The New National Treasures 2014~2016

The New National Treasures 2014~2016 Newly designated national treasures will be on display at the National Museum of Korea from May 13th through July 9th, 2017 as part of a special exhibition. “The New National Treasures 2014~2016” exhibition will feature a collection of 121 items that were designated national treasures between 2014 and 2016. 50 of these items are cultural heritage artifacts. Visitors will be able to enjoy a range of artifacts such as paintings, documents (books), ceramics, crafts, and more. See beautiful national treasures and learn about their histories at the National Museum of Korea.

Source : https://www.museum.go.kr/site/eng/exhiSpecialTheme/view/upcomming?exhiSpThemId=174022&listType=list

Koguryŏ ANCIENT KINGDOM, KOREA

Koguryŏ, the largest of the three kingdoms into which ancient Korea was divided until 668. Koguryŏ is traditionally said to have been founded in 37 BCE in the Tongge River basin of northern Korea by Chu-mong, leader of one of the Puyŏ tribes native to the area, but modern historians believe it is more likely that the tribal state was formed in the 2nd century BCE.

By the reign of King T’aejo (53–146 CE), a royal hereditary system had been established. With the promulgation by King Sosurim (reigned 371–384) of various laws and decrees aimed at centralizing royal authority, Koguryŏ emerged as a full-fledged aristocratic state. Its territory was extended greatly during the reign of King Kwanggaet’o (391–412) and further by Changsu (reigned 413–491). The entire northern half of the Korean peninsula and, in what is now China, the Liaodong Peninsula and a considerable portion of Manchuria (Northeast China) were under Koguryŏ rule during the kingdom’s peak period.

The central bureaucracy had 12 grades, with a tae-daero (prime minister) at the top who was elected by his fellow officials every three years. The officials ruled through a series of military garrisons erected at strategic points throughout the state.

As a result of Chinese influence, Buddhism was introduced in 372 CE as an ideological backing for the newly developed centralized bureaucracy, and, at about the same time, Confucian education began to be emphasized as a means of maintaining the social order. Daoism was also widespread in the later years. The numerous surviving tomb paintings give a good picture of the life, ideology, and character of the Koguryŏ people.

With the establishment of the unifying Sui (581–618) and Tang (618–907) dynasties in China, Koguryŏ began to suffer incursions from China. The kingdom was defeated in 668 by the allied forces of the southern Korean kingdom of Silla and the Tang dynasty, and the entire peninsula came under the Unified Silla dynasty (668–935). Several locations in far southern Jilin province, China, containing early Koguryŏ ruins and tombs were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.

WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Source : https://www.britannica.com/place/Koguryo#accordion-article-history

Goguryeo-From Wikipedia

Goguryeo or Koguryo (Hangul: 고구려; Hanja: 高句麗; Korean pronunciation: [ko.ɡu.ɾjʌ]) (37 BC ~ 668 AD) was one of the ancient Three Kingdoms of Korea, located in present-day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern reaches of Russia’s Primorsky Krai. Goguryeo was an active participant in the power struggle for control of the Korean peninsula and was also associated with the foreign affairs of neighboring polities in China and Japan.

The Samguk Sagi, a 12th-century Goryeo text, indicates that Goguryeo was founded in 37 BC by Jumong, a prince from Buyeo, although there is archaeological and textual evidence from Chinese geographic monographs that suggests that Goguryeo may have been in existence since the 2nd century BC around the fall of Gojoseon, an earlier kingdom which also occupied southern Manchuria and northern Korea.

Goguryeo was a major dynasty in Northeast Asia, until it was defeated by a Silla-Tang alliance in 668 AD. After its fall, its territory was divided among Unified Silla, Balhae, and the Tang dynasty.

The shortened name for Goguryeo was adopted by the Goryeo dynasty (A.D. 918-1392), whose territory was in the southern portion of Goguryeo, and would be the foundation of the English word “Korea.”

Source _ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goguryeo

Goguryeo remnants found in east Russia

Remnants that are believed to be from Korea`s ancient Goguryeo Kingdom (37 BC-668) have been discovered for the first time in the far eastern part of Russia, from the excavation site of Kraskino fortress near the Posiet Bay close to Tumen River.

