Lecture Videos with Blogs

RASKB Excursion to Andong October 6-7

Dear RASKB members and friends,

Our next overnight excursion will take place on Saturday, October 6, 2012 to Sunday, October 7, 2012. It will take us to Andong and we will spend the night in traditional Korean family homes in Hahoe Village. There we will view the evening's traditional firework and fire festival at the riverside. This is the 15th Annual Andong International Mask Dance Festival and we hope that on Sunday it will be possible to view the extremely exciting cheonnyeonnori, a game where two opposing groups clash, chant, and throw their shoes around, as well as performances by local shamans etc. Full details are here.

I am writing now because we need to have some idea of the number of rooms we should reserve. Therefore, if you think you will probably be joining us for this excursion, please send us an email to royalasiatickorea@gmail.com, indicating the names of those intending to join, the number of rooms needed, and a contact telephone number.

Final confirmation and payment can be made later, but because of the many people visiting Hahoe Village for the festival, we must make provisional reservations now.

This is a fascinating trip, we visit other interesting places in Andong as well, and I hope that many will want to come along.

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB


Check out the Willard Straight Collection of Old Photographs of Korea

Click here to see old pictures of Korea from the Willard Straight Collection in the Cornell University Library.

Special RASKB Event

One very special upcoming event:
A professor of Korean dance, (Ms.) Park Eun-young (who has spent most of her outstanding career researching classical court dance) is going to present a remarkable authentic reinactment of court ceremony, complete with dance. The exciting thing about this event is that it will not be held in a theatre, but rather in the exact location within the palace where it was originally performed.

Professor Park would especially like as many interested foreigners as possible to come to the performance. Seating is very limited-- only approximately 200 seats will be available within the palace courtyard and all other members of the audience will have to stand.

This performance is a court ceremony originally held in February 1829 at Changkyeonggung Palace. It was performed in honor of King Sunjo’s 40th birthday and to mark the 30th anniversary of his accession to the throne. The dance was created by his son, Crown Prince Hyomyeong (1809-1830).

On October 3, not only will the dance be performed but also the rituals, music and actual site of the original dance will be used in an “Evening of Decorum” in honor of Foundation Day.

Date: October 3, 2012 (It's Wednesday, and a holiday--Korean Foundation Day)
Time: 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Venue: Changgyeonggung (so, outdoors)
If you would like to attend this event (there is no charge)
please send an email to Suzanna Samstag at jiyunsmom@hotmail.com as soon as possible.

Two reminders:

1. Our next lecture will be on Wednesday September 12 at 7:30 pm in Somerset Palace, when Professor Robert Provine will lecture about the earliest surviving recording of Korean music, made on 24 July 1896, when three young Korean men in Washington DC were recorded on Edison wax cylinders as they sang traditional songs. Professor Provine is an expert in Korean music and an old friend of the RAS, some of you may recall the lecture he gave us on Nov. 6 1974.

2. Next Saturday, September 15, one of our members, Tobias Lehmann, who lives in Gongju, joined by a local historian, will help us to explore Gongju, the previous capital of the Baekje kingdom during the three kingdoms period. The excursion will focus on some selected sights, mostly related to Buddhism. This should be a particularly interesting visit and it is not too far from Seoul.

I look forward to seeing many of you at these events

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB

Blog tags: 

RASKB Lecture Video: Girls' Generation? Gender, (Dis)Empowerment and K-pop by Dr. Stephen Epstein

This lecture is from October 2011 and was given by Dr. Stephen Epstein. The lecture is available as both a video and as an audio recording only. It was filmed by Henry Hwang. Check out our upcoming lectures and previous lecture videos (North Korea and rewriting Korean history).

Audio Only

The hottest phrase in Korea nowadays is undeniably 'girl group.' But girl group fever is more than just a trend: it's symbolic of a cultural era that is embracing the expulsion of authoritarian ideology." So reads the content blurb for a story on the rise of girl groups in the March 2010 issue of Korea, a public relations magazine published under the auspices of the Korean Culture and Information Service. Nonetheless, despite official, top-down promotion and cheerful assertions that this phenomenon is a liberating pop movement, a reading of the lyrics and visual codes of the music videos of popular contemporary Korea girl groups raises serious questions about the empowering nature of "Girl Group Fever.

