Kim Định: The Pioneer of Vietnam’s Historical Awakening

Decades ago, the majority of academics believed that the origins of Asia’s writing system came from China.  However, one man dared to challenge conventional belief, presenting some ideas that shocked and enraged fellow members of his academic community.  This said individual was a professor and philosopher who went by the name of Kim Định.

Through his literature, Kim Định presented many interesting arguments and ideas, many which posed a direct challenge to the writings and accounts of the Chinese.  One of the sensetive points raised by Kim Định was the origin of the Chinese writing system.  Kim was the first to put into question the common perception that the system was developed in China.

Using Vietnamese folklore, geographical names and dates, and the disrepencies in Chinese historical accounts as his basis, Kim Định boldly presented the idea that it was from the clans of the Hundred Viets that the writing system of China was created.  According to Kim Định, it was the Chinese who borrowed the writing system from the Vietnamese, not the other way around.

The next groundbreaking idea presented by Kim Định was the origin of the Confucian ideology.  Kim Định was also one of the very first researchers to take the position that Confucianism was developed in ancient Vietnam, long before the Chinese used it as their official ideology.  Through extensive research, Kim Dinh came up with conclusions, mainly arguing that there is a much older strand of Vietnamese Confucianism, different from the Chinese, and older than the Chinese.

Because his ideas so strongly opposed what was commonly believed at the time, Kim Định was widely unpopular with his fellow researchers.  He was scorned for his work and shunned by many of his colleagues, labelled as a fanatic nationalist who defied history.  Decades went by until his work was taken seriously.  Today, Kim Định’s work has become the foundation by which modern researchers of Vietnamese history begin their investigations.

Kim Định was a researcher, philosopher, and professor in the former Republic of South Vietnam.  He has authored over 30 books dedicated to the study of Vietnam’s origins, and has become the originator of contemporary Viet studies.  Much of the ideas and findings conducted by modern researchers in the study of Vietnam’s past is based on his work.  A great contributor to the reemergence of Vietnamese history, an important man indeed.

9 Responses to “Kim Định: The Pioneer of Vietnam’s Historical Awakening”

  1. Everyone claims to know the past, and keeps proving this or that, but she/he has always fabricated the history to make others believe him/her, because he/she wears a label of Scholar. Both China or Vietnam built the country by taking the land from other nations. This one is a real but neither both of them confess it.
    What I knew is that Korea is still Korea regarding it was divided to two. The Yue people from South China and then built their country
    from others’ expense now Vietnam. Weren’t Chinese and Vietnamese ONE? Why keeps breaking more equations trying to prove who was born before who? According to GOD, none of them go to heaven but hell and the one will be burned in hell for eternity is Jung Kim Il then, Hitler, Mao, Ho and … who will be next?

    • peacefulviet Says:

      Mate don’t you ever claim Viets and Chinese are one. The Viets had their own culture and civilisation independent to China. Our culture and civilisation even predates China. You know nothing about the history of Vietnam. The Lac Viet (Vietnamese people) originated from North Vietnam, while the other Viets originated from South China. They were called Bach Viet (100 Viets) and weren’t Chinese. South China was land that belonged to the Viets millenniums before they conquered it.

      OK so Korea is Korea. And…? What are you trying to say? Vietnam took land from other countries? That is true. We took land from the Chams because they consistently invaded Vietnam and lost. Only through intermarriage, agreements, treaties did we gain their land. Don’t blame the Viets for the Chams losing their land, blame their king. It isn’t the Viets fault that he loved Vietnamese women.

      South Vietnam use to belong to the Khmer. Same way through intermarriage, agreements, treaties did we gain their land. Also since you are Thai you would know that Vietnam aided Cambodia over Thailand’s failed invasion. Cambodia gave land to Vietnam in order to help rid you guys.

      Therefore Vietnam is made up of many land taken from countries. But they live harmoniously in Vietnam. All the ethnic tribes are treated equally like they are Vietnamese themselves.

      My only concern is that you take Asians to be all connected together. From what I learn, there is no way that a Mongol, Korean, Japanese, Tibetan or Han Chinese can be related to Viets. Vietnamese have relatives of Tay, Zhuang, Kadai, Muong and all the people living in Yunnan, Guangdong, Guanxi whom aren’t Han Chinese whom are the Bach Viet.

