Since the end of the Second World War, the Korean Peninsula has been a place for ideological battle field between America and the Soviet Union; as a result, the Korean War occurred between North and South Korea in 1950. Eventually, the Korean peninsula has been divided into two countries pursuing different ideologies, Capitalism and Communism, and the two Koreas have walked into different paths in terms of politics and economy. While Germany reunified, and the Cold War ended, the Korean Peninsula still remained as only two that have not reunified since the Cold War. In doing so, the prolonged partition of the peninsula has had immense impacts on the two countries in terms of politics, economy, cultural and national identity. Especially, South Korea has been through the rapid economic and social transformation whereas North Korea has been at a standstill since 1970s.
In terms of social and cultural aspects, South Korea has drastically transformed its social and cultural landscape especially as a result of the official establishment of “Segyehwa,” meaning globalization policy, in early 1990s. On the other hand, the policy of opening its market to the global trade and encouraging foreign investors led to the development of South Korean’s economy. This promoted massive inflow of foreign culture through social media and foreign citizens who have also contributed to the social and cultural transformation. North Korea in contrast, has pursued defensive policy toward globalization and refused external influence. North Korea instead, has established its national survival strategy based on ‘Juche’ meaning self-reliance and military extortion. The prolonged partition between the two countries and the rapid modernization along with globalization in South Korea has deepened the gap which is not only political and economic, but also a cultural and a national identity gap between the two countries. As a result, the South Korean political and social perception toward North Korea and unification of the peninsula has been changed.
Regarding the issue, the study hypothesizes on the basis of the gap between the two countries, and it argues:
Globalization and its impact on cultural and national identity in South Korea have negative contribution to the relationship between North and South Korea.
In doing so, the paper focuses on examining how globalization contributes to South Korea in terms of cultural and national identity, and aims to illustrate correlations between globalization and the relationship between North and South Korea. In the following literature review, the paper introduces academic discourses and debates regarding national identity formation in Korea and impacts of globalization on the shaping of national identity.
This section provides theoretical discourses and frameworks in order to help understand the basic regarding Korean history on national identity through two parts. The first part provides explanation on the traditional, nationalism and national identity in Korea. It also discusses the origin and development of national identity. In the second part, the study introduces theoretical discourses regarding globalization and its influence on identity construction.
• The Conception of Traditional Nationalism
And Identity in the Korean Peninsula
There is a possibility of exploring the hypotheses and ideas of identity with great efforts made in studying the impact of national identity on the international relations of East Asia. Even with a particular historical pattern of East Asia being reflected or the unchanging symbol embedded from a static identity of a strategic culture, national identities are mutable with radical changes in the national identities and self-conceptions of people being impacted by some significant events of the world.
For instance, following the end of the Cold War, the balance of power in East Asia changed with the geopolitical world order creating conditions for revolutions like the way of evaluating the war time past and the forces that shape the new self-conceptions of nationalists in the countries. The approach of the constructivist offered an understanding of innovation in comprehending of power balance theory, neoliberal cooperation theory and the security dilemma with its concentration. The identity issues in world politics and domestic politics created a culture in the history of international relations.
Most theorists have paid less attention to sources that can be termed as mainly the roots of potential conflict and regional instability in East Asia. These are the downplayed variables in contemporary international relations theory; identity, memory and nationalism. In this regard, it has been emphasized among scholars that understanding Korean nationalism and its national identity is one of the essential grounds in studying South Korean politics and its relationship with North Korea.
However, scholar’s speculation regarding the origin and development of the nationalism and national identity has been numerous. Shin highlights that those scholars perceptions regarding Korean nationalism and national identity can be classified into three categories. These include: Primordialists view, Modernists or Constructivists view, and other views.
The national identity of Korea is emphasized by the pre-modern ethnic roots. Ethnic roots are claimed by Anthony Smith as providing a nation’s pre-existing basis where without it, the nation strong appeal and durability can hardly have an explanation. In this sense, Smith emphasizes that National identity is composed of two components, civic and ethnic. Memories, pre-historic myths and the same ancestry have an indispensable role in the formation of the ethnic component of national identity. The public, many historians, and primordialists in Korea have a tendency to believe that Korean is a single race which is connected with one bloodline from the pre-historic period. This strong belief of Koreans is based on the idea of being descendants of Dangun,a founder of Gochosun in a primordial nation buildings troy, thus, their ethnic unity came naturally.
Due to the previous historical experiences, Suh et al. agree with the notions of primordialists, and they maintain that nationalism and national identity are mainly formed and developed through perception of any foreign existence as threats. The uniqueness of national identity can be found in many movements, such as “The March First Movement” which pursued the independence of Korea during the Japanese occupation. In other words, Suh et al. highlight anti-colonialism as the main source of nationalism and identity formation. There also have been descriptions of the Three Kingdoms period the continuous efforts of restoring and unifying the nation as one. This also provides a strong mandate for the two Koreas to be unified.
However, modernists or constructivists such as Andre Schmid claim that the nation of Korea is a nationalist product in the late nineteenth century. In other words, the creation of the Korean ethnic nationalism was for becoming free from Chinese intervention, fitting into the national system of modernity. For scholars, the maintenance of incredible territorial authority by Korea for an extended time period is not a fulfillment of the primordial ethnic nationalism condition. It was seen as a rigid society with class strata that has restrictions. The elites of Korea considered themselves as being those that belonged to China’s civilized world instead of forming a nation with the Cho-Sun dynasty, the commoners. As a result, the influence of this emphasizes a Confucian civilization identity.
Even with many occupations and invasions, the homogeneity of Korea has been maintained in terms of a Korean nation or Han minjok. Despite the division of Korea, there was still a national awareness that was constructed by Han minjok. It has become an essential characteristic of nationalism in Korea with in spite of foreign occupation and imperialism. Furthermore, in the consideration of traditional culture and the strong influence of Confucianism, there was emphasis by the Cho-Sun dynasty of ethical morality, humanity and spiritual self-cultivation. Confucianism also significantly influenced the shaping characteristics of traditional culture.
