This paper discusses the role of the Lelang commandery in the process of introducing Chinese characters into Korea. In the Lelang commandery, native populations of non-Han origin would have been put into the “documentary administration,” under situations similar to such frontier regions as Juyan and Dunhuang, in the process of which Chinese characters were most likely accepted on an extensive scale. The use of Chinese characters in the Lelang commandery was not limited to a group of Han people, as has been traditionally understood. Those Chinese characters introduced at that time would not necessarily have to be so-called genuine Chinese characters. Particular examples of Chinese characters that developed later into Korean idu are confirmed in official Qin and Han documents. The population native to the Lelang commandery maintained contact with various usages in the document-based administrative system for over 400 years and the usages suited to the linguistic behavior of the population on the Korean peninsula was naturally selected. It is to be noted that the process of introducing Chinese characters into Korea is best explained by the long-lasting linguistic contact and the resultant transformation.
This paper examines the three different systems that were used for writing vernacular Korean with Chinese-borrowed characters in the ancient period of the country: idu, gugyeol, and hyangchal. As opposed to idu and hyangchal, writing systems that have the trait of transcribing, instead of translating, vernacular languages, gugyeol can be characterized as translating Korean vernacular sentences in terms of the meaning of Chinese-borrowed characters. The development of the gugyeol system started from the previous indication of reading order using “to 吐” marks and led to the creation of the symbol-gugyeol system using jeomto marks and the interpretative-reading gugyeol system using to marks, showing similarity to the development process of idu.
Hyangchal is an ancient writing system of the Korean language that used Chinese characters. In the early twentieth century, some Japanese scholars studied the vernacular poetry known as hyangga as part of an attempt to reconstructing the language of Silla. Later, Korean linguists pursued this topic, researching how to interpret hyangga. Their methodology was to locate reference materials that could be juxtaposed with the original hyangga, including ancient stories written in Korean with similar themes to those addressed in hyangga poems, associated myths, and Chinese translations of hyangga. Their research revealed that hyangchal includes Silla’s unique writing systems, such as seokdok (interpretative reading or reading the meaning of a character), bachim (transcription using supporting sounds), and hunju eumjong (the principle of “meaning value preceding the phonetic value”). With the recent discovery of many Goryeo era materials in seokdok gugyeol, another writing system that utilized Chinese characters, the relationship between hyangchal and seokdok gugyeol could be gradually ascertained. The clarification of the close relationship between hyangchal and gugyeol affirms that both writing systems occupy an important place in the study of the history of Korean characters and the reconstruction of the ancient Korean language.
This paper aims to examine how idu, a writing system that represented the ancient Korean language by borrowing Chinese characters, was created. Through analysis of existing epigraphs and newly found wooden tablets, this paper critically scrutinizes the hypothesis that idu originated in Goguryeo or Baekje and highlights Silla’s role in the culmination of idu’s evolution. Silla’s written materials attest to the tireless efforts made from the mid-sixth century to use Chinese characters to transcribe Korean sounds. While primitive idu stagnated or declined in Goguryeo and Baekje from the late sixth century, Silla developed the idu system which achieved a transition to an agglutinative language through the use of their own punctuation, case marker, sentence-final endings, and prefinal endings. Presumably this formed the basis of both the hyangchal transcription principle in which the stem of a word is read with its meaning and its ending is read phonetically and the gugyeol principle in which morphological affixes are inserted in between Chinese sentences in the interpretation of classical Chinese texts.
Large quantities of ancient Korean wooden tablets unearthed since the 1990s have underscored and buttressed the importance of primary materials in historical studies. The Korean linguistics field is no exception; with a growing number of tablets available from Baekje and Silla, research on ancient Korean language and writing has accordingly flourished. These investigations had been mainly confined to the Korean Peninsula, however, and had not expanded to encompass all of East Asia. Bearing that in mind, this paper deciphers and explicates written materials through a comparison of two early wooden tablets, unearthed in Korea and Japan, respectively, and surveys the evolution of ancient East Asian writing systems—focusing on the development of writing systems that use borrowed Chinese characters, the adoption and adaptation of character shapes and handwriting styles. Research reconfirms that ancient East Asian writing systems originated in China and moved to the Korean peninsula and then to the Japanese archipelago.
This paper is designed to analyze why Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms in Korea that existed up to the latter part of the seventh century, became the first victim in diplomatic and military struggles among the Three Kingdom, including Goguryeo and Silla. The Samguk sagi (Historical Records of the Three Kingdoms) gives the impression that Baekje, by dint of its geographical location,had pursued the most active and shrewd diplomacy. Located in the southwest of the peninsula, Baekje enjoyed not only easy communication and transactions with China and Japan, but also could put pressure on relatively weak Silla and move to the north when Goguryeo engaged in struggles with Chinese dynasties over the Liao river. However, this paper concludes, from an international relations perspective, that Baekje became the first kingdom to lose its independence due to its clumsy management of alliances, lack of understanding of the foreign policy priority of Chinese dynasties, as well as inconsistent and self-centered diplomacy vis-à-vis China.
One argument made in favor of devolution of policy authority to local governments is that it will promote citizen participation by moving decision-making authority “closer” to the people. This paper examines the merits of this argument:will increasing local autonomy have the desired effect of enhancing citizen participation? Based on an examination of citizen participation in the United States and South Korea, I find that even though local governments are not inherently more responsive or open to citizen influence, devolution has democratic benefits because it allows for different types and forms of citizen activity that are limited on the national level. Devolution creates participatory spaces that, if utilized, could enhance civic learning and governmental responsiveness.