Korean Language and Literature



all right everyone thank you for coming this evening tonight's language will be Korean Korean language and civilization as far as I can tell we know nothing about Korea as a culture Korea does not exist we've never had any interaction with its influence no one ever in the history of the planet and basically it's a nonentity culturally speaking in the United States this is odd in fact this is almost shocking it's easy to ignore Persian in a way because it you know the main thrust of that civilization sort of it took a big dip five or six hundred years ago Oh dead language is why would we know those like Greek and Latin why you learn those but Korea is one of our largest trading partners they're one of the largest manufacturing most high highly advanced civilizations in the world you have Samsung LG Han Jin I mean you've huge chai balls which are very large Korean industrial combines that are active all over the world and in finance engineering research you name it the Koreans are doing it so economically they're they're vitally important we have a special trade agreement would have been by the way just with Korea historically speaking in in recent history of course we fought a war on the Korean Peninsula we have continuously had troops present in Korea for over 50 years we have thousands tens of thousands of troops there right now if we're gonna get into a war almost certainly where that war would start would be on the Korean Peninsula the most likely place for the United States to be at war at any given moment there's probably the Korean Peninsula but we know nothing about this I mean really it just seems like it's it just is just just a blank and I think there's reasons for that and and some of them are odd and some of them are understandable so the first thing if we just start a little bit with the language and look at the history which makes some of the language a little clearer Korean is considered a language isolate which means that there's no language like it there are scholars this is a bit of a debate there are some scholars who argue that that is in fact a member of Uralic and all tank language family there's a chair right up here there's another chick ah there's a member of the ER Alec and all teh ik language family this is disputed but basically there's no clear connection between Korean and any other language again a language isolate to the Korean Peninsula and if you look on the back of your sheet you'll see a map of crew and on that hand it is this big long peninsula that you can say oh certainly it could be isolated geographically but really this northern boundary that we have currently with Korean with other northern boundary of North Korea with China has flexed all over that's that's gone further north it's gone to Russia Manchuria used to be called the Russians have been down much further so there's been a lot of interplay particularly the north with the Chinese of Manchurians the Mongols and the Russians and that's been going on that for hundreds of thousands of years so while you look at a1 and you go oh really looks Iceland really geographically not that isolated in actual fact it's actually quite active in its history on the northern border also if you look in the south Japan the Korea Strait that towards the bottom between Korea and Japan Japan is right there I mean Japan is not and you can see it clearly across the Strait the islands are I mean Japan is extraordinarily close and we'll talk about the influence Korea has had on Japan although Japan tends to ignore this has been very significant in fact spectacularly significant so on one hand an isolate language development some cultural isolation but geographically not as isolated as as people imagined Korean language itself as spoken give us the isolate part as written you have this weird issue written Korean is hangeul that's the alphabet that you see on the front page as handled this was developed in the 1450 Sejong the great to write the Korean language but really it was not widely used until the late 18th early 19th century and was not the official really serious official language of North or South Korea until I mean really 1900 or even later because the Chinese were around and what the Koreans really did if you were literate in Korea for roughly the first 2,000 years it meant that you had learned classical Chinese block class wouldn't classical Chinese then of course it was you could learn the standard Chinese of the day and so what they did is they came up with this Han JA which was the ability to write Korean phonetic speech using Chinese characters but admit that if you were going to do that of course you were Rd literate in Chinese so really the primary literary language with some exceptions which I'll talk about for the history of Korea for written history of Korea from you know 600 to 1900 or later was in Chinese and the Hansa was used in varying ways they're different hybrid systems that were developed Kwangju to represent different sort of speech patterns so as I talked about Korean literature and the development of the Korean intellectual classes it's important remember that much not although the vast majority of the work was done in the contemporary Chinese so whatever the state of the art of Chinese writing was the Koreans were right there their scholars were first rageous is something that's important and we'll talk about this so the spoken korean evolved x' but is primarily written in chinese characters along with just straight-up classical knees being written so Chinese that the scholars in Korean were at least bilingual