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Thread: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    In an April 12, 2017 interview with The Wall Street Journal, President Trump recently stated the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Trump
    He then went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea. And you know, you’re talking about thousands of years . . . and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy.”
    Trump’s claim that Korea ‘actually used to be a part of China’

    Donald Trump accused of 'shocking ignorance' after suggesting Korea used to be part of China


    While The Independent article does a crap job explaining history and mostly relays what South Korean newspapers have said, the Washington Post article at least mentions the Han Dynasty's commanders in northern Korea that lasted from the 2nd century BC until the Western Jin period of the 4th century AD, the Tang Dynasty's invasion of the Korean Peninsula in alliance with Silla (although failing to mention that the Tang occupied large portions of the former Goguryeo and Baekje states during the 7th century AD), and the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty's conquest and subjugation of Goryeo in the 13th century AD, turning Korea into a neutered vassal state that not only paid tribute but was also heavily monitored and supervised by the Mongol rulers of Beijing (then called Dadu, or Khanbilaq).

    Obviously Trump is wrong to have said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" when this is only partially correct. On that note, one should consider the fact that Goguryeo and Balhae extended into Manchuria, which is now part of the People's Republic of China, yet we do not say China was a part of Korea. Still, the facts are indisputable that the Chinese colonized what is now North Korea for centuries on end, beginning with the conquest of Wiman Joseon by Emperor Wu of Han in 109-108 BC. Yet they didn't just colonize it; they established prefecture-level governments there known as "commanderies" (郡, jůn) that were on an administrative level just below a province (州, zhōu). These Chinese commanderies came to an end in the 4th century AD when the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo conquered and absorbed them.

    Clearly emperors Wen and Yang of China's Sui Dynasty were interested in reclaiming these territories and reestablishing these commanderies when they invaded Goguryeo in 598 and 612-614 AD, respectively. These campaigns were a total failure, yet China's subsequent Tang Dynasty, specifically under Emperor Gaozong of Tang, had much greater success in the Korean peninsula, if only for a few fleeting decades. With the aid of their Korean ally Silla, they managed to topple both Baekje in southwestern Korea in 660 AD and Goguryeo in northern Korea in 668 AD. The joint Tang-Silla allied forces fought against a Japanese invasion in 663 AD that aimed to restore their Baekje allies. Yet the Tang-Silla alliance came to an end in 670 AD when war broke out between the two. The conflict raged until 676 AD, during which Tang forces launched invasions into Silla. The Silla drove Tang forces out of former Baekje territories and Silla, all the way to the Taedong River in what is now North Korea. Tang forces remained there until 698 AD, when a former general of Goguryeo established the Balhae Kingdom and finally drove the Tang Chinese out of the Korean Peninsula (technically these were "Zhou" forces since this was during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, an interregnum period for the Tang dynasty).


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    Then we come to the Mongol invasion of Goryeo-period Korea during the 13th century AD. In campaigns stretching from 1231 to 1270 AD, the Mongols under Mongke and then Kublai Khan (founder of China's Yuan Dynasty) finally succeeded in subjugating Goryeo as a vassal (with periods of peace in between when Goryeo sent royal family members as hostages to the Mongol court). This client-vassal relationship lasted for the next eight decades. In that amount of time, the Korean Goryeo royal family was forced to marry into the royal family of the Mongol khans ruling from Beijing. Yet this was more than just a marriage alliance and tributary relationship, seeing how Mongol forces continued to garrison parts of Korea, such as Jeju Island. Kublai Khan also used Korea as a staging point for his two failed naval invasions of Japan.

    After the fall of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, the Ming and Qing dynasties maintained a much looser client-vassal relationship with Korea's Joseon kingdom, in that they did not bother to micromanage affairs of the Joseon court (and for that matter were unable to do so). The Ming respected the sovereignty of Joseon but still viewed it as a client state if not a fellow Confucian-ruled power. The Ming came to Joseon's defense in the 1590s when the Japanese invasion of Toyotomi Hideyoshi threatened to swallow the entire Korean Peninsula, with the ultimate aim of invading China. This is somewhat reminiscent of when US, South Korean, and NATO allied forces were on the cusp of taking all of North Korea in the early 1950s, only to have the army of the People's Republic of China come to the aid of their fellow communist Kim Il-Sung and push South Korean forces and NATO allies back to the 38th parallel north. China under Mao Zedong was keen on retaining their historical-based client in the Korean Peninsula, if not having a strategic alliance with a fellow communist power that was friendly to contemporary Chinese interests.

