Asian History Is Largely A Story Of Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Subject: History - Asian Type: Essay Paper: #70833602 Related Topics: Asian Studies, Concentration Camps, West Side Story, Asian American
Excerpt from Essay :


History is largely a story of power and subjugation. Being unfree and disempowered as been unfortunately normative, which is why the last vestiges of what Dahl, Nexo and Prendergast call "unfreedom" stand out in the modern era. North Korea is perhaps the most potent and extreme example of unfreedom in the world. As Daniel Gordon shows in the documentary feature A State of Mind, the people of North Korea blame "imperial America" for problems originating within the dysfunctional power structure of their own authoritarian regime. However, the North Korean regime did not originate or evolve in isolation. Global forces and powers, as well as more specific events have aided and abetted North Korea directly or indirectly.

Even in Western democracies, the degree to which the average person is free is variable, due to the structures and institutions that govern a capitalist society. The people of the United States pride themselves on choosing their own government, and yet have no real control over what that government does. People in power and the institutions they form are the primary movers and shakers in history. The extent to which Eastern and Western leaders alike have contributed to global unfreedom is vast. The people of North Korea as well as their Chinese neighbors would be able to recognize that there is mutual complicity in their respective oppression.

As Waley-Cohen points out in The Sextants of Beijing, China had resisted engaging with the west for several centuries of its existence, preferring an isolationist foreign policy and an insular worldview. The Age of Imperialism shifted global balances of power to a degree that China could not fail to recognize, but it was not until the eighteenth century that China would reckon with the new world order. The resulting series of trade agreements and treaties were often one-sided, skewed in favor of Western powers like Great Britain. In a stunning series of backlash events, China determined that imperial...


Communist ideology fused with Confucian values during the Twentieth Century. Subsequent experiences of unfreedom among the Chinese people cannot, however, be compared to the degree to which the people of North Korea are unfree. Just as there are degrees of power, there are also degrees of freedom.

Western powers cannot be blamed any more for China's unfreedom as for North Korea's unfreedom. The effects of foreign trade and Christian missionary activity in China did not amount to full-scale colonization. China did well resisting colonialism and imperialism. Likewise, the gates to China's economic markets have opened quite wide, enabling China's economy to flourish. The growth of the Chinese economy has been of great benefit its people, which cannot be considered fully unfree. Moreover, freedom is in many ways a Western concept and a Western value. Imposing Western values on Chinese society is one of the problems, one of the reasons for China's preference for clinging to its own norms and values.

Freedom to think, love, have a family, and earn a livelihood can all be considered central. These are freedoms enjoyed by the vast majority of people in China, but not North Korea. While China's restriction on the Internet can be said to restrict freedom of thought, there is no whole scale Interne ban, and furthermore, there are ways of accessing the entirety of content on the Internet by breaking through the Great Firewall. Many North Koreans do not have electricy, let alone access to the Internet. Loving is a freedom that can be practiced regardless of politics, and depends more on the individual and his or her morality than on any external circumstances. Shin Dong-hyuk had the freedom to love his mother enough to save her life, but chose instead a path of brutal…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Dahl, Christian, Nexo, Tue Anderson, and Pendergast, Christopher. The Be Unfree. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

Gordon, Daniel. A State of Mind. [Documentary Film]. 2004.

Harden, Blaine. Escape from Camp 14. New York: Penguin, 2012.

Waley-Cohen, Joanna. The Sextants of Beijing. New York: Norton, 1999.

Cite this Document:

"Asian History Is Largely A Story Of" (2014, November 12) Retrieved January 18, 2022, from

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"Asian History Is Largely A Story Of", 12 November 2014, Accessed.18 January. 2022,

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