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Korean Identity and Its Historical Expression Essay

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Updated: May 3rd, 2020

Expressions of identity

The Legitimacy of the Three Han by Yi Ik and Parhae in Korean history by Yu Tukkong provide expressions of Korean identity based on their chronological history and the traditional cultures. The two writings focus on Korean origins providing the legitimacy of modern Korean identity tracing an essential beginning that discloses the origin of Korean identity. Yi Ik provides a reflection on the rise and fall of dynasties in ancient Korea and China that simultaneously took place at the same time historically (Baker 103).

Yu Tukkong’s writing examines the legitimate occupants of the Kingdoms conquered while considering the absence of historical documentation supporting various claims. It is evident in the two writings that the concept of identity is coined from historical genealogy, emerging societies, and their guiding rules and principles.

Both scholars have used genealogical records, subsuming them into the writing of history to express the social identity of Korea. Yi Ik and Yu Tukkong provide a master narrative history that serves as an expression of their individual and national identity.

In the context of Korea, both writings acknowledge Korean historical diversity, thus identities and origins, noting the underlying inherent conflicts (Kim and Sun 86). They express individual identities seeking to create autonomous space and that they were still connected with the larger whole societal system during different dynasties rule periods. The writings also express the aspect of Korean origins as they maintain uniqueness and the preservation of identities in the world of shifting realities.

Korean Identity

The Korean identity emerged when Koran scholars began to study their epigraphy, geography, history, and language. Notably, Korean art, mainly their paintings, departed from China-oriented traditional painting styles moving to Korean life and scenery paintings.

A new cultural replication of China cultures was created using various borrowed techniques from China, enhancing their uniqueness creating an identity. It is notable that the Korean identity has its basis entrenched in their unity, historical traditions, language, and culture that collectively defines their nationality (Lee and Peter 120).

Their identity was also characterized by the legitimization of Korean rulers with a focus on Korean historical founding rulers. Korean identity is evident in their literature that focuses on Korean mode of expression, themes, and rhymes. Korean identity is largely attributed to the propagation of the Eight Prohibitions and the induction into the Confucian world, teachings, and principles (McCann and David 56).

History as an expression of identity

Regarding the two writings, it is notable that Korea’s identity is expressed through its genealogical history. Yi Ikon his historical account challenges the previously accepted perceptions of the Korean political and cultural identities, mainly associated with China’s identity (Haboush and Deuchler 105).

The rise of Manchus and the establishment of the Qing dynasty provided a new expression of Korea’s identity. After Korea retaining control of the Peninsula, they gained self-confidence in their culture, and they started to review their historical identity.

Traditionally Korean historians perceived China as the sole representative of heaven; hence, with the strong establishment of the Choson dynasty, this ideology was greatly opposed resulting in a new inquiry into indigenous Korea’s past. These historical events that occurred in different periods in Korea expressed the dissatisfaction of its people on its identity perceived to be inferior to China, influencing the creating of their unique identity (Xu 35).

Works Cited

Baker, Don. “Writing History in Pre-Modern Korea”. The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 3: 1400-1800, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

Haboush, JaHyun Kim, and Martina Deuchler. Culture and the State in Late Choson Korea. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2002. Print.

Kim, Sun Joo. “Negotiating Cultural Identities in Conflict: A Reading of the Writings of Paek Kyŏnghae (1765-1842).” The Journal of Korean Studies (2005): 85-120. Web.

Lee, Peter H. Sourcebook of Korean Civilization: Volume Two: From the Seventeenth Century to the Modern. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. Print.

McCann, David Richard. Early Korean literature: selections and introductions, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Print.

Xu, Stella Yingzi. That Glorious Ancient History of Our Nation: The Contested Re- readings of” Korea” in Early Chinese Historical Records and Their Legacy on the Formation of Korean-ness, Michigan: ProQuest, 2007. Print.

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