Korean nationalism


Korean nationalism

Infobox Korean name
hangul=한국민족주의 (조선민족주의 in North-Korea)
hanja=韓國民族主義 (朝鮮民族主義)
rr=Hanguk minjokjuui (Joseon minjokjuui)
mr=Han'guk minjokchuŭi (Chosŏn minjokchuŭi)

Korean Nationalism is a term referring to the cultural, historical, political, and shared social history that unifies the Korean people.

Origins

The central objective of Korea's nationalist movement was the advancement of Korea’s ancient culture and national identity under the harsh Japanese occupation. [http://www2.kokugakuin.ac.jp/ijcc/wp/cimac/ryu.html] [http://www.lifeinkorea.com/information/history2.cfm ] . In order to obtain political and cultural autonomy, it first had to promote Korea's cultural independence. For this reason, the nationalist movement demanded the restoration and preservation of Korea's traditional culture. [http://www.stanford.edu/group/hwimori/culture_of_resistance.htm] [http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=a6de59e74e5c612b2e8089c0375e34c5]

History

The National Liberation Movement

Nationalism in Korea is a form of resistance, but with significant differences between the north and south. Since the intrusion by foreign powers in the late 19th century, Koreans have had to construct their identity in ways that pitted them against foreigners, tradition, and even themselves. They have witnessed and participated in wide range of nationalist actions over the past century, but all of them have been some form of resistance.

The Donghak (East Learning) peasant movement, also known as the Donghak Peasant Revolution, that began in the 1870s, could be seen as an early modern form of old Korean nationalism. It was succeeded by the Righteous army movement and later a series of Korean independence movements that led to the current status of the two Korean nations.

During the Japanese occupation of Korea, the Korean nationalists carried on anti-Japan independence struggles in Korea, China (Manchuria and China Proper) and Russia. They formed 'governments in exile', armies, and secret terrorists groups to fight the Japanese invaders.

A Divided Nation

Korea was divided for foreign powers in 1945, and the division has continued until today. This division is the product of rival regimes, opposing ideologies, and global politics. Korea is also divided by differing forms of nationalism that reflect the various histories, polities, classes, and genders experienced by Koreans who live the north and the south. From 1945 through 1950, the global and ideological aspirations of the United States and Soviet Union collided in a Korea that itself had social and political divisions. This set the stage for the rise of two different polities, the division of the nation, and the beginning of rival national identities.

Korean nationalism in the late 20th century has been characterised by the split between North and South Korea. Each regime espouses a form of nationalism for the peninsula, but each version has distinct differences. South Korea adopted a sunshine policy towards the North that was based on a hope for future Korean unification.

Ethnic Nationalism

Ethnic nationalism emphasizes descent and race. In Korea, ethnicity is interpreted as blood being the key determinant in defining "Koreanness" by some Koreans.Larsen, Kirk. "Visions and Versions of Korean Nationalism and the ROK's Relations with its Neighbors." Presented at "U.S.-Korea Relations in the 21st Century Challenges and Prospects," Washington, D.C. October 6-8, 2006.] A recently conducted survey showed that 68.2% of respondents considered "blood" the most important criterion of defining the Korean nation, and 74.9% agreed that "Koreans are all brothers and sisters regardless of residence and ideology." This viewpoint implies that North Koreans and overseas Koreans are included in this "Korean" group by those who use this criteria. However, many overseas Koreans distance themselves from such a definition. All this means that nationalism in Korea, as elsewhere, is contested and varies depending upon the interpreter.

In recent examples, the strong unity and national pride South Korean's displayed during the 2002 FIFA World Cup arose largely from an identity based on common bloodlines and shared ancestry. It was not simply about soccer, but also about national pride, identity, and confidence.Gi-Wook Shin. "Ethnic Nationalism in Korea: Genealogy, Politics, and Legacy." (California: Stanford University Press, 2006).] This national pride was not limited to South Korea alone but included ethnic Koreans overseas. In the words of Kwon Pyonghyon, chairman of the Overseas Koreans Foundation, [http://www.okf.or.kr/eng/introduction/okfFlotation.jsp] "One of the most important impacts of the World Cup on the 5.6 million overseas Koreans was to arouse their pride in being [ethnic] Korean and to bond with one another beyond differences."

