Modernization and Globalization of Traditional Korean Culture


Prof.  Dr. Habil. Alexander Fedotoff
Sofia University


In democracy the idea of respect is not necessarily tied to obeying the authority of the father whereas in patriarchal families obedience is an important component of respect and not to obey the father is often the same as not respecting him. In modern families, respect may be given, for example, by explaining the reasons why one disagrees with the father and has chosen to take a different course than the one advised. What counts here as respect is not whether one has or has not followed a parent’s desires, but whether one has sincerely considered those desires and given reasons why a different course has been chosen. Thus, instruction in democracy has implications not only for what is thought of as public life, but for many aspects of our life lives at home and within cultural formation as well. Democracy must respect culture but cultures are changed by the way democracies respect them.
Instruction in democracy also involves confidence in the idea of the unmanipulated, uncoerced consent of the governed where coercion may be as overt as threat of violence denial of position, or loss of income or as covert as a promise of advancement and manipulation. And it can be as pervasive and unrelenting as a party controlled or a profit dominated media.
Yet given this understanding, it seems to me as if those of us who are involved in modernity have a dilemma. We are aware that many of our own attitudes have been used to force people, sometimes against their will, sometimes out of the seductions of consumerism, sometimes out of a need to adjust to an ever modernizing environment, to leave their traditional ways and to engage with modern economic, cultural and political sectors. Democracy requires that people not be forced to adopt a certain life style and yet modernity, at least its Western version, does affirm the values of individuality, equality, scientific rationality, democratic schools and gender equal families. The question of how to resolve this dilemma is important because most of the literature and ideologies that have issued from the West have been dismissive of traditional culture and, starting with the idea of the White man’s Burden and continuing through theories about the stages of development, have often been used to justify coercive cultural change, disruption and exploitation. Yet if we do stand in the modern world and thereby adopt modern values, how is respect for traditional culture possible.
Consider that even the more benign literature on modernization is not especially fathering to traditional cultures. Traditional cultures are depicted as hierarchical, authoritarian, ineffective and non democratic and they are contrasted with liberal democratic societies in which each individual is supposed to choose his or her own conception of the good. Much of the modernization literature holds that tradition is something to be overcome or transcended. One of the most recent expressions of this point of view is the discredited stage theory of development which allowed neo colonial powers to integrate, sometimes forcibly, traditional cultures into a world wide social and economic structure without considering the cost to individuals who, having lost their cultural foundations, still remain inadequately integrated into the economic and political framework of modern society.
In the modernist literature traditional culture is described as fatalistic, linking the past to the present and the future in a way in which individual choice is largely excluded. Such cultures are said to be “informed by belief in established, timeless orders” (Heelas 1996:3). They root themselves in a past and are “highly authoritative” (ibid.).
From the point of view of Paul Heels, traditional culture stands in strong opposition to the values of modernity. The belief in a timeless, established order renders science unnecessary, since science seeks to change established patterns of events. The commitment to a hierarchical society and to traditional authority stands in opposition to democratic forms of decision making where individuals are expected to question authority and form opinions of their own. And the idea that identities are inscribed and taken-for-granted inhibits the exploration and development of new forms of identities and new relationships.
Given these seemingly anti modern and possibly non democratic values is there a case to be made for extending respect to traditional cultures and what might it be. For example, what, if any grounds could be provided to the school for teaching children respect for traditional cultural forms when the entire point of modern education is to teach children to think for themselves and to develop their own conception of the good.
The answer to this question involves a consideration of the character of the present conditions in which respect is being requested. The request is not respect for cultural formations under any and all conditions. Rather it is respect for such formations under the background of modern social conditions.
