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Missionary Photography in Korea: Encountering the West through Christianity

The written word, in Korean and English, constantly struggles to interpret and describe the remarkable period of Korean history from the late nineteenth century to 1945, generally considered as marking the watershed between pre-modernity and the beginning of modernity. This remarkable time saw the end of the 500-year-old Joseon dynasty, brutal colonial occupation by Japan and World War II. But in addition to the geopolitical power struggles of the time, the influence of foreign missionaries in Korea was far-reaching and, in the case of South Korea at least, endures to this day.

Missionary Photography in Korea: Encountering the West through Christianity is a captivating visual addition to the material available on this period. More than 70 prints, taken between 1887 and 1938, give glimpses of the dramatic social changes in progress- missionary doctors, Korean doctors, switchboard operators, Christian weddings, new buildings, schools, teachers, football and tennis teams, crowded roofs, hairdressers, Benedictine industrial schools, Bible translation sessions and much more constitute the subject of images that absorb the reader with their abundance of character and richness of detail. Each photograph is accompanied by explanatory notes on the facing page, giving further insight into the scenes they present.

The book begins with four essays on various aspects of missionary involvement in Korea and an interview with a leading academic in the field -as such, it is not only a deeply engaging collection of rare photographs but a solid reference book on the subject of early missionary activity in Korea. Anyone remotely interested in this crucial period of Korean history should consider this book indispensable.

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* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.