[KS] Gwageo cheongsan (Kwageon ch'eongsan)

Pete Morriss pete.morriss at nuigalway.ie
Fri Sep 13 02:48:10 EDT 2002

>Kim Minswu's
>dictionary, definition 3 reads as follows: Kwage uy motun il.ul kkaykkus.i
>ssise pelim (wash cleanly away everything from the past), and then adds in
>English, "atonement."  ... But Martin and Chang are always good at getting
>just the right word; they say, "buries one's past (calls it quits with)
>and turns over a new leaf."

Dear List,
        Gari Ledyard's gloss on this term has provoked me to add my two
(euro-) cents worth to this discussion, and also ask for bibliographical
        A few years ago I was asked to write an encyclopaedia entry on
"revisionary justice".  This term was invented by Archbishop Tutu to refer
to the process by which a society comes to terms with (and atones for) its
past, usually after a dramatic regime change (he obviously had South Africa
in mind).  It is also known as "transitional justice" and "restorative
justice".  This is not concerned with historiography, but with what the
newly-appointed government should do with its predecessors, and with those
who supported them and committed atrocities in the state's name.  There is
a huge literature on this, none of which (or none that I read) mentions
Korea.  (The authors seem to be obsessed - understandably, perhaps - with
South America, Eastern Europe, South Africa, and the post-1945 response in
Europe.)  The main alternatives are putting people on trial (a la
Nuremburg), Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, lustration (which
literally means "purification", but in this context is excluding supporters
of the previous regime from sensitive positions, such as the judiciary, the
military, or political office) - and doing nothing and hoping for the best.
Obviously the same issues have arisen in Korea: the trials of Roh, Chun et
al, what to do about those responsible for Kwangju, perhaps what to do
about collaborators with Japan, etc.  Now the question.  Does anybody know
of any good discussions of these issues in Korea?  Obviously I'll read the
Korea Journal when it comes out, but I feel sure that there must be things
already written.  I'd like the "revisionary justice" people to recognize
that Korea exists (and vice versa), but when I did a quick
(English-language) literature search on this a few years ago I came up with
nothing.  Any suggestions?

        All the best - and thanks for the discussion so far, and also
thanks (in advance) for the discussion in the future,

                Pete Morriss

Pete Morriss
Department of Political Science and Sociology,
National University of Ireland, Galway,
        email: Pete.Morriss at nuigalway.ie

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