Wee Kaya “Is ‘the theory of the Han Commanderies’ location on the Korean peninsula’ a product of colonial era historiography?” 2016 – translation

The following is a translation of an article by Wee Kaya (위가야 Wi Gaya) found in the same journal as Gi Gyeong-rang‘s, Yeoksa-bipyeong (역사비평 ‘history criticism/review’, vol.114 spring 2016). Wee’s article focuses on the question of the Four Han Commanderies’ locations, and provides wider historiographical context of their historical-geography, serving to debunk the claim by populist ‘pseudo’ historians that the Commanderies’ location on the Korean peninsula was a modern conspiracy of Imperial Japan.

To aid readability, this translation is marginally freer in form but there is still some redundant repetition which seems to be a characteristic of Korean prose. For exact wording and full references, the original article should be consulted.


  1. Introduction – Pseudo historians question the Northeast Asia History Foundation’s view of history
  2. A history of the Four Han Commanderies
  3. Pre-liberation Japanese research on the Four Han Commanderies – combined examination historical geography and investigation of physical remains
  4. Pre-liberation Japanese research on the Four Han Commanderies, pseudo historiography and déjà vu (旣視感) of colonial historiography
  5. The ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ in the late Joseon dynasty
  6. ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ and the compulsive obsession of pseudo historians


Is ‘the theory of the Han Commanderies’ location on the Korean peninsula’ a product of colonial era historiography? (‘한사군 한반도설’은 식민사학의 산물인가)

  1. Introduction – Pseudo historians question the Northeast Asia History Foundation’s view of history

[Case 1]

On 24 March 2015, assemblyman Do Jong-hwan (도종환), belonging to the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (새정치민주연합 {the main left leaning opposition party, since renamed the Minjoo Party of Korea 더불어민주당}), argued that the location of the borders of Goguryeo during the period 120-300 CE given in the Northeast Asia History Atlas project (동북아역사지도), being compiled by the [South Korean government funded] Northeast Asia History Foundation (동북아역사재단 – hereafter NEAHF) with a planned publication date of 2019, are identical to those given in the Chinese Historical Atlas Collection (중국역사지도집) created as a part of [mainland] China’s [government directed] Northeast Project (동북공정). It has the region from the Chinese Liao River to the northwestern part of the Korean peninsula as belonging to Han China. The assemblyman further argued that the designation of regions on both sides of the Liao river belonging to Han China was in order to locate the [historical] Four Han Commanderies on the Korean peninsula. (“Suspicion that historical maps promoted by the NEAHF are copied from China’s Northeast Project” Gyeonghyang-sinmun, 2015.3.25)

[Case 2]

On 4 October 2015, assemblyman Lee Sang-il (이상일), belonging to the [ruling, right leaning] Saenuri Party (새누리당), claimed (지적하다 ‘to indicate’) that the NEAHF had included sources and maps containing content agreeing with China’s Northeast Project, in materials submitted to the US Congressional Research Service (의회조사국 CRS) [that were sent] in response to a request by the [Korean] Foreign Ministry. According to Lee, the NEAHF had sent maps to the US which limited the extent of Old Joseon’s territory to just one part of modern Liaoning province, and which accepted the [Chinese view] that the Four Han Commanderies established by Han emperor Wu in 108 BCE governed a portion of the Korean peninsula. Professor Bok Gidae (복기대) of Inha University (인하대) claimed, “Concerning the theory (이야기) that the Four Han Commanderies were located on the Korean peninsula, it is a fact that during the period of Imperial Japanese forced occupation {일제강점기 aka the Japanese colonial era 1910-45}, colonial scholars created it [in order to support the notion that] ‘Korea was a subject state to another country’. (“The Four Han Commanderies on the Korean Peninsula – distorted sources on ancient history sent to the US Congress” Jung’ang-ilbo newspaper, 2015.10.5)

2015 [witnessed] the unprecedented event of both ruling and opposition lawmakers criticizing with a single voice the abnormal circumstances of management of a government body. The body that was the object of this criticism was the NEAHF. They claimed that the NEAHF, which had been established in order to respond to historiographical distortions of nearby countries {China and Japan}, was engaged in activities against this purpose/mission (취지 ‘spirit of intent’). However, such criticism of the NEAHF was not limited to within the National Assembly.

[Case 3]

On 22 April 2014, the ‘Headquarters for the Citizens’ Movement for the Dismantling of Colonial Historiography’ (식민사학 해체 국민운동본부) requested a public audit (공익감사) of the NEAHF from the Board of Audit and Inspection (감사원). They explained the purpose of their request [with the following] “Contrary to the purpose of establishment, the Foundation as continuously posted opinions on its homepage that support the Northeast Project”. (“Jaeya historians request public audit of the NEAHF” Yonhap News, 2014)

In 2014, the ‘Citizens’ Movement for the Dismantling of Colonial Historiography'[1] charged (비난하다) that The Han Commanderies in Early Korea published that year by the Early Korea Project [based at] Harvard, US, and financially supported by the NEAHF, contained content identical to the colonial view of history (식민사관), and so requested the audit of the Foundation.[2] They argued that the NEAHF was continuously publicizing and reproducing content in line with the Chinese Northeast Project, and that the foundation (근간) for this was {paradoxically} in the historical perspective of historiography [produced by the colonial era] Japanese Government-General in Korea (조선총독부). Under this logic, they made the shocking accusation that, not only the NEAHF but also [the majority of] South Korea academic historians are both a silent cartel [pursuing] ‘traitorous historiography’ (매국의 역사학) as well as descendants of the [colonial era] Joseon History Compilation Committee (조선역사편수회).[3]

During the above cases, there was always the same [argument] mentioned as evidence to substantiate [the claim that] the NEAHF’s historiography has been following Imperial Japanese colonial historiography: that they published history books espousing (입각하다) the so-called ‘Han Commanderies Korean peninsula [location] theory'[4] (한사군 한반도설) which locates the commanderies (the Four Han Commanderies {as they are known in the orthodox historiographic tradition}) established by the Chinese Han [dynasty c.108 BCE] on the peninsula, and that they produced maps based on this. Why, then, is the ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ a problem for them?

With the political intention of making the start of Korean history [with the peninsula] as a colony, Imperial Japan created the ‘Han Commanderies = Korean peninsula theory’. Due to there inevitably being gaps in this political fabrication, with just a minor amount of source [based] criticism, the problems of the ‘Han Commanderies = Korean peninsula theory’ can be seen through. What’s more, aside from the Imperial Japanese colonial scholars, and Yi Byeong-do (이병도 {Lee Deok-il’s favourite target}), there are many other scholars expressing their own opinions. (Lee Deok-il, ‘Korea history: the truth they have hidden’ 『한국사 그들이 숨긴 진실』 2009, p51)

According to their arguments, it was only in the Japanese colonial era that the notion of a portion of the Four Han Commanderies (particularly Lelang Commandery) being located within the peninsular was determined. Japanese colonial scholars such as Tsuda Sōkichi (津田 左右吉) created the ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ in order to legitimize the [modern] reality of colonial rule by making Korean history start as a colony; at the time their arguments were refuted by nationalist historians (민족사학자) such as Sin Chaeho, and further back in time opinions of empirically minded (실학 silhak ‘practical learning’) mid to late Joseon dynasty scholars can also be identified [asserting] that Lelang and Daifang commanderies were located in Liaodong {outside of the Korean peninsula}. In spite of this, the logic of the Japanese colonial scholars was continued intact by their disciple Yi Byeong-do, and because current day academic historians who were taught by him (그와 학맥으로) have uncritically followed after, the result is that the Japanese logic is still being followed. [Lee Deok-il etc further] argue that because they accept the northern part of the Korean peninsula having been a past colony of China, [their historiography] simultaneously supports China’s Northeast Project.

If this were true, it could not but be a serious matter. It would mean that those who, following Imperial Japanese colonial historiography, would hand over historiographical jurisdiction (역사주권) of the northern part of the peninsula to China, are in control of South Korea’s field of academic history. However, this [line of argument] is merely their subjective opinion (주장), and not actual fact. This is because their ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory = colonial historiography’ equation has not been established.

In fact, the accusation of colonial historiography made against academic historians is nothing new. Ever since the history textbook crisis (파동) erupted in the 1970s, blind criticism by the so-called ‘jaeya historians’ towards academic historians has continued.[5] However, [counter] criticism of their irrational arguments was already established when [their opinions] were first presented.[6] The irony (역설) has also been pointed out that their nationalistic stance (국수주의적 태도) is just a reprint (再版) of the [same] ’empire view of history’ (황국사관) they go to such lengths to criticize.[7] The reason their research behaviour can be termed as ‘pseudo historiography’ due to their ahistorical opinions being at once irrational and containing [this] self-contradictory nature. However, their arguments have been continuously spread to the public through a portion of history book writers. What is worse, as shown earlier, the seriousness of the problem has reached a point that they have [been able to] obtain the sympathies/support (동조) from a portion of political authority and attack such state [funded] bodies as the NEAHF.

{I have significantly changed the wording of the following paragraph but the meaning remains the same.}

Through confirming that the ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ is not the product of Imperial Japanese colonial historiography, as the pseudo historians assert, this article will seek to demonstrate that the main evidence put forward when condemning academic historians as descendants of colonial historiography – the ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory = colonial historiography’ equation – cannot be established.

  1. A history of the Four Han Commanderies

The Four Han Commanderies (漢四郡) refers to the four commanderies (郡) established by the Chinese state of Han following the overthrow of Old Joseon (Wiman Joseon). According to the “Joseon account}” in the Shiji, Wiman Joseon was attacked by Han in 108 BCE and overthrown. Han established Lelang, Lintun, Zhenfan and Xuantu commanderies (樂浪郡·臨屯郡·眞番郡·玄菟郡) in the region [8], but 20 years after, in 82 BCE, Lintun and Zhenfan were abolished and the territories they had controlled were transferred to Lelang and Xuantu. In 75 BCE, unable to withstand the resistance of a rising power, regarded to be that of Goguryeo, Xuantu was moved towards the direction of [modern] Xingjing (興京) in Manchuria.

In addition to these four commanderies, one further Han commandery would appear in the space and time of Korea’s ancient history. This was Daifang commandery (帶方郡). Even after Lintun and Zhenfan were abolished and Xuantu relocated, Lelang continued, however, towards the end of the Later Han, with the rise in power of the [peninsular] Han (韓) and Ye (濊) peoples, Lelang lost administrative control of the southern part of the commandery. At this time the Daifang commandery was established in the southern part of Lelang by Gongsun clan who had emerged as an independent power in Liaodong.  Subsequently, in 313 CE, both Lelang and Daifang were overthrown by Goguryeo and Baekje respectively, and so the Han commanderies and [subordinate] counties disappeared from the space-time of Korea’s early history.

The above is a brief overview of the Four Han Commanderies’ (more accurately ‘Han commanderies and counties’ 한군현) history.[9] Of course, the names Lelang and Daifang continue to appear in Chinese histories even after [their historical demise]. And there are also records which locate them in Liaodong and Liaoxi {the region between Liaodong and Beijing}; these are used as the main evidence in support of the pseudo historians’ arguments. However, as in the case of Xuantu above, these records are the result of the commanderies and counties having been relocated; such relocated commanderies are termed ‘namesake commanderies’ (僑郡 ‘false[ly named] commanderies’).[10] There are many instances in which the error in the pseudo historian’s argument is primarily a product of their ignorance concerning the notion of ‘namesake commanderies’.

  1. Pre-liberation Japanese research on the Four Han Commanderies – combined examination historical geography and investigation of physical remains

Regarded as the first specialized history book of Joseon to be compiled with a modern methodology, Hayashi Taisuke’s (林泰輔 1854-1922) Chōsenshi (朝鮮史) was published in 1892.[11] However research by Japanese on Korean history had occurred before then; the fact that this was connected to Japan’s advancement [in modern times] onto the peninsula has already been confirmed.[12] The fact that Japanese research into Korean history was not unrelated to their present interests provides an important clue (시사점 ‘hint’) in understanding their research on the Four Commanderies. Thus, at the stage of Chōsenshi the nature of the Four Commanderies [administration] was understood as a vague form of the ‘loose-reign’ (羁縻jimi lit. ‘bridle and halter’) system, but from the second half of the 1900s with colonial rule in sight, it became defined (규정하다) as an [ancient] ‘colony’.[13] Combined with the negation of Dangun Joseon’s historicity, this created the notion of Korean history (역사상) beginning with Korea as a colony.

