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 pseudohistorians 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]

[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)

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]

[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).

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.

[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.

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]

[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.

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.

[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.

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]

[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.

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]

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

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]

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

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]

[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.

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 {Pyongyang} – 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.




Ki Kyoung-ryang “Pseudo historiography and history fascism” 2016 – translation

The following is a translation of a recent article by Ki Kyoung-ryang (기경량 Gi Gyeong-ryang), published in the journal Yeoksa-bipyeong (역사비평 ‘history criticism/review’, vol.114 spring 2016).

I’ve translated it in full because it provides useful context both to the ongoing history textbook dispute, as well as the wider phenomenon of populist pseudo history in South Korea. Concerning the former, the issue has arisen with a concerted attempt by the now beleaguered Park Geun-hye administration to enforce usage of a single, government authored textbook in place of the current system in which schools can choose from a range of textbooks that need only be approved by the Ministry of Education. In Korean, the term for this is guk-jeong-hwa (국정화), which literally means ‘national government-ization’, and which, for want of a better term, I hereafter translate as ‘nationalization/nationalized’ or ‘government authored’.

For ease of reading, I also regularly translate the term ‘academic field of history’ (역사학계) referring to the academic establishment, as ‘academic historians’.

Throughout the text I include the original endnote numbers where references are given, however, as these sources are all in Korean, the references themselves are not translated and those interested should consult the original article. Only the sections of footnotes containing additional prose information are translated; for ease of reading, I’ve integrated these into the text, in grey font colour.

Pseudo historiography and history fascism (사이비 역사학과 역사 파시즘)

  1. Nationalization (국정화) of Korean history textbooks and history fascism

On 12 October 2015, the Park Geun-hye government publicly announced a change in course [regarding] the nationalization of Korean history textbooks. Many people thought this was a sudden measure and were shocked, but this was a plan that had been in progress since the beginning of the [Park] administration in 2013. 2013 was the year in which the release of a textbook containing the New Right’s (뉴라이트) view of history had been a major social issue. The Korean history textbook published by Gyohak-sa, which at the time had received full government support, recorded a 0% selection rate and was entirely ignored by schools (일선 교육 현장). The reason was the unreliability (부실함) of the content and excessive right-wing view point. The government realized that, within the competitive set-up (경쟁구도) under the system of government approval [of textbooks] (검인정) it was beyond expectations to enlarge the influence of [this] textbook which projected their own view point, and so they changed direction and came to  play the card of nationalization.

On the 10th [December 2013] the minister for the Ministry of Education, Seo Namsu, revealed that in the process of reviewing (고시) the revised bill for the 2015 education curriculum the question of Korean history textbook nationalization could be raised for public discussion (공론화). [In this way] he sparked the public discussion pertaining to the ‘return to national history textbooks’ (역사국정교과서 회귀) which has continuously been raised by the prime minister, Jeong Hong-won, and other ministers of the ruling party. (…) Seo said, “Related projects are already underway, aiming for a general review of the revised bill for the education curriculum in 2015.” (Gyeonghyang-sinmun 2013.12.10. p1, underlining by the quoter {i.e. by Gi Gyeong-ryang})

The justification for pursuing nationalization has been that the content of current history textbooks is excessively left-wing and cannot be accepted, and that academic historians (역사학계) who (currently) control (제시하다 ‘to show’) the narrative criteria and direction of the textbooks are overwhelmingly left-wing and so cannot be expected to self-purify (자정작용) themselves. Looking at this opinion from the opposite side, it would mean that the great majority of academic historians disagree with the pronouncement (규정 lit. ‘stipulation’) that the Korean history textbooks [already approved] under the government approval system are left leaning, and that those arguing about the left-wing [influence] are, even within the academic field of history, an extreme minority. In spite of this, the government has mobilized state authority and solely supported the minority opinion; it has further expressed the will to make it the standard/orthodoxy (정설화).

The government, politicians of the ruling party and a portion of scholars attached to them [all] support (웅호하다) the transition [to] a nationalized Korean history textbook; if we look at the language they use (구사하다) it is extremely violent. With exaggerated self-conviction and political bias, they make the majority of academic historians out to be ‘absolute evil’ and ‘the enemy’ and block the possibility of any alternative opinions; on these points they exhibit strong aggressiveness and an exclusionary nature. In order for a minority group to monopolize the rights to historical interpretation, they mobilize state power, denounce the entirety of academia with the image of being ‘abnormal’ and ‘leftist’, and incite the masses; on these points it is possible to call this ‘history fascism’. However, this is not the only form of ‘history fascism’ that is threatening our nation’s historiography. There exists an attack on academic history from another direction, the roots of which are very deep.

The other ‘history fascism’ – addressed in this article – takes ancient Korean history as its main research object; it refers to a series of irrational behaviour strangely preoccupied (이상 집착하는) with the past power and territory of the nation. This will be referred to as ‘pseudo history’ (saibi 사이비 역사학). It is true that it can feel aggressive (넌폭하게 느껴지는 측면) applying the label of ‘pseudo’ to historical research where the possibility exists for a variety of interpretations. In spite of this, the reason to use this kind of terminology is because it is judged that these [pseudo historians] have already exceeded the boundaries (범주) of academic scholarship.

Even until the mid 1970s, it was possible to forgive (이해해주다 ‘be understanding of’) [this pseudo historiography] as the ‘excessive ethnic nationalism’ of amateurs unfamiliar with [historical] methodology. However, from the mid 1970s onwards they began [more] concerted popular activism, indiscriminately pouring out baseless conspiracies and accusations against academics; later they eventually even created and disseminated the false history book, Hwandan-gogi. They tried to fabricate a historical source which had absolutely no acceptance in academic territory, and they focused their energies on using this for popular incitement (대중선동); on these points we cannot but judge that they had lost even the minimum [standard] of scholarship (학문성).

The problematic points of the Hwandan-gogi, a clearly apocryphal book (위서 ‘fake book’), have been examined multiple times by academic scholars (학계) [such that] the process of fabrication and its true nature (실체) have been nakedly exposed.[2] In the past, the pseudo historiography based on the Hwandan-gogi was referred to as ‘jaeya history’, however, recently the term ‘yusa historiography’ (유사 역사학) has been proposed.[3 – see notes]

[3] Jaeya (在野) is a term meaning stuck in a grass plain, commonly used to refer to pseudo historians who lack academic qualifications relating to the study of history. However, those who practice pseudo historian are not necessarily limited to the jaeya [camp]. There are also those holding a qualification related to history such as Yun Naehyeon who majored in ancient history, and Sin Yongha who has majored in modern history and sociology, as well as those most recently active such as Bok Gidae (archaeology) and Lee Deok-il (modern Korean history). Consequently, the term jaeya does not wholly cover the [broader] categorization of pseudo history.

This is a translation of ‘pseudo history’ with the meaning of fake history. In understanding the concept of ‘pseudo history’, there is the term ‘pseudo science’ providing [a point of] reference. This is a term referring to a series of saibi pseudo sciences (似而非科學) such as the ‘theory of perpetual motion,’ which ignores the conservation law of energy, and ‘creation science,’ which negates the theory of evolution; it is also translated as yusa science (類似科學) and ui’sa science (擬似科學).

However, there is an aspect in which the translated term ‘yusa historiography’ fails to intuitively transmit [the notion of] ‘something (존재) which impersonates in a similar manner to, but is in fact not, historiography’ [which is] the original meaning of [English] ‘pseudo history’. [That is], for laymen (대중들) first encountering the term, it could be easily misunderstood as meaning ‘historiography of a similar form’. Consequently, here we will use the term saibi historiography, which is the same notion as yusa historiography but [in Korean] more intuitively indicates the object’s true nature.[4 – see notes]

[4] The phrase sa-i-bi (似而非 Ch. shi er fei) comes from the “Jinxin” section of  Mencius (Mengzi 孟子:盡心篇). Whilst citing Confucius’ criticism of [ostensibly] moral men (명마가), referred to as ‘the good careful people of the villages’ (鄉原), [Mencius] explains that Confucius referred to them as ‘a semblance which is not the reality’ (비슷하지만 아닌 것), thus warning of saibi.
{Translated terms are taken from Legge, available on the Chinese Text Project dateabase, ctext.org}

  1. The emergence and activities of pseudo historiography

In order to examine the initial emergence of pseudo historiography it is necessary to go back to the early 1970s. On 11 May 1972, following the president’s directive (제창) ‘let’s find the nationality of education’, the Park Chung Hee government established the ‘Committee for Strengthening National History Education’ (국사교육강화위원회) under the Ministry of Education (문교부).[5]

They declared they would implement history education centered on the minjok (ethnie). According to this, a concrete policy was announced both that there would be questions on national history as an independent subject in the university entrance examination, and that national history education would also be made compulsory at universities.

In October of the same year, Park Chung Hee constructed the system of a single dictatorship by establishing the Yusin Constitution. On 23 June 1973 another policy was announced, declaring that the national history textbook which, since the establishment of the Republic of Korea, had been under a system of inspection and approval, was to be nationalized (국정화).[6] The official justification was a scheme to enable students to ‘develop juche (주체 ‘having the self as subject’ {this is the same term as used in NK’s Juche ideology}) consciousness and a correct view of history’, and to fix the disorder of the entrance examination arising from there being a large number of textbooks. However the main objective was the promotion and legitimization of the newly launched Yusin system [of dictatorship].

The reaction of academic historians and educators to the national history textbook nationalization measures was extremely negative. The reason was the standardization of history education.[7] However, ignoring the academic establishment’s public opposition (반대여론), the government distributed the government authored national history textbooks (국정 국사 교과서) to educational establishments (교육 현장). This caused waves (파문) from an entirely unexpected direction.

On 25 July 1974, the Hanguk-sa godae-hakhoe (‘academic association for ancient Korean history’ – chairman An Hosang), which was a jaeya history group, released a written statement. They said that the government authored national history textbook restricted Dangun to mythology, thus reducing the extent (범위) of Korean history, and was forcing a history education that continued the imperial Japanese colonial [era] view of history. On 26th, the following day, a ‘national history textbook evaluatory meeting’ (국사 교과서 평가대회) was held at the central headquarters of the National Reconstruction Movement (재건국민운동 중앙본부), designed to publicly criticize [the textbook].[8]

An Hosang had been the first appointed ROK minister of the Ministry of Education, and the person who under the Rhee Syngman administration created (제시하다) the governing ideology of ilmin-juui (‘one-minjok-ism’ 一民主義). He was also the originator of the ‘nation protecting student groups’ (학도호국단) which were criticized for being modelled after the Hitlerjugend (나치의 유겐트). He had majored in philosophy in Germany and received a doctorate, but he had not majored in history. However, he had a deep interest in Dangun and Old Joseon, and on account of this had joined the Daejonggyo [church] at an early age and held a belief in Dangun throughout his life. Later on, towards the end of his life, in 1992 he was to rise to the highest position of Daejonggyo, that of chongjeon’gyo (총전교).

At that time, the Old Joseon section of the government national history textbook said, “Dangun means ‘head of sacrificial rites’ (제사장) whilst wanggeom refers to a political leader (군장), so Dangun Wanggeom was a tribal chief (족장) from the an [early] theocratic period (제정일치시대)”.[9] An Hosang and others expressed strong dissatisfaction with this kind of history textbook content. To them, Dangun was the progenitor of the Korean people and the origin of a great ideology (사상 lit.’thought’), who should be revered (경배하다). Consequently they could not accept the description of Dangun as one primitive society tribal chief.

On 8 October 1975, An Hosang and others formed the Guksa-chatgi-hyeop’uihoe 국사찾기협의회 ‘Association searching for national history’) and launched an attack on the current academic history establishment from all directions. In their journal, Jayu (자유 ‘freedom’), they continuously published articles criticizing the history establishment, amongst which personal attacks close to swearing (욕설) were frequent. In particular, on 29 November 1978, they filed an administrative lawsuit (행정소송) against the state requesting revisions to the national history textbook which gave a large shock to the academic establishment.[10]

The academic historians did not remain silent either. On 23 November 1978, representatives from ten academic history associations gathered and released a warning statement urging the suspension of all activities that misled citizens through the un-scientific opinions of the Guksa-chatgi-hyeop’uihoe.[11]

These jaeya persons who are members of the Guksa-chatgi-hyeop’uihoe have gone around promoting the [following] fanciful opinions which are beneath common sense: 1) Chinese characters were made by Koreans, 2) Confucius and Mencius were descendants of the Baedal race (배달겨레 {an invented term from early 20th century Daejonggyo historiograpahy referring to ancient Koreans}), 3) Baekje controlled the central and southern parts of China for 400 years, and 4) fabricated artefacts were buried in the tomb of King Muryeong [discovered in 1971 in] Gongju in order to distort Baekje history. [We] deplore that this phenomenon is an embarrassment exposing the backwardness of Korean culture.

