Blog with Lecture Videos

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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Lecture: Re-visiting the 1937 deportation of ethnic Koreans to Central Asia

 

Lecturer: Victoria Kim

Additional information can be found on Lost and Found in Uzbekistan and in a recent article published in the Diplomat. Victoria can also be reached by email at vkimsky(at)gmail.com

 

2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the first deportation of an entire nationality in the Soviet Union. In 1937, approximately 172,000 ethnic Koreans – the entire population of Posyet Korean national district and neighboring territories in the Far Eastern Krai – were forcefully relocated to Central Asia on cargo trains by the Soviet government. 80 years later, their descendants still live in what is now Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Some of them view the deportation as a tragedy whereas others see it quite differently. Victoria Kim, the author of Lost and Found in Uzbekistan: The Korean Story, will discuss the changing narrative of the 1937 deportation and focus on the process of re-definition of the Korean identity currently taking place across Central Asia.

 

Victoria Kim holds an MA from the Johns Hopkins University’s SAIS in Korean Studies and MA from the University of Bolton in International Multimedia Journalism. Originally from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, she is currently based in Beijing, China, as a researcher and documentary storyteller. Her multimedia long-reads and podcast on the Korean diaspora in the former Soviet Union are featured in The Diplomat and by the Korea Economic Institute of America. Victoria has widely spoken on the topic to international audiences at the George Washington and Johns Hopkins Universities in Washington DC, Royal Academic Society China and World Culture Open in Beijing, etc.

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Lankov Lecture: The cracks in the alliance: the Soviet Union and North Korea in 1955-1960

It is often presumed that North Korea since its inception was a Soviet satellite or ally. This is correct, but only to an extent, since Kim Il Song and his supporters among the North Korean leaders were deeply nationalistic and saw their reliance on the USSR as a burden. After 1955 it became possible for them to get rid of what they saw as a troublesome and even humiliating dependency. The Soviet attempts to support the anti-Kim opposition ended in a political disaster, and the late 1950s became the time when the relations between the USSR and North Korea deteriorated fast. The period was marked by dramatic events – a defection of the North Korean ambassador to Moscow, abductions of dissenting North Korean students from the USSR and other countries (resulting in the expulsion of the then North Korean ambassador), ban on marriages with the Soviet citizens etc.

Andrei Lankov was born 26 July 1963 in Leningrad (now Petersburg). He completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Leningrad State University (PhD in 1989). In 1996-2004 he taught Korean history at the Australian National University, and since 2004 he teaches at Kookmin University in 2004, Seoul (currently a professor at the College of Social Studies), and is also director of the Korearisk.com group. His major research interest is North Korean history and society. His major English language publications on North Korea include: From Stalin to Kim Il Sung: The Formation of North Korea, 1945-1960 (Rutgers University Press, 2003); Crisis in North Korea: The Failure of De-Stalinization, 1956 (University of Hawaii Press, 2004), North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea (McFarland and Company, 2007), The Real North Korea (Oxford University Press, 2013). He has contributed to the 'Wall Street Journal', 'New York Times', 'Financial Times', 'Newsweek', and published a number of academic articles, including two articles in 'Foreign Affairs'.

 

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Lecture Video: Women and Buddhism: Engaging Zen Master Kim Iryŏp

Why and how do women engage with Buddhism? This is a leading question that this presentation tries to explore by examining the life and thoughts of a Korean Zen Buddhist nun Kim Iryŏp (1896-1971).

A daughter of a Christian pastor, Iryŏp was a first-generation Korean feminist and a writer who became a Zen Buddhist nun. Iryŏp’s life and work bear witness to Korea’s encounter with modernity and Korean women’s life in the formative period of modern Korea. Challenging the social values of patriarchal Korea, Iryŏp and other New Women struggled to find their own identity through their writings and art works, and by living their beliefs. The Buddhist worldview was one of the major venues Iryŏp found to express her identity and the meaning of her existence. By tracing down the life story and philosophy of Kim Iryŏp, this presentation will think about the meaning of autobiography, narrative identity, Christianity as well as Buddhism and meaning construction in our daily existence.
In her writings, Iryŏp challenges readers with her creative interpretations of Buddhist doctrine and her reflections on the meaning of Buddhist practice. In the process she offers insight into a time when the ideas and contributions of women to twentieth-century Korean society and intellectual life were just beginning to emerge from the shadows, where they had been obscured in the name of modernization and nation-building.