Together with this historical construct, research on historical geography was carried out in order to define the spatial boundaries of the Four Commanderies. Beginning with Naka Michiyo’s (那珂通世  1851-1908) “Study of Joseon, Lelang, Xuantu and Daifang” (朝鮮樂浪郡玄菟郡帶方考), Shiratori Kurakichi (白鳥庫吉 1865-1942)[14], Inaba Iwakichi (稲葉岩吉 1876-1940)[15], and Imanishi Ryū (今西龍1875-1932)[16] all published writings concerning the location of the Four Commanderies. In general, they all considered Lelang to have been centered at Pyeongyang in the Daedong-gang basin, and Lintun in the region of [modern] Gangwon and Hamgyeong provinces. Xuantu was first centered in the region of [modern] Hamheung before being relocated to north of the Yalu river. However, concerning the location of Zhenfan, their opinions were divided, some posited it as being north of the Yalu [17], whilst others considered it to have been in the south of the Korean peninsula with its southern border variously in [modern] Chungcheong or North Jeolla provinces.[18]

Although their opinions on the southern boarder were divided, they all at least agreed that the territory of the Four Han Commanderies covered the entirety of the north of the peninsula. Because their research was centered on critical [parsing] of limited textual sources, strictly speaking, they could not go beyond speculative deduction (추론). However, ancient remains and artefacts which were being uncovered (확인하다) at the time through archaeological investigation (고적조사 ‘survey of ancient remains/monuments’) provided physical evidence to supplement the textual deficiencies of the sources. And because the best results of the archaeology were related to the Lelang remains, from the commencement of archaeological investigations, the [scholarly] interest gradually shifted from the entirety of the Four Commanderies to Lelang.

Sekino Tadashi (関野貞 1868-1935), who was a professor at Imperial Tokyo University’s College of Engineering, is known as the person who led archaeological investigations in Korea during the Japanese colonial period (일제강점기). In 1902 and 1909 he visited Korea and surveyed [various] ancient monuments; during the second visit he excavated burial mounds at Seok’am-dong (석암동) in the Daedong-gang basin. At first he regarded them as Goguryeo tombs, but later revised his opinion to view them as remains of Lelang commandery.  Because of this, pseudo historians argue that Imperial Japan fabricated Goguryeo remains as Lelang remains in order to use archaeology as support for the ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’.[19] However, as confirmed in recent research which has analyzed Sekino’s excavation reports in detail,[20] it is regard to consider his early view of the Seok’am-dong tombs having been Goguryeo monuments as the result of a preconception, based on lack of initial knowledge, that the Pyeongyang region had been the capital of Goguryeo for a longer period [than it historical was]. Additionally, at the time of his first survey in 1902, previous to the Seok’am-dong excavations, Sekino already regarded the Han Commanderies’ territory to have been centered on Pyeongyang extending south to the Han river[21]; that he, in spite of this, did not from the outset argue the Seok’am-dong tombs to have been Lelang monuments demonstrates, rather, that the first Lelang tomb excavations were [specifically] not carried out under any preconceived design purposed to create [evidence for] the ‘colonial view of history'[22], so it is difficult for this to stand as evidence of Imperial Japanese colonial historians (일제 식민사학) fabricating Goguryeo remains as  those of Lelang.

Between 1910 and 1915, under commission of the Chōsen Government-General Sekino surveyed the entirety of Korea. During this process, monuments were excavated that [further] demonstrated sites such as Toseong-ri earthen fortress near the Daedong-gang river to have been the center of Lelang; from the mid to late 1920s, the sites and artefacts identified through these surveys were accepted as the core evidence confirming Pyeongyang as the center of Lelang commandery.

  1. Pre-liberation Japanese research on the Four Han Commanderies, pseudo historiography and déjà vu (旣視感) of colonial historiography

Japanese research on the Han Commanderies was able to achieve a scholarly persuasiveness as it provided demonstrable proof both through critical analysis of the sources, and physical evidence confirmed through archaeological surveys. However, their research merely treated the nature of the Commanderies as colonies (식민지) and established their locations. Recent research has suggested (지적하다) that, “Treating what appears on the surface as a phenomenon of rule by a different people as a colony, was a deficient form of historical (몰역사적) analysis”, and that, “Behind this kind of analysis was lying a conscious sense both of superiority and discrimination, and it was premised on a colonial ideology that would aid the imperialist historical invasion (제국주의의 역사적 침략)”.[23]

Defining the nature of the Four Han Commanderies as having been that of a colony, [helped] proliferate the understanding that Korea had been a colony to a foreign country from early on, and was used as a result to legitimize the colonial rule [by] the Japanese Empire. According to Hatada Takashi (旗田巍), who in later days self-reflected on the Japanese research on Korean history, it was a reality that the [contemporary colonial] Japanese rule of Korea restricted their research attitude (자세); as a result, the notion of history they deduced (도출하다), was wrong/mistaken, and missed the truth of Korean history.[24] This is the reason that, under the analytical [framework] of colonial historiography (식민사학이라는 비판), Japanese research into the Han Commanderies could not be free.

However, the inclination (모습) to define the Han Commanderies as colonies, and focus only on establishing their locations is readily evident, too, within pseudo historiography. Behind their assertions that the Han Commanderies were (or have to be) located outside of the Korean peninsula, lies the compulsive obsession (강박) to reject the [possible] notion that Chinese colonial commanderies could have been located within our territory. It is on account of this that they [necessarily] regard any [possible] relationship between archaeological materials discovered in the north of the peninsula and the Han Commanderies as either willfully misinterpreted, or intentionally fabricated, by Imperial Japanese colonial historians (일제 식민사학). However, the same allegations can all be turned towards themselves.

One [recent] pseudo popular history book has argued that, in order for the Imperial Japanese colonial historians to assert the notion of Korean history with Korea beginning as a colony, they forced the interpretation of an earthen fortress site on the Daedong-gang to have been the administrative seat of Lelang and before that the capital of Wiman Joseon, Wanggeom-seong, despite the site lacking sufficient earthworks (지형상 ‘topography’) to have been a capital site.[25] However, if one consults the original excavation report the book cites, following mention of the problem of the earthworks, it says:

However, this is not such a difficult problem. When constructing a town {i.e. the commandery seat}, the [incoming] Han Chinese, who [as a culture] had themselves arisen in the Yellow River basin, would have selected flat land corresponding to important transport routes, and surrounded it with a fortified wall for defensive purposes, but they would not have chosen an especially precipitous location as [the preceding capital site of] Joseon [had been]. (朝鮮總督府 『樂浪郡時代の{sic.ノ}遺跡』, 古蹟調査特別報告書 ‘Special report on the survey of ancient sites – remains of the Lelang period’ Chōsen Sōtokufu, Vol 4,1927,p21)

Thus the problem was resolved. In spite of this, the popular history book in question, leaves out this subsequent passage and so creates the distorted impression – indeed fabrication – that even the Japanese themselves had been unable to accept the earthen fortress site as that of the Lelang commandery seat but had in spite of themselves forced the interpretation.[26]

Pseudo historians reject colonial historiography and criticize it more aggressively that than anyone else. However, the foundation of their logic and research methodology, follows in the same mode to the very thing they criticize to such degrees. We may in fact be facing a variant species of colonial historiography, one that criticizes [the original] colonial historiography with the voice of current colonial historiography.

  1. The ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ in the late Joseon dynasty

{The terms ‘early’ and ‘late’ divide the Joseon dynasty into two unequal halves, divided by the late 16th century Japan invasions.}

The Japanese were not the first to locate the Four Han Commanderies within the Korean peninsula. Strictly speaking, various annotations to the Chinese histories recording the Goguryeo capital of Pyeongyang to have been Chaoxian {Joseon} county, [seat] of the former Lelang commandery, constitute the original (원조) ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’. Based on these, early Joseon dynasty texts such as the Sejong Sillok and Goryeo-sa geography treatises, and the Sinjeung Dongguk Yeoji-seungnam (신증동국여지승람) all located the Han Commanderies on the peninsula. These early Joseon geographies all located Lelang commandery in the region of Pyeongyang and Lintun commandery in the region of Gangneung.[27]

This understanding of the Han Commanderies’ locations continued into the 16th century with Bak Sang’s Dongguk-saryak (동국사략), and with the compilation of Han Baek-gyeom’s Dongguk-jiriji (동국지지) in the 17th century, concerted research on historical geography that critically examined (비정하다) the location of the commanderies was realized. Han Baek-gyeom located Chaoxian (朝鮮縣) and Dongyi (東䁢縣) counties, the commandery seats of Lelang and Lintun, at Pyeongyang and Gangneung respectively; he regarded Xuantu commandery to have been centered on the [former polity] of East Okjeo, in the region of Hamgyeong-do province. He was also the first to identify the location of Zhenfan, which until then had remained unknown; taking its central Zha county (霅縣) as having been located on [the former polity of] Maek-guk (貊國) he posits its territory to have been centered on Gangwon-do province extending into Hwanghae-do.

Han Baek-gyeom’s location of Zhenfan on the Korean peninsula was the beginning of what is known as the ‘southern location theory of Zhenfang’ (진번군 재(在)남설). However, whilst largely following Han Baek-gyeom on the other commanderies, Yu Hyeong-won’s Dongguk Yeojiji (동국여지지) located Zhenfan within the borders of Liaodong; opinions that located the Zhenfan outside of the peninsula were continued into the 18th century by scholars such as Yu Deuk-gong, Jeong Yak-yong and Han Jinseo. Of course, they still all located Lelang, Lintun and the first Xuantu within the peninsula, and in this there was no large difference to Han Baek-gyeom.

Yu Deuk-gong Sagun-ji {四郡志} Jeong Yak-yong Abang gang’yeok-go {我邦疆域考} Han Jinseo Haedong-yeoksa sok jiriji {海東歷史續地理志}
Compilation date 1795 1811 1823
Lelang Between the Han river (한수) and Gwanseo (Pyeong’an-do) Pyeong’an-do and Hwanghae-do Former [Old] Joseon land; after the incorporation of Lintun , territory extended north to the Yalu, south to the Han, and east and west to both coasts.
Xuantu Hamgyeong-do Hamgyeong-do Hamgyeong-do
Lintun Gwandong (Gangwon-do) Gyeonggi-do, western outskirts Centered on Gangneung-bu, the region east of the Daegwan-ryeong (대관령) pass.
Zhenfan Beyond the Yalu, Xingjing (興京) North of the Yalu, south of Xingjing and around the Tongjia river (佟佳江) Southeast of Xingjing around the Pozhu river (婆猪江: same as Tongjia river)


However, separate to these scholars, there were also others who located Lelang and the other commanderies in the regions of Liaodong and Liaoxi. These arguments primarily relied on the Liaoshi geography treaties and later treaties that were based on it. However, the fact that the Liaoshi contains many errors had already been highlighted (비판이 이루어졌다) by Jeong Yak-yong and Han Jinseo etc. In his Balhae-go, Yu Deuk-gong had originally based the historical geography [sections] on Liaoshi, but when he later discovered the mistakes, he carried out large scale revisions and authored a revised Balhae-go (the “Geography” 지리고 section of which is entirely changed in structure and content).[28]

There was also one scholar who argued that Lelang and Daifang commanderies had been in Liaodong based on [his own] unique interpretation of the sources. In his [collected works] Seongho-saseol, Seongho Yi Ik argued that the central Lelang county  of Chaoxian was located in Liaodong but that it extended to the Korean peninsula including [up to] the west of Pyeongyang. Yi regarded both Lelang and Xuantu commanderies to have been in Liaodong based on the record that when Wei (魏) general, Guanqiu Jian (관구검), invaded Goguryeo, he [is said to have] departed from Xuantu and retreated to Lelang. Yi further viewed Lelang and Daifang as having been in Liaodong based on the record of Goguryeo attacking Xi’anping, Liaodong, killing the Daifang commander (대방령) and capturing the wife and child of the Lelang governor (낙랑태수). That most of the toponyms recorded in the Goguryeo invasion route by Sui emperor Yang are located to the west {i.e. north} of the Yalu is also taken as evidence for Yi’s opinion.[29] However, both Jeong Yak-yong and Han Jinseo refuted [this latter point] on the grounds that it would be reasonable to assume that the Daifang commander and Lelang governor’s wife and child could have been caught by the Goguryeo military when transiting through Xi’anping, travelling eastwards from Liaodong to Lelang to take up their posts. The question of Sui emperor Yang’s invasion route was also addressed (비판) by Jeong Yak-yong.[30]

It seems there were no particular criticisms made of Yi Ik’s argument concerning the invasion route of Guanqiu Jian. Perhaps for this reason, recent pseudo historians have a tendency to borrow the authority of Yi Ik’s name in order to prove that Lelang was in Liaodong.

Early on, in Seongho Yi Ik’s ‘Joseon Four Commanderies’ article, “Cheonji-mun” section of Seongho-saseol, after examining the routes of advancement and withdrawal of Youzhou cishi (유주자사) {幽州刺史 ‘regional inspector’} Guanqiu Jian {d.255}, Yi concludes that Xuantu and Lelang were in Liaodong. According to the Samguk-sagi, Guanqiu Jian set out from Xuantu, attacked Goguryeo, then withdrew to Lelang. Consequently Yi Ik explained that both Xuantu and Lelang commandery were in Liaodong, “As he set out from Xuantu and withdrew to Lelang, it can be known that both commanderies were in Liaodong.” …This critical identification (비정) of the comandery positions has been entirely ignored. This is because the [notion of the] ‘Four Han Commanderies having been located in the northern part of the peninsula’ has been transformed into a dogma by the Imperial Japanese colonial historians and their Korean disciples. (Lee Deok-il, ‘Korea history: the truth they have hidden’ 『한국사 그들이 숨긴 진실』 2009, pp59-60)

However, Yi Ik made an error by misinterpreting the recorded circumstances and this has been followed by the pseudo historians without examination. The event described by Yi Ik is recorded in the Samguk-sagi ‘Goguryeo annals’ entry for the 20th year of King Dongcheon {246 CE}. The course of events unfolded in the following order: 1) Guanqiu Jian invades [Goguryeo] from Xuantu (This is the 3rd Xuantu commandery which had been relocated westwards owing to Goguryeo attacks; it was located in modern Fushun {抚顺} municipality, Liaoning province, China) → 2) Goguryeo army is defeated → 3) Hwando-seong fortress (Ji’an county, Jilin province, China)  is overthrown → 4) King Dongcheon flees to South Okjeo (Hamheung) → 5) the tide of war changes [in Goguryeo’s favour] following Yuyu’s desperate sacrifice (분전) → 6) the Wei army withdraws to Lelang (Pyeongyang vicinity). Thus there is no problem with the Wei army route setting out from Xuantu and withdrawing to Lelang.

