25 May 2004

North Korean Archaeology of Convenience

One of the staples of international academic exchanges with North Korea is an archaeological report on the latest discoveries regarding the tomb of Tangun (also romanized as Dangun), the mythical founder of Korea, born in 2333 B.C. to a he-tiger and a she-bear. Tangun's birth year is the starting point for the Tangun Era (Tanki = Danki) calendar year sequence and the first Korean kingdom, Old Chosôn (Ko Chosun = Go Joseon). The year 2004 C.E. thus equals 4337 T.E. (On the same scale, the mythical Emperor Jimmu didn't found Japan until 1673 T.E. [= 660 B.C.E.])

Several archaeological discoveries were reported by the (North) Korean Central News Agency in 1998.
Chongam earthen wall surveyed

Pyongyang, January 30 (KCNA) -- Survey of historical relics has been deepened in Korea. Authoritative scholars and experts of archaeology, history and folklore recently made a survey of the earthen wall in Chongam-Dong, Taesong District, Pyongyang. The survey team discovered relics and a wall built in the period of King Tangun's Korea, the first ancient state of Korea which existed some 5,000 years ago. The wall has two storeys. The lower storey of the wall, built in the Tangun Korea period, is about 10 metres wide at the bottom and 2.5 metres high. The upper storey, built in the Koguryo period, was rebuilt three times. A scimetar, stone spear, broken top-shape vessels and other relics of the neolithic and bronze ages were discovered in the earth of the wall. Found in the western part inside the wall were the coundation of a building, roof tiles, etc. Dating back to the Koguryo period. A mural painting of the Koguryo period was discovered for the first time in Korea. The mural painting is characterized by use of much powdered gold. The survey of the wall helps systematize the history of Tangun Korea and Koguryo in a scientific way and clearly proves that the history and culture of the Korean nation has developed from long ago with Pyongyang as the centre. [emphasis added]

Newly-discovered wall of ancient Korea

Pyongyang, August 10 (KCNA) -- The Archaeology Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has recently discovered a wall of Tangun's Korea (ancient Korea). The newly-discovered wall is the west wall in the middle of the walled city of Pyongyang= It was built on a ridge of Ansan in Pyongchon district with no buildings. The wall was a mixture of earth and stone piled up on rocky layer. It has two parts. In the lower part the wall is 11 metres in bedwidth and 1.5 metres high. In the upper part it is 8 metres in bedwidth and 2.5 metres high. The outside of the wall has a steep slope and the inside an easy one. The building of the lower part of the wall is based on a method of construction widely used in the beginning of ancient times. The method is similar to the methods of construction used in the building of the lower parts of the earthen walls in Jithap-ri and Songhyon-ri. The two earthen walls date back to Tangun's Korea. The recently-discovered wall proves that from the initial stage of state building the people of ancient Korea concentrated on the defence of the capital of the country. It is of weighty importance in the study of the walled capital of Tangun's Korea. Relics of ancient Korea were also discovered during the recent unearthing of the wall. [emphasis added]
Rather convenient, eh? And not just for North Korea. There are plenty of archchauvinists among South Korean academics to lend whatever respectability they might add. (Is it fair to assume that 'academic' does not necessarily imply 'scholar'?) Here's a report about a North-South conference in 2003.
Second Joint Scientific Symposium on Tangun and Kojoson

Pyongyang, October 3 (KCNA) -- The second joint scientific symposium on Tangun and Kojoson (ancient Korea) took place at the People's Palace of Culture on Oct. 2. Present there were Ryu Mi Yong, chairperson of the Council for the Reunification of Tangun's Nation, Kim Jong Yong, vice-president of the Academy of Social Sciences, social scientists and university teachers in Pyongyang.

Also on hand were academic figures of the south side including Honorary Chairman Kim Jong Bae and Chairman Yun Nae Hyon of the Tangun Society who came to participate in the joint national function commemorating the Foundation Day of Korea.

Presented to the symposium were achievements made by many historians in the north and the south in the studies of documents and archaeological excavation by deepening researches into Tangun and Kojoson over the past one year. Academic issues were also discussed.

Historians of the north said that the excavation of the tomb of King Tangun was a historic event which confirmed the Korean nation being a homogeneous nation rare to be seen with the same blood, language, culture and history with Tangun as its ancestor. They proved that the area of Pyongyang is the cradle of the culture of Kojoson.

Historians from the south reviewed achievements made by historical circles in the north and the south in the studies of Tangun and Kojoson and said it has been proved through Koguryo mural tombs that the Korean nation is descendants of Tangun.

The speakers stressed the need for the historians of the two parts of the country to deepen joint academic studies of Tangun and Kojoson that had a great influence on the development of national history.

A joint press release of the symposium was adopted.

According to it, the historians of the north and the south shared the same view that the Korean nation is a homogeneous nation with Tangun as its founding ancestor, a resourceful nation that went over to a civilized society in the earliest period in the East to create an excellent national culture and that Kojoson was the first ancient state of the Korean nation and a powerful and independent sovereign state that displayed its grand sight as a civilized state in the East.

They also reached consensus on the need to conduct brisk academic exchange, solidarity and cooperation to glorify the national history spanning five thousand years, preserve the fine national character and keep the commonness of the nation and turn out actively for the solidarity and unity of the intellectuals of the north, the south and abroad and for the great unity of the whole nation and national reunification in accordance with the idea of "By our nation itself". [emphasis added]

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