Korea-Vietnam 2022-2023 Speaker Series

How To Be Neighbors With China

The Changing Attitude of Vietnamese Scholars toward China in the Second Half of the 19th Century

September 28th, 2022. 6:00 PM Los Angeles Time
(Zoom Webinar)
Dr. Sean (Song Yeol) Han is a historian of modern Korea and China. His book project, Bond beyond Nation: Sinographic Network and Korean Nationhood, 1860-1932, examines the cultural history of China’s interactions with Korea in the age of modern imperialism. His recent publication, “ Informal Diplomacy in Chosŏn Korea and New Engagement with the West and Westernised Japan, 1873–1876” (
Modern Asian Studies, 2022), focuses on China, Japan, and Korea’s response to the changing world order in the late nineteenth century. Dr. Han earned his M. A. and Ph. D. from Princeton University and B. A. from Seoul National University (with honors). He is the associate director of the Choson History Society—a public learned society promoting the study, research, and teaching of Korea’s past. Dr. Han is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in Asian History at St. Lawrence University.
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Dr. Hoang-Yen Nguyen is a lecturer at the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, VNU-HCM in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She teaches Chinese language and literature classes, such as Chinese literature, Introduction to Literary Chinese, Chinese Grammar, and Translation. She has been working on the perception of Western learning and culture in Vietnam and China, especially during the 18th and 19th century through travel writings of Vietnamese and Korean envoys to China. She is interested in the areas of comparative literature/culture in East Asia, Vietnamese literature written in Chinese (especially Vietnamese envoys’ travel writings to China 越南燕行作品) and Vietnamese Chinese.

Presented by Hoang Yen Nguyen

Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City

Joined by Sean S. Han

St. Lawrence University

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China and Vietnam have had a long and close relationship over the years. Especially when it came to the 19th century, facing the invasion of Western countries, this relationship underwent tremendous changes and became more complicated than ever. In such circumstances, Vietnam’s attitude toward China – the Heavenly Kingdom had had a big difference from the previous period. However, this is not clearly presented in the literature because of the lack of relevant documents. To fill this gap, this paper makes use of Vietnamese envoys’ travel writings to China from 1868 (the first tributary trip of Vietnam to China after 16 years of interruption) to 1883 (the last tributary trip of Vietnam to China) for analyzing, to investigate the changing attitude of Vietnamese official-scholars and government toward China in the late 19th century; and to address the China’s influence on Vietnam in particular, and on East Asia area in general at the time, as well as to illustrate the changing thoughts of Vietnam in the pre-modern time. Finally, the result can suggest some lessons learned from those experiences for recent international relations between China, Vietnam and the other Asian or Western countries.

Korea-Vietnam 2022-2023 Speaker Series

Chinese Apocryphal Scriptures Reprinted in Korea and Vietnam

With the Mulian Sutra as an Example

October 5th, 2022, 9:00 AM Los Angeles Time
Zoom Webinar
Mulian scripture
Lan potrait
Dr. NGUYỄN Tô Lan has worked as a researcher at the Institute of Sino-Nom Studies, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences since 2004. She graduated with a Bachelor of Linguistics and Literature in 2003 and then a Master’s in the same major in 2006 from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University (Hanoi), and a Bachelor of Chinese Linguistics from the University of Languages and International Studies, VNU in 2007. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics and Literature from the Graduate Academy of Social Sciences (Vietnam) in 2012. From September 2010 to June 2011, she received an ASIA Fellows Award to carry out a comparative study of Vietnamese traditional performance and Cantonese Opera in China. She was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute in the academic year 2013-2014 and a Guest Scholar at the Institute of Research in Humanities, Kyoto University in October 2014. She was a Coordinate Research Scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute from June to December 2015, a Visiting Scholar at Academia Sinica in 2018, and Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2019. She has been awarded an American Council for Learned Studies Research Fellowship (2015 cohort), an award of European Research Council (2020-2025), and of Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (2020-2023). Her current research mainly focuses on the history of books and printing culture in East Asia. Her recent publications includes an co-authored monograph with Rostislav Berezkin on Avalokiteśvara of the Vietnamese Sea: Miaoshan-Guanyin Legend in Vietnam (Vietnam University of Education Publishing House, 2021) and a book chapter in Li Guo, Patricia Sieber, and Peter Kornicki eds., Ecologies of Translation in East and South East Asia, 1600-1900 (University of Amsterdam Press, 2022).
Berezkin Bio
Dr. Rostislav Berezkin obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and candidate of sciences degree from Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia. He is a senior research fellow at the National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University. His main fields of research are religious storytelling and popular religion in late imperial China, also in connection with cultural exchange in East Asia (especially btw. China, Vietnam, and Japan). His publications include two books in Russian. His English book Many Faces of Mulian: The Precious Scrolls of Late Imperial China was published by the University of Washington Press in 2017. His English articles have been published in T’oung PaoLate Imperial ChinaAsia MajorMonumenta Serica, Asian Ethnology, Religions, Archiv Orientalni, CLEAR, BEFEO, Journal of Chinese ReligionsHanxue YanjiuReligion and ArtsMinsu quyi, and CHINOPERL (Journal of Chinese Oral and Performing Literature). Rostislav also published a number of articles in Chinese and Russian, and a co-authored monograph in Vietnamese: NGUYỄN Tô Lan and Rostislav BEREZKIN, Phật Bà bể Nam: Truyện Quán Âm Diệu Thiện tại Việt Nam (Avalokiteśvara of the Vietnamese Sea: Miaoshan-Guanyin Legend in Vietnam; Hanoi: Vietnam University of Education Publishing House, 2021).

