Ross King

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not actively recruiting graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows, but might consider co-supervision together with another faculty member.


Research Interests

Korean philology
history of Korean literary culture
Korean historical linguistics
Korean dialectology
history of the Sinographic Cosmopolis

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Research Options

I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

historical linguistics

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

A limited, legacy literacy: reconfiguring Literary Sinitic as Hanmunkwa in Korea, 1876-1910 (2020)

This study shows that the changes to Korean literary and inscriptional practices in the three decades prior to Japanese colonization in 1910 were not the inevitable outcome of natural vernacularization processes. Rather, they were the result of deliberate education activities and policy decisions by interested parties, including the Korean court, Western missionaries, Korean traditionalist and nationalist scholars, and Japanese imperial officials.Literary Sinitic literacy long sustained the ritual, cultural, and political modes of belonging that positioned Korea firmly within the Sinographic Cosmopolis. The promotion of vernacular literacy and the marginalization of Literary Sinitic that accompanied the social and political upheavals of the final decades of the Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910), were a key element in Korea’s departure from this traditional cosmopolitan order.Modern schools founded by the various interested parties above were a primary facilitator of inscriptional change. Though parents insisted that these schools include Literary Sinitic instruction, this instruction was limited to a single subject within a multi-subject curriculum. The aims, content, and methods of instruction within this new classroom subject, known as Hanmunkwa, departed significantly from those of traditional Literary Sinitic instruction. Nevertheless, Korean educators developed approaches to Hanmunkwa that still treated Literary Sinitic as the vehicle of a living, dynamic tradition. These approaches were greatly narrowed, however, through a program of textbook censorship implemented by Japanese education officials in the final years of the protectorate period (1905–1910). Shaped to meet political more than pedagogical ends, the content and methods of the Hanmunkwa instruction that resulted from this censorship reduced instruction to mere training in no more than a passive reading comprehension of excerpts from classical texts.Japanese-controlled Hanmunkwa greatly limited the scope and application of Literary Sinitic literacy and was the beginning of the end of a living Literary Sinitic tradition in Korea, transforming it into a legacy literacy useful only in limited domains and providing nothing more than a level of backward compatibility with old knowledge. This study, therefore, offers a corrective to the common historiography of Korean language and literature that treats vernacularity as natural and Korean vernacularization as foreordained.

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Language and politeness in the nation of propriety in the east: a history of linguistic ideologies of Korean honorification (2019)

The present study explores the history of discursive practices in constructing one important linguistic emblem of Korean ethno-national culture: Korean linguistic etiquette. The goal of this study is to reconsider the modern-day taken-for-granted understanding of the nature andworkings of the grammatical rules of Korean politeness as supposedly embodying Koreansociety and culture and representing an objective description of a socio-cultural reality. This research argues that the culture-specific models of modern-day Korean linguistic politeness are an ideological artifact peculiar to the history of modernizing Korea. To that end, this study examines the historical formation of the cultural models of Korean linguistic politeness within a network of diverse practices. The analysis focuses on the semiotic processes whereby a set of linguistic repertoires in Korean became structuralized as ‘honorific language’ and gained significance as an icon of ethno-national culture. Primary sources are drawn from both folk and professional metapragmatic discourses over what it means to speak “politely” with regard to the images or identities of self and group. Such cultural models of linguistic politeness rationalize how linguistic practices of politeness should work and what they mean in Korean society and culture. By unraveling the linguistic and cultural political prerequisites for modern normalized views of the “Korean” practice of linguistic politeness, this dissertation demonstrates that it is the social actors’ perspectives on language and their ideological projects that have engendered the dominant societal understanding of Korean honorification in support of the linguistic community.

