Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Korea, in English?

Dear Korean,

I'm in a class called Asian Americans of Mixed Heritage and we have to do a research paper. I picked mixed heritage Korean Americans (mostly due to the fact that I got into K-pop and just the Korean culture/entertainment in general.) I don't exactly have a thesis yet, but I guess a good place to start is to examine the treatment/do an in-depth analysis of mixed heritage Korean Americans in the Korean community (both in the U.S. and in South Korea). I was wondering if you could recommend me some books or articles pertaining to the topic? Unfortunately I can't speak, read or write Korean. And I did a lot of researching on my own and I'm surprised to say that I can't find a lot on mixed heritage Korean Americans.

A Korea Enthusiast

Dear Korea Enthusiast,

Sorry, but no.

The Korean gets a lot of these questions -- something along the lines of, "Dear Korean, I am trying to research on this topic. Can you recommend me a book or an article that deals with this topic? By the way, I can't read Korean."

The Korean appreciates the interest in studying Korea, but the truth is that there are relatively little English material about Korea out there. There are general overview of history, culture or travel guides, but step into a topic that is a little more focused -- like the issue of mixed-heritage Koreans in Korea, for example -- there is just no material in English. The reason for this is simple: there are relatively few people who speak Korean and English fluently, and study Korea in a systematic way in English.

For an important example, check out this interview with B.R. Myers, who recently authored the book The Cleanest Race. The central thesis of the book is that the propaganda that North Korea makes toward the outside world is drastically different from the propaganda aimed toward its own people, and that propaganda aimed at its own people is not communism or the juche ideology as many have previously thought, but a crude race-based nationalism that elevates the North Korean race above everyone else in the world.

Although certain minor points that Myers makes are eyebrow-raising, (like the idea that South Korea is the second most nationalistic country in the world following North Korea -- seriously?) Myers' main thesis is very good. The Korean's only quibble with Myers' thesis was how it was received -- people thought this was an earth-shattering idea that North Korea was not really a communist state, as Myers' book was praised for being "fresh" and "counter-intuitive" from a number of prominent reviewers.

The Korean was intrigued by this reception. Myers' point is insightful, yes, but counter-intuitive? How was it not obvious that North Korea's internal ideology was a race-based ideology, only slightly different from the version that was pushed in South Korea (especially during the Park Chung-Hee regime)? Many South Korean scholars studying North Korea knew this fact at least for the last 30 years. Just a cursory look at what North Korea uses for internal propaganda makes it really obvious...

Then it hit the Korean: English-speaking people were NOT reading articles in Korean, much less the original source materials. Why? Because they can't. Myers himself makes it clear in the interview:
You talk about how the lack of skills with the Korean language, reading and speaking, which are no problem for you but stop a lot of other North Korea-watchers from truly understanding the country. How hard is it beyond that to read between the lines in the propaganda and get some genuine information like what you describe?

It's not hard to read between the lines with North Korea. If you read Soviet newspapers — and I remember doing that back in the eighties, back during the Cold War — you had to read between the lines, because a lot of information was written in a cryptic way: information about which functionaries were on the way up and which functionaries were on the way down, for example.

But North Korean propaganda really isn't like that. There aren't any hidden messages or coded messages in there, but occasionally you come across things like the articles about the diseases that I just mentioned, which give you an insight which perhaps the government in North Korea does not want you, as a foreigner, to have. They'd be perfectly happy if no foreigners ever read their internal propaganda materials, I think.
In essence, Myers is saying -- "If you numbskulls who purport to observe North Korea had bothered to actually read what the regime was telling its people, what I am saying right now should be freakin' obvious." This is so ridiculous that the Korean can hardly believe it -- how can anyone attempt to learn anything about Korea without speaking Korean?