Ethnic nationalism also explains why the Virginia Tech massacre elictied such a strong response from the Korean community both in America and South Korea. “In Korea, one can argue that nationalism based on common blood and shared ancestry has functioned as a key mechanism to establish collectivism or a strong sense of oneness.” Although Seung-hui Cho was a 1.5 generation immigrant who came to the U.S. as a third grader, he was still "Korean" due to his blood and thus caused South Koreans to collectively mourn and feel guilt. [Kim Sae-jung. "South Korean's Reaction to the Virginia Tech Massacre." April 19, 2007. [http://english.ohmynews.com/ArticleView/article_view.asp?no=356853&rel_no=1] ]

There was a flood of responses from the South Koreans as they grappled to understand how a "Korean" could have committed such an act. President Roh Moo-hyun issued several official apologies and condolences, candlelight vigils were held at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Lee Tae-Sik called on Korean-Americans to hold a 32-day fast for each of the victims of the shooting. A Korean professor criticized this behavior, saying that "We need to stop going on about bloodlines and how great the "Korean race" is while getting so excited with joy or sorrow at the successes and failures of overseas Koreans." [Choe Hyun. "Seung-hui Choi and Hines Ward." "The Hankyoreh." April 23, 2007.] [http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/204741.html]

Nationalism During the Sixth Republic

Both North and South Korea have also both lodged severe protests against visits by Japanese officials to the Yasukuni shrine where Class A war criminals are held. The shrine is seen as glorifying Japanese war criminals.

State-Aligned Nationalism in South Korea

While nationalistic theory and practice during the colonial era and the First Republic of South Korea were class-based and movement specific forces, in the South Korea of recent times (1990s onward) a more broad-based (including middle-income classes) sentiment has developed in the national ethos, the so called "New Nationalism." Two ideologies drive the new nationalism: the old national liberation movement logic of anti-imperialism on the one hand, and a state-worshipping ideology introduced by the Park Jung-Hee regime and embodied in its pledge of National Allegiance (국민교육헌장), on the other hand.

The buzzword for this new breed of ideology is "national interests" (국익), in whose name the power of Korean feminist and queer movements, organized labor, and pro-migrant coalitions are being bent down.

The "New" South Korean nationalism drives public policy and has been a powerful controlling force upon the Korean polity since 2004. It has had a coercive power to raise national consensus on such divisive issues as the South Korea's participation in the War on Iraq, strengthened gestures for sovereignty in the face of a unilateral military alliance with the United States, confrontations with China and Japan over territorial issues, and so forth.

Anti-American sentiment

The relationship of the South Korean people to the US soldiers in their land is a complicated one. In the last 15 years public sentiment has shifted dramatically, with a large number (if not majority) of South Koreans viewing the US as a negative presence on the peninsula and as an obstacle to reunification. A series of high-profile incidents involving soldiers have only fanned those flames, and since 2002 demonstrations have been increasingly virulent.Fact|date=January 2007

At the 2002 Winter Olympics, Japanese-American speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno was awarded the gold medal after a judge ruled that he had been interfered with by the South Korean skater, who had brushed his hand against Ohno. many South Koreans were outraged and saw a conspiracy against their country; one civic organization awarded their own gold medal to the South Korean skaterFact|date=January 2007.

