In the 10th century A.D., the Kitan built a powerful country. It rushed to conquer the Jurchen, who used to live between the Kitan and the Goryeo Dynasty. They were driven out of their territory, some of which were pushed into the Goryeo Dynasty. Some Jurchen tribes aspired to be provided with assistance by the dynasty. Goryeo must have noticed what was in the aliens’ minds. However, they did not show any reaction. Their basic diplomatic principle was to defy intervention in others’ affairs. They judged that there was no reason to meddle in the fight between the Kitan and the Jurchen unless the Kitan attacked them.
Why do we let ourselves shed vain blood? This may sound wise and practical to some degree. In reality, however, we are part of the international community which combines us as one. It is absurd to exclusively pursue one’s own interests and peace, which will only invite hatred and loathing. Later, the Goryeo Dynasty was faced with a greater crisis in 993 when Kitan general Sosonnyeong invaded the dynasty. Cornered suddenly, Goryeo mobilized troops nationwide and dispatched forefront warriors, but to no avail. Sosonnyeong bluffed that he brought 800,000 troops. However, as historians opine, the number was lower than 50,000. Goryeo was equipped with great generals and brave soldiers. Despite its enormous military potential, Goryeo leaders did never notice how powerful they were, blinded by peace-loving ideologies that only led troops to sit idle.
Frightened by the invasion, the dynasty gave in to the Kitan while yielding a northern portion of Jabi Pass in Hwanghae Province. Around then, the Kitan attacked a small fort named Anyungjin, Balhae-born Daedosu beat the invaders up. This victory helped the dynasty figure out the Kitan, later sending famous diplomat Seo Hui to appease the enemy to retreat. Ahn Jeong-bok, who studied Silhak, Realist School of Confucianism, commented in his book Tongsa Kangmok: Once you fight an enemy, there is chance you will request reconciliation. Fear of the existence of your enemy can lead you to merely pursue friendship and peace. If that is the case, your enemy stands to cajole and contempt you. This messages still resonates with us given the current circumstances. Sosonnyeong’s invasion is written in textbooks as a historic fact, which shall not be ignored but taken as a wake-up call.