Some of you might wonder, "What about Korean news in English? Surely they should be helpful toward learning about Korea, right?" The Korean would agree, but only to a degree -- one should take with a grain of salt what little things about Korea that are available in English. First of all, some English-language Korean newspapers are extremely dubious in journalistic quality. Korea Times is the most frequently cited example of this, and deservedly so with this kind of articles. This is because English-only newspapers about Korea such as Korea Times and Korea Herald have a tiny circulation (for obvious reasons,) so they cannot do much about having a strict quality check. In fact, the survival of these newspapers largely depend upon Koreans who are trying to learn English (and presumably get their actual news elsewhere), which makes the journalistic quality nearly irrelevant.

What about the English-language versions of major Korean newspapers? They are definitely better than English-only Korean newspapers, but they have their own problem. The Korean previously wrote about it here, but the gist is: Back in July 2008, there was a major incident when a South Korean tourist in North Korea was shot in the back by a North Korean guard. It was a huge news that was immediately made the top story in every single news media in Korea. But in the English versions of the two leading newspapers in Korea, the story did not appear until 20 hours after it was first reported in Korean versions. Even when the story did appear, it was tucked in the bottom half of the website. This is because for these newspapers, the English portion is an afterthought. Their main business is to deliver news to Koreans who speak Korean language.

OK, then what about established English-language media, like the New York Times or BBC? They are not free from problems either. First, they often display a shocking lack of knowledge of even the most obvious facts when it comes to Korea. For example, as the Korean pointed out previously, a BBC reporter wondered in an article whether Christianity had a long-term place in Korea, although in fact Christianity has been going strong in Korea for 200+ years, so much so that Pyongyang in late 19th century was called the "Jerusalem of the East". For another example, when former president Roh Moo-Hyun was elected in 2002, Wall Street Journal put up a picture of former president Roh Tae-Woo.

Seriously, this actually happened.

Second, even if an established English-language media has an established Korea-related correspondent, their scope is necessarily limited. To be sure, beat reporters like Choe Sang-Hun of New York Times or Evan Ramstad of Wall Street Journal are terrific reporters and quite knowledgeable about Korea. But despite their knowledge, they are often the only person for their respective newspapers covering a nation of 48 million people. Even if it is a New York Times or a Wall Street Journal story, in effect it is just one person's perspective informing the article.

Also, as it is almost inevitable when it comes to news from abroad, a good number of Korea-related articles are in the frivolous, hey-look-at-these-crazy-people variety -- such as the reportage on a Korean man who stole 1,700 pairs of shoes.

Because of all this, the Korean refuses to read anything about Korea in English, for the most part. (There are obvious exceptions, such as books and articles about America's foreign policy with respect to Korea, for example.) Practically, this means that the Korean really just does not have any recommendations to give if you are unable to speak Korean. (And if you could speak Korean, you probably won't be asking the Korean.)

So, very sorry to all of you high school and college students who are writing a research paper about Korea -- the Korean is no help. He gets most of his knowledge about Korea by (surprise!) reading in Korean. (And please, do not cite this blog for your paper. That is absolutely inappropriate.)

But for those of you who are really, truly interested in Korea, consider this to be an opportunity. If you can somehow become fluent in Korean and have some measure of intellect, you can re-package what was already known in Korea into English and become a pioneering academic. Because you will likely be one of the few sources in English on that topic, your book/article will be frequently cited as an authority. Frankly, the Korean is an idiot for not doing that right now. 

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.


  1. Seriously, The Korean, why don't you write a book? Please?

    An academic that might be of help to students like the Korea Enthusiast: Park No-ja, a Russian-born but now Korean writer and distinguished researcher on Korean culture and politics. He, of course, speaks perfect Korean. I believe some of his papers written in English are available through his website. http://oocities.com/volodyatikhonov/volodyatikhonov.html

  2. "the truth is that there are relatively little English material about Korea out there"

    To some extent, this depends on what aspect of Korea your talking about but it may not be entirely accurate for all topics.

    For instance, there is a reasonably large English-language scholarship available about North Korea. See this list for a good sample:

    The idea that North Korea is not a Communist state is not a new idea in English scholarship. Not having researched the point, I couldn't tell you exactly how long the argument has been around in English publications but it was pretty clearly discussed, for example, in a book called 'North Korea through the Looking Glass' which came out 10 years ago and I would imagine it was not a new revelation at that time either.