That same year came probably a high-profile and tragic incident that involved a US soldier in Korea. On a dirt road in the city of Paju, an American armored vehicle ran over two middle school girls on their way to a birthday, killing them. An explosion of anti-American feelings, encouraged by civic organizations and politicians, followed; large demonstrations and candlelight vigils were held, American flags were burned, and an American soldier was stabbed on the subway in Seoul. Though the base commander apologized to the families of the girls and the US government paid them several times the normal compensation in the Korea justice system, outrage continued when the soldiers were acquitted of the most serious charges in a court-martial. Many Koreans called for changes in the Status of Forces Agreement, which institutionalized an unequal agreement between South Korea and the US. A Korean pop singer had a hit with his song "Fucking USA". Gruesome photos of the girls' bodies, taken at the scene, were blown up and placed through the subway system.Fact|date=January 2007 This anger was not due strictly to this tragic event. For many South Koreans view US military personnel as having a long history of committing various crimes and not being held responsible for them due to the SOFA agreement.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States was, as in so many other countries, deeply unpopular in South Korea.Fact|date=January 2007

On September 11, 2005, a date chosen for being the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a crowd of demonstrators attempted to tear down the statue of General Douglas MacArthur which had been erected decades before by the residents of Incheon and South Korean government. [ [http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200509/200509110018.html Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea ] ]

Dokdo/Takeshima Dispute

The Liancourt Rocks dispute has been ongoing since the end of World War II with the failure of the U.S. to give sovereignty of the islands to either country in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. Since 1954, the South Koreans have controlled the islands but bickering on both sides involving nationalism and lingering historical acrimony has led to the current impasse. Adding to this problem is political pressure from conservative politicians and nationalist groups in both South Korea and Japan to have more assertive territorial policies.

With the introduction of the 1994 UN Law of the Sea Convention, South Korea and Japan began to set their new maritime boundaries, particularly in overlapping terrain in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), where some exclusive economic zone (EEZ) borders was less than convert|400|nmi|km|-2 apart.Min Gyo Koo. "Economic Dependence and the Liancourt Rocks Dispute Between South Korea and Japan." Harvard Asia Quarterly. Vol. 9, No. 4. Fall 2005.] Tensions escalated in 1996 when both governments declared a convert|200|nmi|km|-2|sing=on EEZ that encompassed the island, which brought Japan-South Korean relations to an all-time low.

This has not only complicated bilateral relations but heightened nationalist sentiments on both sides. In spite of generational change and the passage of time, the institutionalization of Korean collective memory is causing young Koreans to be as anti-Japanese, if not more so, than the older generation. [Berger, Thomas U. “Of Shrines and Hooligans: The Structure of the History Problem in East Asia after 9/11.” Paper presented at the East Asian Seminar, Boston University, October 28, 2005.] For Koreans, "historical memory and feelings of "han" (resentment) run deeply and can influence Korea's relations with its neighbors, allies, and enemies in ways not easily predicted by models of policymaking predicated on realpolitik or other geo-stragetic or economic concerns."

Due to Korea’s colonial past, during which the Japanese brutally exploited Korea for 35 years, safeguarding the island has become equivalent to safeguarding the nation-state and its national identity. A territory’s value and importance is not limited to its physical dimensions but also the psychological value it holds as a source of sovereignty and identity. [Wang, Jianwei. "Territorial Disputes and Asian Security," in Asian Security, ed. Muthiah Alagappa (California: Stanford University Press, 2003), 391.] Triggered by strong feelings of injustice and humiliation, Korean nationalistic sentiment has become involved in the dispute. The island itself has become to symbolize Korean national identity and pride, making it an issue even more difficult issue to resolve. South Korea’s claim to the island holds emotional content that goes beyond material significance, and giving way on the island issue to Japan would be seen as compromising the sovereignty of the entire peninsula all over again.

The South Korean government has also played a role in fanning nationalism in this dispute. President Roh Moo-hyun began a speech on Korea-Japan relations in April 2006 by bluntly stating, “The island is our land” and “for Koreans, the island is a symbol of the complete recovery of sovereignty.”Office of the President. “Special Message by President Roh Moo-hyun on Korea-Japan Relations.” (April 25, 2006). www.korean.net/news.] The issue of the island is clearly tied to the protection of the nation-state that was once taken away by Japan. President Roh emphasizes this point again by saying:

“Dokdo for us is not merely a matter pertaining to territorial rights over tiny islets but is emblematic of bringing closure to an unjust chapter in our history with Japan and of the full consolidation of Korea’s sovereignty.”

