View Full Version : Trump rankles proud Koreans by reminding of their humiliating past

21-04-2017, 06:02 AM
1. The following are excerpts from Michelle Ye Hee Lee's 19 April 2017 article headlined "Trump’s claim that Korea ‘actually used to be a part of China’" at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/04/19/trumps-claim-that-korea-actually-used-to-be-a-part-of-china/?utm_term=.246ed67690c8

(Begin excerpts)
....Trump’s inartful retelling of Sino-Korean history sparked widespread outrage among Koreans, who are particularly sensitive to the U.S. president’s rhetoric amid heightened tensions between North and South Korea. Leaders across the political spectrum criticized Trump’s characterization, calling it a clear distortion of history and an attempt to undermine Korean sovereignty... (End excerpts)

2. In 108 BC the Han emperor Wudi conquered the northern part of the Korean peninsula. The Han empire proceeded to administer Lelang Commandery, the area around modern Pyongyang for nearly 400 years. Lelang was one of the Chinese commanderies which was established after the fall of Wiman Joseon in 108 BC until Goguryeo conquered it in 313. Though disputed by North Korean scholars, Western sources generally describe the Lelang Commandery as existing within the Korean peninsula, and extend the rule of the four commanderies as far south as the Han River (Korea). However, South Korean scholars assumed its administrative areas to Pyongan and Hwanghae region.

Compared with the 35 years of Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), 400 years are certainly a long period and difficult to erase from memory. Hence, Trump’s retelling of Sino-Korean history is not untrue, only that he was insensitive enough to remind the proud Koreans of their humiliating past. Following decades of economic progress and prosperity after the Korean War, Koreans have become increasingly arrogant. They have forgotten that much of their wealth stems from the "Korean Wave" of pop culture across Asia, particularly China.

The arrogance of Koreans knows no bounds. They quarrel with the Chinese not only in the interpretation of history but also over the names of city and food. In the past, they got China to accept Shǒu'ěr 首爾 as the Chinese way to refer to Seoul, instead of Hànchéng 漢城 ("Han City"). Naturally, calling their capital "Han City" rankled, since "Han" is the name of the main Chinese ethnic group. In contrast, Shǒu'ěr 首爾 both sounds like "Seoul" and has a felicitously appropriate meaning (viz., "head" [shǒudū 首都 means "capital"]) + "thus; so").

Now the Koreans have a more laughable demand. They decreed that Kimchi shouldn't be called pàocài 泡菜 ("pickled vegetables") in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and want it to have a new Chinese name "xīnqí" ( 辛奇 ) to differentiate it from other pickled vegetables.

3. There is a parallel between the complexity of Sino-Korean history and its Anglo-French counterpart. Like Sino-Korean relations, the historical ties between Britain and France are long and complex, including conquest, wars, and alliances at various points in history. From the 1340s to the 19th century, excluding two brief intervals in the 1360s and the 1420s, the kings and queens of England (and, later, of Great Britain) also claimed the throne of France. The claim dates from Edward III, who claimed the French throne in 1340 as the sororal nephew of the last direct Capetian, Charles IV. Edward and his heirs fought the Hundred Years War to enforce this claim, and were briefly successful in the 1420s under Henry V and Henry VI, but the House of Valois, a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty, was ultimately victorious and retained control of France.

Calais was annexed by Edward III of England in 1347 and grew into a thriving centre for wool production. The town came to be called the "brightest jewel in the English crown" owing to its great importance as the gateway for the tin, lead, lace and wool trades (or "staples"). Calais was a territorial possession of England until its capture by France in 1558.

4. Trump’s inartful retelling of Sino-Korean history rankled Koreans as it brought back humiliating memories of ancient Chinese rule in the northern part of the Korean peninsula. Similarly, if Trump were to suggest that France "actually used to be a part of Britain", he would definitely spark widespread outrage among the French too.

When the news of the loss of Calais reached Queen Mary, she was reported to have exclaimed, “When I am dead and opened, you will find Calais written on my heart." It won't be surprising that Emperor Han Wudi would say something quite similar if he could return to this world: "When I am back and opened, you will find Lelang Commandery written on my heart."







http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2014/01/09/mandarin_the_chinese_word_for_kimchi_means_pickled _vegetables_and_korea.html