≡ Menu

MUST READ: Don’t believe the ‘we’ve been constantly invaded’ hype

Also in the Korea Times, Andrei Lankov pens a brilliant refutation of the oft-repeated claim that Korea has been frequently victimized by foreign invaders. Read the thing in its entirety. Here’s just a sample:

Well, let’s have a look at the Choson Dynasty period, from 1392 to 1910. The last four decades of these five centuries were turbulent indeed, but what about earlier times? Even a cursory look demonstrates that it was hardly a “time of troubles.” Throughout 1392-1865, Korea fought three wars against foreign invaders, not including some minor border skirmishes with nomads in the north, and Japanese pirates on the coasts. In one case, the war with Japan from 1592-1598, known as “Hideyoshi’s invasion” in the West, and as the “Imjin War” in Korea, was disastrous and the entire country was devastated. As you know, the medieval armies, all those “knights in shining armor,” were not too nice when they encountered the civilian population. The two other conflicts, of 1627 and of 1636, were of much smaller scale _ essentially, two blitzkriegs brilliantly executed by Manchu generals whose cavalry units broke through Korean defenses, approached Seoul, and forced the Korean government to agree to an unfavorable peace.

Let’s compare this with the fate of more or less every European country. Throughout the same period of 1392-1865, almost every country in Europe fought a much greater number of conflicts, and suffered much greater casualties. Let’s have a look at German history. The period under consideration is marked by at least four major military conflicts, each lasting for one or several decades, and resulting in mass death and destruction: the Reformation Wars, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), the Prussian campaigns of the mid-18th century and the Napoleonic wars. And these are only large-scale wars, each being as significant and bloody as Korea’s war with Japan in 1592-1598 (in all probability, all these conflicts were more destructive than the “Hideyoshi invasion”). Apart from these, there were a number of smaller conflicts, many of which were not small at all _ like the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), or the chain of conflicts that accompanied German unification in the 1850s and 1860s. And, of course, there were countless quarrels between the mini-states which formed the Germany of the era, each such quarrel being a military conflict on its own right, far exceeding Korea’s occasional skirmishes with Japanese raiders.

Is Germany an exception? By no means. This is the fairly typical history of any European country, and against such a background Korean history appears rather quiet. Rather than being a country with a uniquely turbulent history, Korea actually was a country, which enjoyed stability undreamed of in most other parts of the world!

Like I said, read the rest on your own.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • dogbertt

    Bravo! While that will certainly educate the kyopos who care to read it, I hope Prof. Lankov will translate it into Korean and see if it might be published to reach a wider audience.

  • Pingback: Foreign Dispatches

  • michael

    Wasn’t the entire Three Kingdoms period about Koreans killing each other for control of the peninsula? Also, Silla allied with China to destroy Baekje and Japan allied with Baekje, so things were a little more complicated than the usual “foreigners did us wrong” complaint. Some Koreans (especially the “progressives”) tend to deny the extent of Koreans’ participation in their own history, like they were all peace-loving bystanders for centuries while the evil Japanese (rarely is China condemned) tore up the peninsula.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    True, they love to think themselves passive yet virtuous… and then victimized.

    Excellent essay by Lankov.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Wow. Dr. Lankov’s columns are always interesting and educative, but this one is in a class of its own…this goes right to the heart of the modern Korean mythos.

  • Travolta

    I think Koreans love to cry about everything bad that happens to them. I don’t mean this in any racist way, its just something I noticed when living there. They bitch and complain about things going wrong and it’s 90% someone elses fault. Who in Korea hasn’t heard these gems:

    Why must I study English, it’s unfair, it’s America’s fault!

    My boss is a dick, it’s unfair, I shouldn’t have to look for a better job nor bring up my complaints with the boss.

    Why is it so tough for rice farmers, it’s the FTA it’s everyone else’s fault and not backwards farming practices nor rural-urban drift.

    The economy is fucked, life is so hard, I barely survive from day to day, it’s the IMF’s fault.

    My children don’t learn anything at their hagwon, it’s not the fact that they are shit as human beings and can’t sit the fuck down, it’s the poor state of foreign English teachers.

    I can’t pay you, its the economy, it’s the IMF, it’s USFK, it’s the constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s the vibe.

    Koreans love to bitch and complain and love to be the victim and have everyone feel sorry for them. Everyone I have ever met Korean or not likes to bitch and vent from time to time, sometimes way too often but it seems that its a national past time in Korea and historians like to bitch about every slightly bad thing that has ever happened in Korea and blame it not on shithouse Kings and rubbish governments but on everyone else. At the same time however many Koreans can be very tough and put up with a lot of shit in their jobs, homes, relationships etc.

  • http://www.icebergkorea.com Iceberg

    How are they going to “han”dle this news?

  • http://www.lostnomad.org/ Nomad

    Throughout 1392-1865, Korea fought three wars against foreign invaders, not including some minor border skirmishes with nomads in the north, and Japanese pirates on the coasts.

    I assure you, I had nothing to do with it.

  • Sonagi

    I’d like to see this essay published in a Korean language newspaper in order to reach a wider audience.

  • Zonath

    Wasn’t the entire Three Kingdoms period about Koreans killing each other for control of the peninsula?

    Well… Yes and no. No because the Three Kingdoms period actually consisted of a fairly long period of stability followed by the eventual collapse and absorption of two of the three kingdoms. Also no because there was no “Korea” at the time, so rather than “Koreans killing each other” it was “People from Shilla, Baekje, and Goguryo killing each other”.

  • http://www.yeolchae.wordpress.com yeolchae

    It is often said that the constant conflicts in Europe were the driving force in the rapid development of Europe from the 15th to the 17th centuries.

    Having a neighbouring country sharpening their blades and licking their lips beside you is a good incentive for building better walls and buildings.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Having a neighbouring country sharpening their blades and licking their lips beside you is a good incentive for building better walls and buildings.

    Or for investing in independent defense. At least, one would think so.

  • seouldout

    Ah, the perils of utilitarianism. The lie increases the happiness of the group, but simple answers make light of difficult questions. Sadly a crossed ‘i’ and a dotted ‘t’ are so easy to debunk. How will centuries of backwardness be explained?

    Dr. Lankov, you’re f*ckin’ with the kibun. Good on ya’.

  • http://yeomso.blogspot.com/ The Goat

    Thanks for the link. Very interesting read.

    It is quite amazing to see the power of perception in action in cases such as this. The facts are out there and obtainable yet people see no need….

    Now to debunk the the load of patooey that Canadians are all nice and stuff…we are just as fucked up as everybody else.

  • snow

    Victimization, no matter who engages in it, is a complete waste. In an article today in the Korea Times, the old lie of how Korea was a ‘partner’ to China in the past was repeated. No mention of the vassal relationship and the huge sums were paid in tribute so as not to get invaded.(Sorry, can’t find the article right now, so can’t link to it).

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    Great article from Mr Lankov. So I guess this excuse cant be used any more for reasons for why Koreans are so ultra-nationalistic to why they dont like to see foreigners with Korean girls then, huh?

    I wonder if Mr Lankov will take on the sacred cow of the Dokdo cult now?

  • bluejives

    Koreans love to bitch and complain and love to be the victim and have everyone feel sorry for them. Everyone I have ever met Korean or not likes to bitch and vent from time to time, sometimes way too often but it seems that its a national past time in Korea and historians like to bitch about every slightly bad thing that has ever happened in Korea…

    Are you trying to say Koreans are the Jews of Asia?

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    No. Americans like the Jews. Plus the Jews will fight for their own survival.

  • Mizar5

    Are you trying to say Koreans are the Jews of Asia?

    Not even close. The accomplishments of Jews throughout history can fill volumes. And seldom have there been a more positive people, famous for using art, humor and accomplishments in every known field to sublimate angst.

  • R. Elgin

    Bluejives, you are so full of dung. Koreans never, ever had someone go after them as a race and try to exterminate them . . . yet.

  • http://koreanamerican431.blogspot.com/ baduk

    But Germany won and lost. Sometimes, occupying enemy territories and killing their leaders.

    Koreans always lost. Japan raped Korea but Koreans could not go to Japan and attack.

    China was just too big. All Koreans could do was to defend the land. Or, just give Korean women as peace offerings. (Soon, SK will be sending their women to KJI and the Chinese leaders.)

