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- The Korean peninsula has been inhabited since Lower Paleolithic times. According to legend, Korea's first kingdom, Gojoseon (then called Joseon), was founded in 2333 B.C.E. by Dangun , who is said to be descended from heaven. However, Korea's history has been one of constant struggle between forces of unification and division.
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North and South States. Unified Silla. Main article: United Silla. See also: Silla–Tang War. Bulguksa Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the unification wars, the ... Balhae. Later Three Kingdoms.
- Three Kingdoms Period
- The Three Kingdoms
- Goryeo Dynasty
According to the Korean chronicles, the first roots of the Three Kingdoms can be found in 57 BC, when the kingdom of Saro (later Silla) in the southeast of the peninsula gained autonomy from China in the Han dynasty. Koguryo, meanwhile, emerged on the north and south banks of the Yalu River (Amnok River in Korean). The first reference to the name “Koguryo” in the Chinese chronicles comes from the year 75 A.C., as a local district. According to Korean sources, it became independent from China...
Koguryo or Goguryeo was an ancient kingdom that was compromised of the south of Manchuria, the south of the Russian maritime province, and the north and central zones of the Korean peninsula.Along with Paekche and Silla, Koguryo was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Today, Koguryo is a very important part of Korea’s history, being also considered a major kingdom in the Manchuria region by Chinese people because of the influence in that area for so many years. Koguryo actively participated i...
Tae Cho-yong, a veteran general of Koguryo, founded Balhae south of Central Manchuria in a region belonging to the late kingdom of Koguryo. Balhae not only had refugees from Koguryo but also a large population of Mongols.Balhae established a system of governance of five regional capitals based on the existing administrative structure in Koguryo. He succeeded in developing an advanced culture, based on the culture of Koguryo, to the extent that China called it “the flourishing country of the e...
Goryeo (918-1392) (in Hangul alphabet: 고려, in hanja: 國 國, also written as Koryŏ) was a Korean dynasty founded in 918 by King Wang Geon (also known as King Taejo).By the end of the eighth century, Silla had been weakened by the internal struggles of the nobles, and by the tenth century the leaders of powerful local factions, such as Gungye and Gyeon Hwon, had established their own governments. During the year 892, Gyeon Hwon established a kingdom called the Late Paekche, with Wansanju as its c...
- North and South States
- Japanese Occupation
The History of Korea stretches from Lower Paleolithic times to the present. The earliest known Korean pottery dates to around 8000 B.C.E., and the Neolithic period began before 6000 B.C.E., followed by that Bronze Age around 2500 B.C.E. The Gojoseon (Old Joseon) kingdom, founded in 2333 B.C.E., eventually stretched from the peninsula to much of Manchuria. By the third century B.C.E., it disintegrated into many successor states. In the early years of the Common Era, the Three Kingdoms (Goguryeo, Silla, and Baekje) conquered other successor states of Gojoseon and came to dominate the peninsula and much of Manchuria. During that period, Koreans played an important role as a transmitter of cultural advances, aiding the formation of early Japanese culture and politics. Census records from early Japan show that most Japanese aristocratic clans traced their lineage to the Korean peninsula. The Japanese Emperor stated that "it is recorded in the Chronicles of Japan that the mother of Empero...
Main article: Prehistory of Korea Archaeological evidence shows that hominids first inhabited the Korean Peninsula 700,000 years ago, though some North Koreans claim it may have been inhabited for 1,000,000 years. Tool-making artifacts from the Paleolithic period (700,000 B.C.E. to 40,000 B.C.E.) have been found in present-day North Hamgyong, South P'yongan, Gyeonggi, and north and south Chungcheong Provinces. The people lived as cave dwellers and built homes, using fire for cooking food and warmth. They hunted, gathered and fished with stone tools.
