Lecture Videos with Blogs

RAS Lecture Video: The Female Face of North Korean Capitalism

Lecturer: Andrei Lankov

Recently North Korea has undergone a major - if unappreciated - social transformation. While the old facade of Juche socialism is still carefully maintained, the daily economy is now dominated by a multitude of private businesses. These businesses are largely run by women. Paradoxically enough, the old male-centered economic policy in the new situation has led to the marginalization of males. Unlike the case of many post-socialist countries, the arrival of market economy to North Korea has resulted in a significant improvement of females' social standing.

Andrei Lankov was born in Russia in 1963, he studied in Leningrad State University and Kim Il Sung University in North Korea. His major research interest is North Korean social and political history; he has published five books and a number of articles on this topic.

RAS Lecture Video: Crusader for Korea: Homer B. Hulbert

Leturer: Mr. DongJin (DJ) Kim

Tonight's lecture commemorates Homer B. Hulbert, one of the first Americans to come to Korea. In addition to his educational and missionary activities he wrote a number of major works including "The Passing of Korea" and the "History of Korea." He was also the editor of and main contributor to the Korea Review monthly journal (1901-5). One of the closest and most trusted foreign aides to Emperor Gojong, he went on his behalf to plead for Korean independence at the Peace Conference held in The Hague in 1906 and 1907, in vain. After that he was unable to live in Japan-dominated Korea. He continued to work and campaign on behalf of Korea while living in America. He finally returned to Seoul in 1949 and died within a few days of his arrival. He is buried in Korea. Hulbert's tombstone reads "I would rather be buried in Korea than in Westminster Abbey."

DongJin (DJ) Kim worked for over 30 years in the banking industry in Seoul and New York, most of that with JP Morgan Chase Bank. While in college, he read "The Passing of Korea" (1906), one of Dr. Homer Hulbert's masterpieces on Korean culture, history and tradition. Mr. Kim was struck by Dr. Hulbert's passion, scholarship and accomplishments in the service of Korea. Most importantly, he realized that Dr. Hulbert's story had nearly vanished in the study of that critical time in Korean history.

He took on a life-long task of ensuring a place for Dr. Hulbert in the annals of Korean history. Mr. Kim visited numerous places including Dartmouth College, Columbia University, in search of Dr. Hulbert's footprints. He located all the descendants of Dr. Hulbert and collected from them lots of important letters, books, records, pictures, and effects related to Dr. Hulbert. Mr. Kim is currently Chairman of the Hulbert Memorial Society and also serves as an adjunct professor of Seoul School of Integrated Science and Technology.



Spring Time with the RAS Korea

Dear members and friends of RAS Korea

I would like to encourage you to think very seriously about the benefits of staring hard and long at blossoming trees. Because we are organizing several excursions this month designed precisely with that activity in mind.
Why not join us on one (or even two)? Sign up soon!

This coming weekend, on Sunday, April 14, there is a wonderful full-day outing to Woraksan National Park, Gosu Cave & Chungju Lake. It includes a drive along a 6-kilometer-long avenue of cherry trees, as well as a restful boat trip and a visit to a spectacular cavern. This trip is a great favorite with families.

Then on Sunday, April 21 there will be a trip entirely devoted to cherry blossom in and around Seoul, the climax being the Ho-am Art Museum in Yongin, Gyonggi-do and its beautiful HeeWon garden.

On Sunday, April 28 you can enjoy the unique collection of magnolias and camellias in the Chollipo Arboretum, overlooking the sea on the West coast, at the moment when the flowers are at their height.This Arboretum was established by a former President of the RASKB, Mr. Ferris Miller (1921 - 2002) and its collections are world-famous.

In addition there will be an overnight in-depth visit to the ancient Silla capital of Gyeongju Saturday, April 27 -- Sunday, April 28, led by David Mason, an outstanding and expert guide.