    And, the Chinese always kept the scruitinizing eye on Korea’s military. As a result, Korean military was small and weak. Weapon system was outdated and inadequate. Pathetic assholes, Koreans were (still are?)

    Once my history teacher in Brooklyn compared Korea to Belgium. I like the analogy: Belgium got screwed by France and Germany, two strong neighbors. Well, Korea has three strong neighbors who repeated fucked Korea. Korea has genetic traits to prove the deeds.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    I have to admit that I bought this line lock, stock, and barrel, but when measured up against Europe at least, certainly Korea hardly holds a candle to the misery there.

    But what about neighbouring countries? Well, heck, come to think of it, even China has been through a lot worse: conquest by Mongols and Manchus; foreign concessions; territorial control and assorted other incidents involving Japan; a massive civil war in the 20th century; and…division, with each government claiming that it’s the only legitimate government over the whole country. Yet one doesn’t get the sense that there’s much of a sense of 恨 (한; heart-aching sadness; hat-tip to Iceberg) in China over these former difficulties. To this outsider’s admittedly uninformed eyes, China/Taiwan’s modern sense of self doesn’t seem to be defined by regret over past tragedies.

  • wjk

    Don’t have time to go into the specifics, but Andrei has chosen parts of history to support his claim. It’s so not true that Korea enjoyed unmatched times of peace throughout history. First of all, he leaves out the history of Koryo. 2nd of all, he leaves out all the conflicts during Chosun’s later years with Russia, America, France, China, and Japan. 3rd, Hideyoshi’s invasion came in 2 waves, not one. Andrei says it’s one, and he flat out says battles in Europe were way more destructive. How’s that? All the European rulers were Christians (Catholics or Protestants) at least on the surface. They wouldn’t dare demand women as part of a price of peace, would they? Maybe they did. All of Korea’s peace time after “Unified” Shilla was purchased at the price of offering grain, money, goods, and people to China. Was this the terms of peace between the majority of European kings? Korea’s terms with China was very one sided, and unlike European kings, there was no Pope to say this was not right, etc.

    For the most part, the European wars were waged by kings who were more or less agreeing to war between kings. Koreans were more or less buying peace or receiving invasion. Andrei says battles between German states were bloodier than Korean battles with Japanase pirates. Without any further explanation.

    Andrei leaves out the period of the 3 states as well. For the most part, these 3 states were at least as much as in constant war as these German states were.

    Andrei says Korea suffered less from revolts than Europe, citing mainly that France had a successful revolution. Korea had a successful revolution, too. Chosun came to power after General Lee Sung Gyae betrayed his own Koryo army and defeated a Koryo General named Choi Yung. It was a gentry revoltion though. Nevertheless, it is still a revolution, a hyuk myung, a change in the ruling power. Park Chung Hee’s ascension to power is also called a hyuk myung. 5.16 hyuk myung, or revolution. Late Chosun also had its share of peasant revolutions fighting against Korean forces, aided by Japanese forces.

    Chosun’s rebels are painted as small and insignificant by Andrei, without much explanation, except for the fact that Andrei’s European references are pretty famous in European history. Chosun had its share of rebellions.

    I don’t think Korea’s history was way more peaceful than that of other countries on earth.

    I only buy the idea that perhaps it was embellished during the 60′s to be more oppressed by foreign powers than it actually was. Although, based on the fact that Korea bought most of its peace time with China, and still received major invasions from China, I think the Korean claim is still justified.

  • seouldout

    Are you trying to say Koreans are the Jews of Asia?

    I did a quick mental run through of all the major cultures of each continent and I can’t think of one group whose achievements don’t tower over over the Koreans. Heck, there are some pastoral nomads who make the Koreans look primitive.

    Perhaps if we think outside the galaxy. Hmmmm…

    At best I’ll say the Koreans are the Ferengi of Asia.

  • wjk

    Even Unified Shilla had its share of rebellions, one being from Jang Bogo. Very late Shilla was no longer unified, and was in a 3 way war that became a 2 way war for more than half a century. Koryo had its share of rebellions, too. Koryo had Generals who formed the SamByulCho, and defied the Koryo government who submitted to the Mongol Empire, lasting the rebellion fairly long from KangHwaDo to JaeJooDo. All these internal conflicts alone at least match up pretty even with state wars inside Germany. Although anachronistic.

  • wjk

    The American Revolutionary War is hailed as a war fought in the name of freedom. Pure freedom. I thought so, too. Until I read a book titled, Patriots, by AJ Langguth. America didn’t want to pay unfair taxes, that’s one major reason why they revolted. Tax is still a very sensitive issue in American politics, that can swing an election outcome. Part of the reason why the income tax didn’t come into effect, until the early 1900′s.

    Be a little more sensitive to some other country’s history, before labeling it as a book of lies. Every country has its own share of lies in its history.

  • wjk

    also, before you say that Americans don’t like Koreans, ask yourself why some of you married a Korean.

  • ghola

    also, before you say that Americans don’t like Koreans, ask yourself why some of you married a Korean.

    mayebe it’s the kimchi flavored love juice..

  • wjk

    i know of someone whose parents were of different regions in Korea. The Pop would always talk bad about the Mom’s side region, and the Mom would always talk bad about the Pop’s side region. The Kid didn’t really like his Pop.

    Anyway, moving on to false histories, there is a famous novel called the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and a parallel historical account called the Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms. For such a minor period in the history of all China, this novel shows clearly that the best of China were active as heroes, inventors, strategists, statemen, politicians, and innovators during this short period of time in Chinese history. Guan Yu is literally worshipped as a god among many Chinese people. What if someone like me were to hammer into the Chinese people that Guan Yu’s deeds were over embellished, and that there must be a good reason why Pang De’s descendants would almost annihilate Guan Yu’s descendants in Cheng Du? I mean, Guan Yu’s, a very venerable person and a god among many people. What if I were to point out that there’s no way any state raised that big of any army given that period’s populations?

    Whatevers.

  • bluejives

    also, before you say that Americans don’t like Koreans, ask yourself why some of you married a Korean.

    Just because they like to fuck a Korean woman doesnt mean that they cant hate Koreans in general, especially Korean men. Koreans and Kyopos alike really ought to wake up to this hidden, double-faced nature of many expats who wouldnt have the guts to utter half the shit that gets said around here to a Korean to his face in real life.

  • pawikirogi

    you mean westerners don’t portray korea as a country that was constantly being attacked? then, how come i’ve seen so many low class expats talk about 600 hundred invasions in korea’s history? this was usually done when trying to tell korea how weak it was and is. you can’t have it both ways, expat. i, myself, have always viewed korea as a rather peaceful place even if the scumbag expat was reminding me of 600 invasions. and can you believe it? i didn’t need dr lankov to tell me about that.

    ‘koreans weren’t koreans during shilla, bekje, and koguryo.’

    well, the japanese weren’t japanese during yamato but many people refer to the people of yamato as japanese. thus, it’s ok to refer to the people of the three kingdoms as koreans. got it?

    ‘but they’re liked.’ lawyer in reference to jews versus koreans ie the guy with bug eyes and large nose

    well, at least we know you like koreans; you’re married to one. and your children are half korean. and you sir, besides being a bigot, are an asshole.

  • bulgasari

    I’m not going to disagree with Lankov’s basic outline (hell, years ago I remember chatting with Korean aquaintances who told me Korea had fought many wars and thinking that, from the little history of the region I knew at the time, this claim seemed a little off), but I notice that no mention has been made of Lankov’s perhaps misleading use of Germany as a “typical example” of destruction wrought in early modern Europe.

    I don’t claim to be any expert on the subject, but from my first and second year university history courses, I seem to remember Germany being the greatest victim of the wars that happened during that period (especially the 30 years war and the peasants war). From what I remember of those courses, the German states as a whole suffered much more than the rest of Europe at that time. While I mostly with agree with Lankov’s take on things, his “Let’s have a look at German history” as a case of “Oh, here’s the first example that popped into my head” is rather misleading. Seeing as he was trying portray ‘typical Europe’ at that time as a counterpoint to Korea’s experiences, his case is weakened by portraying the worse-case scenario as a representative example.

