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Teacher's Comment :

Shin Hi Jung - Foreign Perspectives on Joseon Religion and Women 1876-1905



In her history research project, Shin Hi Jung chose to examine and analyze how Westerners perceived Korea. The period of 1876 to 1905 was chosen, because Korea opened herself up to trade in 1876; in 1905 the railway line connecting Seoul and Busan was completed, other lines under construction. Prior to that date, western travellers traveled by mule/on foot, taking individual routes and seeing much of the country; after 1905 many travelogues are written from the railroad waggon window perspective, with stops only at major stations.
Hi Jung chose to focus on chapters on religion and women, as she believed these to be the most suitable areas to determine how accurate the authors' observations were and where they conflict with how Koreans tend to see themselves.
For her research, Hi Jung read 9 English language books, all primary sources, her secondary sources all being in Korean language. She used the Myongji/Luck Goldstar Collection of Foreign Books on Korea, held at Myongji University Library. It took her about 6 months to finish her paper. Currently she continues her study, comparing the chapters on the religion and women of Japan, written by the same authors who wrote about Korea.
Her source base was manageable for a high school student, the time and effort invested reasonable. By using primary sources, the paper goes beyond college level seminar presentations; it would qualify as an academic essay. The usual weakness of high school research papers, the (somewhat coincidential) restriction to a number of primary and secondary sources the student managed to find and access, does not apply here as the aforementioned Myongji/Lucky Goldstar Collection provides an excellent foundation for such research.

Note : Joseon is often spelled Choson, the dynasty which ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910; Joseon here stands for Korea.


November 4th 2006

Alexander Ganse



Shin Hi Jung Foreign Perspectives on Joseon Religion and Women, 1876-1905 -