Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Korean and Japanese scholars complete a jointly-written history textbook

A brief article from the Chosun Ilbo today notes that Korean and Japanese historians have just completed a jointly-written history textbook on exchanges between the two countries. The textbook will be distributed in both countries and is scheduled for release next month.

The project stands out for two reasons: 1) it emphasizes reciprocity of exchange between the two from prehistoric days to the present (notable for the scope and the nature of interation); and 2) the entire book was written collectively with scholars from each side collaborating on each topic as opposed to one group taking one topic, and another group taking another.

It will be interesting to see if and how the origins of the Korean people are examined, and how the figure of Tangun would play a role. For example, will the book suggest that certain ethnic/cultural ties dating back to prehistory link the two nations together as Japanese history traditionally suggested? Or would it suggest a more autonomous origin of the Korean people? My hunch tells me that such controversial subject matter may be left out. Nonetheless, this project is groundbreaking in many ways, and I am curious to see what it has produced.

1 comment:

Jaime said...

Another significant aspect of the project seems to be an acknowledgement, particularly on the part of the Japanese contributors, on the exploitative nature of Japanese colonial rule - an aspect euphemized in many current Japanese history textbooks. It would be interesting to gauge the reaction or level of acceptance in Korea and Japan, especially given the relatively recent upturn in Japanese nationalism.