SCSU Today

Professor earns National Endowment fellowship

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Marie Kim’s book on Korean legal history will fill a gap on library shelves throughout the English-speaking world. That’s why the National Endowment for the Humanities (NE H) awarded the history professor a $50,400 research fellowship at St Cloud State to complete the manuscript. She is one of 110 academics nationwide who received a 2010-’11 NE H fellowship.

The book, tentatively titled Law and Custom in Korea, will be the first English-language treatment of Korean colonial civil law written outside the nationalistic viewpoint that holds sway in the existing literature, according to Kim. The law was an aspect of colonial domination rooted in 40 years of Japanese domination and colonization, said Kim.

During the last half of the 19th century, Japan willingly adopted European civil law traditions in what is known as a receptive transplant process. Korea did not have it so easy and from 1905-’45, a modern, industrialized Japan forced civil law traditions on Korea. Japan also destroyed cultural artifacts, suppressed the Korean language and exploited hundreds of thousands of Koreans in forced-labor systems.

According to Kim, the prevailing scholarly perspective on Korean colonial law is often skewed by intense nationalism that is a by-product of the colonial period. Kim said her book will offer a more detached view of how civil law evolved and how it served Korea.

Kim, whose Korean first name is Seong-Hak, was born and reared in Seoul. Her other area of expertise is early modern European history, particularly 16th century French history. Her 1997 book on a pragmatic French chancellor of that period is available from Truman State University Press.

Kim began teaching at St. Cloud State in 2000. Her book project evolved during a 2004-05 Fulbright grant that funded research and lecturing in South Korea. She is also a licensed attorney in Minnesota.

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