Korean Use of Footnotes?

Could someone out there please do me a favor and explain the proper use of footnotes in Korean?

While the majority of essays I’ve received use footnotes in the familiar way, there’s apersistent minority of essays where footnotes are applied not at the end of cited material, but in fact the opposite, like this:

There are, of course, many possible explanations for this particular type of argument. 1 According to Miller, there is no difference between transplantation and assimilation. Furthermore, it is unclear what Brownhill is attempting to demonstrate with her example….
1) Miller, James. Arguments About Culture. (돼지꿈출판사: Seoul, 1999.)

Or, worse (another concocted example):

1 In the middle of the Great Depression, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker meet when Clyde tries to steal Bonnie’s mother’s car. Bonnie, who is bored by her job as a waitress, is intrigued with Clyde, and decides to take up with him and become his partner in crime. They do some holdups, but their amateur efforts, while exciting, are not very lucrative. The duo’s crime spree shifts into high gear once they hook up with a dim-witted gas station attendant, C.W. Moss. The three are joined by Clyde’s brother, Buck and his wife, Blanche, a preacher’s daughter. Soon a long-simmering feud between Bonnie and Blanche begins; the once-prim Blanche views Bonnie as a harpy corrupting her husband and brother-in-law, while Bonnie sees Blanche as an incompetent, shrill shrew. Bonnie and Clyde turn from pulling small-time heists to robbing banks. Their exploits also become more violent. When C.W., the get-away driver, botches a bank robbery by parallel parking the car, Clyde shoots the bank manager in the face after he jumps onto the slow-moving car’s running board. The gang is pursued by law enforcement, including Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, who is captured and humiliated by the outlaws, then set free. After a raid kills Buck, injures Bonnie and Clyde, and leaves Blanche sightless and in police custody, Hamer tricks Blanche, whose eyes are bandaged, into revealing the name of C.W. Moss, known in the press only as an unnamed accomplice. The Ranger locates Bonnie, Clyde and C.W. hiding at the house of C.W.’s father, who thinks Bonnie and Clyde — and an elaborate tattoo — have corrupted his son. He strikes a bargain with Hamer: in exchange for a lenient jail sentence for C.W., he helps set a trap for the outlaws. When Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed while stopped by the side of the road, the police riddle their bodies with bullets in a blood bath. This is a very exciting story with many criminal and killing of many peoples which is absolutely scary and titillation to America audience.
1. Wikipedia

(Note the absence of quotation marks in the above, as well as the lack of even a vague hint at where the cited material ends, though it’s obvious in the immediate collapse of grammatical coherence. And yeah, that collapse is somewhat exaggerated for effect.)

The weird thing being that several people have told me this is common practice in Korean, except I’ve looked into a couple of Korean academic books I happen to have lying around, and they use some bizarre mixture of the MLA format  — (Miller, 1993) — and the Chicago style of footnote citation.

It seems bizarre to me that, as a few people have claimed, in Korean usage, footnotes would be moved to the front of cited material — especially since the footnote comes from Western academic writing and it seems unclear to me why Korean academia would have simply decided to reverse the usage instead of using the original form.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not decrying it, I’m just baffled. Maybe there is some sense to it, like, say, a grammatical reason where it’s easier to indicate the source of a quotation or paraphrase at the end of the passage? I’m just trying to understand (a) whether this is true, and (b) if so, why this would be the case.

I’m mostly asking because I am off-and-on working on a writing style guide for Korean students writing in English and would prefer to know whether to be noting that this is simply wrong usage (both in English and Korean), or specifically culturally different usage.

(Note: if I had my way, students would just use MLA format in my class, but I’m willing to read footnoted work, as long as it’s consistent and as long as the text is written so that I know what exactly is being cited — the beginning indicated by a reference to the author, quoted material in quotation marks, and the end of a quote or paraphrase indicated with a citation to the source.)

4 thoughts on “Korean Use of Footnotes?

  1. At least in my field and related fields (economics, law, regional studies), putting a footnote in front of the cited material is not acceptable. However, the preferred style of footnote, citation and reference differs (sometimes in a major way) not only by academic fields, but also journals.

    Problem is that for Korean articles, there is not yet an authorative methodolgy and guidelines for footnotes and citation. Thus, each field and journal tend to impose their own standards.

    It’s a pain in the neck when you formatted the paper in one way, and the journal you are submitting at requires formatting to be completely different.

    Also, it shows how the culture of citation and referencing has not yet become common in Korean academia.

    1. Junsok,

      Wow. Just… wow. Well, I guess my colleagues (who are linguists) won’t be using the format common to culture/literature stuff, so I won’t bother asking them. I think I’ll just go with two options for students in the style guide I develop: MLA format or Chicago footnotes.

      By the way, William and Melissa, those aren’t examples of footnotes — they’re examples of footnotes as placed in text. But it’s not well-displayed, so I’ve edited the examples to better reflect that fact.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *