[KS] Mein Kampf in Korean

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
Fri Aug 9 19:13:34 EDT 2013

Dear All:

This is just a post scriptum to the exchanges in mid-June, that Michael 
Rank started.
 See also here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22964081)
This is not necessarily the most pleasant topic. I was not looking for 
it, yet, coincidentally just read a quote and a commentary by a 
Japanese historian that seem to make a lot of sense to me in explaining 
a few things:

Yi Pŏm-sok (1900-1972), from 1948 to 1950 prime minister of the 
Republic of Korea, said in an interview in the August 1948 edition of 
_Samch'ŏlli_ (p. 9) that Hitler's _Mein Kampf_ would be the most 
appreciated and influential of all books to him. That sounds completely 
outrageous at first, for a post-1945 prime minister (of any country) to 
say, and especially for someone like Yi Pŏm-sok who was a model 
independence fighter in China, Manchuria, the Russian Far East. The 
commentator then argued that one would have to consider how enormously 
popular _Mein Kampf_ was in Sun Yat-sen's China of the 1930s with its 
modernization and developmental policies. Sun's adopted son Jiang 
Wiguo, for example, was sent to Fascist Germany and became an officer 
in the Wehrmacht, undergoing all kind of special military training 
(explained in detail here: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Wei-kuo). Yi Pŏm-sok himself, as 
some argue, was also influenced by Nazi ideologies directly (by another 
Korean activist in Berlin during Yi's stay there), but more importantly 
seems to be that in the 1930s, when independence leaders like Yi 
Pŏm-sok or Kim Il Sung where active in China and Manchuria, that book, 
however disgusting, served as just another ideology of competing with 
communist and socialist ideologies: it also provided concepts of 
modernisation, national independence, race, and developmental 
strategies. And Social Darwinism, that Hitler's ideology so completely 
embraced, had by the 1930s already been the informing 'base' ideology 
in all East Asia anyway. One has to remember that the book was read in 
a different, non-European cultural and political context--with hardly 
any 'reality checks' done. Just think of Picasso being a Stalinist for 
many years, far away from the USSR but with his own homeland Spain 
being ruled by a fascist dictator. Again no reality checks, and when he 
finally had the chance to visit, he then dropped the ideology. (As for 
Yi, he had only been in Germany in the early period of the Thousand 
years of Nazi rule.) Anyway, I believe that might explain some of the 
strange popularity with mostly colonial and immediate post-colonial 
leaders in both Koreas. (I belive Cumings also wrote about it, can't 
find it though.)


On Sat, 22 Jun 2013 06:33:33 +1000, Su-kyoung Hwang wrote:
> I guess this leads us to the question of whether the source of this 
> news is credible. It took NK experts several months/years to figure 
> out KJU's real age, marital status, and child's gender (or do we know 
> it yet?). But it's that easy to find out the content of his gift? An 
> NYT journalist once said that a lot of interesting news about NK tend 
> to originate from Seoul, because reporters are expected to 
> produce/write more news in the age of internet. 
> On Sat, Jun 22, 2013 at 2:47 AM, Jim Hoare <jim at jhoare10.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:
>> But the real question is surely whether there is a North Korean 
>> translation available. Is it likely that the North Koreans would buy 
>> up multiple copies of a South Korean translation and distribute 
>> these to cadres favoured by Kim Jong Eun? Somebody might have 
>> noticed. I confess that I asked if they had Hegel in the Grand 
>> People's Study House but never thought to ask about Mein Kampf. (No, 
>> they did not seem to have Hegel.)
>> Jim Hoare
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Koreanstudies [mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws] On 
>> Behalf Of Hana Kim
>> Sent: 21 June 2013 16:27
>> To: Korean Studies Discussion List
>> Subject: Re: [KS] Mein Kampf in Korean
>> Dear Michael,
>> When you do a simple search on the Kyobo Mun'go website by using the 
>> following title "나의 투쟁", then you will be able to browse most of 
>> the translations of Mein Kampf in Korean. However, many of them are 
>> out of stock.  In OCLC WorldCat, it seems that  a couple of 
>> translations are available in North America: Hitler, A. (1989). Na 
>> ŭi t'ujaeng. Sŏul-si: Pŏmusa. & Hitler, A. (1988). Na ŭi t'ujaeng. 
>> Sŏul: Hongsin Munhwasa.
>> Hope this helps,
>> Hana
>> Hana Kim | Korea Studies Librarian, University of Toronto | 
>> 416-978-1570 | http://guides.library.utoronto.ca/koreanstudies
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Koreanstudies [mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws] On 
>> Behalf Of Juljan Biontino
>> Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 09:29
>> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>> Subject: Re: [KS] Mein Kampf in Korean
>> Good evening,
>> as far as naver, RISS and library websites offer, the first Korean 
>> translation of Mein Kampf was made bei Yi Jun-hwan in 1961. I guess 
>> before 1945 it may have been circulated in the Japanese translations 
>> that date back to the Thirties.
>> Unfortunately, the history of reception of this "book" in East Asia 
>> remains thoroughly unclear.
>> If someone knows research papers about the topic whatever the 
>> language I'd be happy to know about them. Thanks in advance.
>> Best,
>> Juljan Biontino
>> Seoul National University
>> College of Education (History major)
>> PhD candidate
>> 21.06.13 19:29, Frederic OJARDIAS:
>>> A (very) quick Naver research gives at least three different
>>> translations
>>> http://book.naver.com/bookdb/book_detail.nhn?bid=2614033
>>> (plus this rather surprising manhwa adaptation...)
>>> Frederic
>>> Frederic Ojardias
>>> Radio France Internationale
>>> Correspondent, Korea
>>> --------------------------------------------------
>>> From: "Alon Levkowitz" <levko at smile.net.il>
>>> Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 6:11 PM
>>> To: "'Korean Studies Discussion List'" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>>> Subject: Re: [KS] Mein Kampf in Korean
>>>> Dear Michael
>>>> I bought this book last year in Seoul (2008 edition).
>>>> Alon
>>>> Dr. Alon Levkowitz
>>>> Tel: 972-3-6133045
>>>> Fax: 972-775410701
>>>> http://www.coolcite.com/user/1927#About
>>>> Email: levko at smile.net.il
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: Koreanstudies [mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws] On
>>>> Behalf Of Michael Rank
>>>> Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 10:47 AM
>>>> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>>>> Subject: [KS] Mein Kampf in Korean
>>>> Further the report of KJU presenting his top henchmen with Mein
>>>> Kampf, can anyone confirm this has been translated into Korean? I
>>>> don't suppose it was translated specially for the occasion....
>>>> Michael Rank

Frank Hoffmann

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