For most of the twentieth century, scholars generally accepted the proposition that nations are enduring entities that predated the rise of modern nation-states and that provided the social and cultural foundations of the state. This perspective has certainly been applied to Korea; most historians have assumed that the Korean nation has existed since the dawn of historical time. In recent years, however, Western scholars have questioned the idea of the nation as an enduring entity. Both Gellner and Anderson have argued, in their studies of European, Latin American, and Southeast Asian cases, that the nation is strictly a modern phenomenon, a forging of a common sense of identity among previously disparate social groups through the propagandizing efforts of activities of the modern state. In short, it was the state that created the nation, not the other way around. Younger Koreanists, with Em prominent among them, have begun to apply this approach to Korea. These scholars, noting the isolated nature of village life in premodern Korea and the sharp difference in regional dialects, suggest that ordinary villagers could not possibly have thought of themselves as fellow countrymen of villagers in other regions. These scholars also not the elites, conversely, often had outward-looking, universalistic orientations, as did aristocracies elsewhere, such as in premodern Europe. Finally, they observe that the very word for "nation" in Korean, minjok, is a neologism first employed by Japanese scholars as translation of the Western concept and that it was first appropriated by Korean activists in the early twentieth century. They argue, therefore, that a Korean "nation" came into being only after that time. In short, in the case of Korea we have an argument between "primordialists", who contend that nations are natural and universal units of history, and "modernists", who assert that nations are historically contingent products of modernity. The positions of both groups seem problematic. It seems unlikely that in the seventh century the peoples of the warring states of Koguryo, Peakche, and Shilla all thought of themselves as members of a larger "Korean" collectivity. On the other hand, the inhabitants of the Korean peninsula had a much longer history – well over one thousand years – as a unified political collectivity than did the peoples studied by Gellner and Anderson. Not only does the remarkable endurance of the Korean state imply some sort of social and cultural basis for that unity, but the nature of the premodern Korean state as a centralized bureaucratic polity also suggests the possibility that the organizational activities of the state may have created a homogenous collectivity with a sense of shared identity much earlier than happened in the countries of western Europe that provide the model for "modernist" scholarship.