Crash Landing on Loneliness: The Hermit Kingdom

One of the biggest international hits from South Korea in recent years was the K-drama Crash Landing on You. The plot is about a South Korean heiress who paraglides accidentally across the border into enemy territory where she’s rescued by a North Korean soldier. Each of the two main characters are lonely in their own way and that loneliness tells us something about how the two countries separated and evolved from one united Korea against foreigners to becoming two culturally distinct nations. The nickname Hermit Kingdom was given to Korea by outsiders because of its isolationist policies in the 19th century. These days in South Korea, that self-imposed isolationism has given rise to another word: Honjok, a term for people who do activities on their own, like solo flight. But to take off, whether economically as South Korea has risen, or from the ground up to glide as an individual, is to find places to land. In this episode, we hear from experts about South Korea and North Korea and how we crash land on loneliness. 

Experts in this episode include: 

>Professor Sarah A. Son, a researcher on identity and inter-Korean relations at the School of East Asian Studies at The University of Sheffield. 

>Journalist Anne Babe, long-form storytelling who has written about reclusiveness in South Korea

>Journalist Crystal Tai, who has written about Honjok 

>Sokeel Park, South Korea Country Director for Liberty in North Korea, an organization which helps North Koreans escape the regime and resettle.


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