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
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
November 4th 2006