He received his Ph.D. in Korean history from the University of Washington and has taught at UBC since 1987. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Korean history and thought (religion, philosophy, and pre-modern science). In addition, he teaches a graduate seminar on the reproduction of historical trauma in Asia, in which he leads graduate students in an examination of how traumatic events in Asia in the 20th century, such as the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the bombing of Hiroshima, partition of India, China’s Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields of Cambodia have been reproduced in eyewitness accounts, historiography, fiction, and film.
He was a co-editor of the Sourcebook of Korean Civilization and editor of Critical Readings on Korean Christianity. He is also the author of Chosŏn hugi yugyo wa ch’ǒnjugyo ŭi taerip (The Confucian confrontation with Catholicism in the latter half of the Joseon dynasty) and Korean Spirituality (University of Hawaii Press, 2008). In 2008, he was awarded the Tasan prize for his research on Tasan Chŏng Yagyong, a writer and philosopher in Korea in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 2013 he was been asked by the National Institute of Korean History to serve as the chairperson of the International Advisory Committee for the English Translation of the Annals of the Chosŏn Dynasty. The University of Hawaii Press will soon publish his study of an important Korean Catholic document, the Silk Letter of Hwang Sayeong, as well as his study of a commentary on the Zhongyong by the Korean Confucian scholar Chŏng Yagyong. In 2015 his article on how the founder of Korea’s Chosŏn dynasty legitimized his seizure of power in 1392 was named the best article published in Korea Journal in 2013-14.
Major Research Interests
Don Baker studies the cultural and religious history of Korea.
Korean Spirituality (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008)
Chosŏn Hugi Yugyo wa Ch’ŏnju-gyo ŭi Taerip (The ConfucianConfrontation with Catholicism inthe Latter Half of the Choson Dynasty) (Seoul: Iljogak Publishing Co., 1997).
Heo Gyun, Korean Gardens: Harmony with Intellect and Nature (London, UK: Saffron Books, 2005)
Sourcebook of Korean Civilization , Volume II (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996) (Also available in paperback as Sources of Korean Tradition, II)
Don Baker, Chang Yun-shik and Seok Hyun-ho, co-editors, Korea Confronts Globalization, (Routledge, 2008)
Don Baker, Larry DeVries, and Dan Overmyer, co-editors, Asian Religions in British Columbia (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2010)
Important Book Chapters
“From Pottery to Politics: The Transformation of Korean Catholicism,” in RELIGION AND CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY IN KOREA, edited by Lew Lancaster and Richard Payne, Institute for East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1998. Pp.127-168.
“Tasan and His Brothers: How Religion Divided a Korean Confucian Family,” in Sang-oak Lee and Duk-so Park, ed. PERSPECTIVES ON KOREA (Syndey, Australia: Wild Peony Press, 1998), pp. 172-97.
“Christianity Koreanized.” Constructing Korean Identity, ed. Hyung Il Pai and Timothy R. Tangherlini (Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Cŭalifornia, Berkeley, 1998), pp.108-125.
“A Different Thread: Orthodoxy, Heterodoxy, and Catholicism in a Confucian World,” in Martina Deuchler and JaHyun Haboush, ed. Culture and State in Late Choson Korea (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 1999), pp. 199-230.
“Rebels within Tradition: Thomas Aquinas and Tasan Chong Yagyong,” TASAN HAKBO [Journal of Tasan Studies], no 3 (2002), pp.32-69
“Hananim, Hanŭnim, Hanullim, and Hanŏllim: The Construction of Terminology for Korean Monotheism,” REVIEW OF KOREAN STUDIES_, vol. 5, no. 1 (June, 2002), pp.105-131
“Victims and Heroes: Competing Visions of May 18,” Contentious Kwangju: The May 18 Uprising in Korea’s Past and Present (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), pp. 87-107.
“Oriental Medicine in Korea,” in Helaine Selin, ed. Medicine Across Cultures: History and Practice of Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003), 133-153.
“Sibling Rivalry in Twentieth-Century Korea: Comparative Growth Rates of Catholic and Protestant Communities,” in Robert E. Buswell, Jr., and Timonthy S. Lee, ed. Christianity in Korea (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005) pp. 283-308.
“Modernization and Monotheism: How Urbanization and Westernization Have Transformed the Religious Landscape of Korea,”in Sang-Oak Lee and Gregory K. Iverson,ed., Pathways into Korean Language and Culture : Essays in Honor of Young-key Kim-Renaud .(Seoul: Pajigong Press, 2003), pp.471-507.
