This study's purpose was to investigate the theory of the “contact zone”. Based on the academic understanding of the contact zone, related references were checked to apply to various historical cases. During the Joseon Dynasty period (mainly toward the end) and the colonial era, cultural phenomena such as encounter, conflict, and compromise were selected for examination in the present study. The contact zone, according to M. L. Pratt, refers to relationships with different cultures created by imperial control as well as the spaces of transformation. This zone is the place in which interaction happens between rulers and prisoners. Pratt aimed to pay attention to transculturation, which creates its own culture by using the ruler's culture. In the contact zone, multiplicative phenomena occurred, including every kind of cultural phenomenon. Therefore, this study examined research into the Joseon period as well as modern and contemporary history, choosing the port of Weagwan, the Jeju-do society, and Korean-Chinese society.
Weagwan was a trade port of the Joseon era where the Japanese settled and had contact. Thus, it was a place of sociocultural change in the Joseon period, providing a good case in which to study the theory of the contact zone. Voluntary immigration occurred due to such factors as an anti-Japanese movement, poverty, and political immigration in response to the Japanese government in general. Also, in the process of the invasion of the continent by the empire of Japan, the Japanese were implanted, Russians moved in and out, and East Asians as well lived in this area.
In the modern and contemporary history of Korea, the best case in which to study the contact zone is Korean-Chinese society. When the People's Republic of China was formed, it established its own sociocultural identity as a country. From the end of the 1980s to the present period, the living culture of Korean-Chinese people as well as the Korean lifestyle have experienced manifold social changes.
Jeju-do is also a valuable place in which to study this kind of change from the Joseon period to the modern and contemporary period. Jeju-do is very different from the Korean Peninsula with respect to its geographical feature of being like an island as well as its language and customs. The Joseon Dynasty created a cultural revolution in Jeju-do, as it became a colony and eventually became part of the Republic of Korea. The Korean government promoted its own lifestyle as a standard, while at the same time trying to suppress lifestyles that did not satisfy its own criteria. Jeju-do people not only did not cooperate with this reformation, but they also resisted, trying to retain their its own characteristics. Reforming the lifestyle in Jeju-do was object of the governing power, yet since the 1970s, the Republic of Korea has begun to create Jejo-do tourist attractions.
In the final analysis, the theory of the contact zone is a tool by which to analyze the modern imperial society and also to apply to the history of Korea. It has a particularly important meaning in improving the study of the Joseon period as well as the modern and contemporary area of the borderline.