Finally, let me remind you that tomorrow (Tuesday) evening at 7:30pm Professor Andrei Lankov will be giving us a lecture about "The female face of North Korean capitalism: North Korean gender relations in the post-famine era" because there are more important and interesting aspects to North Korea than its inflated rhetoric. The lecture will be in Somerset Palace.

I hope that many of you will be able to join us at these events.

Brother Anthony
President, RAS Korea

RAS Lecture Video: Catastrophic Losses of Korea’s Architectural Heritage

Lecturer: Peter Bartholomew

The speaker, Peter Bartholomew, will present an overview of Korea’s architectural heritage as it was up to 1910 and then review how it has been decimated to the point where now, in 2013, only a very few rare examples remain, one of the most significant architectural achievements in Asia.

The presentation will cover monumental architecture such as palaces, the sprawling provincial government centres and military compounds, all with their stately, graceful guest houses, administrative buildings, pleasure pavilions and imposing stone fortress walls as well as the vernacular architecture of the “hanok,” or residential houses, from the grand estates of the landed aristocracy to the commoners’ home which survived in abundance through the early 1970’s, but now are a rarity.

Mr. Bartholomew will first explain the uniquely sophisticated, Korean aspects of the architecture and the important design and aesthetic cultural values and then will then progressively clarify the history of their phased destruction, first the massive demolitions of monumental architecture nation-wide during the 1910~1945 Japanese occupation period, second during the terribly destructive war of 1950 ~ 1953 and finally the tragic losses during the post-war “development” period, especially from the mid-1960s and continuing as we speak, today.

Finally, Mr. Bartholomew will present an analysis of the Korean policies (government and personal) since the 1960’s toward continued preservation, reconstruction and maintenance of the very few remaining examples of Korea’s traditional architecture, with special emphasis on the “hanok” and the fight that he is waging to preserve the few remaining examples.

Mr. Bartholomew has lived in Korea since 1968, always residing in an original “hanok” home. He initially lived in Sŏn Kyo Jang estate in Kangnŭng, Kangwŏn Province (east coast), the 300-year-old home of a Chosŏn Dynasty aristocratic family which is arguably the finest example of semi palatial, aristocratic architecture remaining in the country. He has studied Korean architecture privately for the past 45 years, frequently appearing on television and other media to wage his preservation campaign and now among Koreans has the nickname of “Guardian of the Hanok” (한옥지킴이).


Special Invitations for RAS Korea Members

Dear members and friends of RASKB

Next week there will be a lecture on Tuesday (by me!) and an excursion to Sewang Brewery and Botapsa Temple on Saturday.

In addition, we have been sent two invitations for our members. Please reply as indicated below if you are interested in either.

Brother Anthony

In celebration of KBS Classic FM's 34th anniversary, the Korean Traditional Music Orchestra will be on stage next Wednesday, March 27th. The venue is KBS Hall, located in Yeoido (Address: 18, Yeoeuido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul). By subway, transit from National Assembly station (line 9, 국회의사당 역). The concert will begin at 8pm, please be there at least 30 minutes before to collect your tickets. Please RSVP to this email ( royalasiatickorea@gmail.com ) by Monday March 25 3pm if you wish to come, giving your name, mobile number and the number of people coming and you will then be sent further details on where to meet, etc.

Traditional Korean Court Dance Workshop and Performance Opportunity

In this unique opportunity you can learn the basics of Court Dance and also have the opportunity to actually participate in a performance of this dance in October at one of Seoul’s most famous palaces.