Jin Y. Park is Professor of Philosophy and Religion and the Founding Director of the Asian Studies Program at American University. Park’s research areas include East Asian Buddhism, and Buddhist philosophy of religion, Buddhist-postmodern comparative philosophy, and modern East Asian philosophy. Her books include Women and Buddhist Philosophy (2017); Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun (trans. 2014); Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism (ed., 2010); Buddhism and Postmodernity (2008); and Buddhisms and Deconstructions (ed., 2006).

Park served on the Board of Directors at the American Academy of Religion and currently serves as President of the North American Korean Philosophy Association and Vice President of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy.

 

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Lecture Video: The 1882 Korean-American Treaty, Syngman Rhee, and the Division of Korea

It has become axiomatic that the division of Korea in 1945 was a hasty decision taken by men who had little knowledge of Korea and who were every hour being bombarded by issues of much greater importance. It was “wholly an American action” taken with no thought of the Koreans themselves or of the long-term consequences of that division. The division of Korea was not a sufficient condition for the Korean War, but it was a necessary one. Given the monumental consequences that resulted from that division, comparatively little scholarly effort has gone into contextualizing it and to explaining the contradictory directives of the State and War departments that Colonels Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel were given thirty minutes and a small scale National Geographic map of East Asia to solve. The War Department wanted none of Korea, while the State Department wanted nearly all of it. The 38th Parallel was a compromise, not just between the United States and the Soviet Union, but between the United States government’s differing interpretations of its responsibilities toward Korea.

But why did Americans care about Korea at all? Military planners claimed that Korea had no strategic value to the United States and their lack of planning for either an assault on or an occupation of Korea proved they believed it. Dean Rusk’s own account of the division claims that he was tasked with dividing Korea for “symbolic purposes”—not strategic ones. What could have made Korea symbolically important in 1945? The answer lies in the largely unexamined forty-year campaign by Syngman Rhee and the Korean independence movement to persuade Americans to care about Korea. Rhee built a comparatively small but determined network of supporters, tirelessly lobbied the United States government, and at key junctures transformed Korea into an issue of symbolic importance that could not be ignored. Rhee’s activities as the leader of the Korean independence movement in the United States are crucial to the context in which American policymakers suggested the division of Korea.

This lecture will explain how Rhee used the obscure 1882 Korean-American Treaty to transform Korea into a place a symbolic importance to Americans at two critical junctions, the debate over the Versailles Treaty in 1919 and the summer of 1945 when the Allies were constructing a new world order in the wake of World War II. Rhee’s argument that the United States’ violation of this treaty made it responsible for Korea resonated with many Americans, who through their congressmen and grassroots organizing pressured the U.S. government to do something for Korea. Division was not what they had in mind, but it is nevertheless what they received.

David P. Fields earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and is currently a Fulbright scholar at Yonsei University. His dissertation “Foreign Friends: Syngman Rhee, American Exceptionalism, and the Division of Korea” examines how Korean independence activists used the rhetoric of American exceptionalism to lobby for Korean independence in the first half of the 20th century. He is the editor of The Diary of Syngman Rhee, published by the Museum of Contemporary Korean History. He has served as the book review editor of the Journal of American-East Asian Relations since 2015. He has been published in the Journal of American-East Asian Relations and the North Korea Review.

 

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Lecture Video: Korean Art in Its East Asian Context

Korea, because of its geo-political situation, was a natural recipient of the most advanced Chinese art and culture, which were then transmitted to Japan. This process of transmission, however, stimulated the development of a distinctive Korean national and cultural identity, along with the creation of works of art in a wide range of mediums that are uniquely Korean in every aspect.

Examining Korean art in the larger context of East Asian history, culture, and artistic production, this lecture will explore how this process evolved over more than a thousand years and shaped art that is unmistakably Korean in iconography, form, color, style, and technique.

Yi Song-mi, Emerita of Art History at the Academy of Korean Studies, previously served as Dean of the Graduate School at the Academy, and was previously Professor and Director of the University museum at Duksung Women’s University in Seoul. She has been a member of the National History Council of Korea and has served as the President of Korean Art History Association. In April 2014, she served as the Special Lecturer at the Tang Center for East Asian Art History at Princeton University.

Professor Yi was educated at Seoul National University (B.A.), UC Berkeley (M.A.), and Princeton University (Ph. D.). Her recent publications on Korean painting include Searching for Modernity: Western Influence and True-View Landscape in Korean Painting of the Late Chosŏn Period (2014), the award winning Joseon Dynasty books of Royal Wedding in Art Historical Perspective (Korean, 2008), Korean Landscape Painting: Continuity and Innovation Through the Ages (2006).

 

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Lecture Video: Ten reflections after writing a modern history of the two Koreas

The lecturer writes: ‘History, sir, will tell lies as usual.’ is a favourite quote from George Bernard Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple, and the two Koreas are no exceptions to this dictum, though nor are they especially conspicuous offenders. Korean historians from all parts of the political spectrum have merely joined in the common rush to enlist the historical narrative as allies in their various struggles, and over the years they have been joined by quite a few foreigners. The result is a secondary literature that is frequently opaque, confusing and partisan.

Over the past fifteen years or so I have had the privilege of writing successive editions of a book titled The Making of Modern Korea for the UK publisher Routledge. The third edition was published late last year, and affords an opportunity to reflect on some of the things I have learnt – and failed to learn – over the course of reading a wide variety of source material on modern Korean history. I focus on the following topics: the denigration of the achievements of the Choson era; the inability of most non-Koreans to comprehend the significance of the Japanese colonial era; the issue of collaborationism; the disputed origins of the Korean War; the Park-Chun era and the characteristics of the ROK military; the specific colouring of ROK ‘conservative’ ideology; ROK reunification policy and domestic politics; and some key self-inflicted distortions involved in our perceptions of North Korea.

Dr Buzo lectures in Korean Studies at Macquarie University and Korea University, and currently manages the Korea University – Macquarie University joint Master of Translating and Interpreting Studies program. After language studies at Yonsei University in 1973-74 he served as a foreign affairs officer in the Australian missions in Seoul and Pyongyang. He received his Masters degree from Dankook University Department of Korean Language and Literature in 1981, specialising in the study of early Korean writing systems. He was an RAS Councillor 1980-81. In addition to a number of language, translating and interpreting texts, with co-author A. J. Prince his Kyunyo-jon: The Life, Times and Songs of a Tenth Century Korean Monk appeared in 1993. The second edition of his 1999 book The Guerilla Dynasty: Politics and Leadership in the DPRK 1945-1994 will be published later this year by Routledge.

 

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Lecture Video:Public Sentiment and its Place in Modern Korea

In recent years, we have heard a lot in Korea about “public sentiment.” The phrase sounds gentle enough – like the addition of a soft layer of feeling to the idea of “public opinion.” But, actually, it is something altogether different.

If you were puzzled this year by both the justification for and the speed with which President Park Geun-hye was ousted, then you will find an explanation in public sentiment. If you were puzzled last year as to how a court could find executives in Korea for a certain foreign automaker who had translated advertisements about how nice their cars were and run them in Korean magazines guilty of criminality, the answer is public sentiment. If you wondered a few years back how the local head of an American fund could be jailed for five years for manipulating the share price of the bank it had bought when a) there was not a single piece of evidence and b) he wasn’t even in charge at the time, you can guess that public sentiment played a big role.

As such cases show, for the business person who finds his or her company savaged in the media, for the lawyer acting in its defense, for the politician or bureaucrat who helped it at some point, public sentiment is a tsunami that comes without warning.

But, for a people subject to authoritarian governance throughout their history, it represents the moral heart of Korean democracy.

Michael Breen came to Korea as a foreign correspondent and now works as a public relations executive advising companies on their communications with local and foreign media. He is the author of The Koreans and Kim Jong-il: North Korea’s Dear Leader. His latest book, The New Koreans, comes out in April.

