Kimchi Iceberg, Hongsan Culture, and Cultural Obfuscation
A few months ago, on the Canadian news, I heard that China started claiming that kimchi is theirs and that is triggering something like a culture war between Korea and China. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. However, after watching a KBS program (2010?) on Hongsan Culture online recently, I realized the greater implications of this culture war.
The archaeological evidence (both in China and Korea) and the coherent written history of ancient Korea is convincing enough. But the beliefs, customs and the language of modern-day Koreans (especially vis-à-vis reverence for jade) leave no room for doubt that the people of the Hongsan Culture are the ancestors of the modern-day Koreans. I am bewildered that there are many so-called experts who refuse to acknowledge something as obvious as this.
What I find most compelling is the Bear-Queen worship: It can’t get any more Korean than that! My questions to the experts: What other ancient people in East Asia had this tradition? How do you explain that the jade artifacts in the (stone) graves around Hongsan were made from the raw jade that came from the east (i.e., 대동강 area) and not from the south?
In a way, I can understand why many experts would be so reluctant to admit, and do all they can to dismiss, the paradigm-shifting revelations. How would a PhD feel when he or she finds out that his or her life’s work was based on a total misunderstanding? But at the same time, I think the whole world would agree that the present-day Koreans have the right to know the truth and that others need to respect that right.
Moreover, given that Hongsan Culture is one of (if not) the oldest known culture/civilization(s) in the world, it has obvious implications for the rest of the world and every human being living in it.
One problem I noticed (with this type of cultural and historical program) is that it is in Korean only: Unlike other K-entertainment stuff, it’s for domestic audience only. Tantalizingly, that the program does not have English-subtitles makes it difficult for others (who do not understand Korean) to access the important content of the program. This makes it very difficult to have others understand the full scope of the culture war problem, whose tip is that kimchi iceberg.
This is so much more than about kimchi: It’s about who we are; it’s about where and how human culture and civilization came about.
As such, it would be great if a program as important as this could reach a wider (non-Korean speaking) audience elsewhere in the world. I think it’d be great if the rest of the world realizes that there is a lot more to the Korean Wave than meets the eye. There is the other side of the coin: There are deep wide-scoped spiritual dimensions to the Korean Wave.
By the way, watch out for that kimchi iceberg!