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Sunday, May 08, 2005

bringing "ethnicity" to Korea

Hankyoreh tells of a newly published book Chongjokkwa minjok ("Ethnicity and nation", 種族 and 民族) (ed. Kim Kwang-ok) by eleven Korean anthropologists. The collection of articles is an endeavour to introduce the concept of "ethnicity" and "ethnic group" to Korea and suggest the use of the concept to approach the divisions within Korea itself.

Could the anthropologists be able to introduce something other than the worn-out minjok (民族) to talk about people who live in Korea and are supposed to live there if and when the peninsula is unified? By education, profession, and international experience (of many of them) anthropologists themselves are familiar with concepts like "ethnic group" and "ethnic group", but will their voice carry far enough, and is the concept as a word of Korean language capable of gaining familiarity? The editor of the book tells in the article that the publisher didn't accept just chongjok as the title and insisted that minjok be added. Likewise, the Hankyoreh article sees it appropriate to define chongjok by having "ethnic group" in English in parentheses after the term. (Nowadays concepts like that are not defined by the Chinese characters they're based on but by the English term it's meant to correspond to.)

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