Universiteit Leiden

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Remco Breuker

Professor of Korean Studies

Prof.dr. R.E. Breuker
+31 71 527 2921

Remco Breuker is a historian of Korea and Northeast Asia, who works on medieval Korean and Northeast Asian history and on contemporary North Korean affairs. He published on the medieval state of Koryo, Korean historiography, Northeast Asia and North Korea, as well as literary translations from Korean into Dutch. Interested in margins, marginality, hybridity and pluralism, since 2014 he has been working on making the voices of elite exiles from North Korea heard in academic debates. He currently works on an ERC-sponsored project on perceptions of Manchurian histories and a LeidenAsiaCentre-sponsored project on North Korean forced labour in the EU.

More information about Remco Breuker


Fields of interest

  • Korean medieval history (Koryŏ)
  • Northeast-Asian medieval history (Liao, Jin)
  • Korean cinema
  • Korean and Japanese colonial period history
  • Modernity
  • World history
  • Central Asian history
  • Translation of modern Korean literature


1990-1997 MA Japanese Studies ( Leiden University)
1993-1997 MA Korean Studies (Leiden University)
1997-2001 MA Korean History coursework (Seoul National University)
2001-2006 PhD Korean History (Leiden University)

2001-2006 Leiden University PhD Scholar
2007-2008 Australian National University Post-doctoral Fellow
(Division of Pacific and Asian History)
2008-2011 NWO funded VENI researcher (Leiden University)
2011 Full Professor Korean Studies

Key publications

2012 “Mountains and water: Landscapes and limits in medieval Korea,” in Architecturalized Asia: Mapping the continent through architecture and geography, edited by Hazel Hahn and Vimalin Rujivacharakul.

2012 “‘And now, Your Highness, we'll discuss the location of your hidden rebel base’: Guerrilla's, rebels and Mongols in medieval Korea.” Journal of Asian History.

2011 With James B. Lewis (Oxford) and Grace Koh (SOAS). “Korean historiography,” in Oxford History of Historical Writing, vol. 2, edited by Daniel Woolf, Sarah Foot and Chase F. Robinson. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2010 Establishing a pluralist society in medieval Korea (918-1170): History, ideology and identity in the Koryŏ dynasty. Leiden/Boston: Brill Academic Publishers. 500 pp.

2009 “Korea’s forgotten war: Appropriating and subverting the Vietnam War in Korean popular imaginings,” Korean Histories 1.1.

2009 Forging the truth: Creative deception and national identity in medieval Korea. Separate issue of East Asian History 35. Canberra: Division of Pacific and Asian Studies.

2007 “Landscape out of time: ‘De-chronicling’ the landscape in medieval Korea,” Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies 7.2: pp. 69-107.

2007 “Colonial modernities in the 14th century: Empire as the harbinger of modernity,” in Korea in the middle. Korean Studies and Area Studies: Essays in honour of Boudewijn Walraven, pp. 45-66, edited by Remco E. Breuker. CNWS Publications 153. Leiden: CNWS Publications.

2006 “The one in three, the three in one: The Koryŏ Three Han as a pre-modern nation,” Journal of Inner and East Asian History 2.2: 143-168.

2005 “Contested objectivities: Ikeuchi Hiroshi, Kim Sanggi and the tradition of Oriental History (Tōyōshigaku) in Japan and Korea,” East Asian History 29: pp. 1-38.

2003 “Koryŏ as an independent realm: The emperor’s clothes?” Korean Studies 27: pp. 48-84.

Translations of modern Korean literature
2013 (with Imke van Gardingen. Shim Ch'ŏng [Shim Chong]. To be published by Atlas, Amsterdam. Translation into Dutch of the Korean novel Shim Ch'ŏng by Hwang Sok-yong (Hwang Sŏg'yŏng). Approximately 700 pp.

2010 (with Imke van Gardingen). Het rijk der lichten [The Empire of Lights]. Published by Ambo-Anthos, Amsterdam. Translation into Dutch of the Korean novel Pit-ŭi cheguk by Kim Youg-ha (Kim Yŏngha). 350 pp.

2009 (with Imke van Gardingen). Tong [Tongue]. Published by Meulenhoff, Amsterdam. Translation into Dutch of the Korean novel Hyŏ by Cho Kyŏngnan. 239 pp.

2009 (with Imke van Gardingen). De schaduw van de wapens [The Shadow of Arms]. Published by De Arbeiderspers (Oorlogsdomein), Amsterdam. Translation into Dutch of the Korean novel Mugi-ŭi kŭnŭl written by Hwang Sŏgyŏng.This novel deals with the author’s experiences as a South Korean soldier in the Vietnam War. 768 pp.

2008 (with Imke van Gardingen). Vogel [Bird]. Published by De Geus, Breda. Translation into Dutch of the Korean novel Sae written by O Chŏnghŭi.This novel deals with the author’s experiences as a young child. 190pp.

