HOW DOES THE SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION OF SOUTH KOREA INFLUENCE AND INFORM ITS FOREIGN POLICY AIMS AND OBJECTIVES AND ITS GEOGRAPHICAL IDENTITY? by name University name How Does the Specific Geographical Location of South Korea Influence and Inform its Foreign Policy Aims and Objectives and its Geographical Identity?…
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Curling away from the mainland China to neighboring Japan, Korea has been the area across which invading armies have coursed back and forth. At the same time, the invasions did not prevent Korea from retaining a high degree of homogeneity in ethnic sense. This “Koreanness”, as Feffer calls it, makes the division in two states painful for citizens in either part (Feffer, 2011: 22). For South Korea, its geographic location close to North Korea is the major factor that shapes its foreign policy. At the same time, surrounded by water, this country is located around 200 kilometers from two Japanese islands of Kyushu and Honshu. Closeness to Japan and China has its own impact on the foreign policy of South Korea. As for the geographical identity of South Korea, it is conditioned by South Korea’s location on one half of the Korean Peninsula, the one that is southern and has a land border with the only state - North Korea. This paper investigates how geography of South Korea shapes and informs its foreign policy aims and impacts its geographical identity. First, let us explore the geographical location of Republic of South Korea in detail. While South Korea hosts more than 45 million people, its size is slightly bigger than that of Indiana in the United States and is similar to the size of Hungary (about 93.000 square kilometers) and Jordan (around 97.700) (AsiaInfo, 2013: no page). Its territory is 99.391 square kilometers (Davis, 1999: 7). This accounts for 45% of the overall territory of the peninsula. The capital is Seoul. The land of the country covers the southern part of the Korean Peninsula; it is surrounded by water on its three sides. The Korean Peninsula stretches to the South from the east coast of Asia. Its second half is occupied by North Korea. The territory of South Korea encompasses nearly 3.000 islands which are located predominantly around the sea known as the Yellow Sea. Few islands lie of the East Sea. The largest and most important islands in South Korea are: Ullungdo (in the East Sea, serves a key fishery base), Tokdo (hosts a major fishery base, too), and Chejudo (the biggest island in size, is located off the southwest corner of the Korean Peninsula). Historically, the two countries on the Korean Peninsula used to be a single country under the name Korea. Yet, for political reasons, Korea got divided and became two countries. Specifically, with the end of World War 2, the overall territory got divided in two zones: the northern one got occupied by the military forces of the USSR; the southern part, in its turn, got occupied by the American army. The boundary between the two military zones was fixed at the 38th parallel. Back in 1953, the boundary was more or less fixed by the marked DMZ, which is 4-kilometer wide land strip running along the cease-fire lines from one coast to another (from the eastern part to the western part). That strip is around 241 kilometers east to west; it was fixed on a semi-permanent basis (AsianInfo, 2013: no page). The territory of South Korea is covered mostly with mountains and forests. Along its southern and western coasts, there stretch low and flat lands. South Korean climate is largely shaped by monsoons, which bring wet weather in summer season and dry weather in winter (Davis, 1999: 7).
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