“Chun-aeng-jeon Workshop”

Dates: April – September (Every Saturday from 9am to 1pm)

Venue: Jongro Ward Office (behind the US Embassy)

Who: Anyone interested in learning Korean dance (First 100 applicants accepted)

What to Bring: Comfortable clothing, soft shoes/socks suitable for dancing (not tennis shoes) and “hansam” which are long, white sleeves (these can be purchased through the instructor)

Free of charge

What Will Be Taught: Basic Court Dance and Chun-aeng-jeon

※ Performance
Date: October 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Changgyeong-gung Palace, the courtyard of Munjeong-jeon hall

The Workshop will be led by the Court Dance “Chun-aeng-jeon” Preservation Society, under Professor Park Eun-young (who organized a similar performance in 2012)

For further information call: 02-746-9756 / 010-3139-4464 (may only speak Korean) or send an email to Ms. Suzanna Samstag jiyunsmom@hotmail.com

Lecture Video: The Long-Forgotten World War II Prisoner of War Camps in Korea

Lecturer: Jacco Zwetsloot

Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

As an (unwilling) part of the Japanese Empire, Korea was involved in World War Two. We have all heard of the conscripts, the forced labor, and the comfort women. However, fighting did not actually occur on Korean soil. Soviet forces arrived in Korea from Manchuria in mid to late August, and US troops made landfall in Incheon on September 8 1945 to receive the Japanese surrender and disarm and demobilize Japan’s military.

One aspect of Korean history during that period that has been forgotten – seemingly by all sides – is the approximately 1,500 Allied Prisoners of War who were held in Korea from September 1942, only a couple of months after the last non-Axis foreign civilians had been forcibly deported from Korea by ship. The first Allies to be imprisoned here were British and Australian troops from the fall of Singapore. They were joined towards the end of the war by American soldiers captured in the Philippines, after they were initially held in the notorious “hell ships,” as well as in Japan. In all, three camps were operated, run by Japanese officers and staffed by Korean conscripts and civilians. A few POWs died, but most were rescued and brought home in September 1945.

Jacco Zwetsloot will give a presentation about these camps and how their locations were recently rediscovered by himself and Matthew Van Volkenburg.

Jacco Zwetsloot describes himself as a “Jacco of all trades, master of some.” In the past year he has worked as a business English teacher, translator, interpreter, simulation facilitator, corporate trainer, documentary cameraman and cataloguer, cultural lecturer, souvenir evaluator, radio commentator, magazine writer, voice actor, researcher, copy editor and tour guide. He is currently seeking a publisher interested in releasing translations of several North Korean comic books. He has a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) in Korean Studies from Monash University, and has lived in South Korea for over 12 years.

RAS March Newsletter

Dear members and friends of RAS Korea,

March is here and I hope that many of you will sign up for one or other of our excursions, now that the weather is warmer. It is such a good way of discovering Korea, in good company with enthusiastic guides! We are still working to improve our program, but for the moment here are the lectures, excursions and other events planned for the coming weeks.

As you may know, our office staff has changed several times over the past couple of years. As a result, our membership records are not fully reliable. We would like to check whether all paid-up members have received their membership card and we ask all our members to bring and show their RASKB membership card at the lectures in the coming months. This will help us improve our administration.

Our office is now completely transformed and offers a large variety of books about Korea for sale, many of them unobtainable elsewhere. In addition to RASKB publications, we now stock and sell most of the books published by Seoul Selection. RAS members receive a discount on book purchases.

Also in the office is our Library, its books are accessible to members wishing to consult them. Please phone before coming to the office, in order to check the opening hours.

Please tell us what other activities you would like us to offer, and take full advantage of the benefits of membership by coming on excursions at a discounted rate!

I look forward to seeing you soon

Brother Anthony
President, RAS Korea

This Week with the RAS-KB

Dear members and friends of the RASKB,

The cold weather is nearly over, spring is on the way at last!

Soon we will be sending out our full March program but first let me remind you of this this week's events.

Tomorrow, Tuesday February 26, at 7:30 pm in Somerset Palace, Jacco Zwetsloot will be giving a lecture
on "The Long-Forgotten World War II Prisoner of War Camps in Korea" which should be extremely interesting,
for almost nobody knows that approximately 1,500 Allied Prisoners of War were held in Korea during the Pacific War.

