross King earned his BA in Linguistics and Political Science from Yale College and his MA and PhD from Harvard in Linguistics. Currently he serves as Professor of Korean and Head of Department in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. His main research interests are Korean historical linguistics, Korean dialectology (esp. the dialect(s) preserved by the ethnic Korean minority in Russia and the former USSR), the history of Korean linguistics (including the history of Korean linguistic thought in Korea and Korean linguistic and script nationalism), and the history of language, writing and literary culture in the ‘Sinographic Cosmopolis’ (漢字文化圈).


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Lecture Video: Anti-Americanism in Contemporary South Korea

Most South Koreans regard their country as "pro-American," but a strong wave of anti-American sentiment threatened to upend U.S.-Korean relations in the not-so-distant past. From 1999 to 2002, the Korean media engaged in a sustained campaign of harsh criticism against the United States, especially U.S. Forces Korea. There were numerous incidents in which Koreans harassed and even physically attacked innocent Americans, and by late 2002 hundreds of thousands of South Koreans had taken to the streets to protest against the United States.

The mainstream South Korean narrative about that time is that the United States and its
representatives had long acted in ways that were arrogant, insensitive, and disrespectful of the
Korean people, their culture, and their sovereignty. South Koreans believe that their protests were not only righteous and but also effective in forcing the United States to treat them as equals.

The lecturer, at the time a senior official in the American embassy in Seoul charged with responding to the situation, has provided an American perspective on the phenomenon in his book Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea, published by Stanford University's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center in 2015, and in Korean translation earlier this year by Sancheoreom under the title 반미주의로 보는 한국 현대사.

Based on his book, the lecturer will offer a provocative retrospective and analysis challenging the conventional Korean narrative, including his views of why the protests occurred, the effects they had, and whether a similar situation could occur again. Copies of both the English- and Korean-language versions of the book will be available for purchase at the event.

David Straub is currently the inaugural Sejong-LS Fellow at The Sejong Institute, an independent and nonpartisan Korean private policy think tank. Straub was a career American diplomat from 1976 to 2006, including eight years at the American embassy in Seoul and service as the head of the office of Korean affairs at State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. From 2008 to 2016, he was affiliated with Stanford University's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.

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