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Jeon Yeonhwa (Victoria Ten)
Phone: +31 6 17371343
Fields of interest
- Korean ki suryŏn (氣修練 training of body and mind related to ki – “life energy)
- Korean mountain culture
- Korean anthropology
- Technologies of self and Foucauldian history of subjectivity
- Neo-Confucianism of Song China
- Hwadam Sŏ Kyŏng Tŏk of Chosŏn Korea
- Gender studie
Book project: New Goddesses on Mt. Paektu: Gender, Myth and Transformation in Korean Landscapes. Co-authored with Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters
Mountain worship has always been one of the central features of Korean cultural landscape. While specific traditions of mountain culture have been utilized by North Korea’s leadership for the purpose of promotion of the state ideology, in South Korea mountain culture has acquired different forms. We argue that contemporary South Korean ki suryŏn (氣 修練) practices for perfection of mind and body constitute such manifestation of mountain-related culture.The ancient tradition of mountain gods (sansin山神) is a source from which the legendary figures of New Goddesses on Mt. Paektu emerge. We study origination and development of Paektu-related myths of South and North Korea, focusing on two divinities. The first goddess is Ch’ŏnsŏnnyŏ (天仙女 the Woman of Heaven) from the contemporary legend of GiCheon (氣天 Kichŏn), one of the ki suryŏn training methods. Our second goddess is Kim Chŏng-suk, the first wife of Kim Il-sŏng, founder of North Korea. In order to study simultaneous processes of origination and development of Mt. Paektu-related myths of South and North Korea, we consider sources from different fields of knowledge, such as folklore, art, philosophy and religion, politics, literary criticism, political science and environmental science. We apply an interdisciplinary approach to two seemingly incompatible processes of mythmaking of contemporary South and North Korea. The two countries, divided geographically, politically, economically, have for many centuries been one nation and one people, one language and one culture. This commonality has not disappeared into the depth of history, but comes to the cultural surface even in the most difficult of contemporary times.
산 숭배는 고대로부터 오늘날에 이르기까지 한국 문화의 주요 특징 중 하나였습니다. 북한 지도부는 국가 이데올로기를 진흥하기 위한 목적으로 산 숭배 문화라는 전통을 활용해 온 반면, 남한에서는 다른 형태를 취해 왔습니다. 우리는 심신의 완성을 위한 남한의 기수련(氣修練)이 산 숭배와 관련된 전통 문화의 현대적 발현이 이뤄진 것으로 보고 있습니다. 고대 전통인 산신(sansin 山神)들은 New Goddesses on Mt. Paektu에 등장하는 전설적인 인물들의 주요 출처입니다. 우리는 두 여신을 중점으로 남북한의 백두산 관련 신화의 기원과 발전을 연구합니다. 첫 번째 여신은 기수련 방법 중 하나인 기천 (氣天)의 전설에서 나오는 여신입니다. 두 번째 여신은 북한의 지도자 김일성의 첫 번째 부인인 김정숙입니다. 그동안 남한과 북한의 현대적 신화만들기 과정을 양립적으로 연구한 시도가 전혀 없었기 때문에 우리의 연구는 혁신적이라고 할 수 있습니다. 지리적으로, 정치적으로, 경제적으로 분리 된 두 나라는 수세기에 걸쳐 한 국가와 한 민족, 한 언어와 한 문화를 가지고 있습니다. 이 공통점은 역사의 뒤안길로 사라지지 않았으며 현 시대의 가장 어려운시기에서도 문화적 표면으로 나옵니다. New Goddesses on Mt. Paektu의 신화들은 오늘날 한반도 전역에 걸친 한국인들로부터 숭앙되고 있는 백두산과 관련된 공통된 뿌리와 과거의 공통된 유산에서 자랍니다. 백두산 자체는 지속적으로 창조되고 재창조되고 있는 살아있는 전통이며, 남과 북이라는 외면적으로는 매우 다른 사회에서 독특한 문화적 현상으로 전개되고 있습니다.
PhD research (defended on 06.7.2017): “Body and Ki in Gicheon (氣天): Practices of Self-Cultivation in Contemporary Korea”. Supervisors: prof. Boudewijn Walraven, Dr. Koen De Ceuster.
In this dissertation I study the social phenomenon of ki suryŏn 氣修練 (氣修練 ki-training) as an invented tradition and examine how it functions within Korean society. Mind-body practices referred to as qigong in China and ki suryŏn in Korea are re-constructed in modernity on the basis of ancient East-Asian traditions. Utilizing the practice of GiCheon developed in the 1970s as a case study, I investigate the experience of ki suryŏn, as understood and articulated by practitioners. As the basis for my research, I use a series of interviews conducted with sixty-one GiCheon practitioners between September 2010 and April 2011 in South Korea. As my theoretical framework, I apply the concept of Technologies of Self developed by Michel Foucault, as well as the Confucian formula for self-cultivation, which involves the physical and bodily, alongside the mental/emotional and familial/social: ‘authenticate the intention, rectify the mind-heart, cultivate the body, love the family, govern the country, bring peace to the world’ (誠意正心修身齊家治國平天下sŏngŭi chŏngsim susin ch’ega ch’iguk p’yŏngch’ŏnha).
