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Chinese Researcher: “Sandwich Paranoia Could End Up Hurting Korea”

Chinese Researcher: “Sandwich Paranoia Could End Up Hurting Korea”

Posted April. 10, 2007 07:36,   


“Korea can help itself in the short run by being paranoid about becoming sandwiched by Japan and China. But it can hurt itself in the long run by being too prejudging and narrow-minded.”

The following excerpts are from a contribution Dr. Yang Dan Ji of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences made to the April 6 edition of Xinhua News.

In an article titled, “Korea Thinks It is Sandwiched by China and Japan,” he emphasized that Korea, China, and Japan should all be open and welcoming of each other.

It was a remark stating that the “sandwich analogy” that has recently surfaced in Korea does have positive aspects, but will have side effects if it is taken to the extreme.

The following are excerpts:

“The ‘sandwich analogy’ of late has its roots in history as well as the current situation. The ‘sandwich analogy’ has its roots in Korea’s victim mentality and feelings of being in crisis. Korea is surrounded by four strong nations: China, Russia, Japan, and the U.S. Korea saw many nations clash and observed many nations fall and become divided in the modern era. This left an inerasable scar on Koreans. Koreans became worried that they would be hurt in the battles of the big nations around them.

The Japanese economy’s rapid rise from the 70s and China’s from the 80s gave more for Korea to worry about. Nonetheless, the Korean economy grew at almost the same clip. Korea, however, always was worried it might lose its voice in the Northeast Asia stage.

Nationalism in Northeast Asia is another reason that led to Korea’s paranoia of becoming sandwiched. When the Cold War ended, nationalism spread around the world. Nationalist spirits also ran high among Korea, China, and Japan.

The development of the Korean economy lead to the rise and spread of nationalism in Korea after the 70s. Korea tried to find its role in the international stage and strengthened ties with allies. Korea participated heavily in international organizations and worked hard to spread its culture, even building Hallyu (the Korean wave) along the way.

Korea, however, did not increase its presence in security and economic cooperation within Northeast Asia. Korea justifies this weak performance by blaming China and Japan.

Korean’s are experiencing a big discrepancy between their recent confidence boost and the lack of confidence. If Korea wishes to become a great nation, it must build powerful hardware and software. But what is even more necessary is the psychological well being of its citizens. Korea, China, and Japan should become open and receptive nations.”