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 ‘celetial 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 Samguk-yusa “Hwan’ung-Dan’gun” 桓雄·壇君 account

The following is a direct translation of the Hwan’ung-Dan’gun (桓雄·壇君) myth as found in the Samguk-yusa (『三國遺事』’Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms’ c.1283) where it is included at the start of the first “Gi’i” (紀異 ‘Records of wondrous/supernatural [events]’) chapter; the section is titled ‘Old Joseon’ and subtitled ‘Wanggeom Joseon’ (古朝鮮:王儉朝鮮).

This is the longer of the two earliest surviving Hwan’ung-Dan’gun variant texts. The other is found as an annotation in Jewang-un’gi (『帝王韻紀』’Rhyming record of emperors and kings’ completed 1287) by Yi Seunghyu (李承休).

English translations of the SY variant are available in various books; I’m uploading this version for convenience and in anticipation of following posts.

In the original Chinese, the Old Joseon section contains no subdivisions; here I have divided it into five. The middle sections are based on the three part structural analysis by Choe Namseon (崔南善 1890-1957) – this is now convention and seems quite obvious, but he was the first person to do this.

Curved parenthesis () are original to the text; in the original Chinese there is no such punctuation but instead the parenthetical text is smaller sized than the main text.

Old Joseon (Wanggeom Joseon)

According to the Weishu 魏書, 2,000 years ago there was Dan’gun Wanggeom 壇君王儉, [he] established the capital of Asadal 阿斯達 (the classic {i.e. Shanhaijing 山海經} says this was either Muyeop-san 無葉山 or Baeg’ak 白岳 in Baek-ju 白州; it also says it was to the east of Gaeseong 開城, now Baeg’ak-gung palace白岳宮). Founding {lit. opening} the kingdom [it] was called Joseon 朝鮮; [this was] the same time as {legendary} [Emperor] Yao 高 {堯}.


{Hwan’ung descension myth}
According to old records 古記, a long time ago there was Hwan’in 桓因 (called Śakra 帝釋 {Kor. Jeseok}). [One of his] sons [was] Hwan’ung 桓雄 [who] had much intention [for] earth [and] coveted the human world. The father knew [his] son’s intentions; looking over the Samwi-Taebaek 三危太伯 [peaks], it was possible for humans to be widely prosperous 弘益人間. Thereupon bestowing the three celestial seals, he sent [his son] to rule it. [Hwan’]ung led 3,000 [followers], [and] descended to the summit of Taebaek-san mountain (Taebaek is present day Myohyang-san 妙香山{modern North Pyeong’an-do province in North Korea}) below the sindan-su 神壇樹 {lit. ‘divine altar’} tree; calling [the place] Sinsi 神市 {lit. ‘divine market’}, they called Hwan’ung ‘celestial king’. Commanding the wind earl and masters of rain and cloud, [they] managed cereals, life, disease, punishment, good and evil, and the more than 360 matters of humans; [these things] in the world they ruled and cultivated/enlightened.


{Bear and tiger story}
At [this] time, there was a bear [and] a tiger [who both] lived in the same hole. Always they prayed to the divine [Hwan’]ung, wishing to become human. Then, the god sent them one sprig of mugwort 艾 and twenty stems of garlic 蒜, saying, “You, eat these, do not see the sun for 100 days, then you will be able to achieve human form.”

The bear and tiger took and ate them, [observing the] prohibition/taboo [of sunlight] for twenty-one days. The bear gained a woman’s body; the tiger was unable to [observe the] prohibition and so did not gain a human body. The bear woman had no one with [whom] to marry. Therefore she always went to beneath the dan-su tree, [and] prayed to become pregnant. [Hwan’]ung temporarily changed [to human form] and married her; becoming pregnant she gave birth to a son [who was] named Dan’gun-Wanggeom.


{Dan’gun’s reign}
In the Gyeong’in 庚寅 year [of the sexagonary calendar], 50 years after [emperor] Tang Yao 唐高 had ascended the throne (the first year of Tang Yao’s reign was Mujin 戊辰, so the 50th year would be Jeongsa 丁巳, not Gyeong’in. Probably it is wrong) [Dan’gun Wanggeom] established the capital Pyeongyang-seong 平壤城 (current day Seogyeong 西京 {‘western capital’ aka modern Pyeongyang}) and for the first time called [the country] Joseon. Again the capital was moved to Baek’ak-san mountain Asadal. Again, [it was] named Gung- 弓(or Bang)-hol-san 忽山, or/again Geummidal 今彌達; [he] governed the country for 1,500 years. In the year that King Wu of Zhou 周虎王{aka 周武} ascended the throne, [sexagonary] Gimyo 己卯 [year], Gi Ja 箕子 was enfeoffed to Joseon; Dan’gun thereupon moved to Jangdang-gyeong 藏唐京 [and] later returned to Asadal-san becoming a sansin 山神 mountain god. [He] was aged 1,908.


{Gi Ja and Han Commanderies}
According to Tang [dynasty era] Peiju-zhuan 裵矩傳, Goryeo 高麗 was originally Gojuk-guk 孤竹國 (current day Haeju 海州). By enfeoffing Gi Ja 箕子 [they] made Joseon. Han [China] divided [Joseon] establishing three commanderies 郡, called Xuantu [K. Hyeondo] 玄菟, Lelang [K. Nangnang] 樂浪 and Daifang [K. Daebang] 帶方(North Daifang). The Tongdian 通典 {by Du You 杜佑 (735-812)}, also has a similar account to this. (The Hanshu 漢書 has four commanderies Zhen[pan-jun] 眞{番}, Lin[tun-jun] 臨{屯}, Le[lang-jun] and Xuan[tu-jun];  now [here] it says three commanderies, the names also are not the same, why would this be?)

唐裵矩傳云高麗本孤竹國(今海州)周以封箕子爲朝鮮漢分置三郡謂玄菟 樂浪帶方(北帶方)通典亦同此說(漢書則眞臨樂玄四郡今云三郡名又不同何耶)

Dan’ga – “Sacheol-ga” (四節歌 사철가 Song of Four Seasons)

[Performed in the recording above by master singer Kim Su-yeon 김수연]

Dan’ga (短歌 단가 ‘short song’) are performed by pansori artists primarily as ‘warm up’ songs before their main performance. Probably the best known is Sacheol-ga “The Song of Four Seasons.”

