우물 안 개구리

11/7/2005

Early Western Perceptions of Koreans: Part II – Education and the Yangban Class

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 4:14 pm Print

Underwoodp p193 "Writing with a native teacher"
Western visitors to Korea are struck by the idleness and corruption of the Yangban class. While many of them live in considerable poverty at this point, and their ranks have expanded well beyond the restrictive membership of earlier periods, they are generally described in the most critical manner.

The unenlightened state and aversion to any form of physical labor among the Yangban is seen by most as one of the central obstacles to civilization in Korea. Whereas the theme of laziness and indifference to productive labor is a common one in travel literature and it frequently refers to Korean coolies and the Korean people (See Part III in this series of postings), the Yangban class, and especially the education system are seen in the most unforgiving light.
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Self-Introduction: Remco Breuker

Filed under: — Remco Breuker @ 10:59 am Print

My name is Remco Breuker. I am very excited to be part of this new weblog on Korean history. I am finishing up a Ph.D. on medieval Korean history, more specifically, the emergence of a nation during the early Koryŏ period (918-1170). My research interest primarily lie in pre-modern Korean history, nation and identity formation, historiography and, more contemporarily, Korean cinema. I am further interested in such things as (the translation of) modern Korean literature, contemporary Korean history and the history of Manchuria.

My background is in Japanese Studies, but already during my MA I leaned more and more towards Korean Studies until I decided to do my Ph.D. on Korean history. I have spent altogether five years in Korea, doing research and pursuing graduate studies in Korean history. I welcome the creation of a blog such as this; to be able to exchange information, research, views and comments on Korean history in an East Asian context will be very stimulating. I strongly believe in approaching Korean history both from within the peninsula and from without. Contemporary political issues, such as Japan’s war past or the Chinese-Korean dispute about the status of the historical legacy of Koguryŏ, make it very clear that none of the East Asian countries can or should be studied in isolation. This is as much true for pre-modern East Asia. Despite the influence of national historical narratives that understandably focus on the own nation, historians should try to avoid an altogether exclusive focus on the nation. This is one of the reasons why I am very interested in frontiers on the Korean peninsula, in particular the northern frontier that for centuries both symbolically and physically separated the states on the Korean peninsula from those in Manchuria.

I am looking forward to becoming a regular contributor to this blog and share and learn as much as possible. The fact that this blog welcomes postings in Korean is, I think, very important. It provides a chance to bring together two academic worlds which regrettably tend to follow rather separate trajectories into closer and more frequent contact. I am very happy to be part of this.

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