This model is repeatedly called for by GiCheon practitioners themselves when describing experiences resulting from the practice. They recount self-formation unfolding on different levels of the self, utilizing various images. One narrative, for example, focuses on images of ‘smooth and effortless passage’, connecting to feelings of warmth, and smooth communication with family members. They start at the level of the body, unfolding also on the level of the emotional, familial and social self. These processes of self-formation and self-articulation are important examples of the construction of contemporary selves.
7/2017 – present Affiliated Researcher at Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), Leiden University, the Netherlands.
2010 – 2017 PhD in Korean Studies, Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), Leiden University, the Netherlands.
2008 – 2010 MA, Department of Korean Philosophy, School of Confucian and Oriental Studies, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, South Korea. MA thesis title: “The Notions of Preceding Heaven (先天 sŏnchŏn) and Succeeding Heaven (後天 huchŏn) in the Philosophy of Korean Scholar Hwadam Sŏ Kyŏng-dŏk (花潭 徐敬德, 1489-1546).
3/2014 – 6/2016 Teacher of Korean and Russian languages and culture at the Hague University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands.
1994 - 2000 LL.B, The Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
10/2005 – 7/2010 Business Development Manager, initiating and coordinating projects in metallurgical engineering, Magnesium.com Inc., Seoul office, South Korea.
6/2000 - 2/2001 Lawyer at the Ministry of Justice, Jerusalem, Israel.
2019 Transformation of Mountain Culture in Korea. Under contract and due for publication in January 2019, Lexington Press (Rowman and Littlefield). Co-authored with Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters (Australian National University), David Mason (Sejong University), Nataliya A. Chesnokova (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow).
2019 New Goddesses on Mt. Paektu: Gender, Myth and Transformation in Korean Landscapes. Under contract and due for publication in January 2019, Lexington Press (Rowman and Littlefield). Co-authored with Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters (Australian National University).
2019 “Two Korean DVDs representing ki suryŏn to international audiences”. In City and Society: The Care of the Self. Ancient and Modern Practices in East and West (Volume II), edited by Gregory Bracken. Amsterdam University Press. Accepted and due for publication in spring 2019.
2017 “Mt. Paektu and Sŏndo (仙道 the way of immortality) in Contemporary South Korea: The Case of GiCheon (氣天)”. Situations: Cultural Studies in the Asian Context, Vol. 10 (2): 145-170.
2016 “New Goddesses at Paektu Mountain: Two Contemporary Korean Myths”. S/N Korean Humanities, Vol. 2(1) (March 2016), pp. 151-179. Co-authored with Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters (Australian National University).
2015a “Technologies of Self in Contemporary Korea: the Notion of Suryŏn (修練) in GiCheon (氣天)”. Papers of the British Association for Korean Studies (BAKS papers) Vol. 16 (Summer 2015), pp. 76-96.
2015b “Encoding Visual Imagery of Ki Suryŏn Exported to the West”. International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) Newsletter, Vol. 70 (Winter 2014), pp. 8-9.
2013a “Experience and Ki 氣 in GiCheon, Psycho-physical Practice of Contemporary Korea”. In Korean Studies in Kazakhstan Vol. 1. Almaty: Center for Korean Studies in KazUIR&WL, pp. 343-358.
2013b “Legend and Identity in Psycho-physical Culture of Contemporary Korea”. Izvestiya ( Известия ) (News) KazUIR&WL / Seriya Vostokovedeniye ( серия « Востоковедение ») (Korean studies series), Vol. 1-2 (19-20), pp. 153-160.
2011 “The notions of Ki 氣 and Great Void 太虛 in the philosophy of Chinese scholar Zhang Zai (張載, 1020-1077) and Korean scholar Hwadam Sŏ Kyŏng Tŏk (花潭 徐敬德, 1489-1546). Explorations in Neo-Confucian thought”. Written Monuments of the Orient (Письменные памятники Востока), Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Vol. 2 (15), pp. 151-169.
Papers presented at international conferences
2017a “Two Korean DVDs representing ki suryŏn to international audiences”. Paper presented at Eighth Annual Symposium of the Consortium for Asian and African Studies (CAAS) BEYOND THE NATION? The Transnational and its Limits, October 21-22, Leiden University, the Netherlands.
