Shin Chungcheongnam-do province in November 1880. His pen name

Shin Chae Ho (1880-1936)IntroductionSince history, the Korean Peninsula has always struggled as an area of contestation due to its geographical terrain from its giant neighbors. The late 19th century and early 20th century witnessed the wave of modernization, although slowly developed. Shin Chae Ho is amongst those Korean intellectuals who have contributed immensely during the Independence movement striving for modern nation state, nationalism of its own and restoration of national sovereignty.BiographyShin Chae Ho (???, ???) was born in Sannae-ri, Daedeok-gun county, Chungcheongnam-do province in November 1880. His pen name was Danjae (??, ??). Raised by his strict and rigid grandfather Shin Seong-u with the yangban consciousness, Shin learned Neo-Confucianism and excelled in Confucian Classics. In 1898, he was enrolled at Seonggyungwan (National Confucian Academy) in Seoul. Witnessing and motivated by the independence movement then, he later took part in the civil rights movement organized by the Manmin Gongdonghoe (Convocation) demanding independence, civil rights and self-help.Following the Eulsa Treaty (Protectorate Treaty) in 1905 which forced Korea to become a protectorate of imperialist Japan, Shin engaged himself profusely to the enlightenment movement with the aim of restoring the national sovereignty. He joined the Hwangseong Sinmun (Imperial Capital News) as an editorial writer on the recommendation of Jang Ji Yeon (pen name: Wiam), and later transferred to Daehan Maeil Shinbo (Korea Daily News) by Yang Gi Tak (pen name: Eun Gang) in 1906. He then led the Sinminhoe (New People’s Association) which was a secret organization founded by patriotic enlightenment leaders- Yang Gi Tak and Ahn Chang Ho in 1907.After the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910, Shin participated actively in the independence movement as a popular nationalist leader. During his voluntary exile to Vladivostok, Shin aimed of establishing a military academy and a base for the independence army outside Korea, originally planned on attacking the Japanese Occupation army in Korea. In 1913, Shanghai, Shin disassociated himself from all organizations and studied Korean history instead. He also visited his colleagues across China to formulate an independence movement strategy.After the outbreak of the March First Independence Movement in 1919, he joined the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai. But Shin objected Syngman Rhee’s plan for trusteeship over Korea and thereby withdrew from the provisional government. Later, when the Provisional government split into two: Reconstruction group and Creation Group, he sided with the latter. With his continuous promotion of historical studies, side by side, he drafted the “Declaration of Korean Revolution” in 1923 for the Uiyeoldan (Righteous Brotherhood). Dissatisfied at the civic nationalist trend which emerged after the March First Independence Movement of 1919, Shin embraced anarchism and joined the Anarchist Eastern League in 1926. He was involved in organized anarchist activities until his arrest in 1928 by the Japanese maritime police in Keelung, Taiwan for attempted smuggling of 12,000 yuan with the purpose of establishing a bomb manufacturing plant, alongside his Taiwanese comrade Lin Bingwen.After his arrest in Taiwan, he was sent to Dairen and sentenced to 10-year imprisonment to be served in Lushun prison in isolation. While serving his prison term, he died in February 21, 1936 due to cerebral hemorrhage. The Republic of Korea posthumously awarded Shin with the “Presidential Order of Merit for National Foundation” in 1962, and citizenship on April 13, 2013.His WorksFrom a conservative scholar-bureaucrat to a modern youth, influenced by the ideals of enlightenment and independence movement, Shin Chae Ho’s literary contribution has been enormous. Doksa sillon (A New Reading of History) in 1908, Joseon sanggosa (Ancient History of Korea) in 1921and Joseon sanggo munhwasa (Ancient Cultural History of Korea) in 1924 are some of his major contributions towards modernisation and new nationalism, sprung from the Independence movement against imperialist Japan’s annexation.In 1907, he translated Liang Qichao’s Yidali jianguo sanjie chuan (Biographies of Three Great Men in the Founding of Italy) from Chinese into Korean. He edited Daehan hyeophoe wolbo (Korean Association Monthly), Giho heung-halhoe wolbo (Monthly Journal of the Seoul Association for the Promotion of Education) and Gajeong japji (Home Magazine) in 1908. He also composed the biographies of three important historical figures in Korea: Yi Sun Shin jeon (The Biographies of Yi Sun Shin) in 1908, Eulji Mundeok jeon (The Biography of Eulji Mundeok) in 1909, and Dongguk geogeol Choe Do Tong jeon (The Biography of Cheo Do Tong, Giant in Eastern Country) in 1909.As an independence nationalist leader, Shin inaugurated the magazine Cheon-go (The Heavenly Drum), criticizing the Korean Provisional Government for its unusual and different undertakings. He published a series of dissertations promoting historical studies: “An Enquiry into the Former and Latter Three Han States” in 1924, “Changes in Korea’s Ancient Literature and Poetry” in 1924, “On the Method of Interpreting Nouns Described