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Koreans often use the proverb “when whales fight, the shrimp’s earlier is broken” to describe their country’s victimization in ~ the hand of larger, much more powerful neighbors. China, as the largest and also most technologically and culturally advanced culture in east Asia, exerted the most essential outside influence on Korea until modern times. In the twenty century, Korea became the focus of competitor interests among neighboring China, Japan, and also Russia and also the much more distant unified States. But for well over a thousands years, until emigration by Japan in the early twentieth century, successive kingdoms on the oriental peninsula to be able to maintain a society with political self-reliance and social distinctiveness from the surrounding nations.

Korea prior to the twenty Century

Settled, literate societies on the korean peninsula appear in Chinese documents as beforehand as the fourth century BCE. Gradually, competing groups and also kingdoms on the peninsula merged into a typical national identity. After ~ a duration of conflict among the “Three Kingdoms”—Koguryo in the north, Paekche in the southwest, and Silla in the southeast—Silla defeated its rivals and also unified most of the korean peninsula in 668 CE. Korea reached close to its present boundaries during the Koryo empire (918-1392), native which that Western name “Korea” is derived. The prospering Choson empire (1392-1910) further consolidated Korea’s national boundaries and distinctive cultural practices.

Within Korea there room some regional differences express in dialect and also customs, yet on the whole regional differences are far outweighed by one overall social homogeneity. Uneven China, for example, local dialects in Korea room mutually intelligible to all oriental speakers. The korean language is quite distinct from Chinese and also in fact structurally comparable to Japanese, although over there is still debate amongst linguists around how the Korean and also Japanese languages might be related. Countless customs, popular art forms, and religious practices in classic Korea are additionally quite distinct from one of two people Chinese or Japanese practices, even though the Korean develops sometimes resemble those of Korea’s next-door neighbors in east Asia and also have typical roots.

Traditional Korea obtained much the its high society from China, including the use of Chinese characters in the written language and also the adoption of Neo-Confucianism as the ideology of the judgment elite. Buddhism, originally from India, also came come Korea indigenous China, and also from Korea spread to Japan. For plenty of centuries Korea was a member of the Chinese “tribute system,” giving constant gifts come the Chinese court and also acknowledging the titular superiority that the Chinese emperor end the korean king. However while symbolically dependence on China for armed forces protection and political legitimization, in practice Korea was quite independent in its internal behavior.

After damaging invasions by the Japanese at the finish of the sixteenth century and by the Manchus of Northeast Asia in the early on seventeenth, Korea imposed a policy of strictly restricted contact with all other countries. The main international contacts officially sanctioned through the Choson empire were diplomatic missions to China 3 or four times a year and a little outpost the Japanese merchants in the southeastern part of Korea near the contemporary city the Pusan. Couple of Koreans left the peninsula throughout the so late Choson Dynasty, and also even fewer foreigners entered. For some 250 year Korea was at peace and internally stable (despite growing peasant unrest from around 1800), yet from the perspective of the Europeans and also Americans that encountered Korea in the nineteenth century, Korea was an abnormally secluded country, a “hermit kingdom” as it became known to Westerners in ~ the time.

Japanese Colonial duration During the latter fifty percent of the nineteenth century, Korea came to be the object of completing imperial interests as the Chinese realm declined and also Western powers began to vie for rule in eastern Asia. Britain, France, and the United claims each attempted come “open up” Korea come trade and diplomatic relationships in the 1860s, but the korean kingdom steadfastly resisted. It took Japan, chin only recently opened to Western-style international relations by the joined States, come impose a diplomatic treaty on Korea for the an initial time in 1876.

