The harsh landscapes of Eastern Asia include remote mountains, cold deserts, and the vast, dry grasslands of Mongolia and northern China. In southeastern China, there are wide plains and valleys, watered by mighty rivers. North and South Korea form a peninsula, where the land is mountainous and thickly forested, as are the neighboring islands across the sea that make up Japan. 
[East Asian civilization] may even be said to represent the single most important major alternative historical evolutionary track to Western civilization on the face of this planet, with a continuing history of success that can rival that of what we call the West. (...) East Asian history should be considered roughly comparable in scope and importance to the history of the West. We need to take East Asia more seriously.