Silk Road As Political Metaphor: Quest for an Ideal World in Ancient Korea


This paper explores the Silk Roads as a political metaphor in the context of Korea’s ancient kingdoms. Typically, many consider Northeast Asia far from the Silk Roads. But the Silk Roads have always symbolized legendary, mythical, or sacred meanings for Koreans, imparting a sense of legitimacy to political life. Rulers apprehended “exotic” cultures in terms of holy objects from distant lands. Note three images from Korean history: “Heo Hwang-ok,” who was Queen and wife of King Suro of the ancient Kingdom of Gaya (42-532); the “blue-eyed man,” an alleged Persian who came to the Korean Peninsula to trade during the 10th-14th centuries; and An Account of Travel to the Five Indian Kingdoms, a travelogue by the 8th-century monk Hyecho. These stories, images, and travelogues have figured prominently in the narrative of Korea’s emerging statehood. The Silk Roads thus helped to generate a metaphor of an ideal yet replete with real world political legitimacy.

Author Information
Jong Yoon Doh, Jeju Peace Institute, South Korea

Paper Information
Conference: GLOBAL2017
Stream: Politics/ political Studies/ Political Sciences

This paper is part of the GLOBAL2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon