The goal of this study is to review how “things Korean” (Joseonjeogin geot)became important when the significant, the “Orient,” was connected with anew signifié by emphasizing a traditional literary magazine, Munjang(Literature), published in the late Japanese colonial period. Munjang, published under the influence of “the movement for Koreanstudies” that tried to newly find and emphasize the cultural tradition ofJoseon, was often evaluated as a typical example of preserving the culturalidentity of Joseon in the history of Korean literature during the late period ofJapanese colonial rule. But the period between February 1939 and April 1941when Munjang was published was also the time a narrative about the collapseof the Occidental and the rise of the Orient was very popular in public culturaldiscourse. Of course, this narrative was closely connected with the politicalideology of Japanese imperialism that tried to justify rule over East Asia,rejecting the Occident and emphasizing “the sameness of the Orient.”However, without doubt “the inversion of modern values” and “the rise ofOriental values” resulting from this narrative placed the inquiry and revival of“things Korean” in a different context from erstwhile ones. The leaders of Munjang, Lee Byung-gi, Chung Ji-yong, and Lee Tae-joonmade it a traditional magazine, putting “things Korean” on an equal semanticvalue to “things of the past” and “typical natural things.” They not only took atraditional attitude to “things Korean = the past = nature,” but raised the attitudeup to the creative mind. The difference of how to revive “things Korean= the past = nature” was basically related to their differences of time consciousness. This study shows that their differences of time consciousness andrevival are classified by “the epiphany” and “the nostalgia.” While “theepiphany” tries to realize the potentiality of forgotten and extinct things of thepast by repeating past lives, “the nostalgia” tries to stand aloof from moderndaily lives, participating in the aesthetic aura through an irresistible yearningfor the past. But in the attitude of Munjang toward “things Korean = the past =nature,” there appears in particular an ironical inversion to substitute superiorityfor incompetence. Not to speak of “the nostalgia” coming from the completionof ruling over nature, even “the epiphany” that the oppressed pastintrudes upon the present can result in enlarging the scope of its identity incase it repeats in defense mechanism provided by self-duplication. Thus, suchan enlargement of identity will serve as momentum to integrate “thingsKorean” into a larger scope, “Oriental culture.”
This article examines several major arguments regarding the issue of nationalism that appeared during the era of the so-called “Greater East Asia Co- Prosperity Sphere.” Differences in opinions appeared in discussions and debates among scholars who were engaged in studies of themes related to the concept of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere after the end of the war. Against the backdrop of the Japanese reappearance in Southeast Asian countries after the war and the normalization of Korean-Japanese diplomatic relations, these scholars continued their studies while considering the new role Japan should assume in the region. The conservative approach has increasingly gained momentum, which contains sharp differences from the atmosphere of Western and other East Asian scholars. Japanese imperialists devised and established a hierarchical structure that placed Japan at the top and other countries at lower levels through this concept of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. This hierarchical structure was seemingly intended to negate the Western concept of “colonialism” and “self-determination of nations.” However, it actually shows the typical principle of divide and rule that encouraged discrimination and misconception within East Asia. The countries that were split by mutual control and opposition were bound together by the same goal of opposing the U.S. and the Western world. The case of Joseon and Taiwan, which were at once colonies and regarded as extensions of Japanese imperialism, clearly shows the contradictions inherent in this idea.
This paper contrasts the Korean ethnic-centered understanding of nationhood with the Chinese state-centered understanding. This paper also explains this contrast in a historical context. By so doing, this paper makes an effort to elaborate on Anthony Smith’s ethno-symbolic account of nationhood, in which he balances the influence of the ethnic past with the impact of nationalist activities. Both Korea and China followed a similar Confucian tradition and started to build their nation-states under the threat of colonization by Western powers in the late 19th century. However, these two countries had different ethnic pasts and, thus, respectively adopted different concepts of nationhood during their nation-building processes. As a result, Koreans and Chinese hold almost opposite understandings of nationhood today.
Studies in the fields of history and religion presented at the 2004 International Conference “Korean Nuns within the Context of East Asian Buddhist Traditions” demonstrated the active role women played as patrons and practitioners of Buddhism in the Goryeo dynasty. Complementing the textual evidence on their activities, this paper seeks to examine the visual representations of Buddhist nuns and laywomen in the Goryeo dynasty. Extant woodblock prints and silk paintings often depict women as recipients, practitioners, and patrons of the Buddhist faith; they appear in the form of taking the tonsure, mingling with monks or nuns, commissioning Buddhist images, or receiving punishment in the underworld after death. Whether on woodblock print or in fine color on silk, images of women are shown with equal prominence as participants in the support and practice of Buddhism, and as subjects to judgment in the underworld bureaucracy under similar conditions as the men. Karmic reward and retribution is portrayed in a perfect meritocracy regardless of gender, whether it be accumulating good karma by offering donations, or receiving punishment for past wrongdoings. Rebirth in the six paths also neither emphasizes one sex over the other, as the two possible gender forms appear with equal consistency. As such, images of the Goryeo sangha in Goryeo Buddhist paintings allocate equal emphasis on both the male and the female, possibly reflecting the Goryeo society as described in the texts. What is remarkable, however, is that while the Buddhist sangha may be represented by both sexes, they are ultimately framed within a system governed by patriarchy
Samguk yusa, one of the most important literary sources, was written by a Buddhist monk Iryeon in the Goryeo period of Korea. “Wangnyeok” in Samguk yusa divides Silla history of ancient Korea into three, i.e. the Early Ancient, the Middle Ancient, and the Late Ancient without mentioning much of the characteristics of each period. This essay analyzes the narratives of the mid-Silla period and examines how the author of Samguk yusa represents the cultural elements during King Beopheung’s and King Jinheung’s eras during mid-Silla. King Beopheung’s era is shown as the period governed by symbolic mechanism in terms of the Buddhist symbolic meaning of the narrative of Yeomchok’s self-sacrifice. The narratives telling the different characteristics of Weonhwa and Hwarang demonstrate the cultural pattern of King Jinheung’s era. In Samguk yusa, Hwarang’s characteristics, rather than Weonhwa’s, are recognized as the better in governing the country efficiently. Furthermore, Hwarang, rather than Weonhwa, turns out to be the better element for the hierarchical society in which a practical mechanism is dominant. It can be said that the author, Iryeon, writes on the cultural transition of the mid-Silla period, which can be analyzed by a symbolic axis and a practical axis. In the narratives in the background of the mid-Silla period, the role of the kings as well as Buddhist elements play a major role and the masculine values and personality, such as what Hwarang represented, are considered to be significant. In short, Iryeon describes the culture of the mid-Silla period considering the movement of the symbolic and practical elements, and moreover reflects the Confucian order of the world.