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ALLEN, J. Michael. "History, nation, people: Past and present in the writing of Sin Ch’aeho"
Article published on 3 June 2004
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Ph. D. University of Washington, 1999. Adviser: , James B. Palais

DAI-A 60/09, p. 3481, Mar 2000

"Sin Ch’aeho (1880 - 1936), an essayist, historian, and political activist hailed as an unflinching patriot and a historiographical pioneer. It analyzes… [the] bifurcation in his writing in the 1920s between historical studies and impassioned anarchist manifestoes seems to have been one way in which Sin attempted to resolve these contradictions. It was, however, a resolution manqué , as telling for the gaps it left as for those it filled. Sin explored a variety of methodological approaches throughout his life. As his exposure to new ideas changed his historical and political views, in his writing hero- worship was replaced by other modes of historical analysis, and a patriotic devotion to country in a time of crisis was replaced by other modes of political engagement, based on a more encompassing view of domestic and international events.

Sin Ch’aeho found much to criticize in Korea’s past, especially Confucianism and its hold on traditional Korean historical writing. He sought to rescue Korean civilization not from obscurity, but from theft. This was the focus of his writing and of much of his political activism. If he left a legacy for contemporary Korean historians it is the elevation of the subjective, non- subservient nation as the primary actor on the historical stage, even if that nation was more ideal than real. In carrying out this project, Sin rejected the universalism of Confucianism, embraced the particularism of Korean nationalism, and then re-universalized his thinking, this time in the dual (and contradictory) modes of social Darwinism and anarchism".


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