Memories of Captivity in the Great East Asian War (1592-1598)

Junyoung Baik



Project Summary

The prime goal of this summer’s project “MEMORIES OF CAPTIVITY IN THE GREAT EAST ASIAN WAR (1592-1598)” was on developing a framework and analyzing sources for my upcoming History Honors Thesis. My project attempts to study how Korean war captives and slaves, known as piro’in in Korean, considered their experience of captivity abroad and how perceptions of these people may have been motivated by social considerations. In particular, I compare different sources along the social class lines to identify the differing views on captivity and the motivations behind them. Finally, I explored how “present” social concerns and interests can shape the manner in which an experience or event is remembered (or forgotten). To achieve these disparate components, my summer involved identifying new sources for analysis, while also refining the theory via exploring previous and parallel scholarship at the various libraries and online archives in Korea. Despite the COVID travel restrictions, I was also fortunate enough to be able to visit some of the museums and historic sites in the southern Korean provinces of Jeolla South Province and Gyeonsang South Province where most of the piro’in were captured and taken abroad. While there, I was also able to speak with the curatorial staff about my research as well as their advice on how to proceed with the study. In one case, the curator of the National Museum of Jinju helped identify a source that could be helpful to my research. The process of conducting a real historical study for the first time, showed me how much of a difficult but also fulfilling pursuit a career in history could be. While history often involves being alone and working long hours of translating and interpreting esoteric texts, history also provides opportunities to work together with other scholars on exciting subjects. As I finalize my research for the summer and prepare drafting my honor thesis, I am excited to pursue further my academic interests equipped with the experience and knowledge I gained from the summer of 2021.
To see my poster, please visit Penn Presents: