Reordering East Asian International Relations after 1860 in The Two Worlds of Nineteenth Century International Relations: The Bifurcated Century

ln Part 9 – Reordering East Asian international relations after 1860

Seo-Hyun Park


30 June 2019


What makes the nineteenth century such an important critical juncture in East Asian international relations? Existing studies of this period have tended to claim transformative change in East Asian countries, in the aftermath of and in response to the “shock” of Westphalia, without careful consideration of the nature of these transition processes from the traditional Sinocentric order to the Westphalian state system. The foreign policy responses shown by Japan and Korea reflected attempts to adjust to changes in both the traditional regional order and the Europe-based but expanding “international society.” The different paths of Japan and Korea were not structurally or culturally determined, but rather the result of legitimacy crises driven by ideas and interests that were constantly in flux. These initially fluid outcomes, however, had long-lasting consequences, as the Qing Empire disintegrated, Japan began its quest to “catch up” with European Great Powers, and Korea lost its sovereignty to the expanding Japanese empire.

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