Professor Kim Won-yong, who excavated the tomb of King Muryeong, candidly expressed the following, “The constant arguments [made by] jaeya persons are so absurdly fanciful that up until now academics have not involved themselves with them, however their journal Jayu, published through an education and arts promotion fund (문예진흥기금) is distributed throughout the country and is greatly misleading citizens such that academics can no longer watch on, and so have taken a stand.” (Gyeonghyang-sinmun 1978.11.24 p5)

During this period An Hosang and others expressed a number of unconventional opinions based on chauvinism. A particularly notable one was their theory of the tomb of King Muryeong having been fabricated (조작설). The tomb of King Muryeong is a Baekje tumulus discovered in 1971. Untouched by robbers, it was excavated [revealing it] as it had been from Baekje times, and so a large number of artefacts such as golden crown(s) and earrings were recovered. In particular, a gravestone inscribed with the name of the entombed was unearthed which attracted extraordinary interest from scholars. However, to those who had hypothesized Baekje as a ‘great empire’ with a territory expanding to China and Japan, the scale of the tomb and quality of unearthed artefacts was unsatisfactory. Thus, even concerning the greatest archaeological excavation for South Korean academia since [the 1945] liberation, they demonstrated an unconventional (비상식적) attitude, [expressing] embarrassment (치부하다) and disregarded it [on the accusation] of it being fabricated. [12 – see notes]

[12] Contributing various articles to the Gyeonghyang-sinmun newspaper, Mun Jeong-chang (문정창) was the head of leading pseudo history group, Hanguk-godaesa-hakhoe (한국고대사학회 ‘association for ancient history’). He argued (지적하다 ‘pointed out’) that because Baekje was a large empire, the royal tombs had to be [much] larger [than] the tomb of King Muryeong and should contain 3~4 chambers whereas it only contained one; he also argued that the mortuary stele unearthed from the tomb of King Muryeong had simply been placed in the tomb of a prince by Tang generals as a joke (장난을 쳐놓다) whilst robbing the tombs following Baekje’s overthrow. Naturally [Mun] provided no rational evidence to support this.

Whilst refuting such absurd (터무니없다) opinions of the pseudo historians, the academic historians made efforts to introduce their position and research results to the common public, including through a regular series in the pages of the Gyeonghyang-sinmun newspaper entitled “This is ancient Korean history” (이것이 한국고대사다). However, it was not a situation that could be resolved through this [limited] level of response.

On 26-27 November 1981, at the beginning of Chun Doo-hwan’s 5th Republic, a public hearing on the Korean history textbook was held at the National Assembly Mungong committee (문공위원회 ‘culture and public [information] committee’). This was following a citizens’ appeal (청원) from An Hosang and others. The National Assembly Mungong committee [hearing] hosted a debate between An Hosang (Guksa-chatgi-hyeop’uihoe chairman), Bak Si-in (Seoul National University English literature department) and Im Seungguk (chairman of the Hanguk-jeongsa-hakhoe {‘society for correct Korean history’ 한국정사학회}) [on one side], and representing academic historians [on the other side], Kim Won-yong (Seoul National University department of archaeology and art history), Kim Cheol-jun (Seoul National University department of Korean history) and Lee Ki-baik (Sogang University history department).[13]

The arguments put forward by An Hosang’s side were as follows: in the Korean history textbook, the history of Old Joseon does not acknowledge or seek to restore the more than a millennium [of history] that was removed by Japanese [colonial scholars]; Dangun and Gija were historical personages, and the territory [of Old Joseon] extended to [modern] Beijing; Wanggeom-seong {capital of Dangun Joseon – traditionally located at Pyongyang} was located in Liaoning province of China, whilst the Lelang Commandery {108 BCE – 313 CE, historically located at Pyongyang} was in the vicinity of Beijing; during 3rd~7th centuries, Baekje governed the East China Sea coast from Beijing to Shanghai; at one period the border of Unified Silla was Beijing; Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla created Japanese culture; the Jurchen {founders of the Jin dynasty 1115-1234 and ancestral to the Manchu} were also ethnically Korean (우리의 종족 ‘our race’). {For a more recent example of similar assertions, see Yun Naehyeon (2003) “How was our minjok’s advancement into outside regions during the ancient period”}

The academic historians responded to this with the refutation that the ‘colonial view of history’ (식민사관) had already been largely overcome, and that the content of the textbook was loyal to facts. They further noted that the [historical] sources presented as evidence by the side of the appeal, were either lacking in reliability or contained errors in the analysis of the Chinese language {in which the premodern sources are all written}. More than anything else, they pointed out that the appeal side possessed a dangerous view of history, and they argued (강변하다) that the ‘empire view of history’ (황국사관 {regarding one’s country as an ancient and divine empire, rather than the act of colonial imperialism}) that had falsely created Japan’s sense of superiority was ultimately the cause of its defeat, and should be taken as a lesson [not to do the same].

Which side could be said to have won at this two day public hearing? The journalists that attended generally judged that the opinions of the academic historians were more persuasive.

On this day of the public hearing, concerning the arguments put forward by each side, those of the defendants (피청원 ‘the objects of the appeal’ {i.e. the academic historians}) stood out as more organised and logical than those of the appeal side. This seemed to be because the appeal side was not comprised of specialist historians. Those who followed the first day of the public hearing tended towards the opinion that the arguments of the appeal side were weak. (Gyeonghyang-sinmun 1981.11.27. p3)

However, the response from the National Assembly members who were hosting the public hearing was quite different. They showed much greater agreement (호응) and support for the arguments of the ‘jaeya scholars’, whilst adopting a continuously antagonistic (적대적) attitude towards the academic historians.

Then it was the turn for Professor Lee Ki-baik’s response. He began by stating (전제하다) that he was unfamiliar with the method of giving responses in the National Assembly, and would not use the name of the senator/assemblyman (의원) who had asked the question, Gang Gi-pil, and apologised for not knowing his name. In response to this, senator Gang, explicitly {verbally} attacked him, saying, “Here is the National Assembly chair of [this] meeting (회의장). My name is written on this name plate. I do not know if your eyesight is poor, but if you simply look in this direction when a national assemblyman is speaking you should be able to guess [his name] through various means of scholarship (학문에서 여러 가지로). In consideration of Professor Lee’s honour/reputation (명예) I will not say anything more, but hope you will consider various matters…” Building on this [antagonistic] atmosphere, [when] senator Im Jaebong took his turn to speak, he turned to professors Kim Won-ryong and Lee Ki-baik, and proceeded on a long speech in an admonishing tone, saying that their attitude (태도) towards the National Assembly was inappropriate and that if they conducted historical research with such an attitude there would be no need to even look at their results (안 보아도 뻔하다), and that he hoped they would correct this attitude (자세 lit. ‘posture’). (Guksa-gyogwaseo padong [‘Korean history textbook waves’], {publisher} Hye’an, 1999, p91)

On account of the high-handed attitude of the assemblymen, the academic historians were forced to undergo humiliation (수모) for the first time in their lives.

On 25~26 February 1987, towards the end of the Chun Doo-hwan administration, a large academic conference was held in the main lecture hall of the {government funded} Jeongsin Munhwa Research Institute ({韓國}精神文化硏究院 ‘research institute for Korean spirit and culture’ {since renamed as 한국학중앙연구원 Academy of Korean Studies}).[14] Since the jaeya scholars’ attacks against the academic establishment had been continuously strengthening, the Jeongsin Munhwa Research Institute organised the conference with the aim of bringing scholars from both sides together and to try to come to some scholarly agreement (lit. ‘arrange/tidy’ 학문적으로 정리를 해보다). Even there, at the main debate on the second day the [following] occurred.

On this day {yesterday} there were 15 scholars on the podium of the main debate, with more than 800 in the audience… Then a group from the audience approached the podium and let loose a torrent of abuse, saying such things as, “Professor Lee’s arguments are plagiarized from imperial Japanese colonial scholars such as Suematsu Yasukazu (末松保和) and Imanishi Ryū (今西龍)”… Having quietened the emotional members of the audience, the debate got underway, however, around half the professors including Professor Lee had already left, and in a bewildering atmosphere for the chair, a group of the audience grabbed the microphone and continued to harangue (성토하다 ‘to arraign’) the academic historians. (Dong’a Ilbo [newspaper] 1987.2.27. p6)

A dangerous (험악하다) atmosphere rarely seen at normal academic conferences developed (연출되다). According to another witness (증언), [amongst] the listeners, “A fight broke out for the microphone, and those unable to take the mic stood up and shouted at the presenters on the podium; a group [then] pushed towards the podium causing pandemonium (난장판).”[15] Contrary to the original intention of harmonizing (조율하다) the positions of academic and jaeya historians, the academic conference ended in disastrous [scenes] of verbal abuse and physical violence (실력행사). This experience was an important cause for the further severance in dialogue between both sides.

  1. Why did pseudo historiography first emerge?

Given all this, how did the view of history and logic of the pseudo historians who profess (주장하다) the actuality of a grand ancient history – [that others] term ‘ethnonationalist’ (minjok-ju’ui 민족주의) or jaeya historiography – first emerge (등장)? If we search for the roots, we arrive at the colonial historiography of the ‘period of forced occupation under the Japan Empire’ (일제강점기 {pithier in Sino-Korean, this is the current SK term to describe the Japanese colonial era without using the word ‘colonial’ – even if the associated historiography is still qualified as such! Hereafter the phrase will be rendered as ‘Japanese colonial era’}). The Japanese era colonial historians undertook an operation to legitimize Japan’s control of Joseon {Korea}. Within this process, various theories were developed (고안되다), the main ones being: shared Japan-Joseon origins (일선동조론), stagnancy [of Joseon’s socio-cultural development towards modernism] (정체성론), and heteronomy (타율성론 ‘rule by others’). Amongst these, the rise of pseudo historiography was closely related to a ‘theory of [Koreans’] peninsular nature’ (반도적 성격론) associated with the heteronomy discourse.

The heteronomy theory argues that Joseon {i.e. Korean} history lacked its own self-identity (juche-seong 주체성 ‘having the self as subject’) and [instead] was [characterized by a] heteronomous nature. In particular, it highlighted (착안하다) Joseon’s peninsular location, and based on [notions of] geographical determinism presented (제시하다) a theory of [Joseon’s] peninsular nature. According to this explanation, on account of Joseon’s history having unfolded on a peninsular enclosed (끼다) by the main continent and ocean, its history could not but be passive, stuck in a crevice of confrontation between continental and maritime powers {i.e. China and Japan respectively}. This was a projection onto premodern [Joseon history] of the experience and perspective of modern Japanese who had [recently] gained influence over Joseon through the [First] Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars.

The opinion that peninsular history is [inevitably] inferior and heteronomous [to other geographical regions] is easily disproven through the examples of Rome or Spain which both began on peninsulas but developed into states dominating (주도하다) European history. It is true that geographical factors have an important influence on historical development, but they are not everything. It can be said that the most basic and effective counter-argument to the ‘theory of peninsular nature’ is to expose the irrationalism in arbitrary utilization of geographical determinism.[16]

However there was an attempt to resolve the problem from another direction. This was to argue that Korean history was not a peninsular history but had unfolded on the continent. In order to negate the ‘inferiority’ of Korean history, the proponents [of this line] made ceaseless efforts to search for the space in which our ancient history unfolded, not on the ‘peninsular’ but on the ‘continent’. However, these [arguments] were fundamentally limited by the fact that they [still] accepted the false premise (명제) of the imperial Japanese view of history that ‘peninsular history is inferior’.

In the end, far from overcoming the theory of peninsular nature, these attempts were nothing more than its internalization, but despite that, the act of describing a ‘once great {in size} and mighty homeland’ (조국) which had existed in the ancient past remained sweet and alluring. Ultimately, even whilst on the surface [seeming to] aggressively criticize and reject colonial historiography, they ended up giving birth to a strange chauvinism that simply re-appropriated (자기화하다 ‘to make one’s own’) that [same] colonial historiography.

