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Asia-Watch: “VANK declares war on Gutenberg”

November 1st, 2006 . by Matt

gutenberg
Koreans are trying to claim credit for the invention of the printing press. Gutenberg’s printing press was unique for the combination of special inks, paper, and type that it used, and differed significantly from the Korean printing press, which was based on an earlier printing press invented by the Chinese

Asia-Watch has a two part report on VANK trying to claim credit for the invention of the printing press for Korea. Obviously, this is not true. VANK has been accused of spamming and cyber-terrorism when pushing its agenda.

More on VANK here and here. There are also VANK’ers on Wikipedia, or people with the same ideas. Read about their distortions here and here.

Read about VANK’s distortion of the history of the printing press on Asia-Watch – part one and part two.


32 Responses to “Asia-Watch: “VANK declares war on Gutenberg””

  1. comment number 1 by: Untainted

    VANK… why would anyone want to name an organization “VANK”…

    In anycase, I generally agree with the view that printing technology originated from China.

    While I may not agree with every content and opinion expressed in this site, this should serve as a very constructive site to many people considering the extremly biased and tainted media many Koreans are exposed to.

    On a second thought, we are all by-products of media aren’t we…

  2. comment number 2 by: dogbert

    In 5000 years, Koreans couldn’t come up with so much as the flush toilet.

    Let Lord Nelson and Gutenberg rest in peace.

  3. comment number 3 by: myCoree

    In Korea, I has been taught that our ancestors invented the METAL TYPE, not the TYPE. I was not taught that they invented the TYPE.
    If VANK claims so, they are surely worng.
    But, I can’t see any claim that the TYPE was invented in Korea.
    Do you have any intention to distort some facts, Matt? . ^_^

    Bye-bye, Matt. (I M BZ)

  4. comment number 4 by: Matt

    In Korea, I has been taught that our ancestors invented the METAL TYPE, not the TYPE. I was not taught that they invented the TYPE.
    If VANK claims so, they are surely worng.
    But, I can’t see any claim that the TYPE was invented in Korea.
    Do you have any intention to distort some facts, Matt? . ^_^

    myCoree, if that is true, then why do Koreans always claim to have invented the printing press? I have never heard a Korean limit their claim to improving type by changing it from clay to metal.

    Probably every single person reading this site has been told by Koreans that Koreans invented the printing press.

  5. comment number 5 by: GarlicBreath

    I have heard that Koreans have invented the printing press.

    Kyopos brainwashing innocent american school children.
    http://www.apa.si.edu/Curriculum%20Guide-Final/unit1.htm

    For example, Koreans invented the movable type printing press using woodblocks around 700 A.D. They invented metal-movable type printing around 1200, which was 200 years before Johannes Gutenberg printed his famous Bible

  6. comment number 6 by: kojibomb

    I think majority of Koreans believe that

    Korean history is rich in cultural and artistic achievements. For example, Koreans invented the movable type printing press using woodblocks around 700 A.D. They invented metal-movable type printing around 1200, which was 200 years before Johannes Gutenberg printed his famous Bible.

    because

    A similar printing technology was known in Korea and China by at least in 1234, but did not have sIuch a widespread cultural and commercial impact as Gutenberg’s printing technology, which spread rapidly throughout Europe

    that’s from wiki

    It also says,

    Since the use of printing from movable type arose in East Asia before it did in Europe, it is therefore relevant to ask whether Gutenberg may have been influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Korean or Chinese discoveries of movable type printing

    The transition from block printing to movable metal type occurred in Korea sometime in the thirteenth century to meet the heavy demand for both religious and secular books. A set of ritual books, Sangjong Gogeum Yemun were printed with the movable metal type in 1234. [2]

    The credit for the first iron printing press may go to Chae Yun-eui of the Goryeo Dynasty in 1234, [5], and the first movable type was invented in China, traditionally credited with Bi Sheng, between 1041 to 1048.

    So I m definetely confused here. Everywhere they say Gutenberg is the inventor but say that East Asian countries like China and Korea had the technology first. And, iron printing press??? isn’t that same as metal printing press??

  7. comment number 7 by: kojibomb

    oh, it different kind…. There are types for these things… Shouldn’t we just say invention of the printing press was in China.

    Pistol, Machine Gun, Semi Machine Gun, BAZOOKA, aren’t these all just guns???

    What’s the difference between metal?? wood?? and iron printing method… I say first people who made the printing press gets all the credit.

  8. comment number 8 by: Travolta

    Im with kojibomb. Moveable type seems to be the important factor with the invention. Making the movable type metal is just an improvement. Its like saying Japan just invented the car last week because they came out with the most advanced car yet (just a random example, I dont know which is the most advanced car).

    The other point is that countries don’t invent things. Individuals invent things. They put their mind to their work and come up with something, unless its a state sponsored project you can’t say “Korea invented the printing press” and then try to make everyone in the country feel all fuzzy and cool about it as if their race is some how superior because some dude invented something hundreds of years ago. That’s just childish. An Australian invented the lawn mower (i heard) but I don’t go about feeling all great about Australia because of that. Someone would have invented one eventually. If there is a need for an invention humans will eventually figure out a way to make it happen if possible.

  9. comment number 9 by: jodi

    As much as I hate VANK, they are correct in asking that Korea gets credit for inventing the printing press. (What VANK should be aware of is the fact that this has been published in many places before and therefore there is no need to put up a stink about it.)

    In fact, just the other day I came across some reading material which credited Korea for the invention and I will quote it right here since I just so happen to have the book in front of me. It is a book written by an American (not even KA) by the name of L. Robert Kohls:

    Contrary to what Americans and Europeons are taught at school, Johannes Gutenberg did not invent movable type. The Koreans did, two hundred years before Gutenberg’s time. The earliest recorded date for Korean movable bronze type is A.D. 1234, but its invention is quite possibly even earlier. (Gutenberg did invent the press that holds the type bed, speeding up the printing process.)

    Sorry Matt but as much as I hate VANK too, I’m gonna have to side with them. Better you look this up for yourself though as it is a well documented fact. Surprised you didn’t bother to look this up before you published this on your blog.

  10. comment number 10 by: jodi

    PS: I have the full bibliography for this stuff if you don’t believe me.

  11. comment number 11 by: Matt

    Hi Jodi,

    Korea did not invent movable type, that was already invented by a guy in China. What Koreans did was improve on the clay movable type by using metal for the type. It constitutes an improvement, but was not revolutionary.

    I have already debated with issue extensively with Kushibo’s alter ego, Nora.

    Gutenbergs invention was significantly different. It used special inks, paper, and the press itself was different (meaning that it was actually able to mass produce books and newspapers, unlike the ones in China and Korea).

  12. comment number 12 by: madne0

    “press itself was different (meaning that it was actually able to mass produce books and newspapers, unlike the ones in China and Korea).”

    Exactly. I’m just going to rip off the important parts of the wikipedia article on Printing:
    “Johann Gutenberg, of the German city of Mainz, developed European printing technology in 1440, with which the classical age of printing began. Also, Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer experimented with him in Mainz. Genealogically, all modern movable type printing can be traced back to a single source, Gutenberg’s printing press which he derived from the design of long known agricultural presses. East Asian style movable type printing, which was based on laborious manual rubbing and which had been scarcely used, practically died out after the introduction of European style printing in the 19th century.
    Gutenberg is also credited with the introduction of an oil-based ink which was more durable than previously used water-based inks. Having worked as a professional goldsmith, Gutenberg made skillful use of the knowledge of metals he had learned as a craftsman. Gutenberg was also the first to make his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, which was critical for producing durable type that produced high-quality printed books, and proved to be more suitable for printing than the clay, wooden or bronze types used in East Asia. To create these lead types, Gutenberg used what some considered his most ingenious invention, a special matrix wherewith the moulding of new movable types with an unprecedented precision at short notice became feasible. Within a year after his B42, Gutenberg also published the first coloured prints.”

    The Chinese and Korean method of printing, while faster then simply making the book again and again by hand, was still severely time consuming. So, for the lack of a better word, Guttenberg “industrialized” printing.

  13. comment number 13 by: madne0

    BTW, want to know why the Chinese and the Koreans, while several hundred years ahead of Europeans in the printing business, never invented the printing press? They didn’t know what a screw was. Only after the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century did east asia come to know the screw. How a small, and seemingly worthless, item can change history.