In hangul the title is written both as Sacheol-ga 사철가 and Sajeol-ga 사절가 (四節歌).

이산 저산 꽃이 피니 분명코 봄이로구나
i-san jeo-san kkochi-i pi-ni bun-myeong-ko bom-i-ro-gu-na
This mountain, that mountain, flowers bloom: clearly it is spring!

봄은 찾어 왔건마는 세상사 쓸쓸허드라
bom-eun chaj-eo wa-ggeon-ma-neun se-sang-sa sseul-sseul-heo-deu-ra
Spring has come yet the events of this world are lonesome and sad

나도 어제 청춘일러니 오날 백발 한심허구나
na-do eo-je cheong-chun-il-leo-ni o-nal baek-bal han-sim-heo-gu-na
Yesterday, I too was in my spring youth, but today I am white haired and pathetic!

내 청춘도 날 버리고 속절없이 가버렸으니 왔다 갈 줄 아는 봄을 반겨 헌들 쓸데있나
nae cheong-chun-do nal beo-ri-go sok-jeol-eops-i ga-beoryeoss-eu-ni wa-dda gal-jul a-neun bom-eul ban-gyeo heon-deul sseul-de-i-nna?
My spring youth has discarded me and left me without a chance,
so what use is there in welcoming the spring, knowing it will come and go?

봄아 왔다가 갈려거든 가거라. 니가 가도 여름이 되면 녹음방초승화시(綠陰芳草勝花時)라
bom-a wa-dda-ga gal-lyeo-geo-deun ga-geo-ra. ni-ga ga-do yeo-reum-i doe-myeon nok-eum bang-cho seung hwa-si-ra
Spring, if you’re going to come and go, then go! Even if you leave it will be summer when green shade and fragrant grasses win against flowers.

옛부터 일러있고 여름이 가고 가을이 돌아오면
yet-pu-teo il-leo-i-ggo yeo-reum-i ga-go ga-eul-i dor-a-o-myeon
From olden times it has been thus: if summer leaves and autumn returns,

한로삭풍(寒露朔風) 요란해도 제 절개를 굽히지 않는 황국단풍(黃菊丹楓)도 어떠헌고
hal-lo-sak-pung yo-ran-dae-do je jeol-gae-reul gup-hi-ji an-neun hwang-guk dan-pung-do eo-tteo-heon-go
even if cold frosts and northern winds make a racket, what then even of the yellow chrysanthemums and red maples, their honour unyielding?

가을이 가고 겨울이 돌아오면 낙목한천(落木寒天) 찬 바람에 백설만 펄펄 휘날리어
ga-eul-i ga-go gyeo-ur-i dor-a-o-myeon nang-mok-heon-cheon chan-ba-ram-e baek-seol-man peol-peol hwi-nal-li-eo
When autumn goes and winter returns, trees are bare, the sky is cold and in the chill wind only white snow flies around

은세계가 되고보면 월백설백천지백(月白雪白天地白)허니 모두가 백발의 벗이로구나
eun-se-gye-ga doe-go-bo-myeon wol-baek seol-baek cheon-ji-baek heo-ni mo-du-ga baek-bal-ui beos-i-ro-gu-na
The whole world turns silver: the moon white, snow white, and heaven and earth white, all become friends to one with white hair!

무정 세월은 덧없이 흘러가고 이내 청춘도 아차 한 번 늙어지면 다시 청춘은 어려워라
mu-jeong se-wol-eun deot-eops-i heul-leo-ga-go i-nae cheong-chun-do a-cha han beon neulg-eo-ji-myeon da-si cheong-chun-eun eo-ryeo-wo-ra
Heartless time flows quickly on, presently if youth too becomes old once, it is difficult for it to be youthful again!

어화 세상 벗님네들 이네 한 말 들어보소
eo-hwa se-sang beot-nim-ne-deul i-ne han mal deur-eo-bo-so
Oh! Friends of the world, listen to these words!

인생이 모두가 백년을 산다고 해도 병든 날과 잠든 날 걱정근심 다 제허면 단 사십도 못 살 인생,
in-saeng-i mo-du-ga baek nyeon-eul san-da-go hae-do byeong-deun nal-gwa jam-deun nal geok-jeong-geun-sim da je-heo-myeon dan sa-sip-do mot sal in-saeng
Even though they say lifetimes all last a hundred years, if you deduct days of illness, sleep and other worries then it is but forty we can live.

아차 한 번 죽어지면 북망산천(北邙山川)의 흙이로구나
a-cha han beon jug-eo-ji-myeon bung-mang-san-cheon-ui hulk-i-ro-gu-na
Ah, if we die but once we turn to earthen graves as by the streams of Mount Beimang!

사후에 만반진수(滿盤珍羞)는 불여생전(不如生前)의 일배주(一杯酒) 만도 못허느니라
sa-hu-e man-ban-jin-su-neun bur-yeo saeng-jeon-ui il-bae-ju man-do mot-heo-neu-ni-ra
After death even a full plate of the rarest delicacies cannot compare with a single cup of wine whilst still alive!

세월아 세월아 세월아 가지 말어라 아까운 청춘들이 다 늙는다
se-wol-a se-wol-a se-wol-a ga-ji mar-eo-ra a-gga-un cheong-chun-deul-i da neung-neunda
Time! Time! Time! Don’t go! Precious youths are all old.

세월아 가지마라. 가는 세월 어쩔거나.
se-wol-a ga-ji-ma-ra. ga-neun se-wol eo-jjeol-geo-na.
Time! Don’t go! What can be done about the time that goes?

