I forgot to include a link to Gord Sellar's series on Science Fiction in relation to Korea, which was pretty foolish of me since I had it in mind when I wrote this post.]
In a 1970 article by Richard Rutt (posted here) about the chapter set in Korea in Jack London's Star Rover, Rutt mentions that the Korea Times column Scouting the City (by James Wade) had mentioned a story which had appeared in Galaxy magazine that Wade thought might be the first science fiction story about Korea. I managed to to find that column, and what James Wade wrote in his weekly 'Scouting the City' column on October 10, 1970:
It's a bit late in the game to claim it as a discovery, but during the course of desultory reading we recently located what is probably the first science fiction story involving Korea. It's called "Mulligan, Come Home!" and it appeared in the February 1966 issue of Galaxy magazine.I enjoyed Wade's reference to "extend[ing] the pedigree of Korean royalty even further back." I also appreciate the choice of 2002 - a rather pivotal year in recent Korean history.
The author is Allen Kim Lang, who elsewhere admits having done time with the military in Korea - the Kim in his name added in honor of good friends here, he says.
This story is a typical and not very memorable future tale, of the zany-romp variety we were never very fond of. A pixie-like hero is being sought all over and beyond the world for various peccadilloes. He is finally traced to Korea, where he persuades the Korean leaders, whose chauvinism has caused them to adopt French as a second language and to purchase the latest space-ship at astronomical cost as a force de frappe (this was published in the heyday of Gaullism, remember), to lend him their rocket, on the excuse that he has found prototype Silla Dynasty celadon on one of the moons of Jupiter, and can thus prove that Tangun was the son of an extraterrestrial visitor, which would extend the pedigree of Korean royalty even further back.
He takes off with the "nubile daughter" of the President of Korea (year is 2002, by the way), and that ends the Korean part of the tale. The Tangun myth is told is some detail, but - aside from the fact that Silla made no celadon - kimchi is described as containing soy sauce, and "Auld Lang Syne" is again mistaken for "the Korean chant national."
It's a first, but we can hope perhaps for better.
The story was published in the February 1966 issue of Galaxy magazine (Volume: 24, Number: 3). Galaxy magazine was published from 1950 to 1980. Archive.org has scanned issues from 1950 to 1959 here, and a fairly comprehensive collection of the magazine's covers is here. Unfortunately, there's no copy of this story online that I can find.
As for another Korea-related story, in 1953 Galaxy rejected William Tenn's story "The Liberation of Earth," (a few quotes from it are here) due to its satirical commentary on the Korean War (it was eventually published in Future Science Fiction). It doesn't specifically mention Korea, though its story of two alien races arriving on earth and destroying it in an attempt to 'liberate' it from the other side clearly refers to the Korean War.
Back to Rutt's article, I wouldn't agree with Rutt that the Star Rover is science fiction; taken on its own, the chapter about Korea is not, and neither is the concept of of the main character remembering his past lives. Even if it was, however, I found another, earlier piece of writing that could be considered science fiction while skimming through a copy of the Korea Review at the National Assembly Library the other day. It's titled "A Visit to Seoul in 1975, and was published in 1906. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out what the writer, John Mikson, was doing in Korea; here's the 9-page story:
Obviously the writer was a missionary (I can find nothing else about him), and his vision of a future is of a Christian Utopia full of western style buildings, western entertainment (the opera), and enough people who speak English that he can get by just fine as a tourist, but he never conceived of the idea that Koreans would abandon their traditional clothing. I suppose one truly 'futuristic' invention that he writes about is the translator machine (so we can listen to sermons at church, of course). Still, his prediction of the city being quite western-looking, and ideas of a former sewage ditch being buried under a road were correct (especially for the actual Seoul of 1975), as, in a way, was his idea of surveillance. But other aspects, such as the absence of alcohol and the quiet audience watching an opera (see a comparison here), and the fact that Koreans liberated themselves from the colonial yoke through divine aid and their own efforts, were rather mistaken (even if he was only off by ten years in imagining when they would be liberated (1935 as opposed to 1945). He also didn't predict population growth in Korea and the urbanization which turned Seoul into a teeming metropolis.
At any rate, it's an interesting look one westerner's vision of the future for Korea. You never know what you may find when looking through old books.
That issue of the Korea Review can be found online at the RAS e-book library. It currently contains Transactions Online (every issue of Transactions (1901-present) in pdf and .doc format), as well as pdfs of the Korean Repository, Korea Review, and Transactions at Inje University, and text files of Monthly issues of the Korea Review, 1901--1905.