Latent histories, manifest impacts: interplay between Korea and Southeast Asia

The ANU Korea Institute hosted the conference “Latent Histories, Manifest Impacts: Interplay between Korea and Southeast Asia” from 26-27 February 2015 at the Australian National University. This was an interdisciplinary, inter-regional conference that focused on the rich history of contact and interaction between Korea and the region of Southeast Asia.

The connections between Korea and Southeast Asia can be characterized in terms of both “latent histories” and “manifest impacts.” The term “latent histories” refers to the shared and interconnected histories of Korea and Southeast Asia, which are deeper and more extensive than is commonly acknowledged. From the 13th century at least, Korean traders engaged with commercial networks along the maritime rim of Asia running through Ryukyu to Southeast Asia. Korea’s colonial experience parallels that of the Philippines, Vietnam and Burma (now Myanmar) in that they all experienced forced incorporation into colonial empires and developed nationalist movements. The division of the Korean peninsula into North and South Korea since 1948 led to complicated regional political dynamics within the context of the development of the global Cold War.

Connections between Korea and Southeast Asia since the 1980s have resulted in “manifest impacts.” Since 1997, the ASEAN + 3 initiative has created a formal structure for strategic engagement between Korea and Southeast Asia. There is significant migration of Southeast Asian women to Korea to become wives of Korean men in rural areas. That phenomenon has raised a complex set of gender and ethnic issues. Korean firms are prominent in the Southeast Asian economy. K-pop and Korean television dramas have an enthusiastic following in Southeast Asia. Korean Christian missionaries are active in the region. The expansion of such connections suggests a dynamic flow of influence that is likely to continue and evolve.

The conference aims to offer in-depth analyses of the history of contact and the increasingly significant ties between Korea and Southeast Asia in a wide range of areas, including historical connections and divergent developments in civil society, politics, status in the global economy, religious encounters, gender dynamics and the creative industries.

For further information on the conference, please visit our website:

The conference is co-sponsored by the ANU Southeast Asia Institute and the Academy of Korean Studies.

Date & time

Thursday 26 February 2015 to Friday 27 February 2015


China in the World Building Auditorium

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