Hermit Kingdom

画像The Economist の表紙には思わず笑ってしまった。サングラス姿の「将軍様」を使った合成写真と Rocket man というタイトル。わざと趣味の悪い描き方にして、その非常識ぶりを強調し揶揄しているとも取れる。メガネが売りだったエルトン・ジョンの同名のヒット曲にもひっかけたものだろうか?

さて、この記事の最初の方に Hermit Kingdom という言葉が出てくる。

With its medieval economy and eccentric leader, the Hermit Kingdom often seems more tragi-comic than threatening.

hermit は、somebody who chooses to live alone and to have little or no social contact という意味だ。Hermit Kingdom は、辞書には載っていなかったり、あっても、中国以外の国と接触を断っていた数百年前の朝鮮のことだと書いてあるだけだったりする。

Korea during the period, c1637-c1876, when it was cut off from contact with all countries except China.
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)


Hermit kingdom is a pejorative term applied to any country or society which willfully walls itself off (metaphorically or physically) from the rest of the world. Korea was frequently described as a hermit kingdom during the latter part of the Joseon Dynasty.

Today, the term is often applied to North Korea in news media. Other countries like Bhutan, Yemen, and Tibet have also been described as hermit kingdoms due to their government's reluctance to engage in dialogue with the outside world.



- North Korea has been called many things -- the Hermit Kingdom, the most isolated country in the world, an outlaw nation, an exporter of terrorism, part of the "axis of evil." It's been on a war footing with the United States for more than 50 years.

- In a land still described by popular media as the Hermit Kingdom, the factual vacuum about conditions inside North Korea partially explains why nations have failed to coordinate a common response to such issues as famine, food aid, human rights, crime, and weapons proliferation.