Saturday, 16 January 2010
When, that is the question?
Week ago I went to the National Museum in Seoul.
Museum is very impressive from the outside. Huge building in a heavy postmodernistic style raises hope for something interesting inside.
Every foreignner gets inside for free, maybe because talking to the White Face scares to death most of Koreans, especially when White Face dares to ask: Which part of the Museum do you recommend?
It's a no answer question. That's sort of questions which should not be asked in this part of the world. The reason is that Korean people are afraid of expressing individual opinions in public. Reccomendation is an opinion, hence better avoid it.
While wandering through the historic exhibition showing the fate of Koreans, my friend blown out one moment:
- Is this really history of a nation, when it is known that initially they were under Chinease domination and then there were three kingdoms fighting with each other on this territory?
History of Korea is a very interesting issue. Traditional version says that the nation was created around 2000 B.C. and developed into advanced society with the rules and systems. Western critique to this part is somewhat justified, because later on Korean Penninsula there were 3 kingdoms competing for power. So which of these kingdoms holds the right to be the legitimate Korean state predecessor? Unified Silla just because conquered the other kingdoms? Whether that be Koguryŏ, would then hold the title of Unified Koguryo. And why Three Kingdoms of Korea, as they are named in the history books? "...of Korea" imposes the fact that there is a state - Kingdom of Sweden for one example.
I have discussed this with Youna at lunchtime last thursday. I asked since when Koreans can be considered as a nation.
- Since always. - replied Youna. I enquired more and she admitted that definitely people inhabitating the area can be distinguished from Chinease culture based on the language difference. Indeed, Korean language is more similar to Mongolian, than to Chinease, from which it differs totally in its construct. Most of linguistic experts say that it's a language group in itself, an isolated linguistic island in the world.
- But can't the nation be distinguished since the Hangul was invented? - I kept asking.
- No, because the Hangul only coded the language which already was there in use.
Yeah...right. Indeed if I remember well, cyrylic alphabet only coded east slavic group of languages, was not invention in itself. The only linguistic invention of a kind is Esperanto so far.
Youna stated as well that the very name "China" was as well a Western name given by the missionaries.
- Names were different through the history, but the culture and the language remained the same. Descendants inherited from the ancestors and so it continues until now putting new pieces into the tradition.
- Isn't it everywhere like that? - added she.
If I may express my private opinion here. Modern Korea has it's roots in the New Joseon Kingdom, which opposed both Chinease and Japanese domination through the centuries.