suffered most of them knew again historically standard many more languages than that and so the texts that have come down to us tend to be a mix but many of them tend to be in very extraordinarily well written in classical Chinese so Korean history as history begins with references into Chinese classics their nearest neighbors you know say they look down to the south and they find these people and originally the Chinese didn't have much good to say about them they called them barbarians sort of those those people down south who don't know very much but the archaeological evidence suggests that there were a pretty coherence cultural groupings throughout the peninsula and they'd been there for at least five hundred thousand years by the way so very long settlement history to come into written history again with the Chinese the big change comes at about 100 BC the Han Dynasty establishes a protectorate the status for protectorates accident which means that they bring in but they sort of conquer Korea or much of Korea not quite all of it but the central northern and central Korea and they set up four provincial governors sort of think of it that way who begin administering these different areas served like States I guess you could count but is it it's important to know this isn't a transplant of this vast number of Chinese it was just a very limited numbers of officials and scholars and some military a little bit not even a huge amount of military for governing in the name of and this starts the involvement very direct involvement of Chinese scholarship and learning along the peninsula that will continue for the next 2,000 years so this is important to know this is an ongoing influence around 0 I'm rounding these dates off you get this the first significant period of the three are established and no still grégoire oh and Bach chief my pronunciation again I apologize and these take over from the four frog Provincial sections of the Han and they put in negative governments and these three kingdoms continue to influence the shape of Korean politics today it's they sort of like we say oh they're from the south and it sort of resonates with us that oh that means something about those people because they're from a particular place it's in the United States southerners aren't from a foreign country but we identify that as being geographically or culturally somewhat separate so the three kingdom period still referenced today I'll you said it's amazing because this is 2,000 years later they still will point that out and say all those those people are from Silla those kind they're those kinds of people right and this influence is all kinds of political systems but it's still there which is which is shocking but this is the beginning of domestic organized political rule that we recognize and on the Korean Peninsula of course because they've been governed by China they took some models from China but it's important to notice the example I was trying to think of as we as we move into these influences is we came to the United States was founded by people who emigrated largely from England originally an England had a parliament and we sort of got a democracy kind of thing so but we would never say we're just England right we wouldn't say we're just this offshoot of England often for some reason if you leave things about Korean or Korean tax or Korean history you will find this this notion that well you're a child just came in the koreans went well the chinese that's that's it that's what you do everything they took they went wow this looks pretty good we like it we're going to make it ours so there was a continual process of studying of and translating into the native Korean scene so this was not a one-way street or was it like a cultural imprint it wasn't in there forcing them to adopt these things they took the parts they liked they ignored the part they didn't like they adapted it to the local scene and they developed it quite distinctly in their own way all throughout Korean history so that's important to keep in mind around well between so between 0 0 and 675 the Three Kingdoms period is the same history as every period when you have three different large ruling bodies that border each other right alliances to kill people and Wars and battles and then settlements and peace and prosperity and then some more Wars and sobriety just this rolls on and on so it looks very much the same what's important culturally intellectually at the time is the importation of Buddhism you know India China Buddhism comes in to Korea and of Confucianism and originally Buddhism is really winning this is important now that Buddhism comes in and is really carrying the greater intellectual weight partly this is because the traditional Korean beliefs were animist and one of the nice things about Buddhism at least as the Koreans decided to understand it is it had nothing to say bad about animism you want to be animus great we'll just take our temples to Buddha and we'll put them right on top of the hills that we used to worship as Animists pills right so they actually just transmigrated a lot of their beliefs into a sort of sympathy with the Buddhist beliefs and this kicked off a tradition that lives till today a very powerful Buddhist influence in in Korean history simultaneously though they're also getting the Confucius influence but originally this is much softer Buddhism hasn't had a lot more power slowly but surely the Buddhists accreted more and more authority more and more temples temples sort of accumulated land so they could farm them that means they're accumulating wealth so they