Recently, I bought “Korean History in Maps” by Michael Shin. #Korean TV is full of sageuks (dramas in historical settings.) Its fun to try and figure out what is being accurately represented and what is not. Either way, it leads to me learning about Korean history. I soon learned that I needed maps and timelines.
In the U.S., we look at historic maps and are only shown the gradual expansion of states on this land mass. Its fairly linear. We are completely disconnected from the people who have lived here since before the European invasion. For us, history is only about when the boundary lines shifted westward. Meanwhile, North and South Korea combined are about equal in land mass to the state of Idaho, but it takes 150 pages filled with maps to give you an basic introduction to their history.
Its fascinating. There is so much for me to learn. I knew almost nothing about pre-WWII Korea before watching Korean dramas. I’m glad I didn’t pick Chinese TV!
No matter how different the particulars of a culture or civilization, one can notice some universal commonalities, along the way. Perhaps its clearer to say, one can wonder about some commonalities and develop questions about the human species.
Here is one of those casual observations, from today:
Then I read this:
“The development of agricultural techniques also provided an impetus for the centralization of political power, as the state monopolized the manufacture of iron tools, mobilized labor for large-scale public works, and expanded the area of land under cultivation.” – “Korean History in Maps” pg 17
In history, the state in the story did exist, but didn’t last long after enthroning a king. They simply became a more “threatening” target to the other states. It also seems that almost all technological development may begin with a benign or beneficial intent and is then applied to political power wielding.
Thoughts all prompted by watching a cheezy Korean sageuk with some entertaining hairdos and hilarious facial expressions which reminded me of silent movies. Never underestimate the potential sparks that can be ignited by seemingly vapid entertainment.