RAS-KB: The Blog
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.
Lecturer: Byung Joon Jung and Vladimir Hlasny
This is a story of two Korean Americans who were US citizens but wanted to join the Korean independence movement during the colonial period. Alice Hyun was known as a so-called “US spy” and “Korea’s Mata Hari” by South and North Korea. She was known as the first lover of famous Korean communist Park Hon Young during his stay in Shanghai in the early 1920s. She was involved in the Korean independence movement and became a communist. She served in the US Army during the Pacific War and joined the US Army Forces in Korea after World War II. She was a deputy of the Seoul branch of the Civil Communication Intelligence Group-Korea, a civil sponsorship organ. She was banished from South Korea by the US army authorities and went to Pyongyang via Czechoslovakia in 1949. She was imprisoned in 1953 and may have been executed in 1956 when Park Hon Young himself was executed.
Her son Wellington Chung went to Prague in 1948 to study medicine at Charles University. He became a medical surgeon in 1955 and wanted to re-unite with his mother in Pyongyang but North Korea denied him entry into Pyongyang. He remained stuck in Czechoslovakia. The US embassy at Prague also followed his activities in Czechoslovakia. During that time his mother was being put to death by North Korea and his uncles in LA were summoned to the hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He struggled to survive in Czechoslovakia under surveillance and restrictions on his activities. He married a Czech woman in 1957, but committed suicide in 1963.
This is a story of Korean American radicals who pursued their dreams to go back to their real motherland. However, there were no such place in reality that they dreamed of and imagined. They denied their identities as US citizens and South Korean nationals and wanted to become “real Koreans,” that is, North Korean nationals. But when Alice arrived in Pyongyang, she faced a strange world where her only reputation was that of a US spy.
Byung Joon Jung is a professor of History at Ewha Womans University. He majored in modern Korean history. He has published several books on Korean political figures and modern Korean history such as Syngman Rhee, Lyuh Woon Hyung, Korean War, Dokdo, and Alice Hyun. He has earned several awards including two times the Hanguk Chulpan Munhwa sang (Korean Publication Culture Award for Academic Book sponsored by Hankook Daily News) and the Wolbong Jeojak Sang (Wolbong Book Award for Korean Studies).
Vladimir Hlasny is an associate professor of Economics at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. In 2015, he served as an economic affairs officer at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia in Beirut. He holds a doctorate in economics from Michigan State University. His main research areas are microeconomics and industry regulation. In History, his topic of interest is the Korean relations with Europe and the United States in the 1940s and 50s.
Transportation played a very important role in Korea’s economic growth during the 20th century. It developed as rapidly as the economy, and today Korea’s cities have some of the most efficient public transport systems in the world. This lecture will take the audience through how public transport developed from the first trams in Seoul to today’s subway systems, and conclude by looking at what the future holds.
The introduction of trams was a watershed moment for Korea entering the modern era at the end of the 19th century. Under Japanese colonial rule, Seoul’s inner-city tram system was expanded and carried around 150,000 passengers per day at its peak. After the Korean War, trams had to compete with buses and cars. Cities shifted their focus to the development of underground rail systems and trams disappeared in 1968. Six years later Seoul opened its first subway line, and since then over 18 lines have been added to Seoul’s capital region, becoming one of the largest subway systems in the world. Bus systems in Korea have also become advanced and well integrated with other modes of transport.
Over the last ten years cities have continued to experiment with other modes of transport, with light rail in particular proving popular nationwide.
Although it has been almost fifty years since trams disappeared from Seoul’s streets, there has recently been a strong interest in the reintroduction of trams to cities around Korea. What are the motivations for bringing back trams and is Korea on the verge of a tram renaissance? What else does the future hold for public transport in Korea?
Andy Tebay and Nikola Medimorec are writers for Kojects, a website about public transport and urban development in Korea. Andy started the website in 2011 to help inform people about the various public transport and development projects in progress around Korea. Nikola joined him two years later, contributing topics related to cycling and walking in Korean cities. See their website Kojects.
Following the execution of nine Catholic missionaries, the French Far Eastern Squadron undertook a punitive expedition against Korea in 1866. This famous event of the late Chosŏn period came to be known as the “foreign disturbance of the pyŏngin year” (pyŏngin yangyo) and it is still perceived in Korean historiography as the first foreign attempt to invade the peninsula since the seventeenth century. The French chargé d’affaires in Beijing, Henri de Bellonnet, officially planned to establish a protectorate in Chosŏn, but the naval campaign failed and the French troops finally withdraw. It is no wonder that the expedition was doomed to failure from the beginning, since the French fleet did not count more than 500 men, and most of them contracted smallpox. But this point precisely suggests that deeper reasons conducted the French to undertake an ill-conceived six-week campaign just before the onset of winter. My presentation will explore the geopolitical factors that led to the expedition, beginning with the Russian threat in the North and the protection of French nationals in China. But I will also demonstrate that, contrary to previous studies, the “foreign disturbance” of 1866 did not just confirm Korea in its policy of isolation. Next to a military response, the Chosŏn government also requested diplomatic support from Qing China and Edo Japan with more or less success. More generally, this presentation will move beyond the traditional issue of Catholicism and revisit the early encounters of Korea with the West in an East Asian perspective.
