SOAS University of London

Centre of Korean Studies

Propaganda and the Protectorate: Swedish Explorer Sven Hedin’s Visit to Korea in 1908

Sven Hedin
Dr Anders Karlsson (SOAS University of London)

Date: 29 January 2021Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 29 January 2021Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Virtual Event


Japan being concerned about negative images in the West of being the ‘Prussia of the East’, the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin (1865-1952), who just had completed an expedition to Tibet, was invited to the country in late 1908 to show that Japan was interested in science and culture and not only military expansion. After four busy weeks in Japan, Hedin also visited Seoul on his way back to Sweden. He stayed for nine days and gave a number of lectures, had several meetings with Resident-General Itō Hirobumi, and an audience with Emperor Sunjong. Although Itō explicitly asked him to later tell the West of “all the good things Japan was doing in Korea” (which he did), Hedin was a keen observer and his description of his visit to Korea provides interesting insights into the situation in Korea under Japanese protectorship, and he has left a very touching description of his audience with Sunjong. This lecture will describe Hedin’s visit based on his own writings as well as Korean and Swedish newspaper material from the time.

Loading the player...

Propaganda and the Protectorate: Swedish Explorer Sven Hedin’s Visit to Korea in 1908

Speaker Biography

Dr Anders Karlsson is a Senior Lecturer in Korean Studies at SOAS. He joined the school in 2000 after having completed his PhD in Korean history at Stockholm University. His main area of research is the social and institutional history of late Chosŏn Korea.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Korean Studies

Contact email: