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Articles in East Asia

South Korea Cuts University Tuition

By Martin W. Lewis | March 6, 2012 | One Comment
Educational Attainment Map Wikipedia

The Korea Herald announced last week that South Korean Universities would be reducing their tuition by an average of 4.5 percent. Almost all schools cut their fees, some by more than 20 percent.

Japan: An Egalitarian Society?

By Andrew Linford | May 10, 2011 | 3 Comments
Income of Japan's Prefectures

My previous blog entry explored three distinct layers of geographic inequality, focused on China, which all apply to Japan: regional disparities, the rural/urban divide, and the existence of an urban underclass. The map posted here shows the percentage of the population defined as living on welfare. The prefecture with the greatest proportion of

Global Inequality: Where is it Found?

By Andrew Linford | April 30, 2011 |

Poverty and inequality are contentious topics whose geography is often oversimplified. When many people think of extreme poverty and aid, they often focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, but global inequality and poverty are much more complex issues. Overall, it is increasingly apparent that a country-based framework that generalizes levels of income over entire national territories

Mapping Economic Disparities in Coastal China

By Martin W. Lewis | October 1, 2010 | One Comment

As we saw in Wednesday’s post, China’s coastal belt is far more economically productive than the rest of the country. But even in this prosperous zone of China, a vast gap separates richer and poorer areas. Hong Kong is seven times more productive that Hebei. Take out the extremes, and Shanghai is still two

Mapping Regional Economic Disparities in China

By Martin W. Lewis | September 29, 2010 |

In mid August 2010, global news outlets reported that China had just surpassed Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. The comparison was in nominal terms, based on the relative values of the two country’s currencies. If measured by PPP (purchasing power parity), which ignores exchange-rate values to focus on what can

The China-South Korea History War

By Martin W. Lewis | June 11, 2010 |

In the late 1990s, South Korea emerged as a massive exporter of cultural products, from popular music to films and television shows. The dramas that it exports are not all sentimental, and the surge is by no means limited to Asia. Russia, Latin America, and eastern and northern Europe have also been highly receptive. China provided an early and especially enthusiastic mass market, where the phenomenon was dubbed hallyu, or the “Korean Wave.”

China’s Troubled Korean Border Zone

By Martin W. Lewis | June 9, 2010 | 2 Comments

The Korean language extends well beyond North Korea’s boundary into Manchuria in northeastern China. Roughly two million Koreans live in China, mostly in the border zone. Almost half of them reside in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, where Korean cultural institutions receive official support. Although the area was part of several historical Korean kingdoms

The Korea-Uzbekistan Connection

By Martin W. Lewis | June 7, 2010 | 2 Comments

Both North and South Korea are among the most ethnically homogenous and strongly nationalist countries in the world, but that does not mean that they are nation-states, in the strict definition of the term. In an ideal nation-state, the state and the nation cover the same territory, but the land of the Korean nation is

Jeju Island, A Korean Cultural Variant

By Martin W. Lewis | June 4, 2010 | 3 Comments

The two Koreas, South and North, are among the world’s most ethnically and linguistically homogeneous nations. Excepting recent immigrants to South Korea, people throughout the peninsula speak the same language and unambiguously consider themselves to be members of the same nation. The Ethnologue lists exactly one language for both North Korea and South Korea

South Korea’s Shifting Economic Geography

By Martin W. Lewis | June 3, 2010 | 2 Comments

South Korea is conventionally divided into three main regions: a dominant northwest (greater Seoul); a prosperous, conservative, and politically favored southeast; and an underdeveloped, disgruntled, and left-leaning southwest. Recent economic data, however, reveals more complicated geographical patterns. South Korea’s economic advance over the past few decades has evidently begun to unsettle its ancient tripartite

South Korea is Divided Into Three Parts

By Martin W. Lewis | June 1, 2010 |

Nationalism and regionalism often seem to be contrary phenomena. Countries with strong regional identities and stark regional disparities tend to have weak national foundations. But nation and region do not always counteract each other. South Korea in particular is characterized by both deeply rooted regionalism and intense nationalism.

Mongolia and Taiwan: Geopolitical Ambiguity Squared

By Martin W. Lewis | March 17, 2010 | 2 Comments

As noted yesterday, Taiwan is recognized as the legitimate government of “China” by some two dozen countries. Most are small states in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America. Taiwan has had no success in securing or maintaining recognition by other Asian countries. Most Asian states are too large to be swayed by aid

Taiwan and the Pacific: Contracting for Recognition

By Martin W. Lewis | March 16, 2010 | One Comment

On March 15, 2010, a number of newspapers announced that Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou would visit his country’s allies in the South Pacific: Nauru, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, and Solomon Islands. Such headlines were doubly wrong. The region specified is not exactly in the South Pacific, and the countries mentioned are not exactly

Jiangsu and Zhejiang: The World’s Most Important Ignored Places

By Martin W. Lewis | March 15, 2010 | 4 Comments

The standard geographical model of the world, as this blog seeks to demonstrate, unduly emphasizes the sovereign state (or “country”). States, of course, are vitally important, but so too are other geographical entities. The fixation on the independent country, compounded by the myth of continents, elevates some parts of the world while slighting others


By Martin W. Lewis | January 28, 2010 | One Comment

January 1, 2010, saw the emergence of the world’s largest free trade area in terms of population, linking China with the ten countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Disagreements remain as to what to call the new organization. In the English-language press, the favored term is ACFTA, the ASEAN–China Free Trade

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