The George Washington University

12th Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium

in the Korean Humanities

The Military and South Korean Society


Saturday, October 22, 2005, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


The George Washington University
Lindner Family Commons, 6th Floor
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052


Saturday, October 22, 2005



"The Military and South Korean Society"


9:00-9:20                 Coffee and Pastry


9:20-9:40                 Welcoming Remarks

David R. McCann


Session I                State, Soldier, and Civilian

9:40-10:40               Kirk W. Larsen, Chair


Eugene Y. Park “War and Peace in Pre-modern Korea: Institutional and Ideological Dimensions”      

                                Carter J. Eckert, commentary


10:40-10:50             Break


Session II               Military and Society

10:50-11:50             Roy Richard Grinker, Chair


                                Seungsook Moon, “Gender, Conscription and Popular Culture in Contemporary Korea

John R. Merrill, commentary


12:00-1:00               Lunch


Session III             Remembering and Imagining the Military

1:00-2:00                 Young-Key Kim-Renaud, Chair


                                Sheila Miyoshi Jager and Jiyul Kim, "Good Brothers, Model Soldiers: South Korea's Blockbuster Films and the Post-Korean War Era"

                                David R. McCann, commentary


2:00-2:30                 Discussion

                                Gregg Brazinsky, Chair                       



Eugene Y. Park seeks to highlight some major patterns in the military history of Korea before the late nineteenth century, taking a holistic approach to tracing institutional and ideological developments during the successive periods of aristocratic, professional, conscript, and salaried army systems.  Toward the eve of the arrival of the Western imperialism, Confucian ideal of governance by moral persuasion-rather than law or force-had come to guide the Korean state and its proprietor, the yangban aristocracy.  This arrangement confined the role of martial virtue to an army that functioned mainly as an internal security force and offered limited advancement opportunities for non-elites.

Seungsook Moon, focusing on Youth Report, a popular South Korean TV show intended for soldiers and the general public, illuminates the importance of men’s conscription to organizing meanings and practices of masculinity (and femininity) in larger society beyond the military proper. In a hybrid narrative combining the old cultural value of filial piety with the relatively new value of individual romance, soldiers are not only protectors of the nation, but also filial sons paying back their mothers’ unconditional love by serving in the military and protecting her; they are also young men acquiring adult masculinity for their female lovers.


Sheila Miyoshi Jager and Jiyul Kim, through a detailed analysis of several contemporary war films, whose main theme is the exploration of the conflict between individuals and politics, attempt to discern how the portrayal of a new pan-Korean nation and the overcoming of national division are intimately tied to the idealization of new notions of military manhood.





Sheila Miyoshi Jager is the Henry Luce Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin College. She is the author of Narratives of Nation-Building in Korea: A Genealogy of Patriotism (2003) and has published in numerous journals including Journal of Asian StudiesPublic Culture, Positions and New Literary History.


Jiyul Kim, a Colonel in the U.S. Army, is the Director of Asian Studies at the U.S. Army War College. He is completing doctoral work on modern Korean history at Harvard University.


Seungsook Moon is Associate Professor of Sociology at Vassar College.  She is the author of Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea (2005) and has published in various journals including Men & Masculinities, Journal of Asian Studies, Gender & Society, Review of Korean Studies, Acta Koreana, Pacific Affairs, Social Forces, and Human Studies.  She is a recipient of 2004-2005 Fulbright Award, 2005-2006 Korea Foundation Advanced Research Award. She is a member of the editorial board of Gender & Society.


Eugene Y. Park is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine.  He received his Ph.D. degree from Harvard University in 1999 and conducted postdoctoral research at Yale University in 1999-2000.  He has published studies in Chosŏn social history.  Currently he is writing The Military Examination and Social Change in Korea, 1600-1894, which addresses issues of political participation, social mobility, and cultural orientation in early modern Korea.




Carter J. Eckert is Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean Studies and a former director of the Korea Institute at Harvard University. In 1996-97 he was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. His numerous publications include the prize-winning Offspring of Empire: The Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism and a widely used university textbook on Korean history, Korea Old and New: A History. He is currently working on a historical study of the May 16 Military Revolution in South Korea and an Oxford University Press textbook of modern Korean history. He has served on many boards and committees related to the promotion of scholarship on Korea and the enhancement of U.S.-Korean relations.


David R. McCann is Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He is also Director of Harvard’s Korea Institute. His publications include Selected Poems of Sŏ Chŏngju and Form and Freedom in Korean Poetry. He has edited The Columbia Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry, Early Korean Literature: Selections and Introductions, and (with Barry Strauss) War and Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Korean War and the Peloponnesian War.


John R. Merrill is Chief of the Northeast Asia Division, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. Department of State. He is also a Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. Merrill’s extensive publications include Korea: The Peninsular Origins of the War, 1945-1950 (1989).  He has an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Delaware. 




Gregg Brazinsky is assistant professor of history and international affairs at GW.  He specializes in American diplomatic history and U.S.-Asia relations. He earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University. He received a Fulbright Scholarship to do research in Korea in 1999-2000, and more recently received a Kluge Fellowship from the Library of Congress to complete a book manuscript on American Cold War Nation Building in South Korea. His articles have appeared in the edited volumes, Staging Growth and Diplomatic History.


Roy Richard Grinker is professor of anthropology, international affairs, and the human sciences at GW.  He received his Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University in 1989 with a specialization in African studies. His publications include Houses in the Rainforest, Korea and Its Futures: Unification and the Unfinished War, In the Arms of Africa, and Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History and Representation. He worked extensively on North-South Korean relations and in 1997 he testified before Congress on the issue of North Korean defectors' adaptation to South Korean society.  He is currently Editor-in-Chief of Anthropological Quarterly.


Young-Key Kim-Renaud is professor of Korean language and culture and international affairs and Chair of the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department at GW. She is past President of the International Circle of Korean Linguistics, the current Editor-in-Chief of its journal, Korean Linguistics. Her publications include And So Flows History, English tr. of Hahn Moo-Sook’s Yoksanŭn hŭrŭnda, Studies in Korean Syntax and Semantics (with Kuno et al), Creative Women of Korea: The Fifteenth through the Twentieth Centuries, Theoretical Issues in Korean Linguistics, King Sejong the Great: The Light of Fifteenth Century Korea, The Korean Alphabet: Its History and Structure, Studies in Korean Linguistics, and Korean Consonantal Phonology.,


Kirk W. Larsen is the Korea Foundation assistant professor of history and international affairs at GW. He received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. His research and teaching interests include modern Korean history, imperialism in Asia, networks, patterns, and trends of trade in Northeast Asia, and the Overseas Chinese in Korea. He is currently finishing a book on Qing imperialism in Chosŏn Korea during the Open Port Period (1876-1910).




The HMS Colloquium in the Korean Humanities Series at GW provides a forum for academic discussion of Korean arts, history, language, literature, thought and religious systems in the context of East Asia and the world.  The Colloquium series is made possible by an endowment established by the estate of Hahn Moo-Sook (1918-1993), one of Korea’s most honored writers, in order to uphold her spirit of openness, curiosity, and commitment to education. This year's colloquium is sponsored by The George Washington University's Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, in cooperation with the Harvard University Korea Institute.


The Colloquium is open to the public free of charge. However, reservations are required.

For more information, please contact:


Dr. Young-Key Kim Renaud

Chair, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures

The George Washington University

Washington, DC 20052

Tel: 202-994-7106/7107, Fax: 202-994-1512