  • Mizar5

    Just because they like to fuck a Korean woman doesnt mean that they cant hate Koreans in general, especially Korean men. Koreans and Kyopos alike really ought to wake up to this hidden, double-faced nature of many expats who wouldnt have the guts to utter half the shit that gets said around here to a Korean to his face in real life.

    Bluejives wishes Koreans were taken seriously enough to be hated by people who know us. The truth is they simply see us for what we are – laughable and mildly irritating.

    Bluejives illustrates just why with his ever wacky rhetoric. Surely no expat would ever have the guts to stand up to your typical 98-lb feminized Korean male…

  • Mizar5

    …expats who wouldnt have the guts to utter half the shit that gets said around here to a Korean to his face in real life.

    God forbid…he might start whining like a little girl.

  • Mizar5

    Just because they like to fuck a Korean woman doesnt mean that they cant hate Koreans in general, especially Korean men.

    And that\’s what really bothers you. It\’s at the very root of your racial insecurity and prejudice.

    Thank god I never ended up a whiney Korean man like you. Instead I chose to became a self-respecting Asian American free from all such baggage.

  • bluejives

    Mizar,
    Do me and the rest of us non apologetic, self-respecting Koreans who aren’t kowtowing Uncle Toms a favor, will ya?

    Cut off your own dick, stuff it in your mouth, get a piece of paper and write “I suck” on it, tape it to your forehead, get a gun, and blow your head off. Can you do that for me?

  • ghola

    asian american? are you serious ? do you realize what encompasses as “asian”. you are no better than koreans who classify themselves as korean americans. perhaps a little worse. definetely worse. you threw out your korean identity altogether. shame on you. crawl under a rock and die..!

  • Zonath

    ‘koreans weren’t koreans during shilla, bekje, and koguryo.’

    well, the japanese weren’t japanese during yamato but many people refer to the people of yamato as japanese. thus, it’s ok to refer to the people of the three kingdoms as koreans. got it?

    I’d also have some trouble identifying the Yamato people as Japanese (especially prior to them establishing hegemony over most of modern-day Japan), but if that’s what most people do… I just take issue with these sorts of lazy and post-facto ways of classifying ethnic and political groups because they ignore important realities, and almost always look to justify conquests between the groups. I’ve had people tell me that somehow, Shilla’s invasion and conquest of Baekjae and Goguryo was more justifiable than Japan’s colonization of Korea because Shilla, Baekje, and Goguryo were ‘Korean kingdoms’. As if the entire three kingdoms period was just one protracted civil war, and somehow inherently justifiable as such.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    Bulgasari – I don’t think Germany was too unique. In medieval times, much of Europe was on the move and the morphing “states” pushing against each other, some forming and disolving frequently. We could also throw in the areas in which the Muslim empire(s) pressed into Europe. If we looked at England and surrounding states, or if we looked at England and France, we’d get a picture of a very long period with frequent conflict. And you would see nations grow and shrink in territory much from century to century.

    Anyway, one of the parts of Korean history that gets lost due to Korea’s obsession with forcing their experience from the late 1800s until 1960 (or now) dominate the definition of Korean history altogether is how much both they and China gained by a working relationship. One reason Korea’s conflicts were fewer than on the European scale was the relationship between the two nations and how they dealt with the nomadic tribes of Manchuria and Mongolia and other outside pressures. Both nations were not always successful. In fact, both suffered huge defeats, but thanks to their relationship and geographic locations, there were many positive results due to the Korea-China connection.

  • wjk

    nice to see the war between the expats, the Kyopos, the Korean version of Uncle Toms.

    I’d just like to state that Andrei may have not only chosen the worst example in Europe by picking Germany, but he may have also made a factual error in stating that 1 of the 2 Chosun kings were spared his life after the coup.

    To my knowledge, both YunSanGoon and KwangHaeGoon died in exile at remote islands. They were not spared, nor were their lineages.

    Germany was a battle ground for European super powers to wreak havoc upon during the 30 years war. I remember learning that, too.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    wjk — Judging by what you have written here, you need to learn a good bit more about the wars in Europe, their effect on numerous societies, and how conflicts were carried out.

  • wjk

    usinkorea, Germany was unique. It was purposefully kept non unified by European super powers for at least a 1000 continuous years. This is a fact.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Bluejives, WJK, Ghola, Pawikirogi, et al.:

    Look, I agree that, at the very least, the last 150 years of Korean history have been a string of miseries…two wars, foreign colonization, division of the country, a massive civil war, a couple of decades of poverty, military coups, etc.

    I don’t think Dr. Lankov was trying to minimize that. (Maybe he was? If he has an agenda, I don’t know what it would be, though.) Indeed, he stressed in one or two places in the column that he was emphatically not talking about the modern (post-1865) era. He was just trying to point out that the modern sense of endless strife—which is valid—should not necessarily be projected onto previous centuries, during which yes, there was trouble, strife, and bloodshed, lives ruined and lost; but it wasn’t quite a neverending period of constant grief, such as what Koreans had to endure between, say, 1940 and 1960.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    wjk — you are also going out of your way to misconstrue things in your analysis.

    “spared his life after the coup”

    “died in exile at remote islands. They were not spared”

    I think you are off on saying Germany was the worst case in Europe to the point of placing it in a special category —- and thus implying European history was actually much more peaceful than Lankov is saying.

    But this above is just going out of your way, in the effort to dismiss his theme, by purposfully twisting what was written.

    If they were not killed but sent into exile instead, their lives were spared……

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    How could Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok survived and flourished, or the great Korean painters done their work, or Hangeul be developed under Sejong, if there were constant misery?

    It shouldn’t be construed as an insult to say that there have been periods of peace and stability in Korea’s history!

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    Germany was kept from unifying for 1000 years by the rest of Europe? hmmm….

    I don’t know enough about Germany and European history to debunk that, but I find it highly suspicious given what I do know about the history of Europe.

    What about the land area of what we now call Spain? What about Italy? What about what we now know of as France? What about the different peoples in the British Isles – England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland?

    After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe was one big mess.

    If we were making sweeping generalizations covering this period, I’d think we could say Europe as a whole was a caldron until 1945. I’d say the peace and stability, despite the Cold War, we have seen in the last 50 years is the exception to the norm.

  • Zonath

    Germany was kept from unifying for 1000 years by the rest of Europe? hmmm….

    I don’t know enough about Germany and European history to debunk that, but I find it highly suspicious given what I do know about the history of Europe.

    I also find these sorts of claims to be somewhat suspicious. Heck, if you extend your definition of ‘Germany’ broadly enough, you could say that Germany is still being ‘kept from unifying’ because Austria still isn’t a part of it. Likewise, the idea that Germany somehow was kept from unifying presupposes some sort of German state as the ‘natural right’ of the German people — as if the various “Germanic” tribes all somehow longed for unification, but were being kept apart by forces beyond their control. Of course, to say this would also be to ignore the fact that, as often as not, the various German states were at each others’ throats (when they weren’t fending off invasions from other directions.)

    It’s a bit misleading to take any two regions of the world outside their contexts and compare them. Perhaps Lankov’s article should not have focussed on comparing German and Korean history, but should rather have debnked the idea of ‘constant invasion’ solely in the context of Korean history.

  • wjk

    usinkorea, I guess you really don’t know about YunSanGoon and KwangHaeGoon, so I refrain from comment when you say, “they were spared” when they went into exile. Besides, Andrei said 1 of 2 were spared, not both. You go look up those things yourself and also check up on how Kings of Korea are usually dealth death.

    Why, I’ll help you. You see, they nominally send them into exile. After a perceived “right” time of passing, they send SaYak, Sa as in death, Yak as in medicine, for the King to consume and die. That is the right way to kill a king. Not by beheading, not by hanging, not by strangling, not by assasination, but the dignified death is to drink the poison and die.

    Regarding Germany, I’ll let you hit up on a US public school teacher who teaches high school history. He or she will tell you I’m right.

  • luke drift

    Now, there’re lots of good arguments one can could turn to refute the familiar whine of having constantly been pillaged by foreign hordes (though I don’t see why anyone would bother with anything more than a simple ‘suck it up’ in response).

    But Lankov’s simple juxtaposition of Korea’s periods of calm with the fact that Europe–the last 60 years excepted–has experienced constant warfare in some corner of its landmass for the last millenia (if not longer) is well…somewhat misleading.