Pierre-Emmanuel Roux (Ph.D. 2013) is an associate professor and the director of the Korean Studies Section at Paris Diderot University. He is an historian of late Chosŏn Korea and Qing China, with a focus on religion and law. He also published an award-winning monograph on French-Korean encounters in the 19th century (La Croix, la baleine et le canon : La France face à la Corée au milieu du XIXe siècle. Paris: Cerf, 2012).
In this presentation, a western anthropologist, a Korean folklore scholar, and a Korean art historian describe the different paths and interests that led them to collaborate on their recent book about Korean shaman paintings, God Pictures in Korean Contexts, published by the University of Hawai’i press. Laurel Kendall, Jongsung Yang, and Yul Soo Yoon describe what it is that makes a shaman painting magical or sacred, how they “work” in the sacred setting of a shaman shrine and how, in the late twentieth century, many Korean collectors came to value these erstwhile scary pictures as collectable folk art. This presentation considers the active lives that shaman paintings lead in contemporary South Korea in shaman shrines, on the art market, and in museums, drawing on the different expertise and experiences of Kendall, Yang, and Yoon to provide a rich, full portrait of the complex lives of Korean shaman paintings.
The three authors bring their own distinctive knowledge and experiences to this project. Laurel Kendall and Jongsung Yang have each been studying and associating with Korean shamans for over three decades, Kendall as an American anthropologist, Yang as a Korean folklorist. Yul Soo Yoon is an art historian and an expert on Korean folk and Buddhist painting who has unparalleled knowledge of the history of shaman paintings and the techniques and intentions of those who painted them.
About the Speakers:
Laurel Kendall, chair of the Anthropology Division at the American Museum of Natural History and Curator of Anthropology at the Museum holds a Ph.D. in anthropology with distinction from Columbia University. Her acquaintance with Korea began as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in the early 1970s. She is the author of Shamans, Housewives and Other Restless Spirits, Women in Korean Ritual Life; The Life and Hard Times of a Korean Shaman: of Tales and the Telling of Tales, and Shamans, Nostalgias, and the IMF: South Korean Popular Religion in Motion, which won the Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology’s Yim Suk-jay prize as the best work of Korean ethnography by a foreign scholar. She is currently President of the Association for Asian Studies, 2016-2017.
Jongsung Yang is Emeritus Senior Curator of the National Folk Museum of Korea where he specialized in traditional Korean performing arts and shamanism and where, just before his retirement, he curated the path-breaking exhibition, Mediator between Heaven and Earth—Shaman. He is currently the Director of the Museum of Shamanism, the culmination of a life-long project which opened in 2013. Yang holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from the University of Indiana and has been a journeyman heritage bearer in traditional Korean performing arts. He is the author of Cultural Protection Policy in Korea: Intangible Cultural Properties and Living National Treasures as well as author of numerous articles and reports on Korean shamanism, performing arts, and material culture.
Yul Soo Yoon, the Director and founder of the Gahoe Museum and an authority on Korean Buddhist art as well as folk and shaman painting, holds a Ph.D. from Tongguk University in Seoul. Yoon has been a leading scholar in developing an appreciation for Korean shaman paintings with the larger history of Korean art. He is the author of Folk Painting: Handbook of Korean Art as well as many books and articles in Korean on folk painting and shaman painting and the curator of many exhibitions on Korean folk painting both within and beyond South Korea.
A copy of David Mason's book can be purchased on his website.
Great scholar, writer and spiritual sage Choi Chi-won (857-?) is one of the most interesting yet enigmatic figures of all Korea's cultural history, displaying many virtues & talents and symbolizing many key themes. He exemplifies the tragic spirit of the Unified Shilla Dynasty’s waning days, and the incipient harmony among Korea’s Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism – a general "culture hero" of Korean tradition. He served as a brilliant government official in both Tang China and Korea, but then adopted the scholar-name Go-un [Lonely Cloud] to reflect his feelings about his later years in effective internal exile, during which he practiced Daoism and lived in great Buddhist temples and recorded their histories, with biographies of their enlightened masters, some of which remain inscribed on stone monuments today. Finally, he attained “immortality” at Gaya-san Haein-sa. This lecture will tell the fascinating story of his life, showing many photos of the lovely sites associated with him, and demonstrate the profound effect that his legacy left on the next 1100 years of Korea's cultural development.
