Was Goguryeo 高句麗 (Gāogōulí) Korean or Chinese? – tentative thoughts


Goguryeo was neither Korean nor Chinese but maintained its own dual south continental, northern peninsula identity which subsequently became divided together with its territory following the kingdom’s collapse.

  • The former territory of Goguryeo straddles the modern mainland Chinese and North Korean border.
  • The modern dispute over Goguryeo’s heritage is therefore nearly 100% subjective though Korea has the longer historiographic tradition.
  • The dispute is not academic or scholarly but politically motivated on both sides as both mainland China and the two Koreas are equally concerned about very real irredentist claims based on modern racial-nationalist claims to the ethnic heritage over the ancient kingdoms of the region (namely Old Joseon, Lelang Commandery, Goguryeo and Balhae).
    • In this context, Beijing’s assertion over Goguryeo is as much a reaction to Korean claims over the subsequent Balhae kingdom which was, more so than Goguryeo, overwhelmingly a (Manchurian) continental entity.

The contemporary ethnic identity of Goguryeo was neither Korean (which didn’t exist at the time) nor Han  Chinese.

  • However, it is possible and probably desirable for Goguryeo to simultaneously be regarded a part of both Korean and Chinese history but with the crucial qualification that ‘Chinese’ not denote the ethnic Han 漢 Chinese, but the multiethnic modern Chinese state which, despite the current political dominance of the modern ethnic Han majority, inherited the former territory of the Manchu Qing dynasty.  And here it should be appreciated that the Qing dynasty had been a multiethnic empire founded by Jurchen-Manchu whose very distant ancestors (whether remembered or not) likely included much of the continental population of Goguryeo.
  • If Goguryeo heritage cannot be treated as a part of multiethnic Chinese history, then the natural conclusion is the assertion of Korean irredentist claims.  Under such circumstances, the remaining tombs and fortress sites are vulnerable to neglect and continued deterioration.  As long as Manchuria is a part of the present day mainland Chinese state, Goguryeo’s continental heritage should be administered by China.

In the end, the only real arguments worth having are over the international pronunciation of the name as Goguryeo or Gāogōulí and access to joint archaeological investigation.

  • In the case of the international name, the Korean pronunciation should probably remain in acknowledgement of the longer historiographic tradition.

Territorial heritage:

In terms of its territorial heritage Goguryeo may be associated with both modern (multiethnic) China and the two Koreas today (especially North Korea).

  • Goguryeo emerged in the south of continental Manchuria with its early power base in the region of modern Jilin province of present day mainland China. Over its very long history, this power base gradually moved southwards into modern North Korean territory eventually to the location of Pyeongyang, the modern capital of North Korea. However, even in the later period, a major part of its history (Sui and Tang invasion wars) was played out in southern Manchuria, modern Liaoning province.
  • Whilst royal tombs were later constructed around modern Pyongyang and South Pyeong’an province (west of Pyongyang), Goguryeo’s spiritual homeland remained the region of Jolbon, modern Jilin, where the shrine to the mythical progenitor, King Dongmyeong (aka Jumong) was maintained.

Ethnic heritage:

Ethnic identity is a strongly subjective notion determined by self-identification with a group (influenced today by modern notions of political nationalism and racialist indoctrination) and traceable ancestry.

  • Goguryeo ethnic identity would have been forged from a multiethnic diversity primarily consisting of the southern Manchurian groups including a superstrate of the, semi-naturalized, descendants of former ethnic Han (漢) ‘Chinese’ who subjugated the region in 108BCE.
  • Goguryeo both expanded to the northeast and subsequently southwards into the peninsula.  During the latter process it would have absorbed the indigenous peoples of the northern Korean peninsula: many of these assimilated to the new Goguryeo ethnic identity; others, e.g. the peninsula ‘Malgal’ (靺鞨 – as they are anachronistically named in the Samguk-sagi), apparently maintained their own identity whilst accepting political suzerainty, perhaps in a manner similar to the much later banner system of the Manchu Qing dynasty (used to incorporate ethnic Mongols).  Other peninsula peoples meanwhile came under the dominance of Baekje and Silla and actively resisted Goguryeo expansion managing to maintain their complete independence.

Ancestry is a retrospective concept: no people attempt to trace their lineage into the future beyond the ideal of sustaining their current ethnic group.

  • Goguryeo people could only self-identify with their present and past: there was no concept of “Korea” or even the “Three Kingdoms” at this stage so it would not have been possible to self-identify as ‘Korean’.  Equally there was no larger Manchurian identity and Goguryeo was constantly at war with most neighbouring states including the various northern ‘Chinese’ dynasties (with the exception of Northern Wei which was an ethnic Xianbei entity and with which Goguryeo general maintained better relations).
  • In terms of ancestral lineage today, given the territorial division it can be surmised that the number of extremely distant Goguryeo descendants living in the territory of modern China would be at least as large, if not greater, than the number living now on the Korean peninsula.  The descendants of Goguryeo would have largely reassimilated as either Balhae-Jurchen (ethnic Tungus-Manchu) or as Unified Silla-Goryeo (Koreans).

Cultural heritage:

In terms of religious, artistic and technological innovation, Goguryeo had next to no known influence on dynastic mainland China, unknown though likely significant influence on the Manchurian region and some similar influence on the Korean peninsula, at least within its former territory.  Beyond the Jumong myth being maintained as northern folklore (to the extent that Yi Gyubo felt compelled to write it down) it is not clear what else was clearly inherited from Goguryeo as many traditions were superseded by those of Silla.

Historiographic heritage:

History is created by those who remember and write it down and perpetuated by those who read it.  Oral history is similarly dependent on transmission and continued relevance to the audience (but subject to distortion quickly becoming folklore).  People create and transmit history; they may dictate the narrative and conceal or censor available facts but nobody can physically own the past.

At a point when the peoples of the Korean peninsula had created a politically unified ‘Korean’ entity, namely the Goryeo dynasty (936-1392), Goguryeo’s history was remembered, re-compiled and incorporated into the notion of a peninsula focused Three Kingdoms historical period (also referred to at the time as Samhan).

  • During the Three Kingdoms period there was no concept of a “Three Kingdoms” identity; nor throughout Unified Silla and Balhae.  It was created retrospectively during the Goryeo dynasty and thus, crucially, Koreans preserved the historiographic heritage of Goguryeo.  Neither Tang nor Silla wrote dynastic histories of Goguryeo but records were at least preserved during the Unified Silla such that they could be compiled early in the Goryeo dynasty (first as the now lost Gu-samguk-sa ‘Old History of the Three Kingdoms’ and later as the Samguk-sagi).  Balhae may have compiled its own dynastic history of Goguryeo but nearly all Balhae records have been lost.
  • In terms of historiography, Goguryeo has always been treated by Koreans as a part of their heritage.  This has not been the case in traditional Chinese historiography.
  • Official dynastic histories and modern government sponsored history writing have the primary aims of legitimizing territorial claims and assimilating ethnic minorities.  Unified Silla apparently failed to successfully assimilate or integrate its expanded territory and suffered the consequences of revivalist movements; Goguryeo was subsequently included in Goryeo’s official history helping to legitimize its claims over the full peninsula territory.
  • Following Goguryeo’s collapse, its former continental territory was not immediately occupied by any ethnic Han Chinese dynasty and so its history was not formally compiled.  This state of affairs did not change until the founding of the modern Chinese Communist Party and they immediately set to work on researching their borders; the current Chinese claims are the natural outcome of this official revisionist history project, in essence no different from the purpose of compiling dynastic histories (that is, to legitimize territorial claims and assimilate ethnic minorities).