2017b “Constructing the Self at the Nexus of City and Mountains in Contemporary Korean Ki Suryŏn (氣修練)”. Paper presented at the Seminar “City and Society: The Care of the Self”, organized by IIAS (The International Institute for Asian Studies) and the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), May 10-11, Leiden, the Netherlands.
2017c “Mt. Paektu and Sŏndo (仙道 the way of immortality) in Contemporary South Korea: the Case of GiCheon”. Paper presented on a panel “Mt. Paektu in North and South Korea: a Living Tradition”, the 28th biennial AKSE Conference, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, April 20-23. Panel includes: David Mason (Sejong University), Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters (Australian National University), Nataliya A. Chesnokova (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow).
2015a “Ki Suryŏn (氣修練) and Mountain Immortals Mythology in Contemporary Korea”. Paper presented on a panel “Mountain Worship and Contemporary Transformation in East/Central Asia”, 21st World Congress of International Association for the History of Religions, Erfurt, Germany, August 23-29th. Panel includes Dame Caroline Humphrey (Cambridge University), Prof. Emeritus James Grayson (University of Sheffield), David Mason (Chung-Ang University), Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters (Cambridge University).
2015b “Ki Suryŏn (氣修練) as Technologies of Self in Contemporary Korea: A Case Study of GiCheon (氣天) ”. Paper presented on a panel “Portraits of the Self: Negotiating Individual and Collective Identities in North and South Korea”, the 27th biennial AKSE Conference, Bochum University, Germany, July 10-13th. Panel includes: Dr. Koen De Ceuster (Leiden University), Dr. Giuseppina De Nicola (University of Rome Sapienza), Dr. Sarah Son (Academy of Korean Studies/SOAS), Benoit Berthelier (Yonsei University/INALCO).
2014a “Paektu Mountain and Women: Gendering Korean Landscape”. Paper presented jointly with Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters at the RIKK & EDDA International Conference “A Multitude of Encounters with Asia – Gender Perspectives”, University of Iceland, NIAS, October 13-17.
2014b “Mountains as Living Tradition: Constructing Myth and Reality in Contemporary Korean Ki Suryŏn (氣修練)”. Paper presented at Korean Studies Graduate Studies Convention, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia, September 24-27.
2014c “Mountains as a Collectively Constructed Image: the case of Korean GiCheon”. Paper presented on a panel “A Topography of Co-Production – Mountains and the Mountainous on the Korean Peninsula”, the Annual International Conference of Royal Geographical Society, London, UK, August 26-29. Panel includes: Dr. Wei-Cheng Lin (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill), Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters (Cambridge University), Benoit Berthelier (Yonsei University/INALCO).
2014d “The Circle of Knowledge: Contemporary Korean Alchemical Practices Exported to the West”. Paper presented at a British Association for Korean Studies (BAKS) Conference on Korean Identities in a Global Age, University of Sheffield, UK, November 21-23, 2014.
2014e “Internal Alchemy of Ki Suryŏn (氣修練) on the Screen: Crafting my ‘Self’ amidst Water, Wood and Stone in Contemporary Korea”. Paper presented at the Third Korean Screen Culture Conference, Sheffield Hallam University, UK, June 13-14.
2014f “ ‘Directional Interconnectedness’ as a Methodological Framework for Analysing Ki-Training in Contemporary South Korea”. Paper presented at LIAS & CADS Graduate Student Conference on Networks & Interactions, Leiden University, the Netherlands, May 9-11.
2013a “Care of the self” in contemporary Korea. How to use Foucault’s adaptation of a Greek concept (epimeleia heautou) as a methodological framework in approaching East-Asian psycho-physical culture”. Paper presented at Korea Wissenschaftliche Tage Wien (Viennese Korean Studies Days), University of Vienna, Austria, November 28-30.
2013b “Technologies of Self in Contemporary Korea: the Notion of suryŏn (修練) in GiCheon (氣天)”. Paper presented at a conference “Korean Civilization: Sources &Prospects”, University of Warsaw, Poland, November 22-23.
2013c “Ki (氣)-related Language Behavior and Experience in Psycho-Physical Practices of Contemporary Korea”. Paper presented at the 26th biennial AKSE (Association for Korean Studies in Europe) Conference, Vienna University, Austria, July 6-8th.
2011b “The Way to Health in GiCheon Discipline”. In Proceedings of the 25th biennial AKSE (Association for Korean Studies in Europe) Conference, June 17-20th. Moscow: Academy of Korean Studies, Vol. 2, pp. 782-789.
2010 “The Meaning of Pain in GiCheon Art”. Paper presented at the Conference of the Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology, “Anthropology of the Body in the Global Era”, Kyŏngju, South Korea, November 12-13.
Classical Chinese (some proficiency)