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The Cambridge Handbook of Korean Linguistics

Edited by Sungdai Cho and John Whitman

Cambridge University Press, 2021


The 'Korean wave' in music and film and Korea's rise to become the twelfth economic power in the world have boosted the world-wide popularity of Korean language study. The linguistic study of Korean, with its rich syntactic and phonological structure, complex writing system, and unique socio-historical context, is now a rapidly growing research area. Contributions from internationally renowned experts on the language provide a state-of-the-art overview of key current research in Korean language and linguistics. Chapters are divided into five thematic areas: phonetics and phonology, morphology and syntax, semantics and pragmatics, sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics, and language pedagogy. The Handbook includes cross-linguistic data to illuminate the features of Korean, and examples in Korean script, making it suitable for advanced students and researchers with or without prior knowledge of Korean linguistics. It is an essential resource for students and researchers wishing to explore the exciting and rapidly moving field of Korean linguistics.

  • A state-of-the-art overview of contemporary research in Korean Linguistics, covering all key current areas of study
  • Brings together contributions from a range of internationally renowned experts in Korean language and linguistics
  • Uses theory from a range of linguistic disciplines to explain features of Korean to researchers and advanced students with no prior experience of the language.



Part I. Korean Overview

1. Introduction; 2. Phonology: An Overview; 3. Overview of Chapters on Syntax; 4. On the Centrality of Korean in Language Contacts in Northeast Asia; 5. Politeness Strategies in Korean; 6. Korean Kugyŏl

Part II. Phonetics and Phonology

7. Vowel Harmony; 8. The Phonology and Phonetics of Korean Stop Laryngeal Contrasts; 9. The Phonetic-Prosody Interface and Prosodic Strengthening in Korean; 10. Constituent Structure and Sentence Phonology of Korean; 11. Effects of Linguistic Experience on the Perception of Korean Stops

Part III. Morphology and Syntax

12. Right-Dislocation in Korean: An Overview; 13. Experimental Insights on the Grammar of Korean Anaphors; 14. Person-Denoting Nominals: Interpretations and Structures; 15. Lexical Nominalizations in Korean; 16. The Processing of a Long-Distance Dependency in Korean: An Overview

Part IV. Semantics and Pragmatics

17. Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity in Korean Grammar; 18. Discourse Studies in Korean; 19. Metaphoric and Metonymic Patterns with the Body-Part Term Nwun ‘Eye(s)' in Korean; 20. Wh-indefinites; 21. ‘Expletive' Negation in Korean; 22. Case Stacking in Korean: Argument Structure or Information Structure?

Part V. Sociolinguistics and Psycholinguistics

23. Grammaticalization in Korean; 24. Performing Gender in Korean: Language, Gender, and Social Change; 25. Jejueo: Korea’s Other Language

Part VI. Language Pedagogy

26. Genre-Based Approach to Korean Language Teaching: A Curriculum Application; 27. Towards Integrated Performance Assessment; 28. Interactional Competence in Korean Language; 29. From Bilingual Speakers to Korean Heritage Language Learners; 30. Language Policy and Its Effect in South Korea


Korean: A Linguistic Introduction

Sungdai Cho and John Whitman

Cambridge University Press, 2020


In this accessible survey, two leading specialists introduce a broad range of topics in Korean linguistics, including the general historical background of the language, its phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and sociolinguistics, and the interfaces between those areas. Expertly written and drawing on the authors' many years of experience, the book answers questions such as what languages is Korean related to, what is unique about the Korean sound system, and how are 'subject' and 'topic' distinguished in Korean. It guides the student through the major issues in Korean linguistics in a theory-neutral way, at the same time discussing the latest research on the language, and exploring its unique writing system, which has long been a topic of interest to linguists and to those interested in writing systems in general. It is the ideal introduction for students both at the beginning of their studies, and at a more advanced level.


Future Yet to Come: Sociotechnical Imaginaries in Modern Korea

Edited by Sonja M. Kim and Robert Ji-Song Ku

University of Hawaii Press, forthcoming


South Korea is home to cutting-edge electronics, state-of-the-art medical facilities, and ubiquitous high-speed internet. The country’s meteoric rise from the ashes of the Korean War (1950–1953) to rank among the world’s most technologically advanced societies is often attributed to state-led promotion of science and technology in nation-building projects. With chapters that discuss Korea’s dynastic past, foreign occupations, Cold War geopolitics, postwar rehabilitation in the twentieth century, and the contemporary neoliberal moment, Future Yet to Come argues that a longer historical arc and broader disciplinary approach better elucidate these transformations. The book’s contributors illuminate the “sociotechnical imaginaries” that promoted, sustained, and contested Korea’s scientific, medical, and technological projects in realizing desired futures.

Focusing special attention on visual culture and the life sciences, the essays present competing visions held by individuals and institutions of power in the use and purpose of scientific engagements. They demonstrate Korean specificities in culture and language, and the myriad social, political, spatial, and symbolic arrangements that shaped incorporations of and changes to existing systems of knowledge and material practices. Whether discussing moral epistemologies, imperialist or developmentalist thrusts in public health regimes, or new configurations of the “self” enabled by bio industries and media technologies, the book expands both the regional and global understanding of translation, accommodation, and transfer. Tracing imaginaries across the vicissitudes of Korea’s past reminds us of their history and makes visible their shifts and resilience in dynamic political economies.

