Research topic: Korea
The Korean peninsula is unique in being home both to an ethnic nation – the Koreans – and two different states that are simultaneously similar and different.
South Korea is a relatively democratic society and is one of the engines of the world economy. The country is particularly dominant in sectors such as shipbuilding, car manufacture and mobile telephony.
North Korean has an authoritarian government that has many similarities with a traditional Confucian monarchy. It is also known as the poorest country in North-East Asia. But despite these dissimilarities, the nations also have much in common. For example, education is important for social mobility in both countries, and military service functions as the most important socialisation mechanism for all Korean men, wherever they live on the Korean peninsula.
Korea is also, however, an ancient cultural nation with an ability to produce cultural products that have both high quality and mass appeal. South Korea produces movies that win prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and South Korean pop music and drama are extremely popular among young people in China and South-East Asia. Many of these young people see South Korea as a generally attractive model for modernisation.