More than anything, the reason that arguments for Lelang and Daifang being in Liaodong could not but be the target of criticism by Jeong Yak-yong and others is that such an interpretation cannot be made for the following sources which would have been known to most Joseon dynasty scholars.

In Han (韓) there are three groups/types (種). The first is Mahan (馬韓), the second Jinhan (辰韓) and the third Byeonjin (弁辰). Mahan is to the west, and has 54 statelets; to the north is Lelang and to the south Wae (). Jinhan is to the east, and has 12 statelets; to the north it borders YeMaek (濊貊) Byeonjin is south of Jinhan, and also has 12 statelets; to the south is Wae. In total there are 78 statelets. Baekje (伯濟) is one of them. (Hou Hanshu book 85, Dongyi account, 75, “Han”)

Han () is to the south of Daifang (帶方); east and west are sea, and to the south is Wae (). In all directions it measures 4,000 li. There are three groups/types (種). The first is Mahan (馬韓), the second Jinhan (辰韓) and the third Byeonhan (弁韓). (Sanguozhi, book 30, Weishu 30, Wuhuan Xianbei Dongyi account, 30, “Han”)

In the Jingchu (景初) reign era (237-239 CE) emperor Ming (明帝) secretly dispatched Daifang governor (대방태수) Liuxin (劉昕) and Lelang governor Xianyu Si (鮮于嗣), to cross the sea and pacify the two commanderies. (Sanguozhi, book 30, Weishu 30, Wuhuan Xianbei Dongyi account, 30, “Han”)

Hou Hanshu and Sanguozhi both record the location of the Samhan {the Three Han} as south of Lelang and Daifang. If Lelang and Daifang were located in Liaodong then according to this, the Samhan {Mahan, Jinhan and Byeonhan/jin} would have to be in the sea. Concerning Wei emperor Ming dispatching the Lelang and Daifang governors by sea to pacify the two commanderies, there would be no reason to cross the sea to pacify commanderies in Liaodong. Further, as demonstrated in Samguk-sagi passages which describe Lelang having been to the east of Baekje, with Baekje centered in the region of modern Seoul, subsequent records of conflict between Lelang and Baekje prove that Lelang was adjacent to Baekje and not far away in Liaodong. Arguments relying on just one or two sources that appear to stand out, and which are presented without considering the wider historical circumstances lack persuasiveness. This is the reason such scholars as Jeong Yak-yong could not but criticize the notion that Lelang and Daifang were located in Liaodong.

It can be said that the [various] opinions on the Han Commanderies being located on the peninsula, Liaodong and Liaoxi underwent the first stage of ordering [and critical examination]  (일단의 정리) by the empirically minded late Joseon dynasty scholars. They approached the question of the commanderies’ locations from such a variety of angles (관점) that it has [recently] been observed that nearly all possible arguments (논리) for deducing the location of the commanderies made in later times {i.e. 20th century} first appeared during the latter half of the Joseon dynasty.[31] Locating all the commanderies except for Zhenfan on the peninsula – the ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ – was one amongst them. The view point developed (심화되다) by Yu Deuk-gong, Jeong Yak-yong and Han Jinseo were critically re-interpreted by Japanese scholars in the process of substantiating that the Han Commanderies were a colonial space (식민지 한사군의 공간). The ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ is simply an academic theory, the validity of which has been [widely] recognized through its long course of development starting with the [Chinese] annotations to the Chinese dynastic histories locating the commanderies on the peninsula, followed by the empirically minded scholars of the Joseon dynasty who researched historical geography, and arriving at the Japanese historians – it thus cannot be described as a construct (산물 ‘product’) of Imperial Japanese colonial historiography. Consequently the ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory = colonial historiography’ equation cannot be made.

  1. ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ and the compulsive obsession of pseudo historians

Up until here we have demonstrated that ‘Han Commanderies peninsular [location] theory’ is not, as argued by pseudo historians, a construct of Imperial Japanese colonial historiography, and so the above equation cannot be made {written Korean is excruciatingly repetitive}. If this is so, what then is the reason for pseudo historians to try to such an extent to expel the Han Commanderies from the Korean peninsula?

In June 2015, an article was published in the journal Gukbang yeon’gu (『국방연구』 ‘national defence research’) vol.58/2 titled “Examination on the position of Wiman Joseon’s {capital}, Wangheom-seong, considered through the military tactics of Han China – implications regarding China’s justification for preemptive rights to interfere [on the peninsula] in the event of a North Korean crisis” (「漢나라 군사작전으로 본 위만조선 왕험성 위치 고찰 – 북한 급변사태 시 중국의 연고권 개입 명분에 대한 함의」). It was written over the course of two years’ research by Dr. Bak Seong-yong etc of Inha University’s International Relations Research Center. The authors argue that when various points such as the joint army and naval strategy, the problem of supplies, and the campaign departure points, are collectively considered, the location of Wiman Joseon’s capital, Wangheom-seong, would be best viewed as having been on the Liaodong peninsula or Hebei province, rather than Pyeongyang on the Korean peninsula.[32]

The research results of this article are not simply limited to bolstering the logical foundation for competing hypotheses to the theory that Wangheom-seong was located in Pyeongyang – namely the Liaodong and Liaoxi location theories. [In] critically analyzing (비정하다) the territory of Old Joseon through analyzing the campaign route of Han China from a military strategy dimension based on the Shiji record, various weaknesses in the logic of the theory that China’s colony of Lelang existed in the region of North Korea have been discovered. Consequently, we cannot but doubt the evidence [put forward] as arguments for China’s preemptive rights to the region of North Korea – that it was a Chinese feudality from the time of Gija Joseon [contemporary to] the establishment of Zhou, and that Goguryeo was founded under the cultural influence of [having been] a Chinese colony following the overthrow of Wiman Joseon. This logical conclusion (논리적 추론) will function as a historical resource with which the Korean government and international community can refute the appropriateness (정당성) [of Beijing’s arguments] should they, in the event of a North Korea crisis, assert the authority for the Chinese army to cross the Korea-Manchuria border, the Yalu, and invade/occupy [the region of] North Korea north of the Cheongcheon-gang river under the justification of restoring former territory (고토).[33]

Debating the validity of the arguments [put forward in the article] is outside of my abilities so we can but wait for a repeat debate (재론 {unclear why he uses this word}). In spite of that, the reason for mentioning this article is because, I believe that the line, “will function as a historical resource with which to refute arguments for China’s preemptive rights, in the event of a North Korea crisis” provides a clue as for the reason that pseudo historians are so devoted to removing the location of the Han Commanderies to outside of the Korean peninsula. An argument of a similar vein can also be identified in a popular history book written by a pseudo historian.

If the Wiman Joseon capital was located in the region of Pyeongyang, as is the official opinion of the NEAHF, then the Republic of Korea would no longer have any grounds to argue against China’s Northeast Project. Instead, they would have to argue ‘It is true that in the past the northern part of the Korean peninsula was the territory of Chinese history, but because it is now our land, we cannot relinquish it’. (Lee Deok-il, ‘Korea history: the truth they have hidden’ 『한국사 그들이 숨긴 진실』 2009, p28)

The emotion that they both share is the anxiety with China, during its Northeast Project, asserting sovereignty over the northern part of the peninsula based on history. This anxiety is born from a position that equates the territory of ancient states with that of current day (현대) nation states. That is to say, they do not comprehend ancient history as ancient history. Because they analyze ancient history from an entirely current day perspective, they view the Han Commanderies’ commandery-county [based] system of rule as having been the same as the colonial rule of modern states (근대국가), and because of this they believe that to expel the commanderies’ territory from the peninsula is both a form of historical analysis benefiting the current day Republic of Korea, and the way to protect our territory. However, [given that] the current day People’s Republic of Mongolia cannot argue sovereignty over the entirety of the Eurasian continent based on the conquests of Genghis Khan and his descendants, I believe that this example sufficiently demonstrates that the concern of China asserting sovereignty over northern Korea based on the Han Commanderies having been located there, is nothing but empty worry (기우). However, this is not to say that in historical analysis the historian’s reality must not be reflected, and that such analysis should be negated. The classical adage that ‘history is a dialogue between the past and present’ is still valid. However, a clear distinction must be made between the reality in which a historian lives being reflected in their work, and [purely] in service to the demands of a historian’s reality (in this case the territorialist demands of the present day state) devoting oneself to the writing of history that would [seem to] be advantageous. Unfortunately, the article from one corner of academia and the writings of a pseudo historian examined above clearly fall into the latter category.

The history of historiography testifies to the existence of  groups who, through similar viewpoints as these pseudo historians, have taken up (접근) ancient history [and in so doing] provided historical legitimacy (당위성) to the [contemporary] realities of expansionist policies (침략정책). The colonial historians who served the territorialistic thirst (욕망) of Japanese imperialism [were such]. [Consequently, the fact] that the [Korean] pseudo historians view history through a similar frame to the Imperial Japanese colonial historians, who they criticize to such an extent, tells us that they, too, are another example.

At times the arguments of pseudo historians – projecting on to [our] cognition of ancient history, current day demands to write advantageous history  – have led to entirely absurd incidents. Leading the van in popularizing pseudo historical arguments, Lee Deok-il (director of the Hangaram History and Culture Research Centre 한가람역사문화연구소), wrote the following when fiercely criticizing the NEAHF’s Northeast Asian Historical Atlas (동북아역사지도) project for reflecting the same [content] as China’s Northeast Project.

Tan Qixiang’s (谭其骧) Chinese Historical Atlas Collection (중국역사지도집) showed the [Chinese] Han Gaogouli-xian (K. Goguryeo) county as [extending across] the region of Manchuria and North Pyeong’an-do province; the [NEAHF’s] Northeast Asian Historical Atlas copied from this. However, laughably, Tan Qixiang’s Chinese Historical Atlas Collection marked Goguryeo as a ‘commandery’ (jun 郡) on a map said to be of Western Han (202 BCE – 8 CE). There is no Gaogouli commandery in the Hanshu geography treatise. There is only the Gaogouli-xian of Xuantu commandery, one of the Four Han Commanderies. Why did Tan Qixiang’s Chinese Historical Atlas Collection draw a Gaogouli commandery not present in the Hanshu geography as [extending across] Manchuria and North Pyeong’an-do? This is a component of the Northeast Project seeking to transform Goguryeo history into Chinese history. Only by explaining Goguryeo as having from the beginning been a subordinate Han commandery, can they incorporate all of Goguryeo’s history into China’s. (‘Traitorous historiography, how far has it come?’ 『매국의 역사학, 어디까지 왔나』 만권당 2015, p133)

Tan Qixiang’s (谭其骧) Chinese Historical Atlas Collection was first published in 1982. If we follow Lee Deok-il’s argument, then China was already from the 1980s, pursuing the fabrication of history in order to incorporate Goguryeo within their own state history, through activities such as fabricating the ‘Gaogouli commandery’ which does not exist. And then, unaware of this, Korean academic historians [simply] copied the map. If this were true, then Chinese historians are highly cunning, and Korean historians quite pathetic, and it would have to be said that Lee Deok-il was superior. However, his argument is false.

The map that Lee Deok-il is referring to is the “Western Han Youzhou cishi-fu {幽州刺史部}” map, included in the Chinese Historical Atlas Collection, vol. 2, pp27-28. This map not only shows regions [directly] administered by the  Chinese Han (漢) but also areas populated by other peoples (종족 ‘stock/races’) in the surroundings, and Goguryeo is labeled as one of these. However, because Tan Qixiang regarded the Goguryeo homeland (거주기) as the same as where Xuantu commandery was established, the labels are close to one another. Unable to distinguish this, Lee Deok-il took the jun (郡 ‘commandery’) character of Xuantu-jun and applied it to Goguryeo creating [himself] an administrative region named ‘Gaogouli commandery’.


