Thursday, May 26, 2011

China imports Hanoks, tames its North Korean "province"

KIM Jong-il interrupted his third visit within one year to China after a clash with PM Wen Jiabao : NK's Dear Leader wanted a comprehensive guarantee from the Central Government for all the frontier projects, but he only got an invitation to negotiate directly with (fellow ?) regional authorities, as well as with private Chinese companies, and only for the Eastern regions.

KIM obviously lost face after more or less agreeing (for the zillionth non-binding time) to a denuclearization of the Peninsula and a return to six-party talks. But this drawback doesn't come as a surprise and simply confirms the Hanschluss of "Joseon" by China*.

Speaking of China's "Northeast Project", South Korea could be collaborating as well, but unwillingly, and at the cultural level, as it exports its hanok technology to China via a hotel and residence complex of 1,500 houses meant to boost tourism in the region.*

Korean minorities represent officially 1% of Heilongjiang's population, but there's a "Jiangnan Korean Ethnic Minority Manzu Xiang" in the Southeastern part of the state, near Ning'all and Ning'anzhen in Mudanjiang area in Ning'an (Ningan) city. Here lied Sanggyeong, a former capital of Balhae, the Korean kingdom that came after Goguryeo in the late 7th century, and covered parts of today's China and Russia. And that's precisely in Ning'an that the complex will be built...

I pinpointed the area on Seoul Village map :


View Seoul Village in a larger map

I guess we'll probably see more hanoks pop up everywhere across North East China, and the overwhelming majority of Chinese tourists will believe that this is part of their national heritage :
once again, the Northeast Project of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences intends to artificially build the historic and cultural center of Koreanity within Chinese borders, and in that regard, the first encounter between Chinese masses and the Korean culture must happen on Chinese soil.

Of course, even if I would have preferred KAL's hanok hotel project in Seoul to bloom first (see "
Korean Air Grounded : Seoul 7 Star Hotel Delayed"), I'm happy to see a traditional Korean know-how recognized overseas. But this is first about politics, and those enthusiastic South Korean architects are probably not aware of the big picture behind this not so innocent technology transfer.

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* see previous episodes, including "
Re-engaging North Korea - A Four Party Talk" ("China-North Korea : the Great Hanschluss still the base case scenario" on blogules)
** "
한옥 수출" ("Hanok exports" - Chosun Ilbo 20110526)

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