    So if people have treated Myers book as containing some kind of revelation I'd suggest that this is not because the information is not out there in English. It probably just means they haven't read much about the subject before.

    I agree with your general point that if you want to research any country in depth, you're ultimately going to need the language skills to decipher primary sources. This seems pretty obvious.

    On the other hand, if you're not a position to do this, there's a lot to be learnt through secondary sources. There is a lot of scholarly literature out there in English so the opportunities to be a 'pioneering academic' on Korea might be slim in my opinion.

    For your question-writer, how hard have you really looked? A quick google search seems to turn up avenues worth pursuing:



  3. I'm a bit confused, is the Korean implying that Myers' book is merely repackaging previously studied material or that Myers has accomplished something significant and original?

    In regard to the world of North Korea watching in America, while I concur with the Korean that it suffers from a lack of fully bilingual authors, I believe there is something American scholars are distinctly well qualified to bring to the topic. American authors,as was mentioned in the post itself in the case of Myers, often have in-depth experience studying similar security situations in other parts of the world, former Sovietologists are just one example.

  4. TK has a valid point. Seriously, I dont care how academic or knowledgeable individual is about a particular region, much less a country, the only method to fully understand people is that you must speak their language, not just read and write, but you understand the subtle nuances that invariably makes the language special. Otherwise, we are all just "visitor", IMO.

    For example, I find things funny in Korean that when in it is translated into English, it isn't funny at all. And vise versa.

    Perhaps, due to lack of time, depth, and material, TK can elaborate further on why certain things are ONLY funny in Korean to Koreans, yet it isn't funny when it is translated into other languages.

  5. A well-argued point.

    But the dearth of English language materials about Korea is such that non-Korean speakers honestly don't even have a clue how much they are missing. This is not true of other countries and other languages (many, many young people in America, Canada, and the UK study Japanese, for example--an equally small and "useless" language about a culture as distant from Western experience as Korea; but the existence of interesting, valid cultural information about the country in English is a major contributor to the interest in learning that language--e.g. I'm in the middle of the translation of Yukio Mishima's Sea of Fertility tetralogy and am on the verge of giving up Korean to study the language myself! I won't because I'm much more personally invested in Korea and Korean, but that's 'cause I've lived here for three years!).

    Your blog is one of the recent efforts to bridge this gap, but an increase of output from the Korean diaspora (or accurate translations of Korean scholarship and literature) would really help. The attitude of "you just don't get it because you are not Korean" (or your similar "you just don't get it because you don't speak Korean") does nothing to whet an outsider's interest in putting forth the thousands of hours necessary to become fluent in a language as relatively obscure as Korean.

    I'm not saying your main point about never fully understanding another culture until you can speak the language is wrong (it is right), but it is a cop out for Korea to scream and complain about the West not "understanding" it and then make no effort to reach out to English speakers. (Obviously, you agree with this to some degree or this very helpful and awesome blog would not exist).

    Just some thoughts.

  6. Diana, The Korean never said we'll never get it because we don't speak Korean. He said learning about Korea without speaking Korean is difficult due to the small resource pool. I wholeheartedly agree with him. Yes, the UH website has quite a bit of material available in English (they're translating the Samguksagi, or yusa, I heard), but actually a lot of it is only available to people with a Hawaii.edu Email account. And honestly, speaking from experience, the Korean materials are FAR more in-depth than the English. There are some topics I want to research but the English materials are short and general and my Korean ability still has at least a year to go before I'll be able to read a newspaper without a dictionary.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with Diana.

  8. Diana,

    Alot -- if not most -- of the english material on Japan is available because westerners took the time to learn Japanese and translate the original material. That's not as true yet for Korea, because Korea simply did not, and still does not matter to the West as much as Japan does, for various reasons unrelated to Korea's efforts to translate itself to the world, which Koreans obviously know to be very important -- just look at the craziness over learning English. So, I would say that the dearth of English material on Korea has very little to do with Koreans or Korean diaspora not doing enough. And besides, why would you expect Korean disaspora to do anything about learning and translating Korean when they are asked to assimilate as much as possible to their host countries, the importance of which they recognize and therefore spend most of their time doing?

