[KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy

Young-Key Kim-Renaud kimrenau at gwu.edu
Sat Jul 26 13:59:04 EDT 2008

Ok, ok, I stand corrected: I should have said the "the predominant Korean position" and not "the Korean position." I was not too far off, though, if I was not careful enough in choosing my words. To say what I really meant, I could only quote Brother Anthony's earlier posting on this:
"... Let us not forget that this issue is less about 'nationalism' than it is about fishing rights and sea-bed mineral rights, and also about  pan-Korean unity in the face of what is perceived as ongoing Japanese expansionism. For once Seoul and Pyongyang are speaking the same language.  It is surely also about a sense of frustration at the way the Japanese positions (cf the 'East Sea' issue)  find so easily such a sympathetic audience worldwide, while Korea (as someone has noted) resorts to strident screaming in protest because no one seems to be listening.

So far as I know, the present blow-up was produced by the publication of Japanese school-textbook guidelines, which can only be seen as a form of provocation, and Koreans are wondering 'Why now?' That seems a good question."
To respond to your sweeping and accusatory generalization about "distorted scholarship" and certain research methods [by some Koreans, I supposed you meant] in Korean studies, with not one single reference, is a waste of time in my opinion. So, I won't. It is a good thing that you meant no offense to anyone. Just one plea--please, let us not essentialize things and groups of people. Those days are long gone--at least, I hope so! 
Young-Key Kim-Renaud, Chair 
Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures 
Professor of Korean Language and Culture and International Affairs 
The George Washington University 
801 22nd Street, N.W. (Academic Center, Rome Hall 469) 
Washington, DC 20052 
E-mail: kimrenau at gwu.edu 
Tel: (O) 202-994-7107 
Fax: (O) 202-994-1512 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Steven Capener <sotaebu at yahoo.com> 
Date: Saturday, July 26, 2008 5:24 am 
Subject: Re: [KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy 
To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws> 

Dear all,
Let me start by saying no personal offense is intended to anyone. However, am I the only one that finds this recent statement problematic? 
"Your message only supports and reinforces my suspicion and puzzle how unsympathetic the international opinion may be to Korea. That some of similar voices should come from those who are in Korean studies and should at least try to understand the Korean position puzzles me, though."
There are many reasons why 'international opinion' is often unsympathetic to Korea but that would take this discussion in another (probably unproductive) direction entirely. The second part of the assertion, however, is very relevant to this discussion and is a position I've encountered many times in Korean studies. This is the idea that in academic inquiry there is a 'Korean position,' not a conclusion naturally arrived at as the result of objective research. It is in effect starting with the conclusion one wants and researching backwads selectively to demonstrate that conclusion. This approach is most obvious in research done in Korea on the colonial period (particularly in history and literature). The other problem with this statement is the implication of a requirement of loyalty or sympathy to a position because it is Korean. 
It seems to me this approach to area studies would be a problem wherever it may be applied.      
Respectfully yours,
Steven D. Capener 
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