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Thursday, 21 April, 2016 - 10:00 - 12:00
Aston Hall, British Embassy
Members KRW 5000, Non-members KRW 10000

SIGN UPS FOR THIS EVENT ARE NOW CLOSED.  Please contact if you still wish to attend this event.

Please join BASS and ANZA for a coffee morning and presentation by Professor Leighanne Yuh entitled: The 'Hermit Kingdom': The legacy of 19th century myth-making and redressing misconceptions of Korean culture. 

Professor Yuh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Korean History at Korea University and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Korean History.  She has kindly offered to speak to us about the origins of Korea's reputation as a Hermit Kingdom and whether it is or was based on myth or reality.

More details about Professor Yuh and her presentation can be found below.  Delicious refreshments for our coffee morning will again be provided by baristas from Cafe Eastern, a project set up by the Eastern Social Welfare Society to provide vocational training for single mothers.

If you'd like to join us for this special event, please sign-up below.  For security reasons, as the coffee morning is being held at the British Embassy, only those who have signed up will be able to attend and you will need to bring identification with you on the day.

We look forward to seeing you!


Korea, the Hermit Kingdom: Myth or Reality?

A “Hermit Kingdom” is a term applied to any country which willfully cuts itself off, either metaphorically or physically, from the rest of the world. William Elliot Griffis, an American Orientalist and author, first coined this term in the late nineteenth century to describe pre-modern Korea, which then became widely popularized by the English explorer and writer Isabella Bird Bishop. Over the past century the term and its connotations have persisted, and the appellation “Hermit Kingdom” is now applied to North Korea for its extremely limited contact and distrust of the outside world. This address proposes that the depiction of late Chosôn Korea as xenophobic, contemptuously suspicious of foreigners (especially Westerners), and dogmatically conservative is in fact a myth that was created in the late nineteenth century and that has been perpetuated until today. Consequently, and quite unfortunately, this myth has contributed to continued misunderstandings of Korean culture and has affected modern-day foreign relations.

Professor Leighanne Yuh

Professor Leighanne Yuh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Korean History at Korea University and Associate Editor of The International Journal of Korean History published by the Center for Korean Studies at Korea University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on the Late Chosôn, early modern, and modern periods. Professor Yuh received her Ph.D. from the University of California in Los Angeles after completing her dissertation titled, "Education and the Struggle for Power in Korea, 1876-1910." Professor Yuh’s research interests focus on education and intellectual history at the end of nineteenth century Korea, and the epistemological shift that occurred from classical Confucian learning to western-style learning. Her recent publications include, “Moral Education, Modernization Imperatives, and the People’s Elementary Reader (1895): Accommodation in the Early History of Modern Education in Korea” and “The Royal English Academy: Korea's First Instance of American-Style Education and the Making of Modern Korean Officials, 1886-1894.” Before moving to Seoul, she was the Executive Director of the Fordham-SKKU Summer Institute in International Law, and spearheaded the Korean programs at Los Angeles City College and the Korean Cultural Center. She has spent several years going back and forth to Korea, including a year on a Fulbright scholarship conducting dissertation research and taking classes on Korean intellectual history. Professor Yuh received a B.A. in Japanese History and Economics from Wellesley College, an M.A. from Columbia University in Korean History, and received her Ph.D. in 2008 from UCLA (East Asian Studies, concentration Korean history).