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Korean as a transitional literacy: language education, curricularization, and the vernacular-cosmopolitan interface in early modern Korea, 1895-1925 (2017)

This study argues that language and literacy during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (1895-1925) were formed through several interactive processes, including the development of “modern” literature and writing styles, processes of translation, dictionary compilation, and the circulation and functioning of language ideologies and discourses on linguistic modernity. Because Japanese engaged with the above processes vis-à-vis Western languages before Korean, Korean intellectuals found in the Japanese language a ready-made model for reform and modernization. Western notions of linguistic modernity—what modern language and literature “ought to be”—as well as the inundation of Korean with Japanese terms due to Korea’s late engagement with dictionary compilation and translation resulted in a Korean language that increasingly came to resemble Japanese. This facilitated the shift to higher Japanese literacy when combined with a colonial curriculum aimed at truncated Korean literacy and expansive Japanese. The convergence of the above processes with the political will engendered in education policy during a period of instability and flux in the orthographical development of Korean from that encoded in Literary Sinitic (hanmun) to Sino-Korean Mixed Script (kukhanmun) combined to lay the foundations for a shift from semi-literacy in Korean to literacy in Japanese, with Korean acting as a transitional literacy, and the sinograph (hancha) functioning as a mediating agent. Whereas pre-colonial language textbooks from various educational streams represented alternative pronouncements on vernacular literacy as well as laboratories for vernacular-cosmopolitan differentiation, Japanese-produced textbooks codified the official vision of colonial literacy, demonstrating a continued commitment to Mixed-Script orthography, directing the gradual diminution of Literary Sinitic, employing the sinograph as a diachronic and translingual mediating agent, and actualizing bilingual literacy transitioning.

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Language socialization in the post-colonial Korean diaspora in Japan: language ideologies, identities, and language maintenance (2017)

This ethnographic research investigates Korean language socialization within the Korean resident (Zainichi Korean) community in Japan, particularly focusing on the community connected to Chongryun (pro-North Korean organization) schools. That is, this study seeks to find (1) how Korean children in the community of Chongryun schools are socialized to learn and use Korean and (2) how they are socialized through language to culturally significant values, beliefs, and identities that affect their Korean development. To this end, I collected data through participant observation in a Chongryun middle school and school-related events, audio and video-recorded family interactions, and interviews with schoolteachers, students, and parents. The study results show that the younger generation in this community were exposed and socialized into multiple language ideologies that linked the Korean language not only to Korean identity and the space of school, but also to morality (e.g., a good student, patriot), politeness, the status of Chongryun school students, and foreignness/outcast through participating in a variety of interactional practices. Also, in this study I paid attention to the agency of Chongryun school students and found that their socialization outcomes were partial, selective, and situational. In other words, not only did they play a part in reproducing and reinforcing the existing ideologies of language and ethnic boundaries (i.e., Japanese vs. Koreans) but they also contributed to redefining the relationship between the Korean language and Korean identity and reorganizing the evaluative order of Korean varieties. Lastly, I argue that the sociocultural phenomena engendered by globalization (e.g., Korean Wave and power of English) motivated some students to further improve their Korean proficiency on the one hand, but on the other hand, they demotivated others in continuing to study and maintain their Korean abilities in the future.

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A textual study of Tongp'ae Raksong: problems of oral storytelling, genre and the vernacular in late-Choson Yadam (2012)

This dissertation is a two-part study delving into genre delineation and contextualization of late-Chosŏn (1392-1910) yadam narratives as a research site. My central argument is that current treatment of yadam as repositories of kuyŏn (oral storytelling as historical events) falls victim to dehistoricizing and nationalistic tendencies and that a more historicized conceptual and methodological framework with a focus on literary aspects of yadam is long overdue.In Part One, I focus on a close relationship between kuyŏn as lifeblood of yadam and Western-modernity envy in the birth of yadam as a new subfield within ‘national literature’ in the 1970s. I show that scholars, driven by the urge to find sprouts of modern fiction, claimed to find in yadam narratives the ‘authentic’ voice of the Korean people and an objective reflection of Chosŏn social reality; this was done with much theorization and little corroboration. I address how scholarship to date perpetuates dehistoricization in generalizations of yadam as a genre, and offer counterexamples through text-based research. I construct a new framework that contextualizes yadam within late-Chosŏn literary culture and is critical of nationalist logic. I draw ideas from: previous text-based research on yadam and Chosŏn society for further historicization; scholarship on folklore, manuscript culture, Chinese narrative tradition for comparative perspectives; and Sheldon Pollock’s ideas of ‘cosmopolitan and vernacular’.Part Two illustrates the utility of this new framework by examining Tongp’ae naksong (Repeatedly recited stories of the East; hereafter TPNS) by No Myŏnghŭm (1713-1775). I contextualize TPNS and its author-compiler within contemporary literary culture and society, taking into consideration: No’s life experience; paratextual appraisals of and perceptions of genre surrounding his text; surviving manuscript editions; contemporary Chosŏn literati’s interests in fashioning Koreanness, and the lexical texture of TPNS. I finish by highlighting TPNS as a literary composition crafted by an authorial compiler who emulated and experimented with the achievements of his predecessors. My analyses shed new light on several previously-made conclusions about characteristics of yadam in general and TPNS in particular.

