The function of Art in Korea

Art and culture in Korea tends to be a product for consumption, and increasingly a commodity. To have art on the wall is a way of showing others that one has more money, that one is more sophisticated, demonstrating that one is from a higher class. And sadly that culture, that art has been overwhelmingly Western because the West is assumed to be superior.

The problem is rather how does one establish a strong identity for Koreans? The solution is not a simple question of elementary school teachers telling students how great King Sejong was, or stressing how much feeling (정) Koreans have. The primary issue is rather for Koreans to see their culture, their art, as being something more than a commodity. Culture should not be something static, something that one “possesses” like bars of gold. Korean culture is not merely a collection of habits, ideas and patterns collected over 5000 years of history. That sort of culture is more the storage vault of an art museum.

The full range of that culture must be presented constantly for the present day, constantly reinterpreted for citizens of contemporary Korea. But making it modern does not mean making it into a commodity, something that can be sold to anyone. That sort of vivid reinterpretation of Korea’s past to meet the needs of the present is what is most sadly missing around us.

There are several ways to make Korean identity more vital. Let me provide one. If Koreans see that their lives are a model for what others do in other countries, that if Koreans care for the environment, are not wasteful and are not corrupt, that people in Vietnam, and Mongolia and Uzbekistan will see that model and emulate it (or vice versa will copy Korea’s worst habits). Then culture becomes something ethical, something bigger than just consuming for pleasure.

Korean cultural identity is what is produced in the process of applying the full range of Korea’s past to address the new challenges of the present day.

Being a Korean is the process of doing one’s best to find in the full complexity of culture and history parts that will make a better future. The sense of history, of mission, and of purpose can transform Korea and its identity. But it cannot be done by building big monuments to dead people. That past must be interpreted for the present, and above all for young people.


Multicultural Korea

Koreans must take control of their own historical and geographical narrative and create our own history by reading the past against the present, projecting the truths hidden in previous experience onto the challenges of the current day so as to help us to understand the complexity of past culture. But we must avoid falling back, out of laziness, on a simple form of cultural determination, or a racist or ethnic purity argument.

We live in an extremely uncertain time when economic disruptions are going to make people’s lives more stressful and more painful. There will be a profound need to belong to something, to find something simple that connects us all now that we have drifted so far apart. Without any doubt, arguments about how we are all one people, with one blood, will be immensely popular for many and there are already signs of an anti-foreigner mood in some places in Korea. Those trends are dangerous, if they are perhaps inevitable. But Korea is not in a position to accept such arguments, no matter how pleasing they may sound. Korea has an extremely low birth rate and will need the help of its increasing multi-ethnic citizenship.

There is simply no way for Korea to turn to such an isolationist xenophobic culture. What we need, rather, to expand Korean culture to include people from other nations, to make the traditions of Korea universal 보편적 and accessible. Korean identity must evolve and expand to include those newcomers and in that process of changing will Korean identity be produced.

Park Geun-hye’s role?

The scandal involving President Park Geun-hye, Choi Soon-sil and Chung Yoo-ra suggests the terrible consequences of a hidden bias towards women even in an age where women play a critical role in Korean society.In the case of Park Geunhye, if we can believe the reports, she spent an enormous amount of time on her appearances, trying to conform to demands that she be attractive. She could not formulate policy for herself, although obviously intelligent and well educated, and was reduced to a tool of older men who used her and then threw her away. I think that it is entirely appropriate to perceive Park Geun-hye at an irresponsible person who engaged in illegal actions for her narrow benefit but also, at the same time, as a women victimized by a culture that made her value conforming to a certain image of femininity more important than doing her job.

But the more disturbing part of the story is the fairy tale aspect of the denouement  . The story told in the media, liberal and conservative, is one of three women, Park Geunhye, Choi Soon-sil and Jung Yoo-ra who engage in terrible corruption that puts the nation at risk. They three of them, and their actions, are described in far greater detail than anyone else. But this story line sounds like it came out of a Confucian history book. The standard approach from ancient times was to try to blame the corruption of men on women. Yang Guifei of China’s Tang Dynasty  is the best example, the woman who was blamed for the corruption of the Yang family which led to a popular uprising—even though she herself did not have much to do with the corruption. And yet the most progressive people buy into this story. And this story keeps us from investigating more deeply into who actually got the money and how it was distributed. It also keeps us from thinking more deeply about what it is in the system and its organization that encourages such corruption.