Main articles: Gojoseon, Dangun According to legend, Korea's first kingdom, Dangun founded Gojoseon (then called Joseon), in 2333 B.C.E., in southern Manchuria and northern Korean peninsula. By 2000 B.C.E., painted designs evidence a new pottery culture in Manchuria and northern Korea.
Post-668 Silla kingdom is often referred to as Unified Silla, though the term North-South States, in reference to Balhae, is also used.
In 1910 Japan effectively annexed Korea by the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty. Japan still asserts the legality of the treaty, while Korea has declared the treaty invalid since Emperor Gojong never applied the royal seal as required. Japan violated international convention by extorting Korea's compliance to the treaty. Japan controlled Korea under a so-called Governor-General of Korea until Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces, on August 15, 1945, with de jure sovereignty passing from Joseon Dynasty to the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. Korea constructed European-styled transport and communication networks across the nation. That facilitated Japanese exploitation, but modernization had little if any effect on the Korean people. Japan utilized the modernization of Korea to enhance colonial control, serving Japanese trade and consolidating control of Korea. The Japanese removed the Joseon hierarchy, destroyed Gyeongbokgungpalace, and revamped Korea's t...↑ Byeon (1999), 27. Byeon explains that the lower layers of Seokjangni and other sites have been dated to 600,000-500,000 B.C.E., and that the discovery of yet older layers at a site in Damyang Cou...↑ Go-ChosonRetrieved February 19, 2013.↑ Jonathan Watts, The emperor's new roots The Guardian, December 28, 2001. Retrieved February 19, 2013.↑ Chang-Gyun Han. 2002 한국의 선사시대에 대한 북한 고고학계의 동향과 시각-구석기시대와 신석기시대를 중심으로- "Trend and Perspective of Korean Prehistoric Study in North Korea."한국고대사연구 (25) (March): 5-27. Retrieved December 3, 2006.Diamond, Jared. Japanese Roots, Discover19:6 (June 1998). Retrieved February 19, 2013.Han, Chang-Gyun. 한국의 선사시대에 대한 북한 고고학계의 동향과 시각-구석기시대와 신석기시대를 중심으로- Trend and Perspective of Korean Prehistoric Study in North Korea.한국고대사연구 (25) (March 2002): 5-27 (in Korean)Henthorn, William E. A History of Korea. New York: Free Press, 1974. ISBN 978-0029146101Hulbert, Homer B., and Clarence Norwood Weems. History of Korea. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962. ASIN B000PC3KY6
Korean Empire 1897: 20 February. King Gojong returns to his palace after 1 year of refuge at the Russian legation. 1905: Japan-Korea Treaty of 1905. Korea became the protectorate of Imperial Japan. 1907: June. The Hague Secret Emissary Affair. 1907: 18 July. Gojong was abdicated in favour of his ...
Ancient History of Korea: Mystery Unveiled This volume is a thesis that Dr. Lee presents to worldly scholars. Though Chinese history has that the legendary Gija (箕子) went to Joseon at the end of Shang dynasty (商; c. 1046 BC) and came back to the western Zhou within a few years, no one has yet confirmed the birth place of Joseon.
The free online history encyclopedia with fact-checked articles, images, videos, maps, timelines and more; operated as a non-profit organization. Ancient History Encyclopedia has a new name! We are now World History Encyclopedia to better reflect the breadth of our non-profit organization's mission.