    I mean, it’s true: Korea’s last 400 years weren’t characterized by ceaseless waves of pillaging, that much is self-evident and hardly requires that one trot in an account of all of Europe’s wars to grasp this. That said,if one were scrupulous it would have to be pointed out that the West’s war-warring differs significantly from what Korea’d experienced, even if it’d experienced it in a brief period of time. Europe’s conflicts(minus the WWs and a few other, uh, significant wars of course)were, in comparison to the six-odd years comprising Hideyoshi’s Korean campaign, a series of low-level skirmishes. Most wars didn’t tax entire nation-states’ resources to the point of rolling back their development a century or so, victories tended to be decisive, not gained through draining wars of attrition(again, yes, exceptions), and most significant structures were left standing…hell the whole point was to seize those assets, not raze them to the ground (contrast with Korea, post-Hideyoshi campaign. That, together with the collective idiocy of Korea’s ruling elites, are the reason why there’s very little of historical importance left to see on the peninsula, garishly painted and jarringly new mockups of old pavilions and temples notwithstanding.)
    That last point’s perhaps the most important–that once war ended conquering empires/nations had vested interests in preserving and rebuilding the territories they’d just annexed. I mean, control of Northern Italy throughout its history has passed through so many hands, I’d have to call in sick for days to plot out the various empires it’d come under…and still enjoyed relative stability throughout.

    Lankov’s right of course. But simply tossing out the number of years Korea was ‘at war’ next to the same figures for Europe is, to some extent, cheap theatrics.

  • seouldout

    Cut off your own dick, stuff it in your mouth, get a piece of paper and write “I suck” on it, tape it to your forehead, get a gun, and blow your head off. Can you do that for me?

    Bluejives, that’s quite a disturbing request. You’re one sick mofo.

    It shouldn’t be construed as an insult to say that there have been periods of peace and stability in Korea’s history!

    Oh the irony, bravo Sewing!

    The myth of Korea’s victimization at the hands of foreign invaders is its modern Tangun story. Forever at war is the shaky foundation on which their contemporary identity rests.

    Imagine if the truth of long periods of peace and stability got out.

    So, ah Mr. Choi, during the 15th through 19th centuries what was going on over here? Lots of accomplishments I suspect, due to that Korean racial superiority and high intellect I hear so much of. What’s that? Ah-huh, some farming. A lot of makoli drinking. Telling fart jokes at night. Hidding from tigers. And ghosts, too! Every once in a while visiting a neighboring village to throw rocks at them?! Jaemisaeyo? Sorry, don’t know that word. Does it mean bugger all?

    What’s interesting is that a country doesn’t need scores of peaceful years and stability to unleash its potential and let its intellect shine.

    If you looking for a good read of such a period try Prof. Paul Johnson’s
    The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830. A great account of the 15 years following the Napoleonic Wars.

  • Lankov

    Vow, I did not expect such active reaction and so much interest in this particular piece. Not least… Anyway, few remarks/explanations…

    Dear WJK,

    QUOTE Don’t have time to go into the specifics, but Andrei has chosen parts of history to support his claim. END OF QUOTE

    Yes, I did, and I think that it is made very clear in the piece itself: I am talking about period from the late 14th to the mid-19th century (“Early Modern period”). It is not applicable to the events which took place after 1865, as the article says twice. Earlier period was also more complicated. However, in those more turbulent periods the frequency of wars/inventions was not exceptional by European or Middle Eastern standards. Just “normal” or “slightly-more-than-normal”.

    QUOTE Andrei says it’s one, and he flat out says battles in Europe were way more destructive. How’s that? All the European rulers were Christians (Catholics or Protestants) at least on the surface. END OF QUOTE

    Frankly, I did not say it was “way more” destructive. I said they probably equaled or even exceeded Imjin War in this regard. With the Thirty Year War, there is no doubt, however, that it was indeed more destructive, since the population losses in Germany are estimated at 25-30% of the total, and in some areas (large areas, like Bavaria or Württemberg) at 50% and more. How did they do it with WMD? Simple, by killing everybody. Christians or not, but they were very good in slaughtering people (but, well, I admit that the 30 Y War is the worst example in this regard, the normal losses tended to be much smaller, esp. after 1700).

    QUOTE To my knowledge, both YunSanGoon and KwangHaeGoon died in exile at remote islands. They were not spared, nor were their lineages. END OF QUOTE

    I meant that Kwanghae was not killed straight away, and died what seems to be perfectly natural death in exile almost two decades later (overthrown in 1623, died in 1641). In Europe, overthrown king would normally be killed. With Yŏnsan, it’s a bit more difficult to say, since he died too soon after being overthrown, and it’s very likely that his death was not quite natural, so to say.

    Dear Bulgasari,

    QUOTE I’m not going to disagree with Lankov’s basic outline […], but I notice that no mention has been made of Lankov’s perhaps misleading use of Germany as a “typical example” of destruction wrought in early modern Europe. END OF QUOTE

    Well, I have 900 words for every piece I submit to the KT, and I chose country more or less at random. However, Germany was not the worst example. France was not much better, while Italy (not known as “battleground of Europe” for nothing) fared even worse. Ditto Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Only England was remarkable more peaceful in those centuries. I chose Germany because it was one of the three or four major European countries whose history is presumably known (to some extent) to all readers. But again: it is not the worst case.

  • montclaire

    What Dr Lankov might also have pointed out is how Germany achieved reunification despite opposition from regional powers. (Britain and France both asked Gorby to block it). Korea likes to claim that foreign countries’ alleged opposition to t’ongil – I stress: alleged – keeps it from happening. When in reality no one is more vehemently opposed to it than the South Koreans themselves.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    …And the Norks. KJI will be out of a job (or worse), unless unification happens on his terms.

    That’s why the sentimental lip service paid to reunification at intra-Korean functions is so sickening: the unspoken implication that this is something fervently desired by all Koreans, and blocked by unspecified nefarious outside influences.

  • Pingback: Korea less invaded than countries in Europe at Occidentalism

  • montclaire

    At least the NK people want unification, the poor bastards.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    True enough. They’re shafted every way possible.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Attention angry race-warrior Kyopos: Nobody has said we commenters at the Marmot’s Hole don’t like Koreans. Especially I have not said I don’t like Koreans; this is my home, and I’ve put a lot of effort into learning the language. I said Koreans are generally disliked as a group because their collective cultural characteristics are dislikable, implicitly from the Western perspective. From my experiences having to be defender of this culture, that’s definitely true.

    I travel to international lawyers’ conferences regularly. At every single one of them, someone — a Frenchman (a Frenchman!), a Texan, a Chinese — will pigeonhole me to ask “How do you tolerate those people?” and launch into some explanation of a horribly difficult and dishonest contract negotiation, a demand for a bribe, or theft of property. Every visit to an international law firm’s office in Hong Kong, Tokyo, or London will result in at least one request to try to collect an unpaid invoice from a Korean client who showed up with a hurry-up request for emergency legal service, only to go silent once the work was done. These behaviors are normal here in Korea, but wear the rest of the world out.

    As for pawikirogi and Bluejives — yes, boys, I don’t like you. But only because of the horrible things you write here. Bluejives’ small apartment blog is interesting to me and on his own blog, he seems quite normal. Only when he gets into his race-warrior mode does he earn my opprobrium. pawikirogi, however, seems worthless.

    But my nose is big? Oh, boo hoo hoo — how will I go on?

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    But in some weird way, one does have to admire Pawikirogi/Nulji for his creative paraphrases. They’re wacky, misleading, and more often than not thoroughly contentious, but they’re usually good for a laugh or two.

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    But in some weird way, one does have to admire Pawikirogi/Nulji for his creative paraphrases. They’re wacky, misleading, and more often than not thoroughly contentious, but they’re usually good for a laugh or two.

    Perhaps, but the fake quotes he attributes to other commenters are offensive and libelous.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Well, it’s fair to say that if I were ever on the receiving end of one his “expat” lines, I’d probably see it differently.

  • Won Joon Choe

    Brendon Carr wrote:

    I travel to international lawyers’ conferences regularly. At every single one of them, someone… [will] launch into some explanation of a horribly difficult and dishonest contract negotiation, a demand for a bribe, or theft of property. Every visit to an international law firm’s office in Hong Kong, Tokyo, or London will result in at least one request to try to collect an unpaid invoice from a Korean client who showed up with a hurry-up request for emergency legal service, only to go silent once the work was done.