This lecture will engage in a close analysis of the music and videos of groups such as the Wonder Girls, Girls' Generation, KARA, T-ara and the discourse that has surrounded their rise to popularity in South Korea, in order to challenge the notion that contemporary consumer society is making a radical break from more traditional, deeply embedded power structures and argue that a set of recurrent tropes in the studied media and marketing presentation of Korean girl groups undercuts claims to a progressive ethos.

Blog tags: 

The RASKB Returns to Life: 1911

Brother Anthony of Taizé

This was the context in which, on January 23, 1911, the RASKB was reborn, at a meeting attended by eight men and one woman. Only two of the original founders of the RASKB were present at the January 1911 meeting, James Gale and the Methodist missionary doctor William Benton Scranton (1856-1922). The meeting was held in Scranton’s Sanitarium.

When the RASKB was revived, the first President elected was the British consul at Chemulpo, Arthur Hyde Lay (1865 - 1934). Lay was born in China, educated in Britain and arrived in Japan in 1887 as an interpreter trainee. From 1899 until 1902 he worked in Japan as an interpreter but seems to have mastered Korean by 1904. He published Chinese Characters for the Use of Students of the Japanese Language in 1898. He served as British Consul at Chemulpo (Incheon) in 1911, then went to be consul in Hawai’i (1912) and Shimonoseki (1913). From 1914 until 1927 he was British consul-general in Seoul and seems to have developed a great affection for Korea. However, Ku Daeyeol notes that “Lay had a stereotyped view of Korea, commonly shared by almost all Western diplomats. In a report he wrote following his retirement, he recalled that the Korean political situation had been dismal before the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, and concluded that the country still lacked the ability to maintain an autonomous government.” In October 1911, Lay was obliged to resign as President of the RASKB since he was leaving Korea for Hawai’i. His son has written that he had grown so attached to Korea that he did everything to have his posting to Hawai’i cancelled. He was replaced as President by James S. Gale, who resigned in February 1916, allowing Lay, now back as British Consul-General in Seoul, to be re-elected President for another year before he was replaced by Bishop Trollope.

One other diplomat who clearly played a vital role in the 1911 RASKB revival was the American consul-general George Hawthorne Scidmore (1854-1922). A career diplomat, he first came to Yokohama (Japan) in 1881 after several years in Europe, served in Oceania 1891-4, returned to Japan, then served as consul-general in Seoul 1909-13 during the annexation, before becoming consul-general in Yokohama, where he died. Several RASKB meetings were held at his invitation in the US Consulate General. Ku Daeyeol writes: “George Scidmore, the American consul general at the time of annexation, supported Japanese policy, as he had been impressed by Japan's efficient reform drive in his previous appointments in many Japanese ports, which he deemed to contrast the corrupt Korea that lacked any reform drive.”

The first lecture given to the resurrected Society, at a meeting held on March 4, 1911, in the U.S. Consulate on the invitation of Scidmore, was titled “The Old People and the New Government.” It was given by Midori Komatsu, the Japanese Director of Foreign Affairs of the Government General of Chosen. It was the first paper published in Volume Four of Transactions a few months later. Komatsu’s paper was a formal justification for the annexation of Chosen, based on claims that Korea had “originally” been a state founded from Japan, that the two peoples were “really” one “race”, and as such it was natural and desirable for them to be reunited.

It is sometimes claimed that the Japanese imposed the paper on an unwilling Society but this is fairly clearly not the case. First of all, it must be said that in early 1911 a large majority of the foreigners living in Korea still considered the annexation in a positive light. Besides, the accounts of the Council’s meetings published in Transactions Volume IV Part 2 make it clear that it was the president, Mr. Lay, and James Gale who decided on February 8, 1911, that this should be the first paper. Then, on March 4th, the paper was given in the US Consulate on the invitation of George Scidmore with nine RASKB members present, as well as “many guests,” “including members of the local diplomatic corps and ladies.” At the end, the Chairman (Lay) proposed a “hearty vote of thanks.” Later, on April 12, the Council met and “directed” the Recording Secretary (James Gale) to ask Mr. Komatsu for a copy of his paper for publication.