While records in various old documents show that some parts of Russia`s far eastern region including the Primorsky Territory had been under Goguryeo rule, there has never been an archeological discovery proving it.

The 20-day excavation was conducted jointly by the Northeast Asian History Foundation and Pukyong National University of Korea with the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The relics include earthenware steamer, fragments of ceramic ware, belts, farming utensils, tiled kiln and others from a total of five sites, two of which looked to have been residential areas and three could have been market places.

In particular, the discovery of a cooking fireplace and earthenware steamer two meters underground shows a high possibility that the area was inhabited by the people of Balhae (698-926) or Goguryeo, the excavators said.

Also, this 1.2 kilometer-long fortress uses the same construction technique — stones setting the foundation to be covered with earth — the same method used by the Goguryeo Kingdom or even the earlier times of Balhae.

“This is the first time (for us) to dig this deep and it is incredibly valuable to have found the residential sites as well as these remnants,” professor Kang In-wook of Pukyong National University, who led the excavation, was quoted as telling Yonhap News.

Further excavations could yield an even “better outcome,” he added.

(angiely@heraldm.com) By Lee Joo-hee / The Korea Herald

Hangul may help others record history

Lee Hyun-bok, 72, believes that Hangul, or the Korean alphabet, can be learned in a day.
An honorary professor of phonetics and linguistics at Seoul National University, Lee said Hangul is just that simple.
He witnessed the Lahu people, an ethnic group living in northern Thailand, learning Hangul in almost no time.
For a decade, the professor has been encouraging the Lahu people to adopt the Korean alphabet so they can record their history, myths and other material on paper , something they weren’t able to do in the past. Stories were handed down orally.
‘The Lahu people of China, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos have their own language, but they don’t have their own alphabet,’ Lee said.
Sadly enough, the Lahus aren’t the only ones without independent letters.
Of the 6,700 languages in the world, according to Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, only 350 are transcribed as having independent characters. Some 6,000 tribes, which make up 10 percent of the world’s population, live illiterate or unlettered lives.
As a linguist, Lee has been dreaming of Hangul globalization.
Lee is proud of the International Korea Phonetic Alphabet that he created in 1962 while studying as a postgraduate at the University of London. It is an alternative universal form of letters to the International Phonetic Alphabet , a system of phonetic notation based on the Latin alphabet , devised by the International Phonetic Association as a standardized representation of the sounds of speech.

‘The International Phonetic Alphabet is the most widely used and highly successful phonetic alphabet today,’ Lee said. ‘But its symbols, based mainly on Roman and Greek letters, have some serious disadvantages.’
For example, Lee said the symbols do not represent the shapes or movements of the organs of speech in the manner that Korean letters do. In Korean, letters resemble the shape of the mouth, teeth, throat and tongue.
For example, the first letter of the Korean alphabet , the initial consonant in the word kimchi , was created to look like the shape of the tongue blocking the throat.
‘Symbols of the international alphabet are simply arbitrary and unrelated in shape,’ Lee said.
He argues that international symbols are much harder for beginners to learn, memorize and use.
To Lee, ‘Hunmin Jeongeum (the Proper Sounds for the Education of the People),’ the Korean alphabet of 28 letters invented by King Sejong the Great (the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty) is systematic, scientific and easy to learn.
Hangul, however, leaves much to be desired before it can be used as an international phonetic alphabet capable of representing minute phonetic differences of human speech sounds.
That’s why Lee invented his own international Korean phonetic symbols, keeping all of King Sejong’s 11 vowels and 17 consonants.
‘The new symbols meet global standards even better,’ Lee said. ‘They are as easy to learn and memorize, just like the Korean alphabet itself. They are much more consistent and logical than the largely unsystematic mass of the global Roman letters.’
Lee revived the four extinct letters of Hunmin Jeongeum that are no longer in use by modern-day Koreans and devised new symbols.
On top of King Sejong’s 28 characters, Lee created some 109 letters consisting of 80 consonants and 29 vowels. He first presented the alphabet in 1971 at an international linguists conference in Seoul. Many scholars, both local and foreign, were impressed, according to Lee.
‘It’s not right to stick to Hangul as it is now,’ Lee said. ‘Though the international Korean phonetic alphabet seems complex, it can be used anywhere in the world by most ethnic tribes with no written language.’
Lee’s new characters are showing efficacy. He devised a writing system for the Lahus and the tribe is happy to be able to write down its own poems and legendary stories, Lee said.
It was in 1994 that Lee came in touch with the hill tribe. SBS TV invited him to film a 10-part documentary on Southeast Asia.
While spending time with the Lahus, Lee was surprised to find that the habits of the tribe, consisting of 577,178 Lahu speakers, were similar to those expressed by Koreans.
There are in fact myths that the tribe could be of Goguryeo descent. One version says that when Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms in Korea (along with Baekje and Silla) perished, the Tang Dynasty (618-907 C.E.) captured some 100,000 Goguryeo wanderers, who later drifted to China and then all the way to Thailand.
James Matisoff, a noted authority on Tibeto-Burman languages and other languages of Southeast Asia, was the first to notice similarities between Lahu and Korean. After spending a year of field work in the region, Matisoff wrote in his doctoral dissertation that the ‘Lahu language is strikingly similar to Korean in grammatical structure.’
Professor Lee visits the area twice a year to give lectures on the alphabet.
He hopes to see people like the Lahus write letters and even newspapers in their language by using Korean phonetics in the future.
Currently, he says, missionaries who teach in the region use Roman letters, abiding by the International Phonetic Alphabet.
Lee is not alone in exporting Hangul.
Jeon Kwang-jin believes the original Hangul Koreans use today should be taught instead of the reformed version, but both contribute to spreading Korean basic characters.