Linguistic heritage:

Ethnic identity is closely associated with both linguistic and political boundaries but linguistic range does not always match the speed of dynastic and modern political re-configurations.

  • There were likely many languages spoken as a linguistic spectrum across the territory of Goguryeo, increasingly so as it expanded.  Undoubtedly, this predominantly included Tungusic languages ancestral to Jurchen-Manchu.
  • Goguryeo was already writing Classical Chinese inherited at the latest from the previous Han commanderies (Lelang and Xiantu) and propagated through Buddhist evangelism such that the language of the ruling class would have soon become at least partially Sinicized in a manner similar to modern Sino-Korean and Sino-Japanese, that is to say: whatever language the Goguryeo language was, it would have been Sino-Goguryeo.
  • The Koreanic ancestor to the modern (Sino-)Korean language was certainly the dominant language of Silla when it overthrew Baekje and Goguryeo.  It is not known to what degree Koreanic languages were spoken outside of Silla’s traditional southeastern peninsula territory; they may have been widespread on the peninsula but were very unlikely to have been spoken on the Manchurian continent and so would not have been the dynastic or continental language of Goguryeo.

50 thoughts on “Was Goguryeo 高句麗 (Gāogōulí) Korean or Chinese? – tentative thoughts

  1. jusen->puhu->goguri->balhae->goryo->joseon->greater han empire->greater han republic
    same origin, different result; however, never was part of china nor its history

  2. THe name Korea came from the word Goguryeo. I don’t know how you could say that GOguryeo wasn’t Korean.

    Your research is very weak, if you would like to point to some of your references that would be great.

  3. i am a nigerian but became intersted in this topic since i watch those historical movies but for goguryeo to fall is the wish of God whether Korea or Han it does not matter not matter but the ancestors of Goguryeo give everything they had for the creation of a wonderful nation it was sad that it could stand to the end

  4. Regarding linguistic heritage, surviving linguistic materials preserved in place names in the Samguk Sagi would indicate about 45% Japonic correspondence, 40% Koreonic correspondence and 15% Manchurian correspondence (a mix of languages from Manchu to Jurchen to Evikis).

    Most linguists (such as those that did pioneering work such as Ki-moon Lee and Yoshizo Itabashi) would interpret this data to indicate a language that had undeniable links to both Korean and Japanese languages. Christopher Beckwith has been the only linguist to argue that the Samguk Sagi data only represents exclusive Koguryo language relationship with Japonic. I know of no linguist or historian that believes there is significant relationship between the Koguryo language and Jurchen or Magal languages.

    Your research, and hence your conclusions, are highly flawed and do not find corresponding support anywhere.

    • Unless Koreanic and Japonic were genetically related, which I follow the view they are not, you cannot have a language with undeniable links to both, other than through the non-genetic effects of areal contact. This is a problem with Itabashi’s (In Vovin’s edited 日本語系統論の現在 2003) conclusion on Old Japanese, that it is a mix of “Paleoasian” and Austronesian languages.

      By the nature of its sheer size, geographic location and movement, it is quite certain that Goguryeo would have been multi-ethnic and home to many different languages including those ancestral to Jurchenic (aka Manchu) and others which may have disappeared without a trace. The question is what the dominant language of the rulers was. Given the longevity and movement southwards, it is not impossible even that the language switched; similarly the ethnic variation may also have reconfigured itself.

      What is noticeable is that the south continental homeland of Gogoguryeo and Balhae is basically the same as the subsequent Jurchen Jin and Manchu Qing dynasties which definitely spoke Jurchenic languages and have little identified trace of Koreanic in them, certainly nothing genetic.

      But, on the available evidence (the Samguk-sagi toponyms), nothing can be conclusive or certain. What I wish, though, is to challenge the assumption of present day Koreans that Goguryeo was Korean speaking because, I would argue, the presumed unity of the Three Kingdoms is a retrospective projection of Goryeo era historians, re-enforced today by post-colonial ethnic nationalism appropriated from the Japanese.

      • The language of the rulers was likely Koreonic, as Vovin mentioned in his various papers that depend on Koreonic grammatical markers on Koguryo stele inscriptions (which obviously, was built by the rulers). Parhae’s dominant language was probably ancestral to Jurchen because of Parhae characters preserved in roof tile inscriptions that look suspiciously like Jurchen script (also based on research by Vovin).

      • ” I would argue, the presumed unity of the Three Kingdoms is a retrospective projection of Goryeo era historians”

        … and echoed by earlier Silla, Tang Dynasty and Yamato Japanese sources. Japanese sources mention no relationship between Koguryo and Malgal (a.k.a Jurchen predecessors) cultures or languages. Actually, they called Koguryo exclusively “Koryo” in the Nihon Shoki. They used the term “Koryo” interchangeably to refer to the Korean peninsula as a whole. There is a passage in the Nihon Shoki that says (and I shall paraphrase):

        “Men from the states of Han, including Koryo, Kudara, Shiragi and Imna Kara, went to the palace to help oversee the construction of a pond.”

        It would appear that the chroniclers of the Nihon Shoki were grouping these various peninsular states into a single defined ethnicity.

        Chinese sources, from Wei Dynasty (northern dynasty), to Liang (southern dynasty), then to Sui and T’ang would clearly state that the Malgal and Koguryo languages were different.

      • Andrew,

        I would like to hear your response to the fact that there are so few Manchurian Tungustic words (i.e. Manchu, Jurchen, Evenki, etc.) in the Koguryo place name data. One would think that if your belief that Koguryo was a language more related to Malgal, then the place name data would have more Tungustic related words in it.

    • Because: the Goguryeo toponym data from the Samguk-sagi only covers the southern peninsula part of Goguryeo’s territory, principally south of the Taedong river; this region surely had at least substrata of non-Tungusic speakers including Japonic and potentially Koreanic. The ancestral homeland of Goguryeo, however, was located around modern Ji’an on the north side of the Yalu river and much of its long history was played out on the southern Manchurian continent (as well as, on the peninsula). If the dynastic language of Goguryeo was Koreanic – and the linguistic homeland from which it expanded, around Ji’an – we might ask the equivalent question: why are there no Koreanic traces in southern Manchurian place names? If they could be identified it would certainly be a very strong argument for Koreanic having been the language of the Goguryeo rulers.

      It could be noted also, the “Koreanic” elements of the Goguryeo toponyms primarily correspond to Middle Korean (i.e. after the Three Kingdoms period) and thus represent a Goguryeo substratum formed as Koreanic expanded over areas of former Goguryeo territory.

      Incidentally, I haven’t said that the Malgal language(s) was/were Tungusic, although that is a possibility. The Malgal seem to be more complex (or rather more vaguely defined as a single ethnicity) as they were spread across a large region and quite active both on the peninsula as well as the continent; it is not certain that they were all the same ethnicity or speaking the same language. Given their range, the various Malgal identified in Chinese sources may not be the same as the peninsula Malgal spoken of in the Samguk-sagi.

