Professor Jung Min’s Study of the awareness of a “common realm” in pre-modern East Asia

I had the opportunity to meet with Professor Jung Min (정민 교수) of Hanyang University on September 28, 2011. I have the ultimate respect for Professor Jung, one of the most careful and insightful scholars of the classical Chinese tradition in Korea. He has also worked on Park Jiwon’s writings at length and we have shared notes before. He gave me a pile of intriguing articles and books, but one article in particular seized my attention. The title is

“Awareness of a “Common Realm” among 18th and 19th Century Korean Intellectuals”

[“18-19世紀 朝鮮 知識人의 幷世意識” (韓國文化 2011.06)]

In the journal Hanguk munhwa. Dr. Jung limns the process in Korea, and throughout China and Japan, by which  intellectuals from the late eighteenth century came to see themselves as inhabiting a “common realm,” a shared cultural space. Professor Jung describes anthologies of poetry and essays from Korea that include the writings of Koreans, Chinese and Japanese. He also gives examples of literary and other intellectual exchanges between writers in the three countries in that period.

What is so significant about this article is that it presents precedents for a common cultural sphere in East Asia from the 18th century. Such precedents are critical as we try to imagine a shared cultural and economic sphere in Northeast Asia today. If we can show that such a sphere existed previously, it will be far easier to obtain recognition and acceptance.

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