by the Idu System” in 1924, “Research on the East and the West Referred to in Samguk sagi” in 1925, “Corrections on Some Descriptions in Biographical Notes on the EasternKorean Nation in Sanguozhi (The History of the Three Kingdoms)” in 1925, and “The Greatest Incident in 1,000 Years of Korean History” in 1925. These were all published in a book entitled Joseonsa yeongu cho (Explanatory Studies in Korean History) in 1930.After adopting anarchism, his works still continues contributing articles to Talwan (Recapture) and Dongbang (The East). He even writes the essay “New Year’s Free Notes by a Wanderer” in 1925 and “The War of the Dragons” in 1928 expressing his anarchist thought.However, there were several unpublished and lowly appreciated works as well. His manuscripts on “An Inquiry into the Vicissitudes of the Dae Gaya” and “A Brief Biography of Jeong In Hong”, Kkum Haneul (The Dream Heaven/The Dream Sky) in 1915, Munhwa Pyon (Culture) in 1919, Choson Hyokmyong Sonon (Declaration of Korean Revolution) in 1923, and Choson-ui Kodae Shinhwa (Legends of Ancient Korea) in 1927 were such.His IdeasImperialism and NationalismDuring the patriotic enlightenment phase (1905-1910), Shin pointed European civilization as the driving tool for institutionalized imperialism in the form of territorial partition and aggression. He interpreted imperialism on the basis of Social Darwinism and understood it as an aggressive expansionism. In response to opposing the imperialist aggression, Shin suggested to promote nationalism. According to him, liberal nationalism was an ideal pick to prevent nationalism from being degraded to imperialist nationalism, that of Europe and Japan.Patriotism and Restoration of National Sovereignty For Shin Chae Ho, the Eulsa Treaty of 1905 and the Jeongmi Seven Treaty of 1907 which deprived Korea’s national sovereignty under “protectorate” of imperialist Japan was equivalent to being enslaved as a colony. He insisted Koreans to strive and achieve the goal of “restoring their national sovereignty, freedom and independence” for a strong, free, self-reliant and civilized country emphasizing the importance of deep-rooted “national hope”. For this, Shin considered patriotism as the base and ultimate generating power for restoration of national sovereignty. Development and Preservation of National CultureShin Chae Ho actively ventured the development and preservation of the true essence of national culture. Guksu termed by him, meaning national characteristics implied unique merits of Korean customs, history, language, religion and so on. According to him, only the merits of foreign culture should be accepted, and national culture inherited from the past should be rediscovered and redeveloped. In his theory of Hangeul, he asserted that in order to promote independence, Korean history and geography books had to be rewritten in Hangeul (Korean character) and taught in schools. He evaluated the value of literature as a tool of patriotic enlightenment. He valued novels the most, especially those written in Korean. However, acknowledging the impossibility of abolishing the Chinese characters entirely at once, he found a wise mid-way out by temporarily using a mixture of both Korean (Hangeul) and Chinese (Hanja) characters.Discourse on “New Education” and “National Salvation Education”For the discourse of new national salvation education, Shin gave several ideas:Patriotic education: Education and patriotism are mutually inseparable, according to him. Therefore, the effect of good education will bring national unity and strength for the restoration of national sovereignty.Importance of home education and social education, as well as school education to promote new knowledge and patriotism in the young minds.Proposal of “early age commencement of education”, which was criticized and accused by others for being too excessive. In defense, Shin felt the call for early-age schooling accordingly.Physical education: According to Shin, the most ideal education was a balance of education for knowledge, education for virtue, and physical education. Without such education, impossible to achieve nationalism and restore national sovereignty in the age of imperialism and militarism. Hence, a healthy body is the source of both knowledge and virtue.Emotional education: A way of stirring patriotism. Shin suggested emotional education to be designed in an appropriate way by teaching about the beauties of national culture.Publication of new books for the new education of youth, emphasizing both on classical and modern themed. He suggested that instead of relying on translated foreign books, new books should explore and highlight Korea’s unique thoughts.Discourse on Reform of Social CustomsIn order to transform the old country, Shin called for the reform of old social customs that weakened the very notion of nationalism and sovereignty. Firstly, he demanded the destruction of “familism” and other Confucian ethics, which attached greater importance to private realm rather than the state as a whole. Secondly, Shin promoted egalitarianism and stressed the importance and value of equality, naming inequality as the root cause of destruction of politics, religion, law, military, etc. Thirdly, he called for the uprooting of prevalent superstitions in the society and mindset of the