 

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Lecture Video: The 386 Generation and the Quest for the “Good Country”

In this lecture, I draw on the Strauss–Howe generational theory to look at how the “386 Generation” (people born in the 1960s who attended university in the 1980s) sought to turn Korea into a “good country” though a wide range of political and social movements in the 1980s. Though differing in focus, the movements defined a “good country” as a democratic and egalitarian society that was confident of itself on the world stage.
In a 1991 book entitled Generations, William Strauss and Neil Howe looked at patterns in generations in the US going back to the colonial period. The authors define a generation as a cohort of people born over roughly a 20-year period that share common beliefs and behaviors developed during childhood and young adulthood within the broader historical and social context of the times.

The 386 Generation, the most populous generation, was born in the 1960s when Korea began transforming itself into an industrialized nation. It attended schools during the 1970s, the harshest years of the Park Chung-hee’s dictatorship. It then entered young adulthood in the 1980s and reacted against the dictatorships of Chun Doo-hwan by offering a vision of Korea as a “good country” that went beyond economic achievement.

As the generation aged, the quest for a “good country” manifested itself in the IT boom in 1990s that sought to apply new technology to create a more open society. In the 2000s, the generation passionately supported the outsider Noh Moo-hyun and more recently took an active role in the candlelight demonstrations against Park Geun-hye. The dominance of the 386 Generation since the 1980s has created tensions with older and younger generations that continue to influence Korean politics and society.

In the lecture, I will draw on my memories of life in Korea as a student of Korean language (1983-1983) and as an English language teacher at (1985-1993). I will refer to articles and images in the mass media from the 1980s to the present.

Robert J. Fouser holds a B.A. in Japanese language and literature, and M.A. in applied linguistics, both from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in applied linguistics from Trinity College Dublin. He studied Korean language intensively at Seoul National University in the 1980s. During his time in Japan, he taught foreign language education at Kyoto University and developed the Korean language program in Kagoshima University. From 2008 to 2014, he taught Korean as a second/foreign language education at Seoul National University. He also is the translator of Understanding Korean Literature (1997), co-author of Hanok: The Korean House (2015), and the author of two books in Korean Mirae Simin ui jogeon[Conditions for Citizenship in the Future] (2016) and Seochon Hollik [Seochon-holic] (2016). He is currently writing a book on the history of foreign language learning and teaching. He also writes regular columns for media outlets in Korea.

 

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Lecture Video: The Korean War: Who Won? Who Lost? Who Cares?

 

Midnight, 27th July, 1953. An eerie silence – a silence unheard for three hideous, blood-drenched years – descended across miles after mile after mile of scorched, cratered hills and denuded, sinister valleys: An armistice had been signed. The Korean War was over…

…or was it? In fact, the demons had barely been suppressed. Six decades later, they continue to stalk the land.

The Korean peninsula is an armed camp. Global media reserve headline space for Kim Jong-un’s strategic weapons development. North Korean is both a politico-strategic black hole and a causus belli at the epi-center of economically thriving Northeast Asia. And the superpowers, China and the USA, could yet come to calamitous blows over a North Korean endgame.

Drowned under all this geo-strategic babble, the 1950-1953 conflict is almost lost to memory. What of the “Forgotten War” itself? What happened? Award-winning author Andrew Salmon will, in the first half of his presentation, sketch out the progress of the war itself, and explain why it was a particularly horrific conflict. He will also explain why it is remembered – ironically - as “The Forgotten War.”

In the second half, he will pose the questions: Who won the Korean War? Who lost it? What metrics define victory and defeat, for nations and policies? And what lessons and risks do the Korean War and its long, lingering aftermath hold for the world today?

About our speaker:

Seoul-based reporter Andrew Salmon covers the Koreas for France24 and is a columnist for The Korea Times. His To the Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea, 1951 won a “Military Book of the Year” award in the United Kingdom in 2009, a “Korea Wave” award at the National Assembly in Seoul in 2010 and was named one of the “Top 10” books on Korea by The Wall St Journal, also in 2010. The book's follow up, Scorched Earth, Black Snow: Britain and Australia in the Korean War, 1950was, like its prequel, translated into Korean. In 2016, Andrew was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal by Queen Elizabeth II for his writing on the British role in the Korean War. His latest book Modern Korea: All That Matters was published in 2015. Andrew holds a BA from the University of Kent and an MA from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). His interests include history, martial arts and ale.

 

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