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The Asian side of the world - II

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Jean-François Sabouret

Part One. Regional dynamics and globalization

The Korean Peninsula: source of incompréhension

Marie-Orange Rivé-Lasan

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July 2013

“Korea” no longer exists!

The English term “Korea” designates something that is both complex and blurred. Although it is familiar, as it is omnipresent in the media, it is associated with diverse fields: technological achievements, world records, a global menace and cultural strangeness.

Between the Middle Ages (Koryŏ Kingdom, 935-1392) and the premodern period (Chosŏn Kingdom, 1392-1897), Korea was a structured political entity, rooted in a fixed territory, a readily recognizable peninsula, with a certain ethnic, cultural and linguistic homogeneity. It was divided by internal quarrels among factions, but these characterized its political culture. Korea was therefore clearly distinguishable from its Chinese and Japanese neighbours, but for westerners it was a discreet entity in northeast Asia. During the 20th century, however, this view was shattered: even though Japanese colonization brought about only slight changes, as the entire Korean territory was colonized and its inte...

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