우물 안 개구리


Museum: The Korean Christian Museum at Soongsil University

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:16 am Print

In my constant search for quiet, smoke-free, and affordable coffee shops to study in, I recently came upon the Starbucks near Soongsil University (숭실대학교), which is only a few bus stops away from the Seoul University subway station. After spending a nice Sunday reading there recently, I wandered about the Soongsil campus and discovered that the university has a Korean Christian Museum. I came back to visit the museum on a less holy day and found that it has quite a bit to offer.

The museum has three floors. The first floor is dedicated to the history of Christianity in Korea, with sections covering Nestorianism 경교 (景敎) in East Asia (with some evidence of its spread to Korea, but I admit I was somewhat suspicious of this), Catholic inroads, and later missionary efforts. There are a number of interesting texts housed here, including very old writings about Korea, bible translations, early Korean language manuals used by missionaries, a text of a 1839 royal decree against Catholicism, and various early missionary periodicals etc.

The second floor has one section dedicated to the history of the university beginning in the late 1890s, and a second section which has little if anything to do with Christianity at all. Called “Modernization and the National Movement” this room has all sorts of exhibits related to early modern and modern Korean history, including a great section dedicated to the development of astronomy and geography in Korea. The standard triumphant tale of Korean ingenuity, enlightenment and growing nationalism is narrated throughout, but the assembled artifacts on display are well worth the visit.

Finally, the third floor has again nothing, that I could tell, to do with Christianity, but instead collects various archeological findings from earlier periods of Korean history.

The museum is quite close to SNU and its offerings are considerably more interesting than the fixed exhibits on SNU’s own campus museum (As my fellow contributor Gyewon has pointed out, however, there are often very interesting temporary exhibits to be found there). While all the exhibits are labeled in Korean, the museum provides a great English language booklet with well-written explanations and pictures of most of the important museum exhibits.

More Info: The museum has free admission and is open 10-16 Monday-Friday and 10-12 on Saturdays. You can reach it by going to Soongsil University subway station, or by bus (751, 752, 753, 501, 650, 5511, 5517).


“Mass-based dictatorship”? A little info on S. Korea’s welfare policies in the 1960s

Filed under: — noja @ 10:59 am Print

In South Korean academia, one of the most long-standing and productive discussions (I have been following it for around 3 years now, but it may have begun even earlier) is that between Prof. Lim Chihyŏn (임지현, 한양대학교), who maintains (to make a very complicated story as simple as possible) that Park Chung Hee’s regime was a “mass-based dictatorship” (대중 독재), which managed to obtain quite active consent from the mass of the ruled by showing the results of economic growth and cleverly manipulating them with nationalist rhetoric, and his opponents (prominently, Prof. Cho Hŭiyŏn 조희연, 성공회대학교), who view Park’s regime as primarily an oppressive one (without denying the fact that it used the Bonapartist tactics of socio-political maneuvers).

If we accept Prof. Lim’s views, it will basically mean that Park’s regime should be perceived as identical to, say, the fascisms of the 1930s in the more or less well-developed European countries, for example, Germany or Italy, where (not really that generous) welfare packages were supposed to placate the working classes deprived of any opportunity to pursue their own politics. Or otherwise, if we follow Prof. Lim’s line of reasoning, we will begin making analogies with the post-1956 Stalinist dictatorships of Eastern Europe, where workers were much more thoroughly co-opted by “free” housing, pension benefits and some prospects of upward mobility for the most talented and conformist minded. Of course, that Park employed some state capitalist methods with close analogies from the Soviet experience, is quite undeniable. But when it comes to the relationship with the ruled, I begin to seriously doubt whether any “cooptation by welfare” ever took place in the stone jungles of Kuro and Yŏngdŭngp’o in the 1960s and 1970s.

Look, for example, at the data given in a very interesting article by Pak Chunsik (박준식), entitled “1960년대의 사회환경과 사회복지정책” (in 1960년대의 정치사회변동, 백산서당, 1999). He shows that, for one thing, the real wage in manufacturing, although it did grow, was growing painfully slowly for workers in the 1960s – it reached a level matching the minimal monthly expenses for food (월별 최저 음식물비: 9390원) only at some point between 1968 and 1969. It was possible to pay these below-survival-level wages because there was still an enormous pool of “excess” labour – the unemployment rate in the non-agricultural sector was 16% in 1963, and still around 8% in 1971. The huge “informal” sector remained a part of slum and semi-slum life in the early 1970s, and around 15% of all formally employed were hired on a daily/short-term contract basis – a very precarious sort of life in a semi-starving society. The real wages (adjusted for inflation) grew at an annual rate of 8.5% in the late 1960s, but labour productivity grew much quicker – at a rate of 16%. If we add that prices grew at 15% annually, the picture of quite a vicious over-exploitation becomes very clear.

