2017-06-15 10:20
Gaya history and pro-Japan scholars
By Shim Jae-yun

President Moon Jae-in has generated a far-flung controversy by citing the need to shed light on the history of the Gaya region largely referring to the lower part of the peninsula. Moon’s move is proper as he aims at regional reconciliation between the southeastern Gyeongsang Province and southwestern Jeolla Province.

It is also desirable as a means to cope with possible territorial conflict with Japan in the future. Japan has been claiming it once ruled the area in the name of “Imna Ilbonbu” (Imna Japan command post) during the late 4th century.

In addition to Gaya, the nation needs to conduct an overhaul of its entire ancient history in relation to neighboring countries China and Japan. This is because Japan has comprehensively distorted the nation’s history in its favor including the history of Gaya. And toward that end, it mobilized domestic scholars in bids to fabricate the national history. Pro-Japan scholars are dominating the history sector and are now taking all possible measures to prevent Moon from carrying out this corrective drive of our country’s history.

President Moon Jae-in 
Rep. Do Jong-hwan 
Japan formed a research body for a compilation on Joseon history in 1922 with the goal of permanently ruling the peninsula by destroying the independent spirit of the Joseon people. They distorted history to inject a sense of inferiority among them. Pro-Japan collaborators like Lee Wan-yong initiated the move and Lee Byeong-do took the leading role. He later became a kingpin of the mainstream “Gangdan Hakpa” (university faction) composed of professors advocating pro-Japan colonial perspectives.

Their distortion focused on the nation’s ancient history of Gojoseon, Goguryeo, and the Four Commentaries of China’s Han Dynasty. They whitewashed “brilliant” Korean history with its territories extending to the current northeastern part and eastern coast of China mainly to contract Korean history to the peninsula only.

They basked under the dictatorial rules of former President Syngman Rhee and Park Chung-hee until through the rein of disgraced former President Park Geun-hye. They have been maintaining collusive ties with pro-Japanese politicians and business tycoons.

Rep. Do Jong-hwan has come under a barrage of salvos from the pro-Japan figures since he was nominated as the culture and sports minister. The mainstream professors including Ha Il-shik of Yonsei University and Sim Jae-cheol of Dankook University criticized Do for his role in nullifying a project of the Northeast Asia History Foundation. It was attempting to publish a map at the cost of 4.7 billion won ($4.16 million), which backed the position of Japan and China in territorial issues. Do recently expressed concern that some scholars got support from Japan and were backing Japan’s claim toward Imna Ilbonbu.  

A citizens’ coalition tentatively named “The Council for a Right History toward the Future,” called Misahyeop, issued a statement condemning the pro-Japan scholars. “It is nothing but a political offensive against Do only for the reason that his position is different from the colonial viewpoint.”

The council’s scholars including Shim Baek-gang and Lee Duck-il proposed the pro-Japan mainstreamers to have an in-depth discussion over ancient history. But the latter refused, only dubbing the former as “pseudo-historians.”

It is disgusting to see mainstream scholars stick to the colonial viewpoint although there is much evidence disproving their assertion. Their acts are equivalent to “selling the nation” for the sake of their interests. And their support of Japan’s standpoint has strengthened the latter’s imperialist inhumane practices. We have seen the tragic consequences of such an imperialistic viewpoint including the German holocaust that killed millions of Jewish people, and Japan’s forced sexual slavery of Korean, Asian and Western women.

Korea has yet to recover its history and national pride and identity by correcting its national history. It is time for the pro-Japan scholars to repent before the people and history. If they want to prove their righteousness and supremacy they need to squarely come to the front and accept a call for discussions with Misahyeop members. Monopolizing the interpretation of history may lead to serious fallacies. Real progress in the history sector comes through a free-for-all debate.