[The Korea Times]
Joint studies between North and South Korea on Northeast Asian history are likely to be promoted along with the summit meeting of the two Koreas that starts today.
It will be a part of a project helping the North preserve and restore documents about ancient kingdoms such as Goguryeo and independence movements during the Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945).
According to officials from the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs Monday, Minister Park Myung-jae recently ordered them to devise measures to support North Korea's preservation of old documents kept in the Stalinist country.
"As we see, North Korea is not properly preserving historic records due to financial reasons and some documents have already been destroyed or are likely to be. We'll promote the project if the North agrees to it," a ministry official said.
"If the project is accepted through the summit, it can be developed into a joint research on the histories of ancient kingdoms of Goguryeo, Balhae and Goryeo as well as a countermeasure against neighboring countries' recent moves distorting history. A study on independence battles staged in North Korean territory and Manchuria against Japanese colonial rule may also be possible," the official said.
The National Archives and Records Service under the ministry has already supported record preservation of Mongolia and Sri Lanka with funding from the government and UNESCO.
The main territories of the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. to A.D. 668) and Balhae (A.D. 698 to 926) were that of the current North Korea and parts of Manchuria. Koreans regard those kingdoms as their ancestral and independent countries, but recent studies by China claimed they were China's local governments.
South Korean scholars' studying the Goryeo Kingdom (A.D. 918 to 1392) and independence movements during Japanese colonial rule has also been limited, as they could not get information about the kingdom, which governed the whole Korean Peninsula including North Korean territory, and movements held in the regions.
In addition to the joint study project, the South Korean government also plans to make the ministry a single channel for North Korea support works.
"As each local government or company has promoted their own support or cultural exchange projects, some of them are duplicated with inefficient process. It will be more efficient that one organization _ the ministry _ takes full charge of those works," the official said.
The ministry is also considering allowing South Korean cities and other counties establish a sisterhood relationship with North Korean ones if the North agrees.