      Separately, also, in response to your previous mention of Vovin having identified “Koreanic grammatical markers” on Goguryeo stele inscriptions, I would be interested to know of the paper. I would say, though, unless these markers were actually identical to those found in the hyangchal (鄕札) transcription system of the Silla hyangga songs – such that we could presume them to represent the same phonemes – it would only indicate that Goguryeo was also a language of a basic Altaic typology, which is to be expected whether or not it was Koreanic, Tungusic or something else.

  5. Vovin actually advanced a rather shocking theory that not only Koguryo spoke a form of Old Korean, but also the Korean language itself had started in middle-south Manchuria. According to his theory the people of the Korean peninsula originally spoke (a) para-Japonic language(s), which is preserved in place names. Thus in his opinion, initially Shillla spoke a para-Japonic language except by political elites but by the time Hyanga was sung during the 6-7th century Old Korean took root even among the general populace.

    The identification of Koguryo with “Three Han” is strong and certainly predates Koryo period. The tomb inscriptions of Koguryo expatriates taken to Tang(China) say things like “Ryo-Dong Samhan(Liatung Three Han)” “nobleman of Three Han” when they refer to the ones buried there. This is quite significant as it shows how Koguryo viewed itself.

  6. Andrew,

    I find this conversation interesting as there are not many without a PhD in East Asian history that would like to have a scholarly and academic conversation regarding Goguryeo and other ancient kingdoms in and around the Korean peninsula and Manchuria. I am not a professional academic, but I have been studying the ancient Three Kingdoms of Korea (the term I use for purely nomenclature purposes) and the Manchurian kingdom of Parhae for about a decade.

    Before I spent time looking at the aforementioned kingdoms, my other scholarly hobby was biblical textual criticism. I would never call myself a professional academic, but I would call myself an advanced lay person. One thing about biblical textual criticism is that it has some very developed rules and procedures that have developed over centuries. It was good to be exposed to those methods and I think it has made me a better historian overall.

    The Goguryeo language has been a deep interest of mine ever since Christopher Beckwith came out with his seminal book, “Koguryo: The Language of Japan’s Continental Relatives.” Now, to be fair, Beckwith wasn’t the first to make the association between the Japanese language and the Goguryeo language. A number of Korean and Japanese linguists have noticed the rather “Japanese-like” words in the surviving Goguryeo place name information preserved in the Samguk Sagi. Beckwith is, of course, rather unique in the assertion that the evidence points to Goguryeo words being exclusively Japanese-like in etymology, a view where he is in the minority of one. There are not even any Japanese scholars that would take this position. Most Japanese scholars choose to hedge by saying that the place name data points to the Goguryeo language possibly being an amalgamation of Korean and Japanese. Any ways, I digress.

    Of the theories on the Goguryeo language (i.e. was it more Korean-like or Japanese-like) the theory you brought up that it may have been more Malgal-like is not one that any serious linguists have ever discussed. The simple fact of the matter is that there is no evidence whatsoever, based on what we know of the Malgal language (using the more recent examples of Manchurian/Tungustic languages such as Jurchen, Manchu, Evenki, Nanai, etc.) from comparative linguistic analysis and textual evidence from ancient Chinese sources, that there is a credible link between Malgal and Goguryeo languages. No credible historical linguist gives it any thought or credence. You are in not only a minority, but as far as I know, you are a minority of one. I guess that’s very exclusive company, if one was to look at it in that way.

    The supports you use to expound your thoughts do not really amount to “evidence” in the direct meaning of that word, but really amounts to negative evidence. I am sorry, but your use of negative evidence, essentially saying there is no evidence to “disprove” your assertions, is not really evidence at all nor is it very scholarly. In your blog you seem to be someone who cares about scholarship. Thus, I would believe you should follow the standards of good scholarship, no? However, falling on to uncommon beliefs, via negative evidence, is a bit disappointing. If I were you, I would start by following the extant evidence and construct your conclusions around that. In my experience, no professional scholar creates theories from out of a vacuum and then support those theories from assertions via fiat, especially in situations where there is an established body peer-reviewed academic discussion that is contrary to your unsupported line of reasoning.

    Your thoughts?

  7. Andrew,

    I will now address your last comment point by point.

    “The ancestral homeland of Goguryeo, however, was located around modern Ji’an on the north side of the Yalu river and much of its long history was played out on the southern Manchurian continent”

    If we want insight on the linguistic environment that early Goguryeo was surrounded by, we have to look at the commentary in the Account of the Eastern Barbarians (Dong Yi zhuan 東夷傳) section of the the San Guo Zhi (三國志). There is states that Goguryeo (when its capital was close to modern Ji’an) was contiguous with Puyo, Eastern Okcho, Ye and Yilou. Of these states the Chinese chroniclers indicated that Goguryeo had the same or similar language with Puyo, Okcho and Ye. The same source states that Goguryeo did not have the same language or customs as Yilou. Yilou is of course Sushen, the which is analogous with Malgal.

    Furthermore, we have from several Chinese sources that Goguryeo and Baekje’s language were same/similar. According to the History of Liang in 620 CE, “At present, the language and clothing [of Baekje] are about the same as those of Goguryeo.”

    “… why are there no Koreanic traces in southern Manchurian place names?”

    There are many explanations for this. One is the fact that there are more layers of conquest and displacement in Manchuria than in the Korean peninsula. Goguryeo, Balhae, Khitan, Jurchen, Manchu, etc. One cannot assume that place names stayed static for over a thousand years. Your theory appears to assume that.

    The truth of the matter is that we wouldn’t know of the place names of the southern Goguryeo territories if it were not preserved in the Samguk Sagi and Silla were a more literate people than Khitan, Jurchen and Manchu. If, for example it was Balhae that changed the place names, we wouldn’t know that because all of Balhae’s written materials would have been lost. Additionally, there hasn’t been a concerted effort to gather up all the old place names (i.e. past 668 CE) in southern Manchuria by modern scholars. Without a geographic section like the Samguk Sagi for southern Manchuria, it would have to take a lot of work by a scholar who may not just have to work with glossing Chinese characters, but also Jurchen and Khitan script to coax out ancestral place name pronunciations. It is difficult enough even with materials from the Samguk Sagi that provide only one degree of separation!

    With that in mind, the best available (and true scholars talk of “best available” when there is nothing else available) insight into the Goguryeo language would be the place name data preserved in the Samguk Sagi. Modern analysis must start there first and then radiate out from there.

    What is noticeable is that the south continental homeland of Gogoguryeo and Balhae is basically the same as the subsequent Jurchen Jin and Manchu Qing dynasties which definitely spoke Jurchenic languages and have little identified trace of Koreanic in them, certainly nothing genetic.

    The problem with this is that populations move, expand and contract. As mentioned before, one shouldn’t be static in terms of thinking of populations and languages. After 668 CE, the Goguryeo population was dispersed into various areas. Many were sent to all corners of the Tang empire. Many fled to Silla and Japan. Some fled to Khitan or Eastern Turk. Others helped establish the kingdom of Balhae. According to the New History of Tang, the founder of Balhae, Dae Jo-young (tentatively sticking with the Korean pronunciation here, but I have my doubts) said that unlike Goguryeo, who could field an army of 300k to fight Tang, he could only field an army of barely 100k. This is the reflection of the mass population exodus of Goguryeo people. Whereas Goguryeo was said to have as many as 680k households (3.5 million people), Balhae (the kingdom that inherited most of Goguryeo’s land) was described as having only 100k households (500k people). Tang, when moving Goguryeo people, made a distinction between Goguryeo and the various Malgal tribes. The general Malgal were not subject to the forced mass exodus. Thus, it was their language, not whatever language that Goguryeo spoke, that was to inherit Manchuria.