Both primordialists and constructivists agree that modern Korean nationalism emphasize the concept of a shared bloodline and ethnic unity. As Shin highlights, where there is conflation of ethnicity, race and nation in Korean nationalism which is often seen with the use of minjok, which is a term that sometimes implies nation or ethnicity. According to Shin, the development of the ethnicity of Korean nationalism in the late 1920s was done in response to racial discrimination from Japan. After the independence from Japan in 1945, there was a division of Korea into two countries after the height of ethnic nationalism propelling a competition of legitimacy of the single ethnic Korea between Kim Il-sung and Rhee Syngman.
As noted by Shin and Suh et al., Korean nationalism and its national identity have been formed and enhanced through invasions and occupations in the history. Especially, combining with Confucianism, threats of foreign invasion including Japanese colonialism have resulted in enhancing the uniqueness of Korean national identity. In doing so, the national identity and interests of South Korea are as a result of the connection between both the internal and external factors of instability.
There are two main characteristics that standout as part of Korea’s national identity in its premise. First, South Korea is termed as a “Northeast Asian State”. It is the one country with the strongest North East Asian identity. Therefore, the regional stability of North East Asia becomes a significant premise for the national interest of South Korea. From the start of the 21st century however, Northeast Asia was at the center of international politics with the collision of issues of security, politics and economics among the great powers. Therefore, South Korea needs to have diplomatic power in order to play effectively and continuously at the global and regional levels instead of just being at the regional level. The position of the Korean Peninsula creates a center of four of the world’s superpowers economically, geographically, and culturally making the balance and stability of North East Asia an important precondition for the national security and interest of South Korea. Another characteristic of national identity for South Korea is the Korean Peninsula’s security issues. The guarantee of Korea’s national interest and security needs to silence the concerns and create a balance for both international and peninsular factors.
The legitimatization of the state after the partition of the country is also another factor in considering construction of national identity. Syngman Rhee in South and Kim Il-Sung in North Korea have proclaimed the legitimacy of their state by emphasizing the tradition, and the history of primordial Korea along with their political ideologies. Suh et al. contend that the Korean peninsula was divided into two countries when the ethnic nationalism was at its peak, and this accelerated the competition between North and South Korea for the legitimacy of the one true mono ethnic Korea.
• The Influence of Globalization on the Change of Cultural and National Identity
Since globalization and modernization dilute the boundaries between countries and cultures, globalization and its influence have become one of the important issues among scholars. In this sense, its impacts on South Korean cultural and national identity have also become crucial to concern in the field of Korean study. It was noted that one of the most crucial factors that contributes to the change of cultural and national identity is globalization. Nonetheless, its impacts on identities have not been explored by many scholars in South Korea besides the economic impacts of globalization.
According to Tomlinson, culture is made by people, and people are made by culture. In dialogue, even with the changes in socio-political and economic circumstances, culture does not change. The change in culture occurs when it is brought into contact with other cultures through political or commercial relations. However, when a group of people has social agency in form of creativity and freedom, there is development and change of a culture with influences that can be integrated or rejected. This can be termed as the effect of globalization on culture.
Dittmer claims that popular culture contributes to the construction of the certain national identity. He demonstrates its process by examining several case studies of popular culture. According to Dittmer, certain forms of popular cultures significantly influence a transformation of national identity. Popular culture such as media, movies, music creates a representative image and narrative toward certain objects, and they are reflected through national identities. In this regard, modification is possible due to the recent shift in demographics although there is belief that the ethnic component’s effect is the Korean national identity. The maintenance of Korean nationalism is by a long period of an ethnic myth which soon will be challenged by a Korean society that is transformed ethnically.
On a global scale, the spread of nationalism is due to modernization and westernization of the societies that are non-Western. Therefore, even in Korea, the spread and awakening of nationalism is due to an increasing encroachment of Western economic, military and cultural power from the start of the 19th century and the country’s colonization by Imperial Japan. All Korean people have been awakened to political action and national awareness with the emergence of nationalism as a stimulant and ideological force during momentous times of sociopolitical transition. The rise in civic identity was based on ethnic identity before the recent upsurge in Korea of foreigners. Koreans have been portrayed by Alford as tailoring the globalization premise into an agenda of nationalism. This was as a byproduct of globalization and modernization or just of democratization. Alford posits that as the theme of globalization arrived, Koreans still had maintenance of ethnic identity while still understanding globalization in their own way.
The assertion of Samuel Kim is similar in that segyehwa or globalization in Korea was government driven without the result of significant strides in making changes to the Korean cultural nationalism. Both of these scholars are not supportive of any significant changes being made but there is disagreement from Shin on claims of no interplay of nationalism and globalization. Shin’s argument is that globalization was “appropriated” by nationalism so that national pride could increase. On the other hand, the main agreement by all the authors is that ethnic nationalism has been enhanced rather than undermined by globalization. There was slow transition to civic national identity even though migration and other forces played a role. Vitality was maintained by ethnic national identity with the show case of global Korea by the president Lee Myung-bak and the universal values gaining shared support though there was less support for unification and challenges for ethnic identity, there was still steam gathering with the impact of immigration.
As with globalization, there is an overriding concern for South Korea on the resolution of the Korean reunification issue and the peaceful integration of North Korea back into the most dynamic economic region of the world. In Korean politics, the omnipresence is in South Korean nationalism being at the center of the discourse of unification too. With the perception of the country being one ethnic nation, the regard of the current Korean division is that it is temporary. Both the regimes of the South and North made claims to the legitimacy of one ethnic Korea with accusations made by each that the other side is a puppet regime of Cold War superpowers. Thus, for both sides, unification was a raison d’etre.
