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The Image of Russia and the Understanding of the 1905 Russian Revolution Presented in Kim Yunshik’s Diary, Umcheongsa

Hwang Jae-moon 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This essay examines the awareness and understanding of Russia and its 1905 Revolution by the Korean intellectuals of the time. As one significant case study, this essay pays attention to Kim Yunshik, focusing on his diary Umcheongsa (陰晴史). Kim was one of the prominent reformists who planned and executed the enlightenment policy. He was also an active newspaper reader who read and summarized newspapers in his diary through the long period of exile. In reading the front part of the diary, it is observed that Kim had taken a sort of prejudice against Russia. Russia was often expressed as a greedy and aggressive country, and its image implicit in the text was not at all positive. It is assumed that these negative images had been formed through his inherent knowledge, in which Russia was regarded as a sort of savage tribe. It is clear that these images were maintained during his life, and it was supposed to be one of the major reasons why he regarded Russia as a properly defeated country similar to the opinions exposed in Japanese newspapers. Of course it is obvious that the more important reason was due to a lack of information that could be obtained by the Koreans of the day. In matters concerning revolution, he seemed to regard it as a rebellion in natural consequence of defeat. So some fundamental elements of revolution, for example the workers’ struggle against monarchy and capitalism or the problem of the capitalist class, were not mentioned in his diary, though some articles in the newspapers that he read had indeed dealt with these issues. It is unclear whether Kim’s case can be seen to be universal, but it can be said that it represents one of the major tendencies of the time in Korea.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.