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Asian History Carnival 21

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 9:08 pm Print

Tang Dynasty Times has the latest — and a great collection it is, too — and promises to have a second edition in a month!


Coming Soon: 21st Asian History Carnival

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 11:18 pm Print

The first of two parts of the 21st Asian History Carnival will be coming soon on August 23rd to the Tang Dynasty Times!

Read more and submit your nominations for the carnival here:

21st Asian History Carnival.

The Sideshow in Korea?

Yet the costly Iraq war must also be recognised as a sideshow in the Bush global counteroffensive against Islamist militancy, just as the far more costly Korean war was a sideshow to global cold war containment.

So says Edward Luttwak, in an extensive attempt to speed up the process by which History justifies and valorizes the policies of this administration. [via] He’s mostly engaged in a bit of dramatic post hoc, ergo propter hoc whereby a shift in government policies towards extremist Islamic groups is the result of Pres. Bush’s Trumanesque firmness, but the damage done to the success — military and diplomatic — of the initial Afghanistan campaign by the Iraq campaign isn’t taken into account at all.1 The Korean war — which I have a lot of trouble seeing as a “sideshow,” given the direct involvement of Chinese and Russian forces and a lot more actual shooting than in Europe — advanced the cause of anti-communism. It was a success, in the sense that it preserved South Korea as a non-communist state and it was the last full-scale conflict between the great powers for some time. The only sense in which Korea could be called a “sideshow” is that Truman’s containment policy engaged a lot of other parts of the world as well.

He then goes on to mangle Chinese history — Tang, Song and Ming dynasties never conquered anyone, right? — and to cast the future of Asia in binaries (China: convergence or communist collapse? India: corruption stagnation or “traditional” good Brahmin governance?), as well as giving the administration credit for North Korean disarmament instead of noting their years of footdragging on same which have exacerbated the proliferation problem.

Truman deserves better.

  1. He’s also assuming that al Qaeda’s “call to action” attacks were likely to inspire imitators rather than revulsion in the short run, which seems like he’s taking their own rhetoric way too seriously. Romantic nihilists have been claiming that “the masses are on the brink of revolution” and “dramatic action will awaken them” for over two centuries now. []


South Korea As Seen from Singapore: The “Korea Boom,” “Korea” Mobilized~

Filed under: — John P. DiMoia @ 1:08 am Print

     I can’t resist adding this, my admittedly very superficial observations based on slightly more than two months of residence in Singapore: South Korea, and “Korea” writ large, are indeed a different place when viewed from the perspective of SE Asia.
     The label “Korea” carries with it / connotes at least three meanings here: (1) a small but growing expatriate community of South Koreans on the island (apparently they still retain ROK citizenship if they attain Singapore PR status), currently numbering in the range of 6,000 to 8,000 residents, with a corresponding cultural and material presence (food, DVD’s, business investment, and a shopping mall which has garnered for itself the designation “Little Seoul”); (2) the ongoing popularity of Korean dramas (esp. Choson and Samguk period pieces); and (3) an exotic travel destination, especially in terms of winter sports.   

Of these three, the latter two interest me the most in terms of prior encounters with “Korea Boom” related goods in Japan.  When I was auditing History classes (at Columbia) in 2004, there was a loose thesis circulating among member of one class concerning the popularity of Korean culture in countries with a large ethnic Chinese population, the appeal of watching a once Sino-centric / Confucian (using these very broadly here, I know, and not very carefully) culture undergo rapid change.  That is, the dramas and popular culture might serve as a model to places desirous of undergoing similar changes of their own (China, HK, Singapore). 

  I didn’t devote much thought to this until moving here, discovering that many Singaporeans hold the ROK in high esteem, seeing it as a successful EA nation comparable to their own.  That is, (1) both Singaporeans who desire change might seek to appropriate the ROK model (whatever that is) for their agenda; and likewise, (2) the Singaporean gov.–as well as others in the region–might mobilize a model of change that implies containment, relatively incremental change.  I leave it to the reader to consider here the permutations possible in terms of mobilizing another nation’s recent history for one’s own purposes.

  And this brings me to the third point, those “Dynamic Korea” (sveral years ago) and ‘Korea Sparkiling” ads that run as travel promotions.  They’re conspicuously present on television here–although I haven’t yet paid close attention to which channels, and when they air most frequently–and have succeeded in giving the ROK appeal as a travel destination, particularly in terms of Winter and Skiing.  Of course, these activities do exist as viable options for Koreans, but I never quite conceived of South Korea in terms of a “snow country” while living in Seoul.  I guess that’s partly a product of living just above the Equator . . .

  I’m off to BAKS (British Association Korean Studies) in early September, and looking forward to it as my only previous encounter with KS  in the UK was a 2007 conference at SOAS.



Filed under: — John P. DiMoia @ 6:01 am Print


I’m new to the blog, and just wanted to introduce myself.  I just completed a Ph. D. in the History of Science (2007) on the formation of “state science” in the ROK. 

I’m primarily a Historian of Science / Medicine, with a significant investment in East Asia (South Korea and Japan). I recently started at NUS (National University of Singapore), and will be teaching in the former area (Social History of Disease), while assisting with the latter as we offer our first Korean History classes in Spring 2009. NUS also hired two language lecturers for Korean, and appears to be quite motivated about getting involved with Korean Studies.

In terms of interests, this translates into spending a lot of time in hospitals, and I’m currently working on a book project about the formation / tranformation of a South Korean health care system following the war (1945-1972).

I’m also interested in the messy “in-between” years of about 1945-1965 in terms of the transformation of Korean technology and material culture (engineering, agriculture, the transition from the electrical grid to nuclear power by the late 1970′s), but run into frequent limitations here in terms of a lack of documents.

In any case, I’ll be posting again soon, and look forward to participating–you can also find me at:



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