    So, after taking all of this into consideration, should we continue to lambaste Trump for being incorrect? Or should we note the complexities here in regards to Chinese forays and occupations of at least parts of the Korean peninsula during the past two millennia, if not it's close tributary relationship that followed these invasions. I think South Korea has a right to defend its sovereignty like any modern nation, but this nationalist sentiment is often superimposed over historical reality when it is anachronistic and unnecessary. On the other hand, China has been rather provocative in creating the Northeast Project of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which seeks to affirm that North Korea at the very least was rightfully part of the Chinese empire (and obviously shores up claims over Manchuria). At the very least, it is a fact that Imperial China incorporated parts of Korea into its empire from time to time. I think Trump's statement, while ignoring the nuance, is at least partially correct. He should have minced his words a little better, though, to avoid offending his allies in South Korea.

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    At the very least, it is a fact that Imperial China incorporated parts of Korea into its empire from time to time. I think Trump's statement, while ignoring the nuance, is at least partially correct. He should have minced his words a little better, though, to avoid offending his allies in South Korea.
    I agree with that. It's stupid to antagonize one's allies, or create other kinds of mayhem, with carelessly choson words. I think this is a general problem with Trump, though to be fair, other leaders/heads of state have said similar things in recent years, or worse.

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    So, after taking all of this into consideration, should we continue to lambaste Trump for being incorrect? Or should we note the complexities here in regards to Chinese forays and occupations of at least parts of the Korean peninsula during the past two millennia, if not it's close tributary relationship that followed these invasions. I think South Korea has a right to defend its sovereignty like any modern nation, but this nationalist sentiment is often superimposed over historical reality when it is anachronistic and unnecessary.
    No, this is ridiculous. Korea was once part of Mongolian and Japanese empires as well, should we pretend that is not the case? His statement was undefined, he didn't state for how long and under what circumstances Korea was a part of China, however, what little he did say wasn't factually incorrect.

    "And after listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy." - It's okay, nobody knew it was that difficult, just like health care...
    "First get your facts straight, then distort them at your leisure." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Trump's mind absorbed a crude basically sound factoid and he regurgitated it, some Korean nationalist sentiments were infringed but as shorthand it works.

    Quote Originally Posted by athanaric View Post
    ...carelessly choson words....
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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    It's quite possible that he just said something not quite wrong by chance though. He knows China is a big country and probably knows other countries than America have had wars in the past too. And borders change through wars.

    Considering how ignorant he tends to be when speaking about other countries, I'd say this was pretty much just luck on his part of not being quite wrong.

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Trump is completely wrong:



    Clearly anything outside the wall was just a buffer zone.. or so my alternate facts tell me.
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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Nice thread, Roma

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Quote Originally Posted by athanaric View Post
    I agree with that. It's stupid to antagonize one's allies, or create other kinds of mayhem, with carelessly choson words. I think this is a general problem with Trump, though to be fair, other leaders/heads of state have said similar things in recent years, or worse.
    On that note, I distinctly remember Erdogan saying that Muslim explorers found the Americas before Christians from the West.

    In this particular case Trump could have avoided saying anything about China's historical relationship with Korea, but he decided to go there anyway. It's basically red meat for the nationalists of either side to have this conversation in the open. The whole tussle between Chinese and Korean nationalists about the proper ethnic identity of the people of Goguryeo, and which modern state their ancient and medieval territories belongs to, is always interesting to read in online forums. It spills over into Wikipedia quite often.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ἀπολλόδοτος Α΄ ὁ Σωτήρ View Post
    No, this is ridiculous. Korea was once part of Mongolian and Japanese empires as well, should we pretend that is not the case? His statement was undefined, he didn't state for how long and under what circumstances Korea was a part of China, however, what little he did say wasn't factually incorrect.

    "And after listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy." - It's okay, nobody knew it was that difficult, just like health care...
    It takes Trump about 10 minutes to learn stuff, k? I'm sure it will take him only 10 minutes or less to draft a plan on how to get a health care bill through Congress this time around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Trump's mind absorbed a crude basically sound factoid and he regurgitated it, some Korean nationalist sentiments were infringed but as shorthand it works.

    That's a good summary, actually.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inhuman One View Post
    It's quite possible that he just said something not quite wrong by chance though. He knows China is a big country and probably knows other countries than America have had wars in the past too. And borders change through wars.

