The Academy of Korean Studies published a special edition of the Korea Journal in celebration of its 60th anniversary
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The Academy of Korean Studies published a special edition of the Korea Journal in celebration of its 60th anniversary

  • In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Korea Journal, the first A&HCI-listed English-language journal in South Korea, a special edition has been published exploring the status, challenges, and future of Korean Studies research published in English and Korean.
  • The special edition presents the correlations between the outcomes of research published in the English-speaking academic community and those published in English by Korean-speaking researchers, the characteristics of research in the two communities, and future prospects and challenges in Korean Studies research.
  • □ The AKS (President Ahn Byung Woo) published a special edition of the Korea Journal on September 30 in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the inception of the journal.
    • ○ Launched in September 1961 as the first English-language Korean Studies journal in South Korea, the quarterly Korea Journal publishes papers on the latest research outcomes across the Korean Studies field. Since 2001 it has been listed in the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), one of the most respected international citation index databases in the Arts and Humanities.
  • □ The subjects of Korean Studies research generally include the language, history, geography, politics, economy, and society of Korea. However, this conception of Korean Studies has been fundamentally shaped by Western researchers who study it as a facet of regional studies. In South Korea, Korean Studies has yet to be established as an independent academic area. According to Professor Do Myeon-hoe of Daejeon University, Editor-in-chief of the Korea Journal, the reasons can be found in the history of Korean Studies, which began during the Japanese occupation of Korea.
    • ○ The Japanese Government-General of Korea started researching Korean customs and systems under the belief that Korea and Japan shared the same cultural roots and that Japan was promoting their reintegration through its annexation of Korea in 1910. The results of this research were 50-odd books covering a wide range of areas including markets, commerce, independence ideology, the people, gye (a traditional private funding scheme), the ceramics industry, local products, ethnic characteristics, demographics, crimes, disasters, folk beliefs, farming practices, lifestyle, settlement, and religions. The Government-General of Korea later engaged in more systematic and earnest research on Korean history and produced The History of Joseon, which runs to 35 volumes.
  • □ The special edition includes articles on the publication status of English-language Korean Studies journals within the Korean-speaking community, research on the history of the Korean economy in the Korean-speaking community, research on the history of the Joseon Dynasty in the English-speaking community, research on North Korean society in the English-speaking community, and a comparison of research between the English-speaking community and its Korean counterparts on Korean Buddhism. It also contains critical reviews on each article.
    • ○ First, in “English-Language Journals in Korean Studies: Their Significance and Challenges,” Professor Hwang Jae-moon of Seoul National University reviews the historical trend of English-language journals published in South Korea targeting international readerships and the challenges these journals face. Starting with how the Korean intellectuals of the early 1900s used English as a mediator for knowledge between Korea and other countries, the author demonstrates that the Korea Journal, which became a quarterly in 1990, provides an interface in Korean Studies between the English-speaking community and the Korean-speaking community. The author notes the need to address the fact that research on classical Korean literature and pre-modern Korea may remain as isolated areas.
    • ○ “Is Commanding Korean a Source of Competitiveness?: An Analysis of Publications in English by Korean Economics Professors Affiliated with Korean Universities” was co-authored by Professor Kim Du-eol of Myongji University and Professor Kim Han-eol of Gachon University. It analyzes English-language papers published by Korean-speaking researchers in the social sciences, the numbers of which have steadily increased since 1990, in order to examine the related research trends. According to the two authors, while the proportion of English-language papers published by Korean professors in Economics almost doubled from 18% in 1998 to 33.3% in 2018, the number of studies focused on the Korean economy is relatively small. The authors find the reason for this to be that the South Korean government provides little support for empirical research that deals with subjects related to Korea and the amount of data available for research is insufficient compared to that found in other industrialized countries. In this regard, the authors argue that it is an urgent matter for the government to publicize more and higher quality data in order to provide a basis conducive to the production of more English-language papers on the Korean economy.
    • ○ In “Moving Beyond Politics: Western Scholarship on Joseon,” Professor Donald Baker of the University of British Columbia points out that there is no English-language book that comprehensively covers the history of the 500 years of the Joseon Dynasty. Not taking any particular historical viewpoint, he reviews the existing books on the history of the Joseon era published in the English-speaking world, including the volume written by Hamel Hendrick of the Dutch East India Company in the late 17th century. He hopes that more young researchers will emerge in the English-speaking world who study aspects of daily life, such as work and play, rather than getting caught up only in the grand events of the era such as politics and wars.
    • ○ Professor Henry Em of Yonsei University, in “North Korea as Neighbor: Critical Scholarship on North Korea,” reviews the research on North Korea being conducted in the English-speaking world and suggests a future direction. Underlining the need for critical approaches to research on North Korea, he argues that there still remains a tendency to interpret North Korea from the perspective of the cold war; that research relies on interviews with North Korean defectors, whose statements sometimes later turn out to be unreliable; and that researchers fail to criticize the US government, which has both perpetrated and unjustly benefited from the situation on the Korean Peninsula by using moralistic and intimating tactics toward North Korea. The author believes that future research on North Korea should focus on proximity -meaning that the two Koreas are neighbors who need to live in peace and harmony- rather than on homogeneity -meaning that the two Koreas are one people.
    • ○ Lastly, in “Representing Korean Buddhism: Toward a Transnational Understanding of the Field of Korean Buddhist Studies,” Professor Sem Vermeersch of Seoul National University relates that research on Korean Buddhism published in the Korean-speaking community rarely refers to research by English-speaking researchers. Nevertheless, he considers it a positive sign that more research is being digitized and there is a growing pressure on Korean researchers to produce papers in English. In order to improve the link between research on Korean Buddhism in the English-speaking world and its Korean counterparts, the author suggests that there should be more Korean researchers who can publish papers in both English and Korean and that there should be a system to support long-term cooperation projects such as the translation of source materials and secondary literature.