Ross King - Professor and Head of the Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia
Western research on Korean nationalism—for example, Shin Gi-wook’s Ethnic Nationalism in Korea (2006) often neglects aspects of Korean cultural nationalism, while accounts of Korean cultural nationalism rarely discuss the salient role of language in Korean nationalism. In recent work (“North and South Korea,” in Language and National Identity in Asia, 2007) Professor King has asserted that discussions of Korean “linguistic nationalism”—both North and South of the 38th parallel—are better recast as “script nationalism.”
In this presentation, he will focus on a particular offshoot of Korean script nationalism that maintains that “Koreans” in antiquity (that is, from the time of Tan’gun in the third millennium BCE) had already invented an indigenous, phonemic script. He will trace this peculiar brand of “script primordialism” from its origins in the first decade of the twentieth century, through the colonial period and to the present day, noting its different trajectories in North and South Korea.