This study explores the level of sohak (minor learning) and philology, or fundamental studies, related to classical Chinese literature which was prevalent during the Sejong period, and examines how this level was reflected in the nature of annotated editions (of the Classics) and the way in which works became classified as Classics via the publication of collected commentaries. It also looks at the fact that the parallel structure was considered an important factor when compiling classical Chinese literature, which led to this parallel structure being adopted in Korean verses too. In terms of compilation methodology, the books published during Sejong’s reign were all based on a number of specific principles, but we can find a variety of different features in the compilation of the different books. This study closely examines such differences by investigating a number of methodologies used in compilation of the Seokbo sangjeol, the Worin cheongang ji gok, the Worin seokbo, Hunmi jeongeum haeryebon, Yongbi eocheon ga, and so many publications during the Sejong’s reign.
Historically. grammatical studies of 15th century Korean have been done mainly from an internal perspective. Through these efforts, many linguistic facts have been uncovered, but for future advancement, an external perspective is also needed. Linguistic typology and diachronic studies can provide such an external perspective. Linguistic typology can help describe more precisely the tenseaspect system of 15th century Korean, functions of tense-aspect markers, and alternation patterns of morphemes by transitivity. Sino-Korean materials of the old Korean period can help explain some peculiar uses of the prefinal ending “-nʌ -.”
This paper examines Seong Hyeon’s life under the perspective of musicology and the trend of musical culture during his time based on his written records. Seong Hyeon was a 15th century literati and government official as well as a music enthusiast, thoroughly enjoying music culture throughout his lifetime while serving as a supervisor of Jangakwon and a publisher of the nation’s music records such as the Akhakgwebeom, the “Akhakgwebeomseo,” the “Hyeongeumhapjaboseo,” the Heobaekdangjip, and the Yongjaechonghwa which are significant from a music history perspective in particular because such details are not described in the royal chronicles. Additionally, his writings not only present the establishment of nation’s ceremonial music, but also show how it was performed. These musical documents reveal the state of the royal music institute, the existence of the Hyeongeumhapjabo, and the way the 15th Joseon literati enjoyed music culture. While there has been some interest in musicology circles on Seong as the author of the Akhakgwebeom, researches on the music and dance mentioned in his various records have rarely existed. This paper, therefore, will take a closer look into Seong Hyeon’s records, in order to firstly investigate his point of view as a supervisor of the Royal Music Institute on the history and development of court and secondly examine Seong’s affection for the geomungo instrument and his contemporaries’ musical enjoyment.
The forces that led the founding of Joseon focused on medicine as a way of realizing neo-Confucian ideals of government. Medicine thus had to be reorganized to meet new societal needs: 1) to increase accessibility to medical services in line with the neo-Confucian ideal of providing medical care to the people, and 2) to actually advance the field of medicine by way of academic research. King Sejong set out to systematically implement specific plans to resolve the long-standing problems surrounding medicine and medical care. He focused his efforts on restructuring various medical agencies in line with symbolizing the authority of the throne and ensuring the state’s provision of medical care to carry out the spirit of loving the people. In order to raise the standard of medical care, Sejong put his efforts into planning and compiling comprehensive medical texts as well as distributing the books and encouraging their use in education. One of these was Hyangyak jipseongbang, a text covering medicine using only domestic medicinal ingredients; and another was Uibang yuchwi, which presented in its introduction the direction towards which the field of medicine in Joseon should strive to proceed—academically rigorous learning, medical-text-based clinical practice, and high ethical standards of all medical personnel. Sejong’s visions formed the foundation of the health system of Joseon, which would lead to the publication of Dongui bogam more than 200 years later.
