Korea as seen through its material culture and museums
Since the 1990s, South Korean institutions have actively engaged in providing grants for the establishment of permanent and independent Korean galleries in renowned museums abroad. The point of departure of this thesis is to provide insights into this recent serial pattern, focusing on the notion of Korea. This is based on the belief that these events should be understood as the outcomes of large-scale historical processes.;In this thesis, the notion of 'Korea' is taken as the point of convergence between the three major agents: people (i.e. Koreans and others), Korean material culture, and museums. The thesis aims to explore the nature of the three agencies and their interaction in relation to the notion of Korea, by examining how Korean people came to understand their identity as being Korean in relation to other, different such identities, and to their material culture and museums; how other people understood Korea and Korean material culture; and how far both Korean and other people's perceptions of the relationship between the notion of Korea and Korean material culture has influenced the museum field. This will lead to an understanding of South Korean efforts to open Korean galleries abroad.;The thesis is divided into five chapters. Chapter Two explores the notions of Korea and Korean identity. Chapters Three to Five follow the chronological framework of Korean history, Chapter Three dealing with the period from the second half of the nineteenth century to 1910, Chapter Four with that up to 1945, and Chapter Five with that up to the contemporary period. Each chapter attempts to investigate the points made above from a historical perspective. Finally, Chapter Six considers some emerging issues concerning Korean identity in South Korea, and the potential roles of museums and Korean material culture.