    Considering how ignorant he tends to be when speaking about other countries, I'd say this was pretty much just luck on his part of not being quite wrong.
    Well, I don't know about it being luck, since it was China's President Xi who brought this up with Trump in their face-to-face meeting. It is kind of amusing to think about Trump randomly throwing darts at the board of ideas and seeing which one might stick in the media, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Cheney. View Post
    Trump is completely wrong:



    Clearly anything outside the wall was just a buffer zone.. or so my alternate facts tell me.
    Huh. I was unaware that the Qin and Han era walls actually extended into northwestern areas of the Korean Peninsula. That's news to me! I looked around online for a bit and it seems to be the case. Fascinating! That pushes the Chinese influence in the region further back (by at least a century) than I had even mentioned in my OP.

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    I don't care what Trump says per se, but its what Xi believes that has the South Koreans alarmed. The concern is President Xi has ambitions. "Unity" code for hegemony, as far as Seoul is concerned.
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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Cheney. View Post
    Trump is completely wrong:



    Clearly anything outside the wall was just a buffer zone.. or so my alternate facts tell me.
    Yes and it clearly shows that damned wall extended well into Korean Peninsular, so what Trump said was not completely wrong.
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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    On that note, I distinctly remember Erdogan saying that Muslim explorers found the Americas before Christians from the West.
    It should be noted that those explorers could only have been Turks, ordinary Muslims were incapable of such feat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    Huh. I was unaware that the Qin and Han era walls actually extended into northwestern areas of the Korean Peninsula. That's news to me! I looked around online for a bit and it seems to be the case. Fascinating! That pushes the Chinese influence in the region further back (by at least a century) than I had even mentioned in my OP.
    It appears that Yan, which preceded the Qin, controlled a small part of Korea (Gojoeson) as well.
    "First get your facts straight, then distort them at your leisure." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ἀπολλόδοτος Α΄ ὁ Σωτήρ View Post
    It appears that Yan, which preceded the Qin, controlled a small part of Korea (Gojoeson) as well.
    The Chinese sources suggest Gija Josen (set up during early Zhou) and its successor Wiman Josen were both Chinese state. Technically, the Medieval Korean States were evolved from Four Commanderies of Han, so it is not wrong to call Korean culture a subgroup of Chinese culture.
    Last edited by hellheaven1987; April 21, 2017 at 10:17 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    About the Han prefectures, when historians call them "colonies," its not to assert the commanderies' rule patterned Western colonialization. That would be reading the present into the past.

    This article offers one historian's critical examination of a populist pseudo history, circulated by nationalists worried what ancient contrivances China might appeal to, to realize their (presumed) expansionist ambitions. The author shows how ridiculous this anxiety is, toward the end of section 5 or 6 - I forget which. Anyhoo.
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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ἀπολλόδοτος Α΄ ὁ Σωτήρ View Post
    It should be noted that those explorers could only have been Turks, ordinary Muslims were incapable of such feat.
    That clown smilie couldn't have been better placed/chosen.

    It appears that Yan, which preceded the Qin, controlled a small part of Korea (Gojoeson) as well.
    Well, yet another thing about the Warring States Period that I absolutely did not know beforehand. This thread is bearing fruit! Thanks for sharing.

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    The Chinese sources suggest Gija Josen (set up during early Zhou) and its successor Wiman Josen were both Chinese state. Technically, the Medieval Korean States were evolved from Four Commanderies of Han, so it is not wrong to call Korean culture a subgroup of Chinese culture.
    There's perhaps a much stronger argument for Korea being an offshoot of Chinese civilization than Japan. However, the Japanese were recipients of aspects of Chinese culture and civilizational habits thanks to imported philosophies, ideas, technologies, and material culture from the Korean peninsula during virtually the entire course of the 1st millennium AD. For that matter there were direct Japanese borrowings of Chinese ideas and culture during China's Tang period, such as the importation of Chinese architectural styles, urban planning with city grids, pompous rituals of the imperial court, etc. Of course, the mother of all these things was perhaps the written word, since both Korea and Japan relied on Chinese characters as the basis of their own writing systems. Even their traditions of historiography mirror those of the Chinese precedents starting with Sima Qian. From Korea came the Japanese adoption of Buddhism and directly from China, Chan (or Zen) Buddhism, plus Neo-Confucianism.