    Thus, it wasn’t that one was related to the other. One was forced out of the area and another came to eventually replace it. I believe the material and textual evidence does a better job with collaborating with this thesis than yours.

    The Malgal seem to be more complex (or rather more vaguely defined as a single ethnicity) as they were spread across a large region and quite active both on the peninsula as well as the continent; it is not certain that they were all the same ethnicity or speaking the same language.

    One the surface that’s true. The Malgal had about 10 main tribes I believe. However, we are talking primarily about two of the biggest tribes: Sumo and Heishui. Of those two, it is widely believed that the Heishui Malgal were the main ancestors to the Jurchens. Sumo Malgal were the main allies of Goguryeo and the southern most tribe of Malgal.

    Confusion by diffusion doesn’t work here because we are talking of just a couple of the main Malgal tribes.

    Separately, also, in response to your previous mention of Vovin having identified “Koreanic grammatical markers” on Goguryeo stele inscriptions, I would be interested to know of the paper.

    The evidence is in Vovin’s 2005 “Koguryo and Paekche: Different Languages or Dialects of Old Korean?” A pdf version of this document is available here.

    Based on previous conversations, I think you have this article too, correct?

    Here’s what Vovin says about “Koreanic grammatical markers” on Goguryeo steles:

    “Although there are no extant texts in the Koguryo language, it has been pointed out that Koguryo inscriptions in Classical Chinese have a Korean-like word order (Hong 1957, 225) and include at least one particle 之 that sometimes cannot be interpreted as a Chinese grammatical marker but as a final clause marker.


    It is interesting that the same sentence-final 之 is found in Silla inscriptions.


    Thus, in addition to the form of final predication 之, it is possible to identify in Koguryo inscriptions one more morphological marker □ [cannot find character, but you can view it in page 119 of the article] that is undeniably Korean. Therefore, in spite of the scanty nature of Koguryo inscriptions, we can definitely see that a language that underlies them is some variety of Old Korean.”

  8. baiyaan,

    “… the Korean language itself had started in middle-south Manchuria.”

    That really isn’t all that shocking to Koreans. Korean historians have long believed that Go Joseon may have started in southern Manchuria or Liaoning. Koreans also know that Bronze dagger and dolmen culture have high levels of archaeological frequency in the aforementioned areas as well.

    The more shocking thing is what Vovin (as well as Whitman and Unger) theory means if you take it to its logical conclusion: That para-Japanese was spoken on the peninsula before para-Korean. This can be seen by Koreans as worse that the myth of the Empress Jingū conquests of southern Korea and/or the colonization of Mimana (i.e. Tae Kaya) by Yamato Japan.

    “… initially Shillla spoke a para-Japonic language except by political elites but by the time Hyanga was sung during the 6-7th century Old Korean took root even among the general populace.”

    I believe this theory needs to be explored in greater depth. The frequency of basic proto-Japanese words in place name and other textual data all throughout the Korean peninsula necessitates it.

    “The identification of Koguryo with “Three Han” is strong and certainly predates Koryo period.”

    I also believe this to be true. The Gwanggetto stele talks about how the shrine maintenance villages contained both Goguryeo and Han families. Thus, there were clearly Han people as far as southern Manchuria! Also, in the memorial steles to some of Yon Kaesomun’s sons in China, there is clear identification of Goguryeo with Go Joseon. I personally believe that Go Joseon spoke a language similar to Goguryeo because the Ye and the Maek tribes also spoke a Goguryeo like language according the the Account of the Eastern Barbarians. Ye, Maek and Goguryeo were immediately contiguous with Go Joseon (well, more accurately the Lelang commandery, which was Go Joseon, and a historical contemporary of Goguryeo).

    • The Account of the Eastern Barbarians also implies that Go Joseon’s major population contingent were of the Ye people and the same work strictly states that the Ye had “language and customs [but not clothes]” that were the same as Goguryeo’s.

    • Goguryeo is most certainly a Korean territory. Historical evidences show too many things, and what, China wants to put up an east Asia project to DESTROY THEM? I say Korea must fight China just like Japan if they don’t give us back the land soon.

      • Whether Goguryeo was Korean territory a thousand years ago has little bearing on whether China has an obligation to ‘give you back the land’ – unless you’re one of those nutjobs who think the US, Canada, etc. need to give Native Americans back their continent – yet it is indeed this sort of thinking from Korean nationalists that continue to encourage China to distort Goguryeo history.

  9. Thanks again for your rigorous comments.

    As for whether any “serious” or “credible” linguist has discussed the idea that Goguryeo may have been related to Jurchenic, I offer a direct quote by Lee Ki-Moon from his 1958 paper “A comparative study of Manchu and Korean” which states: “Concerning the language of Ko-ku-rye we have little knowledge. But it is certain that it is closely related to the Manchu-Tungus languages.” (in Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher Vol.30) You might also consider the Janhunen paper from the same volume as the 2005 Vovin paper (which, the latter thank-you for reminding of!)

    Granted, that is a particularly early paper of Lee Ki-Moon. Because at this stage he was working with the Altaic language family paradigm, and the history dispute with China wasn’t quite so intense, it wasn’t so ethnically problematic to propose a relationship between Goguryeo and Tungusic languages.

    I accept all your points made concerning the lack of hard evidence. This is in part because contact between Tungusic and Koreanic remains almost as understudied today as it was in 1958 and this, I would argue, is because it benefits no current ethno-nationalist agenda. The Mohe/Malgal people, and even the Manchu, no longer exist and so lack any modern nationalist ideology or government funding body to promote themselves in the way that Korea effectively does (and China more clumsily – at least internationally). That is to say, it is in no one’s political interests or romantic ideals for Goguryeo to have been Jurchenic speaking (..who would make the TV dramas?!)

    The Goguryeo language, in any event, doesn’t have to have been be a direct ancestor of Jurchen-Manchu, this is why it can be labelled “para-Jurchenic” which would identify it as a distinct branch, in the same manner that Khitan can be treated as “para-Mongolic” (meaning it was a Mongolic language but not directly ancestral to the Mongol of Ghengis Khan).

    To emphasize my line of argument, again: the Goguryeo territory was so expansive, and inclusive of the Jurchen-Manchu linguistic homeland (as well as expanding over the former Lelang/Nangnang polity in the south), it is almost impossible that it did not include Jurchenic speaking peoples,alongside various others (including Koreanic on the peninsula and remnants of Chinese). I think you would accept that. Then, the question is of the relative import of these languages: the dynastic language of the rulers, and the language(s) of the wider, at least core, populous which may or may not have been the same as the dynastic language, and also may have changed over time and geography according to acculturation between the elite and their subjects in both directions.