Under these conditions, which include pressures for more equal relationships for men and women in both the public and the private spheres, certain possibilities for choice are present which were not present under earlier situations in which traditional social forms dominated. Today traditional societies often exist within a social context in which the members share a certain political and social space with members of other traditional societies and with people who are unambiguously modern. Hence respect is asked not for a cultural group that dominates its members thought and action without alternative forms available. Rather respect is asked for traditional cultures whose members are often living at the edge of cultural security and who are constantly renewing or rejecting the hegemonic dominance of their cultural authority.
To understand the concern for cultural respect in this way is in fact to understand it as an element within a modern, liberal framework and not as an element within a traditional one. It is a way of celebrating and preserving opportunities for choice, even opportunities that, once chosen, constrain choice in the way that some traditional societies do.
Liberal society requires that individuals be empowered to choose a life consistent with their conception of the good. Yet a condition of such a choice is that real alternative forms of life are available and that these alternative life forms are shared by other people. Culture is a certain kind of good, one that is created when people exercise it. It is a value something like that of “conviviality” at a party which, as Waldron nicely observes is a benefit they will have enjoyed together, not merely in the sense that to be enjoyed by one guest is cannot practically be denied to others…, but in the sense that its enjoyment is essentially a property of the group rather than of each of the individual guests considered by himself (Waldron 1993:355).
In some important sense then culture, like conviviality is a value that depends on being shared and it may well be that in fact different cultures are experienced quite differently from one another.
Given these observations, the liberal position must acknowledge that to endanger the existence of a viable culture is to reduce the choices that people have available to them. Consider that the very existence of a culture depends on it being practiced by a reasonable number of people and that the more people who opt out of this practice, the weaker the culture is likely to become. For example, the existence of a language as an organic mode of communicative interaction is impoverished as fewer people know the language or choose to speak it. This impoverishment is experienced often by immigrants in America who find that certain forms of feeling become strained and often lost as they loose the opportunity to speak to others in their native tongue. Where a sizable, but not overwhelmingly large community exists, every person who chooses to leave the community and to practice different cultural forms is an additional incentive for others to do the same, until at some point the cultural community is no longer a viable unit no matter how much it once served as a good in its own right. Like a game that we all participate in, the value comes about just because this is a collective enterprise and without the collective there is no value. Hence if a culture is not supported, choice itself is diminished.
Thus from inside of the cultural community, there is good reason to develop incentives for encouraging people to remain speaking the language, reciting the history, practicing the traditions and following the moral norms, and there is also considerable reason to limit the number of attractive options outside of the cultural unit. In other words, from inside the culture there is a drive to codify cultural forms and to develop enforcement procedures to see that they are followed. This should not be surprising. It is certainly true that cultural identities have a certain life of their own and those languages and cultural formations undergo constant change and recombination. Nevertheless, it is also true that people have a stake in the framework and meanings that they hold to be their own.
Yet this suggests too that the standard description of traditional society as noted above is not completely accurate either. A traditional society that exists within the context of globalization and modernization is different than one that stands alone. In the latter, there is little awareness of other possibilities and hence choice outside of that tradition is but a remote possibility. Within the context of globalization and modernization, however, traditional culture is itself an object of choice and its members must renew their identity within such a framework.
Thus part of what it means to respect traditional culture must be answered in terms of the meaning of such respect within the context of globalization and modernization and this is likely different than simply respect as such. It is a respect grounded within the liberal tradition of individual choice. This is a minimal conception of respect. We are not respecting a tradition as such but the availability of a tradition given a situation in which the individual has the possibility to choose otherwise. Traditions may want more. They may want respect not just because they are available, but because they are expressions of basic human concerns. It is possible from the outside to provide this kind of respect and to respect not just a person’s right to choose a tradition, but to also respect the tradition for what it itself does? This question requires some exploration of the way in which culture and tradition are implicated in education.
What is required here is to find a way to respect a culture from the outside and yet to recognize the value it holds for people on the inside. One way to do this is to think about the role that cultural elements play in personal development. Language provides the easiest example. An infant has the potential to learn any natural language, including languages now dead. However, only one of these languages will become the child’s first and primary language and upon this language the child’s future growth and development will depend, including the growth and development of second and third languages. Thus while all natural languages exist as potential first languages for the child, she or he must only take one of them as her or his own.
