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Space and Location in the Circulation of Knowledge (1400–1800)

Korea and Beyond


Marion Eggert, Felix Siegmund and Dennis Würthner

In response to the recent surge of interest in studying epistemic transfers and changes, this volume assembles an interdisciplinary range of articles that look at the production, consumption and dissemination of knowledge in East Asia, centering on Korea, under the paradigm of knowledge circulation. Applying this heuristic tool offers new perspectives on pre-modern Korea and beyond. It allows for flexibility of scale and thus facilitates the identification of shared processes of appropriation, digestion and re-distribution of ideas, regardless of whether the exchanges take place between states and nations, between social groups, or even between individuals. The articles in this volume stress the spatial and social aspects of the process of knowledge circulation in particular: the role of location and of social networks in the production, evaluation and dissemination of new knowledge.
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The Prohibited Sect of Yaso: Catholicism in Diplomatic and Cultural Encounters between Edo Japan and Chosŏn Korea (17th to 19th Century) – Pierre-Emmanuel Roux


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The Prohibited Sect of Yaso: Catholicism in Diplomatic and Cultural Encounters between Edo Japan and Chosŏn Korea (17th to 19th Century)*

Pierre-Emmanuel Roux

Historians have for many years struggled to determine if the conversion to Catholicism of a few thousand Korean prisoners during the invasion led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 between 1592 and 1598 – the so-called Imjin war or Imjin waeran 壬辰倭亂 – shall belong to the history of the Korean Church or the Japanese Church. The controversy erupted when the Spanish Jesuit Juan Garcia Ruiz de Medina (1927–2000) published a provocative book on the origins of the Korean Catholic Church. First written in Spanish in 1986 under the title Orígenes de la Iglesia Católica Coreana desde 1566 hasta 1784, it has been translated in Japanese (1988), Korean (1989), and finally English (1991).1 In this book the author takes pains to explain that the baptism of Peter Yi Sŭnghun 李承薰 (1756–1801) in Beijing in 1784 cannot be considered the correct birth date of the Korean Catholic Church, because Jesuit missionaries and Japanese Christians entered the Chosŏn kingdom during the Imjin war and even proselytized among Korean prisoners. With no Korean historical sources, Medina argues that these prisoners might have returned home in the following decades and retained their faith during two hundred years. So it comes as no surprise that Medina’s book caused a stir among modern Korean historians of the Catholic Church who strongly criticized the author for...

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