Thursday, September 14, 2006

Goguryeo Protest

Yesterday afternoon I watched a demonstration march down Jongno from my vantage point on the 6th floor of the YBM building. Banners, patriotic songs, the works. Can anyone guess what it was about?

Obviously it was about Goguryeo (or Koguryo, depending on your Romanization preference), an ancient kingdom in northeastern Asia that China claims as part of its cultural heritage and Korea claims as a predecessor of the modern Korean nation. Goguryeo was geographically centered on modern North Korea, but also covered much of modern China. Koreans see Goguryeo as an ancient Korean kingdom (it's one of the famous "3 Kingdoms" of old Korea) while China sees it as a vassal state that got included in the eventual growth of imperial China.

As I understand it, there's more going on here than just national pride and arguing over who gets to write history. There's a real fear that if the North Korean government collapses, China will use its claim on old Goguryeo to favorably redraw the Korean-Chinese border. So it's not just ancient history they're squabbling about.

Still, I can't quite picture hundreds of demonstrators getting together in the US to opine about which country gets to claim an ancient kingdom as their own.

1 comment:

R2K said...

: )