Culture constitutes personality in many different ways. On the other hand, part of what is involved in respecting different cultures us what is involved in respecting persons and personality. In the case of cultural respect, however, we are respecting the conditions for personality formation. In respecting traditional culture, however, something else is required, and that is that we are asked to respect - different ways of world making or of coming to an understanding regarding the way the world is and how we relate to it. In other words, we are being asked to respect a certain way of learning, what might best be called learning-through-culture.
The idea here is that there are distinctive ways in which cultures constitute both the process and the product of thinking which in turn become distinctive elements of learning. It is important not to confuse the fact that there may be culturally different ways of learning and culturally different things to learn with the view that people from certain cultures are simply not capable of learning the way in which we do. Nor should the analysis be taken to mean that traditional culture necessarily limits people’s thinking in certain ways, say by inhibiting abstract, reasoning. What is likely, however, is that members of cultures differ in the degree to which they will remain confined by the terms of a problem laid down by modern presentations of rational thinking and that the issue of respect must come to terms with this confinement.
Moreover, the modern ideal of abstract reasoning also requires contextualizing in terms of the tasks that they are beat able to perform. Purely logical reconstructions are rare in the modern world and most of our day today life is carried on in terms of hunches, past knowledge, reasonable guesses, imprecise definitions, all of which serve quite well in most circumstances. When high levels of predictability or control is required amidst uncertain or new circumstances, and where prior conditions can be expresses, without loss, in general terms, then more self-conscious inferential forms of reasoning are more reliable. It is good to have such thinking skills in cases where it is unlikely that future conditions will be like past ones, where rule of thumb procedures are unlikely to work and where the meaning of highly ritualized performances is unlikely to be shared. Respect for traditional forms of culture then requires that forms of thinking to be contextualized and that they to be understood in terms of the goals and conditions which render them appropriate. To respect tradition in this way and for these reasons is conditional. It depends upon a number of factors, not the least of which are the opportunities that the tradition provides for people within it to enhance meaning and personal enrichment as well as the level of respect that it provides to people outside to maintain the other meaningful and enriching traditions.
The present cultural situation in the Republic of Korea is extremely complex and polyphonic. Modern Korean culture reflects new economical, political and social realities appeared in the country comparatively recently. Rapid development of Korean industry, democratization of the society, including restoration of a direct presidential election system in the end of the 1980s, and growth of international exchange in all fields of material and spiritual activity brought about new cultural consciousness. Nevertheless, this new cultural consciousness still preserves its traditional spiritual core based on Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist ideas.
From the point of view of recent history the Republic of Korea has passed through many difficulties and hardships. While mirroring social injustice, governmental oppressive actions and corruption in official institutions, modern Korean culture has become a call for reformation of the society in the conditions of challenging reality. Nowadays Korean culture has been used as an effective instrument, first, for propaganda and advocacy of new, i.e. Western ideas, and, second, for preservation of traditional world-views. Generally speaking, contemporary Korean culture represents a reflection of the whole historical, political and social development of the country, which for less than fifty years has achieved successful establishment of a modern society.
New Korean realities have raised new demands: internationalization, globalization and unification. These demands have been applied to almost all fields of human activity: industry, agriculture, commerce, science, etc., as well as to culture. So, Korean culture’s role in the globalization of the modern Korean society is twofold: on one side, being extremely powerful spiritual source Korean culture functions as a medium for the total globalization, on the other side, being a certain dimension of such globalization Korean culture has become its final object. That is why many Korean artists, writers, actors, poets, scholars and others participate publicly in frequent discussions on these issues and underline the vital importance of further development of Korean culture in the conditions of the dynamically changing world.
