A window into Korea’s past

‘One needs to make history pertinent to the individual. It can be linked to heroes or villains, or to travel or to issues that confront people.’

‘국사 필수과목’ 홍보대사『삼국사기』 영어로 번역한 슐츠 하와이대 교수

June 20,2011
Dean Edward Shultz’s translation of the Goguryeo Annals of the “Samguk Sagi” was recently published in English. [JoongAng Ilbo]
Dean Edward Shultz became interested in Korean history when he was in Busan as a Peace Corps volunteer more than 40 years ago. Today, he is a recognized expert in the field and his co-translation of the Goguryeo Annals of the Samguk Sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla) was recently published by the Academy of Korean Studies and released here in April.

Shultz is a professor at the School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He completed the translation with Hugh Kang, a professor at the same school and Shultz’s former advisor.

The original “Samguk Sagi” was published in 1145 during the Goyreo Dynasty (918-1392) and is known as the oldest surviving book on Korean history. The Korea JoongAng Daily interviewed Shultz via e-mail last week, when he talked about the translation work and shared his insights into studying history.

Q.What was the translation process like?

A. To translate required lots of time to search and discover. You have to understand the context of the material. You cannot just go word for word or even sentence by sentence when translating but must seek to understand the entire concept and then the passages begin to make sense. Hugh Kang and I started working on the Goguryeo Annals about eight years ago. There were a lot of things we did not understand at first. Classical Korean scholars often made allusion to the Chinese classics in their writings and we had to track down what these references were.

Why was it important to translate the Samguk Sagi into English?

It is a primary source, which means it is about as direct a window we can get into the past as anything. It is important to read primary as opposed to secondary material to gain first-hand insights into the past. To me, the most interesting sections were when descriptions were made of family relations and social life. For example, Goguryeo’s 10th king Sansang (?-227) had no children and he was worried that he had no one who would succeed him. Once, his aides were chasing a pig, and then a beautiful woman appeared and captured the pig for them. This led the king to her house and soon he had a son who succeeded him on the throne.

Some Koreans say Korea may have had more territory if Goguryeo, not Silla, had united the Three Kingdoms. What do you think?

History in the conditional - that is “What if this happened?” - is intriguing but really not a good use of time. Goguryeo lost for a number of reasons, including proximity to China. But Silla also won for a number of reasons, such as a better leadership system. The fact that Silla was more isolated from China gave it natural protection. Also, Silla climatically was much more blessed and this enabled it to build a stronger state based on a rich agricultural center. Silla was able to bring its traditions as a kingdom, its strong class delineations, which brought a strong sense of stability in times of uncertainty, as well as a rich agricultural base. Silla unified much of the peninsula and it is Silla traditions that became the new foundation for what we call Korea today.

What made you interested in ancient Korean history?

I first took an interest in Korean history when I came to Korea as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1966. I was assigned to Busan and the principal of the school I taught at was interested in Korean history and we used to talk about Korea’s past. Then I visited Gyeongju and could sense an undiscovered past and I guess that is when my interest grew. When I entered the University of Hawaii as a grad student, my advisor, Hugh Kang, encouraged me to take an interest in early history.

Are you planning to translate other annals of Korean history?

Hugh Kang and I are just about finished with the Silla Annals of the Samguk Sagi. Once that is over I am trying to finish a translation of part of the “Goryeosa Choryo,” which is one of the dynastic histories of the Goryeo kingdom. I am working on the period from 1146 to about 1260, which was the so-called military period.

Korean history is not a required class for high school students. What are your thoughts about this?

If Koreans do not study Korean history who should? By learning about your country’s past you learn about the successes and failures your country has faced. To me, history empowers the student.

By knowing of your country’s past you are better able to make intelligent decisions about yourself and your country.

What is a good way to study history? Many students think that history is a boring subject.

One needs to make history pertinent to the individual. It can be linked to heroes or villains, or to travel, or to issues that confront people. I often use art as a window into history. For example, you can look at a magnificent Goguryeo tomb mural and talk about what it represents, and then talk about the people who produced it. Certainly when studying history, you need to be aware of a general chronology but you should try to make history come alive through people or key events.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
‘국사 필수과목’ 홍보대사『삼국사기』 영어로 번역한 슐츠 하와이대 교수
"역사를 알아야 국민 힘 더 강해져”
미 하와이대 에드워드 슐츠(66) 교수가 『삼국사기』 ‘고구려 본기’를 영어로 번역해 한국학중앙연구원(원장 정정길)에서 펴냈다. 지난 10년간 휴 강(한국명 강희웅) 하와이대 명예교수와 공동 작업한 성과다. ‘신라 본기’ 영역(英譯)도 마쳐 연내 출판할 예정이다. ‘백제 본기’ 영역은 2005년 조너선 베스트 웨슬리안대 교수가 해낸 바 있다. 『삼국사기』의 고구려·백제·신라 본기가 완역된 셈이다. ‘고구려 본기’ 영문판 발간에 맞춰 방한한 슐츠 교수를 만나 한국사에 대해 이야기를 나눴다.

