[FOUNTAIN]Modern land of opportunityChina is the English name for the East Asian country. But to Central Asians and Russians it is "Kitai." The name "China" is rooted in the Qin Dynasty, which ruled from 221 B.C. to 207 B.C. and is the kingdom that Westerners refer to when it comes to China. In central Asia and Russia, China is "Kitai" because people in these areas first came into contact with China through the Liao Dynasty (916 - 1125 A.D.), which was established by Khitan Mongols.
Of course, there were other kingdoms of China that actively traded with countries in the West or in central Asia. One proof is the word "Cathay," another English word that refers to China. Cathay came from the word Khitan.
The Lio Dynasty fought a huge war with Islam, one of the results of which was the birth of the legend of Prester John. The legend, which opened the Age of Exploration, was belief widely held in the 12th century Western countries that the ultimate Christian king, Prester John, ruled over the perfect Christian kingdom, somewhere in Asia.
The belief gained momentum especially in 1132. After defeat by the Jin Dynasty, a son of the Liao ruler fled with the small remnant of his army to the Tarim Basin, where he allied himself with the Uighurs, destroyed Karakhanid and established the Karakitai state. The countries of West were engaged in the Crusades at that time. The sudden demise of the Islamic kingdom of Karakhanid fanned the illusion that it was the country ruled by Prester John that wiped out the Muslim country.
Khitan mongols appeared in history with two different faces in the West and the central Asia, and once an image is attached to a name, separating them is difficult.
As shown above, the image of a country does not change easily.
Since regaining independence from Japan in 1945, South Korea has used the name Korea. North Korea uses Joseon more often than Korea. Ethnic Koreans abroad were called Joseons or Goryeos, depending on where they lived.
In Northeastern China, which is not so far from central Asia where Karakitai was founded and Khitan Mongols originated, a belief is spreading that Korea is a land of opportunity.
Although started as a false belief, the legend of Prester John was the driving force behind the Age of Exploration, which gave birth to the European Renaissance. Likewise, Koreans may be able to develop Korea into a land of possibility by cooperating with those who hold the belief that Korea is a land of opportunity.
The writer is the JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.
by Kim Seok-hwan