Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Yeon Gaesomun, Military Commander who Led Goguryeo to Victory over Invading Tang Chinese Forces

Historical Interpretations of Yeon are Poles Apart
<strong>Yeon Gaesomun</strong>, Military Commander who Led Goguryeo to Victory over Invading Tang Chinese Forces


In the “History of the Three Kingdoms” written by Kim Bu-sik, a man is described as a traitor who murdered a king and caused the collapse of Goguryeo, an ancient Korean kingdom. Most other history books that have been compiled until the late Joseon period also paint this man as a ferocious figure. However, historians in more recent times hold a different view. Shin Chae-ho, a 20th-century historian and independence activist, portrays the man as a ‘great rebel’ in his history book “Ancient History of Korea.” Park Eun-sik(박은식), the second president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, rates the man as the greatest figure in Korean history since he exhibited a spirit of independence and displayed courage and resourcefulness when competing with a foreign power. From a perspective influenced by Confucian beliefs, the man in question is certainly a treacherous retainer since he killed his own king through a military coup and resisted the Tang Dynasty of China to the bitter end. But from the 20th-century perspective, which values the spirit of national self-reliance, the man can be considered an independent revolutionary. With the change of times, historians are poles apart in rating this man named Yeon Gaesomun.
Yeon Gaesomun Wearing Five Swords

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