South Korea has been caught between two identities of conflict with the nationalist identity pitting the Korean identity against the United States and the alliance identity seeing the United States a friendly provider. Therefore, the sharp disputes and division for Koreans over the alliance and the North will not deteriorate soon due to the intimate relations of these issues to the question of contention in national identity. The shared sense of ethnic identity within the political systems lying discretely has been in existence throughout the post-1945 history causing the two governments to compete on the rightful political leadership with the conception of national community.
In terms of the cultural diversity, globalization plays a negative role of influencing corporations, exploiting the markets and workers while also influencing the values of the society. Due to the influence of Japanese colonialism, the Korean War, the division of Korea, rapid modernization and the indiscriminate influx of Western culture, there was a sense of discontinuity between the contemporary culture and traditional culture of Korea which led to the rise of the issue of cultural identity. With the variety of circumstance, there is a tendency of Korean traditional culture to be transformed and eroded swiftly giving way to western culture in the way people lived. Furthermore, there is loss of individualism with the adoption of Western ideologies and culture through the mimicking of the cognitive styles. There is easy assimilation of western ideas into the national identity of South Koreans as they provide a suitable framework for the developing economies.
The findings on causes and effects of globalization were arrived at through well-defined procedures that are discussed in this section. In order to test the hypothesis, the paper implements different aspects of methodology, the aspects being quantitative and qualitative aspects. Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies clearly outline the evidences showing certain levels of influence of globalization in South Korea. To understand the concept of globalization, South Korea was taken as the key are of study since it is directly and adversely get affected by globalization factors like politics, economy, and culture. In North Korea, the degree of globalization has been jeopardized by their conservative culture. They have consistently refused to adopt any forms of western influence. Qualitative method aspect scrutinizes two case studies, which are:
1) The Process of Linguistic Heterogeneity
And Language Structure in South Korea.
2) Identity Dilemma between Multiculturalism and Mono-ethnicity.
Each case study has been examined and analyzed in order to provide better understanding of certain degree of cultural and national identity transformation in South Korea. The first case study focuses on national and cultural identity transformation by examining the linguistic heterogeneity process between North and South Korea. The case study explores both North and South Korean language system before the country’s partition, during Cho Sun dynasty and Japanese Colonialism. Then, it scrutinizes both countries language policy and development of linguistic system from the country’s partition until now.
The second case study examines national and cultural identity dilemma that South Korea has faced since 2000s as a result of implementing multiculturalism. It demonstrates how multiculturalism policy generates nationality and cultural identity dilemma with existing cultural and national identity by examining governmental policy and social media in South Korea.
Qualitative Data Analysis
In qualitative data analysis section, the study majors basically on two areas in order to demonstrate how globalization has influenced the national and cultural identity transformation in South Korea and how it has negatively contributed to the relationship between North and South Korea
South Korean cultural identity has also been influenced by foreign popular culture especially during the legal opening of its cultural markets such as movies and music from other countries like America and Japan in 1990s. This cultural and social transformation due to globalization was highly adopted in cultural South Korea and its spheres.
• The Process of Linguistic Heterogeneity
And Linguistic Structure in North and South Korea
Language takes a great part in constructing national identities, and it also represents its cultural identity. According to Brown, a language is a part of a culture and vice versa. In other words, the language and culture are mutually intertwined, so neither of them can be separately acquired without each other. In this regard, it is important to understand development of the linguistic structure in both North and South Korea. The drastic division of the country after the Korean War in 1950 widened the cultural variations gap in the two areas especially South Korea which has been on the move with its cultural transformation along with its historical events since the division. The deepened cultural gap can be found in every part of culture, especially in language and art in both North and South Korea.
South and North Korea used the same Korean language for communication initially and the Korean language society identified the Korean language as the Korean orthography. It has always been used in both South and North Korea after the end of the Japanese Occupation. Traditionally, the structure of Korean language was dual operative system; this implied that letters were written in Chinese letters though oral communication was through Korean language. As a result of influence of social stratification and Confucianism, learning Chinese letters was allowed to upper social layer people or men. As a result, large population of women ended being illiterate therefore both countries decided to modify their language policy and system through 한글맞춤표통일안, Han-Guel Orthography Policy, which was used since 1933 to the time of amendments to Korean orthography .
After the end of the Korean War, North and South Korea posed different opinions concerning the language policy that was binding the two countries through their cultures in order to emphasize on their state of legitimacy. Consequently, the countries chose different linguistic policies that they used as a tool in order to fight for their legitimacy and identity that opposed each other. South Korea opted for “Standard Korean” whereas North Korea adopted “Cultural Korean” as their national languages. The two countries faced a lot of challenges politically and social that resulted into their geographical split.
North Korea decided to make some amendments in the already existing Korean orthography, and the country chose Pyeongyang dialogue as their standard language and named it Munhwa language. The rules that were set to revise it had minor changes that made the North Korean orthography look a little bit different from that of the South Koreans. After the first changes in their language, several changes followed and the languages of the two countries differed with time. Feeling the necessity of having their own independent ideology from Soviet Union and China, the North Korea changed their linguistic policies in the 1960s, and this was facilitated by the introduction of the Juche ideology. During the same period, Kim II Sung came up with teachings that further changed the Korean language. More and more advancements were made on the national characteristics of the Korean language. It increased the differences of the language that was being spoken between Koreans from the South and those from the north. The revised standard rules done by North Korea were also applied in writing and it has always been used up to date.