- Ancient Korea
- The Silla in Korea
- The Goryeo in Korea
- The Joseon in Korea
- Europeans Arrive Inkorea
- The Colonial Period Inkorea
- The Koreanwar
- South Korea in The Late 20th Century
- North Korea in The Late 20th Century
- Korea in The 21st Century
By 4000 BC there were stone age farmers living inKorea. By 1000 BC they had learned to use bronze. By about 300 BC they hadlearned to use iron to make tools and weapons. At first, Korea was divided intotribes but eventually organized kingdoms emerged. There were 3 of them,Goguryeo in the north and Silla and Baekje in the south. According to legendSilla was founded in 57 BC by Bak Hyeokgeose, Jumong founded Goguryeo in 37 BCand Onjo founded Baekje in 18 BC. In reality, the 3 kingdoms emerged laterbetween the 2nd and 4th centuries AD. These 3 kingdoms were heavily influencedby Chinese civilization. By the 4th century they were highlycivilized. The three kingdoms of Korea fought for supremacy. Chinatried to defeat the northern kingdom of Goguryeo twice. Both times they weredefeated by General Eulji Mundeok. However the Chinese then made an alliancewith the Silla kingdom against the other two. The Baekje kingdom was defeatedby 660 AD and became part of Silla. Goguryeo followed in 668. K...
Although Korea was united under one monarch it wasstill largely a tribal society. This was underlined by the existence of thehwabaek. Originally they were a council of tribal leaders. Later they were acouncil of nobles and they had the power to decide who succeeded to the throne. Korean society was strictly hierarchical. Most of the population were serfs andeven the nobility was divided into ranks. Following the Chinese example, auniversity was formed where Confucian classics were taught. (You had to be ofnoble birth to study there). There were also civil service exams following theChinese model. (Again only those of noble birth could take them). Buddhism wasintroduced into Korea in the 4th century AD and soon many Buddhist temples werebuilt. In the late 8th century AD the Silla kingdom beganto break down. There were fights over the succession to the throne. Moreover,local warlords began to break away from the government in the capital,Gyeongju, and formed their own states. One warl...
The Goryeo kingdom was faced with aggressiveneighbors. A people called the Jurchens conquered north China and frequentlyfought the Koreans. Then China fell to the Mongols. They soon turned theirattention to Korea and they invaded in 1231. The Korean royal family fled tothe island of Ganghwa. The Mongols were unable to take the island but theywere able to rampage throughout mainland Korea. However the Koreans fought backand the Mongols were never able to completely subdue Korea. Finally in 1258 theKorean royal family surrendered. They were allowed to remain as puppetrulers. In the 13th century the Chinese philosophy calledNeo-Confucianism arrived in Korea. This was also an age when exquisite celadonpottery was made. A man named Kim Bu-sik wrote a history of Korea calledSamguk Sagi, The History of the Three Kingdoms. However, the Goryeo dynasty wasin decline. In 1392 a General named Yi Seong-gye was ordered to lead an armyagainst the Ming rulers of China. Instead, he turned against hi...
The king moved the capital to Hanseong (Seoul) in1394. Under the Yi rulers Confucianism was made the official religion of Korea.Buddhism lost its influence. In 1443 king Sejong created a native Koreanalphabet. In Korea there was a class of scholar-officialscalled the yangban. In order to join the civil service or to become an armyofficer, you had to pass certain exams in Confucian thought. In order to takethe exams, you had to be the son of a yangban. So the scholar-official classwas hereditary. Below the yangban were a class of clerks and specialists likedoctors and accountants. They were called the jungin (middle-men). Below themWas the great mass of Korean society called the yangmin. They were peasants,craftsmen, and merchants. Certain trades such as butchers, tanners andentertainers were outcasts. At the bottom of the pile were slaves. Japan invaded Korea in 1592. They prevailed on landbut at sea, they were defeated by Admiral Yi Sun-sin. The Japanese were forcedto withdraw. The...
During the 19th century Korea adopted anisolationist policy. The Koreans refused to trade with Westerners. At first,this policy was successful. Some French priests were killed in Korea in 1866.The French sent a gunboat to avenge them but they were driven off by Koreanshore defenses. In 1871 Koreans burned a US ship called General Shermanwhich came to plunder the coast. The USA sent ships to Korea but they too werefought off. However Korea's policy of isolation meant she fell behind othercountries in technology and industry. After 1880 king Gojong attempted reform.In 1882 he introduced the slogan 'eastern ethics, western technology' but hismeasures were unpopular and were resisted by conservative officials and by theordinary people. Confucianism was a very conservative religion or philosophyand made radical change difficult. Until 1876 Japanese merchants were only allowed totrade in Busan. In that year they forced the Koreans to sign a treaty of tradeand friendship. (King Gojong real...
