[EDITORIALS]Saving Goguryeo’s historyThe Chinese government’s Northeast Asia project, which aims to incorporate Goguryeo’s history into its own, is causing much apprehension. History is not merely a record of the past but also reflects present perceptions, hence China’s distortion of Goguryeo history must not be tolerated. In this respect, the outcry by academics and civic groups is necessary and justifiable.
In contrast, our government’s response is lacking and inappropriate. In particular, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, who is responsible for our cultural heritage, said in a meeting with the press members that they should be discreet and exercise self-restraint to avoid diplomatic conflict. His remarks showed that he did not quite understand the seriousness of this issue. Not only China’s distortion of history but also its closed attitude of relating it to a territorial issue must be criticized, and such a view should be delivered through diplomatic channels.
Although China is in the wrong, it is not right for the ultra nationalists to deliberately cause diplomatic friction between the two nations. The reality is that although Goguryeo may have been the land of our ancestors, it is now in China’s territory.
Amid this conflict between past and reality, both countries concur on one aspect that Goguryeo’s cultural heritage must be well-preserved. In June, UNESCO will decide whether to list Goguryeo burials in China and in North Korea as World Heritage sites, and we must make diplomatic efforts so that both may be registered. To achieve this, we must cooperate with North Korea so that the sites may pass the technical evaluation by the ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) meeting, which will be held in Paris from January 16-18.
In the long term, it is worthwhile to pursue a joint research project among South, North Korea and China. In the 1960s, North Korea undertook a comprehensive excavation and index research with China in the Northeast region. However, this initiative resulted in both nations producing separate reports, which resulted in merely recognizing differences in perception. The three nations join forces in research to preserve Goguryeo as the common heritage of three nations.