Japan, China, and Russia were the main rivals for influence on Korea in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and also after defeating China and Russia in war between 1895 and 1905, Japan became the predominant power top top the oriental peninsula. In 1910 Japan annexed Korea outright together a colony, and also for the following 35 years Japan rule Korea in a manner the was strict and also often brutal. Towards the finish of the colonial period, the Japanese authorities tried come wipe out Korea’s language and cultural identity and make Koreans culturally Japanese, walking so much in 1939 regarding compel Koreans to readjust their names to Japanese ones. However, Japan also brought the starts of industrial advancement to Korea. Modern-day industries such together steel, cement, and chemical plants were collection up in Korea throughout the 1920s and 1930s, specifically in the northern component of the peninsula whereby coal and hydroelectric power resources were abundant. By the moment Japanese colonial rule ended in respectable 1945, Korea to be the 2nd most industrialized nation in Asia after Japan itself.

Divided Korea and also the oriental War

The surrender the Japan to the allies at the end of human being War II resulted in a brand-new and unexpected breakthrough on the oriental peninsula: the division of Korea right into two separate states, one in the phibìc (the autonomous People’s Republic that Korea, D.P.R.K.) and one in the southern (the Republic the Korea, R.O.K.). In the final days the the war, the united States and the Soviet Union had actually agreed come jointly accept the Japanese surrender in Korea, with the U.S.S.R. Occupying Korea north of the 38th parallel and also the U.S. Occupying southern until an independent and unified korean government might be established. However, through 1947, the arising Cold War in between the unified States and the Soviet Union, linked with political differences in between Koreans the the 2 occupation zones and the policies of the occupation forces on the ground, led to a failure in negotiations end a unified federal government of Korea.

On august 15, 1948, a pro-U.S. Government was developed in Seoul, and three weeks later on a pro-Soviet federal government in Pyongyang. Both governments asserted to legitimately represent the entire Korean people, producing a situation of too much tension throughout the 38th parallel. ~ above June 25, 1950, north Korea, backed by the U.S.S.R., invaded the South and attempted to unify the peninsula through force. Under the flag that the joined Nations, a U.S.-led coalition the countries came to the aid of south Korea. The Soviet Union backed north Korea through weapons and air support, if the People’s Republic of China intervened top top the side of north Korea with thousands of thousands that combat troops. In July 1953, after millions of deaths and enormous physics destruction, the war ended approximately were it began, through North and also South Korea split into around equal territories by the cease-fire line, a Demilitarized ar (DMZ) the still develops the boundary between North and also South Korea today.

The two Koreas

Since 1953, North and also South Korea have evolved from a common social and historic base into two very different cultures with radically dissimilar political and economic systems. The differences between North and South Korea this particular day have small to do with pre-1945 local differences between northern and southern Korea. Phibìc Korea has actually been greatly influenced by Soviet/Russian culture and politics and those that China. It has emerged a self-styled national politics of juche (“self-reliance”) based on economic and political independence, having a highly centralized political mechanism with a “Great Leader” at its apex (Kim Il Sung till his fatality in 1994, his boy Kim Jong Il since then) and a command economy. Phibìc Korea developed into maybe the most isolated and also controlled of every communist states, and even 10 years after the fallen of the Soviet Union, showed small sign of political and economic liberalization in spite of severe financial hardship.

South Korea, on the other hand, has been greatly influenced by the United claims and, in a an ext subtle way, by Japan. The U.S. Has actually maintained nearby political, military, and economic ties with south Korea because the R.O.K. Was started in 1948. While southern Korea has regularly been less democratic than american would favor or the oriental leaders asserted it to be, since the autumn of its armed forces dictatorship in the so late 1980s democracy shows up to have come to be increasingly consolidated in the R.O.K. Meanwhile, southern Korea do impressive financial gains in the 1970s and also 1980s and can be thought about now among the world’s arisen industrial countries. South Korea recovered swiftly from the eastern financial crisis of 1997 and also is right now the third-largest economic climate in east Asia, after Japan and China.

As in countless other countries, American popular culture is an essential presence in southern Korea. To a lesser extent, Japanese popular culture is prominent as well. However, south Korea has developed its own distinctly Korean develops of renowned culture, while traditional Korean culture has undertaken something of a renewal in recent decades. By the so late 1990s and early 2000s, South korean pop music, film, and also television tv series were ending up being quite famous in other parts the Asia too, particularly China and also Vietnam.

