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Saturday, November 16 • 9:45am - 10:45am
Korea, the Hermit Kingdom: The legacy of 19th century myth-making and redressing misconceptions of Korean culture

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A “Hermit Kingdom” is a term applied to any country which willfully cuts itself off from the rest of the world. William Elliot Griffis, an American Orientalist and author, first coined this term in the late nineteenth century to describe premodern Korea, which then became widely popularized by the English explorer and writer Isabella Bird Bishop. Over the past century the term and its connotations have persisted, and the appellation “Hermit Kingdom” is now applied to North Korea for its extremely limited contact and distrust of the outside world. This address proposes that the depiction of late Chosôn Korea as xenophobic, contemptuously suspicious of foreigners (especially Westerners), and dogmatically conservative is in fact a myth that was created in the late nineteenth century and that has been perpetuated until today. Consequently, and quite unfortunately, this myth has contributed to continued misunderstandings of Korean culture and has affected modern-day foreign relations.

Session Objectives:

To improve our understanding of Korean culture and history, especially for foreigners living in Korea.

Presenters
avatar for Leighanne Yuh

Leighanne Yuh

Professor
Leighanne Yuh is a professor in the Department of Korean History at Korea University (KU). She is also Editor of The International Journal of Korean History published by the Center for Korean Studies at KU. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on the Late Chosôn... Read More →


Saturday November 16, 2019 9:45am - 10:45am
M302

Attendees (21)