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

The Making of a Modern Myth: Inventing a Tradition for Taekwondo

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2016, v.56 no.1, pp.61-92
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2016.56.1.61

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Abstract

In their recent article entitled “Evidence of Taekwondo’s Roots in Karate: An Analysis of the Technical Content of Early Taekwondo Literature” published in the Korea Journal, Udo Moenig, Cho Sungkyun, and Kwak Taek-Yong present compelling empirical evidence that taekwondo originated from Japanese karate in the mid-twentieth century. The present article aims to discuss the implications of that assertion in the context of the nationalist project to invent a tradition for taekwondo. This article postulates that such myth-making is possible even in the face of strong empirical evidence to the contrary due to an anti-intellectual and anti-empirical nationalism that operates in the production/suppression of knowledge, especially in regard to issues that involve Korea’s complicated historical relation with Japan. This article discusses the process of the construction of an indigenous origin narrative for taekwondo and the response to that narrative in the form of a counter-narrative that postulates the role of karate in taekwondo’s formation. The construction and rationale of the indigenous origin narrative is then examined through the lens of the modern phenomenon of the invented tradition.

keywords
taekwondo indigenous origin anti-intellectual anti-empirical nationalism Japanese karate invented tradition

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