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The importance of learning history
Written by Kim Sumin | Published. 2018.07.15 12:43 | Count : 407

Why do we have to learn history? One may think that studying history is just boring and tedious. There are lots of things to memorize in history and this may make you anguished and exasperated. Parents and teachers tell us that we have to learn history for the sake of good grades. But if we can’t find the true meaning of learning history, we will not be able to study it with passion. So, let’s think about it more conscientiously and ask ourselves again. Why do we have to learn history? 

Korea has 5000 years of long, magnificent history. Korea’s history has mainly elapsed in the order of Gojoseon(고조선), Three Kingdoms Period(삼국시대), Unified Silla(통일신라), Goryeo(고려), Joseon(조선) and Modern History. From Gojoseon(조선) to Modern History, the various civilizations that prospered and fell on this peninsula has left behind lots of cultural heritage. From the tomb of the royal families to Hun-Min-Jeong-Eum(훈민정음) and religious or political infrastructures, the historical artifacts that come from ancient kingdoms of Korea show the developed culture that was present ever since the first civilization in the Korean peninsula. 

[The Royal Tomb of King Sejong, Photo courtesy of Kim Sumin]

However, nearby countries like China and Japan are making distortions to Korea’s history for their own benefits.

Dokdo(독도) is a small Korean island that is highly valued geographically, environmentally, ecologically and economically. That is why Japan is claiming sovereignty over Dokdo(독도). But ancient documents such as Sejong Sillogjiliji(세종실록지리지), Mangiyolam(만기요람), Dongkuk Literature Remarks(동국문헌비고), etc. explicitly show that Dokdo(독도) is Korea’s land. Hence, we should learn history to ascertain history distortions.

During Imjinwaeran(임진왜란), Japan invaded Korea from 1592 to 1598. The Japanese army devastated Korean’s houses and rice fields, plundered farm animals, crops and cultural assets. At that time, Korea’s politics was unstable and lives of the people were impoverished. When Japan invaded Korea again during Japanese Occupation, similar things happened because of similar reasons. If Korea did not forget what happened in the past and learned a lesson based on the past experiences, this kind of tragic event would not have come about.

”The greatest tragedy for mankind is that no lessons are learned in past history.” This single quote by historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee signifies why it is important for future generations to learn history. Since Korea’s ancestors had left and preserved their previous ancestors’ cultural relics, it is a mandate for Koreans to preserve Korean cultural heritage and territory based on the things we had learned in history.

And since we have to learn history, what are the good ways to do it? By memorizing, we can’t find the true meaning of history. I interviewed my Social Studies teacher, Lee Sang Un of Daewang Middle School, and asked her to recommend me some good ways to learn history. Here are some of the tips she offered me: 1) Have a debate about a historical event. That way, we can supplement each other for the things that we didn’t know and look at that particular event from a broader perspective. Also, you wouldn’t easily forget what you have debated so it is very efficient. 2) Arrange significant historical events periodically and study things in between the events which you didn’t know by searching for history books, pictures, internet or other resources.

[The image of Korean history books, photo courtesy of Kim Sumin]

After reading this article, I hope that you’ve learned that history is neither memorizing nor a subject that you simply study for the sake of getting good grades. By learning history, we are able to reflect on ourselves and ameliorate our future. Also, we should protect the cultural heritage and make sure that our history is not perverted. There are dreams of South Korea and your future in the history.


Kim Sumin
Grade 7
Daewang Middle School

Kim Sumin  student_reporter@dherald.com

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