Jeon, a professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Sungkyunkwan University, selected the Lhoba tribe, the smallest officially recognized ethnic group in China. As a Chinese expert, he researched the Tibetan language of the tribe and determined that it can be transcribed into Hangul.
It’s not easy, though.
The Chinese government limits intervention, and he has yet to visit the land.
Jeon, however, is in no hurry.
‘Obstacles don’t mean you should give up,’ he said, lamentably asking for government financial support.
‘Hangul is superior to other alphabets,’ Joen said. ‘Not only Koreans but other ethnic groups should make the best use of the characters,’ Jeon said.
Professor Kim Hee-sook from Cheongju University, wrote in her thesis, ‘Hangul Globalization vs. Korean Language Globalization,’ that King Sejong created Hangul because he felt sorry for those unable to express themselves in writing.
In Hunmin Jeongeum, King Sejong wrote, ‘Therefore, among the unlearned people, there have been many who, having something to put into words, have in the end been unable to express themselves. Feeling sorry about this, I have newly made 28 letters only because I wish them to be easy for everyone to learn and convenient for us in daily life.’
What Kim presumes is that King Sejong would have felt sorry also for people with no written language living outside Korea.
Yoo Un-sang, director of the Korean Language Research Society, says the society has been holding Hangul seminars for Southeast Asians and is planning to establish Hangul schools and Sejong culture centers.
‘Currently, hallyu [the Korean Wave] isn’t only limited to Korean soap operas and idol groups, but also includes Hangul,’ Yoo said.
‘But there are no systematic policies to vitalize the character wave.’ Yoo added.
The group receives only 120 million won ($128,000) a year in financial support from the Ministry of Culture.
‘Instead of building more English towns in the country, more financial support should be made to spread Hangul worldwide,’ Yoo said.
The situation isn’t much better for The National Institute of Korean Language, a government organization.
The Ministry wants to establish up to 100 ‘Sejong Schools’ around the world by 2011.
The schools share the country’s culture by holding performances and seminars and teaching Korean.
China plans to build some 500 Confucian schools and Japan will build some 100 international research centers to promote their culture.
Sejong schools mainly focus on Korean culture. ‘Not much is related to promoting Hangul,’ Yoo said.
‘More research and financial support is needed,’ Yoo said.
Said Professor Jeon: ‘It is crucial to research the tribe’s syntax, vocabulary, morphology and grammar as well as the tribes’ customs and history.’
Some foreign nationals have also taken an interest in Hangul.
Professor McCune-Reischauer and John Fairbank at Harvard, writer Pearl Buck and English documentary filmmaker John Mann are all admirers.
So is Unesco.
In 1997, Hunmin Jeongeum was added to the conservation list as part of the ‘Memory of the World’ project. Other cultural items included are films and books.
‘Hangul is Korea’s best cultural heritage and also the world’s most elegant alphabet. It incorporates our ancestors’ souls,’ Lee said.
‘A nation can flourish by spreading its alphabet. Why not export Hangul as well as cell phones and cars?’

