[KS] Gwageo cheongsan (Kwageon ch'eongsan)

Leonid Petrov petrov at coombs.anu.edu.au
Sun Sep 8 22:16:29 EDT 2002

Dear list members,
As Professor Choe correctly mentioned, the term "ch'Ongsan" alone certainly
stands for "cleansing". But in combination with "kwagO" it probably should
be considered differently. I would suggest translating the term "kwagO
ch'Ongsan" as "coming to terms with the past (and starting the life again)",
which is probably very close to what Aidan Foster-Carter is arguing for.

But "kwagO ch'Ongsan" can also be translated as "critical reconsideration of
the past" which has been a long-standing issue for Korean nationalist
historiography. For example, Paek Nam-un opened his "Socio-economic History
of Korea" (1933) with a brief allusion to the "age of critical
reconsideration of Korean history research" [ChsOnsa-ui yOn'gu pip'anjOgin

Indeed, in the 1920s and 1930s, Korean historians were reconsidering the
past, NOT "cleansing" or "liquidating" it. However, in the 1950s and 1960s,
many of them (particularly those who moved to the North) busied themselves
"rectifying the past" and "righting past wrongs." This time, they were quite
literally doctoring history in accordance with Party concerns and Leader's


----- Original Message -----
From: "Yong-ho Choe" <choeyh at hawaii.edu>
To: <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>; <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2002 10:16 AM
Subject: Re: [KS] Gwageo cheongsan (Kwageon ch'eongsan)

> Yes, the term "ch'Ongsan" most certainly means cleansing.
> At 04:44 PM 9/8/2002 -0500, David McCann wrote:
> >The term doesn't mean cleansing, does it?  It does assume, though, that
> >history has been misconstrued.  Or that it could stand to be rewritten.
> >there someone who believes that isn't actually the case?
> >
> >David McCann
> Yong-ho Choe
> Department of History
> University of Hawaii at Manoa
> Honolulu, HI  96822
> Tel: 808 956-6762
> Fax: 808 956-9600
> E-mail: choeyh at hawaii.edu
>Dear list members,
>The KOREA JOURNAL will deal with the special issue titled
>"Gwageo  cheongsan (MR: Kwago ch'ongsan) in Korean Modern History" in its
>2002 autumn issue. Articles in this issue will analyze the development,
>significance and future tasks concerning gwageo cheongsan. Articles to be
>published in this special issue are as follows.
>1. "Gwageo cheongsan" in Modern Korean History
>2. Refracted Modernity and the Issue of Pro-Japanese Collaborators in Korea
>3. How To Reveal the Iceberg under the Sea?: The Problems in Historical
>Clarification of the Korean War
>4. The Significance of "gwageo cheongsan" of the December 12 Coup and
>the May 18 Gwangju Uprising
>5. Attempted "gwageo choengsan" in April Popular Struggle
>6. Finding the Truth on the Suspicious Deaths Under South Koreas Military
>7. State Violence and Sacrifices under Military Authoritarianism
>and  Dynamics of "gwageo cheongsan" during Democratic Transition
>However, we have had difficulty in translating "gwageo cheongsan" into an
>appropriate English term. Some alternatives have been suggested such as
>"dealing with the wrong past," "liquidating the past," "rectifying the
>past," and "righting past wrongs," but none of these is satisfactory. We
>ask anyone who is struck with a good idea regarding this matter to let us
>Korea Journal

Yong-ho Choe
Department of History
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, HI  96822

Tel: 808 956-6762
Fax: 808 956-9600
E-mail: choeyh at hawaii.edu

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