Why is Korea called the Hermit Kingdom?
According to the infallible Wikipedia, Korea was first called the Hermit Kingdom by William Elliot Griffis’ 1882 book, Corea: The Hermit Nation.
We can’t even rely on our trusty Wikipedia for information here because Koreans are so bent on keeping their history shrouded in the rosy imagery of popular historical TV shows that Koreans troll Wikipedia vigilantly and mercilessly edit anything that might reflect poorly on their country. (Keep reading the above link to the Wikipedia article and you’ll see what I mean.) It’s like China’s secret service, only the Korean government gets the services of its vigilante “netizens” for free.
Let me state clearly that I want North and South Korea to be peaceful as much as anyone and more than most. I live here, after all, and I sincerely love many Korean people and aspects of Korea. But a fuller appreciation of the peninsula’s history and commonalities is not always easy to find online, which is why I’m writing this. Other than my initial irritation at the defensiveness of Korean netizens about their country, I hope that I do not offend anybody with this blog. In fact, it’s an interesting subject. My understanding of the truth is that olden Korea (the Joseon dynasty of 100 years ago, say) in fact seems to have had much in common with modern day North Korea that is not generally made public. Continue reading