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Title: The Making of China's Koguryo: Political Motivations and Cultural Strategies in The Borderlands
Keywords: Koguryo, Historical contestation, Territorial claims, UNESCO World Heritage, Tourism, Ethnic nationalism
Issue Date: 26-Jul-2011
Citation: CHUA PEI JUN JERMAINE (2011-07-26). The Making of China's Koguryo: Political Motivations and Cultural Strategies in The Borderlands. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The contestation over Koguryo history and heritage, which began in 2002 when China launched the Northeast project, provides an insightful study of the way history and heritage is manipulated to support territorial claims in northeast China. China?s assertion that Koguryo was historically ?Chinese? mirrored its political stance that the region is ethnically and culturally Korean but politically Chinese. The nationalist narrative of North and South Korea, on the other hand, claim Koguryo to represent the ?pure essence? of the Korean nation, as it stood fiercely independent in face of Chinese oppression centuries earlier. This controversy also elucidate the way states make use of international bodies, such as UNESCO, to strengthen their political and territorial claims. Registering Koguryo sites in northeast China on the World Heritage List and having them declared as World Heritage sites under China was a political maneuver to strengthen Chinese ownership over the culture, history and territory of the region. By approving China?s bid, UNESCO had in effect provided diplomatic endorsement of Chinese political ownership over its borderland territories. Unable to claim ownership on any of Koguryo?s physical heritage, South Korea reinforces its cultural claims on Koguryo by emphasizing to the world that Koguryo is an integral part of the Korean nation through the internet, education initiatives, and its influential media industry. Interestingly, despite China?s dogged insistence that Koguryo was an integral part of Chinese history, the presentation of Koguryo history to visitors at the designated World Heritage sites in China were significantly silent on this issue. With an exceptional number of tourists coming from South Korea, it appears that economic pragmatism still triumphed over professed historical claims at the tourist sites at the end of the day.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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