  9. Diana -

    First, much of the drive for discussing Japanese culture in English was and is fueled by exoticism. And the current level of young people's interest therein owes much to post-war pop culture exchanges. More to the point though, is that you cannot trust English language sources to give an accurate picture of Japanese culture. English speaking countries and Korea do not yet have as an extensive pop culture interplay as exists with Japan (though the same cannot be said of non-English speaking countries and Korea). Herrigel got it flat wrong because of his linguistic inability and preconceived agendas, while Benedict dropped the ball because she was never really there in the first place. Yet both of their texts are still some of the most beloved classics on Japanese culture.

    Second, there is no dearth of material in English about Korean culture. A cursory search of academic sources just revealed literally thousands. Their scope may not be as exhaustive as what is available about Japan, but refer to the first point above for why that's the case. Most academic institutions in Korea also include English language abstracts in their publications - though readers would generally have to go through Korean language interfaces to seek these out. And there are multiple institutions in Korea which publish significant native works in translated English - the problem is that many are not available outside of Korea because the market demand necessary to make that feasible doesn't exist. Yet.

    There are plenty of efforts by Koreans and non-Koreans alike to make information about said culture more widely available in English. But ultimately to understand a culture other than the one in which you were raised you MUST, at a minimum, learn the language.

  10. To address the KE's original question, the only book-length work I can think of would be Fox Girl by Nora Okja Keller (http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2002-04-21/entertainment/0204210348_1_jin-nora-okja-keller-grapes) but as this is set in post-War South Korea it may not be particuarly relevant... a quick search turns up Ten Thousand Sorrows: The Extraordinary Journey of a Korean War Orphan by Elizabeth Kim, which is also set in the same era.

    This academic work, http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/korean_studies/v032/32.lee.html, may be more relevant to KE's topic.

    Mary Lee
    Mixed Race Peoples in the Korean National Imaginary and Family
    Korean Studies - Volume 32, 2008, pp. 56-85

    Another article (but this seems to be a work-in-progress), http://uskoreainstitute.org/pdf/WP-Diaspora/USKI_WP0909_KimAdoptee.pdf , mentions mixed-race Koreans in the context of international adoption, but I think it gives an okay background for an overview from a historical point of view.

  11. jodie, the Korean is waiting for an email from a publisher.


    if you're not a position to do this, there's a lot to be learnt through secondary sources.

    The Korean generally agrees, but with this caveat: because English-language material about Korea is relatively scant, reading secondary sources can be actually worse, because it gives a false sense of knowledge without having the proper context within which the knowledge fits.


    is the Korean implying that Myers' book is merely repackaging previously studied material or that Myers has accomplished something significant and original?

    Both. Myers' book is mostly repackaging what was previously known to South Korean scholars. But even the act of repackaging is significant. The Korean does not intend to imply repackaging is somehow worthless -- most of human knowledge is a repackaging of what we already knew before.


    Your point and the Korean's point is complementary, he thinks. Surely, there will be a snowball effect if there were more English-language material about Korea available to attract the interests in Korea further.

  12. Korean, I hear you, that non-Koreans who write about Korea but don't speak Korean are very limited in their scope. The first time I think I noticed this was when Kim Il-Sung died, and TV news in America kept referring to him as Sung. "As in Sung's son Kim Jong-Il will take over as the leader..."

    That said, I think that if one only gets his information about Korea from Korean sources, then basically whatever the current Korean government wants you to believe about Korea is what you're going to get. You're very critical of the Korea Times and Korea Herald, but Jungang Ilbo and Joseon Ilbo are sometimes even worse. It could be said that the English Language papers self censor themselves if something about Korea in the news comes out that makes Korea look bad.

