[KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy

dmccann at fas.harvard.edu dmccann at fas.harvard.edu
Sun Jul 27 05:13:30 EDT 2008

Did anyone else happen to see the article in a newspaper recently about the
difference between a rock and an island?  It seemed to be sort of a technical
distinction, but with some significant ramifications.  As I remember, a rock is
not inhabitable, while an island is.  With an "island" go territorial claims, as
for example to fishing or other resources, but with a "rock," no such claims can
be made.

David McCann

Quoting Young-Key Kim-Renaud <kimrenau at gwu.edu>:

> 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!
> YK
> 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
> http://home.gwu.edu/~kimrenau,
> http://myprofile.cos.com/kimreny76
> 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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