Korea has a long history of historiography.* There are many references to historical records kept during the Three Kingdoms period, but none of these records have survived, making it difficult for us to know the nature of historiography in ancient Korea. The oldest histories still extant are the Samguk sagi and the Samguk yusa, compiled during the Koryŏ dynasty. Although these two works are indispensable in understanding the history of the three ancient kingdoms, the former has been severely criticized by modern nationalist-minded historians for its alleged China-centered world view. During the Yi dynasty, officials and scholars were strongly conscious of their past and produced a number of official and private histories. Their historical sensibility, however, went beyond the realm of historiography—the fear that one's moral conduct might be found wanting by future generations often affected the behavior of kings and officials alike. This traditional Confucian historiography gave way to a modern form around the turn of the twentieth century. Japanese scholars were the first to use modern methods in studying Korean history. Although their studies provided many new insights, many of them were marred by the prejudice and bias often shown by the Japanese toward the Koreans. A group of Korean scholars of the "Nationalist School" gallantly attempted to challenge what they saw as distortions of Korean history by both Japanese and traditional Korean historians, but with little success. With the publication of Chindan hakpo in the 1930s, historiography in Korea entered a new era as there emerged a new breed of Korean scholars who were trained in modern historical craft. Although there are some significantly different trends in interpretation, historical studies in South and North Korea have evolved from the interpretations of these scholars.


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