David A. Mason is a Professor of Korean Public Service at Chung-Ang University, Seoul Campus, and a longtime researcher on the religious characteristics of Korea's mountains. Prior to his assuming his current post, he served as a professor of Korean Cultural Tourism for 9 years, as a consultant for the national Ministry of Culture and Tourism for 5 years, and as professor of English out in the Korean countryside for 17 years.
A citizen of the United States, native of Michigan, he has been living in South Korea for 33 years now, always following his passionate interest in hiking Korea’s forested mountains and visiting their historic spiritual sites. He has proudly been a member of the RAS-KB for three decades. He was appointed the Honorary Ambassador of the Baekdu-daegan Ranges by the Korea Forest Service in 2011.
Mason earned a Masters' Degree in the History of Korean Religions from Yonsei University in 1997. He has authored and edited ten books on Korean culture and tourism, including Spirit of the Mountains about Korea's traditions of spiritual mountain-worship, the English Encyclopedia of Korean Buddhism, and Solitary Sage: The Profound Life, Wisdom and Legacy of Korea’s ‘Go-un’ Choi Chi-won. He has published many articles in academic journals and popular magazines, and has frequently been interviewed on various media. His popular website on sacred Korean mountains and mountain-spirits can be found at www.san-shin.org
A Tale of Two Cities: The Struggle Between Gangnam and Gangbuk from the founding of Seoul to the Present
The City of Seoul consists of two competing cultural elements known as Gangbuk, "North of the River" and Gangnam "South of the River." Although it is clear that the brash Gangnam of Psy represents a strident voice that stands in opposition to the more subtle and communal culture of the North side, in fact the two cultures are often mixed together within the same space. Also, we can trace this cultural dichotomy back to the colonial period, and even back to the founding of the city of Seoul in the 14th century. This talk presents the two cultural genealogies in a compelling and slightly irreverent manner for a general audience.
Emanuel Pastreich serves as a professor at Kyung Hee University’s College of International Studies and as the director of the Asia Institute in Seoul, Korea. He served as the director of the KORUS House (2005-2007), a policy think tank operated in the embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington D.C. and as editor-in-chief of Dynamic Korea, an on-line newspaper produced by the Korean foreign ministry. Pastreich is active in the internationalization of local government in Korea. Starting with his work as adviser to the governor of Chungnam Provence from 2007, he has advised the mayor of Daejeon, the mayor of Gwangju and the president of the Daedeok Innopolis Research cluster. He currently works closely with Seoul City.
This lecture will explore how Korea was seen and represented in US military newspapers and magazines during the period of American Military Government (1945-1948)
Thanks to Prof. Kathryn Weathersby’s recent presentation, we all know how Korea came to be divided. This lecture is a kind of follow-up. The bulk of US forces – specifically, the XXIV Corps of the US Army – arrived in Incheon on September 8th, 1945. From then until 15th August, 1948, when the Republic of Korea was proclaimed, the area of Korea south of the 38th parallel was under US military occupation. The arms and agencies of government were officially taken over from the Japanese colonial administration and administered by the US Army Military Government, under Lt General John R Hodge.
Very quickly after its arrival in Korea, the Troop Information and Education (TI&E) section of the XXIV Corps began printing a weekly newspaper for troops stationed in the US zone of occupation. This was called Korea Graphic. It came out very Sunday, and featured humorous anecdotes, cultural and historical information about Korea, news from home – especially sports, and also pin-up girls. Both American and Korean ladies were featured. For the average young soldier who had never before heard of Korea, and was often discouraged from getting too close to the country – for example, there were occasionally directives given to avoid eating the local cuisine – Korea Graphic and other publications from TI&E were the main source of information on what was going on in the country around them.
Bearing in mind that Korea had been a part of Japan for longer than most enlisted men had been alive at the time, these publications did a lot of early work to create a separate image in US soldiers’ minds of a nation that was now very much not a part of Japan, and with people who were very different from the Japanese.
Although no complete archive of Korea Graphic is known to exist anywhere, Jacco Zwetsloot has amassed a partial collection, mostly from the first year of occupation. He will share with us some of the insights that he has gained from poring over these fascinating and almost forgotten old documents.
