[KS] An old book about Korea

Gari Keith Ledyard gkl1 at columbia.edu
Fri Jul 30 00:31:12 EDT 2004

Dear Anthony,
 	It's not from the early 20th century, but most of the rest of your 
description matches <The Koreans and their Culture> by Cornelius Osgood, 
Ronald Press, New York, 1951.  I have an original copy--it indeed was the 
first book I ever read on Korea--but I believe it was reprinted by another 
U.S. publisher in the 70s or 80s.  Osgood was an anthropologist who in 
1947 did a village study in a hamlet called S^ondup'o (on the southern 
coast of Kanghwa Island, I think in Kilsang-my^on).  He had earlier done 
ethnographic work in China also.  I thought his village study (which 
constitutes the first section of the book), though not done under ideal 
conditions and I think cut short before he was really finished, evoked the 
people beautifully and sympathetically.  When the Korean War broke out in 
1950, he responded to an appeal to write a general book on Korean culture, 
and added to his village study a much less successful section on Korean 
history, largely based on Hulbert and Gale, but also including material 
drawn from ancient and traditional Chinese ethnographic literature (in 
these aspects it did indeed look very much like a book of the early 20th 
century).  There was another section on art which had some sensitive 
impressions and insights.  There were a large number of black-and-white 
photographic illustrations of rural scenes and plates of standard works of 
Korean art. The book ended with a general description of Korea as it 
appeared to him under a split Soviet and American occupation.  He tried to 
be even-handed, but obviously had no access to the north.  He was a 
generally good observer.  He was for a long time Professor of Anthropology 
at Yale.  --Gari Ledyard

On Fri, 30 Jul 2004, Brother Anthony wrote:

> Many years ago, before arriving here, I read a book about Korea (in 
> English) published early in the 20th century that was mainly about life 
> in Kanghwa Island and I wonder if anyone recognizes it and is able to 
> indicate the title and author? It was very precise in its evocations of 
> daily life, the traces of the French and American attacks still visible, 
> and it included several plates. I would very much like to read it again. 
> Even a photocopy...
> Brother Anthony
> Sogang University, Seoul, Korea

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