First of all I would like to give some outlines of the cultural development of the Koreans, moreover that today’s Korean culture to a great extent still follows traditional values and is based on old humanistic views.
The Korean peninsula is a natural crossroads between China, Japan, Siberia and Pacific. This geographic peculiarity had predetermined not only ethnic origin of the Koreans, but their material and spiritual culture, too. According to archaeological and anthropological studies today’s Koreans are regarded as descendants of native Paleo-Asian tribes and ethnic groups primarily lived in Central Asia, and several thousands years ago migrated to the Korean peninsula. These migrants were confronted by the local population, who were partly driven out and partly assimilated with the newcomers. Archaeological evidence indicates that in the archaic past on the territory of the Korean peninsula there were people of two different culture ages, because two different types of pottery of that period were uncovered: comb pattern pottery of a Neolithic Age people and plain pottery of a Bronze Age people (Henthron 1971:7-9). Although these two people used different technologies, they evidently shared the same culture in terms of beliefs and customs which formed their common spiritual culture. So, original Korean culture was a combination of Central Asian (Altaic) tribes and native people’s material and spiritual culture. Today many scholars regard them as direct ancestors of modern Koreans. In other words, the autochthonic Korean culture is characterized by complex and unique nature.
The gradual growth and development of the Korean people into typical agricultural society favored the preservation of heterogeneity of Korean civilization. In fact it took place in that historical period when Korea turned out to be under strong Chinese influence not only economically and politically, but philosophically and culturally.
Seemingly, penetration of Buddhism and Confucianism into Korea was the main reason a special type of cultural interaction between China and Korea to be established. One can regard this interaction as sinification of Korean culture. For sure, Korea was not the only object of such sinification: in the Medieval period in Asia there were three vast areas characterized by strong cultural unity - Arab-Moslem, Indian and Chinese. Each cultural and correspondingly literary unity included the main or the core culture and integrated cultures. For example Chinese culture was the main one, while Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese were cultures integrated into it. Needless to say that each core culture was based on a certain religious, i.e. philosophical canon. In Indian cultural area it was Buddhism, in Chinese - Confucianism, in Arab-Moslem - Islam. That is why canonical characteristics of integrated cultures also have religious or philosophical origin. As to Korean culture one should take into account Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist ideas.
Today the idea of Medieval Oriental cultural areas is accepted by many scholars and known quite well  that is why I do not want to go into details. Anyway, I would like to stress that Korean culture was not simply sinified. As I have mentioned, in the past Chinese culture was tightly connected with Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist philosophic teachings and views, which were spread over extremely vast territory of Northern, Eastern, Central and South-Eastern Asia. In fact, almost all fields of human knowledge of that time were under strong influence of these views, including history, literature, geography, astrology and so on. Another point: one can say that at that time Chinese culture had a status of the so-called world culture, or mega-culture. It means that one can say about overall Chinese cultural influence in the above-mentioned mega-area. The meaning and the scale of this influence was not the same in different periods of Chinese-Korean (or Chinese-Japanese, Chinese-Vietnamese and so on) connections: for instance, if in the early period this influence had a form of simple acceptance of Chinese material and spiritual cultural achievements by Koreans, in later epoch they enjoyed full rights creating literature and art masterpieces which were appreciated and highly recognized even in China. In other words, they were typical to the whole vast area mentioned above. Gradually cultural development in that part of the world became globalized. Below I will try to give at least some proofs of that globalization, as follows:
– Penetration of Buddhism in Korea through China:
It is well-known that Buddhist teaching penetrated to Koguryǒ in 372 with the help of  Ch’in emperor Fu Chien, who was an ardent Buddhist and included in his mission to the neighboring Korean state a Buddhist monk Shuen-tao (Sundo in Korean). The latter brought to Koguryǒ many Buddhist sutras and images.
