The Newsletter 85 Spring 2020

The Borderlands of Northeast Asia

Ilhong Ko

Borderlands are places where different social, political, and economic systems come into contact with one another. Borders may act as barriers, hindering interaction, but they may also act as bridges facilitating contact between different cultures and traditions. Borderlands are diverse in nature; some borders can be extremely porous whereas others are guarded with great vigilance. In this issue of News from Northeast Asia, we examine the borderlands of Northeast Asia.

The way in which even the hardest of borders can be a node of cross sections rather than a place of severance is examined by Hyunjoo Jung of Seoul National University in “Porous Borders and a Negotiated Sense of Place: Re-imagining Kaeseong Industrial Complex as the Borderlands”. In “Tsushima, an Island of Hybridity”, Todoroki Hisroshi of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University explores how the people of Tsushima Island have negotiated a borderland existence from ancient times. The borderlands of Okinawa, located around its American bases, are remnants of war. However, Keun-Sik Jung of Seoul National University reminds us, in “Shuri Castle as a Symbol of Peace in East Asia”, of a different, more peaceful, type of borderland identity that had been present in the islands during the era of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The meeting of asymmetrical systems that takes place in the borderlands results in great economic opportunities, as well as hybrid regional cultures. This fact is well illustrated by Li Yinhe of Yanbian University in “Hun Chun: An International Cross Border Economic Region”.

Ilhong Ko, Research Fellow, Seoul National University Asia Center, Regional Editor of News from Northeast Asia