    1. @ The Seoul Searcher

      I couldn't agree more about English newspaper in Korea (KT, KH, Yonhap,etc). The way news is reported there is more censored than in Korean language sources. How can I say that, well I am making an educated guess after having read translations of Naver.com and other Korean language news that were translated on a website(Koreabeat.com) by an American that lived in Korea for a few years, learned Korean fluently and while attending law school in the U.S. still ran the site. He would translate news from those Korean sites into English. The news detailed controversial news and graphic, illicit murders,the seedy hostess bar/sex trade in Korea that goes on. I never saw any stories in the same detail in the English newspapers as I did in his translations. Of course, I have to trust his translations of the Korean sites, but you get my point. Those English papers are not read by nearly as many Koreans (it seems mostly diplomats and other highly educated Koreans with advanced English skills read those papers on a regular basis) and the editors are conscious of what they publish as they do not want to embarrass SK by airing its dirty laundry.

  13. I'd suggest that the high school student or college student interested in Korean culture should find the book "Korea Unmasked" by Won-Bok Rhie. Or if you prefer to read the Korean version "먼나라이웃나라" by 이원복.

    For me, this book was just a fun little look into Korean culture. By no means should you write a paper based on this book (you probably shouldn't even cite it). The author paints a picture and leads the reader along a path. It is only one person's point of view so it would be best to use this book to decide which topic you would like to write your paper on.

    I was surprised by the English in this book. I don't know the feeling of the Korean version of the book, but the English version used words with the proper connotation so that I felt like the author was really speaking to me (and I suppose the pictures helped too).

  14. To the original poster, who probably has already finished his project, as TK has lots of backed up mails,

    There isn't any material even in Korean about mixed race Korean-Americans or mixed race Koreans. This is one area where scholarship is sorely lacking. Whenever anyone tries to write about it, they often take two easy ways. First, they cite the cases of mixed race Korean celebrities.

    This has so many flaws because celebrities are in a different class from normal people. Example, simply because Korea accepted Hines Ward or Amerie as one of their own doesn't mean they now consider all Koreans with black heritage as Korean, just ones who win the Superbowl or who have at least a fledgling music career. Kudos to Ward himself for bringing attention to the issue when he was in Korea. Cases of celebrities aren't much of academic research.

    Second, another route that these people who do studies go to is personally handing out surveys. This too has serious flaws as usually there are only 2 specific places that one can attempt to find mixed race Korean-Americans. 1. Korean-American organizations. 2.Mixed-race organizations on college campuses or on the internet. Why do these have flaws? Well, if the mixed race Korean is part of a Korean-American organization, most likely he considers himself to be Korean-American, otherwise he wouldn't be there in the first place. Therefore the range of answers that one gets from this group will be skewed. Second, usually the mixed race organizaitons are populated with angst filled teens.

    Handing surveys to either of these groups isn't going to give you a complete picture of the whole group. And why? Because mixed race Koreans have no reason whatsoever to connect with each other unless they are members of the same family. There is no mixed race Korean language or culture that would make any kind of community seperate from the Korean-American community necessary. That is to say, they don't have any natural connectivity with each other.

    Bobby Kim is married to Jenny Lee who's father is James Lee who goes to Church with Ted Ahn, who's daughter is Lisa Ahn, who etc.. etc..
    Korean Americans therefore have a natural connectivity with each other. Each link in this chain is a Korean-American individual. And there are a variety of connections

    on the other hand, mixed race Korean-Americans don't have this type of chain.

    Mark Jones is 1/2 Korean. His brother Dave Jones is too. Their Sister Lisa Jones is too. Their father is Jason Jones. He's White. THeir mother is Jennifer Jo. She's Korean. Chain ended.

    Only links to other mixed race Koreans is to their own siblings.

    As time passes and perhaps the mixed race Koreans' numbers grow to the point that they outnumber "pure" Koreans, then perhaps a community can emerge, but this would require that mixed race Koreans specifically choose to marry other mixed race Koreans, and not "pure" Koreans or other races of people that would dilute their 50%-50% ratio.