Presented by Rostislav Berezkin

Fudan University

and NGUYỄN Tô Lan

Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

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In China, the initial development of woodblock printing technology was associated with the multiplication of Buddhist scriptures and images. In the very early period, starting in the eighth century, printing was also used for these purposes in Korea and Japan; later it spread from China to Vietnam as well, where significant number of Buddhist texts were printed locally, starting around the fourteenth century. While the early printed copies of major Mahayana scriptures and even Chinese Buddhist canon (Tripitaka) in several countries of East Asia are well known (especially famous in the Koryo Tripitaka 高麗藏of the thirteenth century, which preserved many features of the earliest printed Chinese Buddhist canon), this talk focuses on the printing of so-called “apocryphal” (or “indigenous”) Buddhist scriptures that presumably were composed in China in the medieval period (they don’t have Sanskrit originals). Despite their non-orthodox status in the eyes of elite clergy in China, they played important role in transmission of Buddhist cults and ideas among masses not only in China, but also in other countries of East Asia, where Chinese forms of Buddhism became dominant. Some of these Chinese Buddhist texts were lost in China in the later period, but survived in Japan, Vietnam, and Korea, where they were transmitted in the pre-modern period, also in the printed form. Here we focus on one example of the Mulian Sutra (Mulian jing 目連經), which was composed around the twelfth century in China, based on the vernacular amplification of a scriptural subject: monk Mulian rescuing his mother’s soul from hell. This apocryphal scripture did not survive in China, but its reprints were made in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam in 1368, 1557 and 1762 respectively. As it was associated with the popular festival of soul’s salvation (Ullambana, or Zhongyuanjie 中元節in Chinese), this text was continuously reprinted in Korea and Vietnam in the early modern period and had significant impact on local literature and religious culture. Korean and Vietnamese reprints represent the special features of local printing technology and demonstrate its use in the transmission of Chinese popular texts in these countries.

Korea-Vietnam 2022-2023 Speaker Series

Strange/natural parallels between Dai Viet/Vietnam and Koryo/Choson in the history of Eastern Eurasia

October 20th 2022, 6:00 PM Los Angeles Time

Dr. Juhn Y. Ahn is Associate Professor of Buddhist and Korean Studies at the University of Michigan and the author of Buddhas and Ancestors: Religion and Wealth in Fourteenth-Century Korea (University of Washington Press, 2018), Transgression in Korea: Beyond Resistance and Control (University of Michigan Press, 2018), and Gongan Collections I, Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, Vol. 7-1 (Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, 2012). His current research focuses on the economic history of Korea during the Koryŏ period (918-1392), reading practices in Song-dynasty (960-1279) Chan Buddhism, and the cultural history of weather and wealth during the Chosŏn period (1392-1910) in Korea.
Dr. Momoki Shiro is professor emeritus of Osaka University, Japan (currently teaching at Vietnam-Japan University in Hanoi). He has been studying medieval and early modern Vietnamese history and its position in Southeast Asia, maritime Asia, and the Sinic World. His publication includes The formation and transformation of the medieval state of Dai Viet (in Japanese, Osaka University Press, 2011) ; Offshore AsiaMaritime Interactions in Eastern Asia before Steamships (Fujita Kayoko, Momoki Shiro and Anthony Reid eds., Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2013); “A Spatial Analysis of Thăng Long Capital During the Lý Period Through Re-Exploitation of Written Sources” (TRaNS: Trans -Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia vol. 2, 2014).

Presented by MOMOKI Shiro

Professor Emeritus, Osaka University

Joined by Juhn Y. Ahn

University of Michigan

Today, social and economic analysis of pre-modern state and agrarian society does not seem to be attractive to young scholars. However, the long-term analysis if them still shows clear actuality occasionally, through the contemporary issues related to the ‘traditions’ of family and gender, for instance. Moreover, in-depth comparisons between Vietnam and Korea can shed new lights on the global and regional historic positions of both countries. Exploiting materials such as medieval stone inscriptions and early modern local documents, my presentation will try to preliminary compare the land holding system and village society of medieval and early-modern Đại Việt with those of Koryo and Choson, paying attention to the change of family and gender.      

