By Jeongnam Kim
(Former Senior Presidential Secretary for Education·Culture·Society, World Korean News advisor)
Our lands, the ones that were described in the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, or the Korean peninsula and its annexed islands, were set toward the end of the Chosun Dynasty.
There is controversy still going on at home with regard to the border with China and the northernmost part of Korea, near Tomun River, which was discussed and set between the Ching Dynasty of China and Japan during the Japanese colonial rule of Korea, but it is generally accepted that the nation's borderline was set in a Manchurian Accord from which we were excluded. There is therefore an argument about the validity of this agreement. However, to many, this is seen as nothing but a matter of hope.
Today, when the world is but a global town, we are not supposed to make an issue of borders or territory. Thanks to FTA, the economic territory expands beyond the border to everywhere within the global town. Even the cultural territory has opened up all over the world, as seen in the example where K-POP hit Paris, raising a storm of frenzied welcome in the cultural capital of the world.
Nevertheless, there have been constant territorial conflicts between Korea and Japan, between Japan and Russia, between China and Japan, and in South China Seas, not to mention the Chinese schemes to change the history of Northeast Asia. The territory of a nation still plays an important role in confirming the identify of a nation.
It was the Japanese Imperialists who alleged that the Korean peninsula has the look of a rabbit. They might have seen us as a very weak pray running away to all directions from the chase of a predator. On the contrary, it was Yukdang Choi Nam-Sun who claimed that the Korean peninsula looked like a howling tiger.
He saw that the Korean Peninsula looked like a howling tiger, and that its resemblance to a body in flight very well depicts the high-flying spirit of the Korean people. The promontory called a hoe in the Youngil Bay is the tail of a tiger, he said, and the howling toward the continent was the northernmost borderline of our country.
Ms. Park Wan-seo, the author who passed away not long ago, said that our land is a country most noted for its beauty after she made a tour around the world. She said that the Korean peninsula is a treasure house where all the beautiful things of the world are collected. I, too, think that ever since humans started to leave Africa in search of the most beautiful and livable land, the Korean peninsula is the last paradise on earth.
Kim Kyo-sin said, "For a coward, no place is as safe as this place; and for a courageous man, no land is as unsafe as this. For there has never been a day of comfort in this land. This is a proving ground. The Korean peninsula is the center of the Orient. This is an unsafe place for a retired person, but no other place is as good as this place for the active people."
Ham Seok-hon said: "This is the center of power for a person who has the power of dynamite, the commanding tower for a person who commands, and the capital of a ruler." And therefore, our land has the character of the world.
Our land lends itself to the advancement of the Korean people to the continent or to the ocean without limitation. No other place is as good as our land "for people aged to work vigorously," and "the center of those movers and shakers, and the commanding post for those who command."
It totally depends on us as to whether we will sit down and retire, or venture out and work vigorously in the world. The present trend is for the Korean people and the Korean Peninsula make their mark on the world. On the continent and to the oceans...