Cultural Division

Cultural Division


With the end of the Korea ́s war, an armistice was signed that demarcated the border between the Koreas. After the separation, they followed different paths, not only in ideological terms but in all contexts. It is necessary to consider that North Korea is the most closed country in the world, this factor accentuated the isolation of North Korea and also accentuated the differences between the Koreas.

After the Division

The two countries present great socioeconomic differences since the economic policies adopted reflect in the development of each one. North Korea now needs humanitarian assistance from other countries, the industrial sector is declining and agriculture is the main economic activity developed in the country. South Korea, on the other hand, presents a great economic development, fruit of the democratic politics established at the end of the decade of 1980, investing massively in the educational system, promoting the national industrialization and integrating itself to the picture of the countries called Asian Tigers.

Korean Vocabulary

The Koreas have a very different vocabulary, South Korean culture is more open to adopting words and phrases from other cultures compared to North Korea.

North Korea is largely isolated and the population do not have or have limited access to information and culture from other nations. As consequence, the adoption of foreign words and phrases has been largely discouraged. English words are really rare in North Korea language. Most parts of the population speak the Pyongyang dialect. Chinese, Japanese, and words of western origin have been stripped from the language in recent years and adapted words generally have Russian origins.

In South Korea, Seoul is the epicenter of South Korean culture. The most part of the population speaks a language based in the Seoul dialect. Has been introduced English words in the vocabulary, as well as combining western entertainment. Also, Japanese words and phrases have also been adopted into the South Korean dialect.

Korean Pronunciation

When looking at North Korea vs. South Korea in terms of the spoken word, one of the most obvious pronunciation differences is that of hanja. Hanja are Chinese characters adopted by the two cultures, but they are spoken in different ways and used in different situations.

Culture in North Korea

The population of North Korea is one of the most homogeneous populations in the world, ethnically and linguistically, including only small Chinese and Japanese communities. North Korean literature and the arts are controlled by the State, mainly through the Department of Propaganda and Agitation and the Department of Culture and Arts of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The central theme of cultural expression is to take the best from the past and discard the capitalist elements. Popular dialect styles and themes in literature, art, music, and dance are regarded as the expression of the truly unique spirit of the Korean nation. Ethnographers devote much energy to the restoration and reintroduction of cultural forms that have their own proletarian or popular spirit, and which encourage the development of collective consciousness. Animated and optimistic musical and choreographic expressions are emphasized. Cinema is recognized as “the most powerful way to educate the masses” and plays a central role in social education.

Culture in South Korea

The contemporary culture of South Korea derives from the traditional culture of Korea. However, since the separation of Korea in 1948, South Korea’s contemporary culture has developed differently from the contemporary culture of North Korea.

Korea was largely influenced by China in past centuries, leaving its mark on the dresses, customs, and architecture. And it was influenced by Japan due to the invasion that it underwent by this in principles of century XX and later influenced by the United States with the arrival of the American media in the middle of century XX on and on.

South Korean dress is also heavily influenced by foreign styles: the younger ones dress, mostly, in the style of their Western counterparts, while still mingling with some Korean elements. Acclaimed by international and national critics, South Korean cinema is one of the most successful films of recent times, the result of a cultural and economic rise. South Korea is one of the only countries in the world where national cinema is more viewed than American cinema.

Cultural Differences

North Korea and South Korea share a different cultural practice concerning the status of women in society. In North Korea, women have a different status comparing to men. Men are superior, and for example, dominate the political scene in North Korea. Women don ́t participate in politics, especially after marriage. Women in the North are not allowed to use men ́s objects, is expected to act feminine. In North Korea is not allowed the marriage between people from different socioeconomic classes. The North Korean families living in a house constitute of parents and children only, on some occasions, older parents.

In South Korea, there is equality between men and women even present in the constitution. Although the traditional norms and values that control gender relations, continue to influence the ideology of South Korea of men supremacy, women have equal chances as men, to participate in political, social, and economic activities. In South Korea sometimes, there are three-generation households, with parents, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Although they are two independent countries that are relatively recent they have marked differences between them, starting with the political system. Both countries have many things in common, their history is the same and only after the separation, they followed different directions.

By Eduardo Pereira

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