The Treatment of Korea in American Reference Works

[See our 2006 Update]

 

General Overview

How is Korea treated in American reference works?

In the past forty years Korea has gone from a rural agricultural society to a rapidly developing, techno-logically advanced society. Korea is in the forefront of global technology, business, and politics. Korean-Americans are among the larger, more highly educated, and socially prominent immigrant populations in the United States. For these and many other reasons, Korea should be represented in reference works according to its increasing importance relative to the United States and other countries in the world's economy. However, in reviewing many available reference works, we found that Korea was not adequately represented. American reference works need to provide more quantity and quality of information regarding Korea. The purpose of this report is to demonstrate how Korea is represented in these works and suggest improvements publishers can make in order to represent Korea fairly. In each case, what we deem the appropriate treatment is nothing beyond what is actually found in one title or another, "the best case." In reality, we could reasonably argue for coverage better than the "best case;" but we have taken a conservative position, more easily defendable. It is certain that there will be publishers that will come out with an even better "best case" as Korea's growing importance in the world becomes recognized. But for now rather than creating our own "best case," we will merely point out the "best cases" that are currently on the book market.

There are numerous reference works including printed works, meaning mostly encyclopedias of various kinds, and recently developed CD-ROM references. This report has two sections -- one examines the treatment of Korea in printed reference works, the other section examines CD-ROM reference works. The methods of evaluation in the two sections were quite different because of several basic differences in the way the two media approach their subjects.

Within each section there was a great deal of variety in the way data were presented. Printed reference works included multi-volume encyclopedias, single volume encyclopedias, children's encyclopedias, special topic encyclopedias, and yearbooks. We divided the works into five major divisions so that similar works could be objectively compared to one another.

Because we found that the approach in the CD-ROM section was so different from the printed works, we devised another method of analysis for evaluating the CD-ROM reference works. In addition to drawings and pictures, the CD-ROM's may also include short movie clips, sound bites, music samples, and examples of spoken foreign languages. Thus, many refer to the CD-ROM as a "multi-media" resource.

We hope this report will be useful to those interested in Korea, to students, Korean-American groups, business leaders, researchers, and others. We hope publishers will appreciate our evaluation and will take steps to improve their treatment of Korea in areas where they may find themselves below the level of their colleagues and competitors in the publishing world.


The Treatment of Korea in American Reference Works

Part One: Printed Works

 

Overview

How is Korea treated in American encyclopedias?

In general, most of the encyclopedias covered Korea quite well, but some were out-of-date or contained incorrect information. We first examined all of the current printed reference works available in local public, university, and secondary school libraries. In order to compare the printed works, we divided them into five categories. These include:

1. Multi-volume encyclopedia

2. Single volume encyclopedia

3. Student or children's encyclopedia

4. Special topic encyclopedia (such as art, or religion)

5. Yearbooks (or annual supplements to encyclopedia)

We found eight titles in the multi-volume encyclopedia category; there were some well known and lesser-known encyclopedia titles.

The single-volume encyclopedia category had eight titles; two of which were "pocket" or "concise" versions of another title within the single-volume category.

The special topic category contained eleven titles. According to our point system, this category showed the widest variation between the best and worst. Within this category several titles were clustered together as sub-categories. These sub-categories included religion, archaeology, ethnic groups in America, and world history.

In the children's category, five similar titles were compared to each other. There were three additional titles that contained so little information that they could not be compared to other works. However, these were listed on the rating sheets for the readers' interest.

We found four yearbook titles, three of which were companion volumes, yearly supplements, to multi-volume encyclopedia. The fourth volume, which appears to be an independent work, is called a yearbook but only includes a listing of statistics. It was more comprehensive than the almanac/statistical variety of yearbook, which we did not evaluate.

Printed Reference Works

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ENCYCLOPEDIAS


 

Title: The New Encyclopedia Britannica

Publisher: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

ISBN Number: 0-85229-591-X

Book Year: 1994


Title: Asia and the Pacific

Publisher: Facts on File

ISBN Number: 0-8160-1826-x (Vol I); 0-8160-1827-8 (Vol 2); 0-8160-1622-4(set)

Book Year: 1991


Title: The Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition

Publisher: Grollier Incorporated

ISBN Number: 0 - 7172 - 0125 - 2

Book Year: 1994


Title: Collier's Encyclopedia (Volume 14)

Publisher: P. F. Collier, Inc.

ISBN Number:

Book Year: 1993


Title: Academic American Encyclopedia (Grolier)*

Publisher: Grolier Incorporated

ISBN Number: 0-7172

Book Year: 1993


Title: The World Book Encyclopedia

Publisher: World Book, Inc.

