[KS] perspectives on Korean history
joshua john van lieu
sumnom at u.washington.edu
Mon Dec 10 18:24:50 EST 2001
It is my understanding that the historical record is not at all clear on
the question of Japanese control of Kaya, or Minama. I don't think it is
even known where Minama was. Aren't there some scholars who think Minama
might have been located in Kyushu? It is also a little difficult to
identify a "Japan" that would have lost any territory at that time. That which
we call Japan is a relatively new phenomenon. I have heard it said that
the tale of a lost Japanese province in Korea was a fiction of Japanese
expansionists in the early and middle Meiji period.
As for Korean invasions of neighbors, should we count King Kwanggaet'o?
Did he not kwang-ly kae the t'o, as his name suggests? I'm not so sure I
want to identify Koguryo as Korea, however. And what of Choson kings
"pacifying" the barbarians in the northeast? Was this not a seizure of
someone else's land?
As for the original question, I think it is rather diffciult to maintain
the position that Korea was continually invaded throughout its history.
The Choson dynasty in particular was remarkably stable and suffered very
few major military incursions. In 500 years there were the Imjin Wars, the two
"Manchu" invasions, and the Japanese annexation in 1910 (is annexation
the same as invasion?). The Choson dynasty is remarkable for its
relative peace and stability, not for constant military conflict.
So just what are these 2,000 plus invasions? Pirates? Orangk'ae from the
north? Is this sort of skirmishing any different than what every other
state went through?
On Mon, 10 Dec 2001, lawrence driscoll wrote:
> Dear Mark:
> I had never heard Koreans claim of thousands of attacks by outsiders, but I
> know that their were many who had designs on their resources. The ricebasket
> (miyake) that Japan had lost when they were forced to concede the Kaya
> territory continued to be coveted long after. So the Japanese pirate attacks
> were indeed not penny ante. Quite to the contrary they penetrated well
> inland. In fact they sometimes included the joint efforts of Chinese-turned
> pirates. They were of such magnitude that they lent fame to the then General
> Yi Song-gye, who, contrary to one of your respondents comments, was the
> person responsible for the aborting of Korea's planned attack on the forces
> of the new Ming Dynasty.
> In my humble opinion none of the intrusions of forces hostile to Korea
> should be underplayed.
> Lawrence Driscoll
> Jiangsu University
> >From: Mark Peterson <Mark_Peterson at byu.edu>
> >Reply-To: Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> >To: Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> >Subject: [KS] perspectives on Korean history
> >Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2001 20:31:06 -0800
> >Dear List Friends,
> >I'm writing a little thing about Korean History, and I'm torn between
> >soft-pedaling my views on a favorite Korean myth and going after it,
> >head-on. It's for a popular format, that I've been asked to write,
> >so I'm not sure how controversial I should be.
> >The issue is this: it drives me nuts to hear oft and o'er the bit
> >about how Korea has been invaded so many times. There are so-called
> >scholarly studies that document several thousand "invasions" -- some
> >number them, 2,386, or whatever.
> >My take is, that such a view, though nearly universal, is a product
> >of recent, 20th century, events. Looking at the long view, however,
> >aside from the Mongols in the 13th century, and the Hideyoshi
> >invasion in the late 16th century, you've got a culture of civilian,
> >not military dominance, and peace not war -- not a product of
> >multiple invasions.
> >There was the Manchu Invasion shortly after the Japanese, in the
> >early 17th century, but that, by comparison, wasn't much of an
> >invasion. The Koreans were so beaten up by the Japanese that they
> >could hardly muster much resistance, and unlike the Japanese and
> >before that, the Mongol invasion, the Manchu's didn't really want to
> >conquer Korea -- they only wanted a diplomatic surrender.
> >Now, the two major invasions were absolutely horrific; the
> >devastation was near total, and the loss of life was tragic. I'm not
> >playing that down at all.
> >But, aside from those invasions, to get thousands of "invasions", one
> >has to count every penny-ante pirate raid along the coasts. And to
> >do that, cheapens the dramatic costs of the true invasions.
> >In other words, my take on it is that Korea's history is not so much
> >one of multiple, or constant invasions, but one of civilian,
> >Confucian culture -- not the culture of the soldier, or the warlord.
> >In other words, not the Japanese style "bushido" -- the code of the
> >warrior, the samurai. We had no such thing in Korea.
> >Yet, the myth, held dearly, is that "we" have been invaded,
> >stomped-on, beaten, subjugated and down-trodden. And the Chinese are
> >usually listed as invaders -- well, aside from Han dynasty outposts
> >and an alliance with T'ang that led to unification and eventual
> >control of the upper third of the peninsula, you don't have any
> >Chinese "invasions". Do you want to count Sui and T'ang attempts
> >against Koguryo^ in lands north of the peninsula? That's a fair
> >stretch, too.
> >On the other hand, the point that Korea never invaded anther country
> >is the oft-heard counter point. And that, to their credit, is
> >strikingly true.
> >Have any of you aired this kind of view with the general audience in
> >Korea. What kind of feed-back or resistance did you encounter.
> >People in any culture hate to see their favorite ox gored, favorite
> >bubble burst.
> >Hope to hear from some of you....
> >with best regards,
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