Keywords in Korean national consciousness

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This study identified keywords that trigger national consciousness (here termed “Weness”) of Koreans through an analysis of school textbooks using corpus-based techniques. The corpus is taken from Korean language textbooks compiled by the authorities and used in elementary schools in four Korean communities: in South Korea, North Korea, Korean Residents in Japan, and Korean Residents in China. Although the members of these four Korean communities come from the same ethnic stock, the current socio-political characteristics of each group are clearly different. Nevertheless, “Weness” in Korean mind-set, often expressed by the word wuli (we, our), suggests an immediate sense of homogeneity common across politico-social borders. Assuming that school textbooks are a linguistic reflection of a prevailing ideology, I show how this feeling is crystallized in a few special keywords frequently used in textbooks, and point out how Korean national identity is internalized and reproduced by school education.


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