2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Japanese Perspectives on Korea:
The Legend of Empress Shenkung’s Invasion of the Three Kingdoms of Korea

Li-hsin Lo

Department of History, National Chung-Hsing University

This article explores the legend of Empress Shenkung’s invasion of the Three Kingdoms of Korea—Hsinlo, Paichi, and Kaojiuli. Analysis is focused on the content and transformations of the legend, how contemporary and modern Japanese governments have adopted it as an educational material to influence the Japanese public, and as a means to observe how Japanese of different eras have viewed Korea.  Many questions remain unresolved about the legend of Empress Shenkung’s invasion of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. However, we can safely presume that the legend is rooted in a combination of Korea problems, historical reality, and local beliefs. New materials have been continually been added to the legend since the twelth century. Legend had it that the King of Hsinlo was once regarded by ancient Japanese as a dog. This attitude of contempt had a tremendous effect on the later perspectives of Japanese toward Korea.

In modern modern times expansionist Japanese governments consistently targeted Korea as the primary goal of continental policy. The Japanese government tried to justify its annexation and consolidation of Korea through public education and by adoption of the legend of Empress Shenkung into history textbooks. After World War II, the legend was refuted by the academic community and disappeared form formal school education. But the legend of Empress Shenkung’s invasion, rooted as it is in national historical consciousness, cannot easily be relegated to oblivion.


Keywords: Japanese perspectives on Korea, Empress Shenkung, Three Kingdoms of Korea (Hsinlo, Paichi, and Kaojiuli)