The Republic of Korea’s robust system for protection of traditional performing arts has insulated the traditional arts, ensuring that a population of master artists continued to practice their arts even as Korea rapidly modernized. This protection allows people in twenty-first century Seoul to attend performances of raucous mask dance dramas, evocative epic songs, and sedate literati ensembles. However, do they? The audience for Korean traditional arts is eroding, but ample government support has removed artists and venues from the urgency of attracting new and younger audiences. This article describes reception techniques of traditional performance that are dying out in Korea, proposes an audience typology, and discusses the varied challenges of attracting and maintaining an audience. Although examples are taken from Korea, parallels exist in other countries and with other genres around the world.
Broadly historical and descriptive in approach, this article aims to situate James Scarth Gale, an early Canadian missionary to Korea, as one of the remarkable translators in the early twentieth century. He devoted himself to translating the Bible into vernacular Korean. Unlike other Protestant missionaries, Gale argued not only for indigenous Korean words rather than Sino-Korean words, but also for a free or liberal translation strategy over a literal translation. For example, he translated the name of the God of the Bible as Hananim, which refers to both Oneness and Greatness, thus enabling the Koreans to accept the Christian idea of God within their own religious framework. This article also claims that Gale, with his strong cross-cultural mindset, acted as a cultural ambassador on a more secular level. In order to bridge Korea and the Western world, he not only translated John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress into Korean, but also classical Korean novels like Guunmong and Okjunghwa (Chunhyangjeon) into English.
From a European perspective, all lands were either European territories or their potential colonies. In contrast, the sea remained a free space outside all territorial orders and was open to all countries. In the nineteenth century, Europe created new spaces in Asian countries by forcing them to conclude a treaty. In the case of Korea, the spatial structure under the treaty regime resembled concentric circles centered around a “foreign settlement,” a “mixed residence zone within a distance of 10 Korean ri (approx. 4 km) from the foreign settlement” and then the “interior.” This structure was a kind of spatial representation of the view towards the interior, which lay beyond the boundary of the foreign settlement, and a plan of spatial division for the land, the Korean Peninsula. The process of colonization of Korea was also a process of dismantling the structure. Until the annexation of Korea in 1910, the Korean Peninsula became a huge sea, and it was upon the sea that a new order of colonial Korea, named the exterior of the Japanese archipelago, began to develop.
The impact of power transition on inter-Korean rivalry has yet to be thoroughly studied. Interestingly, the period of power transition between Seoul and Pyongyang coincided with an increase in cooperation between the two countries. The main objective of this article is to show how the balance of power shifted in the early 1970s on the Korean Peninsula and to explain why South and North Korea managed to execute dialogue while undergoing power transition. As Seoul was overtaking Pyongyang, the two contenders believed that a peaceful transition was somehow possible. South Korean leader Park Chung-hee became confident of his country’s increasing national strength, while North Korea’s Kim Il Sung remained optimistic that inter-Korean relations would unfold in socialism’s favor. The combination of South Korea’s growing confidence and North Korea’s optimistic outlook paved the way for transient inter-Korean reconciliation during a period of power transition.
This article aims to investigate how Yi Ik, a late Joseon Neo-Confucian scholar, formed his view toward Christianity and the concept of the Lord of Heaven (Cheonju). Yi viewed Seohak (Western Learning) postively, but his attitude toward Christianity remained very selective. For instance, while he agreed with the Jesuits’ claim that the biblical Lord of Heaven was equivalent to the Confucian Sangje, he rejected the ideas of heaven, hell, and spiritual immortality based on his Neo-Confucian convictions. Although Yi agreed with the Jesuit assertion that “the Lord of Heaven is the same as Sangje,” he modified this concept of god according to his Neo-Confucian philosophy and perceived it as something analogous to the Principle of Heaven (cheolli). This essay will show that Yi’s attention to Christianity originated from his academic objective of enriching the study of Neo-Confucianism. Therefore, the majority of scholars of Korean studies may need to reassess the established theory that Seohak motivated Yi Ik to go beyond Neo-Confucianism and advance toward modern Silhak (Practical Learning).
This paper addresses an extremely favorable portrayal by an envoy of Joseon Korea, Jeong Du-won, of the Portuguese Jesuit João Rodrigues, whom Jeong met in the course of his tributary mission to Ming China in 1630–1631. In his subsequent report to the Joseon king, Jeong portrayed Rodrigues as a benign gift-giver, while portraying himself as a passive recipient of Western gifts. Jeong’s characterization of the Jesuit and his gifts has provided modern historians with an important case to illustrate their Eurocentric account of Western Learning in Korea, an account in which the Koreans played simply the passive role of recipient of European culture. While questioning this Eurocentric account, I shall situate Jeong’s portrayal of the Jesuit in its political contexts—Jeong’s China mission and the bureaucratic politics of the Joseon dynasty. The image of Rodrigues as the benign gift-giver was created by Jeong, the Joseon envoy who served as the transmitter of higher culture from China to Korea. In his self-serving rhetorical efforts to legitimize the “barbarian” informant from the West, he managed to legitimize his own achievements within the China mission.