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Korea, called Hanguk in South Korea and Chosŏn in North Korea, is a geographical region of Northeastern Eurasia that is divided into two distinct countries:

  • North Korea, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK, a country of nearly 25 million people, whose capital city is Pyongyang.
How can the Korean people, who have lived in one territory and one region for five millennia, now have nothing to do with each other just because [the Korean Communist Régime] banned unification songs?
  • South Korea, also known as the Republic of Korea, or ROK, a country of over 50 million people, whose capital city is Seoul.


Koreans in both the north and the south tend to cherish the myth that of all peoples in the world, they are the least inclined to premeditated evil. ~ Brian Reynolds Myers
  • There was little, if any, feeling of loyalty toward the abstract concept of Korea as a nation-state, or toward fellow inhabitants of the peninsula as "Koreans". Far more meaningful at the time, in addition to a sense of loyalty to the king, were the attachments of Koreans to their village of region, and above all to their clan, lineage, and immediate and extended family. The Korean elite in particular would have found the idea of nationalism not only strange but also uncivilized. Since at least the seventh century the ruling classes in Korea had thought of themselves in cultural terms less as Koreans than as members of a larger cosmopolitan civilization centered on China... To live outside the realm of Chinese culture was, for the Korean elite, to live as a barbarian.
  • Korean schoolchildren in North and South learn that Japan invaded their fiercely patriotic country in 1905, spent forty years trying to destroy its language and culture, and withdrew without having made any significant headway. This version of history is just as uncritically accepted by most foreigners who write about Korea. Yet the truth is more complex. For much of the country's long history its northern border was fluid and the national identities of literate Koreans and Chinese mutually indistinguishable. Believing their civilization to have been founded by a Chinese sage in China's image, educated Koreans subscribed to a Confucian worldview that posited their country in a position of permanent subservience to the Middle Kingdom. Even when Korea isolated itself from the mainland in the seventeenth century, it did so in the conviction that it was guarding Chinese tradition better than the Chinese themselves. For all their xenophobia, the Koreans were no nationalists.

See also


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