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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

An Unfamiliar Other within the Uncivilized Other: Korea as Depicted by Late Nineteenth-Century British Newspapers

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2014, v.54 no.3, pp.33-59
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2014.54.3.33


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Abstract

It was during the late nineteenth century that the British began to develop a distinct image of Korea, irrespective of whether the image corresponded to reality. By examining late nineteenth-century British newspaper articles that discuss Korea, this study reveals the image of Korea held by the British people during that time, and the ways in which this image emerged. First of all, articles discussing Korea’s political and social situation—namely, the king, government officials, and the working and living conditions of people—are reviewed. Secondly, we examine descriptions in these articles of what may loosely be called the “cultural domain,” which includes clothing, religion, and customs, for example. Finally, British newspaper accounts of Korea’s relations with China and Japan are analyzed. Through a systematic examination of the way Korea was depicted by British newspapers, the most popular source of information in late nineteenth-century British society, this study ultimately attempts to show that the image of Korea that they sketched was framed by Orientalist assumptions and based on their knowledge of the relatively familiar Chinese and Japanese.

keywords
nineteenth-century Korea (Corea) British newspapers perceptions of Korea Orientalism early Korea-Great Britain relations

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