“촛불을 든 한국의 젊은이들에” TBS



2017년 2월 14일

색다른 시선 김종배입니다

김종배 및 이만열

“촛불을 든 한국의 젊은이들에”  

존F 케네디 대통령은 언론의 역할 에 대 하여 한말



존F 케네디 대통령의 1961년 4월27일 기자회견 장소 뉴욕 월도프 아스토리얼 호텔



논쟁이나 비판없이는 어떤 행정부, 어떤 나라도 성공할 수 없고, 어떤 공화국도 살아 남을 수 없다. 아테네 법조인 솔론이 어떤 시민에게든 논쟁을 제한하는 것을 범죄로 보는 법령을 공포한 이유다. 그래서 우리 언론이 수정 헌법 제 1 조(헌법에 의해 특별히 보호받는 미국 내 유일한 비즈니스)에 따라 보호 받는 본질적인 이유는 사소하고 감성적인 것을 강조하거나 단순히 즐겁고 웃기게 해주거나 그저 “필요한 것을 대중에게 주기” 위해서가 아니다. 헌법이 언론을 보호하는 이유는 언론이 사실이나 진실을 알리고, 깨우쳐 주며, 진실을 잘 반영하고, 위험과 기회를 분명히 기술하고, 위기와 선택을 지적해주고, 여론을 선도하고 조성하며, 때로는 분노 여론을 만들기 때문이다. 이는 해외뉴스가 더 이상 먼 나라 얘기가 아니라 자기 주변 지역과 밀접하기 때문에 뉴스의 범위를 넓히고 심층 분석해야 함을 의미한다. 또 뉴스를 잘 전달하는 것 못지 않게 뉴스의 가독성을 높이는 것에 더 많은 주의를 기울여야 함을 의미한다. 결국 무릇 정부는 대외적으로 국가안보에 미칠 수 있는 최소한의 영향을 제외하고는 가능한 한 모든 정보를 국민에게 제공할 의무를 부여 받아야 한다는 점을 의미하는 것이다.

“秦淮河光影里的忧与乐” (金融博览 2016年 10月)



2016年 10月








这里的另一个原因是,我希望能在亚洲文化里,发现日益颓废的美国社会所不具备的优点。记得当我1991 年独自访问复旦大学的时候,我顺便去过苏州。我偶然间在草丛中发现了一些石头碎片,显然是属于一所老房子的。石头上面还刻着古代的字符,我辨认出它们已经有好几百年的历史了。当时人们正在拆毁这所老房子,城市规划者们打算在这里新建一幢仿古建筑,以吸引游客。中国的悠久历史就这样被出卖给了毫无意义的娱乐和消费。司马迁为了捍卫历史的真实,不惜让自己的肉身遭受凌辱,然而他笔下的中国哪里去了?王羲之、杜甫和苏轼所缔造的中国文学艺术的辉煌到哪里去了?还有孔子、孟子、王安石和王阳明这些政治人物呢,他们的传统又到哪里去了?当我还年轻的时候,中国仿佛在向我召唤,然而当我真正踏上这片土地,她却向我隐藏了往日的容颜。


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2016年 4月



马 尔科姆·格拉德威尔(Malcolm G l a d w e ll)在2008年出版了一本书——《异类:成功启示录》

(Outliers: The Story of Success)。书中指出,在我们眼中的许多非常成功的人士——如比尔·盖茨,他们之所以成功,并非因为比其他人更聪明,而是得益于来自父母、学校、文化以及社会的条件和机会。马尔科姆认为,比尔·盖茨无与伦比的成功正是由于在电脑尚未普及的时候,他却得以随心所欲地接触到计算机。他确实是一位才能卓越的人,但是若没有一系列的机会和条件结合在一起,他就无法取得今日的成就。我很认同马尔科姆的观点。我认为成功的教育并非源于天赋或者标新立异的学习方法,而是来自于创造良好的环境,培养动机,不断刺激一个人的内部成长并激发他的学习欲望,最终达到带有策略地学习的目的。这里的一个关键是“有策略地学习”。



