SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

A Ram Park

BA (Goldsmiths College, University of London) MA (Seoul National University) MA (SOAS)
  • Research

Overview

A Ram Park
Name:
A Ram Park
Email address:
Thesis title:
A Comparative Study of Women's Buddhist Patronage in Joseon Korea and Edo Japan
Year of Study:
2
Internal Supervisors

Biography

Ever since I began studying as an international student in the UK, my field of study has been concretised in art, photography, and art history. At Goldsmiths College, I took a BA in Fine Art (Studio Practice and Contemporary Critical Studies, 2008). I was devoted to making installation works and participated in the collaborative group exhibitions both at London and South Korea. However, to pursue disciplined academic cultivation in Asian art history, I took two MA degrees at Seoul National University (2014) and SOAS (2018). The additional religious education that I received from Korean Buddhist monks further centralised my academic foundation in researching the topics on East Asian Buddhist art.

Before embarking on a PhD course, I worked as an intern in the Department of Fine Art at the National Museum of Korea (2014). The internship provided the essential opportunities in cultivating the project management skills such as participating in exhibition plans and archiving the annual reports on museum collections. My primary task was assigned in organising the collected data on the Buddhist Art Research Series - Buddhist Sculpture in the National Museum of Korea - which announced the decades of studies accumulated in Korean wooden Buddhist statues, and their scientific conservation process. Other work involved in assisting the special exhibition on the East Asian landscapes paintings entitled, Landscapes: Seeking the Ideal Land.

My decision to pursue a PhD course at SOAS is to widen the knowledge of Korean Buddhist art, following East Asian religious culture. The focus of my academic interest is keenly related with an interdisciplinary approach which bridges East Asian Buddhist art with gender issue and social communities. To reach out towards this new research horizon, the intensive training of SOAS offered (and is still providing) pivotal assistance in developing my studies on Buddhist visual culture. I firmly believe that, soon, it will become my scholarly duty to disseminate the invaluable cultural assets of Korean Buddhism, thus making it more easily understandable to the contemporary audience, regardless of their age and social occupation. Consequently, the vital experience at SOAS will contribute immensely to my academic route in Korean studies, where this ultimate reward will be manifested in my career plan as a museum curator in Korean Buddhist Art.

PhD Research

Abstract:
My research is a comparative study on Korean and Japanese court women’s Buddhist patronage during the Joseon and Edo periods. The thesis investigates the changing history of women’s Buddhist patronage in Korea and Japan beginning from the mid-thirteenth century, though the primary debate is focused on the cases of two representative queens in the seventeenth century. It aims to demonstrate the multifaceted religious sponsorship from the angle of court women and their close association with the monastic order. In terms of exploring the Buddhist visual culture, my work is linked to the issues of ritual implement (i.e. paintings) and the renovation of state-sponsored monasteries.

Fieldwork:
My fieldwork is mainly undertaken in Buddhist temples and museums. The most representative fieldwork had been in 2015 and 2018, where I visited Seizan Bunko in Kochi prefecture, Japan, and Sinwon-sa Temple in South Korea. Both fieldworks involved with the inspections of Buddhist paintings and architecture which had Joseon royal women as their primary patrons. As a second year PhD student, I am currently on fieldwork in Korea and Japan, inspecting Buddhist items which were once bestowed as temple treasuries as well as researching the visual archives on ritual paintings.

Conferences

2019 Japan Foundation and British Association for Japanese Studies (BAJS) Postgraduate Workshop, held at Cardiff University 2019.

Affiliations

I am currently a member of the Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women in Korea. This organisation fulfills the purpose of introducing the tradition of Korean Buddhism through an international conference and presenting the diverse perspectives of Buddhist women from the different cultural background. As part of the volunteer activity, I translated two English papers into Korean, which discussed the Buddhist women’s pilgrimage to China and India, and Buddhist concepts of gender equality accepted in Vietnamese society today. The fully translated papers were later presented as the supporting documents at the International Sakyadhita conference held at the University of Hong Kong in June 2017.

Research

My research interests encompasses art, religion, pre-modern history, and literary studies.