Along with the influence from Juche, self-reliance, philosophy in North Korea came up with a policy that was aimed at eradicating the use of foreign languages including Chinese letters in the Korean language with the goal of purifying the Korean language. Moreover, the country wanted their language to be associated with their culture and not a mixture of other cultures this was the idea of North Korea. The policy used in North Korea can be divided into several stages. During the Korean orthography reforms the whole process was done in three stages. The first period had the adoption of the orthography of morphophonemic into the language. The next criteria involved the introduction of a set of conventions that were orthographic and that were completely different from the ones used by South Korea. Coming up with their language was the evident and significant symbol of legitimacy in national identity.
Furthermore, North Korean language structure consists of three core fundamental components, which are:
1) Kim Il-sung centered;
2) A reflection of Juche philosophy; and
3) Distinctive nationalism centered.
The components can be observed in North Korea’s national anthem and song of General Kim IL sung, which is sung more often than their national anthem. The table below is the lyrics of North Korean national anthem.
몸과맘바쳐이조선길이받드세. Let morning shine on this rivers and mountains,
Filled with the wealth of gold and resources,
My beautiful fatherland of three thousand Li,
With a history of 5000 years,
*Raised up with a brilliant culture,
The glory of the wise people
Devote our bodies and minds,
Support this Cho Sun forever.
As lyrics of North Korean national anthem shows, it reflects a strong nationalism and patriotism. By repeating and stressing the words such as ‘brilliant culture’ and ‘this Cho Sun,’ the song emphasizes a strong patriotism and nationalism. The patriotism and loyalty toward country and Kim’s family are also observed in the lyrics of the Song of General Kim Il sung.
On the contrary, South Korea considers Seoul style Korean language as the country’s standard Korean while North Korea considers Pyongyang style Korean as the country’s cultural Korean. For South Korea, the country decided to implement standard language regulations to protect the rules and policies made in the Korean orthography. By preserving the language policy established in 1933 with few modifications, South Korea minimized the range of language reform and allowed the use of Korean with other foreign languages.
Unlike in North Korea that rejected all kinds of foreign influence on their language, South Korea accepted foreign influence, and the country was indoctrinated by Japan and U.S. The U.S established close economic, military and political relationship with South Korea and their influence took a great part in South Korean politics and its economy. This is what brought the heterogeneity among the two cultures.
The linguistic heterogeneity was majorly contributed by the rapid process of globalization in South Korea. Globalization has led to the rise of the English language that most of the South Koreans decided to adopt; as a result, it exacerbated the differences between the South and North Korea. Since late 1970s, South Korean economy started to grow up rapidly. As a result of development of technology, and politics along with economic growth, new terminologies were created in South Korea. Especially, South Korean government adopted the use of English in replacing their Korean language in terms of economy. The adoption of English was related to the international trade relationships that South Korea developed with the United States and other foreign countries. South Korea associated their economic developments to language, and English has been considered as the most important foreign language to learn in order to compete globally with other countries.
For this reason, South Korea fosters the learning of English in their education system. South Korea emphasizes the importance of English. It became more important and ramped in South Korean social atmosphere in diverse area like: business, politics, and education. Particularly, English is considered to be the most important language in education section. It can be observed in the school curriculum and private education sector. English was designated as a regular subject only in middle school and high school before the curriculum amendment in 2004. The main content in the amendment of the curriculum emphasizes the strengthening of foreign language subject, English in particular, in order to train human resources in the era of the globalization. In the conjunction with the amendment of the school curriculum, English was introduced in elementary school curriculum as an additional foreign language, and it was designated as one of the regular subjects after the amendment of curriculum in 2008.
As the government promotes the education of English through the school curriculum, it has become one of the major tools which measure individual’s ability for the employment and higher education. For example, TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) and TOEFL were only used in business for employment or promotion in early 90s; however, they also have become common and the major tool in measuring individual’s capability for higher education such as college and university. Consequent to the social and educational inclination, the tendency of private education has also changed.
The figure above shows the participation rate on private education besides the regular education in 2011. As the figure indicates, the highest rate of participation on private education in 1-6th grade is English (60.2%). For 7-12th grade, private English education is the second highest rate (61.9% and 66.2% each) after the mathematics (80.7%). According to KEDI (Korean Education Development Institution), the rate on private English education was not high before 2000s. Moreover, the number of college students visiting English speaking countries for English training has also increased. The figure below describes the annual increase of college students who visit abroad for language training from 2012 to 2014. According to the figure, the number of college student visiting abroad for English learning is increasing.
Therefore, it is evident that the amendment of curriculum on English and social trend have significantly precipitated the participation on the private English education and the trend of study English abroad.
Moreover, English centered foreign language usage has been increasing through TV shows, movies, and other types of social media since beginning of 2000s. Therefore, it is evident that English has been associated with cultural identity in South Korea. For instance, the excessive usage of English expressions or words among young generation has been rapidly increasing. Instead of using Korean, majority of young South Koreans are more familiar with the partial Anglicization, using loanwords such as “Thank you,” or English-Korean mixed words. The partial Anglicization of Korean language or an abusive use of English is often observed from mass media.
The figure 3 is the frequency research of English use in mass media. According to the figure 3, certain levels of loanword use have been observed after observing three major broadcast system. As the figure shows, 17% of loanwords is observed in news media and 25% of loanwords in educational TV programs. Significantly, 58% of loanwords is used in the entertainment or theatrical TV programs. This finding substantiates that English has taken a great part in influencing language transformation among young generation since various generations are exposed to the mass media. Especially, young generation is more tend to be exposed from the entertainment or theatrical program; therefore, the partial Anglicization of Korean language is familiar to the generation.
The partial Anglicization is noticeable in Korean contemporary pop music or so called Korean pop music since pop music reflects a certain social atmosphere, culture, and trends. Especially, the major consumers of pop music or pop culture are young generation so that the cultural trend has a certain influence on young generations and the social atmosphere as well. According to the Korean music analysis operated by Yun, the use of English in Korean music from 1950s until 1990s was rare; however, it has been increased roughly 30.8 % since 2000s.