became very much like the Catholic Church in a way where religious systems seem to be able to do this get land acquire wealth and then you know it creates a political problem so roughly around the seventh or eighth century to to fight back against that the ruling elites in Korea decided you know what let's change a little bit let's put the emphasis on Confucianism as a way of fighting the temples and the power of the Buddhist and why do some land redistribution who has the land the Buddhist monks we want an upset the hierarchy who's controlling the hierarchy and the power right now well we think too much has accumulated in the Buddhist sects so it set up this sort of battle tension between Confucianism and new Confucianism and the native of Buddhist sects in Korea and that sort of this tension times cooperating but mostly in tension dominates the intellectual development of the Korean Peninsula but the type of Buddhism again as I mentioned that that Korea develops one very animist and the nature and feel even today that's where they built their temples this is how they thought to they took a form of sort of Mahayana Buddhism and the Korean scholars looked at all the different threads of Buddhism and said this doesn't add up this doesn't match up right and they said let's create a coherent sensible Buddhist doctrine that's rational all the way through or at least consistent all the way through on this is a form of Korean Buddhism that sort of dominates the Buddhist thinking in Korea up until today and was you know hugely influential from about 400 you know the last 1,600 years now there's always in Buddhism so many different sects and belief systems but it was really this native instinct to create a consistent here Buddhists thought that would deal with things like while the Tibetans are way over here that doesn't make any sense this is wherever that doesn't make any sense let's come up with a doctrine that we can all understand simultaneously with Confucianism in China the the Confucius system had many elements that a weak aristocracy very strong imperial system lots of businesspeople lots of sort of what we would call unregulated activities of the people Korea not so much the Confucian system in Korea became much more associated with the rule of the aristocracy if you want to take the exam for the Confucius system so that you could become a state councilor or you become a governor or you could become any kind of official basically you had to be on the rules of the landed gentry so this was a way of keeping education very much more narrowly focused in the hands of about twenty or thirty percent of the population who might be able to qualify ten percent sure the next you know twenty percent they might be able to get a family member or two in there and again the effort it took to do this was immense because it's not Korean that's in Chinese and so you have to learn a foreign language a very difficult language and you have to learn it really well now the Koreans did this so well that they actually sent scholars from Korea to China who passed the civil service exams in China this is almost unique in Chinese history and then they would allow them to serve so they were I mean they were the sort of province made really good and China has this developed over time I mean they had some battles with the Tong dynasty they had border disputes it wasn't all love and friendship but it developed pretty quickly that both sides said you know really respect the Chinese and the Chinese that we really respect the Koreans there was a very friendly interchange eventually it became sort of almost like US and Canada they're different but we're so close we're pretty for pretty dang friendly and so as this is developing of the Three Kingdoms period and growing influence of Buddhism and Confucianism to 675 ish and then still a successfully fights off its erstwhile alpha allies in this case that would be the Tong dynasty so they were there fighting to keep you by the province they sort of sided with the Chinese against one of their enemies and as soon as they defeated them they turned back and of course brilliantly said no now we're gonna fight you and they settled this and and two thirds almost the entire Korean Peninsula was unified this is for the first time under one group which was so that was dispirited and that goes on for about three hundred and fifty years or so until you know roughly 936 or 1000 and they found the city of Gwangju this is one of those things again when history that was completely lost this was the capital of the region Silla for about a thousand years its fluorescence wasn't about the 5th to the 10th century at a time when Paris had approximately 20,000 citizens it had at least 400 thousand some scholars put it as high as 800 thousand citizens gold art some of the finest Buddhist texts are from this period and from this city the versions are the best of the cleanest they invented movable metal type this was not invented in what was independently in Europe but it was not an it was previously invented movable metal type to do the Buddhist text and clung to at least 200 years previous to even anything roughly equivalent to that in Europe they had most beautiful pottery if you want to see some lovely pottery look up Korean celadon pottery from this period absolutely jaw-dropping even the Chinese admitted at the time that ban those guys are making some knives pottery so the aesthetic a potential was huge the city itself now is a world heritage site in fact it's like three World Heritage Sites all in that area because there's more than most beautiful collections