China Exclusive: Korean Confucius descendants trace back to ancestor of family tree

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Descendants of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius are trying to join efforts for research on which generation of the family brought the bloodline from China to the Korean Peninsula.

Eight Korean descendants of Confucius, on behalf of all their kin living in the Republic of Korea (ROK), presented new evidences to suggest that the first generation of the family might have traveled from China to settle on the Korean Peninsula at least 200 years earlier than it was previously thought.

It is generally believed that descendants of Confucius (551 BC-479 BC) flourished on the Korean Peninsula after the 54th-generation descendant Kong Shao arrived there at the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368).

The ROK representatives presented photocopied documents to the Confucius Genealogy Constant Compilation Committee based in Qufu of east China's Shandong Province on Thursday indicating that the time of the first descendant might date back to Song Dynasty (960-1279), 200 earlier than the Yuan Dynasty.

Confucius descendants from China and ROK held a ritual commemorating their ancestors at the Confucius temple on Thursday, burning incense and kowtowing to a statue of their shared ancestor, a must before discussing major family affairs such as updating family trees.

ROK delegation member Kong Daihick, also head of the Korean Confucius Descendants Association, said that their research showed that the first Confucius descendant to set foot in the Korean Peninsula was Kong Deshou, a 47th-generation rather than Kong Shao.

The committee members from the China side decided the current verifying materials were inadequate.

The descendants agreed that both sides would cooperate to continue research into the first generation to leave China as it serves as a linking point for the whole Korean branch of the family tree.

There are as many as 80,000 Korean Confucius descendants, making the group the largest overseas branch of the family tree.

Kong Deping, general secretary of the Confucius Genealogy Constant Compilation Committee, also director of Qufu Bureau of Cultural Relics, said the committee began to update the Confucius family tree in 1998 and disclosed its latest version in 2009, which recorded all 83 generations of Confucius' offspring, more than 2 million people. It was regarded as the world's biggest family tree.

More than 40,000 overseas descendants had their names added to the 2009 edition, with more than 30,000 of them from ROK.

However, new findings continue to appear as descendants dig deeper into historic materials collected from all over the world.

"We Confucius descendants are bonded by the bloodline," said Kong Deyong, 90, a 77th-generation descendant, leader of the family clan and chief compiler of the great thinker's genealogy books.

The Chinese, enjoying learning more about where they come from, have been documenting their ancestors and descendants throughout history. But many such family records were lost and the tradition was interrupted due to wars and social chaos in the last century.

Revising family tree books have seen a renaissance in recent years as many Chinese feel that they suffer a moral void in society caused by the nation's rush into commercialism.

Confucianism, a body of ethical principles derived from Confucius' thinking, including putting people first, cultivating fraternity, loyalty, filial piety and integrity of personality, and seeking harmony while keeping differences in thoughts and culture, has been a dominant force throughout Chinese history.

It is estimated that there are more than 3 million descendants of Confucius living in the world, including 2.5 million on the Chinese mainland. Endi

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