    From my brief experience the HK office of my old law firm, I’d have to agree with Mr. Carr’s representation of how foreign lawyers feel about working with Korean firms in general. To begin with, even the chaebols frequently will not pay the initial agreed-upon fees, and they will try to drive-down the fees with constant demands for renegotiation. Morover, even after the chaebols get a discounted bill, many foreign law firms feel lucky to be paid in full. And the payment issue isn’t the whole of it–by a long shot. Sometimes the lawyers–esp. the younger Korean-American lawyers–are abused by their clients simply beyond comprehension. (I am told that it’s worse to be an ethnic Korean lawyer, because then the Korean firms will actually expect the lawyer to understand and resign themselves to monstrous local cultural idiosyncracies.) I once listened in on a conference call, and I was stunned and appalled at the verbal abuse that a Korean manager gave a young Korean-American lawyer. We are talking about a harangue that ended with some kind of “sekki” after every other sentence.

    In fact, to be honest, I think one reason why the Big American firms (as opposed to certain British firms) didn’t lobby so hard to open up the Korean legal market was simply that they didn’t want to deal with that kind of shit.

  • dogbertt

    Well, it’s fair to say that if I were ever on the receiving end of one his “expat” lines, I’d probably see it differently.

    You’re deluding yourself if you think he doesn’t despise you just as much.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    > snow in #14
    > Victimization, no matter who engages in it, is a
    > complete waste. In an article today in the Korea
    > Times, the old lie of how Korea was a ‘partner’
    > to China in the past was repeated.

    “Victimization” means to hurt or damage another, esp to dupe, swindle, or cheat them; it’s the opposite counterpart to “being made a victim”, “thinking oneself to be a victim” or “playing the victim”, which is what i think you mean… ?

    Anyway, if Koreans say they were once partners with China,
    isn’t that being proud of their past, quite the
    opposite of “playing the victim”…?

    And anyway, i wouldn’t say that’s an “old lie”, myself.
    There was more equality to that relationship than you
    may be imagining, if my memory of history classes serves.

    > No mention of the vassal relationship and the huge sums
    > were paid in tribute so as not to get invaded.

    No mention of the “benevolnet gifts” the Koreans received
    in return, either — someone more knowledgable should
    correct me if i’m wrong, but it was more a Confucian-
    diplomacy form of trade than some sortta slavery. Tribute
    missions to Beijing were not so economically onerous to
    Joseon, and the relationship was not oppressive, not even
    insulting or humiliating to any significant degree.

  • montclaire

    “The most abusive guards I found were the Koreans.”
    Pvt Leon Beck, Bataan survivor, quoted in Death March: The Survivors of Bataan.

  • Won Joon Choe

    It goes without saying, by the way, that I agree with Dr. Lankov’s original op-ed and his subsequent rebuttal to his Korean nationalist antagonists on this Blog.

    My only quibble with Dr. Lankov is that I think he was being disingenous when he claimed to be surprised by the negative reaction to his piece. But then to paraphrase what Dr. Lankov himself once said in these comment pages, it is important to be “polite” to your hosts.

  • Lankov

    My only quibble with Dr. Lankov is that I think he was being disingenous when he claimed to be surprised by the negative reaction to his piece

    No, I was not disingenous. First of all, I do not seem much “negative reaction” in this thread. At least, almost nobody argued against the statement I made, even though some people made critical remarks about methodology. I myself would agree with some of these remarks (by “luke drift”, for example), but this was meant to be a newspaper piece, after all. A serious research should start from estimates of the human and economic losses inflicted by foreign invasions (frankly, the results might be even more striking, I suspect). However, this can be done in a specialized academic paper, not in a mass-circulation daily.

    But what I meant is that I did not expect ANY reaction, positive or otherwise. I publish three pieces a week and I did not expect that this small piece would generate such fuss. So far, 65 replies. Normally, only threads about sex or US military presence produce such statistics.

  • Won Joon Choe

    Dr. Lankov, how could you possibly have misjudged the likely animus toward (or even interest regarding) your piece, given that you are debunking one of the most cherished and protected national mythologies of the Korean people!

    I will concede that the reaction wasn’t as hostile as I expected–probably due to your own reputation as someone who is more interested in telling the truth rather than serving ideological aims.

  • montclaire

    The myth of Korea’s incessant victimization must be eradicated if the Koreans are ever to get beyond aggrieved nationalism and become patriotic. But I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Re: #41

    usinkorea, Germany was unique. It was purposefully kept non unified by European super powers for at least a 1000 continuous years. This is a fact.

    wjk, your grip on European history is as shaky as your understanding of Korean history. Have you not heard of the Holy Roman Empire (962-1803)? It wasn’t Italian. Germany was unified 1871 — even if you date “partition” of Germany from the emergence of a confederal model for the German states and principalities after the Peace of Westphalia 1648, where’s your 1000-year division at the hands of “outside powers”? None of this will make a damn bit of difference, I know: Korean nationalism is interesting in its being so firmly rooted in fantasy, and its adherents’ extreme resistance to facts.

  • snow

    “you threw out your korean identity altogether”

    For those attacking Mizar for identifying as an American rather than a Korean. so identifying yourself with historical revisionism or other assorted bs of your ethnicity means being respectful of your heritage?!? One can certainly respect their heritage and yet, be critical of its failures (for example, as half-french, I do admire and respect the French a great deal, but at the same time, I really can’t stand France and the French in some ways-often arrogant, xenophobic and appeasing).

    “you are debunking one of the most cherished and protected national mythologies of the Korean people!”

    Thank you, Won Joon Chae.

    “Anyway, if Koreans say they were once partners with China,
    isn’t that being proud of their past, quite the
    opposite of “playing the victim”…?”

    Sanshinseon, the way I put this does seem to put the two ideas together. Sorry, it was not intended that way, as I was writing in a rush. I was pointing out my exasperation with the concept of playing the victim being a waste of one’s own life (as seems so common in Korea). Then I went on to point out another lie of historical revisionism when it suits the powers that be in Korea. The points actually weren’t really supposed to be linked.

    I don’t know enough about Korea’s relationship with China in the past to say that it was really heinous or otherwise, but I highly doubt that it was a ‘partnership of equals’. I remember reading about how a couple of the Dutch who were held prisoner in Korea for 13 years back in 1600 or so ran out in front of the carriage of the Chinese ambassador (or whatever the position was in those days). The Korean king was greatly panicked and gave huge piles of gold and other goodies to bribe him not to say a word about the incident to his superiors back in China. Hardly sounds like the Korean kings had a relationship on anything near equal standing. This current playing up of the ‘good’ relationship between Korea and China (by Roh) is a lie propagated by the likes of Roh and his ilk who would happily throw away the relationship with the US, which has been very beneficial to Korea, for a relationship with China, which has likely been far less beneficial to Korea. I highly doubt that the relationship between Korea and China was ever nearly as beneficial as the one between Korea and the US, and yet these idiots want to throw it all away.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    “a ‘partnership of equals’”

    No. It wasn’t “equal”. In the geopolitical discourse of the day, which was dominated by China, China was the Middle Kingdom – the top nation and culture in the world, and the rest of the kingdoms around it were like satalites revolving around the sun. If you just look at the wording of dispatches or rituals performed when envoys were exchanged, you can say it was in the ballpark – barely – of master slave, but if you look at the bulk of the relationship, it was a partnership most of the time, and it was a partnership that greatly benefitted Korea.

    And just on the sending of tribute missions itself – there were times when China told Korea to stop sending so many missions, because too many goods and services were being taxed on the Chinese side. I look at it as technological exchange: the Chinese side felt too taxed in putting up the frequent Korean missions, and it felt it was giving too much away with the amount of books and other materials the Korean missions were taking back with them. And these books and often the other cultural artifacts were in very high demand with the Korean leaders, because the Koreans wanted to adapt Chinese institutions and thought-system to Korean society. Again – a kind of technological transfer.

