Korean Wave

In the first dozen years of this century, Korean culture had a great influence on young Chinese people, and it was called "Korean Wave".

Now it is the year 2023. I can't remember the last time I watched a Korean TV drama. Nowadays, young Chinese people seem uninterested in Korean culture. There are too many nationalistic rumours between the two nations. The nationalistic ideas did not originate from cultural difference or commercial competition, but from the conflicts of ideologies.

I visited Japan three times before the pandemic. The first time I went, my purpose was to find ancient Chinese traditions kept alive in Japan. The second time, I hoped to know how Japanese people developed their traditions. And the third time, I wanted to learn how Japanese people have successfully embraced Western values while maintaining their traditions. I hoped to visit South Korea. However, it is always complicated for Chinese citizens to obtain a visa to South Korea.

Since Silla became the only Korean country, the friendship between China and Korea had lasted more than a thousand years until the 19th century. In the Ming Dynasty, Chinese army supported Korea and fought against Japanese troops led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豐臣秀吉). Later, the Ming Empire was destroyed by the Manchus, but the Lee Dynasty (李朝) of Korea still kept the Ming's year-title (年号) “Chongzhen” (崇祯). The Koreans retained the hairstyle and clothing style of the Ming Dynasty before their modernization. The Koreans called their country "Little China", and prepared in secret for supporting Chinese people to expel Manchu invaders.

Throughout history, Chinese culture had deeply influenced ancient Korean people. When Korean culture comes to China, Chinese people should feel a sense of familiarity. The national flag of Korea is called "Taegukgi" (太极旗), and its design was inspired by the Taichi (太极) and Eight Trigrams (八卦) of ancient Chinese philosophy. Before Korea abolished the use of Chinese characters, Confucian scholars from the two nations had no problem exchanging ideas.

I believe that, there are three heirs to ancient Chinese civilization. China, Korea and Japan, the three modern countries are equal in their cultural heritages. Ancient Chinese civilization has been the common spiritual wealth of mankind. If anyone should be proud, it should be ancient Chinese people, not their descendants.

Oriental Style
Since February 6th, 2006
Copyright © Yike Jiang