[EDITORIALS]A partial victory in GoguryeoSouth Korea and China have agreed tentatively about how to resolve the dispute over the history of the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo.
On the day of the two countries’ 12th anniversary of diplomatic relations, diplomats from Seoul and Beijing agreed verbally that China’s central and provincial governments would make no more attempts to distort history.
They also agreed that new textbooks to be used at elementary, middle and high schools in China starting a year from now would not include any distorted history of Goguryeo.
Although the agreements have some shortcomings, China has promised that it will stop any distortion of Goguryeo history on the government level. But, that does not mean that the problems were solved entirely.
The agreements were only the first steps to prepare a real resolution of the underlying problem.
We are concerned that the agreements were made verbally, not in writing. Furthermore, China gave no apology, although the dispute arose from China’s claiming that the history of Goguryeo, clearly a part of Korea’s history, was a part of China’s history.
Beijing only promised that it would not engage in any more distortion, but refused to make changes on its Foreign Ministry Web site. The agreements appear to be stopgap measures for China to dodge the escalating anti-Chinese sentiment in Korea.
The distortion of Goguryeo history is related to the pride and national identity of Korean people, and it is an issue over which Koreans can never make a concession or compromise. China must be aware of that.
If China is determined to walk the path of friendship with its neighbors, instead of pursuing anachronistic supremacy of Sino-centrism in the region, Beijing must keep the promise it made this time as soon as possible.
It is time for China to begin correcting the bad information signs at the sites of Goguryeo remains and documents issued by the central and provincial governments on the history of the disputed kingdom.
The two countries should also begin a joint survey on the remains of Goguryeo in China’s Jian region and engage in discussions to draw up practical ways of preserving them. It will be helpful that both countries initiate a project of historical research and reconciliation for northeast Asia.
The Chinese government and academia must remember that the 12 years of successful cooperation between South Korea and China have been envied by the rest of the world. The two countries must expand such success to make new progress, and that will influence China’s future positively. China should start the work of restoring the historical truth voluntarily as soon as possible.