    But, since the late 19th Century, there has been a strong trend in Korean society to erase the reality of their historical relationship with China to paint it as a demeaning master-servant domination. However, just focusing on how there was a trend in the Chosun Dynasty in which Korean neo-confucianists of repute went to China or sent messages to China to rebuke its neo-confucian leaders for having strayed from the true path, after the Wang Yang Min reformation of Confucianism in Chinese society should poke sizable holes in this myth.

    wjk,

    Thanks for the condescension, but I think perhaps you are the one who needs to gather some more information beyond what your high school teacher told you. Several people now have noted how weak and distorted your generalizations of European history are sufficiently enough. In my first statement, I meant I was not an expert or student of European or Germany history and could not speak as an authority or even semi-authority. I do feel confident, however, that I’ve got you beat.

    Here is a book on European history that helped form my understanding, and I think if you read just sections of it, it would dispell your current portrayal of how wars were fought and how it effected the people. Here is a book on the Ottoman Empire which pushed far into Europe. It tends to give you a picture beyond a few groups of knights in shiny armor prancing around a field then when the battle was done, saluting each other and mozing on home —– while the rest of the countryside remained peaceful and intact.

    And even if we just stick to what we might have gotten in high school, Spain and its history of being the dividing line between Muslim and Christian empires, and thus a land of struggle not just militarialy but culturally as well, we would do significant damage to your reading of European history.

    On the two Korean kings mentioned and whether “exile” was the same as killing them outright, I think Lankov sufficiently debunked you there.

    I would add that since Yongsangun is considered the worst king in Korean history due to the barbaric way in which he ran roughshod over the entire nation and slaughtered people at will, the fact they did not behead him in the capital and parade his dead body through the streets is significant. He is the only king in Korean history not to have his name recorded in honorific fashion, isn’t he? But the best we know about his death was that he was sent into exile and likely/possibly poisoned?

    And now since the condescension has been raised: “All the European rulers were Christians (Catholics or Protestants) at least on the surface.”

    Yeah. Those Catholics and protestants got a long so well together. It meant nothing to the people or their leaders if one group lost and the other one won. They simply changed a few things around in the Sunday church service, and everybody lived happily ever after…..

  • Sonagi

    While we’re on the subject of the two exiled kings, it’s worth making a distinction between Yonsan-gun, an awful tyrant with issues regarding his mother’s poisoning, and Kwanghae-gun, whose rule was doomed by factionalism. Too bad for Koreans since Kwanghae-gun’s policy of neutrality in the fight between Ming and the Manchus kept the peace in the Korean peninsula until his successor, Injo, following the advice of his advisors, rallied behind old ally Ming, only to lose his country and see his sons hauled off to Beijing after the victorious Manchus conquered Chosun.

    Kwanghae-gun’s supporters murdered his older brother and younger half-brother, but that kind of palace assassination was not unusual for medieval royal families. Yonsan deserved to be dethroned; Kwanghaegun did not, and Korean history might have evolved quite differently if he had remained on the throne.

  • wjk

    Careful, there. Anybody who knows anything about the Holy Roman Empire would say that period was precisely the period where Germany was prevented from being unified for roughly 1000 continuous years.

    By the way, what happenned to Germany after the 30 years war? European superpowers kept Germany divided into very small pieces, preventing it from being unified.

    Why do you think Germany had almost no colonies, while the French, Spanish, Portugues, Dutch, and British claimed land all over the world?

    GwangHae Goon is just as Sonagi described. He may have died of old age in exile, I may have been mistaken about that.

    I still disagree with the peaceful Chosun Dynasty. There was internal strife between the founder’s princes, there was Lee’s rebellion, there was Hideyoshi’s 14 year war, there was Korea’s participation in a war to aid Ming vs Ching, then there were probably 2 invasions by Ching sacking the Korean capital, then there was Chung’s rebellion, then there was a Lim’s rebellion?, and during late Chonsun, there were numerous peasant rebellions of DongHank, quelled with the aid of Japanese and Chinese forces, and the invasions by the Americans, French, Chinese, Japanese, and Russians. Most of these left out by Lankov, and Hideyoshi’s war shortened to one invasion of 7 years duration.

  • wjk

    If you simply go from ImJin War to ByungJa Ho Ran, that has to be at least 50 years of war, preparing for war, being in war.

    Lankov’s main stab was to debunk the idea that Koreans have a lot of anger against foreign powers for a good reason.

    I personally think having had to purchase peace or endure war had a lot to do with it. What country has Chosun or Koryo or unified Shilla invaded, except for the Mongolian Empire enforced preparation for war against Japan?

  • Won Joon Choe

    Sonagi,

    While I agree with you that Kwanghae and Yonsan were fundamentally different creatures–and that Kwanghae was an energetic, talented monarch–I don’t really see how Kwanghae remaining on the throne would have significantly altered Choson’s prospects in the long-run. While he and his son may have prevented the two invasions by the Manchus, I think the Ching would have supplanted Ming as Choson’s security guarantor, and Choson would have become Ching’s satellite. So I don’t see a significant change in geopolitical terms. Internal reform? Kwanghae’s own reforms were already being seriously thwarted by the reactionary aristocracy, and Kwanghae had pretty much resigned himself to compromising with the exigent realities at hand. Though we are admittedly projecting too much into the future, I certainly don’t see how Kwanghae could have set things in motion that may have created a Korean analogue of the Meiji Reformation.

    If you want to talk about “what if scenarios” regarding Choson, I am more interested in thwarted military ventures into China: e.g. what if Yi Song-gye didn’t turn back at Wihwa Do (sorry, Marmot’s Romanization mavens), or if Jeong Do-jeon actually succeeded in training and amassing a force credible enough to re-take Liadong and launched an expedition before he was cut down by Yi Bang-won, or if Hyo-jong didn’t die before the planned attack to avenge his father’s humilation at the hands of the Ching. All of these ventures were likely of the proverbial “hitting the boulder with an egg” variety, but I ought to be excused for an episode of revisionist delirium for I am Korean after all :)

  • Won Joon Choe

    WJK,

    You really ought to study European history more carefully. I don’t want to go into a detailed, point-by-point refutation, but basically:

    a) in terms of overall casualties, many of the European wars were likely significantly more destructive than those that Choson took part in (e.g. the religious wars in the aftermath of the Reformation–which did not end until the Peace of Westphalia);

    b) in terms of frequency of wars, there is not even a comparison–modern Europe was almost in a state of continuous war save a few periods of long, relative peace (e.g. after the defeat of Napoleon).

    And that’s just the major states and not counting those peoples who were state-less for much of modern history and certainly those who suffered periodic pogroms (the Jews were not the only victims of attempts to exterminate an entire peoples, by the way).

    As Victor Davis Hanson has noted, if the Europeans did anything emphatically better than their counterparts elsewhere, it’s the business of killing.

  • http://koreanamerican431.blogspot.com/ baduk

    I personally believe Yi Song-gye was a Chinese and he came to rule Korea by Chinese Emperor’s edict and his court spoke Mandarin.

    His father was a Chinese official and must have spoken excellent Mandarin.

    All history books on Goryeo and Chosun had been “sanitized” to proclaim Chosun was a country. I believe Chosun was just a province of China and people of Chosun worshipped Chinese Emperor. Chosun people were Chinese, in every sense of the word.

  • Won Joon Choe

    One last point for the afternoon: I frequently hear–and it’s repeated on this comment page–that the Koreans are a peaceful people, yada yada yada…

    Do we really think there is a pacifist gene in the Korean DNA that intrinsically makes us peace-loving?

    The truth of the matter is that Korea has been unagressive throughout most of its history because it was weak throughout most of its history vis-a-vis its neighbors. What was Choson going to attack? The Ming? The Ching?

    To wit: Consider the foreign policy behavior of perhaps the only Korean state that was roughly on par with its stronger neighbors in terms of power (at least when China was divided): Koguryo. Koguryo certainly did not live by the maxims of a Gandhi.

  • http://koreanamerican431.blogspot.com/ baduk

    Korean blood = Mongolian + Chinese + (sprinkle of Japanese)

    Not peaceful.

  • pawikirogi

    ‘trust me, he despises you too.’ dogbert to sewing in refenece to pawi

    don’t you ever speak for me, kermit. got that? sewing? i think the guy’s rather reasonable though i don’t agree with all that he says. i also like shelton who strikes me as happy-go-lucky. i wish him well and encourage him to contiue with his adventures.

    ‘i despise you.’ lawyer with bug eyes

    you and your brothers here are bigots. don’t blame me for calling you on it. ok?

