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S. Korea closely monitoring China's history research projects

The South Korean government said Thursday it has to figure out China's official position on Korea's ancient kingdoms, especially Koguryo and Balhae, before deciding on any diplomatic countermeasures to Beijing's alledged move to incorporate them into its own history.

A state-funded Chinese research center, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) has argued that Koguryo (37 B.C.-A.D.668) and its successor Balhae were vassal states of China's ancient central government.

South Korean media and scholars say the Chinese government has hired history experts to systemically distort the history of the Korean kingdoms in case territorial disputes flare up after the possible collapse of North Korea, or if the communist country is merged with South Korea.

"It is too early to conclude that the distorted view of history held by the CASS reflects the Chinese government's official stance," a Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity. "The (South Korean) government will make a formal response when it becomes China's official position."

He added that Beijing is believed to be abiding by its 2004 agreement with Seoul not to take any government-level action on the Koguryo issue.

At that time, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Web site described the Koguryo Kingdom as part of China's history, and relations with South Korea deteriorated to their lowest ebb since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992.

China's state media also trumpeted the significance of the addition of Koguryo relics in the country to the list of World Heritage sites.

After weeks of tension, the two sides managed to reach a provisional agreement to handle the issue through academic research.

Seoul's wait-and-see attitude on the sensitive history issue, however, drew harsh bipartisan criticism at home.

The ruling and opposition parties labeled China's move as a "grave concern" that undermined the identity of the Korean people.

"The government is taking a lukewarm response to China's history distortions, which are tantamount to an act of invasion," Rep. Kim Yong-kap of the main opposition Grand National Party, said.

Rep. Choi Sung of the ruling Uri Party said that, "We are paying heed to the fact that China is distorting the root of our history."

Read entire article at Hankyoreh (South Korea)