Organized Panel Session
Because the modernization process in Korea had destructive and almost irreversible impacts on the natural environment and ecology, current scholarship tends to track environmental impacts in the modern period while ambiguously imagining the premodern era’s environmental issues as being less threatening and as separated from human civilization. The prolific literature on environmental issues in premodern Korea, however, indicates that the environment had a dramatic impact on the people, politics, and arts of the society. Howard Kahm’s research on the climate proxy data and the historical records on climate change in the Koryŏ period reveals the climate’s socioeconomic effects, from the dynastic fall to the dynastic establishment and the strengthening of monarchical rule. Kyungmi Kim’s research on the pseudo-biography of Koryŏ explores the literary representation of the relationships between human and non-human subjects in pre-modern Korean literature from an eco-critical perspective. Youme Kim examines the literary representations of apex predators–human interactions in premodern literary records to highlight anthropocentric and androcentric perspectives. Koreans’ conceptualizations and descriptions of animal–human interactions show that the natural environment was not important per se; rather, it was important for the well-being of humanity and androcentric premodern Korean society. It is hoped that in bringing together studies from different areas of expertise to address a common and vitally importation question on the environment, this panel will reveal a fuller view of the link between environmental changes and humans and foster a continuing dialogue on premodern Korean society.