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A Korean War Captive in Japan, 1597--1600

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Kang Hang was a Korean scholar-official taken prisoner in 1597 by an invading Japanese army. While in captivity, Kang recorded his thoughts on human civilization, war, and the enemy's culture and society, acting in effect as a spy for his king. Arranged and printed in the seventeenth century, Kang's writings offered new perspective on a society few Koreans had encountered. In this complete, annotated translation, Kang ruminates on human behavior and the nature of loyalty during a time of war.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Encounters with the Adversities of War 2. An Exhortation to Koreans Still Held Prisoner in Japan 3. A Report to the Royal Secretariat on Japanese Social Practices 4. A Memorial Sent from Captivity Appendix 1. Japanese Daimyo in the Invasion of Chos?n and Other Information Appendix 2. Suggestions for Military Reform and War Strategies Appendix 3. Japanese Generals Who Participated in the Imjin and Ch?ngyu Invasions 5. Postscript Appendix 1. The Eight Circuits and Sixty-six Provinces of Japan Appendix 2. Japanese Government Offices Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

JaHyun Kim Haboush (1941-2011) was King Sejong Professor of Korean Studies at Columbia University. Her publications included Epistolary Korea: Letters in the Communicative Space of the Choson, 1392-1910 and The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong. Kenneth R. Robinson is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University, in Tokyo.


This important text offers a fascinating glimpse into early modern Japan and Japanese-Korean relations from the perspective of a Korean official captured by Japanese invaders in 1597, contributing significantly to the growing body of scholarship on the largest military conflict (in terms of numbers) in the world in the sixteenth century. The translation is smooth and erudite and the notes are full of useful historical and cultural information, making it invaluable for students and academics. -- Kenneth M. Swope, University of Southern Mississippi The Kanyangnok takes us off the battlefield, through the palpable terror known to prisoners of war, and all the way to Japan and back. We meet Chinese ambassadors, other Korean captives, and Japanese intellectuals. We listen in on the machinations of the Japanese warlords-their subterfuges and constant jockeying for power-and we feel the despair of attempted suicide, the frustration of a betrayed escape attempt, and the exhilaration of final liberation. -- J. B. Lewis, University of Oxford A benchmark for scholarly translations... The translation itself is eminently readable and at times extremely moving, while the annotations would satisfy even the most ardent student of East Asian history. I sincerely hope that this work will be recognized as a model for the scholarly translation of premodern Korean texts and that the meticulous approach of Kim Haboush and Robinson will be emulated by everyone engaged in this type of work. -- Michael C. E. Finch, Keimyung University ACTA KOREANA [A] very welcome addition to the growing literature on Korean-Japanese relations in general and the Imjin War in particular. -- Martina Deuchler, University of London Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies [A] valuable contribution to the Anglophone history of early modern northeast Asia... The work as a whole is a fascinating and illustrative exploration of the fear, loss, and dislocations of war, the complexities of the navigations of cultural difference, and the negotiations of power and identity amid overlapping and potentially conflicting discourses of the local and the universal. -- Joshua Van Lieu, LaGrange College The Journal of Northeast Asian History Artfully translated and informatively annotated... A Korean War Captive in Japan, 1597-1600 should be a requirement for courses on Korean history and premodern East Asia. It provides an important primary source for students and scholars working in East Asian studies. -- George Kallander The Journal of Asian Studies An excellent translation of an important work. Monumenta Nipponica

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