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International Journal of Korean History > Volume 16(1); 2011 > Article
International Journal of Korean History 2011;16(1): 1-24.
Discussing David M. Robinson's Empire's Twilight : Northeast Asia Under the Mongols
Kang Hahn Lee
Assistant Professor, Academy of Korean Studies
한국학중앙연구원 조교수
The author's attempt to provide the readers with a comprehensive discussion of the Red Turban wars is ambitious. And the author also has the courage to explore the organic nature of the Northeast Asian order. Yet there seems to be certain problems. In trying to portrait too big a picture that would engulf the entire Northeast Asian region, the author has failed to examine the situations of individual regions like Korea or Japan. Without a proper evaluation of the history of these regions, discussing the organic nature of Northeast Asia, which supposedly formed with the rise of the Mongol empire and dissolved with its decline, would fail. The author describes the 13th and 14th centuries as a time when ‘integration’ proceeded throughout Northeast Asia, and he argues that Northeast Asia was connected through constant exchanges of people, money and ideas. Yet he is not offering anything new that would shed some light on actually ‘in what kind of manner’ and ‘through what kind of occasions’ the people of this region would have continued their relationships and exchanges. The author is merely commenting upon well established facts, but we need many more ‘descriptions’ of all the exchanges. The author tries to impose such concept of ‘integration’ upon the general situation of Koryŏ, and jumps to a conclusion that Koryŏ was part of the Mongol empire(“Great Yuan Ulus”), yet the process that led to such conclusion is entirely missing. Exactly what kind of ‘criteria’ should be satisfied in order to claim that an entity was a part of another entityŏ One must determine in exactly what kind of manner those two entities have come into physical contact, and then determine how long that contact was maintained, in how many individual areas like politics, economy and culture, and finally, how such contact diverged and variated in subsequent periods. And even after that, as labeling a relationship that continued for decades or centuries between large entities instead of small individuals would be extremely difficult, we should be careful, and try to make a determination based upon the history of individual regions, which the author is not at all doing here. As a result, his documentation of the fall of Yuan and the Mongols falls rather flat, and fails to reveal how the supposed ‘decline of an order’ exactly reflected upon the history of not only individual regions like Koryŏ, but also the entire Northeast Asia in general.
Keywords: Red Turban wars, Koryŏ, Mongols, Yuan, integration, Northeast Asian order

저자는 ‘홍건적의 난’의 전개양상과 의미에 대해 ‘포괄적인 해명’을 시도하고 있으며, 동북아시아의 역사를 유기적으로 보려는 참신한 자세를 보이고 있다. 그러나 동북아시아 역사 전체를 해명하는 ‘큰 결론’을 내는 데 집착한 나머지, 동북아시아의 지역질서를 구성했던 개별지역들(고려, 일본 등)에는 그다지 주목하지 않고 있다. 이들 지역의 역사에 대한 정밀한 이해 없이 (원제국의 성립으로 구축되었다는) 동북아시아의 역내 질서에 대한 해명이 제대로 될 리 만무하다. 저자는 13-14세기 동북아시아인들이 인적, 물적, 사상적 왕래/교환을 계속하였고, 그 결과 동북아시아 내에 일종의 ‘통합’이 진행되었다고 보지만, 그러한 교환과 왕래가 어떻게 진행되고 어떻게 변해 갔는지에 대한 구체적 설명을 결여한 채, 고려가 몽골제국의 일부였다는 자신의 연구적 가설을 되풀이해서 언급하고 있을 따름이다. 원제국 몰락 및 동북아시아 질서 변동에 대한 그의 서술은 평이하기 이를 데 없으며, 그러한 역사변동이 고려 등의 개별지역은 물론 동북아시아에 미친 영향 또는 제대로 해명하지 못하고 있다.
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