In this regard, several factors have been observed and analyzed in demonstrating the increase of the English usage in South Korean pop music. First, public perceptions that English is more elegant and concise boosted the trend. Second, using a certain English expressions enables the young generations to define their identity. Third, English enables musicians and audiences to be more creative by mixing Korean with English.
As Brown previously mentioned, a language is mutually intertwined with a culture, so one cannot be separated from another one. In this sense, English took a great part in influencing South Korean language structure in modern time as a result of globalization. The young generations in South Korea accepts the partial Anglicization of their cultural identity in order to distinguish their identity, and it exacerbated the process of linguistic and identity heterogeneity between North and South Korea.
Adapting to English was not an easy task especially for the North Koreans who were more interested in protecting their culture and being independent with their culture. The North had its legitimacy which is associated with its culture while the south decided to have its identity associated with the use of English, and this lead to an adverse relationship between South and North Korea.
South Korean language policy and linguistic system are designed to be flexible in terms of using or mix foreign languages with Korean languages whereas North Korean language policy does not allow using foreign language and foreign language have to be converted into munhwa or cultural Korean. As a result, the process of linguistic heterogeneity has deepened over five decades. The table below shows the different way of foreign language orthography in North and South Korea.
Object South Korea North Korea
Juice 주스(Juice) 과일단물(Fruit sweet water)
Musical 뮤지컬(Musical) 가무이야기(Music and dance story)
Shampoo 샴푸(Shampoo) 머리물비누(Hair water soap)
Skin lotion 스킨로션(Skin lotion) 살결물 (Skin water)
Ice Cream 아이스크림(Ice Cream) 얼음보숭이(Ice Peach Flower)
As the table above shows, South Korea uses English words without convert them into Korean language, and the language policy allows Korean script to write the words as pronounced. On the other hand, North Korea does not use English words. Instead, the language policy requires them to be converted into Munhwa language. Consequently, both North and South Korea use a dictionary or translator for linguistic study. The different language policy in both countries not only resulted in language heterogeneity, but also national and cultural identity heterogeneity as well.
• Identity Dilemma as a result of Rapid Multiculturalism in South Korea
As previously mentioned, South Korea has been through rapid economic and social transformation as a result of globalization and modernization. Originally, the country has been well known as a homogeneous society in the world. However, migration has been active all over the world since globalization and modernization dilute the border between countries. South Korea was one of the major countries sending labors to developed countries during 1960s and 1970s, and those labors were both low and high skilled labors. Boosted by the remittances and other economic factors, South Korean economy started to grow up rapidly in the early 1980s. Nevertheless, South Korean labor market had to face the shortage of labor soon consequent to the rapid growth.
In 1990s, South Korean government allowed foreign labors entering in Korea, mostly low skilled labors, and companies in South Korea started to hire hundreds of thousands of cheap foreign labors from sending countries such as China. As a result of importing foreign labors into domestic labor market, the number of foreigners, who reside in Korea, has gradually increased since then. The majority of residing foreigners in Korea were mainly American soldiers in the U.S military bases before allowing foreign workers residing in Korea. During this period, the emergence of cultural diversity was not considered to be an important social issue for the government. Therefore, South Korean government did not have a certain policy toward residing foreigners.
However, the number of multicultural families have rapidly increased in mid-2000’s when international marriages proliferated in conjunction with proactive foreign immigration policies including permanent resident permit and social welfare to married immigrants. Consequent to the abrupt urbanization, change of women’s social status, and gender imbalance in particular, many single Korean men were increased. Especially, the problem became intensified in rural areas in this period. As a result, the number of foreign brides from under developing countries such as Vietnam rapidly increased, and the government activated foreign immigration policy regarding those foreign brides.
Consequent to the rapid social transformation along with sudden racial demographic change without a proper preparation, downsides such as xenophobia and racial discriminations started to emerge as one of the serious social issues within the society in South Korea.
The figure above is annual increase of residing immigrants in South Korea. The variables in the figure are immigrants, who registered as both the long-term and temporal immigrants, staying more than 3month, but short-term residing foreigners, less than 3months, and American military base residents are excluded as a variable. As the figure describes, the number of registered foreigners has annually increased. Particularly, the rapid increase of the number of immigrant is observed since 2006. The registered immigrants in South Korea rapidly increased within a decade, according to the figure 3. The total number of residing immigrants in South Korea was less than 900,000 before 2007; however, the total number of residing immigrants surpassed over 1,000,000 since 2008. As previously mentioned in the second case study, South Korean government reformed the immigration policy for foreign brides in order to resolve the problems of decreasing population, in rural areas in particular.
Regarding this, figure 4 and 5 show more details by describing foreigners’ distribution percentage on the basis of nationalities and types of residing foreigners in South Korea.
According to the figure 2 and 3, more than half of foreigners’ nationality is China (53%), and the second biggest group of nationality is Vietnam (12%). Moreover, the largest residing type of immigrants in South Korea is workers (36 %), and the second largest residing group is marriage immigrants (16%). Previously mentioned, South Korea has faced issues regarding population such as the scarcity of labor, aging and decrease of population of rural areas. Consequently, the government has allowed the inflow of immigrants, workers and foreign brides in particular since the mid of 2000s.
In conjunction with the increase of residing foreigners, the number of multicultural family also rapidly increased. The figure 4 is the status of the number of children (1-12th Grade) from multicultural family in South Korea. As indicated in the figure, it is noticeable that the number of multicultural children
In this regard, the government has sought to a way to resolve these social downsides; as a result, multiculturalism policy, based on the model suggested by Miler and Castles, have been adopted and promoted. The history of multiculturalism or immigrants is not long in South Korea since the country has been well known for its closed homogeneous society. Hence, discourses and policies regarding multiculturalism and immigration have not been developed in the country.
