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Warch, Karin Joy (2019) Korean art and humor : tracing the development of terms and identity. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis asks when humor was first used to describe or define Korean art and considers examples to the contrary and the context in which they arise. It attempts to trace the notion of humor as a continuous rhetoric in Korean art scholarship and perception. In order to prove the pervasiveness of humor within the history of Korean material culture and its promoted perceptions and receptions on the global stage, this thesis also examines key terminology, and the origins, application connotative development of humor within key historical, social and political Korean contexts. The role of Japan and early Korean scholars, both native and international is considered with regard to the legacies inherited by the pioneers of Korean art scholarship and characterization. Also considered is the restless desire of Korea to define its national identity, and how political motives and diplomacy are met through the collaboration and international organization of art and culture exhibitions. Specific historical events examined include the late 19th-early 20th century, the Colonial Period, and the postwar years. Key events discussed include the first international exhibitions of Korean art, the 1988 Olympics, and the current wave of “K-pop” on the global stage. The topic of humor and its application to the above-mentioned periods and events in Korea’s history is traced along with the development of its meaning and relationship to Korea’s art and culture.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Charlotte Horlyck
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2020 11:25

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