of Buddhist statuary Buddhist manuscripts incredibly beautiful ancient buildings and if you stand roughly in that city and look across the Straits you see Japan and it turns out that they had been sending ships oh I'm sorry if you look on a map it actually doesn't appear on a modern map of Korea which is hilarious but yeah yeah it's a little too small yeah um but yeah it's just a little bit inland but yeah you can see you can see across in Japan which is astounding down there towards the tip and and the cultural exchange was intense but actually mostly one way and it seems a lot of what we take to be Japanese for instance the Japanese got Buddhism from China how did the Japanese get Buddhism from China they got it from Korea and the notion that the Buddha's just wandered through Korea waived it didn't talk to anybody and somehow got a vote and this issue is bizarre we would never suspect this of any other culture right we would never say oh well sure they were there for 500 years and then they went over to Japan and then that didn't have any impact it is you know so these influences a lot of linguistic influences all of the Japanese do not like to mention this by the way as I mentioned that the use of Chinese characters to represent your native speech that the Koreans have very similar is still exists in Japanese today it's one of things that makes Japanese impossible to write is the fact that they have this as one of their alphabets so the influence is flowing across into Japan from Korea also the Korean interpretation of Buddhism and Confucianism is flowing back into China the Chinese sent us some of the major works of Confucian scholar come from Korea Sakura is influencing Japan and China during this period and later so it's not an isolated and unknown commodity it's time in an amazing passage that's it's almost unbelievable this is about Gwangju this is from an Arab traveler so the Arabs were or on the March now traveling around sailing about and it's from about 950 and this is a quote seldom has a stranger who has come there from Iraq or another country left it afterwards so health is the air so pure the water so fertile the soil and so plentiful all good things this is from a writer from Baghdad in Iraq writing at the Golden Age of Islam the Abbasid Caliphate the absolute zenith of Islamic art influence power in the world in the ancient world goes to a place we've never heard of it and says man this is where you want to be no one who's been here goes back to Baghdad then in the back to Iraq there's nothing going on there you want to be here so there's notion that there's a sort of cultural aesthetic wasteland is it's this bizarre practically when you you consider these sorts of influences so now history marches forward Goryeo defeats Wow Silla is defeated by gorgeo and in 936 1388 and so this sort of the florescence the Golden Age of this area sort of fades a little bit there's a little more warfare you know anytime there's an unsettled period scholarship is still going on of course and then in a 1388 that Goryeo is defeated by the joseon dynasty now what's incredible about this is they rule unbroken succession give or take until the 1890s officially until I think in nineteen eighteen ninety six but roughly 1890s things start to fall apart but that five hundred years unbroken rule is connected to a previous eight hundred years of Buddhist Confucius Chinese interplay and influence the social system intellectual system of Korea is developing it's changing there's battles and peasants revolts and all this but it's coherent within the Buddhist Confucius Korean system until about Oh 1890s when of course imperialism rolls through the door right and the United States actually tried to invade Korea twice we call this opening Korea you know that's right we want to open them to foreign trade which means you must trade with us or die I believe is deep have we got a deal with you give us and Korea did not want to be open this is how became named the Hermit Kingdom no knows this is like Hermit Kingdom there's something wrong with them if you don't want to trade with us there's something wrong with you now Korea is trading quite happily with they're like hey if China is the center of the world and had been you know for the preceding 2,000 years of our history we're perfectly happy with that no problem but of course this isn't going to do and once China starts to falter Korea finds itself in a very tricky situation oh my god what do we do where to return well one of the most amazing developments in world history that we'll talk about in next month's lecture on Japan and Japanese the Japanese pummel the Russians at sea and give them a good run for their money on the land in the russo-japanese war and this just shocks the entire world nobody was prepared for the Japanese were prepared for it nobody when the Japanese were prepared for they could not believe that one of these great Imperial nations could meet a lowly Asian you know third-rate backwards ignorant people with no technology and be bested even temporarily and so this is if they became the coming nation everyone's like wow all right well let's set Japan in on this imperialist game so Japan is in Manchuria Japan is trying to press into Russia no this isn't pure ilysm right I mean this is this is you know this is Japan is just saying this is what Imperial countries are doing we want someone so they start knocking on the door and in Korea but Korea doesn't want anybody knocking on their door so first thing they try to do is play off the great powers against each other they make friends with the Russians