늘어진 계수나무 그 끝 허리에다 대랑 매달아 놓고
neul-eo-jin gye-su-na-mu geu-kkeut heo-ri-e-da dae-rang mae-dar-a no-ko
Hang them  from the end of that dropping cinnamon tree:

국곡투식(國穀偸食) 허는 놈과 부모불효 허는 놈과 형제화목 못허는 놈
guk-gok-tu-sik heo-neun nom-gwa bu-mo-bul-hyo heo-neun nom-gwa hyeong-je-hwa-mok mot-heo-neun nom,
rascals who steel and eat grain from the state, rascals who are not pious to their parents and rascals who cannot live in harmony with their brothers,

차례로 잡어다가 저 세상 먼저 보내버리고 나머지 벗님네들 서로 모아 앉아서
cha-rye-ro jab-eo-da-ga jeo se-sang meon-jeo bo-nae-beo-ri-go na-meo-ji beot-nim-ne-deul seo-ro mo-a anj-a-seo
Catch them in turn and  send them first to the other world, and my friends that remain, let us gather and sit

한 잔 더 먹소 덜 먹게 허면서 거드렁거리고 놀아보세
han jan deo meok-so deol meok-ge heo-myeon-seo geo-deu-reong-geo-ri-go nol-a-bo-se
And drink another glass! While making us drink less, let us go wild in the moment!

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

See here for part 1, part 2 and part 3.

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

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

“Let us consider the periodization in [the volume] Joseon-bando-sa {朝鮮半島史 ‘History of the Joseon Peninsula’} which was compiled by the Joseon History Compilation Committee of the Joseon Government-General before it compiled the enormous 37 volume (including contents and index) Joseon-sa {朝鮮史 ‘History of Korea’}. The first volume is ‘Ancient Samhan’ (上古三韓), divided into two parts; part one is the ‘primeval period’ (원시 시대) and part two is ‘[Chinese] Han (漢) territory period’ (한漢 영토 시대). Dan’gun Joseon is treated as a legend rather than historical fact [and so] is placed in the ‘primeval period’ so the start of Korean history is established as the ‘[Chinese] Han 漢 territory period,’ that is the Four Han Commanderies 漢四郡. The intention was to make the start of Korean history [with Korea] as a colony; this is in exact agreement with the NEAHF[‘s Early Korea Project] deleting Old Joseon and beginning with the Four Han Commanderies.” p214

“[The Early Korea Project books imply that] the northern part of the Korean peninsula was a Chinese colony called the Four Han Commanderies (한사군) and the southern part of the Korean peninsula was a Japanese colony called the Mimana Japan Office (Kaya {임나일본부}). This is in exact agreement with China’s Northeast Project (동북공정). The main theories of the Northeast Project can be broadly consider as three points.

1) The Daedong-gang river basin was the region of Old Joseon and the Lelang-jun commandery = Old Joseon was a small state north of the Han-gang river and the Four Han Commanderies were established in its place.
2) Goguryeo was a regional feudality of China.
3) North of the Han-gang river and [modern] North Korea were the historical territory of China.

“If one goes to the homepage of the NEAHF, the section which explains about these [Early Korea Project] books is ‘history reconciliation’ (역사 화해). ‘History reconciliation’ could be interpreted as a good meaning, but at a place like the NEAHF, it is correct to read ‘history reconciliation’ as ‘achieving reconciliation by giving Korean history to Japan and China.” p217

“In the ‘Early Korea Project’ there is no Old Joseon [but] there are the Four Han Commanderies (한사군). In this project which covers from the start of Korean history until the Goryeo period, Goguryeo and Baekje have been entirely deleted. According to this project, Korean history goes from the Four Han Commanderies via Gaya to mid Silla and then to Goryeo. In this project the Gaya [it] wants to refer to is, of course, the Mimana Japan office (임나일본부). And, according to the ‘Theory that the early records of the Samguk-sagi are not trustworthy’ which was created by Tsuda Sōkichi and passed on to Imanishi Ryū and Yi Byeongdo etc, early Silla history has also been deleted so it goes [straight] into The Samhan period in Korean History and State and Society in Middle and Late Silla.” p219

Yi Byeongdo who participated in Japanese Tenri [sect of Shintō] (天理) religious ceremony

Quoted extract from the memoires of Kim Yong-seop, an anti SMSG professor of Seoul National University.

“There are two times I [Kim Yong-seop] spoke with Professor Han (U-geun); owing to his age, his manner of speaking was very different. One time Professor Du-gye (斗溪 [aka] Yi Byeongdo) had gone to Japan at the invitation of Tenri University (天理大学) and from there he invited Professor Han and myself telling us to consult between ourselves and come. [Professor Han said to me,] “Professor Kim, let’s go together. If Professor Kim [you] goes, I will also go; if you do not go, I do not want to go either.”

He added, “By the way, Professor Du-gye has gone to Tenri University and so he is dressed in a Tenri-kyō (天理教) ceremonial robe and they have him participating in religious ceremonies.

It is still the [same] period as the Government-General there [in Japan], I thought. I declined, “Professor, I get very car sick so I cannot travel. Please go by yourself.”

The other time was when several people were gathered together, [Professor Han U-geun] said “… Professor Kim, let’s now stop [practicing] minjok historiography.”

This was at the centre of various talking; although his words were soft, his tone was strong. It was an order.” Citing Kim Yongseop 김용섭 Yeoksa-ui o’solgil-eul ga’myeonseo 『 역사의 오솔길을 가면선』 지식산업사, 2011, 771쪽. p224

“After the 1930s, Tenri-kyō (天理教) played a leading role in Japanese militarism (군국주의) and it must be viewed as an even more serious [form] of Japanese Shintōism than nationalist Shintō. This is because it holds the doctrine that every single human being was born from the stomach of Oyasama {おやさま}.” p226

“Although the Joseon Government-General dismantled the Shintō shrines across Korea [in the wake of the 1945 withdrawal] there is no doubt that they believed the spirit they had planted [in Korea] through the shrines would continue. And that belief became reality through the leader of Korean history [as an academic discipline], Yi Byeongdo, wearing the black ceremonial costume of the Tenri-kyō (天理教) [shintō sect] and participating in [Tenri-kyō] worship ceremonies, kneeling, bowing and clapping four times. Further, it has become reality through the [former] Government-General’s view of history [being] the established theory (정설) of South Korea’s (colonial) historiography (사학계), firmly occupying the place of commonly accepted theory (통설).” p229