    ‘oh my big nose, ahhhhhh.’ lawyer with bug eyes

    did you catch the ‘bug eye’ part? perhaps you should see a doctor; it may be your thyroid.

    ‘at least, they’re liked.’ bug eye lawyer in reference to jews versus koreans

    yeah, jews aren’t much liked outside of the western world. btw, is jewish pop culture popular in asia?

  • pawikirogi

    btw, sewing, i paraphrase people with their direct quotes in the form of quotes that are paraphrased.

  • Sonagi

    I believe Chosun was just a province of China and people of Chosun worshipped Chinese Emperor.

    You’re half-right there, Baduk. In front of the Chosun Hotel in downtown Seoul is a historically significant pavilion that marks the spot where King Kojong first made an offering to heaven in 1895, after Japan’s victory in the Sino-Japanese conflict ended Korea’s tributary relationship to Qing.

  • Sonagi

    ‘i despise you.’ lawyer with bug eyes

    you and your brothers here are bigots. don’t blame me for calling you on it. ok?

    ‘oh my big nose, ahhhhhh.’ lawyer with bug eyes

    Robert, I think it’s time to kick another troll off the blog. At least Mahathir Fan didn’t talk like a kindergartener.

  • wjk

    Won Joon Choe, the 30 years War, you described in your point a)

    was basically a World War fought on German soil.

    This war was particularly violent, because for the first time in Europe, not everyone was of the same religion. The enemy itself was an agent of the devil.

    Starting from this war, people began to question the idea of fighting for “God”, and the “king”.

    Anyway, stop accusing me of not knowing my history. I know it pretty well, unlike someone who says YunSan was the only Goon.

    Anyone who says the Holy Roman Empire was anything but a great name doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    I still think Lankov is wrong. Korea didn’t enjoy an unprecedented period of peace time.

    Like Won Joon Choe said somewhere else, Koryo was plagued by invasions, internal coups, military generals telling what the king to do, etc.

    Like Baduk said, Chosun’s army was kept in check both by policy to kiss up to the Chinese and rely on security, and the Chinese policy of keeping Korea’s army in check.

    And like I would suggest, Korea had 14 years of war with Japan, more years of war aiding Myung vs Ching, and finally Ching sacking Korea. That’s like 50 years of war. Don’t compare that to a WORLD WAR fought on German grounds, which is called the 30 years War.

    I still refute the fact that Chosun Korea enjoyed unusually long peace.

    Any Korean would say that Hideyoshi Japan and Ching China’s invasions definately put Chosun Korea into unrest and everything but peace. Leading up to its end.

  • Hans Castorp

    in terms of frequency of wars, there is not even a comparison–modern Europe was almost in a state of continuous war save a few periods of long, relative peace (e.g. after the defeat of Napoleon).

    Spot on, sir. The era between 1814 and 1914 is the longest period of (relative) peace Europe has known since the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and (ignoring, e.g. the Balkan wars), the 61-year period since 1945 is the second-longest. Europeans conquered the world precisely because they’d had such extensive experience in fighting.

    I still refute the fact that Chosun Korea enjoyed unusually long peace.

    Any Korean would say that Hideyoshi Japan and Ching China’s invasions definately put Chosun Korea into unrest and everything but peace. Leading up to its end.

    Assuming what you say is true, how come Chosun’s warrior class was so marginal?

    You “refute” nothing: repeatedly making an assertion which flies in the face of known history, without bringing new facts to bear, does not qualify as a “refutation”. All I see you saying is “Koreans did too suffer invasion as often as Europeans”, which is true only if you confine “Europeans” to, say, the English – and even we in any given century fought more and larger-scale wars than Korea has experienced in its pre-1895 history.

  • Won Joon Choe

    WJK,

    I won’t respond to the rest of your post, because to do so would be merely reiterating myself, given that you have not presented any new arguments. However, who are referring to regarding this comment?

    Anyway, stop accusing me of not knowing my history. I know it pretty well, unlike someone who says YunSan was the only Goon.

    I don’t think Dr. Lankov said in his original piece that Yunsan was the only “gun” in Choson history. It certainly was not me.

    You were, however, mistaken in the belief that Kwaghae died of “sayak.” The In-jo court in fact was meticulous in keeping Kwanghae alive, partly because they feared a reprisal from the Ching.

  • Sonagi

    wjk said:

    What country has Chosun or Koryo or unified Shilla invaded, except for the Mongolian Empire enforced preparation for war against Japan?

    What country was Chosun or Koryo or unified Shilla ever in a position to invade? There is a difference between not having power and having power but choosing not to exercise it.

    Won Joon said:

    While I agree with you that Kwanghae and Yonsan were fundamentally different creatures–and that Kwanghae was an energetic, talented monarch–I don’t really see how Kwanghae remaining on the throne would have significantly altered Choson’s prospects in the long-run.

    If Chosun had remained neutral, it still would have become a tributary state of Qing, but it would have avoided the destruction, bloodshed, and reparations that followed the Manchu conquest.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    wjk,

    Did Lankov actually write that Chosun was an “unprecedented” period of peace?

    You make it sound like he was a boomerang diametrically opposed to the common Korean idea of 5,000 years of constant invasion and manipulation by the outside world — that he is saying Chosun was the most peaceful period in human history.

    My reading of his statements is more simply that Chosun and Korea’s overall history is not “abnormal” in world history — thus directly debunking what Koreans believe deeply and have been taught; that has been drummed into them — that their entire history has been one of abnormal victimization compared to the rest of the civilizations or states in world history.

  • Haisan

    WJK is missing the point. Lankov’s main point is not that Chosun was hugely peaceful, but rather that Korea is not exceptional in the amount of invasion/violence it has suffered over the years.

    And your ideas of German/HRE history are just wrong (there was no “Germania” to unite). But that has little to do with Lankov’s thesis.

  • Haisan

    Damn, USAinKorea beat me to the same point. By 6 minutes! Bah….

  • ghola

    compare the koreans to germans in this “context”
    and then, comepare the koreans to jews in another “context”
    and then, compare the koreans to the irish in another “context”.
    and then.. and then….so. give it a rest people. it’s very unfair when you cherry pick any “context” for comparison along side koreas.
    At any rate.. Korea exists today. It existed before.. It’ll exist tomorrow. however you “rate” korea in comparison to various other countries, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn..
    Just hope and pray that in the future, you don’t have to compare korea alongside that of Ghengis Khan and the Mongols.. It only fits that korea should adopt such an attitude.. for “history” sake if not anything else.. and to silence these critics once and for all..

  • http://koreanamerican431.blogspot.com/ baduk

    If I am correct Korea will disappear from the map in twenty years.

    http://koreanamerican431.blogspot.com/

  • ghola

    O prophet Baduk,
    true to your word as a prophet, you are full of inconsistencies..
    wasn’t “japan” suppose to disappear five years from now..by fighting the chinese ?
    and besides, N.K’s are the only ones “hypothetically” willing to strike S.K. the N.K’s have only so much munition and fuel. My guess is, they’ll save them for the japs. Even if N.K strikes S.K, I’m confident, besides seoul, that rest of korea will remain standing.
    And further more, according to great “prophet Baduk” America won’t be here to attack N.K. And your statement that Korea will serve as “battle-ground” for war between china and japan ?.. hmmmm. all the more reasons to build up the military now. triple the budget. heck, make it half the GNP..

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Geez, now I feel like I was encouraging Pawi (#78)! That wasn’t my intention….

    And Pawikirogi, comment #79 makes no sense…huh?

    Sonagi (#80): I’ve walked past that pavilion many times (it’s along the road between City Hall and the Bank of Korea, right?) and didn’t know what it was for, though of course I know about what transpired in 1895. Thanks for that bit of info.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    “it’s very unfair when you cherry pick any “context” for comparison along side koreas.”

    Point missed. This works only if you extend it to the Koreans too. Because – Lankov and the bulk of the commentors are taking issue with Korea doing the bringing up a comparison and getting it highly wrong. Comparing Korea to Germany and other European areas is simply taking up Korea’s theme in an effort to correct their distorted view of Korea’s place in history.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    > Snow
    > … Korea’s relationship with China in the past …
    > I highly doubt that it was a ‘partnership of equals’.