Since much of the Labour Standard Law (근로기준법) sounded like stories from the Arabian Nights against the backdrop of what really took place on the ground, the only tangible form of welfare was probably the workplace accident insurance – still company-based, and it applied only to 7% of all workers in 1971. State servants and army officers got their separate state pension systems in 1960 and 1963 respectively, but for the toilers of Kuro that was a story from another world. So, was Park’s kingdom really that “mass-based”? I suggest that passive (and very passive) consent was “obtained” through a combination of repression, all-out militarization, nationalist demagogery (helped by the spread of TV-sets and very high literacy by the end of the 1970s) and some limited opportunities for individual upward mobility through education in a rapidly expanding economy. The last feature does resemble the really “mass-based” Soviet model of the 1960s-70s, but the Soviet-type welfare was nowhere in sight. And the degree of the viciousness of repression was incomparable with Eastern Europe – much closer to the Latin American experience.


Koguryŏ on the box

Filed under: — Owen @ 6:02 pm Print

I know I’m way behind the times on this subject as it was already brought up at the Marmot’s Hole weeks ago, but I’d like to put out a call for people’s thoughts on the recent flurry of new historical dramas in South Korea on the Koguryŏ kingdom. I’d be fascinated to know what any of our readers and contributors who are currently in Korea make of MBC’s ‘Jumong‘ and SBS’s ‘Yeongaesomun‘ from either a historical or dramatic point of view.

In case there is anyone else who, like me, is not in Korea and wants some more background, there was an article on the popularity of the new dramas in the Korea Herald a couple of weeks back, which I’ve saved from the oblivion of the KH website here. No doubt whatever their historical problems or the nationalist motivations behind them, these dramas will make spectacular watching as in my experience Korean sagŭk pull out all the stops (although sometimes I wish they’d spend a bit more on the artificial facial hair).

By the way, just so as not to be left out, KBS will be broadcasting its historical drama on the Parhae (Balhae/발해) kingdom, beginning in September.

English Translations of Korean Literature

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:14 am Print

Brother Anthony is hosting a list of Korean Literature in English translation. You can find it at this site:

Korean Literature in English Translation Before 2001
Korean Literature in English Translation Since 2000

He is interested in keeping this list updated and adding things he might have missed. His contact info can be found here.


Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology 2006 Conference

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 8:02 am Print

Thanks to Antti for making note of the fact that all the papers for the 2006 annual conference of the Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology are available online as PDFs.

While I’m mentioning Antti, whose weblog is a must read for anyone interested in Korea, readers here might be interested in a number of his recent postings including one on Korean name romanizations, the claim that Pak Hon-yong’s reputation has been reinstated in the DPRK , on “defensive nationalism” in Jo Jung-rae’s new novel, discussion of some photos of Seoul in the early 1970s and the Daeyeonggak hotel fire, and an interesting a discussion of the history of Noraebang in Korea.


Patriotic School Athletics – under the Japanese and After

To observe that modern “physical culture” (athletics) training in the compulsory schooling system is something closely linked to the conscription system and a general culture of militarism, represents no new scholarly achievement. In fact, if you were born in the right (?) place and time, you don’t even need to be a scholar to make it into your working hypothesis: I, for my part, vividly remember the “physical culture” lessons of my Soviet childhood, which included a good deal of marching, throwing of fake “grenades”, and lots of pep talks, which all boiled down to this: “Boys, learn it here and now, unless you wish to become pariah when you are eventually called up”.

It was an unquestioned assumption that every “boy” was going to be called up at some point. And it was not the “enlightened West”, at least before WWII, which served as an inspiration for fledgling anti-militarists like me: in the British schools from the 1880s, from what I understand, physical education, compulsory as it was, was often the domain of retired military men, and took the form they knew best, namely that of the drill. And of course, I already knew in the mid-1980s, that the main model for Soviet’s aggressively militaristic “Young Pioneers Organization” were Baden-Powell’s Scouts, their underlying ideology being an omnipresent Edwardian Social Darwinism, with its talk of the imminent “decline” (of Britain, West, and whatever else – you are surely in decline unless you are constantly training yourself to kill others…), and the desire to culturally colonize the working classes by importing them into the bourgeois/aristocratic “athletic patriotism” (John Springhall, “The Boy Scouts, Class and Militarism in Relation to British Youth Movements, 1908-1930″, – Review of Social History, Vol. 16, 1971).

