[FOUNTAIN]Erase notion of pure blood as superiorIn 1226, a Vietnamese person landed on Mount Hwa on the Ongjin Peninsula in Hwanghae province after floating around the high seas. He was Ly Yong-sang, the second oldest prince of the Ly Dynasty, whose rule was taken over by the Tran Dynasty in Vietnam. The court of Goryeo learned that Mr. Ly was a prince and conferred him “Lord Hwasan.” Mr. Ly became the progenitor of the Hwasan Lee clan. The Vietnamese hold a memorial service for the Ly Dynasty every March 15. When the Vietnamese government learned that the descendants of the Ly Dynasty survived in Korea, the head of the Hwasan Lee clansmen was invited for the ceremony in 1995 as the masters of ceremonies. He read the address to dignitaries in Korean through a Vietnamese interpreter.
We say Koreans are one race. However, it is an established theory in the academic world that the Koreans can be categorized as either Northerners or Southerners. Northerners tend to have long legs and short hands with rather small upper bodies. Southerners have long hands and developed upper bodies, but their legs are shorter. Late Hyundai founder Chung Joo-young had typical Northern characteristics while former Prime Minister Park Tae-joon has Southerner traits.
If we look at last names, Koreans are certainly not of pure blood. According to historical records, Heo Hwang-ok, the queen of King Kim Suro, the progenitor of Kimhae Kim clan, was a princess from the Ayutha Kingdom in India. It was the first recorded international marriage on the Korean Peninsula. King Suro had some of his sons follow the queen’s last name, and their descendants became the Heo family. Over 130 of 250 Korean last names come from China. I am a member of the Sangju Lee clan, and the genealogy table indicates that the clan originally came from China. The Deoksu Jang clan is from Arabia, the Yeonan In clan is Mongolian, and the Gyeongju Seol clan is Uighur. Robert Harley, who has recently been naturalized in Korea, became the progenitor of the Yeondo Ha clan.
One out of nine couples who married last year were international marriages. More than 25,500 Korean men married foreign women while 9,553 Korean women married foreign men. There are several hundred thousand migrant workers like the popular standup comic character Blanka. Considering the aging of society, the number of foreign workers is bound to increase. It is important Koreans disregard the conventional value of pure blood and embrace foreign members of our society.
by Lee Se-jung
The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
More in Columns
A cautionary tale
A government in disarray
China’s thin skin
The Korean War from China’s view
Who’s laughing now?