Later on in his speech Roh also mentions the Yasukuni Shrine and Japanese history textbook controversy, saying that they will be dealt with together. By linking the Liancourt Rocks issue to current disputes that stem from past colonial history, nationalism becomes a factor in this debate and compromise impossible in the minds of most Koreans. As the French theorist Ernest Renan said, "Where national memories are concerned, griefs are of more value than triumphs, for they impose duties, and require a common effort." [Renan, Ernest. "What is a Nation?" Delivered as a lecture at the Sorbonne in 1882.]

The Liancourt Rocks dispute has affected the Korean and Japanese perceptions of each other. According to a recent survey by Gallup Korea and the Japan Research Center, 20% of Koreans had friendly feelings towards Japan and 36% of Japanese the same towards Korea. When asked for the reason of their antipathy, most Koreans mentioned the territorial dispute over the island, and the Japanese the anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea. This is in contrast to a 2002 survey (post 2002 FIFA World Cup) conducted by the Chosun Ilbo and Mainichi Shimbun, where 35% of Koreans and 69% of Japanese had friendly views of the other country. [ "Friendliness Between Japan and Korea Withering." "Chosun Ilbo". May 17, 2007.] [http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200705/200705170007.html]

2002 FIFA World Cup

The 2002 FIFA World Cup held in South Korea and Japan witnessed the South Korea national soccer team make an improbable run to the semifinals despite never having won a single game in five previous World Cups. The 2002 World Cup introduced soccer fans from around the world to South Korea in much the same way as the Seoul 1988 Summer Olympics. The world witnessed South Korea defeat traditional soccer powers such as Portugal, Italy, and Spain before finally succumbing to Germany in the semifinals.

However, the 2002 World Cup was not just about soccer, but also about national pride. As many as seven million Korean fans poured out onto the streets of Korea to watch the games on outdoor big screen televisions along with their fellow countrymen. [ [http://football.guardian.co.uk/worldcup2002/countries/story/0,11936,744115,00.html South Korea's World Cup dream is over, but the party goes on | World cup 2002 | Guardian Unlimited Football ] ] The nationalistic fervor was not confined to the Korean Peninsula, but also extended to Korean communities all around the world. On June 11, over 20,000 Korean-Americans filled the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California at 4:30 a.m. to cheer and support their team in unison. After South Korea defeated Spain in the quarterfinals, South Korean President and Nobel Prize winner Kim Dae Jung stated that it was Korea’s happiest day since Dangun, the legendary founder of Korea. Soccer-inspired nationalism even resulted in tragedy when a man lit himself on fire to become the team’s twelfth man. [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/world/2002/world_cup/news/2002/06/14/korea_suicide_rb/ CNNSI.com - CNNSI.com's complete coverage of the FIFA World Cup - South Korean fan in World Cup suicide - Friday June 14, 2002 05:26 AM ] ]

Most notably, the South Korea National Team’s success led to a rare conciliatory statement from North Korea. Tensions between the two nations had been high after the two navies engaged in a gun battle which led to the sinking of a South Korean patrol boat that killed four and injured 19. However, the chief of North Korea’s Football Association, Ri Gwan Gun, sent a congratulatory letter to Chung Mong Joon, the President of South Korea’s Korea Football Association. [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/world/2002/world_cup/news/2002/07/01/koreas_ap/ CNNSI.com - CNNSI.com's complete coverage of the FIFA World Cup - North Korea congratulates Seoul on Cup success - Monday July 01, 2002 11:42 AM ] ]

Leaders of South Korea’s professional soccer league, K-League, had hoped to transfer South Korea’s passion for its National Team to the domestic league. However, the K-League continued to flounder. [ [http://www.time.com/time/europe/2006/wcup/asiaswoes.html The World Cup 2006 in TIME Europe Magazine | The Crying Game ] ]

References

External links

* [http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/korea/history/march_1st_independence_struggle.htm Korean history]

Relevant articles

*Korea
**North Korea
**South Korea
*Nationalism
*Korean pride
* Hanchongryun
*Anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea
*VANK


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