By Lee Eun-joo Contributing Writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

Power of Goguryeo

The Goguryeo Kingdom (B.C. 37 to 668) was a chaotic time.
Surrounded by fearsome tribes, the the Goguryeo people battled marauding Chinese dynasties but lasted 700 years, earning the enduring respect of modern-day Koreans.
In ‘Goguryeo, Kingdom of Wars’ (Geulhangari), Seo Yeong-gyo argues that the Goguryeo’s power stemmed from its tribal heritage.
To survive, Goguryeo people had to plunder from foreign tribes, always pushing their borders into enemy territory.
An expert in war, the author discusses the special features of weapons and different types of soldiers and offers a pictorial narration of the ensuing wars.
Although many books about Goguryeo have been published, Seo Yeong-gyo’s book stands out because it is so well referenced.
As a specialist in ancient history and wars, the author researched ancient world literature, including Chinese, Japanese and even Byzantine to pack the book with historical credibility.
Written in Korean, the chapters are organized in a timely order and outline the rise and fall of the Goguryeo Kingdom. With specific description of historical events, readers will learn about the Gogurye’s wisdom and strength.

By Lee Man-hoon
JoongAng Daily
November 17, 2007

An ancient art under attack by modern forces

‘Martial arts embody the spirit and culture of a nation, especially when its purpose is as noble as protecting one’s own country.’

Aside from kimchi and hanbok, one of the many images that represents Korea is taekwondo, the internationally acclaimed Korean martial art that has found a home in the Olympics.
Taekwondo is one of the nation’s proudest cultural assets and is deeply rooted in the daily lives of many Koreans it is thus difficult to separate the practice from contemporary Korean culture. The number of children filling neighborhood taekwondo classes after school is a prime example.
However, taekwondo is not alone among Korean martial arts.
While other martial arts in Korea don’t enjoy the international reputations of their Japanese or Chinese counterparts, they nevertheless play a significant role in both the country’s past and present.
‘Koreans trained in traditional martial arts to protect the country,’ said Lee Si-jong, a United New Democratic Party lawmaker and former mayor of Chungju. Lee helped establish the Chungju World Martial Arts Festival hosted every year in North Chungcheong. The international martial arts festival celebrated its 10th anniversary last month.
‘Drawings of martial arts training that look very similar to today’s taekkyeon can be found in wall paintings dating back to the Goguryeo Kingdom,’ Lee added. ‘Martial arts embody the spirit and culture of a nation, especially when its purpose is as noble as protecting one’s own country.
‘Therefore it is important to treat martial art as a remnant of traditional culture rather than an art of war,’ he said.
The current status of Korean martial arts is sad, Lee said.
Despite numerous dojang, or martial arts schools, around the country, many young people shy away from mastering the skills as professionals. ‘Today’s sports, such as archery, are martial arts imported from the Western world,’ Lee said. ‘But Western sports have the Olympics, an international tournament, and therefore a lot of supporting organizations, systematic training and government funding. Korean martial arts, on the other hand, are neglected.’
Many young people, according to the lawmaker, depart from Korean martial arts because their future is uncertain. Young people, he said, think they can only secure their future of getting into college and landing a job by taking up Western sports. Lee said he introduced legislation in 2004 that would promote the preservation of Korean martial arts. However, it sits untouched at the National Assembly to this day.

