[KS] northeast asia project-UNESCO heritage sites

Junghee Lee dilj at pdx.edu
Sun Apr 4 19:40:58 EDT 2004

Dear Dr. Pai:

It seems to me that it is wrong that the Chinese appropriate Koguryo history and culture as Chinese.  For example, Tibetan art and history before China took over Tibet is not Chinese history or art.  Indian art and history before the establishment of Pakistan is not Pakistanis art and history.  In addition, Korea exists now as a country unlike Tibet so that it is more unfair. Koguryo history, culture and art are Korean, not Chinese.

Best wishes,

Junghee Lee
Associate Professor
Department of Art
Portland State University
PO Box 751 


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Hyung Pai 
  To: Korean Studies Discussion List 
  Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 10:10 AM
  Subject: [KS] northeast asia project-UNESCO heritage sites

  Dear Mr. Lee and members,
  I also want to emphasize the importance of taking into account the impact of cultural tourism and the PRC's economic motivation for pushing the registration of these Koguryo tombs on the prestigious list of World Heritage Sites. In the last report (2001) that I have from the UNESCO World Heritage Organization, there are more than 500 historical sites/natural monuments worldwide and over 150 countries who are members. S. Korea joined in 1998 and now has six monuments registered including Sokkuram, Pulguksa, Haeinsa woodblock prints, Suwon Hwasong fortress, Chongmyo, and most recently, Hwasun dolmen sites in Cholla-do. I have kept up with the various symposiums sponsored by bureaucrats, historians, and archaeologists who spent many years of intense lobbying to list these dolmen sites as a unique 'Korean" prehistoric heritage from the Bronze Age citing the usual nationalistic propaganda about their significance as the first remains as evidence of social stratification, state formation, and ancestral architectural achievements.
  So, for your forum, I recommend that you contact the Seoul Unesco Office and esp, the assistant director Ho-Kwon who will be able to direct you to the kinds of publications, activities, monitoring of sites, and administrative funding the World heritage sites commission offers. My impression reading through the minutes of international symposiums they hold every five years as well as talking to ICOM (International Council on Museums) and ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments) members in South Korea that being on the list is a highly competitive process requiring documentation to prove historical authenticity, that the materials/technology used at the sites are still original, the preservation state of the monument is worthy of salvaging and most importantly, its historical "representativity" as a national symbol. 
  These are the prime reasons why, the PRC is so intent in assert ing their authority so as to claim them as 'their national sites" since they want to have a monopoly over the tombs preservation, reconstruction (which goes on today at a breakneck speed) and future development for tourism and commercial revenue. Mark Byington has also pointed out to me the irony of this situation since South Korean tourists and no doubt Japanese tourists (Who together have the most dispensable income to throw around) will comprise the majority of potential visitors who will spend the money and effort to go to these sites situated outside the main tourists venues in Beijing and Shanghai. It is unfortunate and in my opinion a glaring omission on the part of the various organizers that most of the international symposiums and hundreds of articles in Korean/Japanese newspapers published in the last six months demonstrate again how the "ethno-centric" bias on the part of Korean academics have influenced their debates over the sites "ethnic/artistic origins" rather than the more immediate concerns over condemning the destruction of these sites in the rushed excavations and reconstruction projects without adequate research planning or published excavation reports. 
  I hope in your forum being held in Berkeley will have a more open debates on the larger global issues facing cultural sites and monuments rather than rehashing the same nationalistic tropes which leads nowhere since this debate first surfaced amongst N. Korean scholars and Chinese officials decades ago. 

  On Mar 31, 2004, at 9:38 PM, ken.kaliher at us.army.mil wrote:

       Anthony Faiola’s thorough January 22 report in the Washington Post ("Kicking Up the Dust of History") suggested one possible reason for China’s Koguryo claims which seems very far from “silly.”  Faiola wrote:

       “...More is at stake than bragging rights to the extraordinary bronze and clay Buddhas and frescoed murals of a long-dead civilization.  Koguryo encompassed a vast area from central Manchuria to south of Seoul.  Korean academics and politicians accuse China of attempting to lay claim to the kingdom out of fear that its 870-mile-long border with North Korea will rupture with a flood of refugees if the government in Pyongyang collapses. 

       “The Chinese may be laying the groundwork to dispute the current border with North Korea and, if they find it to be in their interest, claim more territory, scholars say.  They also argue that China is trying to head off any attempt by pockets of Korean speakers on the Chinese side of the border from eventually becoming part of a unified Korea.”


    Ken Kaliher


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    ----- Original Message ----- 

    From: Jim Palais <palais at u.washington.edu>

    Date: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 6:29 pm

    Subject: Re: [KS] northeast asia project

    > Peter Lee: 
    > It seems like the Chinese government is being overly 
    > nationalistic. I 
    > can't think of any other reason for making a silly claim for Chinese
    > jurisdiction of Koguryo.
    > Jim Palais 
    > ----- Original Message ----- 
    > From: "Sangkee Peter Lee" <sangkee at uclink.berkeley.edu>
    > To: <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
    > Sent: Monday, March 29, 2004 3:43 PM 
    > Subject: [KS] northeast asia project
    > > To whom it may concern: 
    > > 
    > > My name is Peter Lee and I'm a 2nd year political science 
    > student at UC 
    > Berkeley. I'm part of a
    > > student organization called Committee for Korea Studies. 5-6 
    > students have 
    > been meeting about 
    > > everyday for 2 weeks to learn more about the Northeast Asia 
    > Project- the 
    > history of goguryo and 
    > > the reason why Chinese govt is pursuing this. We decided the
    > best way to 
    > > inform the students here at Berkeley is to hold a forum where 3-4 
    > professors or experts can 
    > > lecture and answer questions. Do you have any recommendations? Those 
    > living in the US will be most 
    > > ideal, but if they live in Korea it will be okay also. Thank
    > you. I'll 
    > look forward to hearing 
    > > from 
    > > you soon. 
    > > 
    > > Peter 
    > > 
    > > 

  Hyung Il Pai
  Associate Professor
  East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies,
  HSSB Building, University of California, Santa Barbara CA 93106
  Fax: 805) 893-3011, Phone: 805) 893-2245
  Email: Hyungpai at eastasian.ucsb.edu
  Dept. Web-site -http://www.eastasian.ucsb.edu/
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