S. Korea to File Complaint with China over History Dispute
Korea said Friday it will file a complaint with China over Beijing's violation
of an agreement not to claim that an ancient Korean kingdom is part of its
The two countries are at odds over a series of Chinese attempts
to lay claim to Korea's Koguryo Kingdom (37 B.C.-668 A.D.), which controlled the
upper part of the Korean Peninsula and much of what is today Manchuria in
The dispute cooled down last month as the two sides reached a
five-point "verbal understanding," pledging efforts to prevent the history row
from damaging their flourishing ties.
Although it was not specifically
mentioned in the agreement, South Korean officials said they were assured by
their Chinese counterparts that there would be no more government-level attempts
to claim the kingdom as Chinese.
On Wednesday, however, a Chinese monthly
magazine, published by a culture ministry-affiliated organization, repeated the
Koguryo claim in its latest edition, saying the kingdom was a provincial regime
of an ethnic minority living in China.
Published both in Chinese and
English editions, the magazine has subscribers in 180 countries across the world
and also operates an Internet site.
"We will file a formal complaint
with China through our embassy in Beijing," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lee
"We will demand China to explain how this happened and
take corrective measures in accordance with the verbal understanding the two
sides reached last month," he said.
Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan said the
three Northeast Asian countries -- China, South Korea and Japan -- should launch
efforts to phase out emotional disputes and confrontation by recognizing
historical facts and narrowing differences of opinion about history through the
expansion of academic exchanges.
In an opening speech at the Northeast
Asia Economic Forum in Seoul, Lee said such a dispute over history will be not
be helpful for the prosperity and development of the region.
"We need to
overcome the legacy of the past and resolve different views of regional
countries about history based on historical facts as pre-conditions for
promoting economic cooperation of Northeast Asian countries," he
The dispute began earlier this year when a state-funded Chinese
history project claimed that Koguryo was part of Chinese history.
April, China's Foreign Ministry deleted references to Koguryo from pages on
Korean history on its Web site. The move, which followed a series of similar
ones by other Chinese academic and media organizations, was interpreted as an
attempt by China to claim the kingdom as part of its own history.
Korea demanded the references be restored, but China, instead of accepting the
demand, removed the entire description of Korea's history up until 1948, when
South Korea was established.
Seoul sent a strong warning to Beijing over
the issue, saying a crisis could occur in their relations, before the two
countries worked out last month's agreement.
By Chang Jae-soon
(Yonhap News 2004-9-17)