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The Construction of the Child in Korean Children's Magazines, 1908-1950 (2011)

“The Construction of the Child in Korean Children’s Magazines, 1908-1950” examines the child as a site of ideological inscription through the texts and illustrations of children’s magazines from 1908-1950. The analysis, which spans Korea’s colonial and immediate post-liberation/pre-war period, opens with the publication of the first magazine for young readers in 1908, Sonyŏn (1908-1911), continues with an analysis of the colonial period magazines Ŏrini (1923-1934), Pyŏllara (1930-34), Sinsonyŏn (1929-34), and Sonyŏn (1937-40), and closes with the interruption of the publication of Ŏrininara (1949-50) and Sohaksaeng (1945-50) in 1950 upon the outbreak of the Korean War. This study focuses on magazines, and more specifically children’s magazines, because this medium was a major purveyor of Korea’s burgeoning consumer culture and well reflects the growth in literacy and the development of print and visual culture in modern Korea. Magazines also reflect colonial Korea’s changing engagement with social discourses such as Social Darwinism, colonialism, modernity and nationalism. The turn of the twentieth century brought with it an intense intellectual drive towards enlightenment in Korea, and the most significant target of enlightenment was the Korean child. It was the momentum toward reform and the gaze toward the future that brought the child so acutely to the forefront of social discourse and made the Korean child into a pliable image both textually and visually. By examining a representative range of magazines along the political spectrum, I demonstrate how the child—as a crucial site of ideological inscription—was constructed and manipulated in children’s magazines through negotiations with the discourses of colonial Korea. At the same time, I point to the existence of voices that wove a more complex tapestry and which, by problematizing the more prevalent constructions of the (enlightened/pure and innocent/rebel, politically conscious/wild, natural) child, challenged the hegemonic discourses and provided their young readers with images that reflected, in part, the experience of being a young person during the tumultuous period of colonial and postcolonial Korea.

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From Sanguozhi yanyi to Samgukchi: domestication and appropriation of Three Kingdoms in Korea (2010)

My dissertation entitled “From Sanguo zhi yanyi to Samgukchi: Domestication and Appropriation of Three Kingdoms in Korea” shows how a ‘Chinese’ work of fiction has become an enduringly popular Korean work since its importation in the sixteenth century. In this context, my thesis encompasses a comparative exploration of the influence of the Sanguo zhi yanyi 三國志演義 (Romance of the Three Kingdoms; hereafter Three Kingdoms) as reflected in premodern and contemporary Korean culture and literature. The domestication and appropriation of Three Kingdoms today can be attributed, in part, to a relentless modification and re-creation of its contents in the forms of numerous translations, adaptations, and revisions that have reflected socio-political and ideological agendas in Korea. I also clarify how the sociopolitical and ideological changes in Chosŏn Korea accelerated the reception and dissemination of Three Kingdoms by illuminating in particular how the Chosŏn rulers utilized the Neo-Confucian values in Three Kingdoms to maintain and strengthen Korea’s identity as the sole cultural and spiritual successor of the Great Han-Chinese empire after its collapse in 1644.Three Kingdoms’ status in Korea has been much higher than that of a Chinese classic; it remains the most widely read of all novels in modern Korea. Moreover, authors like Chang Chŏng’il do not hesitate to define Three Kingdoms as a national novel of Korea. It is virtually impossible for a modern Korean to lead a life divorced from Three Kingdoms. My dissertation shows that these phenomena did not appear suddenly in the twentieth-century Korea. Rather, they are the result of domestication and appropriation of Three Kingdoms that has steadily progressed for centuries; the novel has been relentlessly re-interpreted in terms of Korea’s socio-political and cultural context. My dissertation elucidates the cultural politics that contribute to making Three Kingdoms into a national novel of Korea.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Becoming "Red Children": the literacy movement among Soviet Koreans in the Russian Far East, 1922-1937 (2022)