  14. comment number 14 by: seouldout

    madne0, right on. Instead of Korea’s heart warming rags-to-riches story the VANKers are setting the story straight with the riches-to-rags-to-riches story. Which inevitably leads to discomforting questions along the lines of: “As you were so advanced, and you fell so far, what happened?”

    And the answer isn’t, “Ah, Japanese pirates.”

    Anyway, I thought Guttenberg was credited with inventing “The Printing Press”. Of which moveable type, metal or not, is a component. The sum is greater than its parts. Strikes me that VANK, or the likes of, has shifted the focus to “moveable type”, or equates “moveable type” to “The Printing Press”, so that it can attach its quest for Korean recognition to an already recognized figure. Disingenuous.

    The Chinese get credit for moveable type. Guttenberg gets credit for the printing press. And the Koreans get credit for a tempest in a teapot. Cosmic order has been restored.

  15. comment number 15 by: Two Cents

    I think one of the main obstacles that existed for the popularization of mass-produced books in the Far East printed using the “movable type” was the sheer number of the Chinese characters needed to make a single set. It probably made the printing block more efficient. The cost and labor for producing even a single set would have been enourmous, and I wouldn’t want to go through with the time-consuming job of searching through nearly 10,000 characters to prepare a manuscript.

  16. comment number 16 by: GarlicBreath

    After reading what Matt and the (Kushibo / Nora Park/ John Danial “Nate” Hilts Park Lesbian Republican Transgendered Midget White Male) wrote, I must agree with Matt.

    Korea improved on a chinese invention- big deal. Unless you are a koreaphile.

    Also, is there any of the originally Korean ‘metal types’ around? I think that we are trusting that Korean ‘historians’ are telling the truth about this. And if you don’t think Koreans will lie about history, then look what they say about when they first ‘discovered’ the Japanese island of Takeshima.

  17. comment number 17 by: tomato

    It seems that while Koreans are trying to prove their superiority over other people, evidences backing up their claim are simply lacking…so they make them up. Or claim that the Japanese destroyed them.

  18. comment number 18 by: myCoree

    Hi, GarlicBreath.

    You wrote : “Korea improved on a chinese invention- big deal.”

    Changing “clay” or “wood” to “metal” was not so easy as you think. They developed the oily ink(먹) for printing like Gutenberg. They didn’t have any need to press to print because their paper was very thin. But, Gutenberg combined the metal type, oil ink and the press. That was his ‘invention’. (Can you see the border between invention and improvement? Thomas Edison “Invention King” invented thousands of ‘revolutionary’ items? I don’t think there are so many.) Gutenberg had far more advantage in popularizing his printing skill because he didn’t have to make so many letter-types as Chinese character users.

    And You wrote :
    Also, is there any of the originally Korean ‘metal types’ around? I think that we are trusting that Korean ‘historians’ are telling the truth about this. And if you don’t think Koreans will lie about history, then look what they say about when they first ‘discovered’ the Japanese island of Takeshima.

    You may search through internet and you can get some reliable data. But, you should learn Korean boforehand. Or, you can ask some able men like Gerry Bevers.
    And, I think you sometimes need to doubt the reliability of the Japanese claim or data. I believe that they have ‘advanced’ in making something false.

    Good night.

  19. comment number 19 by: tomato

    And, I think you sometimes need to doubt the reliability of the Japanese claim or data. I believe that they have ‘advanced’ in making something false.

    I suggest you doubt your Korean sources, myCoree. This blog is what it’s all about, by the way…doubting Korean claims.

  20. comment number 20 by: Richardson

    I’ve heard Koreans claim that Korea invented the printing press, but upon questioning always get it down to the invention of movable metal type. Usually it’s a language thing. Once the distinction is made, I’ve never had a Korean go on to insist that Korea invented the printing press itself.

    Moveable metal type could be used many more times than the other types, and was indeed a vast jump in technology from clay or wood moveable type, which quickly lost sharpness and clarity.

    It is my impression that, aside from moveable clay and wood type, metal block (not moveable) was in use in China. But not the moveable metal type.

  21. comment number 21 by: GarlicBreath

    Jodi

    I am interested in your proof that Korea invented the printing press.

