London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Two seminars at SOAS

gwanghwamunThis week SOAS Centre of Korean Studies offers a double-helping of seminars:

Thursday March 19th, 5pm, **ROOM 459**

Prof. Nam-lin Hur (The University of British Columbia): “Military Duty in Late Sixteenth-Century Chosŏn Korea: A System for Everything but Defense?”

Friday March 20th, 5pm, ROOM G52

Dr. Howard Reid (West Park Pictures Ltd): “The History of Gwanghwamun: the several births, deaths and rebirths of a national cultural icon”

Further information about Prof Nam-lin Hur’s talk is as follows:

Japan’s Hideyoshi regime invaded Korea in 1592 with the excuse of conquering Ming China. This invasion soon dragged Korea into turmoil as the country was turned into freewheeling killing fields. Koreans were desperate to survive. They fled their villages, hid deep in the mountains, or offered to collaborate with the invaders. Worse yet, they found themselves struggling against their own government over rapidly-dwindling stock of grains. The Korean government seemed utterly unprepared to fend off the invaders. It faced the daunting challenges of recruiting enough soldiers to be deployed at the war front and of finding enough grain to feed its soldiers. What happened to Chosŏn Korea’s military system? Based on a wide range of materials, Hur explores how Chosŏn Korea’s military defense system worked during the war period. What was the main problem? Focusing on issues involving military recruitment, training and logistic support, Hur will examine the traits of Chosŏn society that had produced “a system of military duty for everything but defense.”

Nam-lin Hur is currently a professor in the Department of Asian Studies and serves as director of the Centre for Korean Research at the University of British Columbia. His teaching focuses upon premodern Japanese history and international relations (particularly those between Korea and Japan) in premodern and modern East Asia. His book publications include: Prayer and Play in Late Tokugawa Japan: Asakusa Sensōji and Edo Society (Harvard University Asia Center, 2000) and Death and Social Order in Tokugawa Japan: Buddhism, Anti-Christianity, and the Danka System (Harvard University Asia Center, 2007). His current research involves Japan’s invasion of Chosŏn Korea, 1592-1598.

Dr. Howard Reid is working on a 60 minute high-definition documentary film in conjunction with The Prince’s Trust. Here’s how the film’s pitch starts:

To crush the spirit of a conquered people, you erase their history. That’s what the Japanese did in Korea in the early 1900s, targeting the famous entrance gates of the 14th century Gyeongbukgung Palace in the very heart of Seoul. The grand entrance to the palace, majestic as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, or the Marble Arch in London, was razed to the ground. In 2007-9, the people of Korea are rebuilding their sacred palace gates.

While the current work on the Gwanghwamun is arguably more a repositioning than a rebuilding, the film promises to be fascinating. The Gwanghwamun is not to be confused with the Sungnyemun (or the Namdaemun gate) which is itself undergoing reconstruction following the tragic fire last year. Dr Reid’s film will interweave the story of the history of the gate, palace and people of Korea with the two year programme of “reconstruction and rebirth” of the Gwanghwamun. On Friday Dr Reid will give some of the background to Korea’s important national monument.


The Gwanghwamun and its many rebirths, Philip’s account of Howard Reid’s talk

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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