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[Editorial] A Long Road Ahead to Undoing Chinese Distortions of Goguryeo

[Editorial] A Long Road Ahead to Undoing Chinese Distortions of Goguryeo

Posted August. 24, 2004 22:00,   


The five-point agreement Korea and China reached after lengthy talks incomparably fall short--in wording as well as spirit--of addressing the issues surrounding the Chinese glossing over of Goguryeo’s history. A foreign ministry official’s description of the agreement as a meaningful first step is in effect a revelation that the agreement is a small start.

We cannot understand why the agreement did not include an apology by China, which glossed over history. Even as a product of diplomatic negotiations, the clause stating that “China will be aware that the history of Goguryeo has become an urgent issue between the two countries” is hardly accepted as an expression of Chinese regret over its distortions of history.

China’s will to undo the distortions also fell short of expectations. While it said it would take a government-wide measure to rectify the errors, China rejected Korea’s demand for the restoration of the Goguryeo section of its foreign ministry Web site. While the Korean government said that China agreed not to reflect it in its textbook set to be used in elementary, junior high, and high school classes during the next fall semester and that it promised it won’t lead efforts to gloss over history, all these are not found in the agreement.

The two countries closed an insufficient agreement verbally not in writing. China’s reneging on the February agreement to address the Goguryeo issue academically and not politically is casting doubt over the cohesiveness of this verbal agreement.

Since the government admitted this agreement as a start, it must not lax tensions in solving the issues on China’s glossing over of history. It must not be euphoric because a Chinese assistant foreign minister visited the country after three days in office or because China has begun to step back a bit. To stop the distortion campaign that is now widespread among China’s local governments, academia, and press, it must change the Chinese central government’s posture. This is the reason why the issues must not be dragged on by China, which refused to undo the distortions. Only if China apologize, rectify the wrongs, and promise to prevent the recurrence of the campaign will the issues over the glossed-over history of Goguryeo will be resolved.