When I first came to South Korea in 1991, I quickly understood that all the demons that haunted us, were already here as well: the “physical education” (체육) lessons based marching and command, the assumption that schoolboys are future conscripts to be drilled in advance in school. In their criticisms of the ways “physical education” was built up in the Korean schools, the anti-systemic dissidents of the 1980s often ascribed the blame to the “legacy of the Japanese imperialism”, and especially to the militaristic craze of the Pacific War time (see, for example, 고광헌’s excellent 스포츠와 정치, printed by 푸른나무, 1988). But there was very little concrete research about how, in detail, the school physical culture was militarized from the late 1930s onward.

And now, at last, this vacuum is starting to be filled – 신주백, one of the most promising historians of the colonial/early post-colonial period, has at last published a thoroughly scholarly paper dealing with the issue: “체육 교육의 군사화와 강제된 건강” (The Militarization of the Physical Education and the Forced Healthiness), in 정근식 (ed.), 식민지의 일상: 지배와 균열, 문화과학사, 2006. From this fascinating piece we learn that the Government-General, in preparation for the introduction of conscription in Korea (which began ultimately in 1944. Once introduced, such things tend to stay for a very, very long time…), surveyed the physical condition of around 60 thousand Korean male youths in March 1942, and from this ascertained how much improvement was needed.

About 97% of those called up for the survey complied. This is a very high level of the administrative efficiency for a colony and was mainly achieved by mobilizing the “neighbourhood patriotic associations” (애국반 – they became 반상회 in South Korea and 인민반 in North Korea from the 1950s) and making the families collectively responsible for the compliance of the young males. Then, from 1942, the “physical culture” lessons in the schools practically mergered with military drills. Around 600 hours of the drills a year were supposed to be provided for all Korean males above the primary school level, and the militarized Korean Sports Promotion Association turned athletic tournaments into places where the “Imperial Army Spirit” was to be demonstrated in action. However, the “Kokumin Tairyoku ho” (National Law on Physical Strength, 1940) from Japan proper (more  here)was never fully implemented in Korea, and the physical fitness of all these Korean males of constription age were never tested in full. Korea needed Kim Il Sung and Rhee Syngman to turn the sado-masochistic dream of checking and grading the ability of every young male to throw grenades and march into the sort of grim reality we are still facing here….


Feuding clans

Filed under: — Owen @ 7:28 pm Print

There is a fascinating article in today’s International Herald Tribune on Korean family grave sites, feng shui and the long-running feud between the Yoon and Shim clans. Recommended reading with an interesting twist in the tale for people who are interested in the whole issue of what constitutes history, tradition, heritage etc and what preserving these things actually means. Here’s a taster:

In ancient Korea, grave site disputes were the most common cause of lawsuits. Among those disputes, the Shim- Yoon quarrel is the most famous unresolved case, partly because it involved families that each produced several queens and numerous ministers at the royal court.

Yoon Gwan, who expanded Korea’s northern territories, died in 1111 and was buried in this hill. But the tomb was lost as continuous wars ravaged the country and his family’s power declined. When Shim Ji Won, the prime minister, died in 1662, his family buried him in the same hill.

The feud erupted in the mid-18th century when the Yoon clan, with its influence on the rise again, rediscovered the general’s grave – as it turned out, only meters downhill from Shim’s.

Petitions and clashes followed. King Young Jo presided over a hearing in 1764 and ordered the clans to respect the two graves as they were. But the families continued to bicker, vandalizing each other’s tombs, and the irate king punished the 70-year-old patriarchs of the rival factions by flogging and exiling them. One of them, a Yoon, died from the effects of the beating. Animosity only deepened.


