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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

"The Ancient Culture and Society of Korea" (Open Education Center)

Daisuke Hori
3rd year student at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Akihiro Fujita
4th year student at the School of Advanced Science and Engineering

Japan and Korea Peninsula Seen through Culture

With the professor on a study tour

Professor Sungsi Lee's "The Ancient Culture and Society of Korea" consisted of small-group seminars. At the beginning, the professor asked each of us what elements of culture and history on the Korean Peninsular we were interested in. He then held lectures about these subjects, showed us referential documents and we conducted presentations based on these materials. During that time, I spoke to the professor about a cultural difference I had noticed when I visited South Korea, specifically Korean chopsticks and eating utensils. The professor showed me an article from the magazine "Hominids" titled "Considering Handheld Eating Utensils - The Formation of the Japanese Style of Using Eating Utensils" (Toshiyuki Uchiyama). That article touched upon the differences in food etiquette between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. While in Japan, holding an eating vessel in one's hand came to be considered polite, in Korea it was treated as a breach of etiquette. For this reason, much longer chopsticks than those in Japan are used.

In this way, one can get to know the rich culture that underlies a country if one pays attention to the small details that might normally be missed just by taking a trip. This is something I keenly felt by attending Professor Lee's lectures. (Daisuke Hori)

Considering "Ourselves" from the Perspective of History

Do you know of the legend of Dangun? To explain very simply, it is an important myth that relates to the opening up of Korea and the formation of the Korean people. Before taking this class, I myself did not know about this legend. In fact, I was not overly interested in ancient Korean history itself. However, by taking this class I became more and more fascinated in the subject and appreciative of its research process. One reason for that was the presence of Professor Lee. I was able to learn in great detail from a leader in the field of Korean research, about the relationship between Korea and Japan, as well as the overview of ancient Korean history. Furthermore, my interest was stimulated by the research process of ancient Korean history during the period of Japanese rule and the post-war period, by looking at the foundation of a nation from the perspective of cultural anthropology, and by engaging in such diversified study.

By taking this class one cannot help but see a need to learn about the relationship between Japan and Korea from the present as a starting point. I felt that by looking back on the past from our point in history, we can make a difference to the chaotic relationship that exists today between South Korea and Japan and between North Korea and Japan. (Akihiro Fujita)

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)