Another monk - Maranant’a (Malananda) in 384 was sent by the Eastern Ch’in to Paekche. King Ch’imnyu (384-385) placed him at a temple in Mt. Namhan where he ordained ten Korean monks. King Asin (392-405), another ruler of Paekche favored Buddhism in his country.
Although to Silla Buddhism came comparatively late because of religious controversy and united resistance presented by the ruling aristocracy, it found after all a better understanding and became an official doctrine. It was the time when Silla normalized its relations with T’ang. The T’ang Dynasty was the major foreign source for Silla of learning Buddhism. Silla monks who were specialized in T’ang Buddhism counted several hundreds, many of them later on became great masters in their own country. Development of Buddhism in China influenced to a great extent the existence of Silla Buddhism: for instance after the sectarian movement became extremely popular in China, it was brought to Korea by Korean disciples of famous Chinese Buddhist masters and patriarchs. In practice at that time all Korean Buddhist schools and sects were established under the Chinese model: the Chinese T’ient’ai (Ch’ǒnt’ae - in Korean) sect which represented an intellectual effort to reconcile the philosophical study of scriptures with the method of religious meditation in order to facilitate sudden enlightenment was taught to Silla monks by Hyǒn’gwan Pǒpsa, who was a pupil of Hui Ssu, the Grand Master of the sect. In the seventh century the Sinin sect which was a branch of the True Word School became very popular. As to the rationalist schools, the most articulate was the Hwaǒm (Fa-yen in Chinese) sect founded by Ŭisang (625-702) who was called Ŭisang Taesa (Great Teacher Ŭisang).
The Consciousness-Only School appeared in the first half of the seventh century, or in other words, in almost the same time as it was in China. The philosophical core of this school was presented in the works of the famous monk Wǒnhyo (617-686). Another Korean monk, a contemporary of Wǒnhyo, studied in China and contributed greatly to the development of the Fa-hsiang (Pǒpsang in Korean) sect founded upon the Consciousness-Only philosophy.
Like in China Sǒn Buddhism came into vogue in Korea in the ninth century. This Meditation sect was the last phase of the sectarian Buddhism. Although this sect was first introduced into China by an Indian monk Bodhidharma, later it flourished namely on the Chinese soil and entered Silla in about the middle of the seventh century. Silla’s great patriarchs in Sǒn received simin, a kind of spiritual certificate, from Chinese Ch’an masters. They were the real core of the intellectual and spiritual life of the time. So, Buddhism not only penetrated into Korea in the early period of Chinese-Korean relationship, but more or less developed simultaneously from the chronological and sectarian point of view;
– Korean students in China:
    Since the time of Silla there were many Korean students who went to T’ang China. They went to the T’ang capital Ch’ang-an which seemed to be the greatest center of learning in the contemporary world. The majority of the students were sponsored jointly by the Silla and T’ang governments. Moreover, these students were allowed to take T’ang’s civil examination specially administrated for the foreign students. It is recorded that during the United Silla period at least fifty-eight Silla students served in the T’ang government via the examination before their return home.
    In the time of Koryǒ only a few students went for study to China in sharp contrast with the previous dynasty, but many Sung scholars came to serve at the Koryǒ court;
– Korean Buddhist monks in China:
Most of famous Korean Buddhist masters went to China in order to learn the Buddhist doctrine, and that is why in fact all Chinese Buddhist schools and sects were introduced to Korea and flourished therein. Some of Korean Buddhists contributed to the philosophical elaboration of certain Buddhist sects in China, like In Pǒpsa of Koguryǒwho did so much for the development of the San-lun sect in China. Another monk from Koguryǒ – Sǔngnang was the major exponent of the Three-Treatise School in China. During his long sojourn in China he laid the philosophical basis of the Three-Treatise School upon which later Chi-tsang (549-623) founded the San-lun sect mentioned above.