The characteristics of pseudo historiography [include] emphasizing the superiority of our minjok, a preoccupation with [the notion of having possessed] a vast ancient territory, and [various] conspiracy theories. Concerning the almost total lack of textual or archaeological evidence to support their [idea of] history (역사상), they argue that this was because [such evidence] was concealed or destroyed (제거되다) either by the Japanese or by ‘colonially minded [Korean] historians’ (식민사학자) who constitute the mainstream of current day [Korean] academia. And concerning the voluminous sources [that serve as] counterevidence to negate their opinions, they argue that these were fabricated, again, either by the Japanese or ‘colonially minded [Korean] historians’, and so they reject even their being mentioned [as evidence in academic discussion] (거론). [Consequently], under this thought construct, any kind of discussion or scholarly examination [of their arguments] (검증) is impossible.

[The motivation] running through [all of] the pseudo historiography [includes both] the confirmation of one’s self-identity (주체성) through being a member (일원) of a great minjok, and the desire to be a constituent element (구성원 ‘member’) of a powerful country (강대국), even if only in the very distant past. In order to highlight the superiority of [their own] minjok, they both denigrate (비하하다) and actively utilize feelings of enmity against other minjok; they denounce the entirety of the professional academic field of history as ‘colonially minded historiography’; on these points, they demonstrate an archetypal fascist aspect. If this is the case, why was it An Hosang, who played a decisive role in the rise of pseudo historiography, began his activities specifically from 1974?

This is related to the nationalization of the Korean history textbook by the Park Chung Hee administration. Immediately following the distribution of the government authored history textbook, An Hosang opened a barrage of criticism, however, his focus was not on ‘nationalization’ [itself]. Actually, it seems nationalization of the textbook was not a big problem for him. It was rather the ‘content’ that was the problem. Emphasizing ‘education with nationality’, the Park Chung Hee administration had, in their own way, made a textbook that stressed [the notions of] ‘minjok‘ and ‘nation’. However, to An Hosang, who was both a devout believer in Dangun and had a fascist side (면모) to himself, even this ridiculously failed to match his criteria.

Further, even whilst ensuring a monopoly on specific historical interpretations suggested by the state, the nationalization of the Korean history textbooks also gave [those government authored interpretations] a superior authority. The structure (구도) under the [previous] system of [privately authored textbook] inspection (검인정체제), in which various historical interpretations coexisted, was smashed, and [in its place] a single ‘national history’ acknowledged by the state was made official through the [conventional] standard of historical analysis. It appears that this unification (단일화) of the ‘national history’ presented a large stimulus to people such as An Hosang who had their own unique idea of history extremely different to others.

As soon as the nationalization of the history textbook was implemented, An Hosang and others began desiring the ‘nationalization’ of the [kind of] history [only] they believed in. In order to realize this desire, [An] mobilized all of his own social capital and strength from his former position as head of the Ministry of Education, and [with it] implemented the attacks and assertion of pressure on the existing academic field of history. The rise of pseudo historiography was essentially both a reaction and side effect to the new circumstances (또 다른 형태) brought about by the 1974 nationalization of history textbooks.

  1. The popularization and perverse (도착적) reception of pseudo historiography

By means of continuous publicity and agitation over several decades, pseudo historiography has succeeded at wide popularization. For example, the red devil emblem of the national football team’s official support group, ‘Celestial King Chiu’ (치우천왕 {Chinese Chiyou 蚩尤}), is influenced by the fake history book created by the pseudo-historians, Hwandan-gogi (환단고기). Pseudo historical content naturally appears in various [popular] media such as novels, comics and television dramas, however, a number of astronomers in television documentaries and books have also introduced astronomy records found in apocryphal texts as though they are ‘fact’; in this way the shadow of pseudo historiography is thickly cast across our society.[17] Recently, at a certain newly popular religious organization, whilst utilizing methods to expand their influence broadcasting on cable television, related [pseudo historical] contents is being regularly broadcast.[18 – see notes]

[18] As shown in the broadcast listings of ‘Sangsaeng broadcasting’ STB, the religious cable television channel operated by {the new religion} Jeung San Do (甑山道), such programs as ‘Hwandan-gogi book concert‘ (환단고기 북콘서트) and ‘Hwandan-gogi recital from memory contest‘ (환단고기 암송대회) are used as their main content. Repeatedly broadcast, the lecturer who appears in ‘Hwandan-gogi book concert’ is An Gyeongjeon (안경전), the highest leader of Jeung San Do, who in 2012 published an annotated edition of Hwandan-gogi (published by Sangsaeng-chulpan 상생출판). It can be said that in this religion Hwandan-gogi has become scripture.

And recently, the seriousness of the problem has become clear with traces of pseudo historiography having appeared even in the president’s speeches. In her 2013 Liberation Day address, President Park Geun Hye was criticized (구설수에 오르다) for quoting from the Hwandan-gogi.[19] The passage quoted by the president is [supposedly] of a late Goryeo scholar, Yi Am, saying, “The country is like the body, history like the soul”, however, this section of the Hwandan-gogi (1979) is from a copied and altered section of Bak Eun-sik’s Hanguk-tongsa (1915 {韓國痛史}). President Park has repeated the same quotation at other events including on 13 October 2015 at a private meeting of top ministers (수석비서관회).[20]

Looking from the perspective of pseudo historiography being accepted by the general public, a particular point is confirmed. Despite [such historiography] being a doctrine and opinion based on fascism, it is not only the conservative right, but often also those terming themselves as progressives who readily accept it.[21 – see notes]

[21] Such media outlets as The Hankyoreh newspaper (한겨레신문), Sisain (시사인) and Pressian (프레시안) who profess a progressive [outlook] have all published articles which, without exception, uncritically accept the arguments of pseudo historians… In addition to the media, there are individual ‘progressives’ spread over a wide number of fields, such as teachers, labour activists, writers, politicians and scholars, too many to enumerate, who accept pseudo history. Korean pseudo historiography has [this] peculiarity of being widely spread, neither distinguishing between left-wing or right-wing, nor between progressive and conservative.

This is caused by the fact that on the surface [this] pseudo historiography professes ‘ethnic nationalism’ (민족주의 {popular with the South Korean left-wing movement}) and ‘anti-colonialism’. Because pseudo historians denigrate mainstream academic historians as pro-Japanese (친일파), and position themselves as the polar opposite (대척점), it is easy for them to attract the sympathies (공감대) of those who are conscious to the issue of purging (청산) pro-Japanese elements {i.e. the SK left}. On the other hand, it would also seem that, to the extent that even those who term themselves as ‘progressives’ easily align themselves with such [pseudo historical] opinions, Koreans’ thinking (사고) is of a weak disposition (취약한 구조) to chauvinism.

The person who has most recently served as the vanguard in spreading pseudo history is the famous popular history writer, Lee Deok-il (이덕일). Continuously publishing such books as “Old Joseon were the rulers of the continent” (『고조선은 대륙의 지배자였다』, 위즈덤하우스 2006) “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), and actively giving public lectures, he has been propagating the content of pseudo history. The content [of his works] largely follows the arguments of An Hosang cum suis from the 1970s onwards with nothing particularly new. However, his popular influence is significant and so the [accumulative] ripple effect [of his works] should not be ignored.

Lee Deok-il has recently challenged (문제제기 lit.’raised as a problem’) the Northeast Asian Historical Atlas (동북아역사지도) project undertaken by the government run institute, the Northeast Asia History Foundation (동북아역사재단). Although he has indicated various issues such as the labelling/marking (표기) of Dokdo island, the core matter can be said to be his dissatisfaction with the position of the [Han Chinese] Lelang Commandery [108 BCE – 313 CE] – established in the centre of Old Joseon following its overthrow [in 108 BCE] – being located at Pyongyang.

On 17 April 2015, at a ‘special committee for counter policies [towards] distortions of Northeast Asian history’ the research director (책임자) for the Northeast Asian Historical Atlas, Im Gi-hwan (임기환, Seoul National University of Education, [department of] history education) and Lee Deok-il were invited for questions and answers (문답), however the atmosphere was close to a repeat of the 1981 public hearing that had been organized by the National Assembly Mungong committee. Regardless of political affiliation, the National Assembly senators maintained a supportive (호의적 ‘good willed’) attitude towards Lee Deok-il, who represented the pseudo historiography arguments; the newspapers and broadcasters then reported [only] the one-sided and sensationalist (자극적) opinions of Lee Deok-il’s side, that the Northeast Asian Historical Atlas project reflects distorted opinions of China and Japan.[22 – see notes]

[22] …There were a large number of media reports. Of note is that these kinds of media reports were concentrated immediately following the publishing of Lee Deok-il’s book, “Traitorous historiography, how far has it come?” (『매국의 역사학, 어디까지 왔나』 2015.8.15). Essentially the national assembly members and media marched to the tune of Lee Deok-il’s marketing strategy, whereby he sought to increase the sale of his new book through stimulating the public with his irresponsible arguments.

The result [of this looks set to be], either the scrapping of (무산) the Northeast Asian Historical Atlas compilation project itself, in which over the past eight years several tens of historians have participated, and which has received funding of 4,700 million won of tax [payer’s money], or else the danger of having to accept (도출하다) a distorted product that in part would be reflecting the absurd opinions of the pseudo historians. If this ultimately comes to pass then Korea will become an international laughingstock, and the scholarly reputation of academic Korean historians would be greatly harmed.

During the active promotion of [textbook] nationalization, the governing party claimed that 90% of academic historians are left-wing.[23] Members of the New Right (뉴라이트) affiliation (계열), with whom they closely associate, also criticize [the academic establishment] as being excessively biased towards ethnonationalism (민족주의) and [statist] nationalism (국수주의). Conversely, pseudo historians such as Lee Deok-il denigrate the academic establishment as ‘traitorous pro-Japanese historians’.[24] If we combine these views, then our country’s academic historians are [apparently] a bizarre group (기상천외하다), being at once ‘pro-Japanese, nationalist and left-wing’. It hardly needs to be said that these opinions are [nothing more than] absurd slander (중상). We should take note of the extremism and irrationality [inherent in this strategy] of driving out all academic historians by [mischaracterizing them] either as a left-wing organization or as colonially minded historians, [done] in order to impose (관철시키다) on ‘Korean history’ (국사) their own biased notion of history.

In one quarter {namely the Korean left}, there are voices of concern that the modern and recent history sections of the textbook being promoted by the government will contain excuses and praise for ‘pro-Japan[ism] and dictatorships’ {of contemporary South Korean history}. There is a high possibility, [therefore], that if only to dilute this criticism, the government will [seek to] strengthen the nationalistic perspective in the descriptions of ancient history. A policy to increase the descriptions of ancient history and Goguryeo in the new government textbook has already been reported.[25 – see notes]

[25] In “Traitorous historiography, how far has it come?” (『매국의 역사학, 어디까지 왔나』), Lee Deok-il criticizes the South Korean academic field of history as “traitorous historiography surpassing the colonial view of history” (page 6). This occurs not once, but throughout the 400 page book, he refers to the academic field either as ‘colonial historiography’ or ‘traitorous historiography’.

[Concerning the process of writing the textbook] there is already enough possibility being demonstrated amongst national assemblymen and high ranking civil servants sympathetic to pseudo historiography, of an intention either to involve pseudo historians in the compilation process, or [in any event] to include their opinions without careful examination. If these attempts were to be fully realized, then the ancient and modern history sections of the textbook would take on a chimera like aspect in which two entirely different forms of history fascism would coexist.

Present day Korean historiography is in a state of crisis, being assailed from two directions, ‘unjust interference by state authorities’ and ‘attacks from pseudo historiography’. How to maintain balance between these [forces], escape the political waves (파고를 헤치다) and proceed is the heavy task placed before historians.

Ki Kyoung-ryang (기경량 Gi Gyeong-ryang)
Lecturer in the history education department of Gangwon University. Having majored in Goguryeo history, his current research interest is on the nature of Goguryeo’s royal capitals (王都). Published papers include {in Korean}, “Royal tombs and the system of tomb guarding during Goguryeo’s Gungnae-seong period”, “The nature of Goguryeo steles at Ji’an and the reorganization of the system of tomb guarding”, “The notion of minjok in Korean history and its application” (「고구려 국내성 시기의 왕릉과 수묘제」, 「집안고구려비의 성격과 고구려의 수묘제 개편」, 「한국사에서 민족의 개념과 그 적용」).

