The U.S. Government's Book Translation Program in Korea in the 1950s

1950년대 한국에서의 미국 도서번역 사업의 전개와 의미

  • Cha, Jae Young (Department of Communication, Chungnam National University)
  • Received : 2016.05.30
  • Accepted : 2016.07.18
  • Published : 2016.08.15


This study dealt with the U.S. government's book translation project as a part of its public diplomacy to gain the Korean people's 'minds and thoughts' in the midst of cultural Cold War from the end of World War II to the late 1950s. It was found that the U.S. book translation project was begun during the U.S. military occupation of South Korea, though with minimum efforts, and reached its peak in the late 1950s, In general, the purposes of the U.S. book translation project in South Korea was as follows: to emphasize the supremacy of American political and economic systems; to criticize the irrationality of communism and conflicts in the communist societies; to increase the Korean people's understanding of the U.S. foreign policies; to publicize the achievement of the U.S. people in the areas of arts, literature, and sciences. In the selection of books for translation, any ones were excluded which might contradict to U.S. foreign policy or impair U.S. images abroad. It must be noted that publications of a few Korean writers' books were supported by the project, if they were thought to be in service for its purposes. Even some Japanese books, which were produced by the U.S. book translation project in Japan, were utilized for the best effects of the project in South Korea. It may be conceded that the U.S. book translation project contributed a little bit to the compensation for the dearth of knowledge and information in South Korea at that time. However, the project may have distorted the Korean people's perspectives toward the U.S. and world, owing to the book selection in accordance with the U.S. government's policy guidance.


Supported by : 충남대학교


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