2. The colonial view of history cartel which continued even after liberation

The Northeast Asian History Foundation refusing the proposal for a public debate

“… This is because the ‘Theory of the Four Han Commanderies [being located on] the Korean peninsula’ (한사군 한반도설) has no primary source [based] evidence, it is history fabricated by the Joseon Government-General. Until now, [Korean] citizens have not known this fact and wrongly assumed that the opinions of those [SMSG academics] in university lecture halls did have evidence. However, now the situation is different. Because the situation is no longer that SMSG historians can monopolize all forms of media like they used to. Consequently it has become a situation in which ‘we know and they know’ the fact that the ‘Theory of the Four Han Commanderies [being located on] the Korean peninsula’ is a fabricated theory with no primary source [based] evidence. Because it has no scholarly evidence, they can only avoid debate. Because they have to block the debate itself, they all unanimously bluff (호도), “It is a question which has already been dealt with by academia.” That is why the Gungmin-undong-bonbu (국민운동본부) sent [the NEAHF] a second official letter [requesting to hold a conference on the question of the location of the Han Commanderies].” p244

“The battle line between the view of history of the Joseon Government-General and that of the independence activists was always Korea’s ancient history. From a hundred years back when the country was stolen [by the Japanese] until today, in this situation (이 자리에서) [interest in] ancient Korean history has always been [about] modern history. The reason that the character gwan (觀) ‘to view’ is in the word sa’gwan (史觀 ‘view of history’) is because when looking/considering history, the viewpoint (관점) is most important. The viewpoint for considering history must be the same for both ancient and modern history. If someone who views ancient history from the perspective (관점) of the ruling class were to view modern history from the perspective of the common people (민중 minjung), the term sa’gwan (‘view of history’) must not be used for them. Such a person cannot be considered as a scholar either. However in South Korean history academia such behaviour has become popular currency (통용). Consequently, those scholars who major either in the history of the independence movement or modern history avoid the question saying, “I do not know about ancient history because it is not my major.” They pretend on purpose not to know the fact that ancient Korean history which was created by the Joseon Government-General is, in this situation, modern history. Saying, “Ancient history should be left to those majoring in it” is no different to saying the Joseon Government-General’s view of history must permanently be maintained. The Joseon Government-General made walls within the education system and walls between academic majors, stopping scholars from being able to see the entirety. Further, they [employed] divide and rule through the units of the education system and academic majors. Even after liberation this framework of colonial rule was maintained and so South Korea became a country in which communication [with{in?}] the education system does not exist. And further, amongst [their] overview writings/discourse (총론), the SMSG scholars (식민사학에서) pretend to criticise the SMSG, that is the historical view of the [former] Government-General, but in their individual papers/discourses (각론) they have inherited the historical view of the Joseon Government-General, as is, [hidden] under the name of [their specialized] major. In this way, controlling 100% of academia (학계) through professorial positions and money, they have made the greater proportion of scholars into slaves. Both a member of the [Korean] Academy of Science (학술원) and an archaeologist, Yun Byeongmu, wrote the [following] recollection about Yi Byeongdo who after liberation was at the summit of this system.

“Not only was Master Du-gye (Yi Byeongdo) the kind teacher (은사) who I served academically, he was also nothing less than the benefactor who determined the path of my entire life. I was able to spend a half of my life first at the museum of Seoul National University and later at the National Museum [of Korea]; it was Master Du-gye who opened the path enabling me to take these two jobs. He possessed a nature to warmly guide and help anyone who came before his presence {lit. ‘came before his eyes} for ever after.” Quoting Jindan-hakhoe 진단학회 Yeoksaga-ui yuhyang 『 역사가의 유향』 일조각, 1991, 129쪽.

Conversely what he said means that “Those who once left [Yi Byeongdo’s] presence, he would always” make it impossible for them to find an academic position. Consequently, if one presented a theory that was different to the Joseon Government-General’s view of history, not only would you never be able to lecture, or find an academic position, you would be banished from academia with the words ‘jae-ya’ ([在野] lit. ‘in the wild’) carved in red. Through this method the Joseon Government-General’s view of history has been maintained until today as the single established theory/orthodoxy (정설) or commonly accepted theory (통설).

However now the situation has changed. Scholars like myself have emerged who major in history and themselves refuse ‘the [exclusive] league only for them.’ At the Han’garam-yeoksa-munhwa-yeon’gu-so (한가람역사문화연구소 Han’garam History and Culture Research Centre) where I am, there are now several people with doctoral degrees, and many who even if they do not have a PhD are able to recite primary sources line by line [better] than SMSG historians. In this way, more than seventy years since liberation, for the first time a single place (축) has formed to confront the colonial historiography. Now, when these scholars demanded to hold an academic debate about the ‘location of the Four Han Commanderies’ based on ancient primary sources and according to the historical method, SMSG historians had no other means than to all stay silent together. Like parrots they continue repeating, “It has been dealt with by academia as the ‘Theory that the Four Han Commanderies [were located on] the Korean peninsula.'” I have already said, when they say ‘academia’ (학계) it is correct to read it as ‘colonial academic historians’ (식민사학계).” p249-51

The letter sent from Byington to the Northeast Asia History Foundation

“During the previous administration, at a public academic meeting, a [certain] important person [titling himself] the ‘representative compiler of Korean history textbooks’ (국사 교과서의 대표집필자) – [those textbooks with which] there are so many problems, who was there as the group leader of the Korean Studies Promotion Service (한국학진흥사업단) said the following about Sin Chaeho.

In four [Korean] words, Sin Chaeho was a ‘mental patient’ (정신병자), in three he was a ‘crazy’ (또라이)

I have confirmed this story from multiple sources. If I had been there at the time, I would not have just looked on without doing anything. However, a large number of historians did nothing even though they heard this [dangerously] absurd remark (망언). In South Korea it is already a long time ago that the academic field of history deteriorated into weak academia (鼠生의 학문 lit. ‘academia of mice’). If it were France, this kind of extreme right fascist national-traitor (매국노 lit. ‘slave who sells the country’) would immediately be imprisoned, but in South Korea he has control over an enormous annual budget of 25 billion won related to Korean history through the Korean Studies Promotion Service. The reality is that most of the historians were [too] busy with their sycophancy (아부) towards this national traitor.” p261