This thesis attempts to place Russian Far East (RFE) Korean literacy campaigns vis-à-vis others of the many nationalities of the USSR through an original synthesis of a great number of sources in English, Korean and Russian. In so doing, I wish to showcase the many facets of “Soviet Korean” likbez (or likvidatsiia bezgramotnosti; “liquidation of illiteracy”), from its gendered dynamics to the power of creating structures and so-called “Soviet spaces,” both physical and institutional. This thesis is primarily interested in the meanings that Soviet Korean literary campaigns had—and by extension in the issues of their conceptualization, creation and reception—as well as in those who perpetuated the campaign: the governments on state and local levels, teachers, and librarians. Through the application of historical analysis, I conclude that “Soviet Korean” likbez was not only concerned with the issues of functional literacy but also with “political literacy” and identity building.

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Imposing harmony in East Asia: a comparative study of the Early Modern community compact system in ChosOn Korea and Ming China (2020)

This much needed study on Chosŏn Korea (1392-1897) and Ming China (1368-1644) aims to realize two objectives. First, it provides a general understanding of the community compact organizations in both Early Modern East Asian states around the 16th-17th centuries. For this purpose, a coherent structure is adopted where the explanation of the development of community compacts in each region is followed by a review of the different aspects related to this institution. These various elements of the community compacts are categorized into four facets; administrative, judicial, welfare, and the instillation of morals. These four facets also serve as a comparative framework for the second, and principal, objective that is that of a comparative study of the community compact system between Ming China and Chosŏn Korea, meaning an examination of the similarities and differences between both states. To obtain the most representative sample for this research, what we understand to be the most influential compact models in both societies are used for comparison. By doing so, this work reaches a number of conclusions pertaining to the particularities of Ming and Chosŏn social, political and cultural realities which are reflected in the organization and the content of their respective community compact models and examples. Generally speaking, this will permit us to see that the Ming government had a more hands-on approach concerning the management of its localities while Chosŏn’s socio-political system implied, in effect, a higher degree of shared authority with its local elites.

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Personal appearance as teachable virtue: reading YOyongguk chOn ??? as kyubang sosOl ??? (2019)

This present study aims to determine the reason why Yŏyongguk chŏn (lit.: The Tale of Female Face-land) was written. Yŏyongguk chŏn is an 18th century fictional narrative with anthropomorphized cosmetic item protagonists that fight against various unsightly maladies such as lice, dirt, plaque, and unruly hairs; thus, this text implies that it is catastrophic for a woman to be unkempt. This research argues that although Yŏyongguk chŏn is conventionally known simply as a work of allegorical fiction that scholar-officials read in their spare time, it should also be regarded as a didactic text; a genre read in women’s inner boudoirs, known in modern-day scholarship as kyubang sosŏl. More precisely, Yŏyongguk chŏn was introduced to women’s boudoirs in order to teach them the virtue of wifely appearance, puyong 婦容. In order to support this claim, conduct manuals are examined to show that the upkeep of personal appearance was indeed an important facet of the Chosŏn conceptualization of virtue. Then, an overview of Chosŏn cosmetic culture is provided, and key observations are made regarding Yŏyongguk chŏn and the insights the text provides concerning Chosŏn cosmetics. Finally, Yŏyongguk chŏn is analysed with regard to the parameters that Im Hyŏngt’aek (1988) proposes in his seminal paper on the topic of kyubang sosŏl to demonstrate that Yŏyongguk chŏn does in fact adhere to a number of his parameters and should therefore be deemed a kyubang sosŏl. This study hopes to provide more context regarding the everyday lives of Chosŏn elite women, and also to expand current scholarly discussions on Chosŏn-era literary genres.  