people: namely, belief in wicked magic, belief in destiny, and belief in natural phenomena, which hindered the building of national strength. Fourthly, he emphasized on the practice of liberal thought and advised Koreans to lead a liberal way of life, because according to him, the death of freedom is equivalent to the death of the body, soul and mind. Fifth, Shin call for defending righteousness, due to notable increase in seeking personal gains which prevents the true struggle for restoration of national sovereignty. Sixth, Shin ventured for public morality and public spirit to be nurtured, as well as cultivation of bravery by putting thoughts into action essential for statecraft. Education needs to be provided widely for the transformation of Koreans into a “new people” and for the establishment of a “new country”, as said by Shin himself. Lastly, he emphasized on the importance of diligence and cultivation of strong will, as that will help in achieving the desired aim in the long run.Discourse on New National EconomyShin not only touched upon the other parameters of societal developments for achieving nationalism and independence, he also directed and proposed a new national economy for Korea for economic supremacy. His main aim was to construct a self-reliant modern industrial system with the help of new scientific technology, which in a broader perspective could challenge the Japanese economic aggression. For this, he suggested the construction of various modern factories, foundation of large scale vocational schools, advancement in world trade and strengthening the economy’s competitiveness internally as well as internationally.New Nation DiscourseIn order to achieve his desired goal of restoring national sovereignty and establishing a new nationalist independent state with true patriotism, Shin recommended for a constitutional government, which is regarded as a “nation-state” citing the example of European nations. According to him, the driving force for the competition among nation states in 20th century lies with the people as a whole where victory is decided by the people itself. For this to be accomplished, he emphasized on the strengthening of organizations. Thus, to reclaim its original and lost national sovereignty, the establishment of a new constitutional republic guaranteed the nation’s development.Notion of “minjok” and Korean Nationalist HistoriographyThe notion of minjok proposed by Shin Chae Ho translates into an ethnically or racially defined Korean nation sharing a unified bloodline and a distinct culture. Minjok has been broadly translated as “nation”, “people”, “ethnic group”, and “race”. The term minjok was coined during the imperial Japanese occupation of Korea on the basis of Social Darwinism concepts, emerging rapidly among Korean intellectuals right after the Protectorate Treaty of 1905. Shin being a great advocate of history, he stressed history as the best means of promoting patriotism for restoration of national sovereignty. Shin’s patriotic enlightenment thought can be termed as “nationalism based on history”, in a way defining and constructing the base for modern Korean Nationalist Historiography.Shin Chae Ho’s book Doksa sillon (A New Reading of History) is credited for establishing the modern nationalist science of history, taking a revolutionist stand. He outlines the history of Korea from the mythical times of Tangun to the fall of Balhae in 926 CE proclaiming that Koreans are descendants of the legendary ancestor of Korean people and the divine progenitor Dangun, who merged with Buyo of Manchuria to form Gogoryeo people.  In the book, Shin’s perspective of patriotic nationalism is clearly reflected recognizing the need for a new history clarifying the origin of the Korean nation and the process of its evolution. For this, he advocated the teaching of national history written by Koreans themselves as the best method of promoting people’s patriotism. Shin Chae Ho’s Doksa sillon displaced former traditional Confucian historiographies like pyonnyonche (chronicles) and kijonche (annal biographies), although not entirely. Shin Chae Ho’s identification of the minjok as the subject of an evolutionary history marked a turnover in modern Korean intellectual history, widely accepted and praised. Despite ideological differences, both communist North Korea and democratic South Korea has by far accepted the notion and continued to proclaim the ethnic homogeneity and pure bloodline concept, creating the base for unification of Korean peninsula talks. This shared conception of a racially defined Korea continues to shape the Korean politics and foreign policies dynamics.ConclusionWith his patriotic enlightenment thought, Shin Chae Ho has greatly contributed in the modern Korean intellectual discourse by succeeding in overcoming the old medieval thoughts and founding a new liberal modern nationalist thought. Recognized as the “father of Korean historiography” his literary works had a great impact on the lives of the Koreans by creating a new spirit of independence, restoring national sovereignty and nationalism.BibliographyHollym, Korean Philosophy: Its Tradition and Modern Transformation, 2004Henry H. Em, Nationalism, Post Nationalism and Shin Chae Ho Jae Yon, Reading National Heroes from Fantasy: Shin Chae Ho’s “The Dream Heaven”