[KS] Gwageo cheongsan (Kwageon ch'eongsan)

Mark Peterson Mark_Peterson at byu.edu
Tue Sep 10 13:34:05 EDT 2002


This has been a wonderful thread -- both in terms of participation 
and the value of the topic.  As one who works primarily in Chosøn era 
topics, I've been hesitant to get into this discussion on a recent 
history topic.  But it is so important.  What is happening in Korea 
-- and thanks to those who have educated us about the recent 
scholarship -- is something that has needed to happen, something that 
has an inevitability about it.

I think most of us have had experiences in discussing recent history 
where the Korean contact backs off from a topic because it is too 
thorny to get into.  It is these issues that need to be put on the 
table, and the process has attracted the loaded term ch'øngsan that 
has caused us so much angst in attempting to translate.  There is a 
need.  For example, recently I took a group of textbook writers 
through the Samsung plant in Suwøn.  There, there is a "history hall" 
showing the history of Samsung.  It shows the growth of the company 
from a small mercantile operation in the 30's, and then shows it's 
involvement in food sales, sugar, etc., and great growth in the late 
30's.  No one says that the food production was for the sake of 
supporting the Japanese army as it marched off to war.  It goes 
unspoken.  And this is just one case.  There are many cases that go 
unspoken, but the older generation all knows.  The younger generation 
does not "know" experientially, and they are bold enough to put in on 
the record.  I look forward to seeing what the Korea Journal comes up 

There is hope, on my part at least, that enough time has passed that 
these issues can be put on the table without acrimony.  Some of the 
postings indicate that this ch'øngsan can be done academically, yet 
some of the postings indicate that there still may be a political 
agenda, some getting even, that may ride on this issue.

David's posting, mentioning death, brings a soberness to the 
discussion.  Is Korean society ready to put this issue on the table? 
Or, will the embarrassment or harassment lead to "committing suicide 
in atonement for one's (or one's father's) crimes"?  Or to other 

Will Korea deal with this in a "atoning" way, with an element of 
"forgiveness" -- as has been discussed?  Let's hope so.

with best regards,
Mark Peterson

>The posting re Martin / Chang noted the link between it and  Kenkyusha's
>"Chengsan the past and become a new person." I'd point out that the final
>entry in Martin / Chang (196) is the very same "commit suicide in atonement
>for one's
>>crime" that is also found in the Japanese dictionary.
>David McCann

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