    (HA, mixed race being diluted into pure race? Anyway you get my Idea I am sure.)

    That's my two cents anyway.

  15. In 2006 I remember writing a paper for my "Languages of the World" class on the usage of honorific speech in languages around the world. I had a buttcrack of a time finding stuff on Korean, even though I was studying the language myself. I just didn't have the technical knowledge of Korean to read a linguistics research paper in Korean about the Korean language. Luckily, my professors were lots of help. ;)

    Then, in 2008, I re-wrote the paper, broadening it in depth, scope, and narrowing the hypothesis of the paper, I found at least a dozen more articles that had been published since 2006. I guess my point is that we can expect the amount of scholarly research articles pertaining to Korea and published in English to continue growing (at least in the field of linguistics). Having that information in English helped me understand Korean a little bit more.

  16. Seoul Searcher,

    First, academic Korean language material about the experience of "mixed-races" in Korea does exist. Second, the discussion of sampling in your post is off-base. There exist far more recruitment methods and research instruments than those you addressed; even the examples provided are in no way invalidated by their biases. Third, your take on Korean-American social networks is overly simplistic. And none of that is particularly helpful to AKE's inquiry.

    AKE should have been searching for references on multiracial subjects, multiculturalism, biculturalism, ethnic identity, etc. All of those topics yield information and additional sources which could inform a thesis on "mixed" Koreans. It is also worth nothing that not all studies adequately distinguish between Amerasians and second-generation immigrants when discussing Korean-Americans in the US. While that confuses the applicability of some findings it also opens up the possibility of asking if (or when) differentiating between the two is meaningful.

    And to second FarFromKorea's recommendation, "Mixed Race Peoples in the Korean National Imaginary and Family" is an excellent place to start. From the dozens of other available sources I would suggest:

    Han, Kyung-Koo. 2007. The Archaeology of the Ethnically Homogeneous Nation-State and Multiculturalism in Korea. Korea Journal 47 (4):8-31.

    ...for background info on the history of the concept of race in Korea. And:

    Okazawa-Rey, M. 1997. Amerasian Children of GI Town: A Legacy of US Militarism in South Korea. Asian Journal of Women's Studies 3 (1):71-102.

    ...for some interesting points about "mixed" children in Korea.

  17. Crap! My super long reply to Chrissy got erased!

    Oh well I'll try to sum it up because a lot of thought went into that. Here's the short version.

    Yes, I agree that you can make a thesis on whatever and however you want if you're good at arguing your point logically.

    First - Korean Sources about mixed race Koreans.. I admit I didn't do much of my academic study in Korean, so I don't know about a lot of these sources. I'll capitulate on the point. However, any media attention on the issue is almost always people talking about the issue with In Sooni, Daniel Henney, or Tasha Reid.

    Second - Sampling. Yes, there are other ways to do more accurate sampling, and even the ones I listed could be used, depending on what the thesis is. My point is that the flaw with any kind of sampling is that you have to find people that either You yourself identify as mixed-race Koreans, or who self identify as mixed-race Koreans. If you're the one doing the identifying, are you going to consider even asking that white looking guy if he's a mixed-race Korean or are you going to specifically go after the ones who visibly look like they are mixed race Koreans? If they are the ones doing the identifying, you're going to miss all those mixed-race Koreans who identify either as Korean or as Not-Korean.

    Because of this, any study of mixed race Koreans will be less applicable to mixed race Koreans than any study of any mono-racial population would be to that population.

    Finally Social Networks.

    Yes, they were overly simplified. I did that on purpose. Undoubtedly Korean-American social networks are more complex. My point was that there exists a Korean-American community. There does not exist a seperate community of mixed race Koreans. In fact, mixed race Korean-Americans are more a part of the Korean American community individually than they are a part of a subgroup collectively. Thus, any study of them that tries to characterize members of this perceived subgroup is in itself, flawed.