Two other papers were given by Japanese speakers that same year and were published in other parts of the same volume of Transactions, after which no papers by Japanese were ever given or published. One, that by Isoh Yamagata, the editor of the Seoul Press, evokes in cheerful tones the restoration of cordial relations between Japan and Korea after the Imjin War. The Seoul Press was the only English-language newspaper allowed in Korea and its role was to express the official Japanese version of events. The other, on “Coinage of Old Korea” by Morihiro Ichihara, who had earned a Ph.D. in finance from Yale and was first governor of the Bank of Chosen (I909-I915), begins: “To find and destroy the venerable old coins of Korea and replace them with new ones . . . has been my duty for many years.” It ends: “New Chosen begins its career with new vigor and strength as a part of the Empire of Japan.”

It is hard to know what was in the minds of Lay, Scidmore and Gale in deciding to invite these very highly placed, offical Japanese speakers, or to sense what considerations, if any, led to the invitations. That the Western diplomats and missionaries were still trying to be positive about Japan’s ways of dealing with Korea and optimistic about the future seems clear. Within ten years, by the time of the March 1 1919 uprising, much had changed but it is easy to imagine that the RASKB Council of early 1911 felt that they could deal with the top members of the Japanese administration as reasonable, educated gentlemen like themselves. They might even have hoped that by bringing them into the Society they would help them better understand the concerns of the western community in Seoul, and the demands of the civilized world. They very quickly learned that they were wrong.

Blog tags: 

RASKB Activities for September

Dear Members and Friends of the RASKB

I hope that you have spent a restful summer. The heat in Korea has been challenging and now we are expecting a major typhoon. Perhaps after that we will feel that autumn is coming, the most beautiful season in Korea. I am writing to send you the list of our planned lectures and other activities for September and October. Full details for each of these and a tentative list of planned excursions through to the end of the year are available in our home page. I feel very glad that we have such a varied set of interesting topics lined up for you all to enjoy.

Please tell me or one of our Council members if you have suggestions for other activities, interesting potential speakers, or attractive destinations for excursions. I hope you will introduce the RASKB to friends and colleagues who have recently arrived in Korea and do not so far know about us. We are always happy to welcome new members, Korean and non-Korean, anyone fascinated by Korea past and present and eager to learn more.

In Korea, the autumn is traditionally a favored time for reading. If anyone is interested in reading books about Korea written by early travelers, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, I have included in my own home page a long list of such books which are freely available through the Internet, usually in PDF and other useful formats. Or you might like to buy one of the many books available from the RASKB. In the coming weeks we are hoping to make our office a more attractive place to visit and buy books, I will tell you more soon.

Our home page includes the RAS-KB Blog, which urgently needs more people reading it and writing for it. Take a look!

I hope you all know that the RAS-KB / Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch is present on Facebook in a variety of ways. Explore them!

Please note that our first September lecture will be on a Wednesday instead of the usual Tuesday, Wednesday September 12 at 7:30 pm.

With all my best wishes for the coming time.

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB


Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 7:30pm

Revolutionaries, Nursery Rhymes, and Edison Wax Cylinders: The Remarkable Tale of the Earliest Sound Recordings of Korean Music    

Dr. Robert Provine

Tuesday, September 25, 2012, 7:30pm

The Decision on War in Korea: Revelations from the Russian Archives

Dr. Kathryn Weathersby.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 7:30pm

Korea’s Responses to AIDS

Sister Miriam Cousins.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 7:30pm

Categorizing Migrants: the Making of Multicultural Society in South Korea

Daisy Y. Kim.