    In the case of Goguryeo, it is reasonable to assume that the core population spoke the dynastic language. However, in the not unrelated case of Balhae, the usual Korean formula is to claim that a “Korean” Goguryeo elite ruled over a non-Korean Malgal/Mohe population which would have spoken non-Goguryeo languages: so what would that tell us about Balhae’s ethnic identity? It should tell us that it was multiethnic and multilingual, and it would therefore be a self-conceit to claim Balhae’s history as purely “Korean”.

    Perhaps you are personally interested in historical linguistics purely as an academic pursuit, but for most Koreans the question of the Goguryeo language relates directly to the claim over Goguryeo having been, they assume, (ethnically) “Korean”. The claim is that Goguryeo is exclusively a part of Korean history and not China’s, even if much of its territory is inside modern China, because they define history in terms of minjok (民族 I translate as ‘ethnic nationality’ – a neologism invented by the Japanese). That is what makes the notion of “history” exclusive and a zero-sum competition with China. (To be fair to Koreans, they necessarily have to do this because China is doing the same and previously so did the Japanese.) If it were a matter only of historiography and geographic history (the way outsiders tend to view the dispute), then it would be possible for Goguryeo to be both a part of Korean and Chinese history, given how its former territory has straddled the borders since its 668 demise, albeit with Korea possessing the stronger historiographic tradition because of the Samguk-sagi (which, ironically, was only written because of pro-Classical Chinese learning inclinations of Koreans!)

    Even if the core language of Goguryeo was Koreanic, language is not the only signifier of ethnicity or historical heritage. Concerning ethnicity, many “non-Korean” Malgal must have acculturated to Korean identity (e.g. some would speculate, Yi Seonggye’s ancestors) just as many Goguryeo people remained in Balhae north of the peninsula, and – whether or not they included the Balhae elite – they ultimately would have acculturated to the subsequent Khitan and Jurchen dominated dynasties, destined never to become Korean. Whether or not it has been remembered, do they not also have a claim to Goguryeo ancestry?

    So I want to ask: why is it so important to you personally whether or not the Goguryeo language was Koreanic?

  10. Concerning the Malgal/Mohe, as you say, there were two main historically important groups, the Sumo (粟末) and, later, the Heishui (黑水). The Sumo were active during the C6th and took over the former territory of Buyeo (Songhua river basin) and competed against Goguryeo, finally being defeated by them in 598. A portion of Sumo, including its leaders fled to Sui, but the rest were incorporated into Goguryeo (augmenting its multiethnic, multi-linguistic makeup). These Sumo were then mobilized by Goguryeo in their battles against the Sui.

    However, as you know, throughout the Samguk-sagi, other Malgal are regularly mentioned as active on the Korean peninsula from earliest times. I doubt very much that these peninsula Malgal were related to the continental Mohe; perhaps the term was simply borrowed to designate non-Three Kingdoms peoples on the peninsula who spoke a different language (survivors of Okjeo, for example). Whoever they were, they remained on the peninsula throughout the duration of the Three Kingdoms and maintained a separate ethnic identity; perhaps this identity included a distinct language(s), or perhaps they gradually adopted a Goguryeo/Koreanic language; post 668 many would have been absorbed into the Korean gene pool (unless there was genocide) but Koreans tend to ignore them because the Samguk-sagi chose not to treat them as “Korean”, and this view was reinforced through the Joseon dynasty and modern ethnic-nationalism (민족주의).

    I wonder how Koreans would respond if China, or (more appropriate but hypothetically) a modern Manchurian nation-state today, claimed that the peninsula Malgal were not Korean and therefore a part of their own ethno-national identity. What is your view of the peninsula Malgal, and how do you distinguish them from the various continental Malgal?

    The Heishui Mohe, meanwhile, emerged as a named group after the collapse of Balhae from territory east of the Songhua which the Khitan failed to secure. As you say, they then, would be the more immediate ancestors to the Jurchen Jin and linguistic forbears of Manchu language. Given both the considerable geographic and time differences between the Sumo and Heishui, it is quite unlikely that they spoke immediately similar languages and impossible to know whether the Sumo language was directly ancestral, or a distinct para-Jurchenic branch – or completely unrelated – doomed to later obliteration/absorption. This is my point then, the Mohe/Malgal cannot necessarily be “lumped” as a single linguistic or ethnic group.

  11. Concerning the Vovin discussion of the morphological markers: I agree, this would represent some of the strongest evidence of Goguryeo using a related language to Koreanic, or receiving close influence.

    Concerning the linguistic information given in the Sanguo-zhi (三國志ㆍ魏志ㆍ東夷傳), and other Chinese sources, the well known problem is, they were not written by modern linguists so it is impossible to know how they differentiated between dialects, languages and language families, and on what level of research/hearsay they based their descriptions. Despite that they do give, at least, some clues. The Dong’yi-zhuan of the Sanguo-zhi (三國志ㆍ魏志ㆍ東夷傳) does indeed distinguish between Buyeo-Goguryeo, Yilou-Sushen and Korean Han (韓) groups (although to what degree of distinction and accuracy, we cannot know): if you are taking this as evidence that the Goguryeo and Jurchenic languages were not related, however, you would have to accept then the third Korean Han group as equally unrelated to Buyeo-Goguryeo.

  12. Sorry for taking so long to respond. I do want to respond to these additional points you had outlined. Don’t take the length the time in my response as a lack of interest or ability. Scholarship and/or academics is not my fulltime job, unfortunately. I also had to gather and index my scattered materials so I can more effectively address the issues.

    As before, I will address your points individually:

    As for whether any “serious” or “credible” linguist has discussed the idea that Goguryeo may have been related to Jurchenic, I offer a direct quote by Lee Ki-Moon from his 1958 paper “A comparative study of Manchu and Korean”

    That’s a very old paper by Lee. I would say that Lee probably came around to changing his thoughts the matter after he wrote “Materials of the Koguryo Language,” in 1964, six years after he wrote your aforementioned article. This article is hard to find, but I do have an original copy from “The Bulletin of the Korean Research Center,” which I have summarized in the link below:


    The summary of that paper is that of the cognates Lee was able to coax out of the Samguk Sagi land survey materials the etymology is 58.3% are Koreanic, 21.7% Tungustic and 20% Japonic, which leads Lee to the conclusion of:

    … since Middle Koreans vocabulary was basically a continuation from that of the Silla language. Thus, we can conclude that the relationship of the Koguryo and Sill languages was no less intimate than that of the Koguryo language and Middle Korean. What is of vital significance is that the Koguryo language is the only one ever found to show such a close relationship to the Sill language. Here for the first time the Silla language finds its sister language.

    1964 is obviously more recent than 1958. Additionally, in the book Lee writes with Robert Ramesy titled, “A History of the Korean Language,” published in 2011 states:

    “The Chinese chroniclers further reported that the Puyo language contrasted with those in the Sukin group. The Suksin peoples, which consisted largely of northern, semi-nomatic tribes… descended from the Suksin and related to the Muggil, [Umnu]… and Malgal. Of the Umnu, the Dong Yi Shuan said that “these people resemble the Puyo in appearance, but their language is not the same as that of the Puyo or Koguryo.” The “Description of the Mulgil” in the Beishi (659) described these nomadic people as “living north of the Koguryo, and their language is different.”

    I call into question your use of one of Lee’s oldest articles to support you theories, especially since Lee has written more recent works that shows that his understanding of the languages has since not only expanded, but moved on.