“Western Han cishi-fu ” map, included in the Chinese Historical Atlas Collection, vol. 2, pp27-28. Outlines have been added to Goguryeo (高句丽) and Xuantu commandery (玄菟郡) to aid the reader. {Figure from Wee Kaya’s paper shows clearly that the 郡 ‘commandery’ character is aligned with Xuantu, and not Goguryeo.}


What has caused us to reach such a circumstance, where someone who has received a doctorate in history makes such a beginner level error, presenting it to the public and bringing shame (망신살) on himself? As I lack the ability to look into another’s mind, I cannot be certain, however, I believe the cause is found in the perspective and attitude to examining history – that the [historical] understanding is buried in a current day perspective, and that the analysis serves [only] the demands of [present] reality (현실적 요구). To Lee, China’s Northeast Project was a conspiracy to support an expansionist policy of present day China by incorporating Korean history into the space and time of Chinese history. Consequently, his interest was purely focused on looking for evidence that would clearly expose the conspiracy, and to create an [alternative] notion of history that could smash this conspiracy. However, he believed by chance (albeit wrongly) that he had found the evidence of a ‘Gaogouli commandery’ fabricated by China in order to include Goguryeo history as Chinese history,

This attitude towards historical analysis appears as a commonality amongst the many arguments asserted by Lee Deok-il and other pseudo historians who share similar standpoints. However, this is a form of compulsive obsession that makes their historical analysis both narrow minded and irrational. As long as they fail to throw off this compulsive obsession, the day when the label ‘pseudo’ can be removed from their historical research, however much they seek to deny it, remains far off.

Wee Kaya (위가야 Wi Gaya)

Wee completed his doctorate at the history department of Sungkyunkwan (성균관대학교). Having majored in early Korean history, his interests pertain to the history of Northeast Asian relations focused on Korean and Japan. Published papers include, “A re-examination of Baekje’s territorial expansion [under] King Onjo – focusing on the subjugation of the Biryu group, and the annexation of the Mahan polity”, and “Ikeuchi Hiroshi’s identification of the position of Daifang commandery and its nature”

(「백제 온조왕대 영역 확장에 대한 재검토 – 비류집단 복속과 ‘마한’ 국읍 병합을 중심으로」, 「이케우치 히로시의 대방군 위치 비정과 그 성격」).

Notes {NB only notes containing additional prose information are translated}

[1] This organization was formed on 19 March 2014 at a launch held in a National Assembly meeting room in Yeouido {Seoul}. Joint chair persons present included: former National Intelligence Service director, Lee Jongchan (이종찬); Galilee church (갈릴리교회) priest, In Myeong-jin (인명진), and former director of Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Heo Seonggwan. Head of the ‘History of the Great Korean independence movement’ (대한독립운동총사) compilation committee, Kim Byeonggi, and director of the Hangaram History and Culture Research Centre (한가람역사문화연구소), Lee Deok-il, also participated. (「재야사학계 ‘식민사학 해체 국민운동본부’ 발족」 Yonhap News 2014.3.19)

[2] In response to this, the Board of Audit and Inspection confirmed the fact that the NEAHF had supplied funding to the Harvard University Korea Institute on two occasions without following a [proper] review process, and requested care from them. However, concerning the concrete research results, the Board judged that it was a matter for academic historians to debate. (「동북아역사재단 연구심사도 없이 25만 달러 ‘펑펑’」 Yonhap News 2015.2.9)

[3] Similar arguments appear repeatedly in books authored by Lee Deok-il, a member of the organization,  ‘The colonial view of history inside of us‘ (『우리 안의 식민사관』 만권당 2014), and ‘Traitorous historiography, how far has it come?’ (『매국의 역사학, 어디까지 왔나』 만권당 2015).

[4] Strictly speaking, it should be termed ‘theory of the Han Commanderies being located on the Korean peninsula’ (한사군 在한반도설), rather than ‘Han Commanderies Korean peninsula [location] theory’ (한사군 한반도설). However, as this article aims to critically examine the pseudo historians’ arguments, it adopts the term they use.

[6] Between 17-23 November 1978, historians led by Choe Yeong-hui (최영희), director of the National History Compilation Committee (국사편찬위원), published a series of five articles in the Gyeonghyang-sinmun newspaper under the title “This is ancient Korean History” (「이것이 한국 고대사다」). These history essays were composed with the objective of both highlighting the irrationalism of the jaeya historians’ arguments, and introducing academic historians’ research to the general public. The criticisms they made then are still valid.

[8] The commanderies of Lelang, Lintun and Zhenfan were established in 108 BCE, the same year Wiman Joseon was overthrown; Xuantu commandery was established one year later, in 107 BCE.

[17] The view of Naka Michiyo and Shiratori Kurakichi.

[18] Inaba Iwakichi viewed Zhenfan’s southern border reaching to Chungcheong province, whilst Imanishi Ryū tried to make it reach North Jeolla province.

 [19] Lee Deok-il, ‘The colonial view of history inside of us’ 『우리 안의 식민사관』 만권당 2014

[25] Lee Deok-il, ‘Korea history: the truth they have hidden’ 『한국사 그들이 숨긴 진실』 2009, pp27-8.

[26] In this report, the capital of Wiman Joseon, Wanggeom-seong {王儉城 sic. 王險城 Wangheom-seong}, and the Lelang commandery seat were regarded as being in separate places; it speculated that the high, precipitous area in the vicinity of Mokdan-dae and Eulmil-dae in the north of Pyeongyang, was the site of Wanggeom-seong {sic.}. (朝鮮總督府 『樂浪郡時代の{sic.ノ}遺跡』, 古蹟調査特別報告書 ‘Special report on the survey of ancient sites – remains of the Lelang period’ Chōsen Sōtokufu, Vol 4,1927,p25) Not only is this not mentioned in the popular history book which quotes from the same report, the book distorts the report to make it seem as if it treated the two sites as having been the same place.



Sources: the Shiji 史記 “Account of Chaoxian” 朝鮮列傳

The following is a draft translation of the “Account of Chaoxian” (K. Joseon) found in the Shiji (史記 c.87 BCE), the earliest of the 25 Dynastic Histories of China. This is the earliest detailed attestation of the ancient and enigmatic state known as Chaoxian/Joseon, which Koreans have long regarded as the “earliest Korean state” (also referred to in Korean sources as Old Joseon – a term helping distinguish it from the later Joseon dynasty 1392-1910, but actually already attested in the earlier Samguk-yusa 三國遺事 c.1280s).

The Shiji account principally deals only with the final Chinese Han invasion of Chaoxian which resulted in its overthrow and the establishment of the Four Han Commanderies; in premodern, orthodox Korean historiography this period was termed Wiman Joseon (衛滿朝鮮). Wiman Joseon is the last of three Joseon periods, the first being the mythical Dan’gun era (not attested in any Chinese sources), and the second being the semi-legendary Gija Joseon. The 195 BCE usurption of Gija Joseon by Wi Man, is attested in the later Sanguozhi (三國志 C3rd CE) specifically quoting passages from the now lost Weilüe (魏略). Much controversy surrounds Wiman Joseon and the subsequent Han Commanderies, mainly owing to modern post-colonial sensitivities.

In the Shiji account below, Wi Man (衛滿 Ch. Wei Man) is identified only as Man (滿), whilst the Four Commanderies are not named; the latter were added in the subsequent Hanshu (漢書 96 CE) “Chaoxian Account” whilst Man’s surname, Wi/Wei, is first attested in surviving Weilüe passages cited in the Sanguozhi.

Excluded here, the Shiji account much later had many annotations added which date to the early C5th CE and the C8th; these are potentially valuable but should be treated with caution because they represent later tradition (I may add them in the future, or as a separate post).

Japanese colonial era (1910-45) archaeology identified the Lelang Commandery as located in the vicinity of modern Pyongyang, however, no definite archaeology specific to the preceding Wiman Joseon state capital of Wangheom-seong (王險城 Ch. Wangxian-cheng – referred to in earliest Korean sources as Wanggeom-seong 王儉城) has been found.

It should be emphasized this translation is imperfect and some passages are potentially ambiguous or, in any event, difficult to decipher.

Shiji Book 115 

“Account of Chaoxian” No.55 [of the liezuan ‘biographic’ accounts]


The Chaoxian king, Man (滿), was originally a person of Yan (燕). From the time of its consolidation/flourishing, Yan attacked and subjugated Zhenfan and Chaoxian {真番·朝鮮 or ‘Zhenfan Chaoxian’} placing officials [there] and constructing fortifications. Qin overthrew Yan and subjugated [this] Liaodong outer frontier (外徼) {or ‘and made it subordinate to the Liaodong outer frontier}. [When] Han arose, [they found] it distant and difficult to defend so they reestablished the old Liaodong defences, making the Pei-shui (浿水) river the border and subordinating Yan. The Yan king, Luwan (盧綰) rebelled and went to the Xiongnu. Man [also] fled; assembling a group of one thousand, [he/they] bound their hair (魋), put on barbarian clothes and went east beyond the defences. Crossing the Pei-shui they resided in the upper and lower defences (鄣) of the old Qin ’empty land’ [zone]. Gradually [Man] conscripted and subjugated the barbarians of Zhenfan and Chaoxian, and refugees from former Yan and Qi (齊), who made him king and established the capital at/of Wangxian (王險).


Only at the time of [Emperor] Xiaohui (孝惠 r.195-188) and Empress [dowager] Gao (高后 {his mother}) did all-under-heaven {i.e. China} first become stable; the Liaodong governor made an agreement with Man, making him an ‘outer vassal’ to defend {against?} the outer barbarians and thwart border raids. All of the barbarian chiefs wanted to enter [China] and pay court to the Celestial Son; it was not prohibited. Hearing [of this] the Emperor granted permission. Consequently, Man obtained military might and resources, overthrew those small border states; Zhenfan and Lintun all came and submitted. The territory [acquired] extended a thousand li.


[Power] passed to Man’s son and then his grandson, Youqu (右渠 K. Ugeo). [The number of] fugitives enticed from Han greatly multiplied. [Youqu] never paid court [to the Emperor]; further, various states bordering Zhenfan sought to send a letter to the Celestial Son, but it was blocked [by Youqu]. In the second Yuanfeng (元封) year (109 BCE), Han [sent] She He (涉何) to remonstrate Youqu, but Youqu refused to acknowledge the imperial command. [She] He departed and reached the border; just before the Pei-shui, he sent his servants to stab and kill the one seeing him off, secondary Chaoxian king, Zhang (長 K. Jang). Crossing the river, he galloped to the defences. Finally he returned [to the capital] and reported to the Celestial Son, “I have killed the Chaoxian leader”. The emperor praised his name and did not reprimand him; he appointed He as Eastern Liaodong duwei (都尉 ‘commandant’). Regarding He an enemy, Chaoxian dispatched soldiers who killed He in a surprise attack.


The Celestial Son recruited criminals to attack Chaoxian. That autumn he dispatched Tower Ship General, Yang Pu (楊僕), who from Qi (齊) crossed the Bohai sea, and General of the Left, Xun Zhi (荀彘), who [with] fifty thousand men set out from Liaodong to attack Youqu. Youqu sent out soldiers to resist at a narrow location. Left general zuzheng (卒正 ‘sub general’) Duo (多) led troops from Liaodong and prematurely set them loose [to attack], but these were defeated and scattered; Duo fled back [where], convicted by law, he was beheaded.


Leading seven thousand, the Tower Ship General arrived first to Wangxian. Guarding the fortress, Youqu observed that the Tower Ship army was small; he went out and attacked the tower ships. The Tower Ship army was defeated and scattered. Losing many, general Yang Pu hid in the mountains for more than ten days; gradually he searched out the scattered soldiers and regrouped. The Left General {Xun Zhi} attacked Chaoxian’s Peishu west army, but was unable to break them and move forwards.


Considering the two generals to have failed in achieving [any] gain, the Celestial Son thereupon had emissary Wei Shan (衞山) go with military strength to parley (諭) with Youqu. In an audience with the emissary, Youqu shook his head apologizing, “I wanted to submit, but worried the two generals would deceive and kill [your] vassal. Now, seeing [your imperial] insignia, I request to submit.”


[Youqu] sent the crown prince to go and apologize, and offered five thousand horses and military rations. More than ten thousand armed soldiers [accompanied the crown prince]; when they were just about to cross the Pei-shui, the emissary and Left general became suspicious that they could revolt, and so told the crown prince because he had already submitted, he should order the men not to carry weapons. The crown prince was also suspicious that the emissary and Left General would cheat and kill him, so in the end he did not cross the Pei-shui and returned home. Shan returned and reported to the Celestial Son. The Celestial Son had Shan put to death.


The Left General broke the [Chaoxian] Pei-shui army and went forwards reaching to below the fortress {presumably Wangxian-cheng}, where he surrounded the northwest. [Meanwhile] the Tower Ship [General] also went to meet up, and camped {lit. ‘resided’} south of the fortress. Youqu firmly defended the fortress and after several months it had not surrendered.


The Left General, originally [as] shizhong (侍中), was favoured by the emperor; he led soldiers of Yan and Dai (代), and being fierce they sensed victory and the army became arrogant. The Tower Ship [General] led soldiers of Qi (齊); travelling by sea, they had already suffered many defeats and losses. When they first battled Youqu they had been humiliated and lost soldiers, so the [remaining] soldiers were all afraid; the general was ashamed. They surrounded Youqu but always maintained peace.