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Traditional scholar-officials on the wings of modern law and statecraft: the Taedong hakhoe and its vision for the Korean ruling class in the final years of the Taehan Empire, 1907-1909 (2019)

The Taedong hakhoe (Scholarly Society of the Great East) was an organization active from 1907 to 1909, founded by a group of politically elite, Confucian-educated scholar-officials with the grand objective of mobilizing Confucian literati across Korea to propel the traditional order of knowledge—or the so-called “old learning”—back into the realm of “usefulness” in early-twentieth-century Korea. The Taedong hakhoe has been uncritically cast as a pro-Japanese collaborator in modern scholarship, which caricatures it as a puppet created and controlled by colonial interests. This study argues that the organization displayed greater initiative of its own than previously acknowledged, behaving rather like a political activist; that is, it rendered assessments of the present and future of the traditional ruling class that it sought to represent—namely, the scholar-officials and Confucian literati—and made discursive claims and practical adjustments to preserve the political hegemony that the elite class had built and enjoyed since the Chosŏn dynasty’s (1392-1897) foundation. Perceiving the rise of the “new learning”—modern, specialized knowledge and practices from the West—and the deteriorating relevance of the old learning in the political discourse of early-twentieth-century Korea as a critical threat to the traditional ruling class’s survival, the Taedong hakhoe actively promoted in the pages of its organ, the Taedong hakhoe wŏlbo (Taedong Hakhoe Monthly), the “usefulness” of Confucian erudition and Literary Sinitic (hanmun) in the project of civilization. It also strove to forge an equivalence between traditional Confucian statecraft and modern statecraft, thereby justifying the literati’s continued presence atop the changing sociopolitical hierarchy. Furthermore, the organization attempted to equip the literati with expertise in modern statecraft, operating the Taedong Specialized School (Taedong chŏnmun hakkyo), a private school that taught highly specialized and technical courses on law and politics to students exclusively from literati families. If the ruling elites of Chosŏn can be characterized as an “aristocratic/bureaucratic” class whose political power was sustained by the balance of hereditary aristocracy and Confucian meritocracy, what the Taedong hakhoe envisioned for the scholar-officials of modern Korea can be characterized as an “aristocratic/bureaucratic/technocratic” ruling class whose legitimacy would derive additionally from expertise in modern statecraft.

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Heaven's post office (Hanml uch'eguk): methodology, analysis, and translation (2018)

Written as a commemorative and reflective text, Kim Subok’s Heaven’s Post Office (Hanŭl uch’eguk, 2015) blends personal and public histories to reconcile the self, find closure for personal and public loss, and search for sources of trauma. As this collection spans his forty years as a poet, the themes used throughout his body of work are recalled: themes of historical loss awaken latent feelings of trauma while other themes that explore the transcendental quality of nature and existential questioning are also revisited, but their re-visitation is largely reflective. Rather than embarking on a new poetic examination, Kim’s collection returns to sites once travelled. To uncover how memory is engaged by the poet and to better frame the translation, I include the translation methodology and analysis of the text by way of memory studies, providing the reader with a framework that clarifies translation structures and textual meaning. I use four paradigms from translation studies to distill the translation process in the methodology section: polysystems theory, theories of equivalence, skopos theory, and cultural translation. I include an exposition of these theories to contextualize theoretically the translation choices I have made. Additionally, for the analysis portion, drawing on previous theorization of poetry’s role in memory and subjectivity formation, I suggest that since poetry can house memory, it can be considered a technology of memory; as such, many poems are memory texts located in personal and collective memory spheres and use imagery and memory work to create a shared space of empathy and prosthetic memory-making. Not all poems belong to personal and collective spheres of memory and thus, not all poems create prosthetic memories – other poems like these are relegated to the transcendental quality of nature. The final portion of this thesis culminates in my English translation of Heaven’s Post Office. These three portions act to elucidate Kim’s engagement with memory and the process of translation – especially the cultural translation that is necessarily at play. Through prosthetic memory-making, Kim extends an experiential engagement with Korea’s history and his own trauma and past, creating a third space of ethical engagement and empathetic alliance.

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From Pp-smppol to Yagu: The Evolution of Baseball and its Terminology in Korea (2015)