“Ethics, Morality, and Religion: Directional Transitions and Trends, East and West,” Jose V. Ciprut, ed. Ethics, Politics, and Democracy: From Primordial Principles to Prospective Practices (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), pp. 201-26
“Exacerbated Politics: The Legacy of Political Trauma in South Korea” in Barry Schwartz and Mikyoung Kim, ed. Northeast Asia’s Difficult Past: essays in Collective Memory (New York: Palgrave-McMillan, 2010), pp. 193-212
“Korea’s Path of Secularization,” Ranjan Ghosh, ed. Making Sense of the Secular: Critical Perspectives from Europe to Asia (New York: Routledge, 2012), pp. 182-194
“Writing History in Korea, 1400-1800,” Oxford History of Global History Writing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) pp. 103-118.
“丹田存思法在韓國的傳佈” (Chinese translation of “Internal Alchemy Practices in Korea”), Yang Ru-bin, ed., Meditation in East Asia（東亞的靜坐傳統）（Taipei: Taiwan University Publication 臺北：臺灣大學出版社, 2012, pp. 425-38. Oct., 2012
“Cinnabar-field meditation in Korea” in Halvor Eifring, ed. 2015: Meditation and Culture: The Interplay of Practice and Context. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Published December, 2015. pp. 162-174.
“Memory Wars and Prospects for Reconciliation in South Korea” in Mikyoung Kim ed, Routledge Handbook of Mmory and Reconciliation in East Asia. Published Oct. 2015. pp. 111-127.
Important Journal Articles
“The Religious Revolution in Modern Korean History: From ethics to theology and from ritual hegemony to religious freedom” Review of Korean Studies Vol. 9, no. 3 (Sept. 2006), pp. 249-275
“Seeds of Modernity: Jesuit natural philosophy in Confucian Korea” Pacific Rim Report (from the Center for the Pacific Rim, University of San Francisco) no. 48 (August, 2007),pp. 1-16.
“Shamans, Catholics, and Chŏng Yagyong: Tasan’s defense of the ritual hegemony of the Confucian state,” Tasanhak 15,(December, 2009), 139-79.
“Koreans in Vancouver: A Short History” the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, 19:2 (July, 2009), pp. 154-178.
21st Century,” Asia Pacific Perspectives, X:1 (May, 2011), pp. 24-43
“A Slippery, Changing Concept: How Korean New Religions Define Religion,” Journal of Korean Religions, vol I, no. 2 (September, 2010), p. 57-85
“Practical Ethics and Practical Learning: Tasan’s Approach to Moral Cultivation” Acta Koreana, 13: 2 (December, 2010), pp. 47-61
“The Transformation of Confucianism in Contemporary Korea,” Han’guk hak nonjip [Keimyung Korean Studies Journal], 44 (2011), pp. 425-455.
“Impotent Numbers: Korean Confucian Reactions to Jesuit Mathematics” The Korean Journal for the History of Science, 34:2 (2012), 227-256
“Constructing Korea’s Won Buddhism as a New Religion: Self-Differentiation and Inter-religious Dialogue,” International Journal for the Study of New Religions 3:1 (2012), pp. 47-70.
“Rhetoric, Ritual, and Political Legitimacy: Justifying Yi Seong-gye’s Ascension to the Throne.” Korea Journal, 53:4 (winter 2013): 141-167.
“Tasan’s Pragmatic Approach to the Confucian Classics,” Tasanhak 22 (June, 2013), pp.107-142
“The Transformation of the Catholic Church in Korea: From a Missionary Church to an Indigenous Church,” Journal of Korean Religions, 4: 1 (April, 2013) pp. 11-42.
“Finding God in the Classics: The Theistic Confucianism of Dasan Jeong Yagyong” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy. 12: 1 (March 2013), pp. 41-55
“Privatization of Buddhism in the Chosŏn Dynasty” Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies 14:2 (October, 2014), pp. 1-17.
“Seoul and Salem: Contrasting Approaches to Female Performers of Licentious Rituals” Journal of Korean Religions, 5:2 (October, 2014), pp. 11-38.
“Pushing the Confucian Envelope: Tasan Chŏng Yagyong as a man of, and not of, his times.” Acta Koreana 18:1 (Spring 2015), pp. 145-162.
ASIA 100 – Introduction to Traditional Asia
ASIA 101 – Introduction to Modern Asia
ASIA 200 – Cultural Foundations of East Asia
ASIA 317 – Rise of Korean Civilization
ASIA 337 – The Korean People in Modern Times
ASIA 377 – History of Korean Thought
ASIA 405 – Interaction of Science, Religion, and Philosophy in East Asia
ASIA 466 – History of Christianity in Asia
ASIA 477 – New Religious Movements of East Asia
ASIA 484 – History of the Choson Dynasty
ASIA 561 – Problems of Modernization in Eastern and South Asia, focusing on the reproduction of traumatic events in the 20th century.
ASIA 581 – Directed readings in Korean Studies