This paper analyzes characteristics of architectural design of existing wooden architecture built in the 15th century, focusing on its joints and decorations of framing components and their positions. Representative buildings of the first and second half of the 15th century were considered respectively. This study focuses on interpreting architectural characteristics inherited or changed from the late Goryeo dynasty and those settled as main features of architectural design during the Joseon dynasty period and scrutinizing the rationale behind the emergence and transformation of these features. Two buildings discussed in this paper inherited and developed the traditional orders of two bracketing styles, the simple-bracketing style and the multi-bracketing style, while adopting each other’s trimming techniques and some decoration features. These transformations appeared in soeseo decoration techniques, roof structure supporting system, and integration of framing components. Also, their recessed canopies attested how the visual impression of the multi-bracketing style was dominant. On the other hand, buildings of the late 15th century display changes such as the expansion of soeseo-decorated parts and differentiation of the elevations or smaller sections through flexible utilization of original orders and the transformations appeared in two bracketing styles during the early 15th century. This transition period can be read as the preliminary phase of independent simple-bracketing style and multi-bracketing style being converged after the mid-Joseon dynasty period. These two bracketing styles began to be situated harmoniously within one whole boundary of the Joseon architecture, only being differentiated in its hierarchy.
The term “Confucianization” often simplifies various political activities and their accompanying ritual debates in early Joseon and thus makes it difficult to understand the complicated historical processes of the Joseon dynasty. Examining Joseon officials’ debates about the sacrifice to Heaven and the sacrifice to Dan-gun, this paper challenges the historical premise that Joseon people could not but have a China-centered view as a result of its “Confucian transformation.” This paper also suggests that for the Joseon elite, Confucian thoughts were useful resources which could be referred to when necessary, not an absolute or inflexible tenet by which all of their thoughts and practices were restrained and controlled. Even though Joseon politicians referred to the Classics, which were filled with Confucian precepts and ideas, it should not simply be said that their repeated debates on ritual propriety were intended only to Sinicize their state or dogmatize a specific ideology. Rather, those ritual debates should be understood as Joseon’s own way of state building which is worthy of study as an example to better understand the diversity and differences in the historical development of various states in the world.
This paper examines imperial Japanese photography from the late 19th century to the 1930s, with particular focus on the state-sponsored documentary photography of Korea, which served to visually legitimize Japan’s colonial expansion. By engaging with the GGK’s documentary collection, I explore which photographic images were permitted to circulate in the media and, more importantly, how those images exerted power in ways that subjugated the colonized and legitimized the colonial hierarchy. If the colonial photography established and reified its power through irresistible and “transparent” photographic images, this paper’s aim is to strip off that power by opening up the images to multivalence. As such, one of the primary concerns of this paper is to investigate the widely presumed transparency or validity of photography, especially in its use as historical evidence or as historical reference for understanding the colonial past.
Pak Kyongni’s Toji (Land, 1969-1994) is a multivolume, 6-million-word novel long touted by South Korean critics as the greatest work of modern Korean literature. This paper examines the representation and significance of Japan and the colonial past in Toji. That a work widely perceived to be a national epic par excellence should contain as a fundamental component the relationship of the former colonizer and colonized reveals the extent to which Pak’s magnum opus is a literary testament to the inextricable connection between Japan and the construction of national identity in modern Korea. Pak’s treatment of the colonial period indeed appeals to, and epitomizes, the conventional anti- Japanese nationalist discourse of post-liberation Korea. But at the same time, I argue that her engagement with Japan in Toji is too multilayered, complex, and passionate to be viewed as being simply and only anti-Japanese. Focusing on Parts 4 and 5 and Pak’s use of a main Japanese character, I examine the diversity and complexity of Pak’s ideas about Japan and the imperial and colonial impact on Korea in Toji.
Despite Joseon being the so-called Hermit Nation in 1882, the then westerners had an awareness of Joseon since there were several navies cruising along the Korean coast and some even landed on the Korean peninsula. Having observed Joseon life there, they could record their experiences as voyage diaries. Thanks to their voyage diaries and some other materials translated from Chinese, even the westerners who had no chances to visit Joseon could understand Joseon and additionally offer other new introductions to Joseon. Drawing on such secondary sources along with the westerners’ records based on their hands-on experiences, this paper mainly addresses the image of Joseon’ everyday life from the westerners’ perspectives before the Open Door policy. Before the 1880s when more westerners started to come to the Korean peninsula, Joseon seemed to remain unaltered. By consulting the westerners’ records, however, the paper aims to list some evidence to prove that Joseon’s everyday life including the clothes, food, and houses improved gradually and internally.