Baseball has shaped not only the English language, but also American society. From the early development of professional sport, to spearheading integration with Jackie Robinson’s first appearance, to even deploying “baseball ambassadors” in Japan as wartime spies, baseball has been at the forefront of societal change even as its popularity declined in the United States. Nonetheless, the sport’s global presence remains strong, presenting us with an opportunity to examine how baseball has shaped language and society outside North America. Baseball has an extensive set of specialized terms. Whether these words are homonyms of other English terms, or idioms unique to the sport, each term is vital to the play of the game and must be accounted for when introducing baseball to a new country. There are various ways to contend with this problem: importing the terms wholesale as loanwords, or coining neologisms that correspond to each term.Contemporary Korean baseball terminology is the still-evolving product of a historically contingent competition between two sets of vocabulary: the English and the Japanese. Having been first introduced by American missionaries and the YMCA, baseball was effectively “brought up” by the already baseball-loving Japanese who occupied Korea as colonizers shortly after baseball’s first appearance there in 1905. With no professional league of its own until 1982, Korean would remain under the strongest influence from Japan. This thesis is an account of the evolution of baseball terminology in Korean. This process of change is intertwined with Japanese colonialism and the multilayered process of globalization, which shaped not only Korean baseball vocabulary but Korean language identities writ large. While baseball has never been Korea’s favourite sport, it has often been seen as a form of non-violent resistance to Japanese oppression. Why is it then that a large amount of Korea’s baseball terminology to this day remains Japanese in origin? Even as Japan itself shifts toward using more English baseball terms in Japanese, Korea and Korean have seen fewer changes. The socio-political climate in which Korean baseball evolved has likewise influenced the changes in terminology, which will be analysed here using new data gathered from primary sources.

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From center to periphery: the demotion of Literary Sinitic and the beginnings of Hanmunkwa-Korea, 1876-1910 (2011)

From the 1876 Treaty of Kanghwa to Korea’s annexation in 1910, the last thirty-five years of the Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910) were witness to some of the most impactful events in Korea’s modern history. Through encounters with Western powers and the influence, both direct and indirect, of a rapidly modernizing Japan, many Koreans began to reappraise their country’s Sino-centric past and the once-shared knowledge, symbols, and practices of the traditional East Asian cosmopolitan order. A major consequence of this reappraisal was the demotion of Literary Sinitic (commonly known as Classical Chinese) from its long-held status as the de facto official written standard of state and its removal from the center of the curriculum of state-sponsored education to the periphery in the guise of a newly created classroom subject hanmunkwa.This thesis details how shifts in the terminology for both Literary Sinitic and the vernacular script, the educational activities of Western missionaries, the abolition of Korea’s traditional civil service examination system, the establishment of a Western-style educational system, the proliferation of new Literary Sinitic teaching materials and methodologies, and the influence of Japan combined at the end of the Chosŏn dynasty to demote the learning and use of Literary Sinitic. Furthermore, this thesis shows that Literary Sinitic’s demise was not simply the collateral damage of a predestined and unavoidable rise of Korea’s native script, but was, by the time of annexation, already a long though still unfinished process.The reappraisal and demotion of Literary Sinitic in Korea is important for more than merely understanding the precolonial moment in Korea. It is vital to improving our understanding of Korea’s part in the disintegration of a once vibrant East Asian cosmopolitanism, while further exploring the early development of hanmunkwa will also help us apprehend the lingering effects and influences exercised by once transcultured practices, even after those practices are reimagined and reconfigured according to new, nationalized frameworks.

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National and colonia language discourses in Japan and its colonies, 1868-1945 (2011)

This thesis focuses on the colonialist discourse in Japanese linguistics in the period from 1868 to 1945, the time when Japan changed from a semi-feudal isolated country to a modernized nation and a colonizer. To address the complexity caused by such rapid development, and namely, to show how modernization and colonialism shaped Japanese language studies during this period, I present my analysis in two parts: the first part explores multiple facets of Japanese language education in the colonial period, both on Japanese territory and in Japanese colonies, particularly on the Korean Peninsula; the second part is a study of language manuals for Japanese soldiers. Although I examine some multilingual manuals, my main focus is on Korean language manuals because their number far exceeds that of other languages and also because Korea is my primary research area. My claim is that a careful examination of language manuals as well as of Japanese language education both in Japan and its colonies reveals one of the characteristic features of Japanese colonial linguistics: a situation when a standard-in-the-making was simultaneously being exported to colonial sites with variable success rates. Before the Japanese language went abroad, and more importantly, after its export, the struggle over what kind of Japanese language to teach continued to be a matter of controversy and was never settled until the U.S. occupied Japan and implemented educational reforms. But superimposed on all the debates was always the conflicting concept of kokugo (national language), which was so over-politicized that it precluded the possibility of any academic reforms or structural refinements in tandem with its political expansion overseas. As my study shows, one of the reasons for this complexity was that not only nationalism but also pan-Asianist discourse played a significant role in the Japanese colonial enterprise in East Asia. The language manuals for Japanese soldiers that I examine were published between 1882 and 1935. As the publication years grow more recent, we can see, in the prefaces and the contents, shifts in the forms of nationalism and pan-Asianist rhetoric occurring simultaneously with the rise of colonialist discourse.

