Editorial introduction: Korea as a problematic and Paik Nak-chung
‘Inter-Asia Cultural Studies has emergedas part of a movement for the ongoing construction and reconstruction of critical inter-Asia subjectivities.’ — Editorial statement.
The focus here is on seeking out alternative modes of knowledge production by using inter-comparisons within East Asia and the Third World to establish a mutual frame of reference. This special volume introducing Paik Nak-chung, Korea’s foremost critical intellect, is just such an effort. Paik has worked both to determine the relationship between the problems facing Koreans and global issues and to examine the possibilities for solidarity by reflecting upon the theoretical and practical struggles of Koreans from a global perspective. If one of the major tasks confronting Asia’s critical intellectuals is ‘to create other critical routes of globalization’ (Cho and Chen 2005), it could be argued that Paik Nak-chung has already been engaged in this type of activity since the 1960s.
Fredric Jameson once described the Korean people as ‘in a way both first, second, and Third World’ (Paik 2007b). As Paik is the individual who has explicated the characteristics of the divided Korean Peninsula in the world historical context more lucidly than anyone else, and someone who has devoted all of his energies to seeking a path to global human liberation from this, his thinking and practice could be said to want for nothing in becoming the ‘public goods’ of Asia and the Third World. The writings by Asian intellectuals printed in this volume, and in particular those using his ideas to examine cross-strait relations and the Okinawa issue, are a testament to this.
Our hope is that with the publication of this volume, the theoretical and practical searches carried out to date on the Korean Peninsula can function as a link in forming the subjective frame of reference that Inter-Asia Cultural Studies has called for with every issue.
BAIK, Youngseo白永瑞is a professor of Chinese modern history and the director of Institute of Korean Studies at Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea. His main works areStudents and Revolution in China in the 1920s’: from Identity Crisis to Social Transformation 중국현대대학문화연구 (1994); Return of East Asia : Questioning the Modernity of China 동아시아의귀환: 중국의근대성을묻는다 (2000); East Asia as Intellectual Thought: History and Practices from the Perspective of the Korean Peninsular 思想東亞: 韓半島視角的歷史與實踐 (2009). .He is also a managing editor of the Quarterly Changbi창작과비평, a leading quarterly literary magazine in Korea. He is currently interested in the East Asian networks being explored among critical scholars in the region, and engaged in new researches on the discourses on East Asia as well the modern historiography of East Asia.