Human-Animal Relations and the Hunt in Korea and Northeast Asia

George Kallander

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Studies how the hunt, animals and regional dynamics informed local cultural practices on the Korean peninsula
  • Draws out the significance of the peninsula in regional and Eurasian history through the perspective of animals and the hunt; themes scholarship has overlooked
  • Reframes the struggle between a kingship and a powerful bureaucracy competing for authority over an expanding state in the shifting geopolitics of Northeast Asia at the advent of the Little Ice Age
  • Explores political and military contacts across Northeast Asia through Korean encounters with Yuan Mongols, Ming Chinese, Jurchen tribes, and Japanese on Tsushima and pirates along the coasts, all in the context of hunts, hunting grounds and wild beasts
  • Rereads the primary sources with an eye on animals and the hunt, including neglected sources such as a 15th-century manuscript on falcons and falconry
  • Draws upon secondary sources across the fields of animal studies, zoology, geography, biology and more, including forays into the larger topic of human–animal affairs and environmental history
  • Studies the circulation of ideas and intellectual contacts across the region, such as the cultural flows of Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, and folk and shaman beliefs related to animals and hunting

This book focuses on animals and hunting in Korea from the 1270s until 1506, situating the Korean peninsula in relation to the neighbouring Mongol Empire and Ming dynasty China. During this period, Korean statesmen expanded their influence over people and the environment, and human–animal relations became increasingly significant to politics, national security and elite identities. Animals were used in ritual sacrifices, submitted as tax tribute, exchanged in regional trade and, most significantly, hunted.

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List of Illustrations List of Kings

Introduction: Why Animals and the Hunt?

  1. Wild Beasts on a Premodern Peninsula
  2. Koryŏ and the Empire of the Hunt
  3. Growth, Transformation and Challenge in the Late-14th and Early 15th Centuries
  4. Confucian Beasts: Human–Animal Relations in Early Chosŏn
  5. Stalking the Forests: The Military on the Chase in the Mid-15th Century
  6. Challenges to the Royal Military Kangmu Hunt
  7. Public Animals, Private Hunts and Royal Authority in the 15th Century
  8. Release the Falcons: A King in a Confucian Court
  9. Taming Wild Animals and Beastly Monarchs

Conclusion: Legacies of the Hunt in Politics, Society and Empire

Bibliography Index

This innovative study of premodern Korea explores vital issues like the nature of rulership, foreign relations, and the state’s efforts to extract human and animal resources throughout the realm. It is an inspired—and inspiring—illustration of how to integrate Korea into the broader span of eastern Eurasian history.
David Robinson, Colgate University
George Kallander is Professor of History at Syracuse University, where he is also Director of the East Asia Program at the Moynihan Institute. He is author of The Diary of 1636: The Second Manchu Invasion of Korea (Columbia University Press, 2020) and Salvation through Dissent: Tonghak Heterodoxy and Early Modern Korea (University of Hawai’i Press, 2013). Kallander has received fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), the Academy of Korean Studies, and Columbia University.

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