      I have no idea why you mentioned God at the end of your post. I think it is irrelevant. Sure those people will go to hell, but what has that got to do with what you are discussing?

      • I would like to add some more points that make the Viets different from the “Nomdic Chinese”; and they are as follows:

        1 The Viets respect and gave credits to what the Cham had formed or created regarding history, architectural projects and their inteligent heritage. The Nomadic Chinese at the same time destroyed altered, stole what belonged to the Viets when they occupied.
        2 The Viets did not destroy, enslaved or commited mass killing to the Chams or Cambodians. The Nomadic Chinese, when the occupied Vietnam, had committd mass killing, destroyed the Viet’s intelligent properties and enslaved the Viets. In the 1979 war, the Chinese had destroyed every thing they could, killed as much as civilians as they could, including women and children. As we write, the Chinese are robbing, pirating, killing Vietnamese fishing men in the East Sea of Vietnam. They are systematically commited crimes to the Viets.

  2. This is a very interesting article. It really gets people to think from multiple viewpoints. The idea of challenging ‘conventional wisdom’ can go a long ways. But it is through this kind of objective reasoning and understanding that can broaden the understanding of history. Such as the origin of our Vietnamese language, even the most unappealing argument can have some value. It is what creates knowledge and allows people to further investigate the possibilities. History, after all, is not so straight forward and requires a multidisciplinary view. You have opened my eyes.

  3. Destin Lee Says:

    Just happened that I read many ancient documents that have kept in the European library written by the Dutch about Siam (Thailand), Kamboja (Cambodia), Champa, Hue (Vietnam)… and to read the history written by the Viet scholars, both are not even closed. Some good and honest Viet scholars agreed with Cham cholars Dr. Po Dharma French educated, but many Viets whose articles are mostly falsify the facts, I just said to myself, the world sucks.
    You said that land of Cham and of Cambodia given to the Vietnamese by intermarriage that is from your Vietnamese side, but according to the old documents that your elders hiding from your people are taking by force and by the strategy “Divide & Conqueror”. Based on the Dutch documents Ngoc Van was sent to be Jayajetha II’s wife then after the King died she used Khmer court to engage espionage by causing the civil war in Cambodia, that was why her nephew Hien Vuong sent his troops to intervene in Cambodia twice. There was no land that gave to Vietnamese but through intervention military tactics.

    Thailand too was built by blood shed, I am not proud of it. To say that Communist such as Vietnam, China, etc.. allow the native of the land to live in peace is a liar. I still see Chinese & Vietnamese are not so difference, they may be from the same clans or at least related.

    I am not a nationalist for human beings but I am a nationalist for GOD only after I had seen so many evils on this earth created by humans. Nothing can be mightier than GOD, no matter how powerful humans’ army can be. Heaven is real and Hell is also real.
    When the mother nature hits, how mighty are we but to watch our our fellow humans die miserably. Every nation will be destroyed.

    • peacefulviet Says:

      The Cham king is to blame for the loss of their land. Don’t ever dare claim that the Vietnamese stole their land. The King wanted to marry Vietnamese women and promised the Vietnamese king to hand over some of their land. He married many and soon majority of their original land became a part of Vietnam. Only finally in the 1800 did we officially claimed the land. Now the Chams don’t hate Vietnamese people. I put my money on it. All minorities in Vietnam are treated equally. They are so equal that they are still allowed to live in their former land and speak their native tongue. The ethnic minorities are humble people and will be treated with respect alongside their Vietnamese counter-parts. Only people like you whom start misguides the bondage between both races breaks it apart. Sure the government of Vietnam doesn’t care for them, but the people do.

      In China they disrespect the indigenous peoples of the land they occupy. Tibet, Mongolia, East Turkestan are just to name a few. Although they can still live in their land they are forced to be sinisized and become Han. Vietnamese people don’t do that. You are mistaken and being misguided.