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 liezhuan ‘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: Sin Chaeho – ‘History of Ancient Joseon Culture’ (on the Sam’rang 三郞 > Jo’ui 皂衣 / hwarang lineage)

Sin Chaeho (1880-1936) is popularly regarded as the father of modern nationalist historiography and is remembered as one of the few early modern intellectuals who refused to submit to, or accept, the Japanese colonization of Korea, devoting his life to the Korean resistance movement in China, ultimately to die in a Japanese prison in Dalian.

Below is a translation of the second installment/chapter of Sin Chaeho’s Joseon-sanggo-munhwa-sa (朝鮮上古文化史 ‘History of Ancient Joseon Culture’) which was originally serialized in the Joseon-ilbo newspaper in 40 installments between 15 October ~ 3 December 1931, and then 27-31 May 1932). This work was the immediate follow up to his better known magnum opus, Joseon-sanggo-sa (朝鮮上古史 ‘History of Ancient Joseon’) in which he argued the legendary state of Old Joseon to have been an ancient continental empire responsible for most of Chinese civilization.

Forgetting that, this self-contained chapter is both interesting in itself and highly representative of Sin’s creative, nationalist historiography; today his emotive writing is largely dismissed for its obvious methodological weaknesses but it remains influential on the public imagination and popular history books of a certain persuasion. There was also no small creative genius at work.

In this chapter he seeks to establish the ‘lost history’ of the Goguryeo hwarang order – attested only as a Silla institution – projecting shared origins back to folkloric legends of the ancient Sam’rang (三郞) associated with the Dan’gun myth, and tracing their subsequent decline and remnants through to the modern era.

As well reflected in this chapter, Sin’s core historiographical strategy was to blame Korea’s contemporary predicament under Japanese colonization on the preceding centuries under Sinocentric Neo-Confucian dogma which had consequently weakened Korea’s independent spirit; a key element of this explanation was a conspiracy style theory that the compiler of the Samguk-sagi (1145), Kim Busik,  had actively created an anti-nativist pro-Chinese history, and sought to destroy all alternative histories after its completion. It should be stated that this theory involved a large degree of oversimplification and active mischaracterization of Kim Busik and the Samguk-sagi but, again, has remained highly influential in the popular imagination.

The translation below is based on a modern Korean edition (referenced below), which translates Sin’s ye olde early C20th mixed-script Korean into easier-to-read contemporary Korean.

Sin Chaeho, Danjae 단재 신채호; Bak Gibong 박기봉 (translator). 2007. 『조선상고 문화사』 [Joseon sanggo munhwasa]. Seoul: 비봉출판사 [bibong-chulpansa].

This chapter may also be interesting to compare with that of Choe Namseon who also sought to place the Hwarang in a broader diachronic perspective.

History of Ancient Joseon/Korean Culture – Chapter 2: The Sam’rang (三郞) tour (巡遊) and transmission of Seon-gyo (仙敎)

According to legend, Sam’rang-seong (三郞城 ‘three lad fortress’) on Mani-san (摩尼山) mountain, Ganghwa-do island, was constructed by three sons of Dan’gun; the Jecheon-dan (祭天壇 ‘celestial rites altar’) is where Dan’gun performed sacrificial rites to heaven. It is truly wondrous (기이하다) that the small fortress and [its tradition] have been transmitted over four millennia.

The poem Sam’rang-seong by Yi Sukcheom (李叔詹) of the Goryeo dynasty [contains the line] “Fishermen and firewood collecting children still call it the Old Celestial Capital” (漁樵猶說舊天京); that they referred to this lonely and remote place as a ‘celestial capital’, holding it in such regard is still more wondrous.

All that remains of the Sam’rang’s history is the construction of this fortress, however, during Silla and Goryeo, they erected Sam’rang-sa (三郞寺) temples and worshipped them; this too is still more wondrous.

However, it is not simply because of the fortress that the name of the Sam’rang was transmitted. If it had been only because of the fortress, how would they have come to be worshipped and held aloft in this way? Although it is not recorded in previous histories, it must be because the Hwarang (花郞) of Silla and Seon’in (仙人) of Goguryeo all traced their origins to the Sam’rang.

There is also no one of recent times who knows the origins of the Jo’ui (皂衣); only the circumstances (사실) of the Hwarang are recorded in the Samguk-sagi as follows.

“In Silla they were concerned that it was not possible to identify men of talent, so they organized them into groups for recreation. After observing their behaviour and righteousness, they would select them for employment. Choosing boys of beautiful appearance, they adorned them and called them Hwa’rang (花郞 ‘flower lad’)… By these means they could distinguish between good and bad persons.” {Samguk-sagi “Kim Heum’un-jeon” 金歆運傳 account}

On account of this passage, people are led to believe that the Hwarang were [the product] of a Silla [Confucian style] civil service examination (科擧法), but this is because we have been deceived by Kim Busik {金富軾 1075-1151 – Samguk-sagi compiler} and so do not know the true identity (참모습 lit. ‘true shape’) of the Hwarang.

The Hwarang [tradition] had [in fact] been both the soul of religion and the heart of national purity (國粹) passed down from the time of Dan’gun, but despite this, around the end of Silla and beginning of Goryeo they were obliterated by Confucians and even their history was lost.

According to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽 {late C15th geography – still extant}), “The stele of the Sa-rang (四郞 ‘four lads’) was smashed to pieces by Ho Jongdan (胡宗旦) and only the turtle support stone (龜趺) remains.” Through this the obliteration of the Hwarang by Confucians can be openly (正面) observed. According to the Goryeo-sa (高麗史), “Because Seongjong (成宗 r.981-997) liked Chinese customs (華風) and hated worship, Yi Jibaek (李知白) sought to revive Hwarang groups/gatherings (花郞會).” {source??} Through this the obliteration of the Hwarang by Confucians can be indirectly (反面) observed.

In the case of Samguk-sagi (三國史記 ‘history of the Three Kingdoms’) compiler, Kim Busik, we can know that his extreme [anti-Hwarang] bias was even stronger than that of Seongjong or Ho Jongdan.

At the time of compiling the so-called ‘History of the Three Kingdoms’, he [actively] omitted facts concerning the Hwarang and their origins. In the Goryeo-sa ({高麗史 ‘history of Goryeo’ 1451} written a hundred years after Kim Busik’s Samguk-sagi ), Yeong-rang, An-rang, Nam-rang and Sul-rang (永郞·安郞·南郞·述郞) [who comprised] the Sa-rang (四郞), were elevated as the ‘Four Sages’ (四聖), however, Kim did not even transmit this fact [of their existence]. The fact that whenever the ‘way of the Hwarang’ (花郞의 道) was lectured upon, there would be several thousand listeners is recorded in the Joseon dynasty Jeompilje-jip (佔畢齊集 {collected works of Kim Jongjik 金宗直 1431-92}) which was compiled three hundred years after Kim, however, Kim wrote nothing about the influence exerted by the Hwarang. Throwing away the Seon-sa (仙史 ‘history of the seon ‘ {attested in Samguk-sagi entry for King Jinheung 眞興王 year 37}) in which the origin of the Hwarang was recorded, he barely quoted a few opening lines from Choe Go’un’s (崔孤雲 {Choe Chiwon 崔致遠}) Nallang-bi (鸞郞碑序) stele text; omitting the holy accomplishments (聖蹟) of two hundred Hwarang, he described only the military achievements of four or five such as Sadaham (斯多含 {general who effected the military subjugation of Dae Gaya – modern Goryeong – in 562}). This is sufficient to see his inner hatred of the Hwarang.

Why is it, then, that Kim recorded even a few lines in the Samguk-sagi ?

It is for no other reason than that at the time, foreigners (Chinese) [already] knew many stories of the Hwarang and Tang Chinese recorded them in such works as Dazhong-yishi (大中遺事) and Xinluo-guoji (新羅國記) {both by Ling Hucheng 令狐澄}; inside of Korea the Hwarang stelai could be smashed and works such as Hwarang-segi and Seon-sa could be destroyed, but that which was transmitted in foreign lands was beyond Kim’s control {능력 lit. ‘ability’}. Also the Hwarang history which had been recorded by foreigners was rough and the words close to ridicule, so even if they were transmitted they would not be a match for Confucians’ [historiography] so Kim considered there to have been no necessity [to include] these matters and omitted all facts concerning the Hwarang. For this reason, the Korean records {역사 ‘history’} of the Hwarang were not included and only those in foreign counties were included in an abridged fashion, and this is what we read today.

Ah, how sad! The stories of the Hwarang appearing in the Samguk-sagi which are read by us Hwarang descendents today, is that which was contemptuously recorded by the brushes of Chinese. How can we know the true identity of the Hwarang from this?

Concerning the Jo’ui (皂衣) of Goguryeo, Kim Busik quoted the Suishu (隨書) and simply observed that there were Jo’ui seon’in (皂衣仙人 – also called Yeseok seon’in 翳屬仙人) in Goguryeo; the [Samguk-sagi] “Myeong’rimdapbu-jeon” (明臨答夫傳 account speaks of Yeonna-jo’ui Myeong’rim-dapbu (椽那皂衣明臨答夫), but it does not say what the Jo’ui were.

{NB Myeong’rim-dapbu is attested with the title of Jo’ui, not in his biographical account, but in the Goguryeo Annal entry for King Chadae 次大王 year twenty [165], where he is recorded as assassinating the tyrant king on behalf of the people.

{Yeseok seon’in 翳屬仙人 is attested in the Samguk-sagi treatise for Goguryeo titles, where, in the next sentence, citing the Xin-Tangshu, Jo’ui are described as seon’in 仙人. The actual Xin-Tangshu entry is “帛衣頭大兄,所謂帛衣者,先人也”.}

However, the Gaoli-tujing (高麗圖經 {still extant first hand account of Goryeo by Xu Jing 徐兢 1091-1153 who visited in 1123}) records, “The Jaega-hwasang (在家和尙 {lit. ‘at home monks’ i.e. who have not left their families for a temple}) neither wear gasa (袈裟) Buddhist robes, nor maintain precepts (佛戒); wearing white ramie clothes, they bind their wastes with black silk.[..] Residing in common houses {민가, original just has ‘home/room’ 室} they have families. They always put their energies into public projects, such as cleaning the roads, or repairing drainage systems. If war occurs they take their own rations and form units; in war they are all brave and always lead the van. In actuality they are former convicts and so have shaven heads; because this is similar to Buddhists they are called Hwasang (和尙).”

{Original passage from Gaoli-tujing 


Jaega-hwasang do not wear gasa and do not maintain precepts. Wearing white ramie clothes, they bind their waists with black silk. They walk barefooted, though some wear shoes. Constructing their own homes, they take a wife and raise children. They devote themselves to [such public tasks as] carrying items for the authorities, sweeping the roads, repairing the drains, and fixing and building the city walls and homes. If there is a nearby alert, they form groups and set out; although they are not familiar with galloping [a horse] they are quite strong and brave. When they go on military expeditions, they prepare their own rations so they are able to go to war without being a cost to the state. [I] have heard that the Khitan’s defeat by Goryeo people was precisely thanks {lit. ‘reliant’} to this group. They are actually convicted criminals. The Koreans {lit. 夷人 ‘Yi barbarian people’} shave their beards and heads and call them Hwasang.}

These are the remaining tradition (遺風) of the Goguryeo Jo’ui (皂衣 ‘black clothing’). They were called Jo’ui because they wore [the same] black silk around their waists; in Chinese histories they are also referred to as Baek’i (帛衣 Ch. Boyi ‘silk clothing’). And because seon’in believe in a different doctrine (敎) to Buddhism, they were referred to as Jaega-hwasang.

Thus the Jo’ui of Goguryeo were the martial soul (武魂), no less so than the Hwarang of Silla. With a firm belief in the state (국가) they regarded life and death lightly; they sacrificed their bodies for the common good (公益) without concern for worldly matters or renown. During peace time they trained their bodies through labour; because their bodies were in oil (?? 몸을 기름에 있어서는) they prioritized (위주) health and bravery and so were brave when at war. Because Myeong’rim-dapbu led such a group, he was easily successful in [his] regional revolution.

