You have now read a chapter on the early history of East Asia that focused primarily on the history of China but also included the equally important early histories of Japan and Korea. In an essay of approximately 800 words, please explain when and how Japan’s and Korea’s histories were impacted by China, but also what was unique about the historical development of each. To do so, you will want to take as your starting point the period during which East Asia first becomes clearly identifiable as a cultural sphere with developed states in each case – roughly, the sixth to eighth centuries. In writing your essay and thinking about its structure, you might consider the following questions, although you should make your own judgment about what should and should not be included and discussed:
- Should the introduction define the term East Asia, the period of time in East Asian history under consideration, and which countries are being included in the discussion?
- Should the introduction define clearly the topic that will be discussed and also offer a tentative assessment? (For example, to what extent were Japan and Korea impacted by China and to what extent were their histories entirely unique?)
- Should the essay assess the status of China as of the Tang Dynasty, when Korea and Japan were developing into unified states? (For example, by that point in time, what kinds of political systems and intellectual traditions had emerged in China?)
- Should a concise overview of how a state emerged in both Japan and Korea and the points at which China had an impact on that process be given?
- How did the development of Korea and Japan differ?
- How will the essay be concluded? You might reflect on question 5.
Reading Material for the Essay
In addition to reading the reviewing the relevant sections in our textbook on China, Japan, and Korea, also review two additional sources relevant to our essay topic.
- Chapter 4 sections on the Tang Dynasty and East Asia
- The Japanese Missions to Tang China, from the 7th to the 9th Centuries
- The Period of the Three Kingdoms – You have been provided with a link to the entirety of chapter 2 in this book. That chapter is on the Three Kingdoms Period in Korean History (in this book, transliterated as Baekje, Koguryo, and Silla). But the most important section for the essay will be p. 63-73, “The Culture of the Three Kingdoms.”
For additional information regarding formal requirements, see “Guidelines for Your Essays” in the syllabus.