Future Yet to Come reminds us how deeply intertwined science, medicine, and technology are to not only our polities, corporations, and societies but also the very human condition. Bridging histories of science and medicine with anthropologies of technology and the arts, the book will appeal to students and scholars of Korean and East Asian studies as well as those with interests in comparative history of medicine, STS (society and technology studies), art history, media studies, transnationalism, diaspora, and postcolonialism.


Pop Empires: Transnational and Diasporic Flows of India and Korea

Edited by S. Heijin Lee, Monika Mehta, and Robert Ji-Song Ku

University Hawaii Press, 2019


At the start of the twenty-first century challenges to the global hegemony of U.S. culture are more apparent than ever. Two of the contenders vying for the hearts, minds, bandwidths, and pocketbooks of the world’s consumers of culture (principally, popular culture) are India and South Korea. “Bollywood” and “Hallyu” are increasingly competing with “Hollywood”—either replacing it or filling a void in places where it never held sway.

This critical multidisciplinary anthology places the mediascapes of India (the site of Bollywood), South Korea (fountainhead of Hallyu, aka the Korean Wave), and the United States (the site of Hollywood) in comparative dialogue to explore the transnational flows of technology, capital, and labor. It asks what sorts of political and economic shifts have occurred to make India and South Korea important alternative nodes of techno-cultural production, consumption, and contestation. By adopting comparative perspectives and mobile methodologies and linking popular culture to the industries that produce it as well as the industries it supports, Pop Empires connects films, music, television serials, stardom, and fandom to nation-building, diasporic identity formation, and transnational capital and labor. Additionally, via the juxtaposition of Bollywood and Hallyu, as not only synecdoches of national affiliation but also discursive case studies, the contributors examine how popular culture intersects with race, gender, and empire in relation to the global movement of peoples, goods, and ideas.

Imperatives of Care: Women and Medicine in Colonial Korea

Sonja M. Kim

University of Hawaii Press, 2019


In late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Korea, public health priorities in maternal and infant welfare privileged the new nation’s reproductive health and women’s responsibility for care work to produce novel organization of services in hospitals and practices in the home. The first monograph on this topic, Imperatives of Care places women and gender at the center of modern medical transformations in Korea. It outlines the professionalization of medicine, nursing, and midwifery, tracing their evolution from new legal and institutional infrastructures in public health and education, and investigates women’s experiences as health practitioners and patients, medical activities directed at women’s bodies, and the related knowledge and goods produced for and consumed by women. Sonja M. Kim draws on archival sources, some not previously explored, to foreground the ways individual women met challenges posed by uneven developments in medicine, intervened in practices aimed at them, andseized the evolving options that became available to promote their personal, familial, and professional interests. She demonstrates how medicine produced, and in turn was produced by, gendered expectations caught between the Korean reformist agenda, the American Protestant missionary enterprise, and Japanese imperialism.


Rewriting Revolution: Women, Sexuality, and Memory in North Korean Fiction

Immanuel Kim

University of Hawaii Press, 2018


North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), is firmly fixed in the Western imagination as a barbaric vestige of the Cold War, a “rogue” nation that refuses to abide by international norms. It is seen as belligerent and oppressive, a poor nation bent on depriving its citizens of their basic human rights and expanding its nuclear weapons program at the expense of a faltering economy. Even the North’s literary output is stigmatized and dismissed as mere propaganda literature praising the Great Leader.

Immanuel Kim’s book confronts these stereotypes, offering a more complex portrayal of literature in the North based on writings from the 1960s to the present. The state, seeking to “write revolution,” prescribes grand narratives populated with characters motivated by their political commitments to the leader, the Party, the nation, and the collective. While acknowledging these qualities, Kim argues for deeper readings. In some novels and stories, he finds, the path to becoming a revolutionary hero or heroine is no longer a simple matter of formulaic plot progression; instead it is challenged, disrupted, and questioned by individual desires, decisions, doubts, and imaginations. Fiction in the 1980s in particular exhibits refreshing story lines and deeper character development along with creative approaches to delineating women, sexuality, and the family. These changes are so striking that they have ushered in what Kim calls a Golden Age of North Korean fiction.

Rewriting Revolution charts the insightful literary frontiers that critically portray individuals negotiating their political and sexual identities in a revolutionary state. In this fresh and thought-provoking analysis of North Korean fiction, Kim looks past the ostensible state propaganda to explore the dynamic literary world where individuals with human emotions reside. His book fills a major lacuna and will be of interest to literary scholars and historians of East Asia, as well as to scholars of global and comparative studies in socialist countries.


Curriculum Development and Assessment Guidelines for the National Standards Project

Sungdai Cho

Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018


This book is designed to make public the detailed work that has been developed for the Korean National Standards Project in two areas, namely curriculum development and assessment guideline. The first part of the book provides basic information on Korea and the Korean language, together with its structure and aims. Part Two discusses the four levels of curriculum currently present in high schools and colleges. The third section consists of assessment guidelines to the four levels available in college education.

The entire framework offered here is based on the 5Cs principle (specifically Communication, Cultures, Comparisons, Connections, and Communities) promoted by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, with more fine-tuned specifications of standards for each aspect.

Last Updated: 3/8/21