‘We need to have faith that their future is secure,’ he said. ‘But there is no government budget or support.’
The first step Lee and others have taken is to hold a national martial arts competition. Some 2,500 martial arts athletes and 500 masters and judges nationwide participated in the trial event held last month.
‘Like in Western sports, athletes competed against one another, and we gave the winners gold, silver and bronze medals,’ Lee said.
While Lee tries to get the government to fund future events, he hopes to take the competition to the next level as a ‘martial arts Olympics.’
In Asia, three nations are most commonly known for their martial arts: China, Japan and Korea.
‘The difference between the three,’ said Huh Geon-shik, director of Mooto Research Center, ‘is Japan’s emphasis on form and repetition.’
Huh said Japanese martial art relies heavily on influences of Zen Buddhism and kendo, or Japanese fencing.
‘Japanese martial arts, including judo, aikido or karate, are based on kendo, or attacking and defending with swords,’ Huh said. ‘The hands become the sword.’
The use of armor differentiates the various Japanese martial arts.
For example, judo is designed for combat while wearing armor, while practitioners of karate do not use armor.
Chinese martial arts are more flamboyant in style and include more variety, Huh said.
Korean martial arts, according to Huh, are flexible and distanced from rigid forms, which allows for impromptu movements.
Interestingly, Koreans martial arts weapons mostly consist of farming tools.
The three countries’ surviving martial arts took shape after gunpowder began to be used in weapons.
‘The Japanese no longer needed to shoot arrows or attack enemies with their bare hands,’ Huh said.
‘That is why the Japanese started to emphasize marital arts in the form of kata [set movements as exercise],’ Huh said. ‘Chinese martial arts transformed into health-oriented exercises like tai chi.’
In the case of Korea, after the Japanese attack on the Joseon Dynasty in the 1700s, Korean scholars collected information on the martial arts of Korea, China and Japan.
Unfortunately, information on most of the traditional Korean martial arts was lost during the Japanese colonial period.
‘Japanese martial arts such as judo and kendo were incorporated into school curriculums [in Korea],’ Huh said.
This continued even after Korea established its independence. The martial arts taught in the Joseon Dynasty’s royal court were imported from China.
Only in the 1960s did Korean marital arts find their way into dominant culture.
However, there is no systematic data on how many forms of martial arts are traditionally based or were created in modern years.
The Internet Web site Wikipedia lists numerous traditional Korean martial arts, including charyok, kwansunmu and taekkyeon. The list of modern martial arts includes kumsul, kwonbup and gongkwon yusul.
Currently, three martial arts in Korea boast a historical background. Practitioners of some others claim a long historical tradition. Still others developed in the modern era after the Japanese colonial period.
These include taekkyeon, ssireum and hoheupbyeop (literally translated as ‘ways of breathing’), Huh said.
Among these, taekkyeon is considered the representative traditional martial art.
The Korean government designated taekkyeon an intangible cultural assets on June 1, 1983.
Taekkyeon is a barehand combat technique which relies heavily on use of the legs. It is also known as gakhee.
Instead of utilizing striking blows and kicks like karate, taekkyeon takes advantage of an opponent’s blind spots. Thus, those who practice this art can kick or throw their opponents down to the ground before an attack even registers.
This form’s style is very different from taekwondo, which uses direct actions. Taekkyeon is very flexible and those who practice it appear to taunt their opponents by prancing around them with light footsteps that closely resemble a dance. These movements are smooth and elastic.
The martial art is believed to have originated from subak, a lost martial art with roots in the Goguryeo Dynasty.
Taekwondo, according to Huh, is a combination of different martial arts, including those native to Korea, Chinese and Japan.
‘This shows the absorbable and flexible qualities of Korean martial arts,’ Huh said.
Taekwondo is relatively new although some say that the martial art can be traced back to the Goguryeo Dynasty.
The taekwondo that we know today only took shape in the 1950s after the end of the Korean War. Like taekkyeon, taekwondo is based on kicks. However, its movements are more straightforward and powerful.
Ssireum, Huh said, used to be more prevalent as a martial art.
‘The rules [in the past] were less restrictive than what we see today,’ he said.
‘While practitioners of the modern form of ssireum could only throw the opponent down on the ground, in the past, opponents could be pushed out of a ring, very similar to today’s sumo.’
Today, ssireum is a sport in which athletes compete to show their strength.
Despite their rich history, many of these traditional marital arts are dying out, Lee said.
‘To preserve such marital arts is to preserve our traditional culture.’

Korean traditional dance

A dance for every myth and moment

Dance plays an intricate part in the history of any country, and Korea is no exception. Traditional dances can be seen almost everywhere, from stoic ceremonies to festivals large and small. The Korean dances many tourists have seen, such as nongak, where performers dance while playing traditional instruments such as the kkoenggarri, are just a few of the numerous Korean dances which have enchanted many through their uniquely sensitive movements.
Kim Malborg, author of ‘Korean Dance’ and a professor at Ewha Womans University, said, ‘The root of Korean dance is closely related to our everyday lives. It was a collective act that took place at work, during rituals and ceremonies, and during festivities as a way to express the deepest desires of the human heart.’

