Since 2003, the dispute over the history of the ancient kingdom of Koguryŏ (37 bce, trad.-668 ce), located in Manchuria and northern Korea, has been one of the hottest issues between China and Korea. The debate seems to have fueled a new nationalistic or Sinocentric historiography of the ancient Chinese northeast. A ninth century BCE poem called “Hanyi” in the Classic of Poetry [Shijing] has been the cause of a far older history dispute. Whereas Chinese scholars have generally understood Han as a Zhou feudal state ruled by a Ji-surnamed scion of the Zhou Dynasty (1045–256 bce), most Korean scholars have linked the polity with Old Chosŏn (n.d.-108 bce), the earliest known state in Korean history. However, by comparing the “Hanyi” with several bronze inscriptions with similar contents, this study seeks to re-read the “Hanyi” from a perspective that transcends the dichotomy of Chinese history versus Korean history.
Jae-hoon Shim (email@example.com) is Associate Professor of East Asian History at Dankook University, Yong'in, Korea