There seems to be a significant variation in the memory of August 15, 1945, between the nation and individuals despite the fact that this memory is historicization of shared experiences, i.e., collective memory. This can be seen by examining the memories at the national level. South Korea remembers August 15 in terms of defeat, liberation, and restoration, whereas North Korea remembers this event in connection with victory and liberation, Japan with end of war or defeat, China with victory and liberation, and Taiwan with end of war and restoration. South Korea and North Korea at first remembered this day as “Liberation Day,” but the name of this day changed after independent governments were established in each nation. South Korea changed the name of this day to “Independence Day,” whereas North Korea called it “Memorial Day for National Liberation.” This division in names represents a giant barrier as great as the division of the system, and the rift in the two different celebrations of the same memory became wider, aggravated by the asymmetric development of economics and exclusiveness between the two nations. Especially in the case of South Korea, August 15 has been remembered as a mixture of the day of liberation and restoration, but it became firmly established as Independence Day in the 1970s, which continued to the present. On the other hand, the term liberation has been strictly excluded as being a derogatory leftist word. Transformation in the memory of the process of liberation or restoration is apparent now that socialism has fallen, the Cold War system has been dismantled in recent years, and confrontation between the North and South Koreas have been mitigated. This will soon lead to a transformation in the memory of August 15.
In Korean comic books, there has been “remorse” for the fact that Korea had acquired its liberation dependently on August 15 in 1945. In other words, the remorse for the historical dependency in modern Korean history leaves trauma. This trauma tends to be resolved by three ways as follows. First, Korean residents in Japan are created as male heroes who are strongly opposed to Japan. Through this hero fighting against Japanese, Korean people satisfy their resentment against Japan in their inner hearts, not in reality. Second, the future relationship between Korea and Japan is described catastrophically. In this “fictional” future, Korea always inflicts revenge or punishment on Japan. Third, Korean national power overcomes that of Japanese through the growth of capitalism. Japan is represented as an opposite axis, which realizes the normative value of Korean nationalism. In this way, Japan becomes “the other.” These understandings of Japan in Korean comic books show how contemporary Korean society processes, remembers, and transmits the memories of the past on condition that the state monopolizes/controls interchanges between the two countries. Therefore, Japan in Korean comic books functions as a mirror through which the goal of contemporary Korean society is revealed. Viewed in this light, the point of view about Japan in these comic books has been shaped through the process of fitting historical experiences into the national development or social context and reprocessing them with Korean personal memories and experiences.
It is widely recognized that one of the most important prerequisites of industrialization involves mobilizing the labor-force’s commitment to industry. Of various aspects of labor commitment, the subjective perception of the meaning and value of work is probably the most crucial of social psychological factors. In view of this, this paper aims to examine ways in which ideas about work developed and changed in South Korea from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s, the period marking the country’s remarkable transition from economic backwardness to dynamic industrialization. In the process, the following observations are made: 1) pre-industrial economic culture in the late nineteenth century Korea was largely shaped and influenced by Confucian ethics, which generally regarded work and commercial activity as inferior and demeaning; 2) the perception of work during the Japanese colonial period was primarily informed by the ideal of independence; 3) the political chaos during the post-liberation period hindered the formation of positive conceptions of work and economic growth; and 4) the “official” ideology of work during the 1960s and 1970s equated economic objectives with national aspirations and drew upon pro-growth Confucian ethics. This paper will trace these ideas about work in historical perspective and sociologically analyze their relevance to economic stagnation or growth in South Korea. In addition, this study will draw attention to many areas of comparison concerning the role of values in economic transformation, particularly those involving Japan and other Newly Industrializing Economies (NIEs).
There is a gap between teaching Korean culture and teaching the Korean language to foreigners. In many Korean language courses, Korean culture is being taught as an appendix, or as entertainment. If teaching Korean culture through the Korean language is possible, we can expect a synergic effect. We try to frame a lecture on Korean culture through the Korean language. First, we list linguistic elements having cultural relevance: gender, number, word order, elipsis, Sino-Korean words, lexical differentiation, basic vocabulary, and idioms. Secondly, we show a class schedule based on the linguistic elements for a semester. Thirdly, we show a sample lecture on one of the topics: Word order and order of thinking. We detail the contents to show on handouts or screen and the scripts to use.
This paper is an attempt to argue for the necessity of thinking about the idea of the university as a precondition for discussing the future of the university in Korea. The prevailing discourse on university reform calls for professionalization of learning and utilization of knowledge, subsuming education process under the capitalist logic of marketization and competition. I argue that this is one-sided and even dangerous as it neglects the role of higher education in formation and cultivation of the mind. Furthermore, it intensifies the sense of crisis in higher education in general and in humanities divisions in particular. Rather than simply accepting the market forces of change as the inevitable future of universities in Korea, this future has to be an open question to be discussed and debated. The work of re-imagining the university in Korea that I present here requires two historical examinations: First, an examination of the history of universities in the West as a history of ideas about the university; second, an examination of the Confucian higher education, embodied through the education at Sunggyungwan, as a model of higher education whose merits have to be discussed and evaluated. I conclude this paper by suggesting that the question of “What Is a University?” is a necessary question and that the future of higher education in Korea has to begin by responding to this very question.