The impact of symbolic boundaries on perceptions of relations between Japan and South Korea

Karina V. Korostelina*, Yuji Uesugi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper argues the perceptions of relations between two nations involve not only the institutionalized national-boundary but also the perspectives of multiple symbolic boundaries. Based on a qualitative study, this paper aims to explain how different symbolic boundaries impact Japanese experts’ perception of interrelations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The paper includes an analysis of opinion surveys, 20 semi-structured interviews with experts, and three focus group interviews with university students of Peace Studies Departments conducted throughout June and July of 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. These results advance existing scholarship by showing that Japanese experts use the following four symbolic boundaries to comprehend relations between Japan and South Korea: boundaries between (1) victims and perpetrators; (2) ‘the West’ and the Asian cultural and political space; (3) nationalistic and peaceful countries; and (4) a state and people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-204
Number of pages20
JournalNational Identities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Japan
  • Social identity
  • South Korea
  • conflict
  • social boundary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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