The Korean Peninsula and the Mongol Empire in Comparative Perspective

Michael Hope, Ph.D.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
W10,000 (non-members); W5,000 (students with student ID), free for members

In 1258 Prince Wonjong (r. 1260-1274) of Koryo agreed to travel to China and submit to the Mongol emperor, Khubilai Khan. The Koryo were just one of many dynasties and principalities subjugated by the Mongols, yet the trend amongst modern historians has been to view Korea as an exceptional case, both in terms of the duration of its resistance and its subsequent treatment at the hands of the Mongols. The Koryo were, after all, permitted to retain their own monarchy, their own court and bureaucracy and so there were relatively few signs that the Koryo had lost their independence.

Yet a comparison of the Korean Peninsula with other Mongol vassals in West Asia, Eastern Europe and even Central Asia suggests that Korea was far from unique in this regard. This lecture will draw on examples from Tibet, Anatolia (modern Turkey) and Russia to overcome some of the myths and stereotypes surrounding Mongol rule in Korean literature, film and popular culture.

It is hoped that this topic will facilitate discussion about Korea’s role in larger regional and world systems in a historical context.

Michael Hope is Assistant Professor of Asian History at Yonsei University. He received his doctoral degree in Asian Studies from the Australian National University in 2013 and subsequently spent a further year as a Research Affiliate with the College of Asia and the Pacific at the same university. Michael Hope has published on the political and social history of Iran, Iraq and the Mongol Empire with particular focus on the transmission of political authority in nomadic societies. His recent monograph was published in 2016 and was entitled, Power, Politics and Tradition in the Mongol Empire and the Ilkhanate of Iran.


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