The government is considering establishing a museum of Goguryeo (B.C. 37-A.D. 668) history near Achasan Mountain in Seoul and its outskirts, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Monday.
The museum is expected to boost public awareness of the history of the kingdom that ruled the northern part of the Korean Peninsula and in the northeast region of current China, amid intensifying tension between the two countries over claims of the origin of the kingdom.
While China occasionally alleges Goguryeo to have been one of its vassal states, the Korean government has stuck to its position that the modern country is descended the from ancient kingdom, with its current name derived from it. Goguryeo is also regarded as a golden age for Korea, when it expanded its territory far into China and spawned internationally-renowned scholars, Buddhist monks and other notable figures.
“In order to counter the Chinese ‘Northeast Project,’ a rewrite of history that includes Goguryeo as part of ancient Chinese territory, a museum dedicated to not only displaying, but also conducting intensive research into the ancient kingdom is essential,” said Jang Jin-ah, a ministry official.
Aiming at opening in 2020, the museum is tentatively titled, the Mt. Achasan Museum, after the location of the largest Goguryeo site in South Korea. In 1994, a total of 20 fortifications were discovered there dating back to the ancient kingdom, which is thought to have stretched south roughly as far as the Han River, with more than 1,500 relics and other artifacts found. The discovered items are now kept at Seoul National and Korea universities.
The ministry has already assigned KAIST professor Kim Jeong-hwa to carry out a feasibility study and is planning to hold an open hearing about the establishment on Wednesday at the National Palace Museum in Seoul.
Some local administrations are already vying to host the museum. Guri of Gyeonggi Province and Gwangjin district in Seoul have been the most enthusiastic.
Gwangjin officials have previously vowed to provide a total of 30,000 square meters of real estate at the foot of Mt. Achasan, where General Ondal, one of the greatest soldiers of Goguryeo, died during battle, according to folklore. The administration is planning to create a “historical belt” embracing the museum, a children’s theme park and other attractions to boost local tourism.
Guri, which shares the mountain with Gwangjin District, has recently announced a plan to create a “Goguryeo History Park” near the mountain by 2015, with more than 1,500 relics, a theme park with reproductions of Goguryeo murals, an archery field and accommodations. The city has already created a “Goguryeo blacksmith village” near the area to brand its image as “Goguryeo descendants.”
“Once we host the museum, people will not have to visit China or Pyongyang to look at Goguryeo relics,” Park Young-sun, the city mayor said in a press interview.
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org