“In one sense Byington, too, is both a perpetrator and victim of the SMSG. Who would have told him about the [independence activist] historians who in one hand held a gun and the other a [writing] brush? What do the rogues (말종들) privately scoff about amongst themselves when [even] in a public academic setting they are saying, “In four [Korean] words, Sin Chaeho was a ‘mental patient’, in three he was a ‘crazy'”?! [Byington] would only have heard [from] the traitorous historians seeped in sadae-juui Sinocentricism (사대주의), criticizing those who were both independence activists and historians. Byington surely did not know the fact itself that there had been a fierce clash between the Joseon Government-General and the independence activists over the interpretation of history. If Byington had known the fact that there had been a fierce clash over views of history and used the method of comparing the two opinions according to the basic methodology of history, conclusions such [as those found in] The Han Commanderies in Early Korean History would absolutely not have been produced. If he had compared according to the historical method the opinion of the [former] Joseon Government-General that asserts the ‘Theory that the Four Han Commanderies [were located on] the Korean peninsula’ with the opinion of the independence activists who asserted the ‘Hebei province zone theory,’ the conclusion would have been different. [Sources including] the Shiji, Hanshu, Samguozhi, Houhanshu and Jinshu (晉書) which were written contemporaneously to the period that the Four Han Commanderies were established [or lasted for], [all] consistently write that the position of the Four Han Commanderies was [in] Liaodong. However, in a situation (상태) where Byington lacks the ability to examine those opinions based on primary sources, he would have [only] heard as being correct the view of history of the Joseon Government-General transmitted [to him] by the SMSG historians.” p263

“The viewpoint of a scholar must be consistent at least on the topic they are dealing with themselves; but Byington demonstrates layered self-contradiction [when] at the start [of his letter sent to the NEAHF] he criticizes the opinion of the Joseon Government-General as “the research results of Imperial Japan’s forced occupation” but [at the same time also] criticizes the scholars who [themselves] were criticizing ‘the research results of Imperial Japan’s forced occupation,’ as making ‘ethno-nationalism (민족주의) and wishful thinking’ (희망사항 lit. ‘items of hope’) their research motivation.” p264

“If the ministers of the National Assembly had raised issue with a book privately authored by Byington, he would be able to respond in the manner which he did. However, Byington did not research The Han Commanderies in Early Korean History with his own private funding. It was researched with a billion (10억) won of the nation’s money equivalent to South Korean citizens’ [own] blood. If [someone] took the tax money of US citizens and published the results of research that said the Pacific War had broken out due to the fault of the US, and that Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour was right, would the US senators simply allow it!?” p267

Song Hojeong who has devoted his academic career to disparaging Old Joseon

“In order to negate Old Joseon, Song Hojeong enjoys incorporating nomadic peoples such as the San’yung (山戎 Ch. Shanrong) and Dongho (東胡 Ch. Donghu). When Dan’gun first established [Old] Joseon, it was not [at that time] given the name ‘Joseon.’ The history of Old Joseon written by Old Joseon people does not remain. Consequently we are forced to grasp [Old Joseon history] from the Samguk-yusa and Samguk-sagi which are later sources, as well as books written by ancient Chinese. Chinese people used various terms for Old Joseon. Dongho 東胡 is simply a different name for Old Joseon.” p275

“The effort which Song Hojeong puts in to negate (부인) Old Joseon is enough to [make one] feel apologetic [for his efforts]. Just as Tsuda Sōkichi incorporated the ‘Han’ 韓 section of the “Weishu” [book] from the Sanguozhi, in order to negate the early records of the Samguk-sagi, Song Hojeong incorporates the ‘San’yung (山戎 Ch. Shanrong) and Dongho (東胡 Ch. Donghu)’ in order to negate Old Joseon.” p276

“[Both] the Chinese Northeast Project and Korean SMSG historiography cooperate in making the argumentation (논리 lit. ‘logic’) of the ‘Shanrong’ and ‘Donghu’ etc in order to separate the region from which pipa-shaped bronze daggers (Old Joseon type bronze daggers) have been widely unearthed in current Chinese Liaoxi – that is the region of western Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia – from Old Joseon and so restrict Old Joseon to within the Korean peninsula; [they do this] in order to shrink the territory of Old Joseon to within the Korean peninsula.” p276

“If it can be said that Seo Yeongsu and No Taedon slightly departed from the argumentation of the [former] Joseon Government-General that ‘Old Joseon = a small country in the region of South Pyeong’an-do province’ [by] asserting that the centre of Old Joseon which had been in Liaodong [subsequently] moved to Pyeongyang, [then] Song Hojeong is basically reproducing the Joseon Government-General’s argumentation, as is, that Old Joseon was established in the northwest of the Korean peninsula and [continued until it] collapsed there [in the same location].” p277

Opinions of the other contributors

“The point in common between these opinions [of SMSG scholars on Lelang-jun commandery] is that the perspective through which they view Korean history is hostile to Korea. Praising the Joseon Government-General administration (시정) is no different to praising Lelang-jun commandery. It is the same thought, praising colonial rule.” p284

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

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

(On locating Xiandou-xian county (險讀縣 K. Heomdok-hyeon) which was known as the capital location for Wi Man Joseon’s Wangheom-seong and therefore the subsequent location of the Han Commanderies.)

“Concerning the position of Wangheom-seong {王險城}, let us consider the Shiji-jixie (史記集解) by Pei Yin (裴駰) of the Southern Song from the period of the Northern and Southern dynasties of China. The Shiji-jixie is a collection of all the books with annotations/commentaries (주석) on the Shiji from between the time that the Shiji was written until the mid to late 5th century when [Pei Yin] was living. Concerning Wangheom-seong, Pei Yin explains in the Shiji-jixie, “Xu Guang (徐廣) said that Xiandou-xian county (險讀縣 K. Heomdok-hyeon) was/is in Changli-jun 昌黎郡.” This means Xu Guang said, “Xiandou-xian was in Changli-jung.” Xu Guang was a scholar of the Eastern Jin (東晋) period who lived from around the late 4th century until the early 5th century. There is a present day Changli-xian county (昌黎县) in Hebei province; of course this county is related to the Changli-xian of this period. The Xiandou-xian county that SMSG scholars claim is south of the Daedong-gang river is [actually] in Hebei province [China].

In his Shiji-suoyin (史記索隱), Sima Zhen (司馬貞) of the Tang [dynasty] wrote concerning Xiandou-xian as follows.

