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Posted by on Apr 20, 2010

Hiatus and reading about Korea

I did receive a few messages of concern asking why I had stopped blogging (or more or less any of my social media channels). I was just finishing up course work for the University of Edinburgh, which entailed a few final papers and a course design for a Plant Science project (think like botany and so much more) that I will be promoting at work. The course design is getting some double duty as a course assignment and a potential learning page for the new website. I will return with gusto in the coming weeks to my dear blog, the one social media channel I love above all others. There are times when 140 characters just isn’t enough to satisfy my curiosity or verbosity.

So there you have it. I have been walking our beautiful trail in Princeton for hours after work and greatly enjoying watching everything grow. I have been contemplating, reading, reflecting, plotting. I have been taking quite a few books out of my wife’s library and have found some classics.

1. The Passing of Korea-Homer Hulbert, 1906. A passionate plea from an expat who truly loved Korea written right before Korea fell to Japan as a colony. It is moving, exhaustive, and ultimately a homage to a passing way of life.
2. In Korea With Marquis Ito-George Trumbull Ladd, 1908. Basically a response to Hulbert’s book from a man who undoubtedly didn’t love Korea. I literally this type of historical writing was limited to African History (tales of dark races, savagery, barbarians, and lax morals). To Ladd, Japan’s colonization is the best thing that could have ever happened to them. Ito was the Governor of the Korean colony who was later assassinated by a Korean patriot/nationalist. The New York Times even thought it a big deal at the time.
3. A whole assortment of other books, including what seems to be an early version of Let’s Go Korea tourism campaign written by the Japanese colonial government demonstrating all their good works with those backward peoples of Chosen/Chosun.

The books are wonderful and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading with no specific purpose other than reading. Drift away and your eyes get heavy, but you push on for a few more pages. Just a few more. Those extra pages always reward you. They get in my dreams and when I wake they become part of my imagination. Fantastic. However, what is all the more remarkable, and this is the librarian in me talking, is that they have never been checked out. Not once. They were all published over a 100 years ago and donated about 80 years ago by a man named (judging by the inscription) General H.W. Kim. Do I ever want to know more about this guy.

I also find it remarkable that this is the Seoul and Korea that my wife’s grandparents knew. They grew up as Japanese citizens and officially become Korean on August 15, 1945 when Japan surrendered to end World War II. What a journey.

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