Jacco Zwetsloot completed his Master’s Degree in Korean Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, with a thesis on North Korean comic books as a form of cultural production. His previous degree was a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Korean Studies at Monash University in Australia, with a thesis called “The DMZ in the Head” on North Korean refugees in South Korea and future Korean unification. He has lived in Korea for 14 of the last 19 years, and has worked in education, training, government, tourism, translation and broadcasting.
From the Goguryeo, Goryeo, and Joseon dynasties up through modern times, brewing of alcohol on the Korean peninsula has had a long and tumultuous history. Sul, the term for the family of Korean alcohols, has waxed and waned in both brewing technology and cultural knowledge. Draconian laws since the turn of the century, such as the prohibition on homebrewing and centralization of makgeolli production during the Japanese occupation in 1908, or the end to rice-based brewing in 1964 that followed years of chronic famine, precipitated the decline of regional alcohols, in terms of cultural knowledge as well as active brewing practices that existed outside of commercial standards. Changes to generations-old recipes, combined with the later addition of artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame, undermined the faith consumers had long held in this beloved beverage. Only in recent years has there been a resurgence of popular interest in a return to the old traditions, led by a small circle of dedicated brewers who have spent entire lifetimes keeping a very dim flame alight. The modern makgeolli industry has boomed and sputtered in the last decade, at the mercy of trends and failed government initiatives. Challenges and opportunities abound for future sustainable growth in the makgeolli industry and related cultural export through Korean cuisine.
Tonight’s presentation will focus on two major aspects of the makgeolli industry: brewing and production as well as marketing and the evolution of modern consumers. Particular attention will be paid to the modernization of brewing practices from the turn of the century and the reasons for the makgeolli booms and busts of recent decades. In addition, much attention will be given to the evolution of the Korean consumer and drinking habits thereof, as well as marketing hits and misses from an international perspective. Finally, solutions for the future of the industry from production and consumer marketing perspectives will be explored.
Becca Baldwin has been teaching the art of makgeolli brewing since 2011 at Susubori Academy. She is a co-author of Begin With Rice & Water: A Primer on Brewing Makgeolli (Rural Development Administration, 2014) and director of Makgeolli Makers, a consultancy and educational organization dedicated to sharing knowledge about traditional Korean brewing methods. Hailing from the USA with a background in winemaking and distillation, she moved to Korea in 2006. Becca took gold prize in the 2012 and 2013 Expat Makgeolli Brewer's Competition. She has since served as competition chair and has mentored many of her students to success.
Julia Mellor is the co-founder and director of Makgeolli Mamas & Papas Korea (MMPK), an organization providing tourism, consultancy and education opportunities about the traditional Korean alcohol industry in English. Over the past four years she has been dedicated to researching Korean alcohol culture and history within a market context, developing a particular passion for forging the gaps between brewers, bar owners, enthusiasts and consumers. With nine years in Korea under her belt, Julia’s and MMPK’s mission is to foster a deeper understanding of Korea’s representative alcohols, with the strongly held hopes of inspiring development and change in the industry both domestically and abroad.
It is widely known that the United States and the Soviet Union were responsible for the tragic division of Korea following its liberation from Japan in 1945. However, how and why the two occupying powers made the decisions that led to this outcome remains poorly understood. The question is, in fact, complicated because neither Moscow nor Washington intended or desired the establishment of separate states in Korea. As they jockeyed for position in the fluid circumstances of the end of the war against Japan and the beginning of the Cold War, their approach to the Korean settlement gradually took shape. Although they did not seek the division of Korea, the chain of actions they took in Northeast Asia made it unlikely that any other outcome would result.
In this lecture, Dr. Weathersby will trace the key stages in the settlement of the Korean question in 1945-46, examining the motivations of both occupying powers as their tactics shifted over these chaotic months. Drawing on Soviet documents recently uncovered from Russian archives as well as American records that have long been available, she will argue that Washington and Moscow subordinated the Korean issue to their top priority of protecting against a renewed threat from Japan. As they shaped their strategy toward the strategically vital peninsula, their mistrust of each other and their fear of Japan made them determined to maintain a “friendly” government in their zone, even at the cost of a catastrophic division of Korea.
Dr. Weathersby is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Sungshin Women’s University and Professorial Lecturer at the School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. After the collapse of communist rule in the Soviet Union, she conducted extensive research in newly-available Soviet archives on Moscow’s policy toward Korea from 1944 to 1953. She has published and lectured widely on the Korean War and the Cold War in East Asia, and has taught the history of Soviet foreign policy and the history of South/North Korean relations. In 2013 the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs of the Republic of Korea honored her with the Civilian Medal of Merit for her research on the Korean War, and in 2012 she received the Special Prize for the Promotion of Democracy from the Federation of Korean Industries.