    This is what Lee moved on to. In his 2011 book:

    “The [Koguryo] corpora are too large and the words too basic to represent merely layers of cultural borrowing. And if that was so, Koguryoan might possibility have been a language intermediate between what later became two important world languages [Korean and Japanese].

    To your credit you seem to accept the weaknesses, and make some concessions, here:

    Granted, that is a particularly early paper of Lee Ki-Moon. Because at this stage he was working with the Altaic language family paradigm, and the history dispute with China wasn’t quite so intense, it wasn’t so ethnically problematic to propose a relationship between Goguryeo and Tungusic languages.

    Moving on, now with this I would disagree:

    The Mohe/Malgal people, and even the Manchu, no longer exist and so lack any modern nationalist ideology or government funding body to promote themselves in the way that Korea effectively does (and China more clumsily – at least internationally). That is to say, it is in no one’s political interests or romantic ideals for Goguryeo to have been Jurchenic speaking

    Well, the Manchu do exist as a shadow of their former selves, with perhaps 20k that identify with that ethnicity and perhaps 5k elderly speakers of the language.

    I don’t know if you are aware of this, but there is an increasing movement in Korea to associate Koreanic with Jurchenic. More and more Koreans, nationalists and otherwise, see a strong link between the Jurchen and Korean peoples. I personally don’t see it and I disagree, but it nonetheless exists. Check out this Korean documentary:

    Interesting, no?

    Check out this quasi-academic article by a Korean:


    Discussion by Korean “scholars” to include Jurchen/Manchu history into Korean history:


    Discussion board of nationalistic Koreans on including Jurchenic history into Koreonic:


    So, there are many Koreans, some who are nationalistic, who do relish a genetic link between Koreans and Jurchen/Manchu. Korean nationalism and Jurchen/Manchu relatedness here is not mutually exclusive, as you indicate.

    These particular Koreans may very well welcome and relish your theory that Koguryo and Jurchen were related languages.

    However, that’s not where the evidence and scholarly consensus is leading. Again, I turn to Vovin. Vovin speaks against the Koguryo/Jurchen language association (a position diametrically opposed to yours) here:


    Furthermore, Vovin says that Jurchenic adopts loan words from Koguryo (and is hence not genetic to one another) here:


    Now, I shall address this question from you:

    So I want to ask: why is it so important to you personally whether or not the Goguryeo language was Koreanic?

    Because that’s where I believe the evidence is pointing. I can always flip it and ask you the same question. However, at the end of the day such questions are not really relevant. Unless, that is, one is looking to make the ethnic association for nationalistic purposes. I can assure you that I am not doing that. You’re just going to have to take my word for it.

    Military history is also of great interest to me. I am very active on military history blogs as well and I will tell whoever is willing to listen that the battle of Waterloo has taken on way too much of an Anglocentric narrative, given that only 25k of the 200k troops that fought there were English and the rest were French, German, Dutch-Belgium or Prussian. The German/Prussians also played a decisive and underappreciated role in the Allied victory over Napoleon. I have even gone as far to propose that Waterloo be called the dual battles of Mont St. Jean and Plancenoit. The name “Waterloo” is a purely Anglocentric (and IMHO a very artificial) construct. However, I am not French, German, Belgium or Dutch.

    if you are taking this as evidence that the Goguryeo and Jurchenic languages were not related, however, you would have to accept then the third Korean Han group as equally unrelated to Buyeo-Goguryeo.

    As mentioned previously, Chinese sources expressly said that the Puyo/Koguryo languages were different from the Malgal/Suchen languages. The Chinese sources never expressly said that the Koguryo and Samhan languages were different. I have read the annotated translation of the account of the Samhan in the Sangouzhi and the Hou Hanshu by Mark Byington.

    In the Sangouzhi it says:

    “Chinhan lies to the east of Mahan…. Their language is not the same as that of Mahan.”

    “ “The Pyonhan reside intermixed with the Chinhan…. and their language, laws and customs are similar…”

    However, in the Hou Hanshu is says:

    “ “The Pyonhan reside intermixed with the Chinhan… but there are differences in their language and customs.”

    The confusion in the Sangouzhi and the Hou Hanshu indicates a great deal of language heterogeneity in the Samhan. The southern part of the peninsula appeared to be a cultural/ethnic “cul-de-sac” of sorts. The Sangouzhi described two sizeable refugee group make-ups in the Samhan: refugees from GoJoseon, who were driven to the Samhan by Weiman (and then again by Lelang) and Chinese Qin refugees that appeared to settle mostly in Chinhan. Given the heterogeneous makeup, Han Chinese observers of the Samhan can be forgiven for not being more specific (or hesitant) regarding an exact identification of the language of that region.
    Again, nowhere in the Sangouzhi or the Hou Hanshu does it say that “[Ma, Chin, Pyon]han’s language was different from Koguryo/Puyo/Ye, etc.” Furthermore, if you had read Unger’s book and/or Vovin’s article, “From Koguryo to Tamra” (Vovin’s article which I had provided a link to you in a previous comment) you would know that I am not making that compromise anyways. Unger and Vovin are theorizing that what Koguryo spoke was different than what many of the Han spoke and with the establishment of Baekje and Silla, the languages spoken in former Han areas began to resemble more and more of what Koguryo spoke.

    I think the evidence is highly abundant that points to Samhan language heterogeneity and that the language that Koguryo spoke was not only spoken widely in the Samhan (due to GoJoseon and Baekje refugees) but also increased as the Korean Three Kingdoms period progressed. Again, the most recent information points to no genetic relationship between the Puyo/Koguryo and the Malgal/Sushen languages. The evidence, as well as scholarly opinion, is far more numerous than what you can summon to support your theories.

    • My mentioning of Lee Ki-Moon’s 1958 paper was only to refute your claim of a Tungusic affinity not being “one that any serious linguists have ever discussed”. In a list of candidate language groups for Goguryeo, Tungusic is one of the most obvious, absolute core possibilities to consider – alongside Koreanic and, to a lesser degree Japonic. Any “serious” or “credible” linguist would most certainly consider it so. (This is not to say that if Goguryeo were Tungusic it would need be directly ancestral to Jurchenic.)

      Nowhere in the histories does it state that the Goguryeo language was related to Koreanic (as the language of the Three Han) or Japonic (Wae), so to this extent, Tungusic is just as much of a contender, and in this context the circumstantial evidence of linguistic homelands supports it well.

      That all said, however, you (or rather Vovin) are beginning to convince me of the possibility the dominant language of Goguryeo could indeed have been Koreanic, still recognizing, though, that within Goguryeo’s greater territory there would have been various other languages including, undoubtedly Tungusic.

      Concerning my statement on the three language “groups” (Buyeo-Goguryeo, Yilou-Sushen and Han 韓) discussed in the Sanguozhi. I went to the source to prove to myself they are explicitly described as such, only to realize I had in fact been reading too much Lee Ki-moon; so in this case my textual argument against your assertions indeed doesn’t exist. In a slightly weakened, modified defense, it could still be argued that although the Sanguozhi doesn’t explicitly distinguish “Buyeo type” languages from those of the Three Han in the way it does from the Yilou-Sushen type, it notably doesn’t include them either, when it does bother to include mention of Ye and Okjeo (admittedly any number of reasons could exist for this including your interpretation).

