Lecture Videos with Blogs

RAS Lecture Video: Korean Japanese Relations from 1392 to 1592

Pirate raids prompted the Choson Korea government to encourage trade by other Japanese in the early fifteenth century, and Japanese soon were sending dozens of trade missions each year. The Choson government gradually established detailed regulations for managing that trade, even dividing Japanese traders into a hierarchy. From the 1460s, those regulations and the hierarchy became tools by which Japanese traded through imposter identities, that is, people that did not exist or people who did not know that their identities were being used. Why did the Choson government not always stop imposter trade and what importance did imposter trade have in the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592?

Kenneth R. Robinson is currently a Special Visiting Scholar at the Northeast Asian History Foundation. His research focuses on Korean-Japanese relations in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and on Korean maps of Choson Korea and Japan from those same centuries.

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RAS Korea: Extra News

Dear members and friends,

We are going to organize a special visit to Japan (Osaka & Nara) in late August (Saturday 24 - Monday 26 August), led by Professor Robert Fouser, who lived in Kyoto for many years. There are just 16 places available on the flight, they will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. To reserve your place, please send an email as soon as possible to the RAS office. As you will see from the description in our home page, our travel agent is still searching for the best accommodation, so that the exact cost is not yet available. It will soon be settled. This will be an intensive culture- and history-centered visit, related to the early Korean influences on this part of Japan. We will visit sites in Nara and Osaka that reflect the early influence of Korea's Three Kingdoms period culture on Japan during the Asuka (538-710) and Nara (710-794) periods. This excursion comes at the end of the vacation period, just before university courses resume, I hope that many of you will want to join it.

On this coming Tuesday, June 18, at 7:30pm, the Czech Ambassador, Jaroslav Olša, jr. is giving us a special lecture on a fascinating but almost unknown figure, the Korean historian Han Hŭng-su, who lived and worked in Austria, Switzerland, and Czechoslovakia for some 12 years in the 1930s and 40s before returning to North Korea after Liberation.

There will also be a lecture on Tuesday June 25 at 7:30pm, by Professor Wayne Patterson, about eraly Korean immigration to Hawai'i.

Our RAS Birthday Book Sale will run for another week. Members will receive a 20% discount, non-members a 10% discount, on the 600 books listed in our new online Book Store (please order by email to our office). There are some really rare books in stock. I would encourage those who have time to visit our office and browse the shelves.

I hope that you all enjoy a relaxing summer.

Brother Anthony

President, RAS Korea

Pictures and a video from the 2013 Garden Party

In case you missed the party, below is a video of the entertainment courtesy of Tessa Franklin.

Here are a few pictures from the 2013 Garden Party. To see more pictures, please visit our Facebook page. Don't forget to become a member and join us for the 2014 Garden Party!

RAS June 2013 Newsletter

Dear members and friends of RAS Korea,

June 17 is the anniversary of the founding of our Association in 1900.
To celebrate that, we always hold a Garden Party for current members,
and traditionally we also offer a special Book Sale. This year the
Garden Party will be held next week, it will as usual include a direct
sale of many books about Korea at discounted prices. From June 1 until
June 20 there will be an Online Book Sale with discounts of 10% (non-members) – 20% (members) on the prices of the books we have for sale.

At last, the complete list of the books we have in stock is available in our home page
arranged according to subject-matter, so that you can see what is
available and order books easily. You can pay through our Paypal
account, too. Be warned, we sometime have just 1 or 2 copies of certain
long-out-of-print titles. Once they have been sold we will not be able
to obtain any more copies. So you should order promptly!

Our Mongolia Adventure
in mid-July has attracted a lot of interest, I am glad to say. We plan
to offer another overseas visit in late August, exploring Osaka and Nara
in Japan with Professor Bob Fouser. I hope many will join. Otherwise,
we have decided not to offer any ordinary excursions in July when it
often pours with rain, and only a couple in August, when many people are
away. Our lectures too will be suspended during the summer vacation,
after one planned for July 9, and will resume on September 10.

This year’s issue of our journal Transactions is with the
printers. It will be distributed to the members attending the Garden
Party. Other members will receive it by mail but that might take some
time and we would be very happy to welcome you to our office where you
could pick up your copy and view the books for sale at the same time.


In June we will have 3 lectures, always in Somerset Palace at 7:30pm :

Tuesday, June 11,
Dr. Tatiana Gabroussenko (Korea University) will talk about “Yǒngye
kunin and North Korean national identity.” This will introduce a quite
unfamiliar topic from North Korean art, fiction and movies, involving
the practice of proposing to an invalid “honourable veteran” and
becoming his or her spouse-cum-nurse, often without ever seeing the
future husband/wife before marriage.

Tuesday, June 19,
Jaroslav Olsa jr., the Czech Ambassador, will introduce Han Hŭng-su: a
multi-talented but forgotten Korean scholar, who spent many years in
Europe in the 1930s, then returned to live and work in North Korea,
where he soon disappeared without trace.

Tuesday, June 25,
Professor Wayne Patterson will talk about “Christianity, American
Missionaries, and Korean Immigration to the United States, 1903-1915.”
He is a recognized expert on this topic, which marks the beginning of
the Korean presence in North American society.

Videos of recent lectures can be seen through our home page


In June we plan to offer several shorter walking tours, since so many of you have only limited free time:

June 6 Yeongsan-jae performance at An-san Bongwon-sa (David Mason)

June 16 Walking in Incheon (Robert Fouser)

June 22 Walking in Jongmyo/Jongno 3-ga (Robert Fouser)

June 23 Naejang-San National Park (Sue Bae)

June 29 Sobaek-san (Sue Bae)

June 30 Introducing Korea’s unique Gods and indigenous Faiths (Jun (Y.K.) Shin)

See photos of the RAS excursion to make tea near Hweom-sa temple

A New Book

Eerie Tales of Old Korea, selected by Brother Anthony. (Seoul
Selection). One hundred years ago, the Founding Fathers of the RAS in
Korea, Homer B. Hulbert and James S. Gale, both translated various
Korean stories about ghosts, demons, fairies and other such creatures,
and published them in volumes that are now very rare. Brother Anthony
has chosen a few that he finds especially entertaining and Seoul
Selection have published them to mark the 150th anniversary
of the births of Hulbert and Gale in 1863. This is highly recommended
for summer (or winter) reading. The book can be ordered from the RAS office.

With all my best wishes,

Brother Anthony,
President, RAS Korea


RAS Lecture Video: Travellers' Tales, Or How the West Learned about Corea

By Brother Anthony, President RAS Korea

It is generally known that the Dutchman Hendrick Hamel was the first European to spend a considerable time in Korea then return home and write an account of the country. That account was published and translated into several languages. But what did people know about Korea before his shipwreck in 1653? And how was more discovered after him, both prior to the opening of the country from 1882, or even after that? How did Dutch ships come to be in this part of the world, and who else was interested in Korea?

This evening's lecture begins with the earliest European mentions of Corea, dating from the Middle Ages. Few people are familiar with the extraordinary adventures of the Portuguese adventurer Fernão Mendes Pinto, probably the first European to reach Japan; his visits led to the arrival in the 1540s of Portuguese and Spanish merchants and missionaries in Japan. From there the Jesuits sent reports mentioning the Japanese invasion of Corea in 1592. Then there is the extraordinary tale of how an Englishman-turned-samourai helped the Dutch to gain a foothold in Japan.
Early maps depict Corea as an island, and the arrival in Corea of shipwrecked Dutch sailors in the 17th century did not really contribute much to detailed geographical knowledge. Then the focus shifts from Japan to China, where succeeding generations of Jesuit missionaries contributed what knowledge they could gain of Corea to a Europe that was increasingly fascinated by exotic lands. In the earlier eighteenth century, the very different accounts of Hamel and the Jesuits were compared and combined in a variety of ways in popular encyclopedias, but it was the development of surveying to prepare accurate, large-scale nautical charts that brought a new kind of explorer to the waters (and occasionally the land) of Corea. The decision to force Corea to open its doors to the modern world finally gave explorers access to Corean territory, and more detailed travelers' tales began to appear. The final section of the lecture will mention some of those who pioneered the exploration of the land that had for so long been closed, and published accounts of their journeys in books that mostly used the spelling "Korea" familiar today..

Brother Anthony came to Korea in 1980, he is emeritus professor at Sogang University, chair-professor at Dankook University, translates Korean poetry, and has been President of RAS Korea since 2011.

RAS Lecture Videos on YouTube

If you missed a recent RAS Korea lecture, you can visit our YouTube channel where we have uploaded many videos of lectures during the past year. Usually each new lecture is recorded and uploaded to YouTube within a few weeks of taking place. Check our YouTube channel and our blog often for new lecture videos. More information about upcoming lectures can be found on our home page.

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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).



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