Korean History Studies in Japan
The 2007 Shigaku Zasshi Historiography Review: Korean Ancient History
In recent years intense debate over the reversion of Koguryŏ history has been unfolding. However, Yagi Takeshi has clarified how Koguryŏ has been understood through the ethnic consciousness and the territorial concepts of ethnic groups in Korea and northeast China. (1) His paper will be useful in comprehending this issue. As researchers, we cannot ignore movement in our field regarding current understanding of history, but together with such research, what is important is the work of facing our historical sources and clarifying the historical past. Clarifying the activities and research of people who faced the “Kwanggaet’o stele” in a sincere manner and engaging it in “conversation,” Takeda Yukio, in Kōkaido ō hi to no taiwa, also forwards a new interpretation of the 391 entry in the stele’s text. (2) This interpretation comes from knowledge gained through his long “conversation” with the “Kwanggaet’o stele,” and is convincing merely because of that long engagement. Building upon Takeda’s research, how study of the “Kwanggaet’o stele” will continue to deepen is an issue for future scholarship.
Other books, such as Monta Seiichi’s Kodai Higashi Ajia chiikisō no kōkogaku-teki kenkyū (3) and Kankoku shutsudo mokkan no sekai edited by Waseda Daigaku Chōsen Bunka Kenkyūjo (4) also were published. Due to the page limit for this review, I must entrust to the reader a detailed reading of each book, but both are the result of facing the historical sources sincerely. In particular, the latter book has collected together several papers on the mokkan wooden strips excavated in South Korea. This volume is important for showing where current research has reached, and its contributions will be used too for future research. In addition to these books, numerous other contributions appeared. It would be difficult to discuss them all, but I will try to take them up one-by-one in the space remaining.
I will take up Koguryŏ history first. Yi Sŏngsi shows that Chinese culture was received selectively by Koguryŏ and was diffused among eastern barbarian communities through the development and growth of Koguryŏ. He emphasizes that Koguryŏ’s role was significant in the enculturation of eastern barbarians. (5) Inoue Naoki studies the Koguryŏ military general title using as a clue the eave with written text that refers to a military general excavated from the Ch’ŏnch’u mound. He emphasizes once again that one portion of the text in black ink that regards the military general title and excavated from the Tŏkhŭng-ni mounded tomb is a fake government post. (6) Monta Seiichi believes that images such as those in the Anak No. 3 tomb and the Tŏkhŭng-ni mounded tomb which depict the buried man holding a bamboo painting brush, an object a gentry in Wei and Jin could not be without and which identified him as a man of cultivation and aristocratic status, were painted to reflect the aspirations of the buried man for the Chinese, cultured world. (7) Sonoda Shunsuke places Lelang-gun of the Northern Wei period near Youzhouyen-gun based upon epitaphs, and he also suggests that in the background of the Lelang Wang family’s advance into the center of the Northern Wei administration was the strained relations between Koguryŏ and Northern Wei over Shandong. (8)
Next is Paekche history. Kumagai Kimio argues that for Paekche in the fifth century Silla was the most important military ally, and that Paekche’s approaches toward Wa occurred when military cooperation with Silla was troubled. And he points out that Paekche in the period of King Tongsŏng’s enthronement stressed relations with Silla more so than with Wa, and that Wa and Paekche were not in a military-style alliance. (9)
This issue also is connected to the question of who was buried in the keyhole tomb in the Yŏngsan River area. Tsuji Hideto speculates from the use of local technologies in the construction of the keyhole tomb in the Yŏngsan River area and from the absence of visible significant change in local society that this resembled the conditions in northern Kyushu, where the keyhole tomb was introduced in the context of political relations with royal power in Yamato. (10) In contrast, Pak Ch’ŏnsu writes that the individual buried in the Yŏngsan River area keyhole tomb was a Kyushu elite who moved to Paekche and served the King of Paekche. Pak’s book, Kaya to Wa: Kan hantō to Nihon rettō no kōkogaku, is an ambitious work that presents new views regarding relations between the southern part of the Korean peninsula and Wa, including the issue of the keyhole tomb, based upon the latest archaeological findings. (11) As he too points out, the results of archaeological research in our field cannot be ignored and the study of ancient Japanese-Korean relations cannot be undertaken solely with written sources. The arguments presented in Pak’s book will be the focus of discussion, and will deepen our research. Nakamura Shunya argues that Wa’s dispatch of forces to the Paekch’ŏn River was not for assisting Paekche but rather for preventing Tang China’s rule of Korea and its rule of Japan. (12)
In Silla history, Yamamoto Takafumi links the clay figures of human forms that were excavated from tombs to color regulations in written documents, and discusses thoroughly the Silla clothing system and court rank system. (13) However, to what extent the clothing system of that time was accurately reflected in the clay figures may be an issue. Regarding Silla’s official clothing system, research is advancing on the political significance inscribed into that system and on the status system, and Yamamoto should have consulted that research. Through a comparative study of copies of Lunyu excavated in China, Korea, and Japan, Hashimoto Shigeru clarifies elements of the process by which Confucianism was received in each area. (14) Yi Sŏngsi links the process of the establishment and the organization of the “market” in the Silla royal capital and of the “market office” which managed the “market” to the growth of Silla and to the organization of roads and other types of institutions which accompanied that growth. (15) Tanaka Toshiaki investigates the various features of interaction in ninth-century East Asia through the activities of Chang Pogo and discusses this background to the travels of Ennin and Keiun. (16)
Regarding Parhae history, Sakayori Masashi outlines the position of Parhae in eighth- and ninth-century East Asia. (17) Akabame Masayoshi searches for the boundary between Tang and Parhae in Liaodong through an examination of the “Yingzhou ru Andong” entry in the Jiadan Daoliji. He explains that while Parhae’s rule of Liaodong was limited, that rule was from the mid-eighth century. (18) These issues were argued from the viewpoint of the Parhae side.