Silla monks who studied T’ang Buddhism counted several hundreds; many of them later on became great masters of Silla Buddhism. Among them are Hyǒn’gwan – a late sixth century monk; Chajang – who ordered back home from the T’ang in 643 and was appointed the Taegukt’ong or highest priest of the state; already mentioned Ŭisang who returned from the T’ang in 671 and founded the Sinin sect, a branch of the True Word School; Wǒnch’ǔk - a contemporary of another famous Korean monk Wǒnhyo, studied in China and contributed greatly to the development of the Fa-hsiang sect.
– Cultural links with China:
In fact Chinese influence over Korean culture had a global nature and could be seen in almost all fields of music, art, literature, etc. Koreans were not just acceptors, but copartners. Let me give some examples: minister Wang San-ak who was well-known person in Koguryǒ remodeled a seven-string lute of Chinese origin around 552 and invented kǒmun’go; Buddhist art of the Three Kingdoms, especially that of Paekche traced its affinity in large measure to the art of the Six Dynasties of South China and so on.
– Chinese scholars in Korea:
As it was already said many Chinese scholars came to serve at the Koryǒ and Chosǒn courts and hundreds of Chinese lived in Kaegyǒng in the twelfth century. This fact also proves the Korea’s belonging to the Chinese cultural area;
– Introduction of Chinese (Buddhist and Confucian) Culture to Japan:
As a real cross-road between China and Japan the Korean peninsula became very important link in the chain of global Eastern Asian culture. But Korea not only transmitted Chinese Buddhist and Confucian art and culture to Japan, but contributed to the process of cultural globalization through providing her eastern neighbor with material and spiritual cultural achievements of her own. It is recorded that many items of Buddhist art were sent to Japan and even now are kept there: Paekche Kwanǔm which is better known as Kudara Kannon in Japanese is kept at the Hōryūji near Nara. One can find amazing similarities in the architecture of Buddhist temples in Paekche and some temples of Asuka Japan;
– Introduction of Buddhism to Japan:
It is well-known that Buddhism was transmitted to Japan by Paekche in 552. Many Korean monks contributed for the introduction and further development in Japan not only of Buddhist art, but the Buddhist teaching as a whole. For instance, Hyegwan, a monk from Koguryǒ in 603 landed in Japan via China. With another monk of Korean origin – Kwannǔk from Paekche, Hyegwan introduced there philosophical Buddhism. Moreover, eventually he was regarded as the founder of the Sanron sect in Japan. Kwannŭk in his turn was the first highest priest in the hierarchy of Japanese Buddhism.
Hyech’ong, a Paekche monk was regarded in Japan as a “treasure” of Japanese Buddhism;
– Translation of Buddhist texts into Chinese:
Some Korean monks preferred to learn Buddhism in its motherland - India. Returning to Paekcke they brought books in Sanskrit. Kyǒmik was one of them. King Sǒng (523-554) welcomed him and appointed him to be a head of board of translators who translated Indian Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. It is said that later two monks of this board wrote thirty-six volumes of commentaries on them.
