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"Beyond the 'Long Partition'. From Divisive Geographies of Korea to the Korean 'Meta-Culture'"

Abstract : This paper addresses the importance of the post-colonial division of Korea between North and South in shaping not only territorial structures, but also geographical interpretations of contemporary Korea. Starting by a critical analysis of the Korean "meta-border" (Foucher 2007), the paper then discusses how traditional approaches in Korean geography consider the "long partition" (Zamindar 2007) as a backdrop affecting South and North Korean societies. Until the 1990s, this divisive paradigm has been expressed in South Korea by the focus on various embodiments of the developmental State at the national scale with a great attention on Seoul, or its alternative, the regional problem (chiyŏk munje). Recent trend in Korean studies, and the shift to critical geographies of Korea brought different scales and themes acknowledging the peculiarities of the Korean socio-spatial dimensions ("a Korea in fragments" Gelézeau 2004, Armstrong 2007) that disturb multi-scaled borders and boundaries, either geographical (the peninsula and its regions), national (two Korean States), or ethnic (the transnational, the diaspora). The paper finally argues that, in the classical paradigm, the division between North and South Korea, internalized at all levels of the socio-spatial spheres, acted as an essential matrix for shaping not only both societies but their narratives in the social sciences. This calls for a new geographical approach of Korea, by going beyond the borders of the partition, from territorial borders between North and South to epistemological borders within Korean geographies, or Korean studies themselves, in order to better grasp the notion of a "Korean meta-culture" (Bonnemaison 2000).
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Contributor : Valérie Gelézeau <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - 10:15:50 AM
Last modification on : Friday, July 17, 2020 - 9:37:33 AM
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Valérie Gelézeau. "Beyond the 'Long Partition'. From Divisive Geographies of Korea to the Korean 'Meta-Culture'". European Journal of East Asian Studies, Brill Academic Publishers, 2010, 9 (1), pp.1-24. ⟨10.1163/156805810X517643⟩. ⟨halshs-00489922⟩



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