    Quote Originally Posted by WhiskeySykes View Post
    I don't care what Trump says per se, but its what Xi believes that has the South Koreans alarmed. The concern is President Xi has ambitions. "Unity" code for hegemony, as far as Seoul is concerned.
    Realistically China will only ever exert influence or control over North Korea, although their growing trade relations with South Korea will give them some worthwhile leverage in that arena (at least as a means to temper ideas of hostility). If the two Korean nations are united, though, China will simply lose any chance to have a client state in the peninsula, at least for a generation. If the American presence relaxed or even disappeared after that point, then China could once again assert itself in the peninsula, albeit with the soft power approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by WhiskeySykes View Post
    About the Han prefectures, when historians call them "colonies," its not to assert the commanderies' rule patterned Western colonialization. That would be reading the present into the past.
    Absolutely. This is not comparable in the least to Portuguese Malacca, for instance. Very recently I read a Quartz article comparing the Han commanderies in ancient northern Korea to British colonial rule in India. LOL. Yes, of course! Clearly the Chinese Han Dynasty had an equivalent institution of the British East India Company (a joint stock company with its own private army) ruling a giant subcontinent until an 1857 rebellion forced it to impose direct rule of the British Raj (and had Queen Victoria entitled as Empress of India).

    This article offers one historian's critical examination of a populist pseudo history, circulated by nationalists worried what ancient contrivances China might appeal to, to realize their (presumed) expansionist ambitions. The author shows how ridiculous this anxiety is, toward the end of section 5 or 6 - I forget which. Anyhoo.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    For sure

    The historian mentions jimi, a Tang administrative policy with roots in Han imperialism. I've searched for a translation, and the basic idea is self-subordination. A governor has vested, Imperial powers, like a bridled horse can run "free," but the delegates do all the maneuvering. It seems like your typical Confucian answer to the riddle of power: centralize, then delegate.
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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    It's a hilarious show of Trumps maleability, from being purposely antagonistic to the chinese to the point of war posturing, to spouting out the expanionistic diatribe of the chinese goverment, it's quite comical.

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Yeah, I thought he was a "tough negotiator"
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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Quote Originally Posted by saxdude View Post
    It's a hilarious show of Trumps maleability, from being purposely antagonistic to the chinese to the point of war posturing, to spouting out the expanionistic diatribe of the chinese goverment, it's quite comical.
    You're not being fair! It was more than that! It cost the Chinese some shiny, distracting goodies and objects to make Trump change his mind.

    Ivanka Trump’s latest brand coup: Three new China trademarks on day she met President Xi

    Trump is no scholar of history, let alone East Asian history, and his statement in regards to all of Korea was incorrect, but I think it's worth investigating the cold, hard facts of the matter when it comes to China's long and at times troubled relationship with the Korean Peninsula. To sum up what's already been said above, there is a kernel of truth to the point Trump was making, at least as far as North Korea is concerned. It still doesn't change the fact that both modern countries on the Korean peninsula are sovereign nations that deserve to retain their territorial integrity so long as they're not engaging in hostilities with others. Following this rule of Westphalian sovereignty, North Korea has no right to snatch South Korean soil just as China has no real right to claim or forcefully occupy North Korea's territory.

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    China will grow larger.

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    Default Re: Trump recently said "Korea actually used to be a part of China" ...let's examine that assertion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post

    Trump is no scholar of history, let alone East Asian history, and his statement in regards to all of Korea was incorrect, but I think it's worth investigating the cold, hard facts of the matter when it comes to China's long and at times troubled relationship with the Korean Peninsula.
    I'd be fairer with him if he would have left it at "It was shown to me that Korea and and China have a very long and complicated history. I mean it sounds funny but the media perhaps, unfairly ganged up on him for it. People have the tendancy to simplify historical events and timelines they are not familiar with, even if one should expect to do a tad bit of research if the involved countries are in a perpetual risk of nuclear war. Stating that Korea was in fact "part of china" is hilarious though, because you absolutly know that even though China and Korea have a very complex and nuanced history of trading territory and sovereignity, the statement was 100% an attempt from President Xi at establishing a precedent of historical domination over the Korean peninsula, much like Crimea and the Russians.
    So while I don't expect China to invade Korea any time soon, at least not until tits go up in NK, it sets the stage for more South China sea style posturing.


    I mean, it's not like I'm super invested on wether or not something like that happens, I just find it funny that Trump plays so easily into that hand.

    You're not being fair! It was more than that! It cost the Chinese some shiny, distracting goodies and objects to make Trump change his mind.

    Ivanka Trump’s latest brand coup: Three new China trademarks on day she met President Xi
    I do got a hand it to him though, business wise he does know how to make a killin.

    I ain't jokin' when it comes to mah paintings ಠ_ಠ

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