Kim Hwanp’yo and his “Ssalpap chŏnchaeng”

Filed under: — noja @ 9:03 am Print

Several days ago, I was happy to be presented a newly published book by the publishers who had also earlier printed two of my own books – that is, by Seoul-based Inmul kwa sasang (인물과 사상). The book is entitled “Ssalpap chŏnchaeng” (쌀밥 전쟁: “War for rice”, or how should I translate it?), and written by certain Kim Hwanp’yo – a non-academic, obviously from the circle of Prof. Kang Junman (a Chŏnbuk University media scholar and famous social ciritic, well-known for his habit to “name names” while criticising people and institutions – a dangerous thing to do in our position, I would add…), who previously co-authored several essay collections of political and “cultural criticism” including one on the history of S. Korea’s official ‘anti-communism.’

This new work, a surprisingly detailed and professionally written account for somebody who is seemingly neither a historian nor a specialist in the field of agricultural economy, deals with the story of S. Korean rice agriculture, and mainly in 1960s-70s. The picture which emerges from reading it is helpful in understanding what is going on in North Korea in a sort of wider historical perspective—you get to know that S. Korea achieved self-sufficiency in rice in 1976, when it harvested 36 million sŏk of rice, and that this achievement was, in fact, quite shaky. S. Korea had to resume rice imports in 1980, when it harvested only 24 million sŏk due to a large-scale crop failure. It was happy enough to do so as it had enough currency at the time, and then became a stable client of the Californian rice cultivators – who were politically well-backed enough to press Chŏn’s dictatorship to buy their wares throughout the early 1980s, even when S.Korea did not really need them.

N. Korea, with its depleted foreign exchange reserves and without cheap Soviet fuel and fertilizer, did not manage in the mid-1990s to escape the same plight which Southerners barely escaped in 1980. The way to rice self-sufficiency under Park was a bumpy one, and involved lots of disciplinary action taken in a good Japanese imperial spirit—of the kind the Western public would probably more readily associate with North Korea. It included designating special “no-rice days” (무미일 – no rice to be sold anywhere, and presumably no rice to be eaten in home dining-rooms, although this part probably was not really well-enforced), ordering in 1963 that all rice merchants to blend 20% non-rice cereals (잡곡) into their wares, and ordering restaurant owners to do the same with the rice they served. More resembling the good old imperial days—as well as the realities of the North Korean situation—were housewifes’ “public meetings for the sake of encouraging flour-based meals” (분식권장궐기대회), which were supposed to force home kitchens to comply with the governmental policy of “분식의 날”—bread and noodles only, none of that luxury good called ‘white rice.’ These housewives who were deplorably ignorant about the ways of making good food without rice, were taught to do so in special “flour-based meal consultation centres” (분식상담소), run from 10.00 to 16.00 every weekday by the “National Reconstruction Movement” (재건국민운동본부). And they had to study assiduously. If the share of white rice in the lunch boxes of their children exceeded prescribed norm, and this heinous crime was uncovered during the regular “lunch box checks” (도시락 검사), the punishment (that is, the corporal punishment for the children) would be severe, and their children’s grades for behaviour might suffer.

This “rice economizing movement” (절미운동) ended only in the late 1970s—and the age in which newspapers explained that the high intelligence of Westerners was precisely thanks to the fact that they ate bread and not rice, became just an (unwelcome) part of the collective memory. It all shows something about the nature of post-colonial statehood on the Korean Peninsula – but the Western media did not try that much to poke fun at Park Chung Hee’s ways to discipline and punish his subjects, while very similar things (on a much worse scale, I have to acknowledge) done by Kim Il Sung, were always mocked in very good humour, were they not? I always wonder what proportion of Western—and non-Western—consumers of Samsung products are aware of what would happen to any Samsung employee who tried to unionize his/her company?

전시소개: 잊혀진 제국/헤르만 산더의 여행

Filed under: — Gyewon @ 8:14 am Print

안녕하세요? 갑작스런 비에 다들 무사하신지… 이번에는 한국어로 포스팅하겠습니다. 다들 한국어 실력이 워낙 출중하신지라 걱정은 되지 않습니다만.

지금 서울에서는 재미있는 사진전들이 개최되고 있습니다. 간략히 소개하자면

1. 잊혀진 제국: 서울대학교 박물관

2. 헤르만 산더의 여행: 국립민속박물관

전시 정보는 링크를 참고하시고요.

