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  • Korean History Studies in Japan:The 2001 Shigaku Zasshi Review of Historiography
  • Inoue Naoki, Yamauchi Tamihiro, and Kawa Kaoru
    Translated by James Lewis (bio) and Kenneth R. Robinson (bio)

Antiquity through Parhae

With the twenty-first century before him, Takeda Yukio has reviewed research on Korean history in Japan from its beginnings. While providing a retrospective on research trends in South Korea and North Korea, he criticizes the framework of "Korean history," which projects the nation-state perspective onto history, and facile interpretations of sources. As a perspective onto future research, he emphasizes respect for scientific research methodology and its autonomy.1 His comments are important as guides that subsequent studies should follow. The question of how we are to free ourselves from the framework of nation-state history remains among the important issues to be overcome. Takeda's Chōsenshi is a revised edition of a volume he wrote for a series of national histories. In the "Preface" the historical limitations of this framework are problematized, making us think that "general histories" cannot stand as such.2

As an attempt to be free from the fetters of the nation-state perspective on history, from early on, there has been the "theory of an East Asian world." In Kodai Higashi Ajia sekai to Nihon, Yi Sŏngsi compiled various papers by Nishijima Sadao, who posed this historiographical approach.3 In his analysis of Nishijima's research as well as in his own Higashi Ajia bunkaken no keisei, Yi untangles the process by which Nishijima established this argument and its theoretical structure and reexamines the argument's significance. He contends that the "theory of an East Asian world" reflects realistic issues of the time during which it was conceived. Further, in considering a framework that will transcend the nation-state perspective on history, a more effective framework based upon contemporary issues and recognizing that the history and culture of "East Asia" must be forged.4

If we keep these debates in mind, as has been indicated for some time [End Page 287] now, the framework of ancient Korean history itself cannot but be an object of examination. However, I will defer further discussion of that point and below will introduce research within the space permitted.

First, connected to written-source based historical writing, in the field of archaeology, the Chōsen Gakkai and the Chōsen Shōgakukai each sponsored an international symposium, and the active discussions that occurred there are worth noting. At the former meeting, interpretations of the keyhole-shaped mounded tombs in the Yŏngsan River region were examined. At the latter symposium, scholars from South Korea and North Korea met in the same room and examined the newest findings in Koguryŏ, Paekche, Silla, and Parhae archaeology.5 Amid a widening international milieu, debates are developing over interpretations of the same data, but sound debates based upon calm analyses are desired. In addition to these volumes, 7–8 seiki no Higashi Ajia is the report of an international symposium held in Beijing in 1998 in which scholars from China, South Korea, North Korea, and Japan participated.6 In the report are several papers about Koguryŏ, Paekche, Silla, and Parhae. Also, Kōkogaku janaru, no. 461, is a special issue on "Korean ancient" corridor-style stone chambers. Information on research in South Korea also is included, making the volume valuable.

In addition, Saotome Masahiro introduces Korean archaeology from the Stone Age to the Three Kingdoms in an easy-to-understand manner.7 The volume edited by Murakami Yasumichi includes seven contributions that discuss the archaeology of the Chinese northeast, the Korean peninsula, and the coastal area.8 Saotome Masahiro and Fujii Keisuke's list of architectural and archaeological materials related to Korea held by the Tōkyō daigaku daigakuin kogakukei kenkyūka kenchikugaku senkō will be of great benefit to the academic world.9

Regarding Koguryŏ history are four articles by Takeda Yukio and one by Inoue Naoki. In the first of Takeda's articles, he examines the biographies, characteristics, lineages, and dates of composition of two rubbings of the King Kwanggaet'o stele held at the Tenri Library as well as three rubbings of this same type.10...


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