[KS] History's twists: thoughts on kwago ch'ongsan and the MOPE syndrome

Koen De Ceuster koen.de.ceuster at pandora.be
Mon Sep 9 15:12:33 EDT 2002

This is indeed an interesting thread. First of all, as Vladimir already
hinted at, the issue of kwago ch’ongsan is not that new, but has been part
and parcel of discussions among (younger) historians for quite some time
(the 1990s).

Maybe I may refer list members to my article in the latest Korean Studies
issue: “The Nation Exorcised: The Historiography of Collaboration in South
Korea,” where a.o. I touch upon the close link between political
developments and the flaring of the discussion on collaboration issues.
Although I realize William Brown is not inferring that historians work
outside of a social context, he does suggest a detachment from this social
context. As I demonstrate, it is sometimes more fruitful to look for the
social context to understand why a historical debate suddenly arises. The
same can be asked about this current issue of the Korea Journal. I would
suggest that it is a logical consequence of recent developments in Korean
historiography, where post-Korean war issues have finally become the subject
of research.

I always had the impression that the term kwago ch’ongsan referred to
correcting obvious (and often intended) distortions in existing
historiography. Here again, this relates to political developments, and the
legacy of authoritarianism and its stifling of academic freedom. As far as I
am concerned, this is a healthy development. If nothing else, it certainly
enlivens the debate. Furthermore, it allows social wounds to heal (though
they remain itchy), as Megan Koreman, in her The Expectation of Justice.
France 1944-1946 (Duke UP, 1999) has so masterfully shown.

Koen De Ceuster

-----Original Message-----
From: Koreanstudies-admin at koreaweb.ws
[mailto:Koreanstudies-admin at koreaweb.ws]On Behalf Of William Brown
Sent: maandag 9 september 2002 15:48
To: Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
Subject: Re: [KS] History's twists: thoughts on kwago ch'ongsan and the MOPE

 "but I am sure most on the list had the same feeling, so I do not want to
go into detail. I am glad to have a "delete" button on the keyboard"
I wish participants in this list would not speak "for the list". I for one
find Choi's and Foster-Carter's comments interesting and useful although
maybe premature given only an outline of the Korea Journal edition. Some of
the article titles suggest a political or emotional content to what
presumably is meant as history and that I think is of concern. When I read
history, especially of a foreign country,  I want to be sure that it is
devoid of current politics and accurately reflects the available evidence. I
think it is fair to question whether this will be the case in the Korea
Journal articles; hopefully they will be. This is not a particularly Korean
issue but is true whenever history of a recent past is being revisited.
Also, the Korea Journal is given in English and the original question
relates to translation of a Korean term into English.  So clearly this is
not a simple "for Koreans only" rendition of their history. I might ask, who
is the principal audience of this Journal and why is it published?

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