Editor's Introduction

Special Topic Issue on "the Lifeworld ofDivided Koreans"

Kim, Sung-Min

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.2 No.1 pp.7-13

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Feature Articles

A Comparative Study on Everyday Life of South Koreans and North Korean Defectors

Chung Jin-A

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.2 No.1 pp.17-43

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This article is a research that surveyed and compared everyday customs, such as food, clothing and shelter, rites and seasonal rituals, and awareness of daily issues, such as views on family values, marriage, education and career, of South Koreans with that of North Korean defectors, in order to better understand the characteristics of living culture of South Koreans and North Korean defectors and to search for ways for the two groups to communicate better and culturally integrate. The results of the research show that, in relation to everyday customs such as clothing, food and shelter, rites and seasonal rituals, both South Koreans and North Korean defectors had transformed the traditional living culture to befit the lifestyles of the modern era. It seems that everyday customs of South Koreans had become more westernized while North Korean defectors maintained more traditional customs, but such difference decreased as defectors spent longer time in South Korea. One commonality in everyday customs found between the two was that customs acted as a mechanism maintaining a sense of community among South Koreans and among North Korean defectors, who had lived for a long time in different systems.
Due to inter-Korea tensions, and differing experience and habits formed under the different systems of capitalism and socialism, a large gap between the two groups was found in the area of day to day awareness and values. Differences were most pronounced in views on marriage and career. First of all, South Koreans were more negative toward marriage with a North Korean defector than with a Korean of another country whereas the defectors were more negative toward marriage with an overseas Korean and positive toward marriage with a South Korean. Secondly, for South Koreans, the higher the income, the stronger the pride they had over their jobs. However, for North Korean, those with lower income tended to be more proud of their jobs. South Koreans preferred becoming civil servants and professionals. North Korean defectors also added to the list, workers, as a job that made them proud. Thirdly, in choosing their jobs, South Koreans felt the thoughts and advice of their parents to be important while North Korean defectors were more reliant on state policy. The results of this study gives us important insight into how we can promote cultural integration of South Koreans and North Korean defectors. First of all, the negative perspective South Koreans have of North Korean defectors has to be fundamentally revisited. It is essential that the prejudice of equating ordinary North Koreans with the government be overcome and that North Korean defectors be seen with a sense of national solidarity. Secondly, South Koreans and North Koreans defectors need to share the advantages of individualism and collectivism that the two sides had acquired as a result of living under different systems, and be able to use those advantages as a driver of social development. Third, cultural integration between South Koreans and North Korean defectors must be a process of attaining diversity in national everyday customs while respecting the customs of the other, and also of heading toward further expanding and developing national everyday customs.

Arirang as the Cultural Code of the 21st Century North Korea

Jeona Young-Sun

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.2 No.1 pp.45-75

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Arirang of North Korea is a major performance of the country, known externally in the form of Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance. It is unprecedented for a large-scale performance, as North Korea's Arirang, to be staged regularly for several years. The performance started in 2002, as a celebration commemorating the 90th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-Sŏng. When it was first being prepared, the title of the performance was The Song of the First Sun. It is quite significant that North Korea changed the name of the performance from The Song of the First Sun, which symbolizes Kim Il-Sŏng, to Arirang, which symbolizes the sentiments of the Korean people. It is unknown when the folksong 'Arirang' started to be sung, however, it is clearly a song that reflects the age-old sentiments of the Korean people. After the song was played when athletes of the two Koreas made their joint entrance during the Sydney Olympics in September 2000, it became symbolic of the Korean people together with the Peninsula Flag, and was used whenever there was a joint entrance of North and South athletes or joint cheering of the crowds. While there are many interpretations on the origins of Arirang, it is considered, in North Korea, to be a song with nationalistic sentiments and a sense of resistance of the people.
The Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang got its motif from the song 'Arirang', which symbolizes the hardships of the Korean people. However, Arirang suggests that North Koreans should not simply stop at expressing sorrowful sentiments of the folksong they must venture onto the road toward a Powerful Great Nation. The performance contains the message that, just as the Korean people had overcome hardships and suffering by singing the 'Arirang' together, the difficulties faced by the North Korean regime should also be surmounted through Arirang. At the time the performance Arirang was staged, there were many artistic works including popular songs, novels and poems being created with the theme of 'Powerful and Prosperous Revival', which the essence of Arirang. At the same time, the performance contains the discourses of 'Arirang People' and 'People of the Sun'. North Korea's full-fledged promotion of the concept of the 'Arirang People' deviates from its previous perspective of considering North Koreans and South Koreans to be the one ethnic group. In other words, it was the starting point of North Korea strengthening a discriminatory from of nationalism, moving away from its previous perspective that the people of both Koreas constituted a single ethnic group. The two Koreas were considered to be of the same ethnicity before, but now, North Korea is trying to articulate, through Arirang, its idea that 'South Korean society has become multi-ethnic and lost its ethnic purity, so ethnic purity lies with the North Korean people (the Kim Il-Sŏng people)'.

