Note to Readers

Wen-hsin Yeh, University of California, Berkeley
Sungtaek Cho, Korea University
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March 2017

Dear Cross-Currents readers,

We are pleased to present you with the twenty-second quarterly issue of the open-access Cross-Currents e-journal.

This issue features six research articles on Korea, Japan, and China by scholars from five countries—Ryuta Itagaki (Doshisha University), Byung Wook Jung (Korea University), Zhao Ma (Washington University), Quillon Arkenstone (University of Hawai‘i at Manoa), Shakhar Rahav (University of Haifa), and Yurou Zhong (University of Toronto)—a fine reflection of our journal’s mission to foster scholarly exchange across borders.

This issue also features a review essay by Albert Montoya (Trinity University) of Luxury and Rubble: Civility and Dispossession in the New Saigon (UC Press, 2016) by Erik Harms and Urbanization in Vietnam by Gisele Bousquet (Routledge, 2015). Montoya praises both authors—“skilled ethnographers with long experience in their field sites”—who combine “nuanced analysis of a wealth of detailed ethnographic material with insights gleaned from historians of Vietnam who have long paid attention to cities, infrastructure, and urban planning, and scholarship from the interdisciplinary domain of urban studies.”

We are honored to publish a timely essay by Paik Nak-chung (Seoul National University), one of the most renowned senior intellectuals in Korea, who has played a crucial role in shaping the intellectual and critical scene there since the 1960s, especially as the editor of The Changbi [Creation and criticism] Quarterly. Paik’s essay—“Won-Buddhism and a Great Turning in Civilization”—is based on a keynote speech he gave at the International Conference for the Centennial of Won-Buddhism in Iksan, Korea in April 2016. He writes that the Korean religion Won-Buddhism, whose founding motto is “With this Great Opening of matter, let there be a Great Opening of spirit,” arguably possesses great potential, implicitly proposing a double project of at once adapting to and overcoming modernity. Paik explores this relatively new religion’s global significance, drawing on the work of Martin Heidegger, Karl Marx, and Roberto Unger to develop his analysis.

In this issue’s “Readings from Asia” section, Cho Young-hun (Korea University) introduces English-language readers to Tong Asia nŭn myŏt si inga?Tong Asia-sa ŭi saeroun ihae rŭl ch’ajasŏ 동아시아는 몇 시인가?: 동아시아사의 새로운 이해를 찾아서 [What time is East Asia? In search of a new understanding of East Asian history], edited by Miyazima Hiroshi and Bae Hang-seob. The essay—“The History of East Asia as Newly Recognized from the Perspective of Korean Historians”—discusses how the fourteen essays in this edited volume explore and develop new historical discourses that have emerged in Korea as a critical response to Eurocentric and modern-centric models for thinking and writing about East Asia.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue. As always, we look forward to receiving your feedback. Be sure to register here on our website in order to leave comments for our contributors and join the conversation.

Wen-hsin Yeh and Sungtaek Cho
Co-editors