The Japanese turned Korea into a colony to supplyJapan with food. However, they also built bridges, railways, and roads. TheJapanese also built many factories in Korea. The urban population grew rapidlyalthough Korea remained predominantly agricultural. Nevertheless, Japanese rulewas repressive. In 1919 many Koreans took part in peaceful demonstrations forindependence. The Japanese responded by arresting and executing thousands ofpeople. Afterwards they made some small reforms. TheKoreans were allowed to print newspapers and hold meetings. They were alsogranted religious freedom and more respect was shown to Koreancustoms. However all these reforms were superficial and inthe 1930s the Japanese tried to assimilate the Koreans by persuading them toadopt Japanese names. From 1938 education was only in Japanese. Schoolchildrenwere forbidden to speak Korean. The Japanese also tried to persuade the Koreansto adopt Shinto (the Japanese national religion) without much success. DuringWorld W...
Even before the war ended Russia and the USA hadagreed that after the war Korea would be divided into two zones, Russian andAmerican. In August 1945 Russian troops entered the north. In September, afterthe Japanese surrender, American troops landed in the south. Korea was dividedin two along an imaginary line, the 38th parallel. It was originally intendedthat the two zones would eventually be united into one. Of course, that did nothappen. With the onset of the cold war, the divide between them hardened. TheRussians installed a communist government in the north and in the south, agovernment was elected in 1948. Korea became two countries, one Communist, and oneDemocratic. The North Korean army invaded the south on 25 June1950. They quickly drove south and captured Seoul. The UN Security Councilinvited members to help the south. US troops arrived on 30 June but they wereforced to withdraw into the area around Busan. The first British troops arrivedin Korea on 29 August 1950. On 15 Se...
Democracy did not flourish in South Korea in the1950s. The president, Syngman Rhee used a national security law of 1949 toclose newspapers and imprison critics. However, his administration was corruptand by 1960 it was facing growing economic problems. In 1960 riots by studentsforced Rhee to resign. Faced with inflation, unemployment and continuing riotsthe army staged a coup in 1961. General Park Chung-hee became ruler.
In stark contrast is North Korea. After Russiantroops occupied the north a communist government was installed. Kim Il Sung wasmade a ruler. Like many dictators, he created a 'cult of personality' by erectingstatues of himself everywhere. Schoolchildren were taught to see him as thefount of all wisdom. In fact, he created a very repressive regime. Religiousbelief was outlawed and the people strictly controlled. Today North Korea isthe last Stalinist regime in the world. With a great deal of Russian aid, NorthKorea was transformed from a poor agricultural country into an industrialone. However in the mid 1970s the economy began tostagnate and North Korea was overtaken by the south. Furthermore, North Koreawas harmed by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Kim Il Sung died in 1994 butwas succeeded by his son. In effect, the Communists have created a newdynasty. Kim Jong-Il. He died in 2011 and he was followed by his son Kim Jong Un. In the late 1990s a severe famine occurred in NorthKorea...
In 2008 a woman named Yi So Yeon became the first Korean to travel in space. Then in 2013 Park Geun Hye became the first woman president of South Korea. In 2018 there was a thaw in relations between North and South Korea. Today the population of North Korea is 25 million while the population of South Korea is 51 million. A brief history of Japan A brief history of China A brief history of Vietnam A brief history of Cambodia A brief history of Laos A brief history of Indonesia Home Last revised 2019
Relations between Korea and Japan go back at least two millennia. After the 3rd century BC, people from the Three Kingdoms (Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla) and Gaya in the Korean Peninsula, started to move southwards into the Kyushu region of Japan.
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