Planting the Seeds of Nationalism: An In-depth View of Korean Newspapers

Planting the Seeds of Nationalism: An In-depth View of Korean Newspapers

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The story surrounding the rise in nationalism within any nation is a very powerful and significant story to tell. Korea isn’t any different. For Korea, the notion of nationalism and independence can be traced back to the late 19th century when China, Korea and Japan were in the midst of a power struggle. The power struggle involved the ‘decentralization’ of China and the significant increase of power and influence of the Japanese administration. Amidst this shift in East Asian powers and the breakdown of the tributary relationship that Korea had with China, Korea found itself slowly breaking away from its dependence on China and striving to create its own identity independent of China. However, establishing its own nationalism and independence was met with a lot of setbacks because of the ambivalence that arose because of Japan’s rise to power. While some supported and admired Japan, others perceived their rising influence as a threat. All of these external factors pushing on Korea seemed to spark the notion of nationalism and the creation of the idea minjok and the notion of an independent country, the kukka. The emergence of nationalistic thought within Korea is most probably tied to the entrance of Western ideas and scholarly thought that was prevalent at this time. The rapid proliferation of nationalism in the country was in part due to the number of scholars who wrote about it and spoke about it in books, and other medium, like newspapers. Thus, the patriotic newspapers like The Independent during the late 19th to early 20th century were effective media for transferring nationalistic ideology to the Korean population.
The Entry of Western Thought into Korea: The sprouts of Nationalism and Independence
The late 19th centu...

... middle of paper ... and voice of the nation. Newspapers like The Independent were accurate reflections of scholars’ thoughts during these turbulent times. Not only did it become the tool for spreading these ideas, it came to symbolize the Nationalist movement itself.

Works Cited

Andre Schmid, Korea between Empires: 1895-1919 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002)
Gi-wook Shin, Ethnic Nationalism in Korea (California: Stanford University Press, 2006)
Tongnip Sinmun: April – December 1896, (Seoul, South Korea, 1981)
Yongho Ch'oe, Peter H. Lee, William Theodore De Bary, Sources of Korean Tradition: From the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000)
Pai, Hyung Il, Constructing ‘Korean’ Origins: A Critical Review of Archaeology, Historiography, and Racial Myth in Korean State-Formation Theories (London: Harvard University Press, 2000)

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