Korea’s America: A Power Intertwined with Korean Sovereignty, 1882-1945


Thursday, February 20, 2020, 4:30pm to 6:30pm


Thomas Chan-Soo Kang Room (S050), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, MA 02138

SBS Seminar

Hanmee Na Kim
Assistant Professor of History, Wheaton College

Hanmee Na Kim is an Assistant Professor of History at Wheaton College. Her research interests include Americanism in Korea, Korea-U.S. diplomatic/cultural/intellectual interactions (1866-1945), and Korean students in the U.S. (1884-1960). Her work is published in Positions: Asia Critique, and she is currently working on a book manuscript on the development of Americanism in Korea. She received her Ph.D. in Modern Korean History from UCLA.

Chaired by Carter Eckert, Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History, Harvard University

From 1882 to 1943, the United States officially and consistently maintained its policy of non-interference in Korea and emphasized that it remained disinterested. And yet, a significant group of Korean elites during this period continually articulated, believed in, and strategically used the idea that America was a supporter of Korean sovereignty. This talk explores how and why this tendency materialized by examining the nature of early Korea-U.S. relations (1882-1905) as well as the activities and discourse of Korean students in the U.S. during the colonial period. Through this exploration, the talk asserts that there developed a Korean version of America during this period—an “America” that was intricately linked with Korean dynamics, interests, and issues and less concerned with the actual political characteristics of the U.S. This discussion offers a way to historically trace, in part, the development of Americanism in Korea.

Generously supported by the Korea Institute’s SBS Foundation Research Fund