In terms of adopting multiculturalism policy, it has been debated among scholars and politicians whether the government needs to apply an existing multiculturalism models adopted in foreign countries, such as Canadian multiculturalism model, or develop the country’s own multiculturalism policy. Scholars and politicians supporting the implementation of other preexisting multiculturalism models because South Korea does not have a long history of multiculturalism, and developing the country own policy takes high costs and long time. From this sense, Canadian multiculturalism policies have been suggested as an exemplary model for South Korea sine both country shares geographical and historical similarity. However, other scholars and politicians have claimed that unlike Canada having a long history of immigrants, South Korea was a closed homogeneous society and the country has experienced foreign invasions, the war, and the separation through the history. Particularly, the separation of the country has left an important mission, which is reunification of the country. In this regards, the social context and national identity in South Korea are much different from Canada or any other foreign countries. Hence, social context and the national identity are the most important factors to consider in policy making. Eventually, it has created more social confusion and dilemmas.
Debates and discourses regarding multiculturalism have been continued over a decade, and have not been integrated or agreed into a certain direction; therefore, the government has changed and modified multiculturalism policy over the time along with unsettled discourses. Furthermore, arguments regarding North Korean defectors in South Korea have intensified these dilemmas.
The term “Multiculturalism” does not only encompass the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and religion, but it also encompasses other social minority groups. However, North Korean defectors have been contradictory topic of debates among scholars and politicians, and they have argued that whether this minority group needs to be included within multiculturalism policy or not. North Korean defectors exiling to South Korea has been increased since 1994 as a result of the death of Kim Il- Sung and the famine in 1995. South Korean government has attempted to seek a proper way to help them to settle down and assimilate South Korean society because the government perceives it as a part of preparation for social integration with North Koreans when the country reunifies.
Multiculturalism policy has not been applied to defectors since the government considers them as same ethnic group sharing same culture and history. In doing so, the government established and implemented different policies toward North Korean defectors. The policies are designed to help them to assimilate to South Korean society, and the government categorizes them as a special social group. On the other hand, the government established multiculturalism policies which promotes the reciprocal assimilation and integration of the society and immigrants. In doing so, multiculturalism policies is implemented to both society and immigrants through various approaches such as school education whereas policies toward the defector are unilateral. For instance, the ministry of education established multiculturalism education as a part of school curriculum, and it has been implemented most of schools in 2006. The multiculturalism education aims the promotion of reciprocal integration between multicultural children and local children.
However, due to the fact that defectors are subjects of multiculturalism policy, no such an educational program exists in school. In terms of governmental support, supportive institutions for North Korean defectors are not designated or organized whereas institutions, supporting and promoting multiculturalism, are established in most of regions in South Korea. In this regard, individuals in South Korea tend to perceive multiculturalism more familiar whereas perceptions toward defectors and North Korea are indifferent and fluctuated due to the political and diplomatic issues between two countries.
Consequently, it has been observed that North Korean defectors have more problems with settling down South Korean society, and they tend to be more often exposed to racial isolation or discrimination than foreigners residing in South Korea, and those issues with defectors’ social and psychological maladjustment have increased. In other words, North Korean defectors have lived in a different social, political, and cultural atmosphere since the country’s partition. Hence, the policies, based on the assumption that North Korean defectors are different from foreigners, are failing. The number of North Korean defectors in South Korea started to decrease since 2011, according to the figure 4.
Identity dilemmas are also resulted from conflicting governmental policies. South Korean government fosters North Korean policy and reunification policy by emphasizing several benefits in terms of economy and security. In particular, the policy emphasizes oneness of the country by stressing one-bloodline/ mono-ethnicity, that share same tradition, culture, and history descended from Dangun, since the country’s partition. Consequently, it influenced South Korean national identity that North Korea is still part of them. However, the policies conflict with multiculturalism policy which promotes the acceptance of cultural and ethnic diversity in the society.
The conflicting governmental policies have also influenced the perceptions of both North and South Korea toward each other. Regarding the implementation of multiculturalism policy in South Korea, North Korea poses a negative opinion by claiming that multiculturalism or mixing traditional culture with other foreign culture is killing the society, and multiculturalism is a poison that contaminates endemic nationalism and ethnicity of Korea.
Furthermore, the role of mass media plays such an important role in constructing cultural and national identity by carrying certain narratives and representation. In this regard, mass media such as news, movies, and TV shows has contributed to identity dilemmas. For example, it has been observed that contents of certain TV shows have also contributed the identity dilemmas by showing unequal narratives and representation. Most of TV shows or documentaries dealing with multiculturalism deliver the importance of multiculturalism in the era of globalization, and they are scheduled during the prime time. Meanwhile North Korean defectors or unification relating TV shows or documentaries deliver the message of the necessity of unification by stressing mono-ethnicity. Nonetheless, the majority of them are scheduled in time segments having low audience rate. Eventually, the majority of TV shows dealing with North Korea or unification have been canceled due to low ratings and lack of public response.
Contrary to the mass media, the government puts more emphasis on the policies on unification and North Korea. As previously mentioned, reunification of the Korea peninsular has been a national primary mission for both North and South Korea. Moreover, mono-ethnicity still remains as one of the fundamental factors in preexisting national and cultural identity in South Korea despite the identities’ change as a result of multiculturalism. In this sense, multiculturalism inevitably contradicts with the country’s mission since South Korea’s reunification and North Korean policy is strongly based on national and cultural identity.