Despite the general cultural homogeneity that Korea, regional sentiment has become critical factor in South korean politics and also in other areas of modern life. The main regional division is between the Cholla area of the southwest and the Kyongsang area that the southeast. Although some would insurance claim that these local differences go earlier to the old Three Kingdoms period, in fact modern South korean regionalism is greatly a phenomenon originating in the rapid industrialization that started in the 1960s. At that time, chairman Park Chung Hee focused on the economic advance of his home region of Kyongsang, and drew much of southern Korea’s management from there. This bias toward Kyongsang continued through the being successful presidencies of Chun Doo Hwan, Roh Tae Woo, and Kim Young Sam, who were every from the region. Meanwhile, Cholla remained relatively backward and was viewed as a ar of dissenters, consisting of long-time opposition number Kim Dae Jung. Together a consequence, voting fads in southern Korea have presented overwhelming favoritism towards candidates native the voters’ residence region. After ~ Kim Dae Jung came to be president in 1998, that attempted come bring more regional balance to economic and political advance in south Korea, but regional identification and also prejudice continue to be strong.

The division of Korea right into North and South was enforced upon the Korean people by exterior forces, and many if not most Koreans insist that the two Koreas must one day it is in reunited. In the early on 1970s, mid-1980s, and also early 1990s, the 2 Koreas appeared to be reaching breakthroughs in inter-Korean relations, however each activity toward reconciliation and reunification finished in frustration. Finally, in June 2000, the leader of North and also South Korea met in Pyongyang, in the North, to discuss improving North-South relations. This was the first time together a summit conference had ever taken place, and the occasion once again elevated expectations that reconciliation and also eventual reunion in between the 2 halves that the split peninsula. However, there is tho very tiny contact in between the governments or the world of North and South Korea, and also barring a dramatic rotate of events, the hope for reunification appears to it is in a long way off.

The oriental Diaspora

In addition to the 46 million human being in southern Korea and 23 million in the North, some 6 to 7 million world of korean descent, or around 10 percent the the populace of the 2 Koreas combined, live outside the korean peninsula. In proportion to the population of the house country, the korean “diaspora” comprises among the largest teams of emigrants from almost everywhere in Asia. The largest neighborhoods of overseas Koreans room in China (two million), the United states (over one million), Japan (700,000), and also the former Soviet Union (450,000), mainly in the central Asian republics that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

The oriental diaspora is distinctive both because that its family member size and the fact that that is nearly entirely a twentieth-century phenomenon, with the exception of Koreans in China and also Russia, who started to immigrate there in huge numbers in the 1860s. There were no Koreans in U.S. Region until ~ 1900, and most Koreans in Japan this day are, or room descendants of, immigrants who came throughout the colonial occupation duration of 1910-1945.

Koreans were first brought come Hawaii in 1903 as employees in the sugarcane fields. Later, Koreans resolved increasingly on the U.S. Mainland, especially in southern California. Koreans in the U.S. Still numbered just in the few tens the thousands till after 1965, when restrictions on immigrant from Asia were relaxed. By the 1980s, Koreans were amongst the most rapidly growing groups of immigrants to the unified States. Immigration from Korea leveled off after 1988 and began to decrease in the beforehand 1990s, but increased slightly again ~ the asian financial situation hit southern Korea in 1997. The key concentrations that Koreans in the U.S. Room in the Los Angeles area, new York, and Chicago.

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At the start of the twenty-first century, southern Korea is among the significant industrialized countries of the world and is widely well-known as a success in economic breakthrough and political democratization. South Korea has advanced remarkably native the poor, backward nation that arised from the shadows that Japanese colonial rule in 1945. The is also a country with a solid sense of national identity and good pride in that culture, traditions, and accomplishments. At the exact same time, Korea remains divided into North and South, with practically two million guys under eight on the peninsula and also a high state of armed forces tension. As it has actually for much more than a century, Korea occupies a strategic location on the people map, and any problem on the peninsula would have the potential to draw in neighboring countries, if not farther. Korea might no longer be a “shrimp,” yet the waters that swims in are not yet totally safe.