Decolonising Korean geopolitics: the genealogy of the 'geopolitics of the Peninsula'

  • Lee, J. (Speaker)
  • Yong-Hyuk Cho (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationResearch


This study seeks to reveal the genealogy of the ‘geopolitics of the Peninsula’ circulated in contemporary Korean society. The geopolitics of the Peninsula refers to the positioning of the Korean Peninsula between land power and sea power based on its geographical characteristics. This discourse has influenced in shaping the geopolitical imaginations of Korean society, ranging from foreign policies to popular culture. Originally, the geopolitics of the Peninsula is based on the naturalised geopolitics as a primitive form of Western geopolitics. Naturalised geopolitics was introduced to Colonial Joseon through Imperial Japan which imported Western geopolitics since the 1930s, and contextualised in the geographical characteristics of the peninsula. Despite the collapse of Imperial Japan, the geopolitics of the Peninsula as a colonial knowledge became entrenched as geographical knowledge that explains the inter-Korean division and the Cold War system by combining with the ideological structure of the Cold War. It implies that Korea failed to escape from colonial epistemology while having moved away from colonial rule. To trace the genealogy of the geopolitics of the Peninsula, this study seeks to uncover the process through which it has acquired socio-political meaning by critically engaging in the writings of those who have training in geography. In conclusion, this study locates the geopolitical strategy of the Yoon Seok Yul government in the genealogy of the geopolitics of the Peninsula. By connecting the South Korea's contemporary geostrategy with classical geopolitics, this study will highlight the danger of the geopolitics of the Peninsula that amplifies geopolitical fear while interacting with anti-communist populism. By doing so, this study emphasises to Korean geographers the ‘geography of responsibilities’ which decolonises the geopolitics of the Peninsula and expands democratic space by discovering local geopolitical imaginations against it.
Period23 Jun 202324 Jun 2023
Held atThe Korean Geographical Society, Korea, Republic of
Degree of RecognitionNational