      Look you believe what you want and I will believe what I want. The Chams were ongoing rivals to Dai Viet. They attempted even to take over the country but failed. You complain that the Viets retaliated and took their lands to stop the invasions. What is wrong with that? They still are Chams and they still speak their tongue. Same with the Khmers. They still live in their area and still speak their language. They don’t care that their lands are now Viet. Only the Khmer Rouge care. They were blinded by the communist Pol Pot.

      Where is the lie behind ethnics living together with the Vietnamese in peace. I dare you to ask any of the Chams in Chau Doc, and Nha Trang. Ask the Hmong in Sapa and the north west of Vietnam. Ask the Mountainous people and Hill people in Da Lat and all will say the Viets and ethnics get along.

      Now you claim that Viets and Chinese are no different and continue to claim we are the same. You have offended me so much already. If the Vietnamese are the same as the Chinese then why don’t we dress like them? Why don’t we talk like them? Why have we been in endless warfare with them? Why have they constantly harassed us? Why have they invaded us countless times? Why don’t the Viets just join the Chinese if we know we are Han? Maybe it is because they want us to be Han. Maybe it is because we were never Chinese. If it was as simple as us being the same as them then why has it been 5000 years of fights? What goes through your mind? Most likely you only clear observation and hypothesis is that just because Vietnam is located under China means it is Chinese. If you claim that then I guess you wouldn’t mind if I stated that Koreans came from China and are 100% related to them. You guys both eat dogs, a clear example of the similar culture and action. They aren’t different.

      OK I still think you didn’t have to preach the word of the lord right here. Being a Christian myself I know the horrors that men make as well. That’s why I seek aid from Jesus and Mary to get me through life. We all know Heaven and Hell is real but you are going off topic. Yes it is true, we live in dark times and all the countries will be destroyed but why post it here? Go to if you’re Catholic and spread the word there. This site is about Freedom for Vietnam. The history, literature, political and studies of Vietnam. You’re wasting your time here.

      • I do not think Destin Lee know where the word “China” or Viet come from. His knowlege about China and Viets probably were from chinese literitures and books.

  4. I did not make an absolute terms saying the Viets (or the Yue) and Chinese are exactly the same, I said they may be coming from the same clans and I still think they may be, Your arguments won’t change my mind. What I think is what million people think the same thing so why my belief offended you? Even it is, you cannot force others non-Viets or Viets to believe in you. No body knows for a fact what happened in the past nor we had DNA test to seek the truth about ours roots either. And you guys don’t know for a certain where we were coming from either. Every body only guessing and some using their titles of being scholars to justify their beliefs.

    I am Thai by birth, I was born in Bangkok and I am the first generation of my family just like PM Shinawatra family. I have a Thai name but I preferred my real family name Lee. I learned and read about my own history of Siem I hate others, but when I grew older and I got out from Thailand I read many more documents I found that my Thai history many spots were not the same as old documents I read in European library.
    I felt I may be cheated. I think the history may be ordered to write by the powerful people to justify their conquer, they falsified the history??.

    I used to love my King, but when I saw my people millions are so poor while the royal family owned the Kingdom and have 30 billion USD and powerful I am sad and decided to abandon my nationalism just to focus on bringing peace following GOD.

    Yes I added GOD in my comment to remind myself and all human beings that what we try to brag about ourselves or our nationality while others suffered by our crude savage ancestors will come back to us. If you seek the Holy Virgin to pray for you and to save your sins, then why are you gone mad? It is not pertinent to you but pertinent to me and to the whole world?

    When people told me some hated me I tried to seek the root of hate so I can change what I did to offend them. But I won’t change for you who claimed to believe in GOD but agreed the Cham people are living peacefully in their own native land under Vietnam authority which contradicts Dr. Po Dharma, the Cham Scholar has written in his research. His documents supported by many honest Viet Scholars. The Cham people were almost annihilated in their own land forcing to marry Vietnamese, and almost annihilated by Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, but they live OK in Thailand.
    The Holy Virgin cannot save or pray for you when you believe the may be a falsifying history without knowing the facts. The facts are not with us humans but with GOD.

    Destin, a true seeker

  5. Hey Ian, I would love to learn more about the things you stated about Vietnam since I am a Vietnamese also and am learning about how our country has once been an empire that has ruled the Southeast Asian region for thousands of years. Please respond to my comments here so that I can continue my research on this topic. Thanks

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