Columbia University Press has recently published the final book by JaHyun Kim Haboush (1940-2011), who was a WEAI faculty member and the King Sejong Professor of Korean Studies at Columbia University.
Titled The Great East Asian War and the Birth of the Korean Nation, Haboush’s book explores the Imjin War (1592–1598), which was a grueling conflict that wreaked havoc on the towns and villages of the Korean Peninsula. The involvement of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean forces, not to mention the regional scope of the war, was the largest the world had seen, and the memory dominated East Asian memory until World War II. Despite massive regional realignments, Korea’s Chosôn Dynasty endured, but within its polity a new, national discourse began to emerge. By documenting this phenomenon, Haboush offers a compelling counternarrative to Western historiography, which ties Korea’s idea of nation to the imported ideologies of modern colonialism. She instead elevates the formative role of the conflicts that defined the second half of the Chosôn Dynasty, which had transfigured the geopolitics of East Asia and introduced a national narrative key to Korea’s survival. Re-creating the cultural and political passions that bound Chosôn society together during this period, Haboush reclaims the root story of solidarity that helped Korea thrive well into the modern era.
Read more about the book here.
The book was edited by Haboush’s husband, William J. Haboush, and her former graduate student, Jisoo M. Kim.
“This singular book can be savored on many levels. The lover of fiction will find high dramas of alien invasions and sacked homes, replete with blood and valor worthy of Hollywood. The scholar—of East Asia or elsewhere—will be challenged to rethink the relationship between the nation, language, and modernity. It saddens me that there will be no more books by the incomparable JaHyun Kim Haboush after this one.”
— Dorothy Ko, Barnard College