The Left General suddenly attacked. Thereupon the Chaoxian high minister (大臣) secretly sent emissaries to privately negotiate a surrender to the Tower Ship [General]; they returned with a message but it was not yet decided. The Left General and Tower Ship [General] set a time for battle [against Chaoxian], but the Tower Ship [General] wanted to quickly conclude [the secret] agreement [with Chaoxian] and did not rendezvous. The Left General also sent emissaries seeking the possibility (? 閒卻) of Chaoxian’s surrender, but Chaoxian did not accept; [their] hearts were [already] on the side of the Tower Ship [General]. Consequently the two generals did not cooperate {lit. ‘get along/be in harmony’} with one another. The Left General thought to himself, “The Tower Ship [General] has the crime of previously losing [many] soldiers, and now he is being privately amicable with Chaoxian; further, Chaoxian does not surrender.” He was suspicious of a plot but did not dare to declare it.


The Celestial Son said, “The generals are unable to lead. Previously, emissary Wei Shan negotiated Youqu’s surrender and Youqu sent the crown prince, but Shan was unable to exclusively decide things (?剸決) and plans were misunderstood between [him] and the Left General, and so the [negotiated] agreement [with Chaoxian] was suddenly terminated. Now the two generals have surrounded the fortress, but they are again discordant and a resolution will not be found any time soon.”


[Thereupon] he dispatched Jinan governor, Gongsun Sui (濟南太守公孫遂) to rectify the situation and manage matters appropriately (有便宜得以從事). [When] Sui arrived, the Left General told him, “Chaoxian has been on the verge of capitulation for a long time. That they have not surrendered is due to [our own] circumstances.” And he told of the Tower Ship General’s multiple failures to rendezvous. He spoke his thoughts to Sui, “Now matters are such, if we do not capture [the Tower Ship General], I fear there will be great harm caused; not alone, but combined with Chaoxian, the Tower Ship [General could] destroy our army.”


Sui agreed with this, and with [the authority of] his imperial insignia, he summoned the Tower Ship General to the Left General’s camp where they plotted; thereupon the Left General ordered his men to arrest the Tower Ship General, and they merged the two armies. Upon reporting this to the Celestial Son, the Celestial Son had Sui put to death.


The Left General had already merged the two armies and quickly attacked Chaoxian. Chaoxian minister Luren (路人), minister Han Yin (韓陰), Nixi minister San (參), and general Wang Jia (王唊) plotted between themselves, saying, “At first we wanted to surrender to the Tower Ship [General], but he is now captured; the Left General has alone merged [the armies] and escalated the war. We are unable to assist, but the king will not accept surrender.”

Yin, Jia and Luren all fled and submitted to Han. Luren died on the road.


In summer of the 3rd Yuanfeng year (108 BCE), Nixi minister San had men kill Chaoxian king Youqu, and [then] came and surrendered, but Wangxian fortress [still] did not capitulate. The high minister of the late Youqu, Chengsi (成巳) again rebelled and attacked [Han] officials (?吏 {perhaps better read as ‘troops’}). The Left General had Youqu’s son, Changjiang (長降) and minister Luren’s son, Zui (最) inform the people [of Chaoxian’s surrender] and execute Chengsi. Thus, finally Chaoxian was pacified and became the Four Commanderies (四郡).


[The following] enfeoffments [were bestowed]: [former Nixi minister] San became lord of Huaqing (澅清侯), [former minister] Yin became lord of Diju (荻苴侯), [former general] Jia became lord of Pingzhou (平州侯), and Chang[jiang] became lord of Ji (幾侯). Taking into account his father’s death, Zui had considerable merit and so became lord of Wenyang (溫陽侯).


The Left General [was] summoned and arrived; for quarreling over merit, acting jealously and acting contrary to the plan, he [was] executed and his body displayed in the market. The Tower Ship General, too, should have been executed for sustaining great losses when, [with his] troops having reached the mouth of the Lie (洌) [river], he should have awaited the Left General but instead took it upon himself to let loose [his army, however, he was partially] redeemed/ransomed and [instead] was made a commoner.


The Grand Historian {i.e. Shiji compiler Sima Qian} says, “Youqu relied on the strategic [defensive] geography [of Chaoxian] and so discontinued the country’s sacrifices [to heaven] {or ‘paying court to China’}. She He made false merit and so was the primary cause for the outbreak of military hostilities. The Tower Ship [General] was narrow [minded] and in the face of difficulty, he acquired fault (離咎); regretting his loses in foreign lands (番禺), he was consequently viewed with suspicion. [Left General] Xun Zhi fought over meritorious accomplishment, and together with [Gongsun] Sui, [was] executed. The two generals both incurred dishonour; none of the [Han] commanders (將率) were [made] lords.

Sources: “The Colonial View of History Inside of Us” Lee Deok-il – contents and translated extracts 1/4

우리 안의 식민 사관 cropped1080

Lee Deok-il 이덕일. 2014. 우리 안의 식민사관: 해방되지 못한 역사, 그들은 어떻게 우리를 지배했는가 (The Colonial View of History Inside of Us: history which was not liberated, how did they rule over us?). Seoul: 만권당. 407 pages.

Preface – For a new start, again 

Part 1 Two views of history at war [with one another]
1.Two views of history told by a single map
– Independence activists view of history and the Joseon Government-General view of history
– Yi Injik {李人稙} the national traitor (매국노) who shapedshifted into a foreteller (선각자 lit. ‘one [with] foresight’)
Hunminjeong’eum-haerye-bon and hangul (언문) orthography

2.Genealogy of the colonialist view of history
– The reason Imperial Japan promoted [historical] positivism (실증주의)
– Shiratori Kurakichi {白鳥庫吉} of Tokyo Imperial University and Naitō Konan {内藤湖南} of Kyoto Imperial University
– Imperialist archaeology
– The road to the Joseon History Compilation Committee {朝鮮史編修會}

3. Genealogy of minjok-ju’ui {ethno-nationalist} view of history
– Daejong-gyo [religion] and the minjok view of history
– Revolution [in] the view of history
– The incident [in which certain people] tried to substitute [one of the] Six Martyred Ministers (사육신) 

Part 2 The question raised by the Northeast Asian History Foundation (동북역사재단)
1. The summer 2012 incident [concerning] the resource book [prepared by] Gyeonggi-do Education Office
– The Northeast Asian History Foundation mistakenly imagining itself to be under the umbrella of the [former Joseon] Government-General
– Colonial historiography uncomfortable with criticism of the [former] Joseon Histoy Compilation Committee’s colonial view of history
– The Northeast Asian History Foundation [claiming] that Gando {Ch. Jiandao 間島} was originally Chinese territory

2. What [I] asked the Northeast Asian History Foundation in [my] 2009 [book] Hanguk-sa, geu’deul’i sumgin jinsil (한국사, 그들이 숨긴 진실 ‘Korean history, the truth they have hidden)
– South Korea’s structural colonial view of history

3.Criticism of [historical] positivism seen in the West

 Part 3 Ancient Korean history has always been modern history
1. People’s movement (국민운동본부) [for] the dissolution of the Northeast Asian History Foundation and the colonial view of history

– Ancient Korean history beginning with the Four Han Commanderies
– Yi Byeongdo who participated in Japanese Tenri [sect of Shintō] (天理) religious ceremony

2. The colonial view of history cartel which continued even after liberation
– The [former] Joseon History Compilation Committee Japanese who kept on visiting South Korea [국내] even after liberation
– The Northeast Asian History Foundation refusing the proposal for a public debate

3. Criticism of the content of The Han Commanderies in Early Korean History
– ‘Serving the great mentality’ sadae-ju’ui (사대주의) still alive even [now]

– The letter sent from Byington to the Northeast Asia History Foundation
– Byington rebuking members of the South Korea National Assembly
– Song Hojeong who has devoted his academic career to disparaging Old Joseon
– Opinions of the other contributors 

Part 4 The colonial view of history’s secret method for survival
1.Insisting that [the topic] has already been dealt (정리가 끝났다) with in academia

– [They] distort primary sources
– The ‘Theory that the Four Han Commanderies [were located on] the Korean peninsula’ that, academically, has already been discarded

2.Dismissing the value of historical sources

– Citing the wrong historical sources
– The overseas Koreans [I] met on Jieshi-shan mountain {碣石山 K. Galseok-san} and No Taedon of Seoul National University
– The Taikang-dilizhi {太康地理志 ‘Tai Kang Geography Treaty’} compiled in commemoration of the unification of the [Western] Jin {晉} [dynasty]

3.Creating theories (이론) of change
– The theory of change named the ‘Theory that the centre of Old Joseon moved’

4.Theory kills other scholars
– The reason for creating the ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’
– Choe Jaesik who fought with the ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’
– Kim Hyeon-gu claiming that the Theory of the Mimana Japan Office (임나일본부) is true
– Choe Jaesik disdained by Kim Hyeon-gu

5. Reversing [archaeological] excavation results – the Joint Korea-Japan History Research Committee (한일역사공동연구위원회) and Pungnap-toseong earthen fortress {風納土城}
– The tragedy of the ‘Joint Korea-Japan History Research Committee’
– Change the excavation results 

Part 5 The path [to] dismantling the colonial view of history
1.The colonial view of history is a structural problem

– Are you telling [me] your family, too, [participated in the] independence movement?
– When you go back to the earth {i.e. die} do you think you will face all your many seniors and comrades? {Directed at Syngman Rhee}

2. [We] need a law punishing praise of the Imperial Japanese forced occupation
– Is Bak Yuha’s Jegug-wi Wi’anbu {제국의 위안부 ‘Comfort Women of the Empire’} an academic book?
– National-Martyrs’ Day (순국선열의 날) and the ‘Society for Surviving Family of National-Martyrs’ (순국선열유족회)

Translated extracts

Abbreviations used in the following translated extracts:
SMSG = singmin-sa’gwan 식민사관 ‘colonial view of history’
NEAHF = Northeast Asian History Foundation 동북아역사재단

Parenthesis usage
() Sino-Korean hanja characters are original to the text; hangul is included where the Korean word is particular, or the translated English less direct.
[] Added words not in the original text, to help with context or make better English.
{} Sino-Korean hanja not in the original text.

Preface – For a new start, again

“When[ever] the Japanese extreme-right creates an incident (준동), in contrast to us [Koreans] being quiet China busily reacts (분주하다). It means that China is a nation which at least learnt lessons from its [recent] history of being invaded. If Abe says a word [of revisionist denial] China releases sources from secret archives. It cannot be known what further sources it is still to release. On the other hand, fearing a revival of the northern Dong’i {東夷 Ch. Dongyi} peoples, China has advanced the Northeast Project (동북공정) which fabricates [history] from the beginning of their own ethnic origins.” p7

“Viewing Korean history through the perspective of Japanese people (植民 colonialists) who moved to Korea [during the colonial era] is the ‘colonial view of history’ (식민사관 singmin-sa’gwan [hereafter SMSG]). The SMSG has perpetrators and victims. The perpetrators are [both] people who made and spread the Joseon Government-General’s view of history [as well as those] who follow and spread it even today. The victims are the majority of [South Korean] citizens who unintentionally (원치 않게 lit. ‘without wanting [it]’) have learned that the SMSG is true. There are also those who are both perpetrators and victims.” p10

“Amongst the [2009 meeting of the] Committee [for the Examination of the Truth into Pro-Japanese and Anti-{Korean} Minjok Behaviour {친일반민족행위진상규명위원회}], [I] heard there was considerable debate whether to include Yi Byeongdo and Sin Seok-ho [on the list they published in 2009 of 704 Japanese collaborators]. This makes [me] guess that an unspoken cartel formed of Yi Byeongdo and Sinseok-ho’s disciples, that is ‘spies’ (history mafia), were operating even in the project of [compiling] a list of pro-Japanese chin’il (친일) scholars.” p12

1.Two views of history told by a single map
– Independence activists view of history and the Joseon Government-General view of history

“The Joseon Government-General offered to the youth of the colony the dream of [becoming] high class slaves and the path of high class slaves, instead of the dream and path of suffering of [participating in] the minjok liberation movement. Being admitted into the ‘life of a high class slave’ was no easy matter. Like the unhappy students of today’s South Korea, you had to voluntarily (스스로) become an exam machine, and had to voluntary match your own mind (머리) to the criteria set by the Government-General. Through the exam the Government-General controlled students’ minds.” p30

“‘Rote learning {注入式 lit. ‘pouring in’} style education’ and ‘exam hell’ was an education system produced by the system of colonial rule that was anti-minjok and anti-human and so should have been abolished at the time of liberation but is being firmly maintained even today.” p31

“The central subject of the Government-General’s ‘rote learning style’ education was history. And that was focused on ancient history. Here is the reason why ancient Korean history has always been modern history, from the period of the Government-General up until today with the unyielding Northeast Project. Through the rote learning [method], the Government-General taught, “In the north of the Korean peninsula were the Han Commanderies, in the south of the Korean peninsula was the Mimana Japan Office (임나일본부)”. The ancient north of the Korean peninsula was a colony of China and the south was a colony of Japan. It told that becoming a [modern] colony was the natural course of Korean history. The conclusion was don’t carry out independence activities.” p31-2

“..What should have been done about the ‘theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are fabricated?’ (『삼구사기』초기 기록 불신론) that had been created by the colonial historians in order to continue the Mimana Japan Office? Of course one would think that the SMSG, that is the Government-General historiography, should have been removed and the [history] should have been taught according to the view of the independence activists. However, South Korea did not do that.” p32

See here for part 2part 3 and part 4 of the translated extracts.