Shiji-suoyin: Wei Zhao (韋昭) said, “[Xiandou] is the name of an old district {邑}.” Xu Guang (徐廣) said, “Xiandou-xian is in Changli-xian.” Ying Shao’s (應劭) annotations say, “In the “Geography treaty” {地理志} it says that Xiandou-xian is/was in Liaodong-jun, as was the capital of Joseon king Wi Man.” Chen Zan (臣瓚) said, “Wangheom-seong is to the east of the Lelang-jun Paesu [river].” “p298

“However, Kim Gyeongseon (金景善 1788-1853) left behind the travel account Yeonwon-jingji (燕轅直指) [detailing his journey] as an emissary to Beijing during the reign of Sunjo. However, in this he left behind a passage as if he had known that in future generations SMSG scholars would make mischief over the location of the Paesu river.

Hora! Later generations being unable to know the border of lands in detail, foolishly understood all the land of the Four Han Commanderies 漢四郡 to have been restricted to within {i.e. south of} the Amnok-gang river and so matched the facts arbitrarily. And then searching for the Paesu river amongst those [mixed up facts] they said it was either the Amnok-gang, the Cheongcheon-gang or the even the Paesu; [in so doing] they shrunk the territory of Old Joseon without even fighting a war [over it].” p300

“Chen Zan (臣瓚) said, “Wangheom-seong is to the east of the Lelang-jun Paesu [river],” not to its south. Pyeongyang is to the north of the Daedong-gang river. The SMSG scholars [variously] assert [that the Paesu river was the] Yalu (압록강), the Cheongcheon-gang or the Daedong-gang river as though they do not even know east, west, south and north.” p301

“Chen Zan (臣瓚), a scholar of the Western Jin (西晉 265-316) said, “Wangheom-seong is to the east of the Lelang-jun Paesu [river].” Yan Shigu (顔師古 581-645), as scholar of the Tang period also supported Chen Zan. What do the facts mean that Wangheom-seong [the capital of Wi Man Joseon] was located to the east of the Paesu river which was in Lelang-jun, and that Xiandou-xian (險讀縣) – established in the place of Wangheom-seong – belonged to Liaodong-jun? It means that Lelang-jun was to the west of Liaodong-jun.” p302

“Concerning Lelang-jun, the centre of the Four Han Commanderies, Chinese primary sources consistently state that it was located in Liaodong. Aside from the Shiji and Hanshu [discussed] above, the “Basic Annal of Emperor Gwangwu” (光武帝[本紀]) in the Houhanshu also says, “Lelang-jun was ancient Chaoxian-guo {朝鮮國 K. Joseon-guk – aka Old Joseon}. It was located in Liaodong 在遼東.” And in the “Cui Yin biography” (崔駰[列傳]) of the Houhanshu it says, “Changcen-xian county 長岑縣 belongs to Lelang-jun, that land is in Liaodong 其地在遼東.” Ancient Chinese books repeatedly state that the position of Lelang-jun was not the Korean peninsula but Liaodong. There is not a single primary source saying Lelang-jun was located on the Korean peninsula.”p303-4

“Thereupon the SMSG scholars began whining that Goryeo period people also regarded Pyeongyang as [the location of] Lelang-jun. This is looking for a kind of refuge to hide in. It is true that from mid Goryeo, the Confucian scholars (유학자들) created the ‘Gi Ja coming east theory’ (箕子東來說) based on sadae-juui Sinocentricism (사대주의 사상) saying that Gi Ja (箕子) came to Pyeongyang, and they called Pyeongyang ‘Gi-seong’ (箕城) with the meaning ‘Gi Ja’s capital’. However, this is nothing more than the sadae-juui philosophy of Confucian scholars which emerged more than a thousand years after the establishment of Lelang-jun commandery. Gi Ja did not come to Pyeongyang. In his annotation of the “Songweizi-shijia” (宋微子世家) chapter of the Shiji, Du Yu (杜預 222-285) of Western Jin (西晉) wrote, “Gi Ja’s tomb (箕子塚) is in Meng-xian county (蒙縣) of Liang-guo state (梁國).” According to the 3rd volume of The Historical Atlas of China ([中国歷史地图集]) published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences ([中国社会科学院]), Liangguo of the Western Jin period [was located in modern] Meng-xian county close to current day Shangqiu (商丘) city of Henan province. Shangqiu has the meaning of ‘Shang [dynasty] (상나라) hill’; as the tomb site of Gi Ja who was from Yin (은나라 aka Shang) it is much more persuasive than Pyeongyang.” p304

2. Dismissing the value of historical sources

The overseas Koreans [I] met on Jieshi-shan mountain {碣石山 K. Galseok-san} and No Taedon of Seoul National University

(According to Lee, in the “Taikang-dilizhi” 太康地理 geography treatise of the Shiji Jieshi-shan mountain 碣石山 is recorded as the eastern terminus of the Great Wall, located in Suicheng-xian 遂城縣 county of Lelang-jun. Yi Byeongdo hypothesized that Jieshi-shan was Yodong-san 遼東山 in Suan of Hwanghae-do province with only speculative evidence.

The “Taikang-dilizhi”「太康地理志」seems to actually be found in the Jinshu (晉書). When Lee first discusses it (p308), he refers to it as an annotation to the Xia Basic Annals of the Shiji (史記:夏本紀). He then switches to talking about the ‘Geography Treatise of the Jinshu‘ (晉書:地理志) but never explains if they are the same or not.)

“[SMSG archaeologist No Taedo was admitting that he was] unable to find the remains of the Great Wall in the northwest of the Korean peninsula, namely Suan {遂安郡} in Hwanghae-do province. Of course there is no Galseok-san mountain {碣石山 Ch. Jieshi-shan} in Suan, Hwanghae-do. Yodong-san (遼東山) in Suan, Hwanhae-do, is Yodong-san and has no relation to Galseok-san [as had been suggested by Yi Byeongdo]. Galseok-san is to the north of present day Changli-shi city {昌黎市} in Hebei province, China. There are even some scholars who think (비정) it may be further to the west but for now I will development [my argument] restricting [the discussion] to Suan of Hwanghae-do and Changli-xian of Hebei province.” p312

“How to deal with the “Taikang-dilizhi” (太康地理志 ‘Taikang Geography Treatise) which says Suseong-hyeon {遂城縣 Suicheng-xian} is/was in Lelang-jun, and Galseok-san mountain {碣石山 Ch. Jieshi-shan} is/was located there? Currently Galseok-san is in Changli-xian county (昌黎縣 former Suicheng-xian), Hebei province; to the north are the remains of the Great Wall; to the east is Shanhaiguan (山海關), the eastern end of the Ming [dynasty] Great Wall.” p313