because they're close we're very nervous about the Japanese but they you know cut a few deals there but most of this is actually done through China still they say well negotiate with the Chinese and then they would send ambassadors to other people with some ambassadors and they'd work it all out and they'd come back to Korea and go what do we want to do a very challenging time finally this falls apart the United States it can unsuccessfully attacks Korea twice they're turned back I'm willing to commit huge numbers of troops to do this angered angered that the Koreans immensely of course but finally Japan looks like the coming power and internally this too creates a huge flee I'm trying to imagine what it would be for us to face this your cultural heritage is well you've had one ruling dynasty for five hundred years for that you've got another thousand years of coherent history you've built a very intricate valuable Confucius Buddha system that works for you peasants getting a bad deal because it's always good a bad deal but for most of the people most of the time we have stability we have order we know what's going on and what's important to notice is a Confucius to particular idea of man is very different from our idea man particularly as the Koreans understood it so if you look at one writer Confucius yi wang 1501 to 1570 is one of the hugely prominent Korean Confucian or neo-confucian scholars his face I love this his faces on the 1001 note in Korea today so that lets you know how influential was so from a few 600 years ago he's still on the 1001 note today so a very significant scholar essentially nothing of his work has been translated into English a recurrent problem then I'll return to do shortly neo-confucianism and Confucianism through thinkers like this in Korea developed a combination of Taoism Buddhism and Confucianism which focused on the importance of the individual it was it was not a religious system it was a system that said to make a country great you improve the quality of the people happy people moral people upright people make a strong powerful moral of the right country and we create a system to take care of that shared responsibilities duties that you haven't your parents duties that you have to the ruler who do use the rulers have to that's not imperfect system exploited just like everything else because the system built around the notion of the improve ability of the human being execute their best qualities drain out control their worst qualities and will have an orderly healthy happy growing system if also assumes that human beings are innately good this is often overlooked in the Confucian system the central one not deep one central assumption and Confucianism as human beings are good and what we want to do is make them bring out that inherent goodness in them because if we're all good and we can bring that goodness out then the world will be a great place so after you know a thousand over a millennia of this concept comes modern imperial capitalism okay it's a bit of a shocker so all the Asian countries including Korea are looking around going what how do we respond to this these are not stupid people they knew they're being threatened they knew they were being challenged and a lot of what they said is well we need to improve ourselves we need to make ourselves better people they called these internal strengthening movements they make Korea stronger by making our people stronger make us brighter make a smarter make us more moral and upright and then these foreigners will go away I don't sure exactly what the plan was but it was this idea that we need to make ourselves better but obviously this is not going to work in the modern world and so tragically of course they are they end up being dominated by Japan and so you have this period of Japanese imperial domination roughly from 1900 to 1945 I mean there's all kinds of complications on both ends of that but we'll just we'll call it 45 or 50 years of japanese imperial domination everything about their culture was destroyed absolutely catastrophic it's unimaginably catice I did just like I said the oil equivalent come up with is if somebody invaded our country and said right there's no money no private property no media and everybody in the country has to move someplace else that was essentially what happened to their system one they were local family based communities this is the part of the Confucian heritage part of the way they did land tenure ship the Japanese as the war progressed they needed labor they needed factories they didn't need industrial development and so they shifted huge parts of the population into industrial centers at the end of the war they were moving them into Korea I mean the creeks they're moving them into Japan because they needed miners coal miners factory workers seasoned soldiers because they were getting desperately short on manpower and so physically they dislocated masses of the countryside the Confucius system has no use for trade particularly in it's a Korean embodiment they just said you know trade is bad a basically infusions of trade is banned in their system they tried to limit it they thought extravagant wealth made people greedy and evil and it appeal to people's worst characteristics greed avarice those aren't good characteristics of people we want peace and harmony and sharing so that those were much more emphasized and so now you were supposed to have a system where no scratch all that massive Imperial trade get rid of these Confucian scholars they actually have no role in society we're going to move in business manager military