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Korea-Vietnam 2022-2023 Speaker Series

[Cancelled] Vernacularization and the East Asian Book Roads

Dr. Peter Kornicki is Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge; previously taught at the University of Tasmania and Kyoto University. Publications include The Book in Japan (1998), Languages, Scripts and Chinese Texts in East Asia (2018) and Eavesdropping on the Emperor (2021).
Dr. Suyoung Son is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University. Her research focuses on the social practices of reading and writing in light of book history, the history of knowledge, and studies of authorship and material culture in early modern China and Korea (1600-1900). She is the author of Writing for Print: Publishing and the Making of Textual Authority in Late Imperial China (Harvard UP, 2018). She is currently at work on a monograph tentatively titled Culinary Books and Recipes for Knowledge in Chosŏn Korea.

November 10th, 2022, 12:00 Noon Los Angeles
Zoom Webinar

Event has been cancelled

Presented by Peter Kornicki

Cambridge University

Joined by Suyoung Son

Cornell University

For centuries the only books that circulated in East Asia were texts in literary Chinese travelling from China to peripheral states. In this lecture I will explore the reception of those texts in Japan, Korea and Vietnam and the efforts made to make them accessible to local readers. These operations conducted on literary Chinese texts were the first steps taken in vernacularization, and they later led to the production of vernacular translations and commentaries and ultimately to the dominance of vernacular texts. But Japan, Korea and Vietnam each chose different paths on the road to vernacularization and these differences defy easy explanation.

Korea-Vietnam 2022-2023 Speaker Series

Si in the East, Thi in the South (東詩, 詩南)

Vernacularizing Sinitic Poetry in Early Modern Korea and Vietnam

November 17, 2022, 6:00 PM, Los Angeles
Zoom Webinar

Presented by Ross King

Dr. Keith Taylor is Professor of Sino-Vietnamese Studies in the Asian Studies Department of Cornell University. He has published books and articles on Vietnamese history and literature. After serving with the US Army in Vietnam he completed his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan in 1976. He subsequently taught in Japan for three years, in Singapore for six years, and at Hope College for two years . He has been at Cornell since 1989. In recent years, his research interest has been oriented toward the early phase of writing Vietnamese poetry in demotic prosodic modes during the 16th and 17th centuries.
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Dr. Ross King is Professor of Korean at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on the cultural and social history of language, writing, and literary culture in Korea and in the Sinographic Cosmopolis more broadly, with a particular interest in comparative histories of vernacularization. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies.

University of British Columbia

Joined by Keith Taylor

Cornell University

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In this paper I make a preliminary and tentative attempt at comparing the ways in which vernacularized forms of Sinitic poetry (詩) were developed in Korea and Vietnam in the 17th-19th centuries. Taking my cue from Taylor (2008, 2020) and especially his consideration of “poems in demotic modes” and the quest for a “high-register vernacular voice,” I compare a range of hybridized and vernacularized forms of Sinitic poetry in Vietnam from the 16th and 17th centuries to analogous “irregular” or “anomalous” Sinitic poetry (soakpu 小樂府, kwach’esi 科體詩, pyŏnch’esi 變體詩, p’agyŏksi 破格詩, ŏnmun p’ungwŏl 諺文風月, yuktam p’ungwŏl 肉談風月, etc.) poems from late Chosŏn Korea and Korea’s Enlightenment Period (18th – early 20th centuries), as studied, for example, in Yi Kyuho (1986) and more recently in Pak Chongu (2009), Ku Sahoe (2015), and Sim Kyŏngho (2018). Questions addressed are the prosodic features of different types of vernacularized Sinitic poetry, the extent and varieties of vernacular accommodation, the extent to which the Korean examples sought to create a “vernacularized Sinitic voice,” and the fate of such poetry, both within contemporary generic hierarchies and in modern scholarship.

Korea-Vietnam 2022-2023 Speaker Series

Buddhist Funerals or Confucian Funerals?

