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[Editorial] Minister Dampers the “Protect the History of Koguryo” Campaign

[Editorial] Minister Dampers the “Protect the History of Koguryo” Campaign

Posted January. 08, 2004 23:46,   


It was immensely inappropriate of Lee Chang-dong, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, with the duty to supervise the national policies for culture, art and tourism, to state, “It does not help for the government to take steps against the historical distortion of China,” even if concerns for diplomatic conflicts are taken into account.

Minister Lee’s statement put a damper on the “Protect the History of Koguryo” campaign pushed forward by scholars, press members, and netizens. Despite the fact that he is a minister with nearly one year under his belt, Lee’s statement makes one wonder if he doesn’t still think of himself as a “free man” instead of a national minister.

Minister Lee also said, “It is not advisable to connect this issue with the movement to register Koguryo relics on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list.” However, scholars refute, “This was done under the consistent aim of China to integrate Koguryo history into China’s, and thinking of the two issues separately would be dancing to China’s tune.” We agree with the scholars’ opinion.

The Chinese Institute of Social Sciences, which is leading efforts to integrate Koguryo into Chinese history, is actually a government institute. Taking this into consideration, Prime Minister Goh Kun revealed that he would establish and actively support a Koguryo history research center with joint funding from private and governmental sectors to the National Assembly at the end of last year, and representatives vowed to offer their full support. Therefore, Minister Lee’s careless remarks may give the impression that the Korean government does not have a consistent view regarding the history distortion by the Chinese government.

Imprudent words and behavior from responsible government officials may bring irreparable damage to national interests and diplomatic relations. Minister Lee must apologize for his statement and not make the mistake of confusing personal opinions and his stance as a minister of the nation again. A government that cannot protect its sovereignty or a minister that loses the proud history of our ancestors is intolerable.