“잊혀진 제국” 전은 대한제국의 마지막 황실의 사진 도큐먼트로 구성되어 있습니다. 학예연구원 선 일씨가 야심차게 준비하신 기획전입니다. 박물관 소장품 중, 황실 관련 사진첩들을 전시로 재구성했다고 생각하시면 됩니다. 따라서 이 전시의 미덕은 무엇보다, 그 정보성에 있습니다. 즉, 황실의 살림살이를 눈으로 볼 수 있다는 것에 가장 큰 의의를 두고 싶습니다. 전시의 구성은 제법 아기자기 합니다. 사진들을 여러가지 사건/내러티브들로 풀어 헤쳐놓았어요. 즉, 단순히 300여점의 소장사진을 기계적으로 걸어놓은 것이 아니라, 사진을 통해 역사를 재해석하려는 학예연구사의 노력이 보인다는 것이지요. 단지 아쉬운 점이 있다면, 그 노력의 결과가 전시의 형태로 끝나버릴 가능성이 있다는 것입니다. 전시는 일회적이지요. 그것이 전시의 가장 큰 장점이기도, 한계이기도 합니다. ”잊혀진 제국”같은 정보적인 전시는 그 일회성을 분명 넘어서야 합니다. 그래서 역사전의 도록은 어쩌면 전시 자체보다 더욱 중요할지도 모르겠어요. 전시가 끝나면 사진은 다시 수장고로 들어갈테지만 도록은 그렇지 않으니까요.

역사전을 치루기 위해서 학예연구사는 사진의 고고학적 연구에서 시작하여(저자, 년도, 장소, 기타 등등), 사진의 컨텍스트 (역사적 공간/사건)에 대해 많은 “연구”를 하셔야 합니다. 그 뿐입니까. 역사가들 또한 연구를 해주시고 글을 써주셔야 합니다. 그래서 결국, 역사전이란 역사에 대해서, 역사와 사진의 관계에 대해서, 역사의 구성과 사진의 기록성에 대해서 메타비평하는 장에 다름아닙니다. 전시는 그것을 시공간적으로 보여주는 기술이라면, 도록은 그 기술의 단면적 저장고 입니다. 역사전에 도록이 푸짐하게 나오는 것도 바로 그 때문이지요.   

관계자 분들께서 이 점을 모르고 계시리라고는 생각을 하지 않습니다. 늘 그렇지만 주어진 여건이 문제겠지요. 학예연구사 선 일씨의 연구 내용은 일제강점기, 일본 학자들이 조선에 건너와 찍었던 인류학/무속학/민속학 사진들입니다. 서울대 고미술사학과에서 공부하셨습니다. 궁금하신 분들은 논문 검색을 해보시길. 

사족: 제 경우, “잊혀진 제국”전은, 알렉산더 소쿠로프(이름이 맞는지 모르겠습니다 -_-;;)의 The Sun 이라는 영화를 연상시키더군요. 일본에서 상영금지되었다가 얼마전 해제되었다죠. 히로히토 천왕의 살림살이에 관한 영화입니다. 다시 확인해 보아야 하겠지만, 벽지가 동일해요. 조선의 마지막 황실과, 히로히토네 살림살이의 벽지가요. 그리고 그것은 또한, 제 기억에 따르면 동경국립박물관의 벽지이기도 합니다. 단순한 우연일까요. 이렇게 제국은 어떤 특정한 시각성과 시각적 장치를 가지고 있습니다. 제가 연구하는 것은 바로 이런 것이지요.(아,, 벽지 자체를 연구하는 것은 아닙니다) 

영화가 궁금하신 분들은 여길 따라가 보시길. 


“헤르만 산더의 여행” 전은 국립민속박물관에서 오랜만에 내놓는 사진전입니다. “잊혀진 제국”전이 황실의 살림살이를 공개하는 전시라 한다면, “헤르만 산더의 여행”전은 외국인의 시선이 그려낸 조선의 풍경을 소개해주는 전시라고나 할까요. 헤르만 산더의 손자가, 할아버지의 유품들을 기증하고, 그것을 국박에서 대중에게 공개했습니다. 따라서 “잊혀진 제국”에 비하면, 사진을 촬영한 주체가 아주 분명하고요. 또한, 사진과 기록이 병행되었기 때문에, 산더의 촬영 목적 또한 알 수 있게 됩니다. 이런 점들은 사진의 해석을 더욱 더 풍부하게 만들어줍니다. 사진을 통해 역사를 재해석하는 것도 어느 정도 가능해지고요. 어쩌면 이 전시의 도록이 좋은 글들과 도판으로 출판될 수 있었던 것도 그 때문인지 몰라요. 여러분의 필자들이 글을 써주셨습니다. 저는 이경민 선생님의 글을 추천하고 싶어요. (더불어, 이경민 선생님의 저서도 추천하고 싶습니다. 제목은 “기생은 어떻게 만들어졌는가” 입니다) 전시에 대해서 따로 말씀드릴 부분은 그다지 없습니다. 역시 정보적이고요. 역사의 디테일을 한껏 제공해줍니다. 관객의 입장에서 줏어담기 힘들 정도로요.

