[KS] Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 34, Issue 33
gkl1 at columbia.edu
gkl1 at columbia.edu
Tue May 2 10:52:02 EDT 2006
Actually, John, I agree with the basic thrust of Ken Quinones's
message and would have already piped in to that effect if he
hadn't. And while some lineages were started by non-Korean
founders, either they arrived many centuries ago or they were just
simply not thought to be Korean. The former group are of lineages
founded by a Chinese immigrant bearing a recocognized Chinese
pon'gwan ID. Most of these arrived in Silla times and have gone
through a millenium or more of naturalization. Everyone in
traditional Korea came to think of their descendants as bonafide
Koreans. This is less true, however, for more recent Chinese
immigrants such as the Imjin war refugees or defectors, who
maintained a basically Chinese identification for several centuries
down to the late 19th century. Still, even those aquired a
thoroughly Korean identity in their own minds.
As for the Japanese, Jurchen, and yes, Dutch, they would simply
not have had the cachet to get out of the commoner or slave
classes, and their descendants now account for only a tiny
percentage of the Korean population. They melded so thoroughly with
the traditional lower social strata that they
themselves would likely have no knowledge of their origins being
different from all the rest. Paul Crane, a medical missionary who
worked out of Cholla province in the 50s and 60s once told me that
he had encountered people he thought had Dutch features. But by his
time they were well past the time when anyone would have thought of
them in terms of mixed marriages.
As Ken mentioned, the Korean passion for genealogy was based at
root in a concept of blood purity, and it was much more than merely
"Korean," it was sadaebu or yangban Korean (which I consider two
separate classes from the 18th century on). And as we all know, it
had to be legitimate. Genealogies were uniformly consistent in
recording the lineage and titles of all in-law families. A man's
wife not infrequently came from a more highly regarded lineage than
his own. Every Korean of the upper classes knew the name and titles
of his maternal grandfather (oejo), and if he had the chokpo handy
he could rattle off in-law relatives for many generations.
Children of concubines or unrecognized liaisons were systematically
excluded and marginalized. The contemporary result of this is that
Koreans still have a strong consciousness of ancestry. Blood counts.
When King Kongmin took the KoryO throne in 1352, he was 127 out
of 128 parts Mongol. His two successors were seen to be even
further degraded by the widely presumed monkly parentage of the
first. When Yi SOnggye took control in 1389, he looked for a member
of the royal family who had no Mongol blood, and found one who had
an unquestioned descent direct from King HyOnjong, who died in
1031--three and a half centuries earlier. That was King Kongyang.
But even his pure descent didn't save him when Yi SOnggye took the
throne himself three years later; he was put to death, along with a
great number of KoryO royal family members, who were either killed
or managed to escape and change their names. It's no accident that
there are very few people surnamed KaesOng Wang in Korea
today--18,774 according to the surname census of 1987. Compare the
numbers for Silla's KyOngju Kims (1,523,468) or ChosOn's ChOnju Yis
(2,379,537) for the same year. (That's just South Korea, of course.)
Yes, I think Koreans were negative on mixed marriages long before
the modern age.
That's not to deny the modern roots of the same attitude, which
have been well aired in the the recent postings. But you certainly
could say that the more recent factors only reinforced a deeply
held attitude from ages past.
Quoting johnfrankl at yahoo.com:
> Ken Quinones brings a very interesting angle to the discussion.
> But I would complicate it by pointing out that certain of these
> "Korean" lineages were started by Chinese, Japanese, and Jurchen
> "immigrants." And perhaps Professor Ledyard will be able to tell
> us the current status of Pak YOn's decendents?
> John Frankl
> Get amazing travel prices for air and hotel in one click on
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