Research conducted by scholars of Japanese history on Japan’s awareness of Parhae is advancing Horii Kayoko examines the view of Parhae in the early Heian period through letters of state and rites, and argues that in connection with the attachment of high political meaning to culture and ceremony during the reign of Emperor Kōnin [r. 810-823], the view of Parhae changed in letters of state and ceremony. (19) Hirose Norio uses office rank and social rank to analyze diplomatic documents, and divides those diplomatic documents into two periods. In one period Japan’s diplomacy toward Silla and Parhae expressed a relationship outside the sovereign-subject relationship; in the other period Japan expressed superiority through ceremonial practices. (20) For comprehending Japan-Parhae-Silla relations in the future, researchers will utilize these important points. In another article, Hirose examines Japan’s foreign relations and rites expressing subordination and shows that Silla and Parhae were positioned according to the concept of serving the Emperor. He argues that Japan’s foreign relations under the ritsuryō system were important for supporting and confirming the Japanese state’s domestic order through the subordinate positions of foreign countries. (21) And in another article, Hirose undertakes an analysis of diplomatic documents of countries in East Asia. (22) He does not discuss thoroughly the diplomatic documents of countries in the Korean peninsula. However, for understanding Hirose’s research introduced here it is necessary to consider those documents, as well. Further, in order to comprehend the “East Asian region” and the international order, I would emphasize that one must take into account Nishijima Sadao’s “East Asian world.”
Nishijima’s tribute system theory, which he discussed as he followed the movements of the ancient Korean states, cannot be ignored from the perspective of Korean ancient history. Regarding Nishijima’s theory, Yi Sŏngsi argues that in the formation of the “East Asian world” not only Chinese governments but also interaction among peripheral countries performed important roles based upon the fact that many institutions linked with Chinese characters, Confucianism, Buddhism, and the penal and administrative codes, which composed the index of Nishijima’s “East Asian world,” were established during periods in Japan and Silla when mutual interaction between those two countries occurred frequently. (23) Further, regarding diplomatic documents in the reception of Chinese characters, Kawachi Haruto outlines the formation of diplomatic documents and argues that the administrative system had important meaning in the composition of these documents. (24) Kaneko Shūichi uses the letter of state found in the “Yiman zhuan” in the Songshu, and shows that the relations between Southeast Asian countries and Song China were religious and cultural, and, in contrast, the relations between Northeast Asian countries and Song China were political and possessed of distinctiveness. (25)
The politicality of the study of Korean ancient history has been actively discussed in recent years. Regarding historiography, Sakurazawa Ai discusses the “Mansenshi view of history.” (26) However, she has not narrowed the focus sufficiently, and the conclusion is vague. The research report “Higashi A kōkogakkai to kindai Nihon no Higashi Ajiashi kenkyū” clarifies various conditions regarding the investigation of Dongjingcheng through Ministry of Foreign Affairs records. In this report are included unreleased documents composed at the excavation of Dongjingcheng that were stored at the University of Tokyo and reprintings of Ministry of Foreign Affairs documents relating to Dongjingcheng. (27) In our field, there will be many benefits. Arimitsu Kyōichi’s Chōsen kōkogaku nanajūgonen records the research paths taken by the author, who concentrated on Korean archaeology for many years. (28) The book is valuable for knowing the situation of archaeology during those many decades. In order to also refocus the history writing of today, too, a project of questioning the constitution of modern historiography is necessary. And while building upon modern historiography, inquiry of the writing of history must continue.
(10) 辻秀人「栄山江流域の前方後円墳と倭国周縁域の前方後円墳」『東北学院大学論集 歴史と文化』第４２号、２００７年、６９－１００頁。
(11) 朴天秀『加耶と倭 : 韓半島と日本列島の考古学』講談社、２００７年１０月。
Translated by Kenneth R. Robinson
(Shigaku zasshi vol. 117 no. 5 (2008:5), 248-251. Translated and uploaded with the permission of the Shigakkai.)