Sources: Yun Naehyeon “Our Ancient History” – miscellaneous extracts

우리 고대사 - 윤내현 p210 map2 cropped

Below our several further translated extracts from Yun Naehyeon’s Our Ancient History under the chapter headings from which they are taken.

II 7. Let’s revive the Hong’ik-in’gan philosophy/ideology (이념)

“The period when Hwan’ung descended to earth and was active, as mentioned earlier, archaeologically corresponds to the early Neolithic. During this period no political power had yet appeared, differences in social class (신분) and wealth did not arise. It was a society in which all people were equal. The Hong’ik-in’gan philosophy/ideology (이념) was made against the backdrop of this kind of society.

Hong’ik-in’gan ideology suggests making a society [in which] all people profit together and are happy together. In order to make such a society, [we] must acknowledge other people’s thoughts and opinions and pursue (모색) unity (화합). Our people (겨례 gyeo-re i.e. Koreans) our striving to make the present world an ideal society like heaven (천당) or paradise (극락). [I] think all places where people live should be thus. In order to make such a society, even Hwan’ung, the son of god (하느님), participated and aimed for prosperity all together without discrimination between gods and humans.

Not only that. ‘Hong’ik-in’gan’ ideology teaches that [we] must protect and love nature, too. Our ancestors believed that only then would we be able to obtain genuine profit and happiness. According to the record of the Samguk-sagi, in the Nallang (鸞郞) inscription [about] the way of the Hwarang (화랑도), Master (선생) Choi Chiwon (崔致遠) [wrote] that in Silla there was a mysterious (玄妙) way which had been passed down since early times (이전) called Pungnyu (風流 pung-ryu) and that its origins were recorded in detail in the Seon-sa (仙史: History of the Seon-gyo religion 仙敎). [He wrote] further that the teaching incorporated [elements of] Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, and that with this teaching, all living things were made to evolve.

The Seon-gyo being spoken of here, refers to the religion of Old Joseon, the teaching that was at the centre of Old Joseon culture, and as such, the values (가치관) which formed its core was the Hong’ik-in’gan ideology. Consequently, according to Master Choe Chiwon’s words, Hong’ik-in’gan ideology applied to all living things, not just humans. The Hong’ik-in’gan ideology of course [included] making a society in which humans could live happily together, but [also] cultivating an environment good for all living things to reside in. Hong’ik-in’gan ideology was, [in this way] also an extreme ideology of love for living things and respect for living things.

It is our responsibility that these kind of lofty values are, in [current] reality, being ignored and unable to exert an influence. Throughout our history foreign cultures have always reigned as the culture of the leaders. [Both] Buddhism imported towards the end of the Multiple States period, and Confucianism of the early modern Joseon dynasty were thus, and since modernization it has been Western culture. The result is that our [own] culture fell to [being] low class culture and was even regarded with disdain. Hong’ik-in’gan ideology was part of its centre [still and so suffered the same fate].

During the period of the Japanese forced occupation, independence [activist] leaders (지사) emphasized our values and culture, beginning with the Hong’ik-in’gan ideology in order to establish the minjok‘s sense of identity; after liberation it seemed that intention was being reasonably (다소) reflected in our society. However, the independence leaders were sidelined by the political advantage (득세) [enjoyed by both] the pro-Japanese (친일) and pro-Western powers; as they fell, our values and culture collapsed together. Hong’ik-in’gan had become a dead word. In the end, it was ourselves who had killed the Hong’ik-in’gan ideology. Like the meaning of the [Chinese proverb] ‘the one who ties, [must] undo’ (結者解之), we must revive it. And we have the responsibility to develop [ourselves] towards the future.” pp69-71

IV 1. Who were the central tribe (종족) of our minjok?

“The concept of ‘minjok’ differs slightly according to the opinion of each scholar, but [they] basically agree that it is ‘the largest [social] unit of a community formed through a consciousness of group belonging (집단귀속의식) which shares various types of cultural content including religion, language, customs, politics and economics on account of sharing a common lifestyle over a long period of time within a defined region. Here [under this definition], our [own] minjok has even more of a consciousness of being a single [i.e. homogeneous] minjok. A minjok is not necessarily formed from the same bloodline, but our minjok [also] thinks that it is a single bloodline. This has the function of further strengthening our ethnic [minjok] consciousness.” p112

“If one looks at ancient records and archaeological sources, [it can be seen that] Old Joseon’s territory covered the whole of the Korean peninsula and Manchuria; at the same time there were many tribes (종족) and polities (정치집단) inside of it. If these were inside of Old Joseon’s territory during the same period [of Old Joseon] then they can be seen as regional administrations (지역정권) of Old Joseon.

Some of these would have been groups made after the establishment of Old Joseon according to necessity, but there would also have been village confederacies, i.e. tribes (종족), that were spread across each region from before Old Joseon’s establishment. After the establishment of Old Joseon such tribes received the name of Dan’gun (단군의 명 {or ‘took orders from Dan’gun’}) who was the highest central ruler, and [they] existed as political [administrative] units of a [given] region. In China, these kinds of polities were called jehu-guk ‘feudal states’ (諸侯國); in Old Joseon they were called geosu-guk (渠帥國).

If one looks at the polities (geosu-guk and tribes) within Old Joseon that are confirmed in written sources, in the Liaoxi region there was Gija-guk (箕子國), Buyeo, Gojuk (孤竹), Goguryeo, Ye (濊), Maek (貊), Chu (追), Jinbeon (眞番), Nangnang (樂浪), Imdun (臨屯), Hyeondo (玄菟), Suksin (肅愼), Cheonggu (靑丘), Yang’i (良夷), Yangju (楊州), Bal (發) and Okjeo (沃沮); in the region of Liaodong and the Korean peninsula there was Jin (辰), Biryu (沸流) Haeng’in (荇人), Haedu (海頭), Gaema (蓋馬), Guda (句茶), Jona (朱那), and Han (韓, 三韓). These [polities] grouped together forming our minjok. If one estimates the smaller groups not recorded in written sources, then there would have been a far greater number of polities than this.” p114

IV 6. What lesson (교훈) does the Shiji teach us?

“Consequently, through [writing] history, Sima Qian wanted to confirm such [matters] as whether the emperor was practicing Tiandao (天道 {‘the way of heaven’}) and whether Tiandao was righteous [or not]. Shiji is simultaneously both the question and answer book concerning Tiandao and righteousness.

The Shiji is largely filled with two meanings. One is a unification ideology (통일사상) [of China]; the other is questions and answers about Tiandao.” p154

“According to history, there was a period when China was briefly divided, but it eventually achieved [the form of] a unified state; today, aside from the [Chinese] Han [majority], 55 [other] minjok are living [in China] yet it [remains] a single country without division, [this] can be said to be largely [from] the effect of the unification ideology planted by Sima Qian by means of [writing] the Shiji. The area of China is around 9,600,000 square kilometres [which is] similar to the whole of Europe. In the same [size] area, Europe has several tens of countries, but China is a single country.

Sima Qian is the largest person of merit (공로자) who has enabled the unified China of today to maintain [itself as such]. That the basin of the Yellow River’s middle reaches is recognized as the heartland of ancient East Asian culture, and the region of East Asia with the most advanced culture, can also be said to be the effect of the historical consciousness centered on the Yellow River that was planted by Sima Qian.” p155

“With the task of minjok unification before us, we must strive to take the historical precepts shown within Sima Qian’s Shiji as lessons from which to learn (他山之石), strengthen [our] historical consciousness and unification consciousness, and make a righteous society.” p157

VI 6. What is the Gaecheon-jeol (개천절) [national foundation festival] to our minjok?

“From amongst the twelve months of the year, our minjok liked the 10th month the most and called it sangdal (‘upper month / high moon’). Consequently in the ancient period, states such as Goguryeo, Dong’ye and Han (Samhan) had large national (국가적) events with sacrificial rites (제사) to god (하느님) in the 10th month. At this time all the people in the country regardless of sex or age, would eat and drink, and enjoy singing and dancing all day and night for consecutive days. It is this kind of 10th month which has come to be the month of Gaecheon-jeol. And adding here the number three which our minjok considers the most sacred number, [the date of] Gaecheon-jeol has been [established] as October 3rd.” p200

VI 6. Do we have true ‘ethnic nationalism’ (민족주의 lit. ‘minjok-ism’)?

“Since the Three Kingdoms period when Buddhist culture was transmitted [to Korea], as the culture of the ruling class Buddhism has reigned over our [own] culture. Coming to the early modern [era of the] Joseon dynasty, Chinese Confucian logic controlled our society whilst beneath it was Buddhist culture and at the very bottom our own culture was held in contempt. Consequently [we] could not have pride in our own culture and the identity of [our] minjok could not be established. From Joseon onwards there could not but be a disconnect (괴리) between the ruling class who made the foreign culture of Confucianism into [their] guiding ideology, and the commoner class who continued to live holding onto our own culture. It could not but become a society with no centre of balance (구심점). Under this situation we became a colony of Japan.” p204

VI 3. The structural scheme (체계) of our ancient history is wrong

The following paragraph is the caption text for the above map.

“Diagram showing the positions of Wi Man Joseon and the Han Commanderies. Wi Man Joseon and the Han Commanderies were located in the Liaoxi region. Wi Man Joseon established itself having usurped the authority of Gija-guk (기자국), after which it expanded its territory eastwards and so Gija-guk was located in the western part of Wi Man Joseon. This current day region of Liaoxi where they were located was the western borderland/frontier of Old Joseon. Thus they were in confrontation with Old Joseon east and west.” p210

“These facts support [the view] that the system of ancient history viewing Dan’gun Joseon, Gi Ja Joseon, Wi Man Joseon and the Han Commanderies as consecutively succeeding one another, which became commonly accepted (통용) from Jewang-un’gi {帝王韻紀} onwards, is wrong, and that [rather] the record of Samguk-yusa which viewed Dan’gun Joseon and Gi Ja Joseon as coexisting is correct. The rise and fall of Gi Ja Joseon, Wi Man Joseon and the Han Commanderies were events that occurred in the western borderlands of Dan’gun Joseon, that is, the region between Dan’gun Joseon and China; for Dan’gun Joseon when these events occurred its western frontier territory was reduced but it continued to exist [as before].” p211-2

“Thus the narrative of our history must be structured as Old Joseon (Dan’gun Joseon) → Multiple states period (various states) → Four Kingdoms period (Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla and Gaya) → Southern and Northern Kingdoms period (Silla and Balhae) → Goryeo etc; Gi Ja Joseon, Wi Man Joseon and the Han Commanderies must be treated as an event which occurred in the border territory between Dan’gun Joseon and China.” p212

“The mistake [in] the structure of our ancient history gives rise to an extremely important problem. It topples us down as a minjok lacking the ability to develop our own subjective (주체적) histori[cal experience]. [It would mean that] Dan’gun Joseon, established by our minjok, was [to be] replaced on account of Gi Ja who flees from China; Gi Ja’s descendent, King Jun, ends up with his authority usurped by Wi Man who [also] flees from China; and then China having overthrown Wi Man Joseon, makes the land its own territory and establishes the administrative regions of the Four Commanderies of Lelang-jun, Lintun-jun, Zhenfan-jun and Xuantu-jun {Korean: Nangnang-gun, Imdun-gun, Jinbeon-gun and Heondo-gun}.

If that were the case, then it would mean that our minjok was ruled by Chinese people for as much as 1,400 years, from around 1100BCE when Gi Ja came in flight up until 313~315CE when Lelang-jun was expelled [from Korean territory]. If this is true, it would raise doubts as to whether Dan’gun Joseon ever [really] existed, and even if it [could] be said that it did, one could not but think that its power must have been extremely weak. It is because of this point that the debate over whether Dan’gun Joseon existed or not continues.” p212

VI 6. We must focus on the periods of unification

“History must be narrated according to facts. However, which facts to select amongst many, and which matters (내용 lit. ‘content’) to place emphasis on depends on the historical consciousness (역사의식) of the historian authoring the book. When evaluating the period[s] during which our minjok was divided amongst several states, whether to place weight on the division itself, or to view as [more] important the coming period of unification and so view [the division] as a process of transition, is a question of historical consciousness.” p223

“Now we must realize the importance of history education. And we must leave behind (벗어나다) the mistaken history education of former days. We must set the focus of our history not on ‘division’ but ‘unity’. In order to do this it is absolutely necessary to write [history] focusing on: Old Joseon [as] the first state established by our minjok upon unifying; Goryeo [for] achieving the reunification of the minjok; early modern Joseon and the Daehan Empire that succeeded Goryeo; the war against the Japanese Empire, and [finally] the present.” p224

Yun Naehyeon 윤내현. 2003 (2014 5th reprint). 우리 고대사: 상상에서 현실로 (Our Ancient History: from imagination to reality). Paju, Gyeonggi province: 지식산업사.

Sources: Yun Naehyeon “Our Ancient History” – How was our minjok’s advancement into outside [regions] in the ancient period?

The following is a translation of the fourth chapter of part IV from Yun Naehyeon’s Our Ancient History.

4. How was our minjok‘s penetration/advancement into outside [regions] (대외진출) in the ancient period?

History textbooks and general surveys (개설서) have focused on our minjok’s internal (국내) activities and so they have neglected external/foreign (대외활동) activities. As a result it has become assumed (인식되다) that from ancient times we were a minjok living (영위하다) passive lives. However the facts are not so.