Cheong-Pyeong Boat Excursion

Saturday, September 1, 2012 - 8:30am to 7:30pm

Leader: Sue Bae

Land of Tea and Exile: South Jeolla Province

Saturday, September 8, 2012 - 8:00am to Sunday, September 9, 2012 - 8:00pm

Leader: Brother Anthony

Discovering Gongju and Its Neighborhood: Baekche History and Culture

Saturday, September 15, 2012 - 8:00am to 8:00pm.

Leaders: Tobias Lehmann and Jo Gi-Ho

Visit to Suwon-Hwaryeongjeon, Haeng-Gung and Hwaseong Fortress

Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 9:00am to 6:00pm.

Leader: Mr. Peter Bartholomew
Seochon: Wandering Seoul's Last "Untouched" Neighborhood

Saturday, September 29, 2012: 1:30-4:30

Leader: Dr. Robert J. Fouser

Andong & Hahoe Village,

Saturday-Sunday, October 6-7

Leader: Jennifer Flinn

Daehangno and Hyehwa-dong: An Architectural Walk

Saturday, October 6, 2012: 13:00-16:30

Leader: Dr. Robert J. Fouser

King Sejong and Hangeul walk in central Seoul

Saturday, October 13

Leader: Robert Fouser

Gangneung (Kangnŭng), Province of Gangwon-Do (Kangwŏn-Do)

Saturday-Sunday, October 13-14, 2012

Leader: Mr. Peter Bartholomew

Old Incheon: A Walk through Korean History since 1876

Saturday, October 27, 2012: 13:30-18:00

Leader: Dr. Robert J. Fouser

RAS Reading Club

To learn about Korea and develop cultural literacy through reading
works of Korean literature (in English translation). The next meeting
will be held on Monday September 10 at 7 pm in the Inje
University building, discussing “Mother’s Hitching Post” by Park
Wan-so.  (See map in “Library” in our home page).

Contact: Bob Fouser   kagoshimabob@gmail.com

RAS Photo Special Interest Group

We are organizing a monthly photography special interest group, the RAS
Photo SIG, to help people improve their photographic skills. Meetings
are usually held once a month in the Inje University building (See map
in “Library” in our home page). The first meeting after the summer will
take place on Wednesday, September 5 at 7:00pm..

Contact: Tom Coyner    tom@softlandingkorea.com

National Museum of Korea: RASKB lecture-visit

We are offering a monthly in-depth tour of one portion of the National
Museum of Korea with an English-speaking member of their staff. The next
such visit, focussing on Buddhist sculpture, will be held on Wednesday 19 September,
starting at 7:00 pm. There is no charge; it is open to RASKB members
only. Those wishing to attend should send an email with the subject
“National Museum Tour” to royalasiatickorea@gmail.com. The visit is
limited to 20 people, on a first come first served basis.

For full details of all upcoming events see the RAS web page http://www.raskb.com/

Blog tags: 

Check Out Our New Ganghwa Island Album

Click here to see pictures from a 2010 RAS trip to beautiful Ganghwa Island.

Steps to Annexation: 1903-1910

Brother Anthony of Taizé

Steps to Annexation: 1903-1910

There is no way of knowing exactly why the RASKB stopped meeting after the end of 1902. Clearly, the drowning of H. G. Appenzeller in June 1902, the departure from Korea for a time of George Heber Jones in 1903, the increasing involvement of Hulbert in the Emperor’s affairs, the return to England of Mark N. Trollope in 1902, the departure together (for Europe by the Trans-Siberian railway) in June 1903 of Gale and Hulbert, and Gale's further absences in the years following on account of his wife’s ill-health, as well as the Russo-Japanese War (February 1904 - September 1905) and the departure of many diplomats with the closing of the legations late in 1905, all might help explain it.

In 1901 Homer Hulbert founded The Korea Review, which was very similar in format and scope to the Korean Repository. However, the editorial policy of the Review was perhaps more strongly oriented by its editor’s vision than the Repository had been. His main ideas included the affirmation that Koreans were capable of the highest achievements but oppressed by ignorance; therefore widespread education conducted in Hangul was essential. The most controversial idea, one that he nourished almost to the end, was an idealistic view of Japan as a source and model of enlightenment and social progress, to which he opposed the Russian model of autocracy and stagnation.