Sinification in the field of translations sometimes took rather extreme form: for example, during the reign of King Kyǒngdǒg (742-764) his scholars translated the Korean place names into Chinese characters for official use. Moreover, in 759 he reorganized the government after the Chinese pattern, including change of the designations of offices to Chinese-style names;
– Official examinations:
In 958, in the time of Early Koryǒ Koreans adopted Chinese system of official examinations which were a part of Confucian educational system. In United Silla such an attempt was made earlier - under the ruling of King Wǒnsǒng (785-798). That system also bore some Chinese features although was not modeled completely after Confucian pattern;
– Confucian state model in Korea:
Chinese political system in the time of Early Koryǒ had already more than a millennium of experience. Its certain elements were adopted by Korea even in the period of Three Kingdoms, whereas Koryǒ Dynasty, from Kwangjong (949-975) on, committed itself to the wholesale adaptation of the Chinese political system to the country reality. So, sinification of the Korean government was a part of the whole sinification of the Korean state: a wide range of political, economic, social and cultural institutions was modeled on those of the T’ang Dynasty;
– Korean culture in China:
Korea gradually became an integral part of Chinese cultural area contributing to the golden age of Chinese culture including literature and art. Koreans seriously competed the Chinese men of letters in some fields in their own country: being Minister of Rites under Sung Che Tsung (1086-1100), Su Shih (1036-1101), better known as Su Tung P’o, proposed a ban on Koryǒ‘s import of books from the Sung. But Sung Che Tsung asked a Koryǒ envoy to send 4,994 volumes of lost books and got many of them from Koryǒ;
– Korean men of letters in China:
There were many Korean poets and writers as well as scholars whose works were well-known in China and Japan. For example, Kang Su (?-692), Sǒl Ch’ong (660-730) - a famous Korean scholar and writer, and his contemporary Kim Tae-mun were well-known not only in United Silla, but in China. Ch’oe Ch’i-wǒn (857-?), a great scholar-official of Silla was even better known for his literary works in the T’ang than in the motherland. They all used Hanmun to create their literary and scholarly works, and that is why the literary works they created are usually referred to as Hanmunhak or Han literature.
By the late eleventh century some of Koryǒ Hanmun writers were compared favorably in literary merit with the best of the contemporary Chinese literati.
A lot of great literary-historical works were created in accordance with the Chinese literature canon. Kim Pu-sik (1074-1151) was one of the greatest Koryǒ prose masters who was widely admired among the Sung  writers.
Yi Kyu-bo (1168-1241), a poet and essayist was usually compared with Li Po (701-762) of the T’ang.
As a part of Medieval Korean culture Medieval Korean literature was not simply sinified, but I dare say, it was really globalized. Or, saying it in other words, Korean culture, including Korean literature, was within the Medieval Chinese cultural (literature) area and functioned in the globalized area. Perhaps that was the reason the Korean alphabet han’gǔl after its invention in the fifteenth century was used for a long period only by women and marginal members of the Korean society. Needless to say that Chinese language as the main medium of the contemporary globalization was in use until the twentieth century. Even such writing systems as Idu and Kugyǒl – both based on Chinese characters were in use long after that time. According to some scholars the very invention of han’gǔl was made in order to create “a rhyme dictionary suitable for Korea in order to replace the rhyme dictionary imported from China”, so it was the process of adaptation of Chinese culture to Korean culture, rather than mere copying (Sasse 1996:24).
At that time even from the geographical point of view Korea had to be cultural cross-roads, i.e. not to be isolated country and isolated culture. As we have seen already traditional Korean culture succeeded not only in adaptation of Chinese cultural inventions but in its own development in accordance with Eastern Asian mega-cultural rules and standards. Korean culture really had become an integral part of Eastern Asian cultural area, that is why it was popular outside of Korea, in China and Japan as well. Korean literati were famous not only in their own country, but also in China and Japan. For example, one can find the same literature genres, motifs and protagonists in traditional Korean literature as well as in Chinese and Japanese literature. Even in some oral Korean narrative works one can discover Chinese plots and characters. Koreans exported their books written in Chinese to China and Japan. In the time of Imjin war (1592) the Japanese invaders took to their country a great quantity both of Korean reprints of Chinese works and the works of Korean authors. It is also said that the Japanese captured Korean technicians and fonts of type that printing with movable metallic type (Henthorn 1974:85).
It seems that globalization of modern Korean culture should start with the recognition of universal cultural qualities. For some people it means moving beyond the Korean context to the international context, shifting Koreans’ focus from the particular to the universal (Kwon 1996:11). Sharing this opinion in principle I would like to stress that such a “moving, or shifting” should be done not “beyond the Korean context to international context”, but within Korean context by using universal cultural methods and criteria. Let me try to explain my statement.
