[KS] Gwageo cheongsan (Kwageon ch'eongsan)
choeyh at hawaii.edu
Mon Sep 9 19:33:55 EDT 2002
My challenge to "kwago ch'ongsan" is largely motivated by my fear of the
kind of "prejudgment" you are making against me. What do you know of my
position on political, social, and other issues?
I never said one can be free of bias. "Free of prejudgment" does not mean
" free of bias." I will be the last person to deny one can be totally free
of bias, especially in dealing with history.
At 03:21 AM 9/9/2002 -0700, you wrote:
>Yong-ho Choe comments that he is "alarmed" at the "finger-pointing, rather
>than . . . soul-searching examinations of the past mistakes" of recent
>trends toward "kwago ch'ongsan."
>Furthermore, for Mr. Choe, these "soul-searching examinations" should be
>"left to historians to examine comprehensively---free of prejudgment."
>Two things strike me about his "alarm" and his recommendation. First of
>all, do historians STILL really speak of historical interpretations "free
>of prejudgement." Or do we rather account for our prejudgments, as
>honestly as possible, knowing they will be easily recognized (or
>deconstructed) by thoughtful audiences?
>With all due respect, I must admit that this epistemological myth of the
>unbiased history is something one often hears from Korean historiography.
>Another of Mr. Choe's comments struck me. He recommends that in order to
>obviate any "finger-pointing" at collaborators and the like, we would all
>be better off if any examinations of Korea's history "be left to
>historians to examine comprehensively."
>Is there any compelling reason why those Koreans NOT politically or
>economically well-placed enough to be academics should be excluded from
>One wonders--particularly considering how these very visceral issues of
>social justice that might warrant "finger pointing" are related directly
>to who can or can not rise among the social elite in Korea and become, for
>example, a university professor.
>This would not be unknown to Mr. Choe.
>Two assumptions are troubling here: First, why would
>historians--particularly many Korean historians I am familiar with--be any
>less biased, less likely to point fingers than non-historians? Having been
>on Korean college campuses for years, I can speak volumes on academic
>"finger pointing" at America and Japan for every conceivable reason.
>It always seemed curious that professors who traditionally benefit from
>the necessary family connections and social status that would be the
>preconditions for professorships in Korea, would be generating discourse
>that actively and exclusively looked beyond the very proximal issues of
>social class and social justice among Koreans, in an effort to raise
>student ideological ire at much more distal bogey men (Japan, USA) OUTSIDE
>It is this that explains much about the nature of political discourse in
>Korea. One can easily excavate the past in precisely what seem to be
>Korean academic efforts to keep it buried.
>Could it be that these Korean academics would find such discourse of
>social justice and social class in Korea to be inconvenient?
>Doesn't Mr. Choe risk being labeled among those who would find such
>discourse inconvenient by suggesting that certain historical records be
>kept from public discourse?
>Someone might misconstrue Mr. Choe's sincere desire to examine history
>"free of judgement" as his pointing the finger of guilt at himself.
>There is no escaping it: History is and always will be a controversial
>issue in Korea until all parties, sincere academics and non-academics as
>well, can find ways to discourse freely on this visceral issue.
>One looks forward to those efforts of those sincere academics. I am
>grateful for them whenever I encounter them.
>University of Illinois
><mailto:jsparks at uiuc.edu>jsparks at uiuc.edu
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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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