Rather interesting RAS-K lecture this evening by Dr. William Pore, a visiting professor at Pusan National University:

When the Korean tribute envoy Yi Sugwang and his Vietnamese counterpart Phùng Khắc Khoan met in Beijing in 1597, Yi interrogated Phùng at some length about Vietnam. Yi’s detailed record of his meeting with Phùng is possibly the earliest extant direct evidence of Korean-Vietnamese envoy contact. One of the most remarkable features of Yi’s interrogation of Phùng is its rather relentless intensity, a feature which, if Yi were not already recognized as a “practical learning,” or Sirhak, scholar, would alone place him among Korea’s more enlightened literati. Not only is Yi’s interrogation of Phùng remarkable for its intense inquiry, but also for the type of questions asked, which seem quite modern in the concerns they express. Indeed, the information Yi sought about the contemporary situation in Vietnam forms what could be regarded as a kind of sixteenth century intelligence report.

The Speaker: A visiting professor in the Global Studies Program at Pusan National University during the spring semester of 2009, William F. Pore has a Ph.D. in Southeast Asian History with a concentration on Vietnam.