The Possibility of Intimate Public Sphere : Political Familism of Divided Koreans

Kim Myung-Hee

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.2 No.1 pp.75-101

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Discourses around Korean familism emphasize traditional factors or remain in the realm of how Korean familism corresponds with mobilization strategy of a developmental state and functions in a transformative manner; therefore, the discourses are unable to break from the normative argument of public vs. private and egoistic vs. moral. This study explores the possibility of prospective interpretation by revisiting competing hypotheses on factors and characteristics of contemporary Korean familism. Major findings of this research are as follow.
First, existing discussions can be generally categorized as follows: Cultural causation (Confucian familism theory), industrialization causation, historical structure approach and politico-sociological approach. By critically reconstituting achievements and limits of preceding studies, it is possible to better understand the familism of divided Korea as a political construct via historic experiences of the colonial modernity and war state as outcome of ‘the invention of tradition’ insisted by Eric Hobsbawm. This study conceptualizes institutional condition of familism into "family status system," a unique mechanism of the civil right of the divided state, which is a combined result of the National Security Act, implicative system, and patriarchal Family Law, all of three are twins of the 1948 Constitution of the Republic of Korea.
Second, when complexity and multi-meanings of ‘family’ which is a space of reproduction where gender, generation, class and state come together, are applied to the level of historical experiences of cold war and post-cold war in the East Asia, ‘family’ in the war system plays the function of ambivalent medium in the sense that it becomes a compensating space of lost public space and that it is also a socialization space in which traumas related to colony, war, division are reproduced.
In this context, this study proposes the potential of ‘political familism’ innate in family-centeredness of divided Koreans to be considered in intimate public sphere that is neither public nor private. In conclusion, this study shows that Korean familism needs to be understood comprehensively in conjunction with structural and institutional conditions around families, the legitimacy of the state, and the historical experiences as well as political consciousness of family members interacting with such environment. This research also calls for an interpretation which focuses on agency and political potentials of familism as historical product of colonial modernity.


Post-unification Inter-Korean Intercultural Communication: Examining the Impact of History Education on New Identity Formation

Wonjung Min

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.2 No.1 pp.105-121

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How will the reunification of Korea impact the population and enable them to confront their history and recognize themselves as citizens of a new Unified Korea? As cultural identity is ubiquitous in intercultural communication and across social science disciplines, this study seeks to analyze the formation of different identities in both North Korea and South Korea during the almost 70 years of division. This analysis will focus on the distinct interpretations of three major topics by both Koreas: 1) Korean Mythology, specifically, the Myth of Dangun, 2) the Perceived Meaning of Independence, and 3) the Korean War-comparisons which have been ignored by most of the research to date related to the Korean Peninsula.
Intercultural communication attempts to establish reciprocity through the exchange of information and values between parties hitherto unknown to each other. In this process, it is vital to examine which historical elements of the Koreas that can be employed to reduce nationalistic and ethnocentric views and stereotypes, to develop mutual positive perceptions, to promote reconciliation, and to facilitate conflict resolution and form common regional perspectives. This study will focus on ideology, individual identity and intercultural communication to analyze the current relationship between the history education and social identity formation of both Koreas. As such, it will examine how each social identity formation can provide narratives about the transformation of former enemy groups from enmity to being considered members of the same society. Korostelina describes North Korean history education as an example of the impact that history textbooks can have on the formation of an ideological mode of national identity. What have others said about the impact of Korean history textbooks on the above mentioned topics?