In order to see the contradiction in framing image of the North Korea between government and mass media, the paper analyzes the use of specific word and its frequency. In terms of government, the paper scrutinizes political discourse especially two presidential speeches about North Korea. One speech is made by President Park during the Cold War, and another speech is made by President Kim in 2000. South Korea’s North Korean policies from the two regimes stand out since each regime represents important time line, the Cold War and the era of globalization. Over-lexicalization has been utilized in order to measure the change of narratives in political discourse.
word Frequency Texts Percentage of Texts
We 55 1 9%
Communism 30 1 5%
Betrayal 30 1 5%
Legitimacy 15 1 2.5%
Tolerance 35 1 5.8%
Reinforce 25 1 4%
Defense 23 1 3.8%
Others Less than 15 1 2% and blow
The table above shows the frequency of word that are repeatedly used in the President Park’s speech. As the table shows words such as ‘we,’ ‘communism,’ ‘tolerance,’ and ‘betrayal’ were repeatedly used in his speech.
As a result of implementing over-lexicalization on those words, it has been observed that the words carry certain narratives in framing a certain image of North Korea. As the table of over lexicalization shows, each word, frequently mentioned in the speech, limits its range of meaning while it emphasizes an opposing word. For instance, the word ‘we’ in the context of President Park’s speech, it limits its meaning of we to only South Koreans meanwhile it emphasizes North Korean as not part of them.
word Frequency Texts Percentage of Texts
We 29 1 5.8%
Unification 10 1 2%
World 14 1 2.8%
Peace 25 1 5%
Korean Peninsula 10 1 2%
Exchange 10 1 2%
Sunshine policy 11 1 2.2%
Others Less than 10 1 1.5% and below
On the contrary to the President Park’s speech, the President Kim’s speech carries a different type of narratives. The table above shows the frequency of the word used in the President Kim’s speech in 2000. In the speech, such words ‘we,’ ‘peace,’ ‘world’ have been repeatedly observed. Unlike the President Park’s speech, the use of words in the President Kim’s speech carries positive narratives by implying positive image of North Korea.
As the table of over lexicalization of the President Kim’s speech describes, each word delivers its overlapping positive meaning. For example, the word ‘we’ in the speech describes not only South Korea, but also North Korea whereas President Park’s ‘we’ exclude North Korea. The word ‘peace’ carries another its positive meaning of ‘Co-existence’ while Park’s ‘peace’ emphasizes North Korea’s violation of peace agreement and its betrayal of nationalism.
In terms of the mass media, the paper analyzes two types of movie which deliver opposing narrative toward North Korea. In order to see how mass media influences the perception change toward North Korea and how it causes identity dilemmas, the paper explores two successful movies “태극기휘날리며/Teagukgi (2003)” and “연평해전/ Northern Limit Line (2015)” that are based on true stories.
The movie “Taeguki (2003)” deals with the story of two brothers who had to fight against each other. The movies emphasizes the unnecessity of the war by describing the agony of the war through the characters, the two brothers. Nevertheless, the movie carries another narrative about North Koreans meanwhile it highlights the pain of country’s partition. The movie portrays North Koreans as ruthless killing machines, slaughtering same Koreans, and peace violator. Moreover, the movie reminds the audience that how and who initiated the war between North and South Korea by showing the brother’s peaceful days before North Korea attack. The scene emphasizes the brothers (=South Koreans) as victims of the War that was initiated by North Koreans. In particular, the negative narrative toward North Korea becomes stronger when the movie shows the scene of North Korean soldiers brutally killing their villagers in order to trap South Korean soldiers.
Similarly, the movie “Northern Limit Line (2015)” carries another negative view toward North Korea. The movie describes the story of South Korean naval soldiers who were killed from the sudden attack by North Korean naval ship in 2002. North Korea is portrayed as cold blooded, ruthless, and war like country in the movie by emphasizing the agony of victims’ family and friends. Significantly, every Korean family and individuals can closely relate to this movie due to South Korean drafting system. Moreover, the movie describes North Korea as the country that is not trustworthy and the country destroys peace. By juxtaposing two sceneries, the scene of people enjoying the world cup and the scene of the naval soldiers defending the northern limit line from North Korean naval attack, it also emphasizes that North Korea still attacks South Korea despite the government’s friendly policy such as ‘sunshine policy’ from Kim’s administration. In doing so, the movie emphasizes South Korean nationalism and its patriotism against North Korea.
As the movies show, the mass media carries narratives opposing to government’s North Korean policy; as a result, identity dilemmas have occurred. Moreover, multiculturalism policy accelerated the identity dilemmas by suggesting new form of Korean society, which is multicultural/ heterogeneous society from preexisting society that is based on homogeneity.
Consequent to the rapid social transformation such as multiculturalism, South Korea has attempted to seek ways to deal with it. Since the country lacks the experience of multiculturalism in terms of politics and research, a certain direction or solution on this matter has not been integrated yet among politicians and scholars. Moreover, the government’s policies on multiculturalism and North Korea are contradicting each other in terms of national and cultural identity since South Korean government has pursued politics of identity toward North Korea. Also, social mass media contributes to this identity dilemma by reproducing imbalanced narratives and representations regarding multiculturalism and unification.
Quantitative Data Analysis
This section provides quantitative data that is designated to demonstrate the perception changes toward North Korea. In quantitative data section, the paper attempt to demonstrate the correlation between effects of globalization on cultural and national identity and the perception changes toward North Korea.
• Identification of South Koreans’ Perception Changes
Besides the demographic change in South Korea, significant perception changes regarding North Korea and Nationalism have also been observed. The figure 4 is the result of survey research which was operated by the ministry of unification in 2013. The variables in the figures, age groups, are significant due to the fact that each age group’s perception reflects the political and social trend that they have been influenced by.
According to the figure 4, each age group has different point of view toward North Korea. As the figure shows, the majority of age group of 60s and over perceives North Korea as a neighboring county (31.4%), and the image of enemy (28.6%) takes the second largest perception. This can be explained because the age group has possibly experienced most of historical events including the partition of the country, the Korean War, and the Cold War. Meanwhile, the age group of 50s and 40s mainly perceive the country as part of South Korea (33.6%), and the image of the country as a neighboring (28.8%) is the second largest perception. The age groups of 30s’ perception also differ from the previous age groups. The main perception from the age group 30s on North Korea is a neighboring country (34.9%), and the second largest image that the group perceives is ‘one of us’ (25.5%).