After visiting Goryeo and observing and hearing of these such matters, [Gaoli-tujing author] Xu Jing recorded them; how is it possible that during the same time Kim Busik could not have read or heard of the Hwarang’s history?! In order to [force] citizens to wear the tinted glasses of Confucians, he omitted all of Silla’s Hwarang history except a few lines recorded by a foreigner; concerning the Jo’ui he merely cited the Suishu and recorded just the name.

If we first look at {unreferenced} research concerning this, in Goguryeo history, seon’in (先人 ‘forebears’) were referred to as seon’in (仙人 ‘Daoist immortal/faerie’); both terms are phonetic [Sinic] renderings for the pure Korean (우리말) term seonbi (선비 {conventionally a word for ‘scholar’}). In the [Samguk-sagi] Silla music treatise (樂志), Hwarang are termed as Do’ryeong (徒領), which is a phonetic rendering of the Korean term do’ryeong (도령 ‘young man’). In later times the social status of Seon’in (先人) sunk and so the term for them was changed to Jaega-hwasang, whilst the name seonbi was taken by Confucians [to refer to themselves with the common meaning of ‘scholar’].

Also, in later times, the Hwarang became officials (벼슬아치) responsible for all genres of music and thus were [merely] in charge of one giye ‘artistic skill’ (技藝 ) of gamu ‘song and dance’ (歌舞 – {original annotation} giye was a subdiscipline 科 of gamu or hak’ye 學藝). The term do’ryeong-nim (도령님) was stolen by the [Confucian] yangban literati [as the respectful term for address of an unmarried yangban]. The social status of Jo’ui sank earlier than Hwarang and so at the time of Xu Jing, it was already a figurative term for formerly convicted criminals.

Concerning both the Hwarang (i.e. gwangdae {廣大 a non-reverential term for ‘public entertainer’}) who remain in the Eight Provinces [of Korea] today, and the Jaega-hwasang who remain in North Hamgyeong-do province {far northeastern Korea}, not only are their roots not known to others, but even they have forgotten the fact that they were once the heart (중심) of the state; for these circumstances the crime of the ruling classes including the monarchy, and of historians is great.

How could we in times subsequent to Kim Busik discover the facts about the Hwarang and Jo’ui that he failed to record? [How can we] find their origins? If we gather the remaining fragmentary accounts from the ‘old records’ (古記 {an uninformative term often used in the Samguk-sagi}) and search between the lines (反面) of the Samguk-sagi, then we can [at least] obtain something similar.

The line recorded in the Goguryeo history {SS Goguryeo annal} “Pyeongyang was the home of Seon’in Wanggeom” (平壤者仙人王儉之宅) would have been the first line of the Silla’s Seon-sa (仙史). Idu (吏讀文) script which uses Chinese characters for their phonetic value, was first created during the time of Buyeo and Goguryeo; at that time, a character would be used either for its beginning or end sound value, and two or three characters would be combined to create a single [syllable] sound. Both seon’in (先人) and seon’in (仙人) use two characters to form the seon [syllable] in seonbi.

During Silla, [phonetic] idu developed to a relative degree, however, it was only fully used for [verbal] endings, e.g. wi-ni 爲尼 → hani 하니, wi-ya 爲也 → haya/hayeo 하야·하여, but nouns most often used Chinese characters for their semantic value. As a result Saro (斯盧) was changed to Silla (新羅 {‘new net’?}), whilst monarchal titles geoseogan (居西干) or nisageum (尼師今) were changed to dae-wang (大王 ‘great king’). The Hwarang also developed at this time, and Seon-sa was written.

In later times, the [rendering of the] noun seon’in (先人 ‘forebear’) was dropped and only seon’in (仙人 ‘faerie/immortal’) was used; thus Seon’in Wanggeom (仙人王儉 ‘faerie Wanggeom’) is the same as [*]Seon’in Wanggeom (先人王儉 ‘forebear Wanggeom’) who was Dan’gun (檀君), none other than the founding ancestor (始祖) of the Jo’ui seon’in (皂衣先人).

The name Hwarang, too, was originally not hwarang; [rather], because it was seon’in (先人 ‘forebear’) the history of their origin was named Seon-sa (仙史 ‘faerie history’). As a result, even the “Hwarang-gi” (花郞記) record in the Samguk-yusa says Great King Jinheung (眞興王 {r.540-576}) worshipped sinseon (神仙 ‘holy faeries’) and created the Hwarang, but this misunderstood that the creation of the Hwarang was [itself an act of] venerating the sinseon.

However, subsequently due to concern for terms [phonetically rendered] such as seon’in and sinseon being confused with Chinese Xianjiao (仙敎: 道敎 Dao-jian {i.e. Daoism}), specific nouns such as gukseon (國仙 ‘nation faerie’) and hwarang (花郞 ‘flower lad’) were created, where the seon of gukseon is the phonetic rendering of the seon (先) of seon’in (先人 ‘forebear’), whilst the rang of Hwarang is a semantic rendering of seon’in.

However, those reading history in later generations have always confused this distinction. Thus in entries in Yeoji-seungnam for Gangneung (江陵) and Yang’yang (襄陽) which include poems and such by literati composed after observing the remains associated with the Four Hwarang Sages (四聖), they conflate them with Daoist notions of alchemy (金丹) or ‘the soul’s liberation from a corpse [to become a Daoist immortal]’ (尸解), and gukseon are understood as a school of Daoism.

Even if one explains that the seon (仙) of Seon’in Wanggeom is the seon of gukseon, of seonbi and our seon-gyo (仙敎 ‘seon religion’), and not the xian of Chinese Xianjiao (仙敎), who today would believe this?! Ah, that the downfall of the nation (國粹) has come to this!

Sam’rang (三郞), too, previous to Goguryeo would definitely have been called the Sam-seon (三仙) or Sam-seon’in (三仙人), and not Sam’rang, but in Silla with seon’in being called rang (郞) they were changed to Sam’rang, and the Sam’rang-sa temple was constructed in which they were worshipped.

Consequently, Dan’gun was the first seonbi appearing in the Seon-sa (仙史), whilst the Sam’rang are the first do’ryeong. Sam’rang-seong was a fortification constructed by the Goguryeo Jo’ui who, during a ceremonial tour/pilgrimage (巡禮) of the country (국토) found the site suitably strategic for the nation’s defence.

Sources: “The Colonial View of History Inside of Us” Lee Deok-il translated extracts part 3/4

See here for parts 1 and 2.

SMSG = singmin-sa’gwan 식민사관 ‘colonial view of history’
NEAHF = Northeast Asian History Foundation 동북아역사재단

The Northeast Asian History Foundation [claiming] that Gando {Ch. Jiandao 間島} was originally Chinese territory

“Dolmen (고인돌) are the signature relic (표지 유물) of Old Joseon. Thus it means that the region in which dolmen are found is [former] Old Joseon territory. If it is correct that the NEAHF is an institution (기관) of South Korea then they should have written [in their analysis of the Gyeonggi-do education office’s book], ‘That dolmen have also been found in the northeast region of China is evidence that Old Joseon’s territory extended to the northeast region of China, and that [this] overturns the assertions of Imperial Japanese colonial historiography and the Chinese Northeast Project that [Old Joseon] was a small country [located only in] the northwest of the Korean peninsula.’ Further, it is the NEAHF that is not reflecting the research results on dolmen that ‘a significant number have also been discovered in the east coast region of China.’ Dolmen are both the signature relic of Old Joseon and distinct grave [sites] (묘제) of the Dong’i people (동이족). That being the case, it means the region in which dolmen are found were either once Old Joseon territory or regions in which Dong’i people resided.” p150

“With dolmen being representative Bronze Age grave sites, even the SMSG scholars acknowledge that Old Joseon was established during the Bronze Age and so there is no problem (이상없다) with explaining them as being the distinct grave sites of Old Joseon. However, viewing Korean history [both] through the perspective of the Japanese extreme right and Chinese Northeast Project, the NEAHF wants to distinguish dolmen and Old Joseon. The viewpoint of Old Joseon from the NEAHF is exactly the same as that of the [former] Joseon Government-General.” p150-1

Still concerning the NEAHF’s criticism of the Gyeonggi-do Education Office’s book on Gando/Jiandao
“If South Korea were a normal country then the director (사무총장) of the NEAHF and the person responsible for making this [critical] analysis document would become subject to investigation for contravening the National Security Law. Invasion of history without a doubt leads to invasion of territory. Selling off the territory of history is [the same] act as selling off jurisdiction over [one’s] history (역사 주권). [And] the act of selling off jurisdiction over history is no different to the act of selling off jurisdiction over territory.” p153-4

“Investigating the matter, it was: the [NEAHF] director Seok Dong-yeon who becoming furious at the Gyeonggi-do Education Office’s resource book instructed for a document refuting it (반박 문건) to be written; and it was ‘B’ researcher (or ‘research institute’ 연구원) who had graduated (출신) from the history department of Seoul National University that received the instruction and composed the document. It cannot be known if the Joongang Ilbo journalist reported the matter in the [pro-NEAHF biased manner that he did] even whilst being aware of the document’s traitorous (반국가적 lit. ‘anti-state’) content, but if the civil servant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [who was the contact between the NEAHF and the Joongang Ilbo journalist] had told [the journalist to write an article] criticizing the Gyeonggi-do Education Office based on this document, then he should immediately be investigated for spying [under] the National Security Law.” p158

“On maps accurately (실측) made by Western geographers through the financial support of the Qing country (청나라) Kangxi emperor, the national boundary is shown as [being] north of the Yalu and Tumen rivers; what is it [about this] that hurts [the NEAHF] to the bone, such that they become furious and write, “There are also many Western [made] maps that show the Yalu and Tumen rivers as the national boundary line”?” p159

If [the NEAHF] did not consider themselves as Japanese swines (왜놈) [still] under colonial [rule] this matter would not be possible. And if the current government of South Korea did not think of itself as a continuation of the Joseon Government-General it is not something they would be able to do.” p159

“Gando (間島 Ch. Jiandao) [can be] distinguished as West Gando and East Gando; East Gando north of the Tumen river is also called North Gando. West Gando refers to north of the Yalu river (K. Amnok-gang); East Gando basically refers to the current Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture [including] the regions of Hunchun (琿春), Wangqing (汪淸), Yanji (延吉) and Helong (和龍). In the West Gando region the Seoro-gunjeongchi (西路軍政署 ‘West road military administration’) was primarily composed of [groups led by] Seokju Lee Sang-ryong and Seongjae Lee Siyeong; in the East Gando (North Gando) region, Seo Il and Kim Jwajin made the Bungno-gunjeongseo (北路軍政署 ‘North road military administration’). The terms ‘seoro’ and ‘buk-ro’ themselves are derived from West and North Gando. Seeing as [the NEAHF] have the [same] view of history as the Japanese extreme right, they will not even want to know these facts, but as [we] are in the unfortunate circumstance (처지) where [they] are receiving South Korean citizens’ tax money, should they not at least pretend to understand, the true feelings (심정) of those taxpayers paying taxes through money earned sweating [from hard work]? The region currently under dispute is East (North) Gandao. By only using the term ‘jurisdiction [over] Gando’ (간도 영유권) [i.e. not distinguishing East and West], the NEAHF revealed its hostility. It bluffs (호도하다) and criticizes as though the side asserting [its] ‘claim on the history (역사주권) of Gando’ [i.e. the Gyeonggi-do Education Office’s book] were referring to the entire restricted region (봉금지대) east of Shanhaiguan (山海關). The viewpoint of the NEAHF is exactly consistent with [those who] sell out the country and its history (매국·매사).” p161

“The NEAHF said, “The period in which the Baekdu-san Jeon’gye-bi stele (白頭山定界碑) was erected was before the introduction (등장) of international law, so it is not appropriate to directly attribute it (적용 lit. ‘apply to it’) the standard of international law.” This is a damaging thing to say (망언), worse [even] than the assertions of the [former] Joseon Government-General. What difference is there between ‘before’ and ‘after the introduction of international law’? And who is to decide from what year international law can be applied?” p162-3

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
Quotes from his own earlier book also attacking NEAHF.