ISBN Number: 0 - 7166 - 0094 - 3

Book Year: 1994


Title: Compton's Encyclopedia and Fact-Index

Publisher: Compton's Learning Company

ISBN Number: AG5 - C73

Book Year: 1994


Title: Encyclopedia of the Third World

Publisher: Facts on File, Ltd.

ISBN Number: 0-948894

Book Year: 1978



Title: World Fact File

Publisher: Facts On File

ISBN Number:

Book Year: 1990


Title: Webster's New World Encyclopedia (College Edition)

Publisher: Prentice Hall

ISBN Number: 0-13

Book Year: 1993


Title: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN Number: 0-231

Book Year: 1993


Title: The Facts on File Encyclopedia of the 20th Century

Publisher: Facts on File, Ltd.

ISBN Number: 0-948894

Book Year: 1991


Title: The Cambridge Encyclopedia

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN Number: 0-521-39528 3

Book Year: 1990


Title: The Random House Encyclopedia

Publisher: Random House

ISBN Number: 0-375, 0-394, 0-676

Book Year: 1990


Title: The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN Number: 0-231-06938-3

Book Year: 1989


Title: Webster's New World Encyclopedia (Pocket Edition)

Publisher: Prentice Hall

ISBN Number: 0-13

Book Year: 1993




Title: The Encyclopedia of Religion

Publisher: MacMillan Publishing Company

ISBN Number: 0-02, 0-89256

Book Year: 1987


Title: Encyclopedia of World Cultures (Vol. V)

Publisher: G.K. Hall & Co.

ISBN Number: 0-8168-8840-X

Book Year: 1993


Title: The World Atlas of Archaeology

Publisher: G.K. Hall & Co.

ISBN Number: 0-8161-8747-9

Book Year: 1985


Title: The Times Atlas of World History

Publisher: Hammond Incorporated

ISBN Number: 0-7230-0534-6

Book Year: 1993


Title: The Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements

Publisher: Taylor and Francis

ISBN Number: 0-335, 0-85066, 0-903796, 0-905273, 1-85000

Book Year: 1990


Title: World Christian Encyclopedia

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN Number: 0-19

Book Year: 1982


Title: Dictionary of Asian American History

Publisher: Greenwood Press

ISBN Number: 962-279

Book Year: 1986


Title: Past Worlds: The Times Atlas of Archaeology

Publisher: Hammond Incorporated

ISBN Number: 0-7230-0306-8

Book Year: 1988


Title: Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN Number: 0-674

Book Year: 1980


Title: The Harper Atlas of World History

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers

ISBN Number: 0-06-270067-7

Book Year: 1992


Title: Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics

Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons, New York

ISBN Number: 0-356

Book Year: 1980



Title: Merit Students Encyclopedia

Publisher: P. F. Colliers, Inc

ISBN Number:

Book Year: 1990


Title: The New Book of Knowledge

Publisher: Grolier Incorporated,

ISBN Number: 0-7172-0525-8

Book Year: 1994


Title: Lands and Peoples

Publisher: Grolier Inc.

ISBN Number: 0-7172-8013-6

Book Year: 1993


Title: Children's Britannica

Publisher: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

ISBN Number: 0-85229-226-0

Book Year: 1991


Title: The New Grolier Student Encyclopedia

Publisher: Grolier Educational Corporation

ISBN Number: 0-7172-7137-4

Book Year: 1991


Title: Childcraft -- The how and why library (Volume 9)

Publisher: World Book, Inc.

ISBN Number: 0 -7166 - 0191 - 5

Book Year: 1991


Title: Oxford Children's Encyclopedia

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN Number: 0 19 910 139 6

Book Year: 1991


Title: The Kingfisher Children's Encyclopedia

Publisher: Kingfisher Books, Grisewood & Dempsey Inc.

ISBN Number: 1 - 85697 - 800 - 1

Book Year: 1992



Title: The Europa World Year Book 1993 Volume II (Kazakhstan - Zimbabwe)

Publisher: Europa Publications Limited

ISBN Number: 0-900362, 0-905118, 0-946653, 1-85743

Book Year: 1993


Title: Britannica Book of the Year

Publisher: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

ISBN Number: 0-85229-529-4

Book Year: 1992


Title: The Americana Annual

Publisher: Grollier Incorporated

ISBN Number: 0-7172

Book Year: 1995


Title: The 1993 World Book Year Book (1992 Review)

Publisher: World Book, Inc.

ISBN Number: 0-7166

Book Year: 1993