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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Korean books at SOAS 1: 'Aeguk tae yonsŏl chip'

This is the first of what will probably be a series of irregular posts on some interesting old Korean books I've come across in the library at SOAS. By way of explanation, for the last few months I've been toiling away for a few hours a week in a tiny book-filled room in the library trying to get lots of old Korean books onto the computer catalogue. Inevitably a few gems have revealed themselves (at least they're gems to me anyway) and I thought it might be worth blogging them for posterity. I might even expand some of these into slightly longer articles if I feel inclined.

My first choice is probably the most intriguing: a book of speeches published in Keijo (colonial Seoul) in 1940 called Aeguk tae yŏnsŏlchip (愛國大演說集), translating roughly as 'Collection of Great Patriotic Speeches'. The time and place of publication should be a hint that this is no treatise on Korean nationalism. In fact it's a collection of stirring pro-Japanese, pro-war speeches given by (apparently) prominent Korean writers. The editor is Kim Tong-hwan, who appears to have later become an important figure in the North Korean literary scene - a peculiar, but perhaps not completely unique path for a 20th century Korean intellectual.

As you can see from the picture below, much of the front cover has been ripped away, possibly before it came into the posession of SOAS. One can only guess that this was done by an angry Korean reader.

Aeguk tae yŏnsŏlchip (1940)

From a glance at the preface and contents (pictures below), some of the main themes appear to be support for the Japanese empire's 'sacred war' (聖戰) in Asia; the idea of Korea and Japan behaving as one body (called naesŏn ilch'e 內鮮一體); and lots of the usual talk about 'our' duty to serve the country etc.

Aeguk tae yŏnsŏlchip (preface)
Preface

Aeguk tae yŏnsŏlchip (contents)
Contents

8 Comments:

At July 01, 2005 11:14 AM, Blogger Muninn said...

Fascinating stuff. As I think mentioned to you before, I would love to get a better look at that some day.

 
At July 01, 2005 12:00 PM, Blogger kotaji said...

You should be able to get a readable version of the preface if you go to the large version of the picture on flickr. Also, I've noticed that there is at least one copy in a US library - UC Berkeley I believe.

I was thinking of writing something longer with a translation of the preface, but I might save that for a post on frog in a well.

Actually, having seen some of the rightwing comments over at your site, I'm a little worried that I didn't contextualise this book a bit more in this post. This sort of thing could be grist to the mills of the Japanese right if used in a dishonest way.

 
At July 03, 2005 6:06 AM, Anonymous oranckay said...

Nice stuff keep up the good work. (and I almost made it to AKSE, oh well have fun)

 
At July 03, 2005 11:51 PM, Blogger kotaji said...

Shame you aren't going to make it Oranckay. I'm imagining the workshop we could have organised (in the pub) on 'Korean Studies in the Era of Blogging' (or some such thing). Anyway, I expect Antti or myself may well provide some sort of report back.

 
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