Hulbert’s positive vision of Japan prior to 1905 and some other of his ideas, as well his relatively outspoken manner of writing, were strongly opposed by another of the founders of the RASKB, the American diplomat Dr. Horace N. Allen. Allen was increasingly convinced that Russian domination in Korea would be better than a Japanese takeover, and his conflict with Hulbert reached a peak during the Russo-Japanese War (February 1904 - September 1905), during which Hulbert continued to maintain an idealistically pro-Japanese position in the Review, only criticizing the negative activities and attitudes toward Korea of individual Japanese. Allen’s support for Russia displeased the State Department in Washington, who strongly supported Japan, and perhaps led to his being recalled in 1905.

Throughout the same period, Korean ministers acting without the King’s permission were signing a series of treaties with Japan, a process that would culminate in the notorious Japan-Korea Treaty of 1905, also known as the Eulsa Treaty, signed by just five ministers on November 17, 1905. This gave Japan complete responsibility for Korea’s foreign affairs, and placed all trade through Korean ports under Japanese supervision, in effect making Korea a protectorate of Japan.

It was not until the September 1905 issue of the Korea Review that Hulbert finally denounced plainly the Japanese plans for reducing Korea to a protectorate. Then, early in October, he left for the United States, secretly carrying a letter for the American President signed by the Emperor, asking the United States to prevent Japan from taking control of Korea. At the time, nobody in Korea knew of the conversations that had been held late in July 1905 between the Japanese prime-minister Katsura Taro and the United States Secretary of War William Howard Taft, during which the American encouraged the Japanese plans to take full control of Korea.

Hulbert arrived in Washington at almost exactly the same moment as the Korean foreign minister signed the Eulsa Treaty in Seoul, which the Japanese claimed was sufficient to ratify it. The pro-Japanese American government therefore refused to accept the Emperor’s letter, claiming that the ratification of the Treaty was a matter of fact, even though the Emperor himself had not signed it. After trying in vain to alert American public opinion through the press, which was also largely sympathetic to the Japanese, Hulbert returned to Korea in the summer of 1906. By the time he returned, all the foreign legations in Seoul had been reduced to the level of consulates.

When Hulbert returned to Korea in 1906, the Emperor immediately asked him to prepare to go as his ambassador to the nations due to attend the Second International Peace Conference to be held in The Hague in June 1907. His task was to contact the major powers, asking them to support the independence of Korea. His role was to be secret, behind the scenes, and in April 1907 the Emperor secretly appointed three Korean representatives. They were all unable to gain access to the conference and Hulbert left The Hague only a day or so before the Emperor was forced to abdicate on July 19, 1907. He was succeeded by his feeble fourth son, who became known as the Yunghui Emperor, or Sunjong. On July 24 1907 the new ruler signed over control of the country’s internal administration to Japan. On 22 August, 1910, the Empire of Daehan was annexed by Japan under the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, a final formality.

Hulbert knew that he could never again live in Korea. He made a final visit to Seoul in the autumn of 1909. He was there when the Korean patriot An Jung-geun assassinated the former Japanese premier Ito Hirobumi in Harbin in October. A year before, in March 1908, Korean nationalist patriots had assassinated Durham White Stevens in San Francisco. Stevens had been an American diplomat stationed in Japan since 1873 then became a Japanese diplomat in 1883. In November 1904, Stevens was appointed as adviser to the Korean Foreign Office. He was intensely pro-Japanese and advocated the annexation. Previously, in July 1907, an attempt had been made by some Koreans to murder George Heber Jones for having praised the Japanese police for putting down a nationalistic demonstration. All these violent expressions of Korean resistance only served to drive the foreign community in Korea, whether missionaries or diplomats, towards stronger support for Japan, since they reinforced the feeling that Koreans were a violent, anarchic people incapable of governing themselves. Hulbert continued to support Korea's wish for independence in various ways throughout his life. In 1949 he finally returned to Korea, by train across Russia, and died a week after his arrival.

