Note to Readers

Wen-hsin Yeh, University of California, Berkeley
Sungtaek Cho, Korea University
Download Note (249.93 KB)



June 2018

Dear Cross-Currents readers,

We are pleased to present you with the twenty-seventh quarterly issue of the open-access e-journal Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review.

For this issue, we have gathered together five articles under the theme “Recent Research on North and South Korea.” The contributors—Markus Bell (University of Sheffield), Eun Ah Cho (University of California, Irvine), Soyang Park (Ontario College of Art and Design University), Joshua Van Lieu (LaGrange College), and Benjamin Young (George Washington University)—explore an eclectic range of topics and issues, including political selfhood among repatriates to North Korea, 1959­–1984, questions concerning gender and class in representations of North Korean migrants on South Korean television, an analysis of a 1997 art installation by Choi Jeonghwa, Chosŏn-Qing tributary practice, and relations between North Korea and Grenada, 1979­­–1983.

Tying in with its focus on North and South Korea, this issue also includes an edited transcript of a 2016 interview with Tessa Morris-Suzuki (The Australian National University) conducted by Nicholas Loubere (Lund University) and Ivan Franceschini (The Australian National University). In this conversation, Morris-Suzuki discusses her book To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey through China and Korea (2010) in relation to the momentous transformations that have occurred over the long twentieth century in Northeast China and the Korean peninsula, and to the ways in which grassroots movements and new forms of survival politics are remaking Northeast Asia today.

This issue also features three review essays covering six new and recent publications on East Asia. In the first essay, Paul Y. Chang (Harvard University) suggests that, when read together, Charles R. Kim’s Youth for Nation: Culture and Protest in Cold War South Korea and Sun-Chul Kim’s Democratization and Social Movements in South Korea: Defiant Institutionalization reveal the long trajectory that set the stage for the contemporary movement culture in Korea. These studies thus “conveniently bookend” the decades-long democracy movement, from the “4.19” student movement in 1960, arguably the seminal Korean protest event, to the June 1987 protests that marked the end of institutionalized authoritarianism.

In the process of reviewing Andrew Schonebaum’s Novel Medicine: Healing, Literature, and Popular Knowledge in Early Modern China and Hilary A. Smith’s Forgotten Disease: Illnesses Transformed in Chinese Medicine, Marta Hanson (Johns Hopkins University) has effectively created an extensive and useful literature review of more than seventy English-language monographs, edited books, translations, dictionaries, and even a three-volume catalogue, related to the history of medicine in China. She writes that although the two monographs highlighted in the essay primarily synthesize a premodern narrative, they are both also engaged with how traditional Chinese medical ways of understanding have persisted in the present, via the continued relevance of traditional fiction in modern China, for Novel Medicine, and via various ways to imagine suffering in the past that remain meaningful today, in Forgotten Disease.

In the third review essay, Youngju Ryu (University of Michigan) explores the new directions in Korean literary studies developed in Heekyoung Cho’s Translation’s Forgotten History: Russian Literature, Japanese Mediation, and the Formation of Modern Korean Literature and Dafna Zur’s Figuring Korean Futures: Children’s Literature in Modern Korea, studies that focus on two bodies of texts that previously received only fleeting attention. Ryu concludes that the two books offer an “admirably cogent overview” of an important subfield of modern Korean literary studies, and, in the process, manage to illuminate broader concerns regarding modernity, coloniality, nationalism, and translation.

This issue of Cross-Currents also features a photo essay titled “The Cultural Revolution in Images: Caricature Posters from Guangzhou, 1966–1977.” Through her substantial essay and her selection of images, curator Laura Pozzi (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) aims to guide us through the digital collection of hand-drawn, satirical caricature portrayals of purged leaders and cultural personalities made available online in April 2018 by the University Library of the CUHK. Pozzi hopes that these important research materials will open new questions and offer new possibilities for historians and art historians of the People’s Republic of China.

Finally, in our “Readings from Asia” section, Hyang A Lee (University of Cambridge) reviews Yum Bok-Kyu’s Sŏul ŭi kiwon Kyŏngsŏng ŭi t’ansaeng 1910–1945 tosi kyehoek ŭro pon Kyŏngsŏng ŭi yŏksa 서울의 기원, 경성의 탄생 1910–1945 도시계획으로 본 경성의역사 [The origin of Seoul and the birth of Kyŏngsŏng, 1910–1945: The history of Kyŏngsŏng from an urban planning perspective], a 2016 publication that “unfolds the contradictory urban planning of colonial Seoul to reveal a history fraught with duplicity.” The book will soon be translated into Japanese, but it is not yet available in English. Therefore, Lee’s review will help bring Yum’s research to the attention to English-speaking researchers.

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