London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Koryŏsa: The History of Koryŏ, the Annals of the Kings, 918–1095 [forthcoming]

Among all the Korean dynasties, the Koryŏ dynasty (918-1392) was the first to have contact with the Western world. It was from these interactions that the current appellation of “Korea” was derived from the Koryŏ name. The Koryŏsa, or the History of Koryŏ, is one of the most significant historical texts on the Koryŏ Dynasty of the Korean … [Read More]

Poems and Stories for Overcoming Idleness: P’ahan chip by Yi Illo

Poems and Stories for Overcoming Idleness is the first complete translation in any Western language of P’ahan chip, the earliest Korean work of sihwa (C. shihua; “remarks on poetry”) and one of the oldest extant Korean sources. The collection was written and compiled by Yi Illo (1152–1220) during the mid-Koryǒ dynasty (918–1392). P’ahan chip features poetry composed in Literary Chinese (the scriptura franca of the … [Read More]

Korean Women Philosophers and the Ideal of a Female Sage: Essential Writings of Im Yungjidang and Gang Jeongildang

Korean Women Philosophers and the Ideal of a Female Sage introduces the lives and ideas of two female Korean Confucian philosophers from the late Joseon Dynasty (18th-19th century), Im Yunjidang (1721-1793) and Gang Jeongildang (1772-1832), examining how their writings contribute to contemporary philosophical inquiry. Both philosophers are known for arguing that women are as capable as … [Read More]

A Korean Confucian’s Advice on How to Be Moral: Tasan Chŏng Yagyong’s Reading of the Zhongyong

Tasan Chŏng Yagyong (1762–1836) is one of the most creative thinkers Korea has ever produced, one of the country’s first Christians, and a leading scholar in Confucian philosophy. Born in a staunchly Neo-Confucian society, in his early twenties he encountered writings by Catholic missionaries in China and was fascinated. However, when he later learned that … [Read More]

The Master from Mountains and Fields: Prose Writings of Hwadam, Sŏ Kyŏngdŏk

The Master from Mountains and Fields is a fully annotated translation of the prose texts from the “collected works” of Sŏ Kyŏngdŏk (1489–1546), an influential Confucian scholar from the early Chosŏn period (1392-1910). A native of Songdo (also known as Kaesŏng) in present-day North Korea, Sŏ has loomed large in the Korean cultural imagination and appeared … [Read More]

Confucian Reform in Chosun Korea: Yu Hyŏngwŏn’s Pan’gye surok

Pan’gye surok (or “Pan’gye’s Random Jottings”) was written by the Korean scholar and social critic Yu Hyŏngwŏn (1622-1673), who proposed to reform the Joseon dynasty and realise an ideal Confucian society. It was recognised as a leading work of political science by Yu’s contemporaries and continues to be a key text in understanding the intellectual culture … [Read More]

Record of the Seasonal Customs of Korea: Tongguk sesigi by Toae Hong Sŏk-mo

Record of the Seasonal Customs of Korea (Tongguk sesigi) is one of the most important primary sources for anyone interested in traditional Korean cultural and social practices. The manuscript was completed in 1849 by Toae Hong Sŏk-mo, a wealthy poet and scholar from an influential family. Toae, with his keen interest in the habits and customs … [Read More]

The Great Synthesis of Wang Yangming Neo-Confucianism in Korea: The Chonon (Testament) by Chong Chedu (Hagok)

From the publisher’s website: Translated, edited, and introduced by Edward Y. J. Chung, The Great Synthesis of Wang Yangming Neo-Confucianism in Korea: The Chonŏn (Testament) by Chŏng Chedu (Hagok), is the first study in a Western language of Chŏng Chedu (Hagok, 1649–1736) and Korean Wang Yangming Neo-Confucianism. Hagok was an eminent philosopher who established the unorthodox Yangming school … [Read More]

The Diary of 1636: The Second Manchu Invasion of Korea

Early in the seventeenth century, Northeast Asian politics hung in a delicate balance among the Chosŏn dynasty in Korea, the Ming in China, and the Manchu. When a Chosŏn faction realigned Korea with the Ming, the Manchu attacked in 1627 and again a decade later, shattering the Chosŏn-Ming alliance and forcing Korea to support the … [Read More]

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]

A Place to Live: A New Translation of Yi Chung-hwan’s T’aengniji, the Korean Classic for Choosing Settlements

From the publisher’s website: A Place to Live brings together in a single volume an introduction to Yi Chung-hwan’s (1690–1756) T’aengniji (Treatise on Choosing Settlement)—one of the most widely read and influential of the Korean classics—and an annotated translation of the text, including the author’s postscript. Yi composed the T’aengniji in the 1750s, a time when, despite King Yŏngjo’s (r. … [Read More]

The Foresight of Dark Knowing: Chŏng Kam Nok and Insurrectionary Prognostication in Pre-Modern Korea

From the publisher’s website: Korea has long had an underground insurrectionary literature. The best-known example of the genre is the Chŏng Kam nok, a collection of premodern texts predicting the overthrow of the Yi Dynasty (1392–1910) that in recent times has been invoked by a wide range of groups to support various causes and agendas: from leaders … [Read More]

The Aphorisms of Yi Deok-mu: Musings of a Grateful Reader

From the publisher’s website: This volume brings together excerpts from Seongyuldang nongso [蟬橘堂濃笑: The Inexorable Glee of Master Seongyuldang] and Imokgusimseo [耳目口心書: First-hand Observations] by the 18th-century scholar Yi Deok-mu. Seongyuldang nongso is a collection of Yi’s observations about life. In Imokgusimseo, Yi writes about what he heard, saw, said, and felt in the day-to-day. … [Read More]

Doctrine and Practice in Medieval Korean Buddhism: The Collected Works of Ŭich’ŏn

From the publisher’s website: Ŭich’ŏn (1055-1101) is recognized as a Buddhist master of great stature in the East Asian tradition. Born a prince in the medieval Korean state of Koryŏ (960-1279), he traveled to Song China (960-1279) to study Buddhism and later compiled and published the first collection of East Asian exegetical texts. According to … [Read More]