leaders planners electric light oil but you know the whole industrial think machine came to them in 50 years forced on them from the outside so the Industrial Development that the United States underwent from say 1800 to 1950 which was traumatic enough for our society right all the peasants leaving the agriculture moving into the cities we have race riots and this is all that imagine we had to do it in 50 years but it was an outsider who made us do it well yeah I wouldn't have been popular and it would have been traumatic and this is exactly what happened hugely traumatic so then the wardens and lots of Koreans have to come back from Japan start trying to put their lives back together but to what there is no government system because it was the Japanese and the Japanese didn't destroy a system that was ready to be rebuilt because the Japanese destroyed a system that had been continuously operating for you know four or five hundred years at that point that could not be rebuilt has it been eliminated so what do you do well fortunately the first thinking folks at the United States military saw that this was going to be a problem just before the end of the war they sent two Colonels I believe into a room and said hey go in there and figure out a place to divide Korea with the Russians and so 20 minutes later they came back and said how about the 38th parallel is a great done and that's how we got the three parallel they're true that's active that's true that's how this happened so the idea was well Russia will get half and will get half or somehow and we'll have a new government that will take over Korea of course this does not work out very well because the Russians were just we're all that interested in taking over Korea for the one hand and we were terrified that the peasants were gonna rise up and throw off all the existing leaders in Korea because of course many of them were Japanese puppets and people did not like them and so we said well who's too pro-business people and the pro-business people turned out too often via the people who've been working with the japanese businesspeople and so we sort of backed one very small fraction of the society in South South Korea and North Korea was a very much more fluid situation but very much more bottom-up I mean North Korea today not a happy place but at that point they were really trying to do land reform trying to make friends with China of course is to undergoing their own revolution working deals with Russia I mean it was it was very much more fluid and complex of course eventually this leads to the Korean War to try and work out how you're going to negotiate between the North and the South are not negotiate of course as the case is and famously all the history books say 1950 is when the war starts this is not immediate Kris arguable who knows when war starts but really if you're Korean it probably starts in 1949 in fact it may start in 1948 but anyway by 1950 we've got a real big shooting war on our hands and it takes about three years to work out that you know what we'll just go back to where we started the war on the 38th parallel and we think great ok there we go we've taken care of business except over two million Korean civilians have been killed all of North Korea had been carpet bombed into non-existence much of South Korea had been overrun terrorized and you still don't have a stable government on either side of the border so this is it's an unbelievably traumatic like 65 years stability coherence cultural flow and development 65 years of chaos overthrown destruction that leads to nowhere leads to 1953 now what we do extraordinaire predicted this by the way nobody zero people said oh well I'm 60 years the south of the country is going to be one of the largest most advanced industrial societies in the world and the north of the country will be the world's largest prison this this is what this is where we're headed in fact this is exactly what's happened it turns out the Koreans aren't backwards and ignorant lazy barbarians from the South they had again a 1500 year tradition of education you want to know who believes in education in the world the Koreans believe in education wow they're so dedicated to education that they have schools that students go to after school and they have state inspectors who go around and make sure those schools close by 10:30 I believe it's 10:30 at night because the students have to then go home and do their homework and get up the next morning and go back to the regular school so these after school private schools know this is coming so they just turn the lights out and all the students sit quietly until the inspector passes and they turn the lights on and go right on working let's know this is absolutely true they leave education it's one of the things it's as this confusion element has also has this notion of wow how do we build a new society one way is through education they also realize and had one thing that they realized unfortunately but it's true is when the Japanese began industrializing their country they began industrializing in again you know 1910 really heavily in the 1930s so their industrial base was very advanced most industrialized countries had begin industrializing months later or much earlier and so we have all these old and efficient plants hanging around they're not great but you don't want to turn them down and build new ones so in a way to Korea comes out of the war with sort of industrial skills lots of already manufacturing facilities in place and really pretty good ones and there's more of this than the one element again which is why