  22. comment number 22 by: GarlicBreath

    One more thing that gutinburg did is print a book people wanted to read. The book was in high demand all over europe. It was called the bible.

    What about the korean “printing press” what books did it make? Funny how only replica of replicas of a few characters exist.

  23. comment number 23 by: ponta

    According to Asia watch, it seems VANK knows that Chinese invented the type and Korea improved it. They want to make the fact known to the world.
    It seems to me that VANK’s project is essentially to an attempt to restore the confidence of Korea by making the world believe, rightly or not, how great Korea has been.. It is understandable because VANK consists of the member of teenagers.
    What adult Koreans should tell them is to to stop their absurd attempt:otherwise, some people in the world will think the reason they are doing it is because Koreans are insecure and have nothing to brag about.
    It would make me blush if young Japanese group protested against publishers in the world to include the article of Seki every time Newton was mentioned.

  24. comment number 24 by: GarlicBreath

    Koreans may have invented dog eating.

  25. comment number 25 by: Errol

    Here’s an article by Joseon Ilbo that doesn’t cover up wrongdoing by Koreans nor to exaggerate successes.

    “One of Asia’s great industrialists, he played a leading role in lifting South Korea from a poverty-stricken mess to the world’s 11th largest economy.” Of Paik, it says, “In 1963, he set to work dismantling 13 old black-and-white TV sets and figuring out ways to distort their pictures with magnets, microphones and other means,” becoming “the founding father of video art.”

    The Hong Kong press says two notable omissions — former presidents Park Chung-hee and Kim Dae-jung — were due to the fact that the former, despite being credited with much of Korea’s economic growth, prevented the development of democracy, while the jury is still out on the achievement of the latter in North-South reconciliation and over corruption in Kim’s government.

    Koreans can do.

  26. comment number 26 by: lirelou

    Much of what I’ve read here reminds me of the old “who discovered America” arguments. It is irrevelant whether Irish monks or Vikings tread on that continent before Cristobal Colon (his real name). They neither left a permanent mark, nor spread word of their discoveries beyond a small circle. Columbus’ discovery opened America to Spain,and later the world. It was capitalized upon by a civilization able to do so. Asians may very well have had printing “presses” before Guttenburg got busy, but their inventions neither matured, nor spread beyond the confines of their own cultures. Guttenburg’s printing press did both, primarily because European culture was undergoing vast changes and expansion at the time. As most of us know, Asian culture is currently in a state of vast changes (for both better and worse, as was Europe’s). In 2003, South Korea ranked #6 is business creativity and research, #5 worldwide in total expenditure on research and develoment, and #3 in the number of patents granted to residents. (Source: The Economist “Pocket World in Figures” 2003 edition). Asia’s day in the sun is fast approaching, and Korea will play its part in making the new discoveries that make that possible. They don’t need to exaggerate old accomplishments that were eclipsed by Westerners to do so. Unless, of course, they’re social science majors who can’t get dates. (Humour!) I find it interesting that one of China’s great fortunes owed its origins to a young Chinese who ran away to America, obtained a college degree, was ordained a Presbyterian minister, and returned to China, where he eventually left the ministry to enter the printing business. Charlie Soong made his seed capital printing bibles. Had he been an ultra-nationalist, I suppose he would have passed up Guttenburg’s invention for wood blocks, peddling them in Shanghai’s version of Insa-dong. Luckily for the Soong “dynasty”, he did not.

  27. comment number 27 by: kojibomb


    after reading this = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing

    1

    The oldest surviving documented printed book, a copy of the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, is dated 848 AD, but a recent excavation at a Korean pagoda may have unearthed an even earlier Buddhist text dating to AD 750-751.

    2

    Movable type allowed for much more flexible processes than hand copying or block printing. It was first invented in 1041 by Bi Sheng in China. Sheng used clay type, which broke easily, but Wang Zhen later carved more durable type from wood.

    The transition from wood type to metal type occurred during the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea and is credited to Chwe Yun-Ui. Examples of this metal type are on display in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. A set of ritual books, Sangjong Gogeum Yemun were printed with the movable metal type in 1234. [4][5] The oldest extant movable metal print book is the Jikji, printed in Korea in 1377[6].