Dance acted as way to alleviate the strains of daily labor, she said.
Kim Mae-ja, author of ‘Dance of Korea,’ said Korean dance, like most dances around the world, originated from spiritual rituals.
She said Korean dance expresses solitude and han, a uniquely Korean word which can be translated as ‘abysmal grief.’
Korean dance follows a line that draws a circle, representing the embrace of the universe. To represent the heavens and Earth, the dancers’ feet are, at first, heavily planted on the ground. The dancer then moves slowly upward toward the heavens, lightly treading like a crane or a swan flying in the air.
According to Kim Malborg, the oldest historical mention of Korean dance can be found in the ancient Chinese text ‘San Gua Zhi,’ from China’s Three Kingdoms period. Throughout history, Korean dances have been heavily influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism. China also had an influence, particularly during the Goryeo
Dynasty, which then carried over into the Joseon Dynasty.
Traditional Korean dances can be generalized into three categories, according to their purpose: royal court dances, religious ritual dances and folk dances.
Korean aristocratic dance is called jeongjae, referring to art intended only for the eyes of nobility that expresses loyalty and courtesy to the royal family. Kim Malborg said that the term ‘jeongjae’ was established and widely used during the Joseon Dynasty.

Royal court dances consists of the geommu, or sword dance, the cheoyongmu, dance of the dragon king’s son (based on the story of a Silla king), and the mugo, or drum dance.
Ritual dance, the next type, can be divided into two smaller categories: a Buddhist dance performed during jongmyo, a rite that takes place in front of the ancestral shrine of the royal family, and ilmu, which translates as ‘line dance.’ Ilmu is a line dance performed during the royal family’s ancestral rites. Kim Malborg said ilmu was first introduced from China during the Goryeo Dynasty.
The nabichum, or butterfly dance, is a ritual dance practiced by Buddhists. Its purpose is to discover ‘mercy, patience and Dharmic emptiness,’ said Kim Malborg. The sleeves of the dancers are wide and long, resembling the wings of a butterfly. The distinctive feature of this dance is its slow movements. ‘The movements are all subdued and quiet and performed in an extremely small area less than one pace wide,’ said Kim Malborg. The dances are performed by female monks to the sounds of Buddhist chanting.

Unlike royal court dances, folk dances are based on the everyday lives of average Koreans. Therefore, Kim said, the movements are freer than those of the royal court dances and rely heavily on personal creativity.
Kim Malborg said that while the upper classes of the Silla and Goryeo dynasties were active in participating in artistic activities including dances, the scholastic class known as yangban during the Joseon Dynasty refused to rhythmically shake their bodies due to Confucian principles. Hence, professional dance troupes were formed and the dances were mostly performed during ceremonies and shamanistic rites rather than daily life.
Among the most well-known and popular folk dances in Korea is the salpuli, a dance derived from the shamanist practice of driving out evil spirits. Kim Malborg said the dance originates from shamans in the southern region and it was performed after a gut, or rite, signaling its final stage.
The dancer, usually dressed in white, uses white silk to symbolize the spirit.
The point of the dance is at first to restrain the body with sharp intensity, and then to let go in a powerful, typhoon-like blow. The movement of the feet has to be calm and steady, contrasting the upper body movement. The dance seems as if it is ‘taming the han from within and taming the air from without,’ Kim Malborg said. ‘Scarf dances of China and Japan use a small square piece of cloth the size of a handkerchief or scarf, and shake it both ways.’
Another well-known folk dance, or seungmu, has no accurate tale of how it was passed on, but experts presume it was started by Buddhist monks. It employs long sleeves, the movement speeding up with powerful gestures. Although it looks very similar to the outfits worn during Buddhist dances, seungmu is not a religious performance but an expression of romance. It is said to be the most difficult folk dance to master.

