Korea-China History Row Flares Again - (OSO : 5287)
Korea-China History Row Flares Again

SEPTEMBER 07, 2006 06:48
China¡¯s state-run research institute revealed its true intentions in its ¡°Northeastern Project.¡± The project, which ends in next February, is clearly aimed at claiming not only Goguryeo (37 B.C.-668) but also ancient Korean kingdoms of Gojoseon, Buyeo and Balhae.

China¡¯s claim that Balhae was part of China¡¯s ancient history was controversial from the beginning of the project because Balhae succeeded Goguryeo. The Center of China`s Borderland History and Geography Research publication in 2003 distorted the history of Gojoseon. It argues that Gojoseon and Goguryeo are part of Chinese history, saying the peoples of the kingdoms were descendants of Chinese royals.

Also, key researchers of the center divided the Korean race into Han-ethnic of the South and Yemak ethnic of the North, and said that Gojoseon, Buyeo and Goguryeo should be categorized as Yemak nations, and Shilla, Goryeo, and Joseon as Han nations.

Therefore, the 18 research themes that the center uploaded on the website since last September are not new. The problem is that when the Korean government was focusing only on the history of Goguryeo and showing lukewarm responses, China was pursuing research on a broader basis.

The Korean government firmly trusted an oral agreement on five clauses between the two countries¡¯ diplomatic channels on the history of Goguryeo in August 2004. The agreement was that the two countries do not raise political disputes over the history issues but sort them out by academic discussions in the private sector. The Korean government considered the situation to be frozen for the time being, but China expanded the area of research.

¡°The situation is analogous to the situation when a country is not even thinking about reclaiming its territory when the whole country except for the capital was taken by the enemy,¡± criticized Goguryeo Research Society Chairman Seo Gil-soo.

In such a dire situation, Korea did not even launch its Northeast Asia History Foundation, which is to replace the Goguryeo Research Foundation. The Goguryeo Research Foundation was founded in 2004 and disbanded last month. The reason for disbanding the foundation was to launch a more comprehensive history institute to deal with modern history disputes with Japan and Dokdo issue. However, the Northeast Asia History Foundation, which was scheduled to launch around August 20, only designated chairman on September 1 and the plate-hanging ceremony was not even held.

Also, some point out that the focus of the foundation is tilting toward Japan rather than China. The chairman, professor of Seoul National University Kim Young-deuk, majored in Japanese history, and there are two Japan-related teams and one China-related team.

The foundation is an extension of a research institute directly responsible to the president. There was controversy on whether to affiliate it with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, and the bill was not passed until this May. During the time, researchers felt insecure about their job.

The academic circle is urging the government to respond more aggressively, saying that best defense is offense. That means Korea should work on not just defending its history of kingdoms of Gojoseon, Buyeo, Goguryeo and Balhae but expanding its historic spectrum to include the history of Yelu, Khitan and Mongol tribes.

¡°History is distorted in the ¡°Yo-ha Civilization Exhibition¡± in China in June, but Korean academic circles are doing nothing about it,¡± said Kang Yoo-bang, guest professor at Ewha Womans University.

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