It can be observed from our ancient history that Old Joseon was a large country encompassing (아우르다) both the Korean peninsula and the whole of Manchuria, and the countries which succeeded it were all extremely active in foreign affairs (대외활동). A part of the Suksin people (肅愼族 Ch. Sushen) who themselves constitute a part of our minjok, migrated to Primorsky Krai (연해주) [region] and established a country called Eumnu (挹婁 Ch. Yilou) whilst a part of the Buyeo people (夫餘族) migrated to a region of Siberia north of Primorsky Krai and established a country called Dumangnu (豆莫婁 Ch. Doumolou). [In this manner] the active territory of our minjok was expanded towards the northeast [all the way] up to Primorsky Krai and Siberia.

Founded in today’s Liaodong (遼東), Goguryeo once invaded [all the way] to Taiyuan (太原) of [China’s] Shanxi province (山西省); it reclaimed the western part of present day [sic because it no longer exists] Liaoxi (遼西) which had been former land of Old Joseon, and sought to restore the ‘order under heaven’ (천하질서) of Old Joseon with its territory extending to the vicinity of Beijing. Generally it is said that the territory of Goguryeo extended [only] up to the Liao river (遼河) but this is a mistake.

There are often people who speak as though our minjok [displayed only] a passive stance having only ever defended [itself] against invasions of other minjok, but this is not at all the case. In wars against the Eastern Han, Goguryeo was often victorious and it won nearly all of the major wars. These facts are clearly recorded in the “Dongyi Accounts” (東夷列傳) of the Houhanshu and the “Goguryeo Basic Annals” of the Samguk-sagi.

In later times the war in which [Goguryeo] General Eulji Mundeok was victorious against Sui Emperor Yang (隋煬帝) pushed the Sui country [dynasty] towards collapse. At the time, Goguryeo was a powerful eastern country whose enormous territory included today’s [sic] Liaoxi region; Sui country was extremely afraid of Goguryeo and so they thought their own country would not be safe if Goguryeo were left alone.

This is why Sui emperor Yang thought that he must attack (치다) Goguryeo even if it meant risking the fate of the country. At the time the standing army of Sui was 1,130,000 [men] but this figure was exaggerated to two million, [however Yang’s army] enlisted four million men. In order to attack Goguryeo, Sui mobilized close to some 5,130,000 men.

If he mobilized 5,130,000 able men, no matter how large a population they had, it was a war that inevitably risked the [wider] fate of the country. In this manner of war Sui emperor Yang suffered a crushing defeat against the small Goguryeo military led by Eulji Mundeok.

Internally, able men were regularly being mobilized for corvée duty on construction works such as the Grand Canal and so the agricultural economy became impoverished; with dissatisfaction rising over this; when [Sui] suffered a crushing defeat against Goguryeo, an uprising occurred in Sui against the imperial house (황실). As a result Sui collapsed.

Consequently General Eulji Mundeok’s victory did not stop simply at having defended against the Sui invasion but [it] pushed Sui all the way to collapse. Goguryeo led a large victory that ‘left a path in history’ {or the history of war} [through the] war in which with a small military strength, it repelled Sui who had mobilized the largest number of people [for an army] in world history.

Before the establishing of Sui country, at the time when Goguryeo restored the present day [sic] region of Liaoxi which was the former land of Old Joseon and made it its own territory, Baekje [people] were crossing the ocean and occupying the east coastland region of China. In 246 during the period of the Chinese Three Kingdoms (Wei 魏, Shu 蜀 and Wu 吳), the governor of You province (幽州刺史) Guanqiu Jian (毌丘儉) of Wei country invaded Goguryeo and reached the capital of Hwando-seong (丸都城). At this time, taking advantage of the empty You province, Baekje had jwajang ‘general of the left’ Jin Chung (左將 眞忠) attack it and establish the Baekje commandery (百濟郡) in the region of Beijing and Tianjin (天津). Subsequently Baekje widened its power southwards advancing not only into the regions of Shandong (山東星), Gansu (江蘇省) and Zhejiang (浙江省) provinces, but also the region of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Prefecture (廣西壯族自治區).

Baekje’s rule over the east coast region of China continued for more than 340 years lasting until just before Sui unified China. Rule over the east coast region of China continued even while the Baekje capital moved [first] from Hanseong (modern Seoul) to Ungjin (modern Gongju), and then to Sabi (modern Buyeo). There is the possibility that rather than wasting the country’s strength confronting Goguryeo in the Han-gang river basin [of Seoul] Baekje perhaps judged it to be more advantageous to abandon (포기) that place and [instead] expand [its control over] the ‘rice bowel’ region (곡창지대) of China’s eastern coast. These facts tell us that Baekje was a powerful thalassocracy (해양국가 lit. ‘maritime state’).

As Sui country unified China, Baekje was pushed out of the east coast region of China, but subsequently during the Tang (唐) period descendants of our minjok established an independent regime (정권) there. This was the Chicheong-beonjin (淄靑藩鎭 Ch. Ziqing-fanzhen) of General Yi Jeonggi (李正己). With its territory [covering] the present day Shandong province (山東省) [of China], Chicheong-beonjin was ruled for 55 years by a single house with General Yi Jeonggi’s son, Yi Nap (李納), succeeding him, and then continuing with Yi Nab’s son, Yi Sa-go (李師古) and Yi Sa-go’s younger brother Yi Sado (李師道).

After Tang country overthrew Goguryeo and Baekje in alliance with Silla, more than 200,000 Goguryeo people were dispersed and moved to regions of China; General Yi Jeonggi’s clan seems to have moved to Shandong province at that time. General Yi Jeonggi achieved military recognition and made a name for himself at the time of the An Lushan (安祿山) rebellion [c.755-63]; later he gained the trust of people around him and became the jiedushi provincial military commander (節度使) of the Chicheong-beonjin. Although he became jiedushi through the power of Tang, in Chicheong-beonjin he implemented unique laws and systems and behaved independently whilst opposing the Tang country imperial house (황실). It was an independent regime established in China by remnant people of Goguryeo.

Even whilst having hostile relations with the Tang country imperial house, the Chicheong-beonjin formed friendly relations with Balhae; [both] political exchanges and economic trade were frequent. [Both] Chicheong-beonjin and Balhae were established by remnant [survivors] (유민) of Goguryeo, Yi Jeonggi and Dae Joyeong; if they had maintained friendly relations with one another whilst opposing the Tang imperial house, what thoughts must they have had? Perhaps they intended to combine their strength and restore the great climate (?? 기상) and philosophy (사상) of Goguryeo. Chicheong-beonjin existed for 55 years before being destroyed by a Tang attack that mobilized the entirety of [Tang’s] national strength during the reign of Tang [emperor] Xianzong (憲宗 [r.805-20]).

19 years later, Commander (大使 daesa) Jang Bo-go (張保皐) of Silla advanced once more into this [same] region. Commander Jang Bogo had originally crossed to China from his home on present day Wan-do island and risen to the rank of xiaojang [in the] Wuning army (武寧軍의 軍中小將), however seeing that Silla people were being caught and sold by Chinese pirates, in 828 he established the Cheonghaejin [base] (淸海鎭) on Wan-do island in order to stop this.

Making Cheonghaejin his main base, Commander Jang Bogo controlled the southern Japanese archipelago and the east coast region of China; he established a thalassocracy (해상왕국 lit. ‘kingdom on the sea’) centered on our country [aka Korea] connecting the Japanese archipelago and China. Not only did Commander Jang Bogo rule this region, he utilized it as a route for international trade. Using this [infrastructure] trade was conducted even with faraway Arab regions. Activities [constituting] world trade (종합무역) were begun.

The east coast region of China that Commander Jang Bogo controlled extended from Shandong province in the north to Zhejiang (浙江省) province in the south, but the central region was Shandong and so it was the [same] place that had been General Yi Jeonggi’s Chicheong-beonjin and, previous to that, the region ruled by Baekje. That General Yi Jeonggi had been able to cultivate the Chicheong-beonjin as an independent force opposing Tang, and that subsequently Commander Jang Bogo had been able to control this region was [only] possible because of the historical background that it had [previously] been ruled by Baekje.

The advancing of our minjok into the Wae [aka Japanese] archipelago also began at an extremely early period. Many elements of our neolithic culture have been discovered in the Jōmon culture (縄文文化), the neolithic culture of Japan, and so it tells us that at the period of the Jōmon culture, our neolithic culture had already been transmitted to Japan. In particular, the Yayoi culture (彌生文化) that continued from C3rd BCE to C3rd CE was formed [as a result of] the transmission of our bronze age culture, iron age culture and rice farming [technology].

In any region of the world which undergoes a normal process of development, it is common for there to first be a bronze [age] culture and [only] after a quite long time has passed does the iron [age] culture appear. In our country and Manchuria bronze age culture appeared around 2500~2600 BCE, and advanced (진입) into iron age culture around 800 BCE. However, in the Wae archipelago, bronze age culture and iron age culture appeared simultaneously with the Yayoi culture.

This is because, due to our country and the Wae archipelago being divided by the sea, our culture was not transmitted to the Wae archipelago regularly, [instead] during one period the culture which had been attained up until then was transmitted all in one go. The result was the occurrence of the phenomenon of bronze age culture, iron age culture and rice agriculture, which had [all] been attained by our minjok up until that time, being transmitted all in one ago [to Japan from] around 300 BCE.

The fact that their culture was transmitted from our country can be understood from the point [of fact] that bronze and iron implements/vessels of the early Yayoi culture being unearthed on the Wae archipelago are the same as those unearthed in our [own] country. These were not made on the Wae archipelago but imported from the Korean peninsula. Japanese term these artefacts as ‘shipped bronze items’ (舶載銅器) and ‘shipped iron items’ (舶載鐵器). [Both] dolmen, and stone implements and clay vessels unearthed at dolmen sites which [all constitute] important elements of Yayoi culture are the same as those unearthed in Korea. This tells us that the Yayoi culture of the Wae archipelago was realized through transmission of our bronze age and iron age cultures.

In our [own] history [the period] from 300 BCE to 300 CE [corresponds] to the late Old Joseon, its collapse and the formation of the Multiple States period (열국시대), and so was an era of political turmoil. Consequently it is thought that people from our country advanced into (진출) the Wae archipelago in order to avoid the political turmoil of this period and open up (개척) a new region. The region of early penetration was Kyūshuū (九州) in the southern region, and in the later era they gradually expanded northwards. Recently a Japanese research team has discovered (밝혀내다) that people of the Yayoi culture had the same genes as people from our country.

Until that time there had been no state (국가) on the Wae archipelago. However, in our country Old Joseon had already been founded in 2333 BCE and so the people who advanced into Japan from our country already had the knowledge about states because they had lived for a long time in a structure called a state. Based on their own political experience, these people formed groups in each region [of Japan] and established countries [there]. In this way small states (소국) [began] appearing here and there [throughout] the Wae archipelago. Using the names of their motherlands (모국) they named their own countries [established in Japan] Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla and Imna (Gaya).

Subsequently around the C4th CE, a new [wave] of migrants entered [Japan coming] from our country and created the Kofun culture (古墳文化); through a process of unification (통합) between the small [Yayoi] states that had previously existed and the newly arrived groups, the state called Japan emerged around the C7th CE. Thus it can be said that the appearance of political powers (세력) and emergence of states on the Wae archipelago was the result of our minjok migrating [there].

As has been examined here, the foreign activities of our minjok in the ancient period was extremely energetic (활발). The territory [of these activities] reached the [Russian] Maritime Provinces and Siberia in the northeast, beyond Beijing to Taiyuan (太原) in the northwest; crossing the Yellow Sea in the west [they] ruled over the east coast region and southern part of China, and to the southeast, they advanced into the Wae archipelago and established sub-countries (분국) there. Whilst politically ruling these regions, our minjok simultaneously developed the cultures there. [Thus] our ocean and marine industries and international trade [today] possess this historical tradition. (Yun 2003:130-37)

Yun Naehyeon 윤내현. 2003 (2014 5th reprint). 우리 고대사: 상상에서 현실로 (Our Ancient History: from imagination to reality). Paju, Gyeonggi province: 지식산업사. 231 pages.

Sources: “Our Ancient History” – Yun’s opening address and Joint Statement from the 2002 South-North conference on Dan’gun and Old Joseon

“Historians’ Joint Academic Symposium on Dan’gun and Old Joseon” Opening address
I am Yun Naehyeon, chairman of the Dan’gun-hakhoe (단군학회 ‘Dan’gun Society’) from Seoul.

Esteemed [colleagues] (존경하는) Ryu Mi-yeong, chairman of the Dan’gun Minjok Tong’il Hyeophoe, Kim Jeong-yeong (사회과학원 부원장님), Heo Jongho (조선력사학회 회장님) and Jeong Changgyu (력사연구소 소장님), I am extremely pleased to meet in this way. And I thank you for your many efforts in making possible this event.

