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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 20, 1964

PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIAL SCIENCE DEPARTMENT RESEARCH CENTER, CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, 'MATERIALS ON THE KOREAN TREATMENT OF GORYEO-MONGOLIAN RELATIONS IN THE 13TH AND 14TH CENTURIES'

This document was made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation, Leon Levy Foundation

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    The Philosophy and Social Science Department Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences summarizes the treatment of Goryeo-Mongolian Relations in the 13th and 14th centuries by North Korean Historians. They also note North Korean criticisms of China's The History of Yuan and the USSR's World History for discrepancies in historical interpretation.
    "Philosophy and Social Science Department Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 'Materials on the Korean Treatment of Goryeo-Mongolian Relations in the 13th and 14th Centuries'," November 20, 1964, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 106-00773-01, 52-54. Translated by Jeffrey Wang and Charles Kraus. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/115332
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(Brief Message): 17 (No. 169 Overall); Secret Document

Printed by the Philosophy and Social Science Department Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 20 November 1964

The Treatment of Goryeo [Koryo]-Mongolian Relations in the 13th and 14th Centuries by [North] Korean Historians

The History Research Center of the [North] Korean Academy of Social Sciences recently published volumes 4 and 5 of the 1964 edition of The Science of History. The journal included an article written by historian Kim Jae-hong [Kim Jae Hong] entitled “A Discussion on Relations between Goryeo and Mongolia in the 13th and 14th Centuries.” The full text is 45,000 words and, apart from the preface and conclusion, the article is divided into three sections: part one, national diplomatic relations between Goryeo and Mongolia; part two, opposition to the Mongolian invaders by the people of Goryeo between the years 1231-1259 and the establishment of “peace marriage” relations between Goryeo and Mongolia; and, part three, Goryeo-Mongolian relations after the “peace marriage” from 1260 until the mid-14th century. This article criticizes the authors of China’s The History of Yuan for having the tendencies of a great power chauvinist and for twisting historical truths. The article also criticizes the viewpoints presented in the third volume of World History, which was published by the Social Science Academy of the USSR.

The article states that national relations between Goryeo and Mongolia began with the Mongolian invasion. Although the invading Mongolian army had aggressive ambitions towards Goryeo, they also feared Goryeo’s military strength. This forced the Mongolian side to propose “an agreement of alliance,” which was accepted by the Goryeo government.

The article highlights the differences between depictions of Goryeo-Mongolian relations in [China’s] The History of the Yuan and in The History of Goryeo. The authors of The History of the Yuan adopted the standpoint of a great power chauvinist and distorted the truth: the records of The History of the Yuan centered upon the “Great State of Yuan” and degraded Goryeo to a subordinate position. He [Kim] said that historians who support the imperialists use The History of the Yuan to distort historical records and to defend invasions. The Japanese scholar Hiroshi Ikeuchi once used the great power chauvinist perspective of The History of the Yuan to falsely claim that Goryeo had described itself as the little brother to Mongolia.

Kim Jae-hong also criticizes the third volume of the Soviet Union’s World History for repeating the views of historians who supported the Japanese imperialists and for fabricating that Mongolia “assisted” Goryeo, that Goryeo “requested assistance” from Mongolia, and that Mongolian feudal lords were involved [in Goryeo]. He [Kim] said the truth is that the Mongolian invasion was the starting point of national diplomatic relations between Goryeo and Mongolia and that, due to the pressure of Goryeo’s military strength and brilliant diplomacy, the two countries had formed an equal “agreed alliance.” The relations were destroyed, however, by Mongolia’s unilateral provocations and aggressive behaviors.

Kim Jae-hong said that the people of Goryeo ended the second Goryeo-Mongol War after near thirty years of struggle and then established “peace marriage” relations, [but that], in the past, foreign and domestic historians had both distorted the truth and said that Goryeo was conquered and enslaved by Mongolia. Scholars who supported the Japanese imperialists had reversed this truth and called it “Kublai Khan’s magnanimity.” Kim Jae-hong criticizes the Soviet published World History for copying these fabrications of Japanese imperialist scholars and for additional falsifications.

Kim Jae-hong believes that relations between Goryeo and Mongolia appear to have been a ceremonious feudal relationship but were in fact equal. During this period, it was unprecedented for the Mongolian invaders to establish this type of relationship with hostile countries. He said that while the Mongolian invaders had staged brutal destruction, they also forced the peoples of conquered countries to bear the burdens of feudalism and enslavement, and that the situation of mainland China explained this point. The invasion of Genghis Khan destroyed the Jin and Song dynasties in mainland China and established the Yuan Empire. However, Mongolia did not [destroy] Goryeo; rather it established a special relationship [with Goryeo]. This was a victory and a result of the thirty years of brave resistance against the invading Mongolian army by the people of Goryeo. The Mongolian invaders admitted to their own military failures in the war with Goryeo.

Kim Jae-hong pointed out that Japanese pro-government scholars had labeled the nearly thirty years of brave resistance and victory by the Goryeo people in the Goryeo-Mongol War as Goryeo being “conquered” by Mongolia. [But to] label the “peace marriage” relationship after the war as “subordination”  is a serious mistake. He [Kim] also criticizes the Soviet World History for saying words that not even the Japanese dared to say: World History said that when Korea was under Mongolian rule from the 1370s until the 1470s, all national affairs of Korea were completely subordinate to the Mongolian governor and that the Korean court was filled with representatives of Mongol aristocrats as a result of marriages between the Goryeo and Mongol royal households.