      Ultimately, however, the textual evidence of the Sanguozhi and later histories is, by itself, inconclusive and unreliable, and it is not my recent fallacy here which helps change my mind (only the evidence coming from Vovin). Most linguists, historians and archaeologists, I think, would still reject the Sanguozhi’s Buyeo-Goguryeo grouping (Byington at least does on archaeological and historical grounds).

      Concerning Lee’s (or rather Lee and Ramsey 2011) statement on the idea of Goguryeo being an “intermediate” language between Koreanic and Japonic, I’ve already said above, also relating to Itabashi: this view assumes either that a language could be genetically mixed, or that Koreanic and Japonic are genetically related which our favourite linguist Vovin (as well as others) now strongly rejects.

  13. “In the case of Goguryeo, it is reasonable to assume that the core population spoke the dynastic language. However, in the not unrelated case of Balhae, the usual Korean formula is to claim that a “Korean” Goguryeo elite ruled over a non-Korean Malgal/Mohe population which would have spoken non-Goguryeo languages: so what would that tell us about Balhae’s ethnic identity? It should tell us that it was multiethnic and multilingual, and it would therefore be a self-conceit to claim Balhae’s history as purely “Korean”.

    I will discuss my views of Balhae’s ethnicity, language and culture at a later date. Yes, I do not believe Balhae to be merely a continuation of Koguryo like many Koreans.

  14. Andrew,

    You are a professional scholar of Korea. I do not wish to write in a way that antagonizes you or prevents us from having a reasoned conversation on the subjects at hand. I trust that after you have been presented with strong evidence, then you will naturally adjust your thinking to match the best evidence available. That’s all anyone can really ask, I suppose.

    I look forward to having other well reasoned and rational conversations with you in the future, if not on this blog then in the blog I regularly contribute to: http://www.chinahistoryforum.com.

    Thank you and good day.

  15. You(Andrew) said elsewhere that you were not Chinese. Yet you claim that being Jurchen is tantamount to being Chinese. I know of no other ethnicity than (Han) Chinese who holds this view. You need to clarify on this suspicion.

    • If you read what I wrote, I haven’t claimed that “being Jurchen is tantamount to being Chinese”. The Jurchen were not ethnically Han Chinese and were not under Chinese jurisdiction. Current day mainland China as a multiethnic state is, however, inclusive of Jurchen-Manchu heritage and most direct descendents reside with the modern territory and so are Chinese citizens.

      • That is quite hilarious since some of them also live in Russian Far East. They are called Nurchen there. That makes them Russian too?

  16. It is quite mind boggling that someone outside China, especially a European, naively buys the Chinese propaganda that she is a multi ethnic state, each constituent enjoying full privileges as a member of one big happy family. It is like saying that the US has historical claims to West Africa because tens of millions of her citizens have ancestral homelands there.

    Andrew’s “arguments” are some of the worst cases of straw men I have seen. He says nationalistic Koreans are this and that and so on so forth but I know very few cases of such and most of them are over 65, not well educated, don’t even care about Koguryo. They just regurgitate what they had learned, or what they think they had learned in elementary school.

    As someone who purports to “lay the smackdown” on Korean nationalists, Andrew cowardly chose awfully easy opponents.

    In my case I think Korean claim to Koguryo heritage is strong. I already discussed why I think so. That Koguryo people considered themselves to be part of “Three Han” is quite telling among others. Even Beckwith had to admit that toward the later part of the three kingdom period, all three states spoke a single language.(just read his revised 2007 edition)

    However all historical evaluations are probabilistic. I am willing to consider the scenarios in which Koguryo spoke a Tungusic language, a Japonic language, a Paleo-Siberian language(especially Nivkh) so on so forth. Even the claim that modern day Koreans have very little claim to Koguryo heritage would not overtly offend me.

    In short I may not exactly know what Koguryo was. However I know what it was not with near certitude. It was NOT Chinese.

    • Unless you are actively arguing for the re-establishment of an independent Manchurian state (for the former Manchu people), and/or expansion of Korea to “reclaim” former Goguryeo territory, then we have to recognize that the Dongbei region today, is part of China. And China IS multiethnic, regardless of whether there is perfect equality and ethnic harmony, which there obviously isn’t.

      However, I agree with you that Goguryeo, when it existed, wasn’t ethnically Chinese. Chinese revisionists, or anyone else, who claim that it was Chinese in the historical sense are certainly wrong (even though it was recipient to some significant cultural influences). Goguryeo identity was not Chinese, but a large chunk of its former territory, including its original homeland, today, is inside of modern China, and thus falls within their jurisdiction in terms of maintenance and protection of the historical sites. For their to be any chance of them doing this responsibly, the part of Goguryeo history which played out inside modern Chinese territory needs to be able to be appreciated as part of the regional history of the modern Chinese state. This is not to deny that Goguryeo history is also an important part of Korea’s heritage today, it is.

      • You have not answered my question. So Russians also have some claim to Koguryo? If Japan held onto Manchuria then Koguryo would now be Japanese history? hmmm? If British held onto India and Pakistan, ancient Indus civilization would be British? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?????

        Your line is mindlessly conciliatory. It is easy for you to be that way since you are not Korean and have nothing to lose by doing so. Drawing a line in the middle does not always satisfy both sides. In fact it is even more morally and academically bankrupt than taking sides.

      • Better yet, close to your home, is Prussia Polish? It started out as Duchy of Prussia most of whose territory resides within the current border of Poland. So lest Poland destroys the historical remains of that state you should declare Prussia Polish?

        Have you actually read your own article and realized how vapid they sound?

  17. There was next to no significant Goguryeo history played out in modern Russian territory, but to the extent that there may be some archaeological remains, then there would be motivation for local Russians and academics to be interested in Goguryeo. There are obviously more Balhae remains: that doesn’t make Balhae “Russian”, but Russia has some jurisdiction over that heritage (albeit relatively minor).

    The same as I’ve said about China and Russia would apply to Japan; a much more interesting scenario would have been if Manchukuo had survived post-Japan, or at least with relative autonomy. In this case the reduced Chinese state would have next to no claim over Manchurian history including Goguryeo; but that is a counterfactual and not what has happened.

    The same formula would apply to the British Empire (during the time it formally existed) but to a much lesser degree because the territory was never consolidated into a nation state (for obvious reasons). Even at the time of the Empire, people of the British isles would not have been able to claim that India before colonization was in anyway “British” – but if one were to write a full survey history of the territory of the British Empire, ancient India would be included. However, the circumstances and motivation of colonialism make everything much weaker. And the circumstances of Western colonialism and Japanese colonialism are not the same either. (By the way, I do not think that modern colonialism in any context was ever a good thing).

    Also, I am not saying empires or large countries necessarily have a right to control the territory that they do. Generally I support the self-determination of peoples where they survive with a distinct language and culture. In that case ethnic history is vitally important. But Goguryeo is not Tibet! The Goguryeo history debate has two aspects: one, purely arguing over history; two, irredentist claims (i.e. claims over the modern territory).