it's weird we don't know anything about that the United States absolutely poured money into the car I mean poured money into the country eighty and ninety percent of their GDP in many years was direct grants from the US government forget what the military was spending and so it's built up this massive country today get one most modern organized countries in the world that we know nothing about so again as I doing research for this as I mentioned wonho the the or I mentioned you Wong the Confucian estate and lated by him he's on the thousand one note shoot lee things he's known in China not all over the confucius world extraordinary scholar lots of works in smitty languages six or seven but unknown to us probably their latest water not their leading one of their leading buddhist thinkers wonho from the seventh century influence again all over China has seven or eight major works finally they're being translated now right now this is a very special product project working with the Korean Korean University I forget which one and and the United States published ready to say look we should we should be publishing this guy's work because it's important and its beginnings it's hugely influential and so this is this you know strange mix what do we know about Korea not much again even though right now I looked up the numbers we're adding more troops to Korea right now we're building up our presence in Korea as our official policy is called a shift to Asia but if you say Asia to people what do we think Japan China Philippines maybe we think Korea but the troops many of the troops are going to Korea we also have one of the most volatile situations in the world right now between South and North Korea it's been one of the most volatile situations in the world since 1950 or before and yet as far as I can tell we know nothing about what's going on prisons are one enemy North Korea let's face it nasty place but the vast majority of the people there are peasants in fact in some ways imaginary people who are the peasants have always been there they have no dog in any fight between North and South Korea they want to be left alone to grow some food raise their children and get some foreign DVDs by the way they love the foreign DVD smuggling them in left and right right they love Hollywood movies everywhere in the world and there's this terror in the stereo at some point these these brainwashed North Koreans are gonna come flooding across the border right they have look they have a huge military they could do this but on the other hand I don't know are they that terrifying why are they terrified we know anything about them I was just reading that Dennis Rodman may you may know is over in North Korea doing various helpful and unhelpful things it turns out that Dennis Rodman was the person who discovered that the that Kim held that the current ruler forget Kim it is has his son as a child they did not know this till Dennis Rodman got there that's how much we don't know about what the hell's going on North Korea right we don't know and so that scares us but we don't know what's going on South Korea either but we're not scared of them because apparently they're our friends so this is very strange and I'm not sure tell you truth I'm not sure exactly what to make of it that that we could have troops tens of thousands of troops in a country for 60 years contiguously that mean how many in many gentleman here at Korea become creative people one to some people have been to Korea many of our servicemen have gone over to Korea so we must know it exists how many people have a samsung phone Hyundai Hyundai Kia there are either the fourth or fifth largest car manufacturer in the world now very large Korean tribal washing machines refrigerators this is it was about to gun this thing right now right now the biggest cultural influence coming on to Korea in fact the biggest cultural influence that may have ever come out of Korea to to us not to China or Japan but to us is probably kpop which is this an interesting form of popular music that was developed in Korea and is now taking over all parts of the world apparently if you were in and if you're in Los Angeles you would know all about this they have huge massive concerts there I've got in Seattle so this is this is sort of where I want to sort of exit from is this notion this very strange notion is we consider ourselves to be cosmopolitan right the world's free and open and it's out there we have all these people that we trade with how is it that a culture fall so off the map and I have a couple of guesses but again this is just pretty purely speculation one they didn't have anything to do with us they didn't want anything to do with us for the first several thousand years of their existence and they developed a unique cultural heritage that we almost can't get so very different we really profoundly different and there never was an opportunity because of the traumatic way in which that culture was terminated for us to interact with them in that culture in China there were hundreds of years of contact between East and West and China for all of the notions of it being isolated was always very cosmopolitan they sent ambassadors out this and ships out they knew about the world they might have been interested in it but they didn't know pretty clearly what was going on around them created not so much and so the transition was so shocking for them and then if you think with literature as I mentioned Hangul became fused at for writing Korean which is the Korean alphabet near 1900 in fact actually later when you consider all of the living Chinese