“When citizens’ national fury (국민적 분노) heightened against China’s Northeast Project, the organization (기구) the government made [in response] was the ‘Goguryeo Research Foundation’ (고구려연구재단) which subsequently became the ‘Northeast Asia History Foundation’ (동북아역사재단 {NEAHF}). The ‘correct history’ section of the NEAHF’s homepage (누리집) says about Old Joseon, “3rd~2nd century BCE Old Joseon of King Jun and Wi Man Joseon [both] had Pyeongyang as its capital.” The position of Old Joseon and Wi Man Joseon’s capital is exceedingly important. This is because it is where Lelang-jin commandery was [subsequently] established. The NEAHF’s description that the capital of Old Joseon and Wi Man Joseon was Pyeongyang is the same as claiming that Lelang-jun was located at Pyeongyang. According to this theory (이론), Pyeongyang and the north of the peninsula become territory of Chinese history. If this is true then the premise (이론) of China’s Northeast Project is correct. In that case we would have to go on the defence and [argue] that ‘in the past, north of the Han-gang river was territory of Chinese history but now it is not.’

The problems with the ‘theory that Suseong-hyeon county {遂城縣 Ch. Suicheng-xian} of Lelang-jun = Suan[-gun] {遂安郡} of Hwanghae-do’ created by Inaba Iwakichi {稲葉岩吉} have already been pointed out several times. However even after [the 1945] liberation, mainstream Korean historians have ignored (외면 lit. ‘turn away from’) these problems and accepted it as established theory; the result is reflected in the homepage of the NEAHF. This shows that the roots, too, of mainstream Korean historians are not free of the Imperial Japanese SMSG. Chinese scholars profess the [theories] of the Northeast Project for the benefit of China’s national interest. [But] for the benefit of which country do South Korean scholars [also] align [themselves] with the assertions of the Northeast Project?! These [Korean scholars] claim these facts are the truth obtained through [primary source-based] evidence (실증) but it is the opposing side {i.e. his} which has the more [primary source-based] evidence.

That being the case, which opinion should the NEAHF be following? Scholars who consider to be correct the ‘Lelang-jun = Pyeongyang region theory’ and the ‘Four Han Commanderies = Korean peninsula theory’ must not work at an institution (기구) like the NEAHF. This is because the foundation is an organization to confront China’s Northeast Project, not an organization operating with citizens’ tax money to be aligned to the Northeast Project. This is not a question of scholars freely belonging to their individual scholarship (학문). If they are believers in the ‘Lelang-jun = Pyeongyang region theory’ then can establish their own research institutes and deepen their research. However [current] reality is that whilst those scholars who believe in the ‘Lelang-jun = Pyeongyang region theory’ are conducting research in alignment with the Northeast Project at a national institute like the ‘NEAHF’ with [South Korea] citizens’ tax money, scholars who hold the opposite opinion are [having to] conduct research funded at their own expense.” from Lee’s 『한국사, 그들이 숨긴 진실』 (2009:5-6쪽) – p171-2

“Currently, if you go to any Chinese provincial museum there is a large map stuck [on the wall]. On those maps, without exception, the eastern end of the Great Wall (만리장성) continues all the way to Hwanghae-do province deep inside the Korean peninsula. If the Great Wall continued until Hwanghae-do there would be no need for North Koreans to travel to China to see it. And South Koreans must propose [to the North] to organize Great Wall tour groups like the Geumgangsan tour groups. They say the Great Wall is in the region of North Korea, is there any need then to go all the way to China?! However, for the several thousand years since the [beginning] of recorded history (有史), no one has ever [written of] going to see the Great Wall [in Korea]. Even the Joseon [dynasty] literati who left so many writings, did not leave any poems or travel accounts that said they saw the Great Wall in Joseon. However, the Historical Atlas of China (중국역사지도집 8 volumes {中国歷史地图集 Zhongguo-lishi-ditu-ji }) has the Great Wall drawn up to within the Korean peninsula.

The evidence with which China makes this assertion is the Four Han Commanderies 漢四郡. The centre of the Four Han Commanderies which were the organ (기구) of colonial control said to have been established after the ancient Chinese Han 漢 state (한나라) overthrew Old Joseon, was Lelang-jun commandery. The assertion of the Northeast Project (동북공정) that Lelang-jun was in Pyeongyang and the remaining commanderies broadly in the northern part of the Korean peninsula, is shown [in the atlas] through maps. In the “Tai Kang Geography Treaty” (太康地理志) of the Shiji (史記), there is the passage, “Galseok-san mountain {碣石山} is located in Suseong-hyeon county of Lelang-jun commandery, it is the terminus of the Great Wall.” [Claiming] that this Suseong-hyeon is Suan-gun (遂安[郡]) county of Hwanghae-do province, the Great Wall is stretched to Hwanghae-do. The first person to claim that Suseong-hyeon was Suan-gun of Hwanghae-do was the Imperial Japanese colonial historian Inaba Iwakichi (稲葉岩吉). This shows that the historical roots of China’s Northeast Project was the Imperial Japanese SMSG.” from Lee’s 『한국사, 그들이 숨긴 진실』 (2009:4-5쪽) – p173-4

“Why would [colonial historians] dismiss [the early records of the Samguk-sagi ]? It is due to the fact that in the [Japanese] Nihon-shoki and the Kojiki it is narrated as if [Japanese] Wae (倭) on the peninsula – that is the Mimana Japan Office (임나일본부) – ruled the southern part of the Korean peninsula, but the ‘Silla Annals’ (신라본기) of the Samguk-sagi do not [contain such a record]. In order to find out if the ancient version of the [modern] Joseon Government-General, the Mimana Japan Office – that is the Wae – continued [for long], Tsuda Sōkichi {津田左右吉} took interest in the Silla Annals of the Samguk-sagi. However, no such content appears in the Silla Annals of the Samguk-sagi. Consequently Tsuda Sōkichi [claimed] the Kojiki and Nihon-shoki [accounts] were true and he created the so-called ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’ which denounced (몰다) the early records of the Samguk-sagi as fake.

The Joseon Government-General’s Joseon History Compilation Committee took the theories created by these two colonial scholars and made the large framework of the SMSG that ‘to the north of the Han-gang river was the Chinese colony of the Four Han Commanderies and in the south of the Korean peninsula was the Japanese colony of the Mimana Japan Office.’ The two papers which made this framework were Inaba Iwakichi’s “Study on the eastern end of the Jinjang-seong fortress and Wangheom-seong fortress” (진장성 동단 및 왕험성고 {秦長城東端及王險城考}) and Tsuda Sōkichi’s “Concerning the Samguk-sagi Silla Annals” (삼국사기 신라본기에 관하여 {三國史記新羅本紀について}). [Thus] I included [translations of] these two papers as appendices to [my book] Critique on the theory of the Joseon History Compilation Committee’s SMSG (조선사편수회 식민사관 이론 비판) alongside detailed bibliographical notes (해제); upon [my] demonstrating that these two theories [have become] the established theory of current Korean historians, the [external] reviewers (편가단) reduced the budget [of the government funded project] whilst pressuring [me] to change the title.” p177

“The so-called ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’ (<삼국사기>초기 기록 불신론). That the early records of the Samguk-sagi until the 3rd~4th centuries were fabricated fakes by Kim Busik, is the established theory (定說) of current mainstream historians. The creator of this theory (이론) was none another than the Imperial Japanese colonial historian Tsuda Sōkichi (津田 左右吉). Tsuda Sōkichi’s view of ancient Korean history is simple. In the 1910s he was entrusted by the [Japanese] South Manchuria Railway Company to write [various volumes] including Joseon Historical Geography (조선역사지리 [朝鮮歷史地理]); [in these] he narrated that in the north of the ancient Korean peninsula had been the Four Han Commanderies, in particular Lelang, [whilst] south of the Han-gang river there teemed the 78 small states known [collectively] as the Samhan (三韓). This is because, only in this way could there then be continuity to the Mimana Japan Office (임나일본부), the ancient version of the [modern colonial] Joseon Government-General.

However, for this period in the south of the Korean peninsula, the Samguk-sagi narrates that there existed not the Samhan, but the powerful ancient kingdoms of Silla and Baekje and it makes no mention about Mimana. Consequently Tsuda created the so-called ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’ that says the early records of the Samguk-sagi were fabricated. At the same time [Tsuda said/wrote], “It being difficult to accept the ancient period of the Samguk-sagi as historically factual material, [means] there is no theory (이론) amongst modern scholars on researching East Asian history.” [He said/wrote this], exaggerating as if he were supported by other scholars. In spite of the fact that the ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’ and the Mimana Japan Office [theory] are like two sides of the same coin, following liberation mainstream Korean historians maintained the ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’ as established theory whilst rejecting (부인하다) the Mimana Japan Office [theory]. As a result, the Mimana Japan Office [theory] has not disappeared.” from Lee’s <한국사, 그들이 숨긴 진실>(2009:7쪽) – p178-9

“[Pro-SMSG scholars] believe that the northern Korean peninsula was a colony of ancient China, the southern Korean peninsula was a colony of ancient Japan. Consequently what meaning is there in not revealing their true names? Thus in [my book] Critique on the theory of the Joseon History Compilation Committee’s SMSG (『조선사편수회 식민사관 이론 비판』) I criticized Tsuda Sōkichi, Inaba Iwakichi and several Korean scholars with their real names. The part which [made] the [external] reviewers the most furious was precisely the criticism of Tsuda Sōkichi and the part that gave the real names of the Korean scholars. Yi Byeongdo said, “In the 3rd year of university I received the love of lecturer (and later professor) Tsuda Sōkichi and his friend Ikeuchi Hiroshi (池内宏 professor of Joseon history at Tokyo University); even after graduation these two would send their own papers and books becoming a great help to my research.” {citing 진단학회, <역사가의 유형>, 일조각, 1991, 253쪽} [Because my book] criticized Tsuda Sōkichi from whom Yi Byeongdo, the luminary (태두) of Korean historians had “received love” and who had made the theoretical framework for colonial historiography, and [because] it criticized [their] relevant papers in detail (조목조목 lit.’item by item’), [they felt] uncomfortable. However, [my] Critique on the theory of the Joseon History Compilation Committee’s SMSG was completed (수행) with South Korean citizens’ tax money. Consequently, as appropriate to the intent (취지) of supporting history research with tax money coming from money earned [through] the sweat, not of Japanese or Chinese [citizens] but South Korean citizens, I criticized the living SMSG [of current South Korean scholars – as opposed to already dead Japanese scholars] all the more intensely.” p180

3. Criticism of historical positivism (실증사학) seen in the West

“Was Yi Byeongdo whom the SMSG historians judged to be “of a character (인격자) extremely worthy of respect” able to produce [objective] ‘high quality text-based (고등문헌) criticism’ about their academia? If, far from ‘high quality text-based criticism’ he [in fact] only had the ability for ‘low quality text-based criticism’ {as Lee charges}, he must have wondered why the Japanese treated him as being of such [good] character and included him in the Joseon History Compilation Committee. He must have wondered too, whilst he was receiving the love of Japanese and researching Korean history to his heart’s content, why did the Joseon Government-General rattle its teeth so much [in anger] at Bak Eunsik’s historical research, and why did Sin Chaeho have to die inside the freezing cold Lüshun prison. However, to Yi Byeongdo who even after liberation boasted of the fact of having received Tsuda Sōkichi’s love, he lacked even such an awareness. Receiving the love of Japanese was simply an honour for his family (가문). The problem is, that family honour is continuing into the 21st century. Whilst Yi Byeongdo’s grandchildren work [in such appointments as] dean of Seoul National University and head of the Cultural Heritage Administration, and continue their family honour, by contrast the descendents of the independence activists cannot even receive a proper education and are afflicted (시달리다) by the curse of a family preoccupied with hand-to-mouth survival.” p195

“In the study of history, the question of viewpoint and the question of sources which support that viewpoint can be considered most important. The problem [for] the South Korean [source-based] positivist siljeung-ju’ui (실증주의) view of history which was inherited intact from the Joseon Government-General’s view of history after [the 1945] liberation is that they have been unable to openly (노골적) reveal it. In terms of content they have followed the Imperial Japanese SMSG, that is the [former] Joseon Government-General’s view of history, but on the outside they have been unable to say that they are following the Government-General’s view of history. Thus criticizing the SMSG in [their] overview writings (총론으로) but following the SMSG in their individual papers (각론으로), they inevitably exhibit (띠다) a dual form. The positivist siljeung historians [have had] the sad fate of not being able to call their own father ‘father’ [whilst] possessing a filial heart [still towards him] but having to pretend they are not his children. Consequently, because they feared being criticized as Korean on the outside but Japanese on the inside, they made it their habit (애용) [to wear] hanbok [Korean dress]. If they were to express their inner [self] as it [really is], [dressing in Japanese] yukata would have been [more] correct but they disguised their true hearts (본심) with hanbok.” p197