Understanding the Cultural Differences Between Korea and Vietnam through Their Receptions of Zhu Xi’s Family Rituals

January 26th, 2023. 6:00 PM Los Angeles Time (Zoom Webinar)
Dr. HSU Yi Ling is Associate Professor at the Department of Korean Language and Literature, Chinese Culture University, Taiwan. She holds a Ph.D. in Korean literature from Seoul National University, Republic of Korea. Her current research focuses on book history and intellectual history in East Asia, especially the comparison of Korea and Vietnam’s different ways of receipting Neo-Confucianism books from China from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. Her recent publication, “Xing Li Da Quan性理大全 in East Asia: A Choson-Vietnam Comparison” (in Chinese, Chung Cheng Chinese Studies, 2018), tries to show that the highest value of Neo-Confucianism in Vietnam lies in the imperial examination, but the most important thing for Choson scholars is metaphysical spirituality.
Dr. Sujung KIM is associate professor of religious studies at DePauw University. She received her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University in 2014 and her M.A. in Buddhist Philosophy from Korea University in 2007. Sujung joined the DePauw faculty in 2014 and since then she has taught a wide range of courses on Buddhism and East Asian religions. While her research primarily centers on the premodern transcultural interactions between Japanese and Korean religions, her interdisciplinary research interests also include modern/contemporary Korean Buddhism. Her first book, Shinra Myojin and Buddhist Networks of the East Asian “Mediterranean” (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2019) focuses on a deity called Shinra Myōjin. Currently, Sujung is working on her second book project tentatively titled, Korean Magical Medicine: Buddhist Healing Talismans in Chosŏn Korea, which she investigates the religious, historical, and iconographic dimensions of healing talismans produced in Buddhist settings during the Chosŏn period.

Presented by Hsu Yi Ling

Chinese Culture University, Taiwan

Joined by Sujung Kim

DePauw University

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Around the 14th and the 15th centuries, Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucianism was transmitted to Choson and Vietnam, and his seminal text Family Rituals exerted profound impacts on the cultures of the two societies. Focusing on pre-modern Choson’s and Vietnam’s receptions of Zhu Xi’s Family Rituals, this talk will show how Buddhist funerals were replaced by Confucian ones in the two societies as a result. Prior to the time between the 14th and the 15th centuries, Buddhism was the orthodox ideology in both Choson and Vietnam: the Goryeo kings held on to the belief that the founding and prosperity of their kingdom was attributed to the protection of Buddhism; the Trần monarchs went further to retire from the world and establish a Trúc Lâm zen sect. Since Buddhism believes in reincarnation, the body of the deceased is thought to have little significance as it no longer serves as the vassal of the soul, and therefore should be cremated in funerals. On the contrary, Confucianism holds that the soul would return to the body and prefers the burial in funerals. The processes in which Confucian funerals challenged and replaced the Buddhist counterparts differed in Choson and Vietnam, which illustrate how these two East Asian societies differed in significant cultural aspects.

Korea-Vietnam 2022-2023 Speaker Series

The Vernacular Spreads a Rumor

A Study of the Nôm poems of Hà Tiên

March 10th, 2023
4:00 PM–6:00 Los Angeles Time

Presented by Dr. Claudine Ang

Claudine Ang is an Associate Professor of Humanities (History) at Yale-NUS College. She is the author of Poetic Transformations: Eighteenth-Century Cultural Projects on the Mekong Plains (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2019). Currently, she is working on another book, On Listening and Dissonance, in which she seeks to understand how kings listen to their subjects, how the vernacular spins tales about the classical, how the living communicate with the dead, and how dreamers eavesdrop on themselves in their slumber. 
Christina Han is Associate Professor of Asian History at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada. She received her MA and PhD in East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada. As a cultural historian, her research interests include premodern Korean literature and art. She has published widely on premodern Korean poetry and aesthetics. Her latest project looks at the Sihwa ch’ongnim, 17th-century Korean collection of sihwa (remarks on poetry) compiled by Hong Manjong. 

Associate Professor of Humanities (History), Yale-NUS College

Joined by Dr. Christina Han

Associate Professor of Asian History at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada


Ten Songs of Hà Tiên is a compilation of landscape poetry, dating to the mid-eighteenth century, that celebrates ten scenic sites in Hà Tiên. Composed in heptasyllabic regulated verse in the Chinese script, the poems are evidence of Ming loyalist attempts to shape the landscape of the Mekong delta. In the early twentieth century, poems following the same titles, but which were composed in the Vietnamese Nôm script, surfaced without attribution to an author. Since then, scholars have been divided about the Nôm poems’ authorial authenticity. Whereas some are convinced that they emerged from the hand of the person who composed the original poems, others remain doubtful. In my study of the poems, I examine the relationship between those composed in the Nôm and the Chinese scripts as rumormongering; rather than think about the Nôm poems as translations of the Chinese, I understand the process of vernacularization as one in which the Nôm poems spread their own variants, hubristic and even excessive, as creations in their own right. My study identifies the ways in which allusions from the original poems worked their way, in modified forms, into the vernacular poems. In so doing, I join the debate about the poems’ authorship, and I propose that the vernacular poems drew inspiration not from the originator’s work, but from the poetry of one of the author’s eighteenth-century interlocutors.