Theoretical Basis of Translating the Chosŏnwangjosillok

Song Hyŏn Wŏn

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.2 No.1 pp.123-149

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The Chosŏnwangjosillok (Annals of Chosŏn Dynasty; Sillok) not only contains the history of our ancestors, but also covers a broad spectrum of different fields, ranging from diplomatic relations with neighboring countries and economic issues such as taxation and land, to natural sciences such as astronomy and meteorology. The value of the Sillok as a historical record is already well recognized even outside of Korea. Unfortunately, the Sillok was written in hanmun, thus translation is inevitable. This thesis is indeed about the translation process of the Sillok, explaining, using concrete examples, various principles and careful considerations that need to be adhered to during translation.
The first principle in translating the Sillok is keeping to the original as much as possible. However, there are some problems inherent within the Sillok. There are many parts that only experts of that field can understand, such as science or music. Furthermore, the fact that, due to conflict between different political factions, revised annals exist also has to be taken into consideration. The next principle is that the Sillok must be translated using pure Korean and standard Korean language rules. Rather than mechanically transliterating the texts by simply adding Korean postpositional particles to hancha and hanmun-style expressions, the translator must be able to maintain characteristics of the original text, at the same time allowing people of the modern era to read and understand it. But one must also remain vigilant to make sure that the translation does not excessively modernize the text, thereby diluting the meaning of historical sentences. Translation is a process of rendering a text in a language different from the original. In order to be able to translate accurately, the translator has to have sufficient understanding of the original language. The major difference between Korean hanmun and Chinese hanmun is that the former contains idu. Although hanmun originally came from China, it changed according to Korean circumstances,leading to the development of Korean-style hanmun. It adapted to Korean culture but could also easily combine with Chinese hanmun. In regard to the use of idu, hancha words that are unique to Korean hanmun are particularly important. These characteristics are all reflected in the Sillok. Therefore, how to properly translate Korean-style hanmun sentences is very important in the translation process. This thesis explains these characteristics using concrete examples like names of places and people.
Various methodologies are required in translating a national heritage such as the Chosŏnwangjosillok to befit the modern era while maintaining its uniqueness. The most important thing is not to damage the original. The paper looks into various considerations that must be made in order to render a good translation, in order to contribute to future attempts to translate the Sillok.

New Goddesses at Paektu Mountain: Two Contemporary Korean Myths

Robert Winstanley-Chesters,Victoria Ten

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.2 No.1 pp.151-179

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Mountain worship and sanshin (mountain gods) legends are intrinsic to Korean culture. Central for narratives of anti-colonial struggle and contemporary policy of North Korea, Mt. Paektu also became a symbol of Korean national identity in South Korean popular culture. This paper engages two legends sited there, suggesting that their main protagonists represent contemporary sanshin. Firstly we consider the image of Kim Chŏng-suk of North Korea, and those narratives addressing her husband, Kim Il-sŏng’s guerrilla resistance in terrains surrounding Paektu. As a bodyguard of Kim Il-sŏng and a champion of revolutionary struggle, Kim Chŏng-suk transcends her human nature, and embodies female presence on Mt. Paektu. Secondly the paper investigates narrative from contemporary South Korean practice GiCheon (氣天 Kich’ŏn), intended for physical and moral cultivation of a person, reinvented in modernity on the basis of ancient East-Asian traditions. It recounts a mythic meeting of Bodhidharma with the Immortal Woman of Heaven (天仙女 Ch’ŏnsŏnyŏ) dwelling at Mt. Paektu. The Woman of Heaven overpowers Bodhidharma in battle, challenging patriarchal gender conceptions and contesting Chinese cultural superiority. Examined together, these two narratives demonstrate common cultural background. Ancient tradition, passed down from past to present, continuously accumulates and transforms, acquiring new forms in South and North Korean contexts.

Book Review

Tasks Left By a Borderer of Her Time: Alice Hyun and Her Days, by Jung Byung-Joon

Kang Myung

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.2 No.1 pp.183-187

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