scholars are not going to suddenly decide that they want to write in Hangul and then you have a war that disrupts everything so as far as new cultural development they have had an opportunity since maybe 1960 people get settled in new systems get started little wealth gets generated so Korea's really had about 50 years to begin to build some sort of coherent cultural edifice on the wreckage of that and you know horrible transition imposed on them from without so I'm not sure they should you know why not sure we should expect maybe it's amazing they have kpop by now right it this is extraordinary and so when when you go to translate Chinese classics well you've got a thousand years there but we don't recognize those classics in Korea because they're written in Chinese – I guess if we went to the to the new world who talked about before you know Aztecs and mindedly destroyed a lot of but a lot of the works apparently more comprehensible we've been much more interested in Aztec and Mayan since later civilizations actually not that interested but more than Korean but so it really is in some ways the most one of the most new places in the world it's only about culturally fifty years old and I can't think of anything else that's that sort of fresh may be reunified Germany but the history there is a lot different and so they're really just coming into their own and you can see this in any number of ways as I mentioned their economy is absolutely booming the unemployment rate which they're complaining about is three point one percent you're like well we gotta do something about this cuz youth unemployment is like seven percent wow that's a problem I was like oh that's a bad problem you have there they're negotiating big trade deals with India which is you know relatively right there um good China they're working a lot with China you know they're Korea's kind of on the March and then the notion of reunification well we talked about North and South Korea but but for the preceding eighteen hundred years there was not a North and South Korea no one never imagined there would be a lion drop it makes no sense historically or politically or culturally at all geographically about me this is senseless everybody almost everybody thinks about this is that there's gonna be reunification at some point but who knows what that's going to look like and so it may be in this case you know it could be any day could be a year could be ten years could be 20 years but given the history almost looks at it seems inevitable but of course history is odd sometimes inevitable things don't happen but this new fresh incredibly young civilization culture that is just coming into its own now has both this huge challenge in this huge opportunity right before it and so I think that's perhaps the most interesting thing about the development of Korean language and its civilization is its its summit it's basically starting over and right now we're going to be able to watch over the next decade two decades what strides you can make and if it can reunify what that will mean culturally I think it would be amazing but they're giving huge challenge with massive challenge so yeah that that's that's what I could work out is that one reason we don't know about it is because of this odd history its own isolation but partly because it's just now developing itself it's got thousands of years to build on it's such a destructive and horrible interregnum that it has to start over in a modern world and it has and I has successfully and my question really now is you know now what I think watch Korea and the next 20 years Korea could really be one of the new things so thank you very much

14 thoughts on “Korean Language and Literature

  1. Good video, but a quick google search reveals that Yi Hwong's 'To Become a Sage' was published in English in 1998?

  2. as an iraqi it just kills me when he pronounce it "eyeraq" its "iraq". and dont tell me you can't pronounce it. you can say "Italy" "india" correct. why "eyeraq"!!!!

  3. once correction: the industrialization that happened in korea by japan was not industrialization and modernization as in technical or economical advancement and development but processes to sack away resources OUT OF the peninsula FOR the island (needs resource for world war, duh), hence why the country was so devastated and destroyed after the Japanese invasion ended. some (pro-Japanese pro-Park, senior/father and impeached junior/daughter) scholars/"intellectuals" will say (fake history propaganda) that the Japanese helped korea modernize but that's to be taken with a grain of salt.

  4. K pop sucks, don't promote it.  Fake music sung by bimbos from SoKorea, pretty girls with no actual musical talent, songwriting, or any freedom to behave, because they are manufactured by Korean studios.  

  5. nice lecture, even though, not from a Korean studies specialist.  May I suggest US troops out of Korean peninsula, US can protect SoKorea with drones, US Navy, US air superiority, US troops force China to back that asshole Kim the 3rd, if we take US troops out, China will have more leverage to force NoKorea to stop being such a punk country

  6. I was supposed to go to bed at 11 but did not until 12…because once i started this lecture i could not stop listening.

  7. A slight stretch of the imagination to claim to be able to see Japan from Gwangju. From Busan you can easily see the outlying islands but from Gwangju way out there in the west, you would need to stand in a very, very high place and Gwangju is not known for its high places.

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