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[Opinion] Syria

Posted April. 17, 2003 21:55,   


It is not certain whether the name of the place called `Kaoli` from the well-known 13th century pilgrimage book of Marco Polo refers to Korea. If he meant Korea by `Kaoli,` it was the first occasion that introduced this country to the western world. It was long before in the 9th century, however, that the Middle East first learned about `Shilla,` an ancient Korean dynasty. A document reads, `There is a nation called Shilla on the tip of China where there are many mountains, and no one knows what comes after the nation.` It is a phrase from Ivn Hurdadvi, the first foreign language book writing about Korea. Many people now say that they came to learn after the war that Iraq is the place harboring Mesopotamian Civilization. And some begin to wonder about Syria, a neighboring country of Iraq presently threatened by Americans. As they knew nothing about Korea one thousand years ago, we hardly know about this country.

It is a different story to Christians, however, since the country was the center stage of the bible. `Damesec,` where Saul heard the voice of Jesus on his way to the mission of persecution and was born again as Paul, is now Damascus, the five thousands years-old capital city of Syria. The Old Testament says there are people in Aram disregarding ancestors of Israel. And Aram refers to Syria today. The New Testament says `the words about Jesus will spread throughout Syria.` In Damascus, there is a place believed to be where Cain killed his brother Abel. The nation called Assure, or Assyria, mentioned in the Old Testament is the northern part of Iraq sharing the border with Syria. There was a great empire some 4,500 years ago.

Syria, a strategic point connecting the Mediterranean and the Mesopotamian regions and a land of fertility known `the crescent area,` had been invaded by other countries many times. Assyria was one of the most cruel conquers. Issaya lamented, “They trampled on like roaring lions, leaving grief and pain behind.“ Like the saying `the history of the Middle East is the longest in the world,` there are records of many rises and falls of many kinds of people. “People there had to fight against God and humans to survive,“ noted Kim Jeong-wui, professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

It was Syria where the Arab nationalism was first born in the 20th century. People in Syria sparked the Arab movement under the rule of Osmann Turk Empire. In 1958, Syria and Egypt became one and founded `the Republic of Arabs.` The fact that Syria took a firm stance against the U.S.-led invasion into Iraq seems to have something to do with its long history. It must be the country¡°s proud Arab nationalism that gets the nerve of Americans. We just hope that the Middle East will become a peaceful place for Arabs who have been living there for thousands of years.

LIm Chae-jung, Editorial Writer, cclim@donga.com