Religion in Modern Asia Newsletter

CHI Myong-Kwan

Personal Data

Research Field: vzj
Office: Institute of Japanese Studies, The Hallym Academy of Science, Hallym Univ.
Office Address: Okchon-dong 1, Chunchon, Kangwon-do, 200-702, Korea
Country: Korea
Office Phone: 0361-58-1806
Office Fax: 0361-58-1803


(Jan 1, 1996)

Professor CHI Myong-kwan was born October 11, 1924 in what is now North Korea. He entered the Religious Studies section of Seoul University the same year as the founding of the Republic of Korea (1948), majoring in the Philosophy of Religion. But his academic career took an unexpected turn with the turbulent history of Korea, as he was drafted as an interpreting officer during the Korean War. Following the war he worked as an instructor and head teacher at Tong-dok Women's Higher School. At the same time, he also began writing journalistic articles at the time of the 4-19 students' movement in 1960, and in 1962, he completed the Ph.D. course at Seoul University.

After completing his graduate training, within the rising atmosphere of opposition to Korean-Japanese normalization, he served in a leadership role at the monthly journal Sasang-gye, which had a strong impact on Korean intellectuals and society in general. These activities were not divorced from CHI's academic career and ideals, but reflected his chosen role of intellectual in action.

During the following era of political turmoil, Professor CHI had no choice but to come to Japan, and from 1972 he studied in the Political Science course at Tokyo University. While his original plans were to stay only one year, political conditions in Korea precluded his return, and he accepted a position as visiting professor at Tokyo Women's University from 1974, while also teaching courses in Korean history and culture at Tokyo University, International Christian University, Rikkyo University, and working quietly for the sake of those left behind in Korea and for Korean democracy.

From 1988, CHI accepted the post of director of the Area Culture Studies course at Tokyo Women's University, Department of Modern Culture, teaching courses in Korean culture. He also attracted many students to his courses in "Comparative Korean-Japanese Culture" and "Asian Modernization," which approached Japan and Korea from the larger perspective of Asia, with the addition of interpretations taken from intellectual history.

In 1993, CHI retired from Tokyo Women's University, and in April of the same year, he returned to his native Korea for the first time in twenty years. Beginning in 1994, he was installed as directory of the Institute of Japanese Studies, The Hallym Academy of Sciences, Hallym University, using his accumulated experience from life in Japan to engage in numerous projects aiming at the "establishment of a balanced and proper relationship between Korea and Japan."

CHI's main project for 1995 is the publication of a "Series in Japanology," composed of works written by Japanese on various works of Japanese culture and society, annotated and translated into Korean for Koreans interested in Japan. In addition, a Korea-Japan symposium was sponsored in celebration of the anniversary of the establishment of the Institute of Japanese Studies at Hallym University. The first project was aimed at correcting the sensationalism characterizing reportage on Japan, while the second project aimed at enhancing the academic status of "Japanese Studies" in Korea, a field which could scarcely be discussed previously in many mainline academic circles.

CHI's current research projects involve, on the one hand, the organization of a joint Korean-Japanese team to undertake "Research on Folk Identity within Modern Korean Intellectuals," while on the other hand, he is using the opportunity of the thirtieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Japan-Korea treaty normalizing bilateral relations to undertake a reassessment of and factual research on the treaty.

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Last updated: 2001/11/28 14:37:32

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