    Nobody said it was; i only said “There was more equality to that relationship than you may be imagining … it was more a Confucian-diplomacy form of trade than some sortta slavery. Tribute missions to Beijing were not so economically onerous to
    Joseon, and the relationship was not oppressive, not even
    insulting or humiliating to any significant degree.”

    I believe that explicated the situation quite accurately in the next post following yours.

    There never was nor could be any question of Korea being “equal” to China, just as today with the USA. But there is a very wide spectrum of unequal relationships, from master-slave up to mutually-respectful-&-beneficial partnership. All we’re saying is that Joseon-Ming/Ching was closer to the latter than the former. Contrary, as someone else pointed out, to the slavery-myth cherished by both self-flaggelating neo-nationalist Koreans and put-Korea-down-to-make-myself-seem-superior foreigners…

    Korea lost its longtime Older Brother at the end of the 1800s, couldn’t accept Japan in that role for cultural reasons (how could First-Class Barbarians be subject to Third-Class Barbarians??), and became emotionally attached to the USA as their New Older Brother — but that hasn’t worked out well in the long-run, largely to partly-similar cultural reasons. So Korea’s considering returning to more-traditional relations with Former Older Brother — but it’s a different world and situation now, a multi-power global-game with no “Central Kingdom”, and half of Younger Brother “went off to the city” and has become (temporarily) richer than Former Older Brother — we’ll have to see how this works out in the long-run…

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    can’t see how to edit my own comment, dammit…

    my 2nd para there should say:
    “I believe that (usinkorea) explicated the situation quite accurately in the next post following yours.”

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    > Sonagi in #80
    > In front of the Chosun Hotel in downtown Seoul is a
    > historically significant pavilion that marks the spot
    > where King Kojong first made an offering to heaven in 1895

    It’s a Shrine, the Won-gu-dan, established in 1897, now on
    the grounds of the Chosun Hotel. Take a look at:
    http://san-shin.org/TOH-1.html

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    For those interested, Shin Chae Ho’s articles from the turn of the century are good insights into why or how Korean society began to bash the hell out of its traditional relationship with China. You can find references to articles about him at this wonderful bibliography that is updated often.

    For centuries, Korea was mostly happy with what it gained by having a close relationship with China, but in the 19th Century, they were rudely awaken to the fact China, the Great Middle Kingdom, was so weak compared to the Western imperialists. Finding that China could not help Korea keep off foreign encroachment as it had with (mostly) with the nomadic tribes of East Asia, and finding that Korea itself was even more pitifully weak in the face of the advance of the West (and Japan), some Korean intellectuals blamed the long connection with China. They argued it was the adapting of Chinese civilization that had doomed Korea to failure — thereby ignoring the gains it had offered for centuries.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    They were blinded by their frustration — it was certainly not the adapting of Chinese civilization that had doomed Korea to failure — it was just the stubbornly sticking to it about forty years too long that brought Korea to failure!

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    and, a glimpse of a curious but meaningful ceremony
    still being held by those above-mentioned stubborn
    Koreans, most definitely not resentful towards China
    (at least not to the legitimate rulers of China, the Ming!),
    who didn’t die out until the 1990s, if then:
    http://san-shin.org/Samhwangje.html

  • pawikirogi

    ‘throw pawi off because he’s a troll for saying bug eye.’ somagi

    wait a minute, you can have a thread with over a hundred posts telling korean guys about their small dicks but you can’t talk about a guy’s bug eyes? i’m just following the trend here.

    why would marmot throw me off? because you don’t like me? because you think i’m vulgar? i add color to this board. but i’ll tell you what. marmot say go, then i’ll go. and then you can chalk one up for censorship. btw, i don’t post anywhere but here no matter how much you want to believe otherwise.

    ‘i encouraged pawi.’

    that fact i find you reasonable means i very rarely pay much attention to what you write. i’m sorry for the confusion. as for post 79, it was meant to be incoherent.

  • Zonath

    wait a minute, you can have a thread with over a hundred posts telling korean guys about their small dicks

    Hrm? Who’s talking about small dicks here? As far as I’ve read, everyone’s been saying that Korea suffered through an extraordinary period of peace and prosperity through the Chosun era. Why is that not a source of pride? After all, isn’t relative stability a good thing? It looks to me as if the one who is most anti-Korean here is you.

  • http://www.icebergkorea.com Iceberg

    that fact i find you reasonable means i very rarely pay much attention to what you write.

    Classic.

  • seouldout

    wait a minute, you can have a thread with over a hundred posts telling korean guys about their small dicks

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Korean women who raised the issue of their shortcomings?

  • dogbertt

    don’t you ever speak for me, kermit. got that?

    Why don’t you go join the Taliban, tough guy?

  • dogbertt

    Just because they like to fuck a Korean woman doesnt mean that they cant hate Koreans in general, especially Korean men. Koreans and Kyopos alike really ought to wake up to this hidden, double-faced nature of many expats who wouldnt have the guts to utter half the shit that gets said around here to a Korean to his face in real life.

    Of course, while Bluejives dates white women, he has this to say about white men:

    White males are trouble-makers wherever they go.

    So just because bluejives likes to fuck a white woman doesn’t mean he can’t hate whites in general, especially white men. Americans really ought to wake up to this hidden, double-faced nature of many kyopos who wouldnt have the guts to utter half the shit that gets said around here to an American to his face in real life.

    Bluejives, maybe it’s time for you to retreat back to one of the many safe spaces for minorities on the Web where you won’t be shown up as a hypocritical, racist plagiarist by mean ol’ whitey.

  • michael

    Zonath, hope you had a good weekend. My comment way the hell up there about “Koreans” in the Three Kingdoms period is based on the perception many Koreans have about their own history, that there was already a Korean “race” at this time, only for some reason they chose to divide up into different kingdoms. You’re right about the relative peace up until the kingdoms started to fold. I just abbrieviated a few centuries there to make my point.

  • jyce

    you won’t be shown up as a hypocritical, racist plagiarist by mean ol’ whitey.

    As always, the hosebeast doth protest too much. Since you’ve already exhorted white women
    to remember their own blood lines and what they have accomplished.
    , as well as engaged in copious racist foaming about
    “Negroes”, I think you win the gold medal for most racist and hypocritical person here.

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    As always, the hosebeast doth protest too much. Since you’ve already exhorted white women
    to remember their own blood lines and what they have accomplished., as well as engaged in copious racist foaming about
    “Negroes”, I think you win the gold medal for most racist and hypocritical person here.

    Jyce, you are a Kyopo English teacher in Korea. I found a kyopo English teacher on the blacklist that has traits resembling you.

    근본적으로 접촉않는 것이 최선입니다.
    어떤사유든 간에 사전 금전이 건네지면 더더욱 안됩니다.
    예고없이 수업 결근,지각,등으로 학원 이미지 악영향 받고, 학원측에서 먼저 손들고 나가
    라 할수 밖에없도록 행동함.

    Now I am not saying that is you, but it is certainly hypocritical of you to be snarky in criticising English teachers when what you are really talking about is ‘white’ English teachers. No, kyopo teachers like Jyce are never a problem, right? If you hate America so much, and are an ethnic Korean living in Korea, why not give up the pretense and just formalize your Koreaness by naturalizing?

  • dogbertt

    LOL…Martin Luther Kim strikes again.

  • jyce

    Chewbs,I know tons of people who would pay serious coin to hallucinate as creatively and elaborately as you.

    Enjoy your gifts!

    BTW, since I screwed up the HTML in the previous post, once again here are Dogbert’s classic words of wisdom on “Negroes”

    Vive le racisme et l’hypocrisie!

  • dogbertt

    Really riled you, eh li’l kyopo?

    Just wait until I start posting some of your pal bluejives’ classic posts on “Negroes” and you can nip around his heels as well.

  • seouldout

    Jyce,

    Thanks for getting the HTML straightened out. I took a looksie:

    I’m pointing at the fact that we need to be focusing our efforts, both public and private, at improving race relations in our nation, rather than squandering our resources in Iraq. If our people can’t even hold onto their consciences in tough times, we need to get our shit together now.

    -Dogbert

  • jyce

    Actually, I mostly ignore Bluejive’s posts and think everybody else does a sufficient job of beating up on him, so why bother?

    OTOH, your daily ascension on the cross to sigh and moan about racism and hypocrisy is a largely untapped mine of comedy.