The characteristics of Korea's eugenic movement
in the colonial period represented in the bulletin, Woosaeng

Shin YJ.
Department of Preventive Medicine,
Hanyang University College of Medicine.
Uisahak. 2006 Dec;15(2):133-55.


Woosaeng, meaning "eugenic" in Korean, was a bulletin published by the Korean Eugenics Association in 1934. With detailed review of the contributors to Woosaeng, its publication background and the contents, the characteristics of Korea's eugenic movement in 1930's and its historical implications of public health are studied. Intellectuals, especially some medical doctors educated abroad, played the pivotal role in publishing Woosaeng and leading the eugenic movement in 1930's. Lee Gabsoo, a medical doctor educated in Germany, is identified as the key person in the whole process. Most of contributors including Lee considered medical science, especially genetics, as the foundation of eugenics and had strong confidence in their belief. A variety of eugenic movements and activities, including enactment of the national eugenic law around the world. was introduced to the Korean society through Woosaeng and it reinforced the eugenic activities in Korea. Although colonial Korea at the time was being heavily imposed with Japan's culture, the eugenic activities were also influenced by Germany and the US through the contributors educated oversea. The overall content and tone of Woosaeng, revealed its 'soft' characteristics, yet it also implied its vulnerability to 'hard' eugenics. Korea's eugenic movement around Woosaeng faces turnover right before 'The Go Fast Imperialism' period. The high class intellectuals tamed by Japanese colonial paradigm in eugenics took the lead and ended up having a significant influence upon the activities around Woosaeng. And even after Koreans' liberation from Japan's annexation, they were able to retain their influence in public health area in the Korean society. In summary, Woosaeng guided us to understand the characteristics of Korea's eugenic movement in 1930's and the historical context of public health in Korea. Moreover, Woosaeng provided a large amount of information about the eugenic movements around the world as well as in Korea. It also provided some specific examples about the strategic relationship between medical science and politics in 1930's Korea.
Eugenics talk
Liberal Eugenics
'Designer babies'
Private eugenics
Psychiatric genetics
Human self-domestication
Selecting potential children
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis
Francis Galton and contemporary eugenics
Gene therapy and performance enhancement
The commercialisation of pre-natal enhancement

and further reading

BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
MDMA: Utopian Pharmacology
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World