This episode of the Korea Now podcast features an interview that Jed Lea-Henry conducted with Ross King. They speak about the landscape of pre-modern Korean literature, the complex ecology of spoken and written language that existed, the broader East Asian cultural formation of which Korea was a part, the problems with descriptors such as ‘diglossia’ and ‘Chinese’ that are often used in Korean literary research today, why the phrase ‘Sinographic Cosmopolis’ is much more appropriate in terms of accuracy and reach, the language based nationalism of modern Korea and how this changes how Korean literary tradition is viewed, and importantly the future of Korean literature as well as that of Korean Studies departments in universities today.
Ross King is a Professor of Korean language and literature at the University of British Columbia. He completed his B.A. in Linguistics at Yale and his doctorate in Linguistics (Korean) at Harvard. Ross taught Korean language and linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, from 1990 to 1994, before accepting his current position. Ross's research interests range from Korean historical grammar, dialectology and pedagogy to the language, culture and history of the ethnic Korean minority in the former Soviet Union. He was also the founding Dean of the Korean Language Village at Concordia Language Villages, from 1999-2013, a Korean language and culture summer immersion program for young people ages 7 to 18 that is based in northern Minnesota.