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“我的中文启蒙和老师” (金融博览 2015年 6月)



2015年 6月




刚 进入耶鲁的时候,我只上了三周的法语课就果断退出这门课,毅然决定学习中文。虽然我的法语学得很不错,而且在耶鲁学习法语也是一条不错的出路,但是我发现自己对法国文学并没有那么感兴趣,也很难从中获得心灵的启迪。端坐在图书馆,我虽然试图让自己专注在莫里哀的戏剧上,但是每次都以昏昏欲睡告终。关于自己该学习什么,我思考了好多天。我发现在1983年的秋季课程表中,中国文学是最有趣的课程。于是我下定决心,一定要以最快的速度掌握这门语言。突然转换学科让我很不适应。我质疑自己是否真正了解自己:起初我是想学习法国和德国的文化,但是现在我又决心钻研中文。缺乏语言基础的我面临着各种各样的考验。我认为中文值得更多的美国人去学习,而现实是很少有人真正把这门学科当回事。


不过学习说中文是一门必修课。我遇到了一位中国来的黄教授,他是中文诗歌方面的专家,也是我的良师益友。他教会了我很多关于汉语传统的用法,但这对于真正了解中文的博大精深是远远不够的。我在耶鲁找到了一位负责汉语教学的女老师——陆。她有内涵,有修养,身材高挑,受过良好教育。走过窄窄的楼梯,来到19 世纪特色的灰墙木屋,屋内明亮,这里就是她的办公室。第一眼见到她端庄地站在椅子前的形象,我至今印象深刻。








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“Manifesto to the Europeans” and a call for sanity at the outbreak of the First World War

Wilhelm Foerster, Georg Friedrich Nicolai, Otto Buek and Albert Einstein signed a “Manifesto to the Europeans” at the start of World War I in which they took issue with the drive for military solutions promoted in Germany at the time. They were responding to the so-called “Manifesto of the Ninety-Three” issued by prominent German intellectuals giving their full support for Germany’s war aims. These four men were the only ones who dared to sign the document.

Its content seems most relevant in our own age.


“Manifesto to the Europeans”

October 1914


While technology and traffic clearly drive us toward a factual recognition of international relations, and thus toward a common world civilization, it is also true that no war has ever so intensively interrupted the cultural communalism of cooperative work as this present war does.  Perhaps we have come to such a salient awareness only on account of the numerous erstwhile common bonds, whose interruption we now sense so painfully.

Even if this state of affairs should not surprise us, those whose heart is in the least concerned about common world civilization, would have a doubled obligation to fight for the upholding of those principles. Those, however, of whom one should expect such convictions — that is, principally scientists and artists — have thus far almost exclusively uttered statements which would suggest that their desire for the maintenance of these relations has evaporated concurrently with the interruption of relations. They have spoken with explainable martial spirit — but spoken least of all of peace.

Such a mood cannot be excused by any national passion; it is unworthy of all that which the world has to date understood by the name of culture. Should this mood achieve a certain universality among the educated, this would be a disaster. It would not only be a disaster for civilization, but — and we are firmly convinced of this — a disaster for the national survival of individual states — the very cause for which, ultimately, all this barbarity has been unleashed.

Through technology the world has become smaller; the states of the large peninsula of Europe appear today as close to each other as the cities of each small Mediterranean peninsula appeared in ancient times. In the needs and experiences of every individual, based on his awareness of manifold of relations, Europe — one could almost say the world — already outlines itself as an element of unity.

It would consequently be a duty of the educated and well-meaning Europeans to at least make the attempt to prevent Europe — on account of its deficient organization as a whole — from suffering the same tragic fate as ancient Greece once did. Should Europe too gradually exhaust itself and thus perish from fratricidal war? Read more of this post

아시아투데이 ATOO TV 중국 심층분석 (김해선 대표 이만열 소장)


아시아투데이 ATOO TV 중국 심층분석


김해선 대표

이만열 소장


중국 심층분석


“사드 후 ‘한한령’, 중국내 한국기업 ‘위기타파’ 어떻게?”

 2017년 01월  23일



“알리바바 등 미국 진출하는 중국IT기업들, 한국은 중국 내수시장 노려야”

2017년 02월. 10일