Sixth Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University


last update 2002/03/09

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181


Session 25
Korean Images of Japanese and Japan in the Choson Period
Organizer / Chair: Kenneth R. Robinson
, International Christian University

This panel offers examinations of Korean views of Japanese and Japan from the early fifteenth century to the eighteenth century. The three presenters will read reactions, attitudes, and visual representations by Koreans who travelled in Japan, experienced or (re)produced memories of the Japanese invasions in the 1590s, and produced or reproduced maps of Japan. The media of observation --travel, literary writings, and maps--highlight physical, cultural, temporal, and political distances from Japan. The depictions reflect contemporary interests in Japan and contact with Japanese, as well as conditions in the archipelago.

Peter D. Shapinsky deploys a Korean envoy's travel diary to reconstruct the multifarious, and nefarious, activities of individuals working the Seto Inland Sea in Japan. The Choson government's attention to Japanese piracy enables their enterprises to also be set in maritime venues. Michael J. Pettid reads post-Imjin invasions literary writings for images of Japanese, and links their production and reproduction to political contingencies in Choson. The intentions of invasion literature become here a tool for enhancing and extending domestic, political dominance. Kenneth R. Robinson reads three types of Korean maps of Japan for discourses on region, relations, memory, and culture. These cartographic representations also embedded multiple layers of time in "Japan." Together, treating specific manners of Korean engagement with Japan and Japanese these papers also connect interactions to local issues in Choson and in Japan. Further, the presentations query contemporary knowledges of others in the archipelago.

1) Peter D. Shapinsky, University of Michigan. "Reading the Images of Kaizoku and the Maritime Systems of Japan's Seto Inland Sea in the Nosongdang Ilbon haengnok"

In 1420, King Sejong, of Choson Korea, sent his trusted diplomat, Song Huigyong, as an emissary to Japan. The account of this journey, the Nosongdang Ilbon haengnok is valuable to historians today as a window onto countless aspects of fifteenth-century Japan, but it contains especially detailed information about the maritime systems of the Japanese archipelago. On both legs of his journey through the Seto Inland Sea, Song encountered people he describes consistently as haejok. This term matches the word kaizoku used often in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Japan. The uses of the term by Japanese are varied and at first glance contradictory, referring to people hired to perform protection duty for ships, who engaged in extortion of shoen dues, who established private toll barriers, and who practiced piracy.

The Nosongdang Ilbon haengnok provides a means to understand the ambiguous, seemingly contradictory passages above. It allows us to understand kaizoku from a maritime perspective instead of one based in the landed political centers of the archipelago. The term kaizoku emerges as a noun that identifies a group of regional maritime elite warriors who dominate the Inland Sea and its systems, a region where the writ of the Shogun did not extend. In this paper, I will use the Nosongdang Ilbon haengnok as a lens with which to explore the activities and lives of kaizoku. I will focus on their roles within the systems of the Inland Sea. Kaizoku dominated sea-lanes, ports, and access to ships and maritime technology that linked the nodes of exchange within the Seto naikai and out into the larger maritime systems of East Asia.

*K. haejok, J. kaizoku ("pirates")

2) Michael J. Pettid, Ewha Womans University. "Specter of the Enemy: Japanese in Post-Invasion Choson Narratives"

The Imjin Waeran Invasions (1592-1598) demarcated, influenced, and shaped the late Choson dynasty. While a traumatic event, one is surprised at the images of the Japanese as ruthless and detestable enemies that endured in narratives of the late Choson period. Literature provides its audience a means to vent frustrations and vicariously overcome both real and imagined obstacles. Beyond relief, however, literature can didactically reinforce prejudices and redirect anger. The images of Japanese in post-invasions literature demonstrate a desire among some elites to maintain a fearful image of the Japanese in the minds of the populace.

This paper will examine portrayals of Japanese in literary miscellanies of the post-invasions period. While members of the upper classes compiled most of these accounts, they were gathered from a variety of sources including oral narratives, personal accounts, and factual happenings. Following Bakhtin, this invasion literature and the events, emotions, and worldview conveyed therein were conditioned by the interactions of writer, audience, and environment. Accordingly, by investigating these narratives I will be able to ascertain the intentions of their collective authorship.

While not seeking to dismiss the hardships wrought by the invasions, this study will demonstrate that the prevailing image in narratives of the Japanese as "evil" was promoted as a means of deflecting blame for the difficulties of the people away from the ruling classes. That is, the spectre of the Japanese enemy well served the ruling classes in creating an "Other" toward which the people could direct their anger.

3) Kenneth R. Robinson, International Christian University. "Late-Choson Period Korean Handbook Maps of Japan"

In the late Choson period, Korean scholars and officials commonly possessed map handbooks comprised of varying collections of country, regional, and local maps. These were public maps circulated through printings and hand-copies, and not official maps prepared and preserved by the government. The handbooks typically included images of the world, China, Choson, the Korean provinces, Japan, and Ryukyu. As with Chinese and other Korean maps, the handbook images linked image text and written text, thus embedding the activity of mapping in larger circulations of knowledge. While displaying varieties of Japan maps, this presentation will examine the images for distinctions and for discourses on Japan and Choson. Further, it will offer interpretations of maps within a handbook as single and as combined units.

Discussant: Thomas Nelson, University of Tokyo


list of panels