On Friday March 1, RAS Korea traditionally runs a bus to visit the memorial to Admiral Yi Sun-Shin at Onyang
then on to visit the nearby Independence Hall and museum, dedicated to the Koreans who suffered during the
Independence Struggle against the Japanese. If you want to join this excursion, please reply to this email very soon,
by Tuesday evening at the latest.

On Saturday March 2 at 4:45pm some of us will meet at exit 2 of Hongik University subway station
and go to meet a very famous senior Korean traditional musician, Kim Young-Jae, who holds "Living Treasure" status
for his skills on the Geomungo, and who also performs on the Gayageum, the Ajaeng and the Haegeum.
He will play for us and explain the characteristics of each instrument. After the performance we will go with him
for supper in a nearby restaurant. Please sign up for this visit quickly, it is free for RAS members!

For more details of these, please see our home page

RAS Lecture Video: Letters From Joseon by Robert Neff

This lecture will examine Korea - as seen through the eyes of Sally Sill, the wife of John M. B. Sill - the American Minister to Korea (1894–1897). Their stay in Seoul was during an extremely turbulent period of Korean history, a span of time that encompassed the Sino-Japanese War, the Gabo Reforms, the murder of the Korean queen, and King Gojong's subsequent refuge in the Russian legation.

Through the use of numerous pictures and the personal correspondences between the Sills in Korea and their family in the United States we will take a candid look of life in not only the American community in Seoul, but also in the Russian legation, where King Gojong and the crown prince sought refuge following the murder of Queen Min. We will also examine the rumors and speculation that plagued the daily lives of not only the Western community in Seoul but the Korean community as well.

Robert Neff is a writer and historical researcher of the Joseon era. He has authored or co-authored several books including "Korea Through Western Eyes", "Westerner's Life in Joseon" and his newest book, "Letters from Joseon" - which this lecture is based upon.

RAS Tour Recap: Korean War Remains in Cheorwon

On February 16th, the Royal Asiatic Society visited the DMZ and Cheowon to see Korean War remains and migratory birds. Our guide, Robert Koehler, introduced this area to many first-time visitors and shared his expertise of not only Cheorwon but also the history of the Korean War.

What sets this are apart from other areas of the DMZ is its location around Cheorwon, a place that was home to some of the fiercest fighting during the Korean War. As part of the Iron Triangle, the old city of Cheorwon was completely destroyed by artillery and advancing/retreating soldiers. All that remains of the city are a few building frames that miraculously were spared during the war. In fact, the local headquarters of the Workers Party of Korea (North Korea’s ruling party), a few stones that were once a church and the remains of a police station are all that is left of this city. Most, if not all, of the trees and other plants were destroyed during the fighting and were only replanted during the 1970s.

What made Cheorwon a magnet for fighting is its location and importance as a place where tanks and soldiers can move without mountains impairing their journey. Standing on top of the Peace Observatory (directly behind the DMZ) and looking at the flat ground that is now part of the DMZ, one can truly appreciate the importance this area held as an invasion route to Seoul.

Aside from remains of the former town, visitors to Cheorwon can also see some great scenery and many migratory birds. Located in Cheorwon is the Seungil Bridge, sometimes called “Korea’s Bridge over the River Kwai.” There are many stories about who built it, with the most popular being that the bridge was started by the North and finished by the South Koreans. However, it was recently discovered that the bridge was started by the Japanese and later finished by the US Army during the war.

The area north of the line of civilian control is also a great place to spot birds during their winter journey. I was able to see many of these birds and many people enjoy taking pictures. We also enjoyed seeing some of the beautful scenery around the area.

This area did have a somber feeling surrounding it and, when you saw the remains of the city, you couldn’t help but take a moment of silence. Newly married couples once walked up the steps leading up to what is left of the church. Visiting Cheorwon will give you not only the chance to see the cost of the Korean War to the people who lived but also the chance to see how its results are still impacting Korea.


Pictures and article by Patrick Wunderlich


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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 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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