Blog tags: 

Korean Transformations 1882-1900

Brother Anthony of Taizé

2. Korean Transformations 1882-1900

The choice facing Korea at the end of the 19th century, between the old and the new, was vividly reflected in the events that shook Seoul late in 1884, the Gapsin coup. Following the opening of Japan to western trade and modernization, the Gaehwapa (Enlightenment Party) group of reformers led by Kim Ok-gyun and Pak Yong-hyo sought to initiate rapid changes within Korea along similar lines. Thwarted by conservative factions within the court, particularly the pro-Chinese Sugupa, they launched a coup d'état with Japanese support on 4 December, 1884. On the evening of that day, a banquet was held at the new post office in Seoul to celebrate the successful inauguration of Korea’s postal system. Members of the diplomatic community and Korean government officials were in attendance. This party was part of a plot to overthrow the pro-Chinese Korean clique, dominated by the Min clan, and establish a new government that would be more progressive and pro-Japanese. Chief amongst the conspirators in attendance were Hong Yong-sik, the host of the party and leader of the conspiracy; Pak Yong-hyo, the conspiracy’s director of operations; and Kim Ok-gyun who was responsible for contact between the conspirators and the Japanese legation and planning the coup. In addition to the conspirators were their foes, three conservative Korean ministers: Min Yeong-ik, head of the pro-Chinese Min clan, Yi Ja-yeon and General Han Kyu-sik. Just before 10 p.m., a small building near the post office was set afire, luring Min Yeong-ik out into an ambush. An assassin severely wounded him but he managed to stagger back into the building, bleeding profusely. By the end of the night the conspirators had gained control of the Korean government.

Faced with this threat to royal authority, Chinese military intervened, and after three days the revolt was suppressed by 1500 troops of the Chinese garrison based in Seoul. During the ensuing battle, the Japanese legation building was burned down, and forty Japanese were killed. The surviving Gaehwapa activists escaped to the port city of Chemulpo under escort of the Japanese minister to Korea, Takejo, and there boarded a Japanese ship for exile in Japan. Under intense international pressure, the Chinese and Japanese agreed to withdraw their troops, which had been stationed in Seoul since the food riots of 1882, but the underlying tension between the two countries remained alive and ultimately led to the Sino-Japanese War in 1894. Kim Ok-gyun and his companions had already understood in 1884 that Japan held the key to the modernization which Korean society urgently needed, particularly if it was to resist the territorial ambitions that Japan was already manifesting. China was in decline and its policies toward Korea strongly favored the status quo. In particular, Japan’s army and navy were already far better equipped and trained.

From February until November 1894, the Donghak Rebellion raged through Korea; China and Japan both sent in troops, still competing for control over Korea. The First Sino-Japanese War began late in July, 1894, and led to the invasion by Japan of western Manchuria and northern China. The war ended with a virtual Chinese surrender. The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on April 17, 1895. It gave Japan control over the Liaodong Peninsula, ended the tributary relationship between Korea and the Qing Dynasty, and gave Japan control over Taiwan. However, Russia brought France and Germany to its side and they forced Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula to China. This only made Japan more determined to take full control of Korea, where Russia by now too had ambitions.

On October 8, 1895, the Queen was assassinated by a band of Japanese, because of her ongoing opposition to Japan’s plans, and during the following months the terrified King, fearing for his life, insisted that a group of western missionaries should sleep close to him in the palace each night. The core members of this group were James S. Gale, Homer B. Hulbert, George Heber Jones, Horace G. Underwood, H. G. Appenzeller. All of these men were involved a few years later in the foundation of the RASKB. Mrs. Underwood had acted as the Queen’s doctor and after the assassination she prepared meals for the King, who thought people were trying to poison him. They could hardly be closer to the making of Korean history.

Blog tags: 

Pictures from the Danyang and Seorak excursions now on Facebook

Pictures from two great summer excursions are now available on Facebook. Please "Like" our albums and follow RASKB on Facebook if you are not already doing so.

Click here for the Danyang pictures and here for the Seorak pictures.



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