Redemption and Regret presents two previously unpublished typescripts of James Scarth Gale, a Canadian missionary to Korea for four decades (1888–1927). During his time in Korea, Gale developed into the foremost Western scholar of Korean history, language, and literature, completing the first translation of Korean literature into a Western language, the first translation of English literature into Korean, and the first comprehensive Korean-English dictionary. In addition to these translations, the typescripts entitled Pen Pictures of Old Korea (ca. 1910) and Old Corea (ca. 1925), each presented here with introductory essays, contain Gale’s observations of various cultural artifacts, behaviours, and practices.
Gale lived in Korea during a tumultuous and transformative period that witnessed the transition of the country from a "hermit" suzerain kingdom to an independent empire, and finally to a colonial possession of Japan. Pen Pictures of Old Korea and Old Corea preserve what Gale viewed as inevitably fated for extinction. This realization imbues his writings with a sense of ambivalence towards the "passing" of traditional Korea – owing to the conflict between his profound admiration for pre-modern Korean culture and his Western missionary identity, which demanded that the country adapt to a modern, Christian world.