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Do you know Korea Actually?

Do you know Korea Actually?

Do you know where Korea is?

Of course, you probably know where Korea is.

You might think Korea is small country located in the Far East, and Korea is famous for Korean War. Those are true, Korea is only the country which has been divided since Korean War was stopped in 1953 and there is still DMZ (demilitarized zone) in between South Korea and North Korea.

Gyeonghoe Pavillion

However, you may not know when Korea has begun, what culture Korea has, and people who live in Korea.

Do not hesitate to know about Korea.

The best way you explore Korea is visiting Korea right away and asking me all of Korea. By the way, before you set your plan to visit, you better learn Korea briefly.

Let me tell you ‘Korea’ on this post, and I hope you have some knowledge of Korea.

History (B.C. 23rd century~ A.D. 10th century)

The first builder of Korea is ‘Dangoon’.  He founded ‘Joseon’ in B.C. 2333. After the kingdom, there were several ancient kingdom appeared and disappeared. 2000 years ago. Three Kingdoms were founded named ‘Goguryeo’,’Baekje’, and ’Shilla’.

Goguryeo was the biggest kingdom before 7th century. It ruled Korean Peninsula, Manchuria and northern part of China. It defeated Sui and Tang dynasties of China even though Goguryeo had insufficient military force less than theirs.

Baekje’s first king was second son of Goguryeo’s first king. But Baekjae went its own separate ways. Even though the glory of Backje did not last long, the excellence of its culture was the best among the Three Kingdoms. Baekje helped Japan to build the form of nation and had the important role in Japan’s history.

In 7th century, Shilla got the initiative among Three Kingdoms. It occupied most part of Korean Peninsula, and finally, unified the peninsula. After the unification, Shilla developed the kingdom over 200 years in based of Buddhism.

Hunting Painting of Goguryeo

The Insence of Backje

The Crown of Shilla

(A.D. 10th century~ A.D. 14th century)

A.D. 10th century, new kingdom rose over Shilla. The name of Kingdom is ‘Goryeo’. As your guess, the name had same meaning of Goguryeo. Goryeo claimed to advocate great empire. In spite of the glory of the kingdom, it had internal conflict and rebellions. Furthermore, it was invaded by Mongolia. Even though Mongolian troops were the strongest in the world, Koryeo fought desperately against Mongolia during 30 years. But finally Goryeo surrendered to Mongolia. The Kingdom was not collapsed, but Mongolia interfered in the domestic affairs of Goryeo. The interference of Mongolia and continuous internal confusion were brought on the fall of Goryeo.

In spite of many difficulties, Koryeo developed cultural heritages such as the first movable metal type printing and Eighty Thousand Tripitaka Koreana. Koryeo also  sought increasing international trade. The name of Koryeo was known to Arabic and Europian countries through the trade. Therefore, Goryeo was origin of the name of ‘Korea’.

*Actually, Goryeo sounds like Koryeo. You can use both in Korea.


The Celadon of Goryeo 

Jikji (the oldest metal typed book)

14th century ~ 19th century

Koryeo disappeared when new kingdom was built. General Lee seized power in a military coup, and opened his dynasty. New kingdom’s name was ‘Joseon’. Although Joseon was originally named 5000 years ago, the kingdom decided to reuse it. 

Joseon was based on Confuism, and ‘the rule of right’. ‘the rule of right’ means King and officials always do the right thing with cooperation. All decision was not made by King. The officials must agree with each others’ to make decisions.

Even though some conflict for the right of succession had happened in the opening part of the kingdom, Joseon continued to upbuild its own academic and cultural achievements. One of the achievements was ‘Hangul’King Sejong invented ‘Hangul’ which was Korean own letters like alphabet. ‘Hangul’ is still Korean official letters and its worth is well-known to the world wide.

Geunjeong Pavillio in Gyeongbok Palace


Sword Performance by a Joseon Warrior

The peaceful kingdom faced serious crisis at the end of 16 century by invasion of Japan. Because of long period of peace, the government had no idea how to defend the enemies. During 8 years of the war, Joseon was almost ruined even though Joseon won the war. 40 years later from the war against Japan, Joseon was invaded by Qing this time. Joseon was invaded by Qing twice, and Joseon was defeated all the time. The king of Joseon surrendered and pleaded with the emperor of Qing to be a protectorate.

After the wars, Joseon re-build the nation and revived the descended achievement by King Yeongjo and King Jeongjo. However, the end of 19th century, internal conflicts were increased and there were foreign countries’ intervention to colonize Joseon. Joseon was falling down to be collapsed.   

Jangan Gate in Hwasung Fortress (Suwon)

20th century ~ Now

The emperor of Joseon changed kingdom’s name to ‘Daehan’ to overcome imperialism of other countries. However, Japan finally annexed Joseon although many Korean people fought against Japan. While Japan occupied Korea, Korea suffered from a period of colonial rule. Korea became the factory and farm for Japan. Japan took everything away from Korea.

In 1945, when Japan surrendered, Korea was liberated. By the way, U.S. forces and Soviet forces stationed as the victorious countries. As a result, Korea has divided into North and South. Moreover, the Korean War broke out in 1950. No one won the war and North and South Korea have been in a state of armistice.

South Korea had difficulties to rebuild all of thing since the war had destroyed everything. However, South Korea has developed the industries even though it was hard time to build democratic society.

Gangnam in Seoul


Contributed By Brad Hong


Contributed By Brad Hong