Ladies and gentlemen gathered here from South and North, good afternoon. It is truly a pleasure. My heart is pounding. I am deeply moved with appreciation. 57 years since the division of our ancestral land (조국), 57 years since the [Korean] minjok was split, our scholars from South and North are holding here in Pyeongyang at the Inmin-munhwa-gungjeon (인민문화궁전 ‘People’s Palace of Culture’) a joint academic symposium about Dan’gun, the founding progenitor of our minjok, and Old Joseon, the first country our minjok established. How filled with emotion this event is. It cannot but be a truly honourable occasion.

Research about Dan’gun and Old Joseon is not merely the confirmation of historical facts, but an undertaking to establish the value and identity of our minjok, and to confirm and restore the homogeneity of the minjok. This undertaking prepares the foundation stones for the coming unification of [our] minjok and advances the unification of [our] ancestral land.

Esteemed North [Korean] scholars.

Ourselves coming from the South know very well that you have already achieved many results in your research about Dan’gun and Old Joseon. We also know that you have excavated various Old Joseon period sites. We extend our congratulations and praise for the many undertakings/projects you have achieved. On our Southern side, too, we are enthusiastically researching Old Joseon’s history from various angles. Now, if through this joint academic symposium of Southern and Northern scholars, the research results previously obtained by Southern and Northern scholars are combined, the history of our minjok will become enriched a level further.

There is much we are curious about one another. There is much we wish to ask. However, in the short time of today’s academic symposium, we will not be satisfied about everything we want to know. Just as our proverb say’s “How can [we] be full from just one spoonful of rice?!”, we cannot be satisfied immediately, but I believe we will gradually become satisfied if we continue [these] South-North academic symposiums in the future.

There is also the proverb “The beginning is half [the achievement]”. Today our minjok coming from South and North will have celebrated the Gaecheon-jeol festival together and even held a joint academic symposium, so we could say that we have already achieved half of the task of our unification. If we achieve just the remaining half then the unification of our minjok and ancestral land will be complete. In order to achieve the remaining half I want to take the opportunity to propose that joint academic conferences and joint research be continued with [scholars] regularly travelling between Seoul and Pyeongyang. And, I ask the Southern and Northern scholars gathered here to lend their active support in achieving this proposal for the advancement of the unification of the ancestral land and minjok.

I finish my opening words by extending deepest thanks to those involved in enthusiastically welcoming us all from the South and making our stay comfortable, to the citizens of Pyeongyang and [our] Northern brethren/compatriots (동포). Thank you.

2002.10.03. CE.
Dan’gun-hakhoe chairman, Yun Naehyeon

Place: Pyeongyang Inmin-munhwa-gungjeon (People’s Palace of Culture)

(Source – Yun 2003:25-7)

Joint Statement

At a time when the intention and fervent wish is rising up of the 70 million [strong] gyeore (aka Korean race) seeking to realise the reconciliation, union (단합) and unification of the [Korean] minjok based on the spirit of the historical June 15th South North Joint Declaration, celebrating Gaecheon-jeol [together] the South’s Dan’gun-hakhoe and the North’s Ryeoksa-hakhoe have jointly held in Pyeongyang the “Historians’ Joint Academic Symposium on Dan’gun and Old Joseon.”

Participating in the symposium were Southern and Northern historians, archaeologists and university lecturers (대학교원들) [as well as] Southern and Northern representatives who were [also] participating in [wider] Gaecheon-jeol events.

At the symposium, questions including the foundation year of Dan’gun Joseon and the character of its society, its central heartland and territory, examination of Dan’gun related archaeology and written sources, and historical study concerning the Dan’gun myth were discussed seriously and candidly (허심탄회) through the format of paper presentations and panel (or round table 좌담회) discussions; the following points were jointly agreed upon.

Firstly, Dan’gun is an actual historical person; he is the founding progenitor who established the first state of our minjok.

Secondly, our minjok is the Dan’gun Minjok in possession of a near-eternal (유구하다) history; we place weight on the fact that various history books, beginning with the Samguk-yusa, record that Pyeongyang was the central heartland of Old Joseon.

Thirdly, Old Joseon was a strong and great country (강대국) which had as its basic territory the expansive region of today’s Korean peninsula and northeastern Asia.

Fourthly, South and North historians will energetically strengthen the scholarly bonds [between them] and actively carry out joint cooperation for the purpose of illuminating the 5,000 year near-eternal history of the minjok and firmly defend (고수하다) its superior nature (민족성).

Fifth, South and North historians will hold deep the sense of one’s life mission (시명감) carried before the minjok, and strengthen solidarity between South and North historians; they will actively continue to contribute to the great undertaking of combining the strength of our minjok between ourselves and unifying the ancestral land (조국) through continuing to deepen research on the history of [our] minjok from a position of ‘love for the country and love for the minjok‘ (애국애족).

South side Dan’gun-hakhoe          North side Ryeoksa-hakhoe
Yun Naehyeon                                  Heo Jong-ho

October 3rd 2002, Pyeongyang

(Source – Yun 2003:21-2)

Sources: Yun Naehyeon “Our Ancient History” – 2. The South-North Joint Academic Conference opens in Pyeongyang

The following is a translation of the whole second chapter of Yun Naehyeon’s Our Ancient History. It contains a description of the historic joint conference on Dan’gun and Old Joseon held between Northern and Southern scholars during the height of South Korea’s Sunshine Policy of engagement (at all costs).

I include first, also, the beginning half of the third chapter which gives details of their schedule.

The phrase ‘South-North’ would sound more natural in English as ‘North-South’ but I have maintained the original word order which is natural to Korean (and therefore does not carry any political emphasis of South coming before North).

extract from:
3. Presenting the “Joint Statement” (공동보고문) of the South-North Academic Conference

Pyeongyang was somewhere far but near. On October 1st 2002 CE, [we] boarded the Air Koryo [plane] sent for us from North Korea; less than one hour after departure from Incheon Airport we arrived at Pyongyang Sunan Airport. 57 years since liberation, we are [still] unable to freely travel this short distance. Whilst hearing the cabin crew’s announcement that we had arrived at Sunan Airport, [I felt] relief, excitement and expectation mixed together and wondered if it had really taken three years’ effort to come this near distance.

We were met by North Korean representatives; the nine Dan’gun-hakhoe (‘Dan’gun society’) affiliated scholars and more than one hundred members of various groups who were visiting Pyeongyang in order to participate in the ‘Joint minjok event for Gaecheon-jeol’ followed an itinerary agreed by the Southern and Northern sides.

On the morning of October 3rd, Gaecheon-jeol [day], [we] attended sacrificial rites (제례) for Dan’gun and a commemorative Gaecheon-jeol ceremony at the Dan’gun tomb; in front of the tomb we watched performances by art troupes. In the afternoon, we held the “Historians’ Joint Academic Symposium on Dan’gun and Old Joseon” at the Pyeongyang Inmin-munhwa-gungjeon (People’s Palace of Culture). On the 2nd and 4th, before and after, we visited Myohyang-san and Guwol-san mountains that have sites and legends related to Dan’gun; on the 5th we returned to Seoul. (Yun 2003:19-20)

2. The South-North Joint Academic Conference opens in Pyeongyang

October 3rd 2002 CE is truly a day worth remembering. [This] is because it was the day on which Southern and Northern historians gathered in the Inmin-munhwa-gungjeon (People’s Palace of Culture) in Pyeongyang and held a joint academic symposium. This symposium was the first ever joint conference held on the peninsula by historians of South and North. Before then Southern and Northern scholars had met several times at international conferences held in third countries such as China and Japan. However, this was the first time to hold an academic event jointly organized (주관하다) by Southern and Northern scholars on the peninsula.

This academic conference was jointly hosted by the Dan’gun-hakhoe (단군학회 ‘Dan’gun Society’) of the South, headed by the author (i.e. Yun Naehyeon) and the Joseon-minjuju’ui-inmin-gonghwaguk Ryeoksa-hakhoe (조선민주주의인민공화국 력사학회 ‘History Society of the DPRK’) (shortened to Joseon-ryeoksa-hakhoe 조선력사학회 ‘Joseon History Society’) of the North, headed by Heo Jongjo. The official title of the conference was “Historians’ Joint Academic Symposium on Dan’gun and Old Joseon” (단군 및 고조선에 관한 역사학자들의 공동학술토론회).

This conference was achieved through the efforts of the Dan’gun-hakhoe. The Dan’gun-hakhoe was founded with the intention of comprehensively (종학적) researching our history and culture from various angles and establishing (정립) the value and identity of our minjok. In such an undertaking (작업) [we] believed that of course Southern and Northern scholars must jointly participate. Consequently, since the early stages of founding we had tried to hold a joint South-North academic event. However, the circumstances were such that there were many stumbling blocks [impeding] the progress for such an event. Then from a few years back the situation greatly improved and within the Dan’gun-hakhoe we actively tried to make contact with North Korean scholars.

Members of the Dan’gun-hakhoe met with relevant North Korean officials (인사) in Beijing several times; they even directly entered North Korea and conveyed the idea (의사) of holding a joint conference. We also conveyed that because the name of our society was Dan’gun-hakhoe it would have been good to make it a celebratory (기념) conference for the Gaecheon-jeol festival. The North Korean academic community also basically agreed with our opinion. However, travelling between South and North could not proceed simply through the will of scholars. Various circumstances had to come into [positive] effect (작용하다) starting with the politics, and so it took several long years before [the plan] was carried out.

In the meanwhile there were many difficult points, but ultimately the conference proceeded in an extremely satisfactory manner. The North Korean scholars eagerly (반갑게) welcomed us; they also knew our research (연구 업적) in a comparatively detailed [way]. Amongst the North Korean scholars, there were some the author had [previously] met at conferences in third countries, but even those [I] met for the first time told [me] they had read my writings and treated [me] like an old friend.

Aside from the author, there were participating on the South side professors: Sin Yongha (Seoul National University), Lee Hyeonggu (선문대 Sun Moon University), Kim Sang-il (한국신학대 ?Seoul Theological University), Jeong Yeonghun (Academy of Korean Studies), Choe Gwangsik (Korea University), Lee Jaewon (한국체육대 Korea National Sport University) and Bak Seonhwi (상명대 Sangmyung University); Ju Ja-mun, director of the Haksul-jinheung-jaedan (학술진흥재단 ‘Foundation for the Promotion of Scholarship’) also participated in order to [show] encouragement and support.

On the North side the [following] scholars participated: Heo Jongho (사회과학원 ‘Academy of Social Science’ ASS), Ji Seungcheol (ASS), Son Yeongjong (ASS), Nam Il-ryong (김일성 종합대 Kim Il-sung University), Han Seonhong (김형직 사범대 Kim Hyong-jik University of Education), Seo Guktae (ASS), Kim Yucheol (Kim Il-sung University), Jeon Daejun (ASS), Seok Gwangjun, Son Suho, Kim Dong-il, Choe Yeongsik and Song Suntak.

The audience [was made up of] various groups who were visiting Pyeongyang [from the South] in order to attend the Gaechaeon-jeol events; [the number of people included] more than a hundred from the South and more than 250 from the North. The Northern [attendees] were said to include history staff members working at Pyeongyang city universities, research institutes, and middle and high schools.

There were originally going to be five scholars from each side, South and North, presenting, but because of time problems it was unavoidably limited to four. After chairman Heo Jongho and the author had each given an opening address, the Southern and Northern scholars presented their papers in order. The titles of the papers were as follows:

Southern side
Yi Hyeonggu: “Dan’gun relics (사적) and Dan’gun historical sources [of] Ganghwa-do island”

Choe Gwangsik: “A way to overcome differences (편찬) in understanding of Dan’gun between South and North”
Jeong Yeonghun: “Retrospection and tasks [ahead] of Dan’gun minjok ideology”
Kim Sang-il: “Thesis on shared civilization and Dan’gun philosophy (사상)”
Yun Naehyeon: “Research on the position of Old Joseon’s capital and its [subsequent] movement”

Northern side
Son Yeongjong: “Understanding of the secret history(/ies) (비사) related to Dan’gun and Old Joseon”
Nam Il-ryong: “Ancient fortresses in the region of Pyeongyang”

Han Seonhong: “On the establishment of Old Joseon and its social character (성격)”
Seo Guktae: “Early Dan’gun Joseon period remains and artefacts recently excavated in the region of Pyeongyang”
Kim Yucheol: “The centre and territory of Old Joseon”

Most of the North Korea presenters were senior scholars aged over sixty and their attitude (자세) towards the symposium was incredibly scholarly and serious. Everyone on both sides thoroughly discussed only the historical questions and [no one] made any mention of politics. At this conference we were able to gain a perception into the North Korean scholars’ fields of interest and research trends; it would have been similar for the Northern scholars [towards us].

Another large result achieved at this academic conference was the presentation of the South and North scholars’ “Joint Statement” {same as the above link} (공동보도문). This was composed as a request of the Northern side; at the end of the conference it was jointly read out by Northern group head (단장), Heo Jongho, and Southern group head, the author. The main points were strengthening the scholarly bonds and joint cooperation between South and North Korean historians, and deepening research into minjok history. [I] earnestly wish it will be achieved. (Yun 2003:14-8)

Yun Naehyeon 윤내현. 2003 (2014 5th reprint). 우리 고대사: 상상에서 현실로 (Our Ancient History: from imagination to reality). Paju, Gyeonggi province: 지식산업사. 231 pages.