4. Theory kills other scholars

Kim Hyeon-gu claiming that the Theory of the Mimana Japan Office (임나일본부) is true

“[Kim Hyeon-gu’s is] a frightening argument (논리 lit. ‘logic’) which both Suematsu Yatsukazu {末松 保和} and Tsuda Sōkichi {津田 左右吉} gave up before trying (울고 가다 lit. ‘cry and leave’). Similar to Suematsu and Tsuda, Kim Hyeon-gu sets out (전개) his argument relying on the Nihon-shōki. Whilst doing so, however, he developed a new argument (논리) that Yamato (야마토국) was the suzerain state (상국) of Baekje. That is why [according to Kim] Baekje regularly sent emissaries to Yamato. The argument is that Yamato ruled the southern part of the Korean peninsula not through Mimana (임나) but rather Baekje.” p343

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

Change the excavation results

“In the end, the Joint Korea-Japan History Research Committee (한일역사공동연구위원회) operating with South Korean tax payers’ money in the 21st century, ignored the radionuclide {i.e. Carbon 14} dating results determined from as many as 13 samples [which had given dates between 199BCE and 231CE], and [instead] stubbornly insisted that “Mongchon-toseong {蒙村土城} and Pungnap-toseong {風納土城} earthen fortresses were constructed in the second half of the 3rd century”; [this was] in accordance with the ‘final instructions’ of [their] teacher Yi Byeongdo, leader of Korean history academia.” p363

“Thus the 2000 [excavation of Pungnap-toseong] ended the same as the [first] 1964 [excavation] with a ‘happening’ {the dating results being changed} and it became [orthodox theory] that Pungnap-toseong earthen fortress was constructed in the second half of the 3rd century or later. All that remains [in their eyes] is the [lesser] question of whether to accept the late 3rd century date supported by Yi Byeongdo’s ‘advanced textual criticism’ (고등문헌 비판), or to assert a late 4th century date in line with [their] teacher Tsuda Sōkichi, the founder of colonial historiography, or, whilst they’re at it to assert an early 5th century date.

Up until now, has this kind of thing only occurred with Pungnap-toseong? Could there have been [other] cases of hiding or secretly discarding excavated materials? However, now the situation is different. It is greatly different. Now, the members of the National Assembly know, officials at the Ministry of Education know, CEOs know, and most importantly a large number of ordinary citizens know about this situation. The world has changed but only the SMSG historians to not realize it has changed. Short of boarding a time machine, returning to the year 2000 and discarding [excavated material] samples it is impossible (어림없다) [to change it back]. [Recent] ancestors who strove for independence and became lonely souls are [now] rising from their graves {in the positive sense of returning to strength}.” p369

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?

“If one looks for the roots of South Korean (한국) society’s fundamental (고질적) problems, the majority of them reach [back] to problems of Imperial Japan’s colonial rule. However, in other areas the remaining presence of Imperial Japan has in large part diminished (희석 lit. ‘be diluted’) during the process of South Korea’s [recent] development, but in the field of history – as has been examined up until now [in this book] – it has conversely strengthened. The roots of this lie in the American military government and Syngman Rhee administration’s far from purging the chin’il-pa pro-Japanese factions (친일파) actually promoting them to positions of influence (중용).” p373

“The Gunsa-yeong’eo-hakgyo (군사영어학교 Military English School {originally named 군사용어학교 Military Language School}) only operated for five months before its functions (임무) were transferred to the Gyeongbi-sagwan-hakgyo (경비사관학교 Officers School {now the Korea Military Academy}) which opened in May 1946, however the influence it left on South Korea’s military history is so large it is hard to explain in words. In around five months 110 people were graduated (배출 lit. ‘to turn out’) [from it]. Amongst them, 68 were promoted to officers (장성) [including?] 8 daejang generals (대장), 20 jungjang lieutenant generals (중장) and 13 to chiefs of general staff (참모총장); most of them were chin’il-pa pro-Japanese who had previously been in the Japanese or Manchurian (만주군) armies.” p378

“After [the 1945] liberation those who came from the families of independence activists always experienced disadvantages (불이익당하다) [at the hands of, and compared to pro-Japanese chin’il-pa].” p379

When you go back to the earth {i.e. die} do you think you will face all your many seniors and comrades? {Said directed at Syngman Rhee}

“Planning to compile a history of [joyful] laughter [in] finding [one’s] country (나라를 찾은 웃음의 역사) after liberation, Kim Seunghak {金承學 1881-1965} collected all types of sources on the Independence Movement. In 1929 he participated as the representative of the Cham’uibu (참의부 {short for 大韓民國臨時政府陸軍駐滿參議府 ‘Manchurian military branch of the Provisional Government of Korea’}) together with Kim Dongsam, Yi Cheongcheon, Sin Minbu and Kim Jwajin at the Sambu-tonghap-heowi (삼부통합회의) held in Jilin province [China], but [whilst there] was arrested by the Imperial Japanese; he recollected, “After being arrested by the Jap police (倭警), the severe torture of having the bones of [my] hands and legs broken multiple times was primarily due to this historical source collecting.” The thing Imperial Japan feared the most was precisely proper history.” p381

“Although Imperial Japan was defeated, those who took control of political power [afterwards] were not the independence activists but the pro-Japanese chin’il-pa (친일파들) [collaborators].” p382

“This phenomenon was found not only amongst the independence activists but was similar in all areas; academia was no exception. Particularly in the field of history, pro-Japanese [collaborators] chin’il-pa such as Yi Byeongdo and Sin Seok-ho completely took control of academic power (학문권력) and even after [the 1945] liberation made the [former] Joseon Government-General’s view of history into the only orthodoxy (정설). In other fields the pro-Japanese bias (색채 lit. ‘coloration’) has gradually diminished (희석 ‘diluted’) with time and through South Korea’s [course of] development, however, as can been seen through the cases [exampled in this book including] the NEAHF, the Joint Korea-Japan History Research Committee (한일역사공동연구위원회), and the [2010] re-excavation of Pungnap-toseong fortress, in the field of history [the bias] has intensified. Today a developed South Korea is demanding the correction (정상화) of this situation in which values are the wrong way around (가치전도적). [The current] outpouring [of] criticism of the SMSG [coming from] all areas (각계) bespeaks of this situation.” p384

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.

