Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Korea Peace Corps volunteer newsletters (1966-1981) online

In addition to columns by members of groups like the Royal Asiatic Society and Yongsan Legacy, the Korea Times (which recently added the Korea Times Archive to its social media channels) has also added articles by Friends of Korea, a group based around former Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Korea between 1966 and 1981. It has contributed two articles - We left Korea, but Korea never left us, and Memories of serving as last Peace Corps Korea director

Anyone interested in the experience of Peace Corps Volunteers [PCVs] might want to check out the recently released book Peace Corps Volunteers and the Making of Korean Studies in the United States, in which former PCVs who became Korean Studies professors write about their experiences in Korea in the late 1960s and 1970s. Considering the era in which they lived in Korea, they have lots of interesting stories. I've been working on a memoir by David Dolinger, a PCV who was forced to resign from the Peace Corps for his role in the Kwangju Uprising, and last year I found documents and a photo for Paul Courtright, another PCV who witnessed 5.18, for his memoir Witnessing Gwangju. It was Paul who introduced me to Steve Literati, an M.A. Student at the University of Southern California researching the foreign witnesses of 5.18.

Through Steve I learned about the USC Digital Library's Peace Corps Korea Archive. It hosts scans of numerous materials dating back to the early days of the program as well as interviews with former PCVs (though not all of the materials in their collection are digitally archived). Something I decided to organize is its collection of newsletters edited and written by PCVs: Yobosayo, The Noodle, and Jam Pong. There are lots of first hand accounts by PCVs, stories, gripes, travel writing, warnings about yeontan gas, and even an essay critically analyzing the entire role of the Peace Corps in Korea (in the February 1968 issue) by a PCV named Bruce Cummings.

If you look near the top left of the pdf reader there is a red "download" button; use it to download a pdf of the entire issue.

1966 11 Yobosayo Vol. 1 No. 1