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that Korean siljeung historiography has been at a beginner’s level, unable to progress to [writing] historical narratives. The limitation is clear. Just as they acknowledge themselves, one cannot term a simple collection or enumeration of individual facts as true history. Further, the inability to make concrete a more general meaning [based] on the individual facts reduces history from an academic discipline (학문) to a [mere] hobby (취미).” from Bak Yangsik’s article “Seoyang sahak iron-e bichu’eo bon siljeung-sahak” (「서양 사학 이론에 비추어 본 실증사학」 ‘[Historical] Positivisim compared in the light of Western theory on history,’ in 『숭실사학 제31집』 2013. 12, 341쪽. p201

“South Korean positivist [source-based] siljeung historians (실증사학자들) were enthusiastic for the examination of objective facts [obtained] through scientific historical research as demonstrated (제기 lit. ‘raised, suggested, brought out’) by the historiography (사학) of [Leopold von] Ranke. However their efforts failed to get them to the point of properly narrating a history about a single country’s history (한 국사에 대한 역사). When reflected against the development of Western scholars’ discourse [on historiography], this result is terribly shabby. In spite of this, they formed the mainstream of Korean history and, exercising enormous influence, they disallow any other opinions (타의 추종 lit. ‘following others’). With the one methodology of siljeung [‘critical source study’] they established their expertise (전문성) dominating university lecture podiums and ruling over academic conferences. They also have had a monopoly even over the exclusive right to author history textbooks. A bigger problem is that the siljeung historians have failed to cast away the framework of the colonialist view of history and so continue as ever before to spread (발휘) its influence. How could this be? It is the result of the siljeung historiographic logic which has become dogmatized, functioning so powerfully.” from Bak ibid. 345-346쪽. p202

“The siljeung historians (실증사학자들) restrict Sin Chaeho’s historical view (역사관) as ethno-nationalist (민족주의 minjok-ju’ui ) historiography and do not acknowledge it as proper historical research. Lee Ki-baik (이기백 Lee Gibaek) not only acknowledged the fact that Sin Chaeho was extremely critical about past methods of narrating Korean history, he also acknowledged the fact that he put more energy into the criticism of sources than any normal critical historian (고증학자). In spite of that, [Lee Ki-baik] downgraded Sin Chaeho asserting that he [over]emphasized the unique philosophy (고유 사상) of the Korean minjok and tried to separate (or ‘isolate’ 고립시키다 lit. ‘make stand alone’) the Korean minjok from [the rest of] the world, and that ethno-nationalist history which puts the minjok at the forefront in this way, is not true history. That here, he attached the label (이름) ‘view of history’ (sa’gwan 사관) and [then] criticized it [shows his] hidden implication that it was not [in Lee Ki-baik’s view] scientific or objective historical research. Is such criticism appropriate? Not at all. First of all, I think that the terms ‘ethno-nationalist historiography (사학) or view of history (사관)’ themselves have not been established. In the West, rather, they had no hesitation in promoting the minjok when writing the histories of their homelands (조국 lit. ‘ancestral countries’). Ranke was such. Considering examples such as Jules Michelet of France or Frederick Jackson Turner of the US, it is a strange thing for ethno-nationalist historiography to become a subject of criticism by the South Korean siljeung historians.

Possessing a broad interest in philosophy, meticulous care about primary sources which had [previously] been ignored, a rich poetic style and fervent patriotism, Michelet wrote historical work that elevated and exalted each period of French history, [and so] was acknowledge as a first class historian of the French citizenry. Turner [stressed] that American history must be researched not in connection to the Old World (Europe) but as a result of the unique experience of America, suggesting a ‘frontier’ view of history; in spite of the shortcomings that this doctrine (학설) had, [Turner] is [still] valued as the historian who opened a new period of American historiography. However, South Korean siljeung historians raise [only] endless criticism about the historical research of historians who have striven to resurrect the history of a minjok that was papered over (호도) and exterminated by the Japanese Empire. Their arrows of criticism should have been turned towards the Japanese colonial historiography. Hitler of Germany and Japanese imperialism used history as a method of controlling colonial subjects (식민) and it is that kind of view of history that must become the object of denouncement (배격). However, it is difficult to agree with the ethnic-nationalism of Sin Chaeho’s view of history – which is entirely different to that kind [of Nazi Germany and Japan’s] – being lumped together and rejected (부정) as, in extreme cases, being an ultranationalist (국수주의) view of history. Attacking [Sin Chaeho in this way], it becomes a question as to history for the benefit of whom, in their own minds, the [South Korean] siljeung historians are thinking. The South Korean siljeung historians profess overcoming of the colonialist view of history, but if one examines under the surface there are many aspects in which they have been unable to free themselves from the framework of the colonialism project. Considered from this aspect, it is not difficult either to understand the relentless raising (제기) of historical questions without any concern for the feelings of the Korean people by Japan which was [at the time] trying to operate an empire. South Korean siljeung scholars are [still] comfortably living inside the framework of the colonialism project, why should they worry about anything [else]?! (꺼릴 것이 무엇이겠는가?)” from Bak ibid. 346-347쪽. p203-4.

“When distinguishing South Korean historians, one of the criteria is their evaluation of Danjae Sin Chaeho. The SMSG historians’ (식만사학자들) disapproval (거부감 lit. ‘feeling of refusal’) of Danjae Sin Chaeho is beyond [all] imagination. Of course on the outside they pretend to acknowledge him [positively] but if you go one step closer they criticize him as ‘premodern’ and ‘ethno-nationalistic (민족주의). On the outside they wave the yardstick (잣대) of positivist siljeung [source-based study] by which they measure [scholars] and yet there has been no scholar so versed in ancient Chinese and Korean primary sources as Sin Chaeho. In spite of that they criticize Sin Chaeho as an ethno-nationalistic historian who was lacking in siljeung. Their measuring stick is that of the [former] Joseon Government-General’s academic bureau (학무국). Looking at Sin Chaeho’s view of history (역사관) from the viewpoint of the Joseon Government-General hurts them to the bone. Further, it is because they well known that if Sin Chaeho’s view of history is revived they will have no place left to stand themselves. The SMSG historians view Korean history from the viewpoint of the ethno-nationalist Japanese extreme right, that is ‘invasionist’ (침략주의) and colonialist.” p205

“… what difference is there between Hitler of Germany and the Japanese king (일왕) Hirohito? Aside from the point that Hitler was German and Hirohito was Japanese, there is absolutely nothing else different. In 1940 Japan was one of the countries forming the fascist [Axis] Alliance of three countries together with Germany and Italy. That which viewed Korean history with these fascist eyes was the SMSG, that is the Joseon Government-General’s view of history.” p206

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.

See here for part 4 of the translated extracts.

Sources: “The Colonial View of History Inside of Us” Lee Deok-il translated extracts part 2/4

See here for the contents and part 1 of translated extracts.

“Because ordinary [South Korean] citizens’ antipathy towards Imperial Japanese colonial rule had been so strong, [SMSG historians] could not directly teach about the Mimana Japan Office [post 1945]. Consequently they chose a crafty method to teach, in reality [still], (사실상), [about] the Mimana Japan Office. This was [both] the so-called ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy,’ and the Samhan (三韓 ‘Three Han [polities]’). They taught that the early history of the Three Kingdoms [should be] deleted and the Samhan put in its place. In this way they taught that the early history of Silla, Goguryeo and Baekje had disappeared and that in the south of the Korean peninsula were a total of 78 small statelets [consisting of] the 54 statelets of Mahan and twelve each for Jinhan and Byeonhan. They narrated in textbooks that Goguryeo was ‘in reality’ established in the 2nd century at the time of King Taejo, Baekje was ‘in reality’ established late 3rd century at the time of King Go’i and Silla was ‘in reality’ established late 4th century at the time of King Naemul.

All of a sudden the Silla progenitor Bak Hyeokgeose, Goguryeo progenitor Jumong and Baekje progenitor Onjo were reduced (전락) to being invented characters or [merely] the chieftains of village settlements (작읍 부락 집단). They taught according to the ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’ that ‘in reality’ the founders of the states were King Naemul for Silla, King Taejo for Goguryeo and King Go’i for Baekje. This is the history we have been taught since [the 1945] liberation until today, and is the history we are still being taught in the present. It is because the SMSG historians who adhere to the [former] Joseon Government-General’s view of history, even now in South Korean society monopolize the right to interpret history. At the same time, they claim it is ‘historical positivism’ (실증사학) based on facts.

However there is a mystery. Throughout there has been consistent criticism [of the SMSG historians] that that which is claimed by colonial historiography is not ‘fact’. And there has also been a consistent call to have a [scholarly] debate over whether they are [indeed] fact or not. However, the colonial scholars who profess

‘historical positivism’ have not once responded to this request. They have only responded by heaping all manner of insults on those scholars who have proposed a scholarly debate instead of [just] attacking (논박) one another’s opinions. They have scorned them employing all manner of terms such as calling them ‘jaeya {在野 lit. ‘in the wild’} historians’, or ‘nationalists’, or saying [their views] are similar to North Korea. Why did they do this? [In this book] it will be explained in detail, but [in short] it was because colonial historiography was [nothing more than] political propaganda far from [actual] ‘facts’.” p36

Yi Injik {李人稙} the national traitor (매국노) who shapedshifted into a foreteller (선각자 lit. ‘one [with] foresight’)

“Whilst many citizens were furious at the Resident-General administration of Itō [Hirobumi], Yi Injik {李人稙 secretary to Yi Wan-yong} was serializing his political novel containing the story that ‘a Japanese soldier saves a Korean girl.’ This was in order to convey messages such as, “Japan, save us quick!” or “the Japanese occupation is a blessing for us.” In short, Hyeol-ui Ru (『혈의루』 {血の淚} ‘Tears of Blood’ [cited in school textbooks as Korea’s first ‘modern’ novel]) was a political novel filled with the traitorous (賣國 lit. ‘selling the country’) political views of Yi Injik.” p38

Shiratori Kurakichi {白鳥庫吉} of Tokyo Imperial University and Naitō Konan {内藤湖南} of Kyoto Imperial University

“It was the Joseon Government-General that made [the Korean history academic] ‘major’ (전공) inviolable sacred territory. This was because once [scholars] studied only their own major [and nothing further] it stopped the emergence of multi-discipline scholars who [could otherwise] raise issues about Imperial Japan’s colonial rule itself. Until the forced occupation by Imperial Japan, as can been seen in [examples such as] Seongho Yi Ik {星湖 李瀷 1681-1763} and Dasan Jeong Yak-yong {茶山 丁若鏞 1762-1836}, Joseon scholars were multi-discipline humanities scholars… The current SMSG historians who continue to survive by – instead of engaging in debate – driving out the scholars proposing debate when they hold differing opinions to themselves; these historians are nothing more than F grade scholars who lack the confidence even to debate on the same level as Shiratori Kurakichi {白鳥庫吉} or Naitō Konan {内藤湖南}.” p66

Imperialist archaeology

“In 1914, Sekino Tadashi {関野貞} compiled these archaeological excavation results and published [under] the Joseon Government-General’s publishing [department] the Chōsen-koseki-chōsa-ryakuhōkoku (朝鮮古蹟調査略報告 ‘Summary report on investigation of ancient Joseon remains’); after that in 1915 the Government-General published the Chōsen-koseki-tokoku (朝鮮古蹟調圖報 ‘Illustrated Report on ancient Joseon remains’) and in 1917 the Chōsen-koseki-hōkokusho (朝鮮古蹟報告書 ‘[Longer] report on ancient Joseon remains’). These reports on excavations became powerful proof through archaeology to support the [otherwise] wanton positioning [of the Han Commanderies] of the colonial historians [underpinning] the ‘Theory that the Four Han Commanderies were located on the Korean peninsula’ for which there was not a shred of primary source evidence. Since this time until the present in which colonial historiography has [still yet] to be overcome, these sites and relics which do not speak [themselves, have been interpreted by] Korean SMSG scholars who claim them as evidence of the Four Han Commanders.” p73

The road to the Joseon History Compilation Committee {朝鮮史編修會}

“If the {scholarly} history societies in Japan made by those at Tokyo Imperial, Keio and Rikugun [Army] Universities were the ‘head temples’ (총본산), in the colony it was Keijō Imperial University (경성대 [aka Seoul University]) and the Joseon History Compilation Committee that continued the intent, forming the Cheonggu-hak’hoe society {靑丘學會 est.1930 – where Cheonggu is another name for Korea} and publishing the Cheonggu-hakchong journal {靑丘學叢}. This cartel that stretched between Japan and the Joseon colony has continued in part even after liberation and until today having changed [only] slightly in form; it has played an important role in making [the academic field of] Korean history follow colonial historiography. As can be seen in the purpose they expressed of “researching the culture of the Far East centered on Joseon and Manchuria, and spreading the results to ordinary [citizens],” the Cheonggu-hak’hoe society was an organisation created to spread the SMSG to ordinary people; whilst Japanese scholars formed the core, Korean scholars including Yi Byeongdo (李丙燾), Sin Seok-ho (申奭鎬), Choe Namseon (崔南善) and Yi Neunghwa (李能和) also participated.” p77

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

According to Lee, in 2012, Gyeonggi-do Education Department (경기도교육청) published a school resource book, Dongbuk’a Pyeonghwa-reul Ggum-gguda (『동북아 평화를 꿈꾸다』 ‘Dreaming of Northeast Asian Peace’) aimed against China’s Northeast Project. The NEAHF, then headed by Seok Dong-yeon, sent an official letter to the Ministry of Education telling them to revise the text because the content was sensitive to China-Japan relations. The Ministry refused to accept the letter. Thereupon, according to Lee, Seok Dong-yeon had the Joongang Ilbo newspaper publish this article, the publicity of which forced the Ministry of Education to send its own official letter to Gyeonggi-do Education Department.