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” – What is it we must currently do?

The following is a translation of the sixth chapter of Part V from Yun Naehyeon’s Our Ancient History.

V – 6. What is it we [Koreans] must currently do?

If we look at our history, the early period of Old Joseon possessed a high level of culture that rivaled China and Japan, but moving down through the historical periods, the phenomenon arose of slowed development. The result was that a circumstance arose [in which] during the later [premodern] era the power of the country and level of culture were behind China, and then in the modern period it even fell behind Japan.

Various causes could be suggested for the arising of this situation but two can be given as most fundamental. One is the geographic position of our country, the other is our stance (자세) [towards] the reception of foreign culture.

East, west and south, our country is surrounded on three sides by ocean and so exchange with other countries was difficult; the natural environment of Mongolia and [Russia’s] Maritime Province connecting to [our] north and northeast by land, is inferior and so the level of culture is low and has been unable to [positively] stimulate or influence us. The place from which we could receive stimulus and influence was the Yellow River basin to the west but China was blocking it. {How could China be blocking itself??!} Consequently our development had to rely on contact with China.

In addition to this, each time we adopted a new foreign culture it was used as the ruling [legitimizing] ideology (지배논리 lit. ‘logic’) and so it came to form the culture of the upper class whilst our culture was put below it. The culture and relationship of Buddhism during the Four Kingdoms (사국시대 aka Three Kingdoms + Gaya) period was so, and the culture and relationship of Confucianism during the Joseon dynasty was so; in the modern era the culture and relationship [to] the West has [also] been thus. As a result, our [own] unique culture (우리 고유 문화) with which our [Korean] race (겨레 gyeore) lived before the influx of the foreign cultures has ended up at the very bottom of our society.

Only the commoners (서민) of low social status who struggle economically have held on to it (lit. ‘live maintaining it’). As a result, we ourselves also regard it with disdain. Consequently our culture and foreign culture have been unable to stimulate and influence one another from an equal position. That is why it has been difficult for us to create [anything] new and [our] development has inevitably been retarded (더디다).

However, our surrounding environment and circumstances is now changing favourably towards us. In ancient times, active exchange was only possible between regions joined by land. But now is different. Transport methods have developed and so it has become possible to reach anywhere in the world within a day or two. Exchange has become that fast and active.

Not only that, communication technology (시설) has developed and with the appearance of the internet it has become possible for anyone to instantly exchange information with any place in the world with the click of a button. Geographic distance is no [longer a] problem. Further, our country is one of the most advanced in the field of internet usage. Consequently the geographical problem of our country has been completely solved.

Currently, international society is racing towards complete openness. Whilst crying out ‘globalization’ economic and cultural borders are disappearing. Because communication technology is developing and international society is opening; exchange between every region of the world is becoming extremely active and fast. It is becoming an environment as though international society were a single country. For us an extremely favourable environment is being made.

However, there is a point of extreme concern. The more active and speedier the information exchange, [the more] we must have a [set of] values (가치관) and culture strong enough to match (대응) it. Only then could contact and stimulus between our culture and foreign culture be [successfully] achieved and something new creatively produced (창출). If we don’t, then we will end up engulfed (매몰) by foreign culture incoming like a flood. On this point, [we] need a history education which is [made] ‘from-our-point-of-view’ (주체적 lit. ‘of juche ‘), positive and strong. We must strive to deeply embed our values and culture into our [daily] lives (생활).

To this end, we have to correct as soon as possible [our] stance towards the reception of foreign culture which up until now has placed foreign cultures on top of our culture making them the legitimizing ideology of the ruling [class]. Our culture has inevitably lost its luster and become shabby on account of the fact that only the commoners who in former days had no social position and were financially poor, held onto our unique culture [in their] daily lives. As a result, we ourselves also have ended up regarding our culture as superficial (천박하다). We made it like that ourselves.

Now we have reached the point where we are [no longer] able to distinguish even what is our culture and what is foreign culture. For example, we [are in] a situation where we mistake Buddhist and Confucian culture as our own. We are unable to distinguish between [actual] ‘Korean culture’ (한국 문화) and ‘Korean[-seeming]’ culture (한국적 문화), that is, [between] ‘our culture’ and ‘foreign culture that has come to seem like it belongs to us’.

It makes me think of words said by Professor Hwang Byeonggi (황병기) who majors in guk’ak (국악 ‘traditional Korean music’). When having tea together at a conference we were both participating in, this is what he said whilst lamenting the insufficient awareness (인식) about our culture. Professor Hwang said that he is sometimes asked by journalists why he [chooses to be] unorthodox (외도 lit. ‘outside path’). Professor Hwang was originally a graduate of the law school at Seoul National University. They are asking why did such a person become a Korean musician and not a lawyer (법조인).

He said he can’t believe (어이가 없다) he receives such a question. Guk’ak is our music and something of ours that our body naturally absorbs from when we are young, so how can practicing Korean music be called ‘unorthodox’ (외도)?! He said he rather thinks that if there is something ‘unorthodox’ it would be having studied law when he was a university student. Because the law we learn at our universities is in actuality a Western academic subject (학문).

That there is a hierarchical relationship between our culture and foreign culture is because of the social and wealth differences between the people who posses those cultures. If genuine democracy were realized and all people became equal then culture too would become equal without hierarchy. However, in reality such a [stage] is still faraway. Differences between social position and wealth continue to exist and will do so for a long time to come; this is why there will also [continue] to be differences in education.

Consequently, whilst researching correct history (올바른 역사) and [promoting] history education, we must devote our energies to the task of searching for and establishing that which is ours [as opposed to foreign]. We must make [ourselves] realize the fact that it is not at all inferior (천박하다) compared to foreign culture, and we must strive for it to gain a place in our [daily] lives.

Intellectuals must strive: to no longer be history criminals (역사의 죄인) that value only foreign culture, in order that ours and foreign cultures can meet on an equal position, and ensure that at the centre [of such a meeting] is that which is ours. This is necessary not in order to return to the ancient era, but in order to develop towards a desirable future. (Yun 2003:188-92)

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