Spring Break and Korean Indie Rock Songs


Is that too strong a word? Maybe…maybe not.

This past week I experienced moments of what I am terming “panic” as well as moments of, “Okay, I’m making progress.” I listened, over and over, to my favorite Korean Indie rock song which promises that “It’s all right”. I also drank copious amounts of coffee thinking I would just really get ahead by staying up, but, in the end, it just kept me up watching movies a couple of nights, because, hey, it was spring break so I might as well indulge in something besides work.

The “panic” came when I realized that the microfilm I had wasn’t helpful…not much anyway. The “panic” eased after a truly late night in front of the computer where, astonishingly, I found a good number of sources online. A trip to Philadelphia to help with my paper on missionary homes for Topics would be nice, but I’m not sure that will happen. The “Okay I’m making progress” came after reading two more books for my project including the preeminent book in the field. And today, Sunday, my friend gave me an article at church that gives a Korean point of view on the houses built by missionaries. While I haven’t translated it yet, I am very glad to have a source with a Korean perspective.

The first book I read was Hyaeweol Choi’s book Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea: New Women Old Ways. In this monograph, Ms. Choi talks about American missionary women’s role in the formation of “modern” women in Korea. While much has been made of the contributions of American women, Choi argues that enlightenment thinkers inside Korea began writing about modernization of Korean women before American women arrived. She also points to the lack of authority American women had even in their “women’s work for women” experiencing their own gender inferiority in a patriarchal world. Choi also argues “the perception of “modern womanhood” among missionary women was cultivated through their encounters with Korean women, who were presumed to be pre-modern, backward, and oppressed.[1] In essence, American women exhibited a racial superiority and gender inferiority.

The Second book I read was Francesca Bray’s Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China. Although written about women in China, this book is very insightful as to the spatial dynamics in a Confucian home. According to Bray, Confucian houses illuminated “the complex structuring of domestic space that embodied in microcosm the hierarchies of gender, generation and rank inherent to the Chinese social order, tying all its occupants into the macrocosm of the polity.”[2]

In essence, the house, instead of being a private space away from society and the state, was a small model of the important Confucian relationships and philosophy that dictated state as well as cultural and societal practices. Although I could not find a similar book on houses in Korea, Confucian principles drove Korean culture and I believe this book will be very helpful in my study of Korean homes.

I also read an article on space and Christian college campuses in China entitled “American Geometries and the Architecture of Christian Campuses in China” by Jeffrey W. Cody. This article very much looked at architectural ideas, however, it was very illuminating on the syncretic approach many Christian organization took when building campuses in China. It appeared in an edited edition entitled China’s Christian Colleges: Cross-Cultural Connections, 1900-1950 edited by Daniel H. Bays and Ellen Widmer.

I also perused or read a number of primary sources. I am adding the bibliography for those below:

Kʻoria Misyŏn Pʻildŭ. Korea Mission Field. 韓國基督教史硏究會, 1919. (The publisher here is showing up as a Chinese publisher,(which zotero picked up) which Chinese was often used at this time in Korea. I will have to find the vernacular Korean and then translate, which I will do.)

Underwood, Lillias H. (Lillias Horton). Underwood of Korea; Being an Intimate Record of the Life and Work of the Rev. H.G. Underwood, D.D., LL. D., for Thiry One Years a Missionary of the Presbyterian Board in Korea. New York, London [etc.] Fleming H. Revell Co, 1918. http://archive.org/details/underwoodofkorea00unde.

Underwood, Lillias H. (Lillias Horton). With Tommy Tompkins in Korea. New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co, 1905. http://archive.org/details/withtommytompkin00unde.

Underwood, Lillias H. (Lillias Horton). Fifteen Years among the Top-Knots; Or, Life in Korea. Boston, New York [etc.] : American tract society, 1904. http://archive.org/details/fifteenyearsamon00undeiala.

Nisbet, Anabel Major. Day in and Day out in Korea [microform]: Being Some Account of the Mission Work That Has Been Carried on in Korea since 1892 by the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Richmond : Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1919. http://archive.org/details/pts_dayindayoutinkor_3720-0666.

  1. Ohlinger, H. G. Appenzeller. The Korean Repository. The Trilingual Press, 1896. http://archive.org/details/koreanrepositor00unkngoog.

Baird, Annie Laurie Adams. Inside Views of Mission Life. Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1913. http://archive.org/details/insideviewsofmis00bair.

Annie Laurie Adams ) Baird. Daybreak in Korea: A Tale of Transformation in the Far East. Revell, 1909. http://archive.org/details/daybreakinkorea00bairgoog.


[1] Hyæweol Choi, Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea: New Women, Old Ways: Seoul-California Series in Korean Studies, Volume 1 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 13.

[2] Francesca Bray, Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 4.


Filed under Research Methods

5 Responses to Spring Break and Korean Indie Rock Songs

  1. KJ

    I don’t see panic….I see major development of a focus to the research. Re the spatial methodology, in your project space intersects with gender and you seem to be using both methodologies to explore the impact of female missionaries on Korean culture/gender dynamics. So, my question is have you thought about what that intersection looks like? Is it gender defining space or space defining gender? Or maybe the intersection is where both occur? Just free associating here!

  2. faithskiles

    I guess right now, because of strong Confucian ideas of space for women, I am thinking in terms of space defining gender for Korean women. But, on the American side, I believe it is gender defining space, especially in light of the few sources I have read where women missionaries seem to define the space of their homes very particularly. So, I think the third idea of an intersection where both occur is probably most applicable!

    • kj

      That space and gender connected differently for each group of women seems like such an interesting and important way to think of the intersection. Am looking forward to seeing these ideas develop.

  3. Kate Good

    I was here when you spazzed about the box of microfilm, and I totally didn’t blame you. It’s a (crappy) shock when that many things just seem “useless.” I have a truly love-hate relationship with that stuff, and I’ve totally had that problem before. Can I pull “[microfilm’s] like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get”?

    However — plus side: you learned precisely what types of sources you were looking for through the “failure” in that box. You’ve made a ton of progress, don’t sell yourself short (and try not to panic!!). Look at everything you analyzed this week and the ways you’ve deeply thought about your project. That’s fantastic and clearly developing your ideas more as you go, which is (I believe) EXACTLY what we’re all supposed to be doing!!

  4. Claire

    Hi Faith,

    The type of analysis in the Choi book seems like what you need to look at the bigger picture of missionary activity in Korea, not just through the eyes of American missionaries. I would like to see more sources like this in your bibliography!


Leave a Reply