Unlike the Medieval epoch today “international context” is usually regarded as “Western context” which is tightly connected with Christianity. From this point of view modernization or globalization of Korean culture is strongly linked with the country’s search for development of modern industry and becoming a serious copartner in the modern industrial world. By the way, this is the common trend which characterizes the situation not only in Korea, but in all rapidly developing Asian economies. Shinji Fukukawa – a Japanese journalist from The Japan Times calls this process ‘de-Asianization’ (Fukukawa 1997). But the question is: is it possible to ‘de-asianize’ the Korean culture? Immediately after that the second question comes: is it worth ‘de-asianizing’ the Korean culture? Of course, these two questions one can put concerning Japanese, Chinese, Indian or any other Asian culture (not only from the geographic point of view). Whereas in West the sense of individualism is still basic, in Asia dominate traditional values are based on Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and so on: nobody in Korea, neither in Japan, nor China can deny the significance of global harmony in all levels of the contemporary society, beginning with the family. Filial devotion, love toward children and self-discipline are also extremely important in modern Korean society or in broader scale in Asian countries. That is why I strongly believe that the so-called ‘de-Asianization’ of most Asian countries, including Korea will proceed within the framework of their traditional values, that means cultural globalization also has to be done within local (Korean) context through using of universal cultural methods.
Realization of such an important task as globalization of Korean culture should be coincided with achievement of several other goals:
•    like globalization of contemporary Korean art which is realized through representation in foreign galleries and museums Korean culture should be widely represented in International Fairs, Festivals, Exhibitions, and so on. All possibilities for such a representation should be used with proper publicity;
•    applied arts masters, singers, dancers, artists, as well as poets and writers should first of all represent ‘Koreanness’ in their works and performances.
•    acquaintance with Korean culture by foreigners should be started with classical cultural heritage because as we have seen even modern Korean culture is still based on traditional values. Modern Korean culture is only a small part of the enormous cultural heritage created by Korean artists, musicians, poets and writers which remains almost unknown in the world;
•    dissemination of Korean culture through the world should become an official politics in the field of development of national culture and its globalization.
•    globalization of Korean culture is directly and indirectly connected with the development of Korean Studies in Korea and in foreign countries. Whereas in Korea there are no problems with Korean Studies, unlike Chinese or Japanese Studies only few universities abroad have a full academic set of courses in Korean Studies. Of course, this problem is very important, because it concerns the development of all fields of Korean Studies, but financial and moral support to foreign universities with Korean Studies departments is very important for globalization of Korean culture;
•    it is necessary to establish a special program for education of those students in Korean Studies overseas who will be engaged in dissemination and popularization of Korean culture abroad;
•    since Korea and Japan belong to the same Medieval Cultural area it could be interesting to use “Japanese methods” in cultural globalization. Let us not forget that Japan began its grandiose program of globalization of Japanese culture almost twenty years earlier than Korea in the field concerned. The founding of Japanese Foundation and other institutions allowed a lot of foreign universities to receive necessary financial support in order to establish Japanese Studies. In this view it is much more important to globalize Korean language learning and Korean Studies education overseas, as well as establishment of Korean Departments and Sections at university level in foreign countries, possibility for foreign students to study in Korea under Korean fellowships, because these students and their teachers are real transmission of Korea and Korean culture abroad. They are that ‘bridges’ which connect Korea with the rest part of the world.
Being a part of the so-called Chinese world in the Medieval period Korean culture was really globalized. Politics of self-isolation carried out by the Korean court at the end of the nineteenth century as well as Japanese colonial government in the period 1910-1945 drastically changed the conditions of cultural development in the country.
Division of Korea into two countries after the Second World War and Korean War prevented Korea from rapid economic development and internationalization.
The last thirty years have been extremely successful for the Republic of Korea in economic, social and cultural development. Korean government declared its intention to globalize and internationalize Korea that means to globalize and internationalize Korean culture through carrying out special politics inside and outside of the country.

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