Korean ethno-nationalism and sappy TV dramas

I’m currently TAing for a class on Modern Korean history, and we just finished discussing the concept of minjok (民族 or minzu in Chinese) as it related to Korean nationalism and the creation of a national history.  Andre Schmid discussed the creation of the minjok paradigm in the early twentieth century among Korean nationalist historians, outlining the various ways they conceptualized a Korean history based on ethnicity. To me, the most interesting story of the Korean ethnic genealogy involved tracing the descendants of the mythical ancestor Tan’gun to lineages and tribes that inhabited land off the peninsula, allowing this particular historian, Kim Kyohon, to claim the tribes in the North and their dynasties, the Liao, Jin, and Qing, as Korean. In other words, the 1644 defeat of the Ming by the Qing marked the beginning of the “Choson-Qing” period, or the Southern Choson and the Northern Qing. The Qing, in this narrative, is Korean (this can be found in Korea Between Empires, pages 195-196).

Unfortunately, my students did not find this nearly as awesome as I did, so I post it here. And, not surprisingly, the battle is not over. This post by Martin Lewis takes us to today, when arguments between China and Korea over Korean melodramas continue the historical battle over ethnicity, nationalism, and legitimate claims to history.

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