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Tuesday, December 30, 2003



Great little wealth of information there Yangban. Thanks for mosting that. I am currently reading two books about the coming tide of the Chinese and you can easily see where the Chinese are gearing up for some serious business, probably after they host the Olympic games.

Yea China may deny imperialism, because they call it hegemony.


Another good read on the shenannegins of the late Chosun geopolitical situation is William Franklin Sands' At the Court of Korea: Undiplomatic Memories.

I was turned on to this book by an article in the Joongang Ilbo written by Hal Piper about a year ago.

He says:

I have been reading "Undiplomatic Memories," a memoir by William Franklin Sands, who served as a U.S. diplomat in Korea between about 1897 and 1904. In those closing years of the Joseon era, Korea's weak and corrupt government was prey to the intrigues of the surrounding great powers--Japan, Russia and China.

Factions in the Korean court favored one or another of the powers, and some attempts were made to play them off against each other. King Gojong's boldest bid to solve Korea's security problem was to turn to the United States. He made Sands his personal adviser and offered gold mines, railroads and other economic concessions to American entrepreneurs. His reasoning was that the United States was far away and had no territorial ambitions in Korea; but if he could engage American economic interests, the United States might protect its own interests by protecting Korea.

The Sands book is a keeper if you can find a copy (it's out of print).


I think Christopher hit an important idea. Things become murky when haggling over terminology coming ultimately from different political science think.

If you look at the foriegn policy doctrine of the day for most of East Asian history, you'd have to say it was hegemonic. China was the Middle Kingdom and the others were under it in a system of relationships with code words related to the family unit.

So it is impossible to deny that China exercised an imperialistic-like system that Korea followed, but it is also impossible to deny that Korea didn't gain some important benefits from it.

Sure, the historical relationship with China didn't look too good given Korea's weakness (and China's too) in the face of rapid change when the East and its social institutions met the industrialized West (and a soon industrialized Japan)...

Adam Morris

Great stuff. I'm still in transition mode with my computer so there's a bunch of stuff that I can't access (yet -- it'll take me some time to figure out how to use a proxy and stuff), but I'll definately be revising this topic as soon as I get my head out of water.

Being away for so long makes you realize just how much you miss if you don't keep tabs on blogs.

Thanks for this. :)


l dont understand why Koreans think that the Chinese are imperialistic. There's a big difference between China and Japan. Japan uses force to colonise people. China doesnt. China never forces itself on other countries. If you look at Chinese culture, Koreans and Japanese chose to adopt the language and culture into their own voluntarily. The Chinese never forced Koreans to adopt Chinese names as the Japanese forced Koreans to adopt Japanese names. While the Chinese have never attacked Korea, Koreans have attacked China. The most well known attack by Koreans in China is under the Kim kingdom.

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