Last year both South and North Korea celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their establishment as separate political entities. Each had, at its inception, claimed the entire Korean nation as its legitimate domain, and each vowed to rid the other of the foreign power that was said to have created it. The year 1968 was also an anniversary of two other events. It was the 4300th anniversary of the legendary founding of the Korean nation, and the 1300th anniversary of the Silla Unification in A.D. 668, when the nation was brought under a single, centralized political rule. The irony of commemorating concurrently two decades of cold-war division and thirteen centuries of unified nationhood under a highly centralized political system was not lost on the Korean people.
The three dynasties which had ruled Korea during its thirteen-hundred years of unification had brought about one of the most completely homogeneous nations in the world. No minority ethnic groups are present within the borders of Korea, which for centuries have remained unchanged. Almost every other nation in the modern world is faced with problems of ethnic division; in Korea, one national ethnic group has been divided between two régimes. The long historical period of unification also brought Korean linguistic and cultural unity. The minor distinctions of speech from one region to another are not greater than the differences in English spoken in Texas and Maine. Unlike most of the "emerging nations," there are no language barriers in Korea. Furthermore, there are no religious divisions of any significance. A large majority of the population belong to no organized religion; systems of belief and ethics have been transmitted almost exclusively through the family. Finally, until 1945 Koreans had been under a common political and social system throughout the peninsula for thirteen centuries.
Forty years of alien rule by the Japanese aroused a zealous sense of nationalism in the Korean people. It was stimulated by Japan's efforts to wipe out the national language, to outlaw the teaching of Korean
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