London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

China, Korea and Japan at War, 1592–1598: Eyewitness Accounts

From the publisher’s website: The East Asian War of 1592 to 1598 was the only extended war before modern times to involve Japan, Korea, and China. It devastated huge swathes of Korea and led to large population movements across borders. This book draws on surviving letters and diaries to recount the personal experiences of five … [Read More]

Agriculture and Korean Economic History: Concise Farming Talk (Nongsa chiksŏl)

This book is an economic history of the Chosŏn dynasty (1392-1910). The Chosŏn dynasty is not only known for managing the northeastern regions of Asia for 500 years as the exemplars of Confucianism, their kingdom was also one of the greatest so-called “agricultural states under Heaven.” The Chosŏn dynasty has been briefly explored academically by … [Read More]

A Korean Scholar’s Rude Awakening in Qing China: Pak Chega’s Discourse on Northern Learning

From the publisher’s website: Two years after Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations was published in 1776, Pak Chega’s (1750–1805) Discourse on Northern Learning appeared on the opposite corner of the globe. Both books presented notions of wealth and the economy for critical review: the former caused a stir across Europe, the latter influenced only a modest group of Chosŏn … [Read More]

King Chŏngjo, an Enlightened Despot in Early Modern Korea

The first detailed analysis in English of monarchy and governance in Korea during King Chŏngjo’s reign. Were the countries of Europe the only ones that were “early modern”? Was Asia’s early modernity cut short by colonialism? Scholars examining early modern Eurasia have not yet fully explored the relationships between absolute rule and political modernization in … [Read More]

A Genealogy of Dissent: The Progeny of Fallen Royals in Chosŏn Korea

From the publisher’s website: In early modern Korea, the Chosŏn state conducted an extermination campaign against the Kaesŏng Wang, descendants of the preceding Koryŏ dynasty. It was so thorough that most of today’s descendants are related to a single survivor. Before long, however, the Chosŏn dynasty sought to bolster its legitimacy as the successor of … [Read More]

Flowering Plums and Curio Cabinets: The Culture of Objects in Late Chosŏn Korean Art

From the publisher’s website: The social and economic rise of the chungin class (“middle people” who ranked between the yangban aristocracy and commoners) during the late Chosŏn period (1700–1910) ushered in a world of materialism and commodification of painting and other art objects. Generally overlooked in art history, the chungin contributed to a flourishing art … [Read More]

A New Middle Kingdom: Painting and Cultural Politics in Late Chosŏn Korea (1700–1850)

Historians have claimed that when social stability returned to Korea after devastating invasions by the Japanese and Manchus around the turn of the seventeenth century, the late Chosŏn dynasty was a period of unprecedented economic and cultural renaissance, in which prosperity manifested itself in new programs and styles of visual art. A New Middle Kingdom questions this … [Read More]

Korean Confucianism: The Philosophy and Politics of Toegye and Yulgok

From the publisher’s website: This book explores Neo-Confucianism and its relationship to politics by examining the life and work of the two iconic figures of the Joseon dynasty Yi Hwang (1501-1570, Toegye) and Yi I (1536-1584, Yulgok). Neo-Confucianism became state orthodoxy in 1392, and remained in place for over five centuries until the end of … [Read More]

Buddhas and Ancestors: Religion and Wealth in Fourteenth-Century Korea

Publisher description: Two issues central to the transition from the Koryo to the Choson dynasty in fourteenth-century Korea were social differences in ruling elites and the decline of Buddhism, which had been the state religion. In this revisionist history, Juhn Ahn challenges the long-accepted Confucian critique that Buddhism had become so powerful and corrupt that … [Read More]

Ginseng and Borderland: Territorial Boundaries and Political Relations Between Qing China and Choson Korea, 1636-1912

From the publisher’s website: Ginseng and Borderland explores the territorial boundaries and political relations between Qing China and Choson Korea during the period from the early seventeenth to the late nineteenth centuries. By examining a unique body of materials written in Chinese, Manchu, and Korean, and building on recent studies in New Qing History, Seonmin Kim … [Read More]

The Emotions of Justice: Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Choson Korea

The Choson state (1392–1910) is typically portrayed as a rigid society because of its hereditary status system, slavery, and Confucian gender norms. However, The Emotions of Justice reveals a surprisingly complex picture of a judicial system that operated in a contradictory fashion by discriminating against subjects while simultaneously minimizing such discrimination. Jisoo Kim contends that … [Read More]

A Unique Banchado: The Documentary Painting, with Commentary, of King Jeongjo’s Royal Procession to Hwaseong in 1795

From the publisher’s website: Fully illustrated in colour, here is the first introduction in English to one of Korea’s outstanding cultural assets – the banchado (‘painting of the order of guests at a royal event’) relating to all those taking part (1800 people) in the eight-day royal procession to Hwaseong ( Gyeonggi Province )  organized by King Jeongjo in 1795 in order to visit the tomb of … [Read More]

Catholics and Anti-Catholicism in Chosŏn Korea

From the publisher’s website: Korea’s first significant encounter with the West occurred in the last quarter of the eighteenth century when a Korean Catholic community emerged on the peninsula. Decades of persecution followed, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Korean Catholics. Don Baker provides an invaluable analysis of late-Chosŏn (1392–1897) thought, politics, and society … [Read More]

Naming the Local: Medicine, Language, and Identity in Korea since the Fifteenth Century

From the publisher’s website: Naming the Local uncovers how Koreans domesticated foreign medical novelties on their own terms, while simultaneously modifying the Korea-specific expressions of illness and wellness to make them accessible to the wider network of scholars and audiences. Due to Korea’s geopolitical position and the intrinsic tension of medicine’s efforts to balance the local … [Read More]

Brief Encounters: Early Reports of Korea by Westerners

From the publisher’s website: This anthology is a compilation of Westerners’ accounts of their visits to Korea, originally published in books or newspapers before the country opened its doors in the late nineteenth century. The opening of Korea made it possible to explore the country in detail and write detailed accounts. Prior impressions were garnered … [Read More]

Classical Writings of Korean Women

This work is a collection of essays travelogues written by women during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The work ranges from a eulogy for a broken needle to a travelogue describing various trips to scenic spots on the Korean peninsula, including to the Keum-Gang Mountains. Now available in English, this collection gives us a sampler of … [Read More]