  18. I think some of the posters are right about this.

    Curiously I went and wrote a novel about Seoul, and nobody wanted to touch it with a barge pole.

    I change the location to Beijing or Tokyo and 3 publishers became interested in it immediately funny old world isn't it?

    I believe Korea still hasn't made its impact on the world. But this may change.

  19. It's very simple -- if you cannot understand and communicate effectively in Korean, your information about Korea, from whatever source, will have been filtered whether you are aware of that fact or not.

  20. I'm a little skeptical that this is common knowledge - 30 years and more, and no South Koreans, despite the general esteem of English (and, my assumption, of English academic periodicals) or the tremendous interest of the US government in the topic of what makes North Korea tick, saw fit to inform us that Juche is a sham for foreign consumption and the real dope is a crude nationalism?

    As they say on Wikipedia: {{fact}}.

  21. I was about to say there are a large number of people fluent in both Korean and English, they just happen to be Korean...but perhaps that's not really true if by 'fluent' we mean 'fluent enough to write a book in English'.

  22. While this book doesn't discuss mixed-heritage Koreans as the main subject, I think Nancy Abelmann's "The Intimate University" is a great ethnography that profiles the experience of being Korean/Korean-American in the university setting.

  23. I've actually been told by Koreans that I should try to be some kind of 'Korea expert' because I'm white and I speak some Korean. But I can't even read a newspaper! The mere idea is a joke! Fluently bilingual people, like The Korean, should be the ones to fill this gap in the knowledge of the English-speaking world.

    The utter ignorance of those we look to for information when it comes to Korea is quite disturbing. Even in Korea itself, where learning English is a national obsession, reporting on the West is highly susceptible to misunderstanding - how much more so the other way round?

    This leads me to be deeply suspicious of reports on other parts of the world too. What can the media really say about Iran, Iraq, or Libya, for example? How many people speak Farsi or Arabic? When reporters claim to know what people are thinking or are going to do, or how to interpret a certain event, the likelihood is that they haven't a clue what they're talking about.

  24. Two Koreas by Don Oberdorfer is good if you want to learn about contemporary korean history. But seriously, i agree with you, there's like a whole section for chinese and japanese related books in my university library (and other libraries too) but korean related books are only 1/4 of those. Sad :(

  25. you wrote half of the paper for this dude(tte)!!!

  26. The Korean is missing one thing about American DPRK scholarship: Juche. American (and British) scholars think that the psuedo-Maoist Juche philosophy has something to do with how North Korea is run, not seeing that it was part of race with the Chinese to produce some sort of ruling philosophy for the DPRK that would set it apart from Soviet Stalinism. That's what B.R. Myer's book was about: tweaking the noses of the English-language North Korea "experts" who know nothing really about how the country works.

  27. All of your points, in regard to information about Korea in English, are well taken. But, I have often lamented that even the most crucial and obvious events are hardly mentioned, if at all, in the American media. My husband and I lived in Seoul for two years (on the economy, not on the army base) while he was stationed at Yongsan. During that time and assassination attempt was made on President Park Chung Hee's life that resulted in the death of his wife and a school girl. Had the president been killed, we learned, the North would have invaded. Numerous other events took place that were of great importance in American interest, but no one that I have ever talked to, even knew that it happened. Many other events took place also. These are events that don't need a whole lot of interpretation, or knowledge of Korean language. If Stars and Stripes News could report it, then so could the American media. It was during those years that I first realized that they only tell you what they want you to know.

  28. Honestly it's not that hard to write a paper about mixed koreans in the kpop industry... i can think of about 8 off the top of my head. Also, even though i can't read korean yet i have still written kick ass papers about kpop and korean culture

  29. I think it is arrogant of English-speakers to act as if Korea owes us more English sources. They have to be proficient in English to take entrance exams for school and work, while in America, we whine about how "useless" English classes/degrees are, while not needing to learn another language to survive. If you say you are interested in learning about a country, you should be willing to learn it's language(s) (or at least it's lingua franca a la Mandarin across the Chinese continent).


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