 -『삼국사기』를 번역한 계기는.

 “10년 전 중국이 고구려를 중국사에 포함시키려는 문제가 불거졌을 때다. 당시 정신문화연구원(현 한국학중앙연구원) 장을병 원장이 저의 하와이대 스승인 휴 강 교수에게 『삼국사기』‘고구려 본기’를 영어로 번역할 수 있겠느냐고 문의해 왔다. 중국의 동북공정에 대응하기 위한 거였다. 『삼국사기』를 읽어보면 고구려는 중국사가 아니다. 중국의 여러 국가와 싸움을 너무 많이 했다. 고구려왕들은 전략을 잘 세워서 대개 이겼다.”

 -『삼국사기』는 고려시대에 쓰였다. 고구려와 고려의 관계는.

 “고구려에서 ‘구’ 자가 없으면 바로 고려다. 고려가 신라 영향만 받은 게 아니라 고구려 영향도 받았다. 평양을 서경으로 했고, 경주는 동경으로 한 것만 봐도 고구려를 중시했음을 알 수 있다.”

 -어떻게 한국사 공부를 시작했나.

 “뉴욕 유니언대에서 정치학을 공부하던 64∼65년 무렵 중국어를 배웠다. 이후 66년 한국에 평화봉사단으로 와서 부산 경남고 영어선생으로 1년간 있었다. 원래 중국말을 배우고 싶었는데 그때는 중국과 미국의 외교관계가 없었고, 대만하고도 평화봉사단 교류 같은 것이 없었다. 그때 한국은 한문을 많이 사용했다. 한국에 오면 중국을 좀 더 알 수 있지 않을까 하는 마음이었다. 그렇게 시작됐는데 오히려 한국을 더 알고 싶어졌고, 1년 후 귀국해선 아예 하와이대 대학원에서 한국사를 전공하게 됐다. ”

 -브루스 커밍스 시카고대 교수도 비슷한 시기에 평화봉사단원으로 한국에 왔는데.

 “나보다 6개월 뒤다. 요즘도 큰 학술회의가 열리면 만난다.”

 -20세기 한국사에서 중요한 리더는 누구라고 보나.

 “20세기 다 합쳐서 보면 이승만 대통령 아닐까.”

 -4·19혁명으로 하야했는데.

 “민주주의를 위해서, 시민 이 원하지 않으니까 그만하겠다고 한 거다. 대통령이 된 후 나중에 잘못한 일도 있었지만 항상 민주주의와 한국 민족의 정체성을 지키려고 했다.”

 -커밍스 교수는 이승만을 안 좋게 보았다.

 “맞다. 좀 심했다. 좋지 않은 행동도 있었으나, 그 이전 이승만의 행적에서 특히 한국의 정체성을 지켜낸 점을 평가해야 한다.”

 -중앙일보가 올해 1월 한국사를 고교 필수로 배우자는 어젠다를 제시했다.

 “한국 사람이 한국사 안 배우면 누가 배우나. 한국 사람도 자기 나라 역사 안 배우는데 우리 외국인들이 왜 한국사를 배우겠나. 조상의 역사를 알고, 선조의 훌륭한 전통을 알면 그들도 조금 더 힘이 생길 것이다. 임파워먼트(empowerment)라 할까, ‘강하게 한다(make one strong)’라는 뜻이다. 정신적 파워를 길러주는 것이다.”

 -미국은 어떤가.

 “보통 중학교 1학년, 고등학교 1학년에 미국사가 필수다. 그리고 주마다 주 역사를 배운다. 예컨대 뉴욕주라면 미국사, 뉴욕사가 필수과목이다. 세계사도 고1때 보통 필수다. 우수한 학생은 고3 때 동양사·라틴사·캐나다사 등을 선택해 더 공부한다. 대학에서도 학교마다 다르지만 미국사를 해야 한다.”

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