Thursday, June 10, 2004


I recently received a personalized letter from the good folks at VANK in response to my posting on receiving several identical “letters” from earnest VANK members concerning China and Korea’s contested claims to Koguryô.
This most recent letter is clearly not a form letter (or at least parts of it aren’t) but it doesn’t really do that good a job of persuading me to toe the Korean line on this controversy. Some snippets and commentary:
I appreciate you for your opinion at your blogger site
Your opinion made a deep impression on me, and 13,000 VANK members

Happy to be deeply impressive.
Especially, your below sentence gave me a hope which we can gain the final victory
"So now that I have been enlightened and "warned, what I am supposed to do now?"
Because we think there is no Western scholars who listen carefully to our voice in the world.
My attempt at sarcasm was, apparently, completely lost in translation.
Most of Western scholars we contacted think that It is natural to support to the Chinese scheme to alter the history of these "I find this very disturbing and will not support Korean revisionism. I am a China hand and a China loyalist." and there are no "Goguryeo history" , and positive perspective of entire korea history
I would be interested in knowing which “Western scholars” ever said these things (the use of quotation marks implies a direct quote) and in what context. “I am a China hand and a China loyalist” doesn’t sound like any Western Sinologist I know (and I do know a few).
you can see below famous websites
That's why we call our campaign as "Goliath vs David".
All of the above URLs are various versions of the same text. None of them, as far as I can tell, mention Koguryô at all. They certainly offer an abbreviated sketch of Korean history (jumping from Silla unification to the Hideyoshi Invasions, for example) but I don’t find the tone to be particularly denigrating of Korea or Korean history.
I feel truth in Scholarship reading your opinion,
Good to know that someone out there still believes truth can be found in scholarship. I have all too many colleagues who no longer believe this.
Sad to say, my Western penpal friends regards korea information written the world history textbook, and website as facts.
therefore my Western penpal friends know entire history of korea as a vassel of china and japan.
If said Western penpal friends are still reading old survey texts like Fairbank, Reischauer and Craig’s East Asia: Tradition and Transformation, they might come away with the conclusion that the entire history of Korea is one of vassalage to China or Japan. But almost no East Asia survey text written in the last twenty years would repeat this claim. Rather more recent East Asia (or World History) surveys will mention aspects of Korean uniqueness and autonomy while also acknowledging significant Chinese cultural influences throughout Korea’s history (as well as the fact that the Chosôn Kingdom was explicitly and self-consciously a “vassal” of Ming and Qing China; for my take on what this actually meant, see here).
First i don't understand how these things happen to the world history textbooks, and famous websites
After i've researched for 6 years, i finally know Most Korean information in international textbooks are based to beautify the history of Japan and China (it devalues Korean history)
on a Japan-China centrist view on history.
There is, I believe, a difference between books based on Chinese and Japanese sources (primary and secondary) which will naturally lead to an account consistent with Chinese or Japanese views of history and books that deliberately try to “beautify the history of Japan” or devalue Korean history.
These inaccuracies regarding Korea in international textbooks, websites were reflected from the contents in Japanese textbooks without any verification, which were delivered to the world by Japanese scholars after Japanese colonial rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945
All these conception of Korean history were intentional distorted by Japan to make Korean people to accept Japanese rule(from 1910 to 1945) as their destiny and it was stressed by Japan to obliterate the subjectivity of Korean people.
It is undeniable that denigrating Korean history was part of the Japanese imperial project. It is less clear (to me) how influential such works of scholarship are today.
Naturally, students in foreign countries who experienced these textbooks could think that Korea is a meaningless country between China and Japan just like "a shrimp between whales." Of course it is same to Korean people in Korea.
There is a significant difference between recognizing geopolitical reality (Korea is smaller in size and population than its three closest neighbors—Japan, China, and Russia) and declaring Korea to be a “meaningless country.” One can do the former without doing the latter.
Actually in recent days world's famous presses, government organizations, intetnet portal websites are describing the image of Korea "a cowardly shrimp" quoting the Korean proverb "When the whales struggle, the shrimp's back is broken".
Do a Google search for “cowardly shrimp.” See how many hits from world famous presses, government organizations, and internet portal websites you get. Here’s what I found.
Not even Korea related Posted by Hello
What is worse, The Chinese government launched the project in February 2002, the Northeast Asian Project, to study the history of the area northeast of ancient China under the auspices of its social and scientific academy with a budget of 3 trillion won, US$2 billion, igniting fears that it was trying to strengthen its political influence in Northeast Asia.
I say this tongue in cheek, but isn’t a good thing when the state provides $2 billion dollars for historical study (two billion dollars!)?
the Chinese scheme to alter the history of Goguryeo (BC 37-AD 668), a Korean kingdom with a vast territory ranging from the northern part of the peninsula to Manchuria, into that of a Chinese regional kingdom.

There's something I'd like to ask of you,
and it would be a right answer "what I am supposed to do now?" which you are looking for

We really want you to write support letter our campaign like below Western scholars, Thomas Duvernay

like this ?

1. why Throughout entire history of Korea, Goguryeo is meaningful, and Significant to all Korean.
Koguryô has indeed been meaningful to subsequent generations of Koreans and remains to this day. Of course the North Koreans have traditionally made more of Koguryô than Silla-philes like Park Chung Hee. But the general point remains valid.
2. why It is a shame China is trying to rob 700 years of Korean history,
which could seriously damage Korea’s roots and heritage.
My understanding of the Chinese take on the subject is not actually the denial that any aspect of Koguryô was “Korean” but rather asserting that the “Korean” period of Koguryô began in 427 A.D. when Changsu moved the Koguryô capital from Kungnaesông (in present-day Jilin Province) to P’yôngyang. Before that, the Chinese claim goes, Koguryô was just another happy minority in a long traditional of multi-culturalism in China. The idea that “China” is/was a multi-ethnic polity owes as much to the imperialism of the Qing Empire (1644-1911) as it does to any long-standing Chinese tradition of rule. The claim that Koguryô was “Chinese” is problematic no matter how you slice it. But I suspect that what is at stake is less perceived “damage” to “Korea’s roots and heritage” and more the future of Korean irredentist claims to territory in present-day Manchuria.
More problematic to me is the more general claim that one can affix contemporary national labels on peoples and places of the distant past. Historians say this ad naseum but it just isn’t that simple. Did the people of Koguryô consider themselves to be “Chinese?” Probably not. After all Koguryô did battle with the Han commanderies and with Sui China. However, by the same standard, Koguryô also did battle with the “Korean” kingdoms of Paekche and Silla. Does this mean that Koguryô people didn’t see themselves as “Korean?” Right on. They saw themselves as people of Koguryô. Many of their descendants became the people that are today known as Koreans. Others of their descendants became known as “Jurchen” and “Chinese.”
therefore your support letter could be a "lighthouse" to lead the world by the "Truth in Scholarship"

of all things, your support letter give us a hope to 13,000 VANK members. and they can have strength, courage, and perseverance to find another "lighthouse"

Lighthouse/ivory tower; truth in scholarship/supporting contemporary national agendas . . .just thinking about it makes me tired. I think I’ll pass and spend the evening cheering for the Pistons against the evil Lakers instead.

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