The age group of 20’s perception toward North Korea is also different from other age groups. The age group mainly perceives North Korea as a neighboring country (28.7%), and the second highest perception is enemy (23.5%).
Addition to the perception changes toward North Korea, the perception on precondition for ‘Koreanness’ has also been changed. As a result of survey which attempts to measure a certain extent of national identity changes, significant changes have been observed.
The figure 5 is a graph showing the result of annual survey on asking ‘Are the factors, being born in Korea, having Korean bloodline, and living in Korea for most of one’s life, important precondition for being a Korean?’ As the figure shows, for ‘being born in Korea’ as an important precondition of Koreanness, 81.9%of respondents answered yes, and 18.1% of respondent answered no. 80.9% answered yes on ‘having the Korean bloodline. ’Unlike two factors, the long period of living in Korea is not relatively considered to be important (64.6%). On the other hand, the survey operated in 2013 shows different result. The perception toward the importance of precondition for Koreanness has notably changed. 69% of the respondents answered yes for ‘being born in Korea,’ and 65% for ‘having the Korean bloodline.’ The percentage of respondents answering yes for ‘living in Korea for most of one’s life’ has increased whereas the importance of ‘being born in Korea’ and ‘having Korean bloodline’ strikingly dropped by 66% and 65.8% each.
In this regards, figure 6is the statistics from the survey on how each age groups consider those factors, and it provides clearer picture. A significant difference is observed between the age group 20s and 60s/over. Respondents in the age group 60s and over perceive that ‘being born in Korea’ and ‘having Korean bloodline’ are more important precondition for being a Korean while respondents in the age group of 20s perceive that the long period of living in Korea is more important precondition for being a Korean.
The different perceptions among generations can be traced from the trend of the social mass media and both internal and external policies implemented by different regime in South Korea. The South Korean government’s North Korean policies were unfriendly during the Cold War, and educational and social atmosphere were influenced by the policies. The age group 60s and over has experienced the country’s separation and all the diplomatic tension with North Korea including the Cold War. In doing so, the perception towards North Korea from the age group is more likely to be both part of the country and enemy, and their national identity is strongly based on ethnicity and bloodline. On the contrary, the age group of 20s has been more exposed to the social and political result of globalization. The age group has directly experienced multiculturalism policies and its educational and social promotion as a result of globalization. Moreover, as previously mentioned, national identity dilemmas derived from discord between social media and the government can be found in the age group. Therefore, the age group likely to perceive North Korea as a neighboring country rather than one of them, and put less stress on bloodline or ethnicity for precondition for being a Korean.
The Korean peninsula has been separated over five decades as a result of the Korean War based on different ideologies. The partition of country has changed both countries in terms of economy and politics. Besides of them, the partition has also deepened a cultural and national identity gap between both countries since both North and South Korea have adopted different agendas and policies in order to establish their legitimacy of the state through national and cultural identity. In particular, South Korea has experienced abrupt economic, political, and social transformation along with globalization since the late 1970s; as a result, national and cultural identity has been changed along with those social phenomena in the country. In this regard, the paper hypothesized that globalization and its impact on cultural and national identity in South Korea have negative contribution to the relationship between North and South Korea. The paper utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methodology in order to demonstrate what factors, derived from globalization, and how they generate a certain level of identity change in South Korea. The paper also analyzes their contribution to the relationship between North and South Korea. As a qualitative methodology, the paper scrutinizes two case studies.
The first case study examined the process of linguistic heterogeneity between North and South Korea; as a result, the intensification of linguistic heterogeneity has been found in both countries. North and South Korea established and have implemented different language policies for the legitimacy of regimes in each side by enhancing national and cultural identity through language. In case of North Korea, the country emphasizes self-reliance and the independence of the country from external forces, and it is reflected through their culture, politics, and its language system in particular. The country has adopted Munhwa language policy since the partition, and the language policy has developed within its policy boundary. Consequently, as the diagram above shows, the language system in North Korea consists of three core components.
On the other hand, the language system in South Korea has developed on the basis of ‘Han-Guel Orthography policy’ established in 1933, and the language policy allows the use of foreign language such as English and Chinese letter. Moreover, the economic growth and globalization influenced the language system in South Korea in terms of national and cultural identity. Especially, English has been considered to be the most important language to learn in South Korea, and it has taken a great part in Korean society. Eventually, the partial Anglicization of identity has processed, and it can be often observed in Korean pop music. The diagram below is the summary of language system in South Korea, and as it shows, South Korean language allows the use of foreign language with its standard language.
As a second case study, multiculturalism policy and identity dilemmas in South Korea have been examined. In conjunction with quantitative data, certain identity dilemmas have been observed as a result of multiculturalism and an inappropriate governmental management for it. Since the history of multiculturalism or immigration is short in South Korea, political or scholarly discourses and research have not been developed well. Moreover, the role of social media and governmental policies toward North Korea and multiculturalism has created a certain level of confusion in terms of national and cultural identity. The country has fostered unification of the country through the politics of identity; however, multiculturalism policy has inevitably conflicted with North Korean policies. As the quantitative data shows, those dilemmas can be found in perception changes toward North Korea and toward precondition of Koreanness.
The findings from quantitative and qualitative data assist that the issues of cultural and national identity between two countries are important in order to improve the relationship with North Korea especially in the era of globalization. Two case studies proved that national and cultural identity in South Korea have been affected by globalization, and it has deepened a gap between North and South Korea. Therefore, the findings from this study support the hypothesis that the impacts of globalization on cultural and national identity negatively contribute to the relationship between North and South Korea.