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Munhwao: the 'cultured language' and language branding in North Korea, 1964-1984 (2010)

Branding is the process of giving a product a life of its own—a sort of personification of the business world. In language branding, the marketing principles of branding are applied to language. Since Kim Il Sung’s ‘talk with linguists’ in 1964 and 1966, North Korea has maintained a consistent language policy and method of language branding of their newly ‘branded’ language of Munhwaŏ. Throughout the process of language branding, North Korea’s popular language planning journal, Munhwaŏ Haksŭp ‘Cultured Language Learning’, communicates Munhwaŏ—with the North Korean government’s pre-packaged identity—to rank-and-file North Koreans. In accordance with Olin and Kotler’s claims that corporation branding techniques are applicable to other disciplines, this thesis examines publications of Munhwaŏ Haksŭp to discuss the rebranding of the North Korean variety of the Korean language as Munhwaŏ. Munhwaŏ Haksŭp first repackages this new language through maldadŭmgi ‘vocabulary refinement’, instructions on proper writing and proper speech, and promoting concepts of language primordialism. Second, Munhwaŏ Haksŭp separates the newly defined language of Munhwaŏ from its sister language in South Korea by focusing on the ideopolitical and linguistic differences between the two, particularly criticizing the influx of English, Japanese, and Sino-Korean loanwords into the South Korean variety. The distinction between the two nation’s languages, however, is limited, as can be seen from North Korean attempts to prevent Munhwaŏ from straying too far from South Korea’s Han’gugŏ. Finally, Munhwaŏ Haksŭp compares Munhwaŏ to the languages of the rest of the world, heavily promoting the ususŏng (usu-nature or superiority) of Munhwaŏ—and, by extension, the North Korea—through articles focusing on script nationalism, aural aesthetics, abundance of expression, and politeness. Whether a conscious decision by the North Korean government or not, the evidence provided in this thesis overwhelmingly suggests that the marketing principles of branding—giving the brand a story, a name, and a symbol, asserting differences in image with a rival brand, and, above all, promoting the uniqueness of the brand—were systematically and consistently applied to Munhwaŏ on the pages of Munhwaŏ Haksŭp.

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The construction of norms of linguistic politeness: valorizations of Korean honorification in language how-to manuals (2010)

This thesis aims to examine metapragmatic discourses on linguistic politeness illustrated in Korean language how-to literature. The primary task lies in contextualizing the native awareness of ene yeycel (linguistic politeness in Korean) within the interests or values of certain social groups. The first group, South Korean government-sanctioned agencies, led a linguistic campaign promoting a new standard speech model in 1992. Language professionals, the second group of social actors, produced popular language how-to literature, especially after the establishment of the hegemonic standard speech model. Both language standardizing policy and the participants in the how-to industry represent the cultural process of constructing language and social conventions. The “normative” culture of ene yeycel can be empowered and widely circulated, gaining wider social practice. Standardization of honorification came to the surface as a public issue along with a new “cultural policy” of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 1990. In this cultural-political circumstance, the social meaning of standardized honorification was rediscovered as indigenous culture, a group identity shared by Korean speakers. Positively valorizing honorification as linguistic and cultural tradition, the standardized model preserves the sophisticated use of honorifics and reinforces superior-inferior relationships. However, the standard model of ene yeycel can be subjective and arbitrary. Moreover, different styles are too easily proscribed as errors made by sloppy speakers. Language how-to literature produces more diversified interpretations than the standard speech manual. As language users are confronted with the challenges of finding the proper level of honorification, language how-to manuals provide justifications to help speakers prioritize linguistic norms when internalizing social relationships. Positive valorizations of honorification derive from a speaker's respect for the interlocutor's social status or personality. Negative valorizations of honorification view deferential politeness as a kind of discriminatory behaviour indexing power-difference. The positive or negative values of honorification are based on different concepts of ene yeycel and on different identifications of social relationships. Such conceptualizations rationalize whether speakers should support honorification or not, and lead them to discuss language use in current society.

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