For many the Koryǒ kingdom (918-1392) remains a somewhat mystical era in Korea’s distant past which elicits little interest other than an occasional reference to celadon vases or the famed Koreana tripitaka. This discussion will focus on Koryǒ and its significance for Korea today. Far from being a distant outpost of the 12th century world, Koryǒ was very much a part of mainstream global history. It was a society that early on embraced merit as an avenue for advancement, it led the world in printing technology, it demanded that its historians be free from outside influences, it grappled with issues of nationalism and internationalism, it pursued a foreign policy based on hard realism, it openly borrowed from other cultures, taking only what it needed. It developed a clear identity of being Korean, it produced a number of artistic masterpieces of world renown, and all this was made even richer by its embracement of a pluralist posture that allowed competing ideologies and points of view to exist side by side. In this respect Koryǒ was very modern. By not knowing, studying, or appreciating Koryǒ, one is not only missing one of the great stories of Korea’s past, but one is ill prepared to understand Korea today.For more information see here. The lecture will be held at 7:30 pm tonight (Tuesday) in the Residents' Lounge on the 2nd floor of the Somerset Palace in Seoul, which is behind Jogyesa Temple, and is 7,000 won for non-members and free for members.
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