Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ignorance, Expectations and Comic Books

It's clear that I'm nowhere near the level where I'm ready to write my dissertation let alone thesis, however, I am gaining familiarity with a lot of repeat offenders in the limited scope of Korean history. But of course I feel a bit ashamed to proudly write about something that dozens of authorities have lived and breathed decades before me - let alone the historians who are still living and breathing and who are ready to rip apart my interpretations. It just intimidates me a bit to write 300 words on 김구 when it will surely just expose my lack of understanding. However, what am I do to instead? Pretend I'm an expert, just sit back and don't pursue the passion? Lame. It puts me out there a bit but everyone has to start somewhere.

I like what Jonathan Dresner once wrote over at Frog in a Well - "I freely admit that I blog out of ignorance. I blog when I discover something that I didn’t know; I blog when I want to learn something; I blog when I discover that someone else doesn’t know something that I know." Well said. Everyone's got to start somewhere.

I just finished three short 만화 (Manga) books about Korean history and I can't help but want to write a short review of them. In a nutshell they were effective in telling some of Korea's historical past through cute pictures and easy to follow stories although the nationalistic foreign slandering was set on "high" and no countries were spared. Japan, due to their colonial past, are portrayed like wild animals in many instances while the greedy Russians who provided King Kojong with temporary asylum are drawn with unnaturally large, protruding noses. Do I even need to mention the occasional Chinese emmisary who looks like Krusty the Klown doing his "Me So Solly" bit? I suppose such is propaganda but I just expected more objectivity and less "feel how I feel and hate the Japanese as I do" in a seemingly harmless set of cartoon books. I just expected something else.

Speaking of which, I can't find ISBN numbers for these. It makes it a bit difficult to properly review them. How is that even possible to sell books at a place like 교보문고 without ISBN numbers? Anyways, all I can tell you is that these books are published by SeSe Publish House (세세 출판사), written in English and Korean, are brightly colored and come separately in a set of differently shaped books with the following name: "한국의 역사 문화 - Korean Culture and History" followed by a subtitle for each volume:
- vol 1 - 한국의 고대사 Ancient Korean History
- vol 2 - 한국의 중세사 Medieval History of Korea
- vol 3 - 한국전쟁과 근대사 The Korean War and Modern History
- vol 4 - 6.25전쟁과 박정희 The 6.25 War and Jung Hee Park

If you see them, pick them up and get a laugh out of the predictably biased bits of filtered history. Although at roughly 10 000원 a pop, you might be better off checking them out of a rental shop or reading them in the store.


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