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Tombs of Korea`s ancient Goguryeo kingdom found in China

Tombs of Korea`s ancient Goguryeo kingdom found in China

Posted June. 04, 2013 06:21,   


I have been in Ji`an several times. But I went to “Goguryeo (one of the three ancient kingdoms of Korea)” again last month for a special reason. In July 2012, China announced it discovered “Ji’an Goguryeo monument,” which is different from the monument of King Gwanggaeto the Great near the Maxian River west of Ji’an, in Jilin Province. I wanted to see it for myself.

Ji’an and its nearby region was the location of the second capital of Goguryeo, Wandu Mountain Fortress. Ji’an is a large basin area surrounded by layers of mountain ranges from Mt. Baekdu. It has the Yalu River as Seoul has the Han River or Cheonggye Stream. Goguryeo`s first capital was Hwando Mountain Fortress in Huanren County of Liaoning Province. On a rugged mountain, the ancient dynasty built the fortress that had a 200-meter long cliff on its side and a pond, which was advantageous for a long-term war. Looking up the fortress, I was overwhelmed by sacredness and powerful spirit. King Chumo, the founder of the Goguryeo Dynasty, chose the place as the capital and called himself the God-given descendent, revering Haemosu as the heavenly emperor. After I looked around the Hwando fortress, I moved to the Wandu fortress. It took four hours by car.

The area of the Maxian River in Ji`an, one of the largest ancient burial mounds, is concentrated with more than 1,000 ancient tombs of Goguryeo. Among them are “Thousand-Year Mausoleum (Cheongchuchong in Korean)” and “West Mausoleum (Seodaemyeo),” which are on the list of the World Cultural Heritage. They also include the monument of King Gwanggaeto the Great, the General`s Tomb (Janggunchong), and the tomb of King Gwanggaeto the Great. The tomb of the King Gwanggaeto the Great is a grandiose temple, which stands on a pyramid with a diameter of some 60 meters, and Janggunchong stands between rugged mountains and the Yalu River. As the new monument was found in this region last year, it is highly likely that it belongs to Goguryeo.

After discovering the monument, China formed a research team for verification and announced its results a few months later. It is 170 centimeter-high and has 218 characters on the front, and some 150 characters have been inscribed. It is much smaller than the monument of King Gwanggaeto the Great. Since it used the same stone as that of Janggunchong, the Ji’an Goguryeo monument could have been established under the rule of King Gwanggaeto or King Jangsu.

After the announcement, China suddenly opened a new museum, which it had locked for several years, and exhibited the monument, saying the Ji’an Goguryeo monument is real. I went to the new museum. To enter the museum, I had to deposit my mobile phone and camera. The monument was put in a large glass box. It was smaller than I thought and was not able to read characters with my eyes because it was more than three meters away from me. It said it is a typical Chinese style: it seemed artificial and arrogant instead of being humble and strong spirit that is typical of Goguryeo. I was not sure whether China intended it or not, but I was not able to verify it because close access was not allowed. It made me think of China’s history distortion project.

Goguryeo was a special and large country. It had a vast land, and it was good at combat thanks to its horse-riding troops and the naval forces. The people were healthy both physically and mentally. It crisscrossed the center of China, showing the presence of a powerful nation. For hundreds of years, it had free will, strong spirit, and a sense of spiritual beauty and was equipped with scientific technologies necessary for weapon making and building fortresses. It also had a broad mind and leadership to communicate with all tribes in East Asia. The spirit of Goguryeo is engraved in Koreans’ DNA and energetic spirit runs in Koreans’ blood.

The new “Ji’an Goguryeo monument” can be a valuable document at a time when we lack documents on the ancient kingdom, but China discovers, interprets, and researches it. The academia including the Northeast Asian History Foundation of Korea needs to seek a joint research project between the two countries in various areas. Korea has long been obsessed by the Japanese colonial view that Korea is limited by the geographical feature, the peninsula. Even college entrance exams do not include Korean history. History is not past but present, and provides a model to develop the future. Why don`t we study Goguryeo?

This story was written by Yoon Myung-chul, professor of Goguryeo history and East Asian maritime history at Dongguk University in Seoul.