+ 다만, 제가 궁금한 것이 있다면, 서양인의 조선에 대한 타자적 시선은, 이후 일본 제국주의자들에게 차용되었다고 하는 점입니다. 실제로 서양인이 구한말에 재현한 조선의 풍경과, 일제 강점기에 재현된 조선의 풍경은 도상학적으로 아주 많이 겹쳐져요. 그렇다면 서양인의 일본에 대한 시선은요? 이를테면 비아토가 찍은 요코하마 사진 같은 것들이요. 제가 보기엔, 이 또한 서양인/일본인이 찍은 조선의 풍경사진과 교집합을 가지고 있어요. 도상적으로도, 인식론적으로도요. 전시 도록에서 필자 누군가가 이런 부분을 짚어주었다면 좋았을텐데요. 

+ 점점 더 이런 전시가 많아지면 좋겠어요. 유물을 아카이브즈/박물관에 기증하고 학예연구사들이 대중에게 전시의 형태로 그것을 공개하는 것이요. 사진 아카이브즈가 부재하기에(국가적 차원에서) 이런 전시의 중요성은 말할 필요도 없겠지요 – 이렇게라도 보지 않는 다면 그냥 땅에 묻히는 것이죠.

+ 역사전에 대한 일반적인 질문은, 매번 동일하지만, 과연 100년전에 카메라로 기록/재현된 이미지로 그 당시를 감각할 수 있을까요. 어떻게 할 수있을까요. 사진은 역사를, 역사는 사진을 구성할 수 있을까요. 롤랑 바르트는 은근슬쩍 그렇다고 대답하였지요. ”같은 세기가 사진과 역사를 발명했다”고요. 발명 자체가 문제될 것은 없지요. 다만 발명의 정치가 문제인 것이지요.

다들 이 무거운 비에 무사하시길요. 사실 저는 내일까지 써야할 무언가가 있는데요. 꼭 데드라인 전에는 딴 걸 하고 싶어진다니까요. 그래서 얼떨결에 포스팅도 하게 되네요. ㅋㅋ 


Books on Korea Available from the Gutenberg Project

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:34 pm Print

A few recent messages on the KoreanStudies email list pointed out that the Gutenberg Project has a few old Korean books online. They are a wonderful resource to learn more about how past generations have viewed and described Korea and often contain small tidbits of information not available elsewhere (especially to students who may not read any Korean).

You can read recent KS messages from July here. They include discussion of an ongoing effort to create a digitized version of Isabella Bird Bishop’s Korea and Her Neighbours and a draft of the 2nd volume, which still needs proofing, has been posted by Thomas Duvernay in his posting here. In a separate posting Brother Anthony at Sogang University pointed out that several of Bishop’s other books are already available for download in the Gutenberg collection.

Here are links some currently available books mentioned on the email list or which I found myself on Gutenberg’s site (Tip to Brother Anthony for pointing these out):

Korea’s Fight for Freedom by F. A. Mckenzie (1920) – Not his famous The Tragedy of Korea but a later (and more updated) book which expands his earlier arguments.

Corea or Cho-sen by A. Henry Savage Landor (1895) – An HTML version with fully scanned pictures is available in an HTML version here.

Our Little Korean Cousin by Henry Lee Mitchell Pike (1905) – Online version complete with the original pictures here.

As I have pointed out in a posting on my own blog, many of the books at Gutenberg have been scanned and then checked through a distributive proofreading process. I would love to see many more of these older works, which were published long enough ago to be in the public domain, online and available in various formats such as those provided by the wonderful Gutenberg project.

The advantage of distributive proofreading is obvious: there are many eyes which check over the work but each person need only contribute a little. The process is divided into several stages and has already added over a thousand public domain books to the project.

If you are interested in contributing to this process, either by adding scanned works with their unproofed OCRed files, or by offering a little bit of time to correct some of the books (there are several books related to Asia currently being proofread) then visit the:

Project Gutenberg’s Distributed Proofreaders Webpage

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