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[FOUNTAIN] Is It a Legendary Epic or a Hint?

Apr 13,2001
Among Chinese legends famous in Korea, one tells the story of Liu Pei, who had ambitions to rule the whole of China. He visited a man named Chu-ko Liang three times to ask him to work as his advisor. This is said to have taken place in 207, yet many believe the story is apocryphal. They argue that it does not make sense that Liu Pei, born into royalty and a famous military leader for 20 years, bowed down before Chu-ko Liang, then just 27.

"The History of the Three Kingdoms" by Chen Shou, an historian in the West Jin period, born in 233 - a year before the death of the celebrated adviser Chu-ko Liang - recorded the episode as true. However, other historians believe instead that in fact Chu-ko Liang visited Liu Pei. One advocate of this theory, a historian from the Wei dynasty and contemporary of Chu-ko Liang, explained that Chu-ko Liang advised Liu Pei that Tsao Tsao, Liu Pei's greatest rival, would attack the strategic northern section around the capital. After listening to Chu-ko's earnest advice, Liu Pei saw the wisdom in his argument and appointed him advisor.

The controversy over the veracity of this episode continued, and a scholar of the Ching dynasty later devised a theory to accommodate both versions, arguing that Liu Pei failed to notice Chu-ko Liang's great ability at first, but visited Chu-ko three times later after Liu Pei's advisors strongly recommended him.

The controversial legend is mentioned in "Report to the Emperor," an immortal epic written by Chu-ko Liang, which was addressed to the king who succeeded Liu Pei. It is said that he who does not cry after reading the work does not qualify to discuss literature. In it, Chu-ko Liang mentioned that "The late emperor [Liu Pei] visited me three times, despite my humble station." Of course, those mistrustful of the legend interpret that Chu-ko Liang invented this part to raise public and military morale.

Dai Bingguo, head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China, presented copies of "Report to the Emperor" written on bamboo to Grand National Party President Lee Hoi-chang and Rhee In-je, member of the Supreme Council of the ruling party. When presenting the gift to Mr. Lee he said, "It is a present for a special person on a special occasion." To Mr. Rhee he said "I hope for great honor for you next year." The gifts captured both public and political attention. Everyone tried to decipher the message behind them. As the report expresses the grim resolution of a leader who is facing a war, the two politicians would have not disliked the present. But Chu-ko Liang died in the middle of the war, failing to achieve his goal. It would be absurd to try to force a meaning into these gifts. It is more than enough to remember the ardent patriotism of Chu-ko Liang.




by Noh Jae-hyun




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