The term hermit kingdom can be used to refer to any country, organization or society which willfully walls itself off, either metaphorically or physically, from the rest of the world - but is particularly associated with Korea.
Korea in the age of Joseon dynasty was the subject of the first use of the term, in William Elliot Griffis' 1882 book Corea: The Hermit Nation, and Korea was frequently described as a hermit kingdom until 1905 when it became a protectorate of Japan. The term is still commonplace throughout Korea and it is often used by Koreans themselves to describe pre-modern Korea. Today, the term is often applied to North Korea in news media, and in 2009 it was used by United States former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Several other countries reluctant to engage in dialogue with the outside world have also been described as hermit kingdoms, including: Bhutan, the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen, and the early African civilization of Axum.
- Fischer, David H. Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought.
- Wilson, Myoung Chung. Korean Government Publications: An Introductory Guide. Lantham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2000.
- The Obliteration of the Kingdom of Korea by Stephen Bonsal, The New York Times, July 28, 1907