Government, party to form panel on Goguryeo

Government officials and lawmakers agreed yesterday to work together in forming an inter-agency to deal formally with countermeasures to China`s distortion of the history of the ancient Goguryeo kingdom.

Members of the ruling Uri Party, including floor leader Chun Jung-bae, called on Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck for a rare meeting to discuss the issue and come up with what could be done jointly.

They agreed the government had to take a strong stance on the issue and actively pursue correction of the records on Goguryeo, an ancient Korean kingdom which controlled the upper part of the Korean peninsula from 37 B.C. to 668 A.D. Much of it is now in China`s Manchuria, still home to millions of ethnic Koreans.

A review is underway to see who should oversee the proposed joint inter-agency, officials said. It is most likely to be under the umbrella of either the National Security Council or the Prime Minister`s Office.

The conflict emerged as a diplomatic issue between Seoul and Beijing earlier this year after a state-funded Chinese research project claimed Goguryeo was a provincial government of China.

That claim led to the latest Chinese move last week to delete from its Foreign Ministry Web site all references prior to 1948 of Korea`s history, including the ancient kingdom.

That move has roused fury among Koreans in general, and the lawmakers in particular.

Rep. Chun of the Uri Party said on Friday that the ruling party and the GNP agreed to organize a parliamentary committee to deal with China`s efforts to change its views on Korean history.

Fifty-two lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties also submitted a resolution to the National Assembly, calling on Beijing to halt its distortion of history and for a joint reaction from South and North Korea.

China`s move is viewed as a major embarrassment to Seoul, which has been demanding Beijing restore references to Goguryeo that were removed in April from the introduction to Korean history on the ministry Web site.

Concerned government officials, politicians, scholars and civic group leaders will meet this week for a symposium on the Goguryeo dispute, the legislators said.

By Choi Soung-ah

(Korea Herald 2004-8-10)