    3

    Gutenberg is also credited with the introduction of an oil-based ink which was more durable than previously used water-based inks.

    I think

    1 prob Chinese invented the woodblock printing, but I think both China and Korea practiced and made it better overtime.
    2 Chinese movable woodblock printing broke easily so… a Korean inventor made it into metal so it would be more durable…
    3 So… I think Gutenburg didn’t invent any type of printing… Chinese printing methods prob diffused to Europe… but no evidence to back that up… so Gutenburg gets the credit yay~~

    Koreans should get credit for developing/inventing printing. Artifacts of woodblock printing were found in both China and Korea at almost same time(I think?) so not really sure who invented eh? At least,, we can be sure that Koreans at least evolved the movable printing from wood to metal.

  28. comment number 28 by: Fantasy

    Although I have nothing to contribute regarding the question who actually invented the movable type (frankly, I do not care much), I have one interesting story to tell in connection with Korean attitudes regarding this topic:

    As permanent readers of this blog are well aware, I am resident in Germany. Mainz, the city where Gutenberg actually made his alleged invention (whether or not he should be credited with it), is a mere three hours away by bus. Unsurprisingly, there they have set up a Gutenberg museum.

    On one occasion I acted as a guide for a group of overseas Ph.D.-Students of different nationalities, who were doing their dissertations in Germany. The goal of the excursion was to spend an enjoyable day in Mainz (which is quite a quaint city), with a guided tour of the Gutenberg museum thrown in.

    And that is where the problem started. The guide rambled on for a long time about the topic what actually constitutes movable type and about its significance. That was still okay with the Koreans. But, in the end, it came to the crunch. This being the Gutenberg museum, it is entirely unsurprising that she credited whom? with the invention of the movable type ? Sure, poor old Gutenberg, whom else ?

    She also mentioned that the Chinese had invented something similar to the mpvable type before, and that the Koreans may possibly have improved upon it.

    But, as is easy to imagine, these remarks sparked of a shit storm among the Koreans, which prevented the guide from continuing with her explanations. Eventually, I told her that it was no use continuing, gave her a tip, and herded everyone outside, which meant, after all, that we (Koreans, as well as the rest of us) missed the demonstration of the actual printing process “Gutenberg-Style”.

    Never mind.

  29. comment number 29 by: tomato

    Fantasy,

    Gosh…I never heard the Icelanders storming any Columbia Day celebrations in the US…although one of them probably did reach North America before Columbus. Misplaced nationalism is a disease.

  30. comment number 30 by: Fantasy

    Tomato,

    yeah, right you are.

  31. comment number 31 by: Two Cents

    kojibomb,
    Gutenberg was both a experienced woodblock printer and goldsmith, according to wiki. I do see a very high possibility for him to have made the leap from woodblock to metal type, especially is he was a creative man who wanted to meet the demands for copies of the Bible. For Korea to claim that it MUST have influenced Gutenberg is, in my opinion, too early to say. It takes extensive research and tedious field work to establish such a theory as fact.. Was Gutenberg acquianted with a merchant that traveled to Korea who told him of it? Did he get his hands on a copy of the printed material or maybe even a piece of the type? Was Gutenberg’s formula for manufacturing the type pieces in any ways similar to the Korean metallurgy techniques? Just because the Koreans used movable metal type before Gutenberg did, it does not automatically mean that the Korean invention affected him. It may even have been the Chinese version..

    Anyhow, what is great about Gutenberg’s invention or innovation, whichever you want to call it, is that it provided mass produced books that were affordable and may have been the key to the explosive spread of the Renaissance. It certainly boosted the availability of books in Europe and helped spread new ideas. What impact did the movable metal type have on Korean culture or history? Surely such a great invention must have had some effect. Did it help spread Buddhism, or result in the eradication of more primitive religions by the mass-produced Buddhist literature? Did it propagate revolutionary ideas that jeopardized ancient institutions or the dynasty? Maybe Koreans should focus more on their own history instead of hijacking the accomplishments of Europeans and Gutenberg, and then maybe, the world will justly recognize the Korean achievements even without all the whining from VANK.

  32. comment number 32 by: General Tiger

    Damn those passionate idiots, they should remember to let certain things be.