Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific

College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

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South Korean – P’yong hwa

May 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Korean (South), Peace

평화     (平和)

p’yong hwa

Relates to peace

This is also a Japanese-made word, and refers essentially to the absence of military conflict. It is possible to have both peace and instability, and it can be used with reference to a society that is going through profound change. It suggests a situation where there are no rivalries and conflicts – where there is mutual understanding. There could be even limited military action – for instance between North and South Korea – and yet be a situation understood as primarily peaceful. This may partially explain the general reticence on the part of South Korea to respond in kind to Pyongyang’s armed provocations, even when those actions involve the deaths of South Korean soldiers, as occurred during the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan in March 2010. Despite violence, South Korean perceptions of shared ethnic identity with North Koreans, and the nationalistic aspiration toward eventual reunification, provide a psychological break on framing its relationship with the DPRK as anything other than peaceful.

The term does not suggest the need for an ideologically homogenous society. The Falun Gong movement would not be likely to be a problem in Korea, and Korea certainly has fundamentalist Christian groups as components in its society. There seems to be less anxiety about domestic challenges in Korea than in China – an assumption in Korea that such challenges can be absorbed.





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