The Influence Of Imperialism In Korea

1542 Words 7 Pages
Pre-modern Asia was home to a vast selection of cultures, most of which were more closely associated with ethnic and religious groups rather than a given nation. The influx of imperialism brought cultural differences to the forefront of Asia’s attention, as in the face of alien cultures with far fewer similarities, Asian cultural groups with shared geography that had formerly seemed more different than alike began to obtain a growing consciousness of their similarities in response to the imposition of foreign customs. An example of this response is evident in Korea, during its time under Japanese imperial rule as the Korean national identity was forged in protest to the assimilative nature of Japanese rule in the 1920s, as Japan sought to …show more content…
Despite this fact, a concrete definition of the Korean national identity had yet to be established, emerging with the Japanese colonization of Korea, which provided motivation for Koreans to establish their nation as the home to their different and distinct national identity. During their period of colonial rule, Japan sought to assimilate the people of Korea to Japanese culture, aiming to convert Koreans into “…loyal but subordinate Japanese.” While Japan viewed Koreans as inferior to its own people, it also saw Koreans as both racially and culturally similar and therefore “…capable of being turned into Japanese…”, John Miller notes, which in turn motivated the instigation of a mass educational system in Korea where Japanese was taught as a first language, with Korean as a second, as well as a public health system, amongst other institutional changes designed to impose the Japanese national identity on the people of Korea while eliminating Korea’s own simultaneously. In response to Japan’s rigorous political changes in Korea designed to transform the country into an extension of Japan, a growing sense of injustice brewed amongst Koreans, whom became increasingly conscious of the elimination of their traditions and past at the hands of colonial subjugation. The threat of cultural assimilation provided the ideal environment for a growing consciousness of what it means to be Korean amongst Korea’s people as they were forced to define and re-examine their cultural and national identities as their traditions and customs were called to question. With the instalment of the mass educational system came the introduction of modernity to Korea, and Koreans came to realize the necessity of redefining their cultural identities to fit a new, modern Korea. Japanese imperialism unintentionally saw the birth of the Korean national identity as Korean’s looked to their

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