“..the term ‘indication (지적 lit. ‘pointing something out’) [by the] Northeast Asian History Foundation’ would be accurate to read as ‘indication [by the] Government-General’. Concerning the SMSG, in Korean society there are many people who are at once perpetrators and victims; I would imagine that this [Joongang Ilbo] journalist was one such person.” p118

“This [Joongang Ilbo] journalist was unaware of the fact that the opinion of the Northeast Asian History Foundation is exactly the same as the opinion of the [former] Government-General’s Joseon History Compilation Committee. Saying that, [however, they] cannot [simply] receive a pardon (면죄부). It is the same reasoning (논리) that one could not be given a pardon if during the Japanese Colonial era (강점기) they had mistaken a rustic farmer carrying a gun who was [actually] an independence fighter, for a robber and so alerted the military police [resulting] in [the independence fighter’s] execution.” p119

“This behaviour of the Northeast Asian History Foundation [criticizing Gyeonggi-do Education Department on the grounds their publication may have upset China or Japan who wouldn’t have known of it if not for the Foundation publicizing the matter] is exactly the same [sort of] case as [if, during the Colonial era] the military (헌병대) or Imperial Japanese police had been unaware of an independence army hiding in the mountain behind a village but a Japanese collaborator then voluntarily went and informed [them]. The behaviour of a national agency (기관) of South Korea – selling out its history (賣史) and selling the country (매국) has reached this point.” p120

The Northeast Asian History Foundation mistakenly imagining itself to be under the umbrella of the [former Joseon] Government-General

“To take a human body as a metaphor, the SMSG [was] like cancer cells spreading to various places inside the body; when removed from one area, it was spreading to another. Because [the Ministry of Education] was unable to accept the recommendations of the Northeast Asian History Foundation, the NEAHF mobilized the media and pushed it (물고 늘어진 것) to the end.” p123

From Jeong Seung-uk’s article in Segye Ilbo (2012.9.21.)

“[I] am truly curious to know what on earth the criteria [of judgement] of the NEAHF is. There is enough evidence to assert that Manchuria was the land (터전) of the Korean minjok. I wonder if everything we assert is [according to them] distorted and absurd. I want to ask them (the NEAHF). Which country’s foundation is the NEAHF?” Quoted by Lee p124

“Seok Dong-yeon, head [of the NEAHF] sent an official letter (공문) to the Ministry of Education, but when the South Korean Ministry of Education did not accept it, he mobilized his original friends (친정 lit. ‘maiden family’) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and spearheaded the Joongang Ilbo report.” p125

“It was a situation in which [Seok Dong-yeon] was, through South Korean citizens’ tax money, enjoying the treatment of a vice minister (? 차관급) [whilst] imagining himself [자처하다] an agent of [both] the Japanese extreme right and [on] the ‘leading group’ (영도소조 领导小组) of China’s Northeast Project.” p125

“All of the East Asian history disputes and territory disputes have been started by Japan or China. That is to say, we are the victims. However people like Seok Dong-yeon tell the victims what they should be saying to the perpetrators.” p127

“The titles [of their reports] or background explanation always seems reasonable (그럴듯하다). This is because they have to be wrapped on the outside as though they are in the national interest of South Korea because it is no longer the era of Imperial Japan and [they] are under the government of South Korea.” p127

“The line [from the NEAHFD’s critical analysis of the resource book {Lee is apparently quoting the ‘official letter’}], “In the description of Old Joseon in the resource book (자료집) there is a tendency for a [certain] consistent observation [i.e. pro Dan’gun etc],” is criticizing that the Gyeonggi-do resource book described Old Joseon from a viewpoint different to that of the SMSG of the NEAHF. It is exactly this part, the difference in viewpoints which is most important. Dreaming of Northeast Asian Peace maintains the viewpoint of South Korea, of the Korean minjok whilst the NEAHF have the viewpoint of Japan and China.” p128

Colonial historiography uncomfortable with criticism of the [former] Joseon Histoy Compilation Committee’s colonial view of history

In May 2013, Lee’s Han’garam-yeoksa-munhwa-yeon’guso (한가람역사문화연구소 ‘Hangaram History and Culture Research Centre’) undertook a government funded project titled “Research in the historical view and state foundation discourse of the minjok leaders during the period of Imperial Japan’s forced occupation” (‘일제 강점기 민족 지도자들의 역사관 및 국가 건설론 연구’) planning to publish 15 volumes over three years. In February 2014 they published the first three volumes including Lee’s Joseonsa-pyeonsu-hoe Singmin-sagwan I’ron Bipan (『조선사편수회 식민사관 이론 비판』 ‘Critique on the theory of the Joseon History Compilation Committee’s SMSG’). An external review board particularly criticized this work and as a result their budget has been slightly reduced. This section is devoted to Lee’s refutation.

“However, the external reviewers (편가단) instructed me to change the title [of my book] on the reasoning that while my book criticized the ‘Joseon History Compilation Committee’s SMSG theory,’ it also criticized the wider SMSG (식민사관 일반). In short, the [original] title Critique on the theory of the Joseon History Compilation Committee’s SMSG was uncomfortable [for them]; I could understand if the background setting [for this] was moved to before [the 1945] liberation. The structure of the reasoning is no different to the academic bureau (학무국) of the Joseon Government-General [expressing] furiously ‘You dare to criticize the Joseon History Compilation Committee..?!’ It is the same as [the fact that still today] it is not allowed to published a book on South Korean soil with South Korean citizens’ tax money titled Critique on the theory of the Joseon History Compilation Committee’s SMSG [as I did].” p132

“However this is a repetition of what has been experienced by [other] scholars who have confronted the SMSG. It was also the [same] scorn jointly experienced by Professor Yun Naehyeon of Dankook University (단국대) who criticized the ‘theory that the Han Commanderies were located on the Korean peninsula’ and Professor Choe Jaeseok of Korea University who criticized the ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’. Just as the last Governor-General [of Korea], Abe Nobuyuki (阿部信行) said, from the outside South Korea has become liberated, but its psychology (정신세계 lit. ‘spiritual world’), that is its view of history (역사관) seems still in the grasp of the Governor-General’s Joseon History Compilation Committee. When people such as myself say in a private capacity (사석에서), “[we must] study with the attitude (자세) of fighting for independence (돌깁 운동하다), we know between ourselves it is no exaggeration. [South Korea] is a country in which people who are troubled by the title [of my publication] Critique on the theory of the Joseon History Compilation Committee’s SMSG still grip swords by the name of ‘reviewer’ (심사). The instructions (지적) of the external reviewers (편가단) would not have been possible did they not possess the [same] historical perspective of the [former] Joseon Government-General.” p133

“Archaeology is the last stronghold that SMSG academics (식민사학계) are leaning against, for whom textual evidence has failed [them].” p134

“However, when the fact was revealed that there is no primary source [based] evidence for the opinion (주장) of colonial historiography, and that in the Chinese textual sources which were compiled at the same time the Han Commanderies existed, they all say that [the Commanderies] were located in Liaodong, [the SMSG scholars now] insist that these sources cannot be trusted.

What kind of textual sources can be trusted? It hardly needs to be said, sources that were compiled at the time that the Han Commanderies existed, namely the Shiji, Hanshu Houhanshu, Sanguozhi and Jinshu {晉書}; my book Critique on the theory of the Joseon History Compilation Committee’s SMSG laid out its reasoning based on these textual sources. All this time, colonial historiography has, without any primary source evidence, been unconditionally following the order of the [former] Joseon Government-General that Lelang and the other Commanderies were [to be] located on the Korean peninsula. Once it was exposed that there was absolutely no primary source [based] evidence, they have been trying to avoid crisis by [relying on] archaeology. However, since then, the archaeology [they] used as the basis for claiming the Han Commanderies to have been on the Korean peninsula was merely either fabricated or [subject to] willful interpretation. For example, the fact is already known (밝혀졌다) that none of the tombs in which there is an inscription (銘文) identifying the occupant, has any relation to the Han Commanderies.” p142

“In short, the appraisal of the [external] review group (평가단) did nothing more than, from a viewpoint of supporting colonial historiography, show (표시) [their] intention that colonial historiography must be eternally maintained. The problem is the point that this is happening not [under] the [former] Government-General system but within the [current] system of the South Korean government.” p144

“[I] will add one thing further about the Lelang [census] tablets (목간). In the past, concerning all archaeology conducted in North Korea since liberation, SMSG historians (식민사학 lit. ‘colonial historiography’) have scorned it saying it cannot be trusted. But then concerning the Lelang tablets, is it so that they have all at the same time changed their attitude, completely reversing themselves from adamant anti-Communists to pro-North [sympathizers] (친북)? I am curious as to why at this point in time the Lelang tablets were made public in North Korea, coming to the rescue of the SMSG historians…

In academia there are several areas in which North Korea is entirely superior to South Korea. One is Korean linguistics, the other is ancient history. When I read Research on idu [writing] of the Three Kingdoms Period (세 나라 시기의 이두 연구), by North Korean [scholar] Ryu Ryeol, I was very surprised. ‘North Korean research on idu is at this level!’ I spontaneously thought. North Korea views the western border of Old Joseon from the time after a region of 2,000 li was taken by Qin Kai (진개) of Yan in the C3rd BCE, as the Daling-he river (대릉하). By the first half of the 1960s they had already dealt with (정리하다 lit. ‘tidied up/ordered/arranged’) the Imperial Japanese colonial historiography. Only, [during] the 1990s as Juche Thought was [being] emphasized, the centre of Old Joseon was revised to being Pyeongyang, however, this was nothing more than political reasoning (논리 ‘logic’), the reasoning of the 1960-70s is the real reasoning of North Korean scholars (학계).

By contrast, South Korea inherited the Imperial Japanese colonial historiographic tradition as it was and adhered to the ‘Han Commanderies peninsula [location] theory’ until they were put on the defensive [by Lee’s charge that there is no primary source evidence] and are [still now] continuing to survive through the transformation argumentation (변형 논리) of the ‘Old Joseon centre movement theory’. Seeing North Korea make public the Lelang [census] tablets, I wondered, “Maybe in North Korea [they] wish that South Korea’s colonial historiography will be maintained.” If the historiography of people like myself becomes the mainstream historiography of South Korea, then North Korea will lose one of the [few] fields in which they are absolutely superior to South Korea.” p147

“In the end, rather than being objective appraisal about my book, the appraisal of the ‘external review group’ (외부 평가단) can only be viewed as biased criticism stemming from negative presuppositions about the criticism of colonial historiography [in the book], demonstrating (대변하다) sympathy (이해) for the established SMSG scholars (식민사학계).” p148

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.

See here for part 3 of the translated extracts.

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)