    By your own admission, you are viewing the history dispute zero-sum, “either with us or against us” style. If Goguryeo was “Korean”, or at least definitely not “Chinese”, as you argue: what would you have China do about it now? Tell me if you have other ideas, but the only ideal solution, as I can see from your perspective, ultimately is for China to “relinquish” the territory, either to (North?!) Korea, or to a new Manchurian state (which some would then continue arguing with over whether Goguryeo was “Korean” or “Manchurian”). Of course, the modern China state is never going to do this voluntarily. Mutual fears of irredentist claims is what is driving this dispute such that it is considered by governments on both sides to be a matter of national importance.

    • If you think Prussia is Polish; Indus civ, British; Tibet and Inner Mongolia, Chinese, I have nothing more to say to you. If you think Bismark was Polish; Jesus, British(Palestine was occupied by them); Chighis Khan, Chinese, I have even less to say to you.

      I was not advocating zero sum game. It is quite telling you appear to think that refutation of your corny conciliatory effort directly implies a zero sum mindset.
      “Yeah you have a point too and you are right too in another sense. But you are both wrong blah blah blah” < – this is what I call "corny". It is a formulaic mediation without any philosophical depth.

      Chinese colonization of Manchuria started in the late 19th century and was completed long after 1949. When Chinese revolted against Manchu they were calling to drive out the foreign devils. That was mere 100 years ago. In fact this is far more naked and unjustifiable imperialism than that of the West or the conquest of Tibet.

      Even as late as 1950's China limited the influx of Chinese into this region because they were afraid it might upset then USSR. It was also considered somewhat Korean even then so PM Zou EunLai had to apologize to North Koreans for taking their lands.(Incredibly you can find and read this from internet)

      If this is irredentist then taking back Hong Kong is too. Besides, the treaty was between the Manchu and UK and China has nothing to do with it.

      Chinese borders are secure not because neighboring countries recognize their legitimacy but because China has nuclear weapons. No corny charades China conjure up like "Northeast Project" will change that.

      • I or other Korean nationalists were actually not upset when China started “Northeast Project”. We all said “Yeah LOL that is very Chinese, I told you so you commie lovin lefites(about the unique status of China as the world’s first and only Communist Imperialism). What surprised us is that the West sided with China generally. Having lived in the US for most of my life I was not really surprised but others in Korea were deeply disappointed.

        Historically China has never been a country that can co-exist in harmony with the rest of the world, or at least in terms of regional hegemony. Either it becomes the oppressive and dominant power or is utterly humiliated and subjugated. Between these, two most of us in East Asia prefer the latter. Even if it is unrealistic we can at least try.

      • “Is this CyDevil? Korean Sentry?”

        I find that offensive. Not that those guys are dumb or anything but the writing styles alone should distinguish us.(Yes I made some grammatical errors too;”…China conjure…” which should have been “China conjures”;That is because it had been ” they conjure” before I changed the word; a comma in the wrong place and it should have been “…Between these two, most of us…”.

        I was at Chinahistoryforum many years ago and was promptly and proudly banned, Those guys are quite annoying, especially the one who claims that his interpretation of historical texts is correct because he is Chinese and knows the subtle nuances of Chinese texts etc. What a bunch of clowns.

        There is a compilation of Manchu history commissioned by a Manchu emperor. In Sino-Korean it reads “Manju-Wonlyugo” – The Origin of Manchu. It is interesting that they regard Shilla and Paekje as their ancestors but Koguryo is omitted. The usual interpretation is that Koguryo became Koryo(around the 5th Century) and through another dynasty of the same name it is too strongly associated with Koreans.

        It is a very biased self-serving account of history, yet it is interesting because it shows how Manchu in the 17-18th Century viewed themselves or liked to.

        I am sure Andrew has not read this book.

        He also has not read several travel diaries written by Chinese travelers to Koryo dynasty. These are favorite sources of MK for Vovin. Aside from linguistics the books are interesting in that they show how Sung dynasty Chinese thought of Koguryo. They don’t question that Koguryo is the direct ancestor of Koryo.
        Manchu claim Puyo heritage but even they leave Koguryo to Koreans and to Koreans only,

  18. baiyaan,

    You need to take a deep breath and settle down. Your aggressive commenting style isn’t winning any friends or converts. It’s a short term strategy that won’t yield long term results. Convincing people takes time, dialogue and patience in addition to

    Honestly, I am surprised that Andrew hasn’t banned you from his site. If it was my site I would have banned you simply for disorderly conduct.

    • In the course of working on my own website, I’ve had to come here several times. I REALLY appreciate the work Andrew has done in translating the Samguk Sagi in English! It’s clear that Andrew really knows his stuff on Asian history and Korea, etc. I admit, I was taken aback when I saw this post. I’m also impressed with WangKon936 level of interest with this topic.

      With that being said, I have to disagree with WangKon936 comments to Baiyaan “Your aggressive commenting style isn’t winning any friends or converts.” I don’t think that defending Korean history from those trying to rewrite it is an act of aggression.

      Just sayin’.

  19. I am not here on a corny self anointed mission as you do. I only came to this site because there were Korean kids commenting on this blog.

    I don’t think he has the authority to ban me here. He probably has to go through wordpress to request an IP ban. But then I can change the IP address easily so he will have to ban the entire IP block, actually 2 of them at least. A simple “I want you to go” would suffice and be more efficient.

    I think it was you who banned me at Chinahistoryforum. You could not lodge a single protest when Chinese threw racial epithets on Koreans but when I called them “Jjajangmyeon” you promptly banned me. I was banned several times more for things far less than that, apparently because I showed “disorderly conduct”. What a clown you are. Shove your hypocritical decorum far up your ass.

  20. I remember that. “Jjajangmyeon” is a not unobvious racial epithet towards Chinese minorities in Korea. I think any good moderator would hold the line at racist speech. I didn’t have banning powers in the CHF, but I did recommend your banning.

    I am not a moderator or an administrator on this blog so let’s no need to entertain further speculation.

    Your personal attacks towards me are petty and shallow. I’ve done more for Korean history understanding on the internet than you can probably imagine, but more than you certainly know. However, I feel no need to talk about that with you in any detail. You know only one mode: loud attack mode. Keep at it. More people will just choose to shut you out.

    My request that you chill out and adopt a more cerebral strategy is not scorn. It’s sincere advice.

    • Your self-important swagger is quite entertaining. You don’t really come across as someone intellectually superior. I mean… the idea is laughable. Your endless drivel is regurgitation of commonly known facts and I have not learned a single new fact nor gained any new insight from you. I am sure it is the same for most others who know their stuff.

      “Korean history understanding” – > OK, Everyone understands what it means but with verbal skills like yours you don’t really have a career as a “flame warrior”.
      So your hypocritical mild manner(mild to foreigners but harsh otherwise) is more of a sanctimonious cop-out than high minded respect for internet decorum.

      Oh, by “he” I meant Andrew Logie. That is clear since I had been addressing you in the second person up to that point. Are you an illiterate?

      And why would I think you are a moderator of this blog? Are you a computer-illiterate?

    • I was going to leave but this just cracked me up, man.
      “I think any good moderator would hold the line at racist speech.”

      Oh and Gaolipantsu is not racist? You are just a spineless low life sucking up to Chinese to stay as a moderator there. Have some sense of reality.

  21. It is a shame that a reasoned discussion was ruined by one with such an overt political agenda and bias, which he has demonstrated repeatedly through his internet career under his various pseudonyms.

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