Lecture Videos with Blogs

UK-DPRK Relations by Prof David A Tizzard



Returning UK Ambassador to the DPRK offers extensive comments following David's presentation.




Cropping Korea: Shifting National Characters on Display at Changgyeong-gung

Lecturer: David Kendall

Amazing Aftermath of Seoul 1988 Olympics

Lecturer: Kathryn Weathersby, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor of History, Korea University

The 1988 Summer Olympics were the Republic of Korea’s international debut as a modern, prosperous country. The games’ Opening Ceremonies drew television’s largest audience to date -- over a billion people. The Olympics also proved to be a turning point in South Korean foreign relations and in the entire configuration of international relations in Northeast Asia. Just days before the games began, Seoul announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of Hungary, formerly a staunch ally of North Korea. The ROK then turned to Moscow, which, strapped for cash, agreed to recognize Seoul in exchange for significant loans and credits. South Korea’s price for such assistance was that the Soviet Union cease its military support to North Korea. When Pyongyang responded to Moscow’s betrayal by threatening to recognize the independence of rebellious Soviet republics, the Soviet Union cut off economic aid as well, demanding that the DPRK pay world market prices for its oil. The post-Soviet Russian Republic continued Gorbachev’s realignment toward the two Koreas, China followed suit, and the North Korean economy imploded.

As we face another possible realignment following this year’s PyeongChang Olympics, Professor Weathersby will provide some context by recounting the amazing story of what happened in the aftermath of the 1988 Olympics. She will begin with the ROK pursuit of a “north policy” concurrent with its Olympic bid, explaining the origins and logic of this approach. She will then examine Seoul’s successful negotiations to establish diplomatic relations with Moscow and the lasting impact of that historic shift.

Kathryn Weathersby is a historian of the international history of modern East Asia. She has focused her research on Soviet involvement in the Korean peninsula before and during the Korean War, and on the history of North Korea. She founded and directed the North Korea International Documentation Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC and taught courses on North Korea at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University. Currently at Korea University, she is teaching a course titled “The International History of Divided Korea.”

Lecture Video: The Rise and Fall of Youth Culture in 1970s South Korea

Lecturer: Matthew VanVolkenburg

Throughout the late 1960s, a form of youth culture influenced by the West began to take shape in South Korea. It was not until 1970, however, that a discourse on youth culture (ch’ŏngnyŏn munhwa) began to develop in the Korean-language press. These media outlets also tended to portray developments in the US and Europe in a sensationalist manner, highlighting “free sex,” nudity, rebellion, and drug use, particularly by hippies. By 1969, bands playing psychedelic and soul music became popular in Korea, while in early 1970 the “new trend” of long hair on men gained coverage. The beach and vacationing also became an integral part of this culture, reflected in 1970’s hit song by the Key Boys, “Go to the beach.” Weekly magazines like Sunday Seoul reported on risqué avant-garde art and revealing fashion shows as well, and by the summer of 1970 young people were said to be caught up in the go-go dancing craze, while some students were reported to be smoking marijuana. These trends culminated in a crackdown on all of these aspects of youth culture at the end of August 1970, one which focused mostly on men with long hair but also targeted avant-garde art.

Such long hair crackdowns would become a common occurrence throughout the 1970s and intensified after the authoritarian Yusin system was established in 1972. In 1975 Park Chung-hee used the defeat of South Vietnam as an excuse to ban all dissent and exercise total control over students on campuses. This was accompanied by censorship of rock and folk music and the sudden arrests of hundreds of young people, particularly musicians, for smoking marijuana. The reason the latter crackdown was so effective – leading to dozens of musicians being banned from performing for life – was that few young people realized marijuana was illegal. Its criminalization dated back to the summer of 1970, when marijuana use among Korean students was exaggerated to justify prohibition and obscure the fact this was being done at the behest of US military authorities. After years of indifference to drug use by US soldiers, the ROK’s sudden cooperation was linked to the planned withdrawal of 20,000 US troops under the Nixon Doctrine. The resulting enforcement of the new law near US bases and nowhere else contributed to ignorance of the law and facilitated the spread of marijuana use, which inadvertently gave the authorities the means to suppress Westernized youth culture while promoting wholesome music and patriotic spirit.

This lecture will focus on the years 1969 and 1970 and make extensive use of photos from contemporary weekly magazines to explore the incipient youth culture which was suppressed by South Korea’s authoritarian government.

Matt VanVolkenburg first arrived in Korea in 2001 and began the blog Gusts of Popular Feeling in 2005. His interest in modern Korean history encompasses film, music, urban redevelopment, reactions to Western culture, and media depictions of foreigners. He contributed research to a case brought before the UN Committee on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination which ultimately ended HIV testing of foreign English teachers. He recently received an M.A. in Korean Studies from the University of Washington where he focused on the topic of this lecture.

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.


Blog tags: 

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


Blog tags: 

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.

Blog tags: 

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.


Blog tags: 

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).

Blog tags: 

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

Blog tags: 


Recent comments

Blog Archive

Contact Us

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

Office is normally open as follows:

Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays:
                                   10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesdays & Thursdays: 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please call before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796

Email - royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

Find Us On...


Subscribe to Syndicate