Ganggangsulrae is a female group dance that is performed mostly on the Lunar New Year, when the moon is full. It is believed to have started during the Japanese invasion during the Joseon Dynasty. The female participants dance in circle that symbolizes the full moon, praying for a good harvest with the help of the moon’s healing power.
A more widely known folk dance is nongak, which is assumed to have been started by farmers, as the name literally means ‘music played by farmers.’
While the other dances mentioned above are rarely seen nowadays, nongak is performed at protests, major events and folk museums. It is performed to encourage farmers in their toil, bring a good harvest and drive away evil spirits.
Other famous folk dances include talchum, or masked dance, which has a strong theatrical element because it also acts as a social and political satire.

By Lee Ho-jeong Staff Writer [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

Joongang Ilbo

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, ‘Gojoseon and Goguryeo Part of Korean History’

MAY 29, 2007 06:48
Ha jong-dae (orionha@donga.com)

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is a national academy of China. It is a renowned think tank which deals with domestic and foreign affairs. The Northeast Project of the Chinese Academy of Social Science is one of the academy’s research projects conducted by the society’s sub-organization, the Research Institute of the History of Chinese Northeast Borderland The project concluded that Gojoseon, Goguryeo and Balhae are part of the history of China.

Those ancient kingdoms were located in the northeast borderland of present-day China. The project claims that any part of what is now China is defined as having been part of that greater Chinese state. The project sparked public uproar among Koreans as an attempt to make a flawed and politically motivated rewriting of history.

However, the project’s claim is in contrast with what the society has said in its publications. In November 2005, a book was released to give an outline about nations all over the world. In the book about South Korea, the society acknowledges that Gojoseon and Goguryeo are the ancient kingdoms of Korea.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is publishing a series of books titled ‘Record of Nations’ to raise the people’s awareness about the nations of the world. This publication project is the biggest and most systematic since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

On page 42 of ‘Record of Nations – Korea,’ titled ‘Ancient History – Gojoseon Period,’ the society stated, ‘Gojoseon was the first state on the Korean peninsula.’

On page 43, titled ‘Ancient History – Three Kingdoms,’ the book added, ‘After the fall of Gojoseon and Jin, the three kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Shilla were established. Those are the “Three Kingdoms’ in history.”

The book has been edited by 11 professional institutions and their experts under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Therefore, this book is attracting public interest as it can be referred to as academically denying what scholars of the Northeast Project of the Chinese Academy of Social Science have claimed.

But ‘Record of Nations – Korea’ doesn`t recognize the history of Balhae as part of Korean history. It deals with the transition period from Unified Shilla to Goryeo, without any reference to Balhae. It states, ‘During the Unifed Shilla period, Goryeo was established in Songak (present-day Gaesong) in 918 after a coup d`état.’

One official of the Korean Embassy in China said, ‘This book has a great significance as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences objectively describes the history of Korea, regardless of what the society’s sub-organization, Research Institute of the History of Chinese Northeast Borderland, has claimed.’

Universities Adopt History in Admission Test

Major universities will adopt history exams in their admission tests beginning 2009.
Admissions deans from the seven universities, including Korea University, Yonsei University and Ewha Womans University, Tuesday agreed on requiring applicants for social science colleges to choose history exam on College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT).

“A growing number of college hopefuls avoid history subject and choose other subjects which are easier for them to get higher scores. However, we believe history is essential for students if they want to study in universities,” Lee Jae-yong, admission dean of Yonsei University, told The Korea Times.

The CSAT gives a total of 11 optional tests for students studying in social sciences such as ethics, politics, economics and geography, from which they can choose four subjects. Last year, history ranked seventh as college applicants’ favorite subject.

The universities will propose the revision to their admissions committees by the end of June and confirm a new admission plan before September.The universities’ move is expected to influence admission guidelines at other universities. Only Seoul National University makes history exams mandatory in its admission test.

The move is on the same line with the government’s policy to strengthen history education. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development has released guidelines on history education in the early part of this year.

Under the plan, high-school students will have revised curricula for history education and new textbooks that highlight the distortion of history by two neighboring countries, China and Japan, starting in 2012.

China claims heritage to Gojoseon and other kingdoms such as Goguryeo (37 B.C. – A.D. 668), which Korea maintains are part of its national history with its five-year research program on Northeast Asia.

Japan claims Korea’s easternmost territory, the Dokto islets, and denies colonial atrocities such as wartime sex slavery between 1910 and 1945.

05-22-2007 18:04
By Kang Shin-who Staff Reporter kswho@koreatimes.co.kr