Medicinal Meditations on Korean History and Society

Laura C. Nelson, University of California, Berkeley

Soyoung Suh. Naming the Local: Medicine, Language, and Identity in Korea since the Fifteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017. 244 pp. $40 (cloth).

Eunjung Kim. Curative Violence: Rehabilitating Disability, Gender, and Sexuality in Modern Korea. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. 312 pp. $100 (cloth); $26 (paper).


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Taken together, and particularly situated in the context of related studies of science and medicine in Korea and the East Asian region, Naming the Local and Curative Violence illustrate the productive power of ideas of health and wellness in the formation of Korean culture, society, and institutions. Medicine and medical care obviously are central elements of biopolitics, but the reach and complexity of their effects are often overlooked. Given the massive social and financial investments in health, it is no wonder that looking at South Korea through these lenses illuminates whole aspects of Korean society with new light...