2006 (with Imke van Gardingen). Een huis in Seoel [Mother’s Stake/A House in Seoul]. Published by De Geus, Breda. Translation into Dutch of the Korean novel Ŏmma-ŭi malttuk written by Pak Wansŏ. This novel deals with the author's relationship with her mother. 188 pp.

2005 (with Imke van Gardingen). Mijnheer Han[Mister Han]. Published by De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam. Translation into Dutch of the Korean novel Han-sshi yŏndaegiwritten by Hwang Sŏgyŏng. This novel was celebrated author Hwang Sŏgyŏng’s literary debut. 130 pp.

Academic translations
Scheduled for 2013/2014: Annotated translation into English with introduction of the Tongguk Yi Sangguk chip [ The collected works of Yi Kyubo], a literary miscellany from the Koryŏ dynasty's most reputed literary figure, Yi Kyubo. This work is of both historical and literary importance. The annotated translation will be published as an instalment in a longer series of Korean classical historical works

2012: Annotated translation into English of the Samguk yusa [ Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms], a Buddhist history of the Korean peninsula from the late 13th century. The translation is based on the complete but not annotated translation made by the late Professor Frits Vos (Leiden University). This is a joint undertaking with Professor Boudewijn Walraven (Leiden), and Dr Grace Koh (SOAS) and sponsored by the Academy of Korean Studies. The annotated translation will be published as an installment in a longer series of Korean classical works

PhD supervision

  • Promotor (with Ivo Smits; supervisor Kiri Paramore) of Jurre KnoestCenter or Periphery? The power of Networks and the Importance of the Frontier in Foreign Relations between Tokugawa Japan and Chosŏn Korea, degree expected in 2016
  • Choon BeekmanFemale Managers and Gender Discrimination in Korea and Japan, degree expected in 2019
  • Geoffrey CainEconomic and Political Consequences of the Republic of Korea’s nvolvement in the Vietnam War, degree expected in 2019
  • Minuk Nam
  • Aihua Li

Grants and awards

2010 Translation grant from the Academy of Korean Studies to translate, annotate and introduce The Collected Works of Yi Kyubo into English.

2010 Laureate of the KNAW Heineken Young Scientist Award 2010 awarded biannually by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen).

2010 Northeast Asian History Foundation grant to organize a workshop and publish the resulting edited volume (€ 10,000).

2009 Northeast Asian History Foundation grant to organize a workshop and publish the resulting edited volume (10,000).

2008 Korean Studies Strategic Initiative Grant from the Academy of Korean Studies together with Professor Boudewijn Walraven and Dr Koen De Ceuster–(€600,000 ­­­­–€120,000 per year for a five-year period).

2008 Hub-Library for Korea Film Grant from the Korean Film Council (KOFIC). Support initially consisted of 300 DVDs and 600 books on Korean film. The collection is updated each year.

2008 (with Professors Boudewijn C.A. Walraven and Dr Grace Koh) Three year translation grant from the Academy of Korean Studies to produce an annotated translation of the Samguk yusa ( Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms).

2008 VENI 3-year research grant from the NWO ( Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research). This grant is part of the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme which aims to promote innovation in the academic research field. Korea Foundation grant to publish the edited volume Koreain the middle.

2006 (with Imke van Gardingen) Korean Literature Translation Institute ( Han’guk munhak pŏnyŏk wŏn) grant for the translation of Mugi-ŭi kŭnŭl written by Hwang Sok-yong.

Administration and service to the profession

2011-present External member of the Academic Council of the Interdisciplinary Centre for East Asian Studies at Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main

2010-present Joint editor together with Dr Benjamin Penny of the international peer-reviewed journal East Asian History, published by the ANU with Leiden University Institute for Area Studies.

2011-present Senior Fellow at Leiden University College, responsible for the Humanities in the curriculum of LUC

2011-present Member steering group representing scholars of premodern Asia in Asian Modernities and Traditions, one of the eleven separately funded research profiles of Leiden University

2010-present Member steering group MA Asian Studies

2009-2010 External assessor Australian National University Research Exercise

2009-present Member steering group to set up new BA East Asian Studies

2009-present Member of the Advisory Board of the Leiden Univerisity Institute for Area Studies (LIAS)

2009-present Convenor (with Dr Harold Hayes) of the LIAS Interdisciplinary seminar for PhD scholars and post-docs

2008-present Deputy director (and co-applicant) of the project History as social practice: Unconventional historiographiesof Korea. This five-year project is sponsored by the Academy of Korean Studies in Korea. The work also includes the position of managing editor of the peer-reviewed e-journal Korean Histories

Professor of Korean Studies

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • SAS Korea


  • Ministerie OCW lidmaatschap Adviescommissie Starters- en Stimuleringsbeurzen
  • Diverse uitgevers schrijven van boeken
  • Diverse organisaties (zoals Clingendael) Lezingen en workshops over beide Korea's
  • Diverse media (krant, tv, radio, internet) Schrijven van opiniestukken, artikelen, geven van interviews en achtergrondinformatie
  • Diverse uitgevers Vertalen Koreaanse literatuur naar het Nederlands
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