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Cultures of empire in the tropics
McClanahan, Margaret. Miller, Louise Sackett. Mitchell, Mildred. Mocheva, Christina. Montgomery, Maxine. Montrose, F. People in southern Korea adopted intensive dry-field and paddy-field agriculture with a multitude of crops in the Early Mumun Period — BCE. The first societies led by big-men or chiefs emerged in the Middle Mumun — BC , and the first ostentatious elite burials can be traced to the Late Mumun c. Bronze production began in the Middle Mumun and became increasingly important in ceremonial and political society after BCE.
Archeological evidence from Songguk-ri , Daepyeong , Igeum-dong , and elsewhere indicate that the Mumun era was the first in which chiefdoms rose, expanded, and collapsed. The increasing presence of long-distance trade, an increase in local conflicts, and the introduction of bronze and iron metallurgy are trends denoting the end of the Mumun around BCE.
Gojoseon was the first Korean kingdom, located in the north of the peninsula and Manchuria, later alongside the state of Jin in the south of the peninsula. The founding legend of Gojoseon, which is recorded in the Samguk Yusa and other medieval Korean books,  states that the country was established in BCE by Dangun , said to be descended from heaven. However, due to contradicting historical and archaeological evidence, its existence was challenged in the 20th century, and today no longer forms the mainstream understanding of this period.
Three of the commanderies fell or retreated westward within a few decades, but the Lelang commandery remained as a center of cultural and economic exchange with successive Chinese dynasties for four centuries, until it was conquered by Goguryeo in Very little is known about Jin, but it established relations with Han China and exported artifacts to the Yayoi of Japan. Several linguists, including Alexander Vovin and Juha Janhunen , suggest that Japonic languages were spoken in large parts of the southern Korean Peninsula. According to Vovin, these "Peninsular Japonic languages" were replaced by Koreanic-speakers possibly belonging to the Han-branch.
Thus it is possible that the Jin-language was related to Japanese. Rice, red beans, soybeans and millet were cultivated, and rectangular pit-houses and increasingly larger dolmen burial sites are found throughout the peninsula. This time period consisted of numerous states that sprang up from the former territories of Gojoseon. Among these states, the largest and most influential were Dongbuyeo and Bukbuyeo. Its remnants were absorbed by Goguryeo in , and both Goguryeo and Baekje , two of the Three Kingdoms of Korea , considered themselves its successor. Although records are sparse and contradictory, it is thought that in 86 BCE, Dongbuyeo East Buyeo branched out, after which the original Buyeo is sometimes referred to as Bukbuyeo North Buyeo.
Okjeo was a tribal-state that was located in the northern Korean Peninsula , and was established after the fall of Gojoseon. Okjeo had been a part of Gojoseon before its fall. It never became a fully developed kingdom due to the intervention of its neighboring kingdoms. Okjeo became a tributary of Goguryeo, and was eventually annexed into Goguryeo by Gwanggaeto Taewang in the 5th century.
Dongye was another small kingdom that was situated in the northern Korean Peninsula. Dongye bordered Okjeo , and the two kingdoms faced the same fate of becoming tributaries of the growing empire of Goguryeo. Dongye was also a former part of Gojoseon before its fall. The Samhan were located in the southern region of the Korean Peninsula.
Mahan was the largest, consisting of 54 states, and assumed political, economic, and cultural dominance. Byeonhan and Jinhan both consisted of 12 states, bringing a total of 78 states within the Samhan. The Samhan were eventually conquered by Baekje , Silla , and Gaya in the 4th century. Goguryeo was founded in 37 BCE by Jumong posthumously titled as Dongmyeongseong, a royal given title. Goguryeo was the first Korean kingdom to adopt Buddhism as the state religion in , in King Sosurim 's reign.
Goguryeo initiated the Goguryeo—Wei Wars in , trying to cut off Chinese access to its territories in Korea by attempting to take a Chinese fort. Hwando was destroyed in revenge by Cao Wei forces in Although the king evaded capture and eventually settled in a new capital, Goguryeo was reduced to such insignificance that for half a century there was no mention of the state in Chinese historical texts. Goguryeo reached its zenith in the 5th century, becoming a powerful empire and one of the great powers in East Asia,     when Gwanggaeto the Great and his son, Jangsu , expanded the country into almost all of Manchuria, parts of Inner Mongolia,  parts of Russia,  and took the present-day city of Seoul from Baekje.
Goguryeo was a highly militaristic state;   in addition to contesting for control of the Korean Peninsula, Goguryeo had many military conflicts with various Chinese dynasties,  most notably the Goguryeo—Sui War , in which Goguryeo defeated a huge force traditionally said to number over a million men, [note 2] and contributed to the Sui dynasty 's fall. In , the powerful general Yeon Gaesomun led a coup and gained complete control over Goguryeo.
In response, Emperor Tang Taizong of China led a campaign against Goguryeo , but was defeated and retreated. After the collapse of Goguryeo, Tang and Silla ended their alliance and fought over control of the Korean Peninsula. Silla succeeded in gaining control over most of the Korean Peninsula, while Tang gained control over Goguryeo's northern territories. However, 30 years after the fall of Goguryeo, a Goguryeo general by the name of Dae Joyeong founded the Korean-Mohe state of Balhae and successfully expelled the Tang presence from much of the former Goguryeo territories. It expanded into the southwest Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces of the peninsula and became a significant political and military power.
In the process, Baekje came into fierce confrontation with Goguryeo and the Chinese commanderies in the vicinity of its territorial ambitions. At its peak in the 4th century during the reign of King Geunchogo , Baekje absorbed all of the Mahan states and subjugated most of the western Korean peninsula including the modern provinces of Gyeonggi , Chungcheong , and Jeolla , as well as part of Hwanghae and Gangwon to a centralized government. Baekje acquired Chinese culture and technology through maritime contacts with the Southern dynasties during the expansion of its territory.
Baekje was a great maritime power;  its nautical skill, which made it the Phoenicia of East Asia, was instrumental in the dissemination of Buddhism throughout East Asia and continental culture to Japan. Baekje was once a great military power on the Korean Peninsula, especially during the time of Geunchogo ,  but was critically defeated by Gwanggaeto the Great and declined.
According to legend, the kingdom of Silla began with the unification of six chiefdoms of the Jinhan confederacy by Bak Hyeokgeose in 57 BCE, in the southeastern area of Korea. Its territory included the present-day port city of Busan , and Silla later emerged as a sea power responsible for destroying Japanese pirates, especially during the Unified Silla period.
Silla artifacts, including unique gold metalwork, show influence from the northern nomadic steppes and Iranian peoples and especially Persians , with less Chinese influence than are shown by Goguryeo and Baekje. By the 2nd century, Silla was a large state, occupying and influencing nearby city-states. Silla gained further power when it annexed the Gaya confederacy in Silla often faced pressure from Goguryeo, Baekje and Japan, and at various times allied and warred with Baekje and Goguryeo. Silla was the smallest and weakest of the Three Kingdoms of Korea , but it used cunning diplomatic means to make opportunistic pacts and alliances with the more powerful Korean kingdoms, and eventually Tang China, to its great advantage.
In , King Muyeol of Silla ordered his armies to attack Baekje. General Kim Yu-shin , aided by Tang forces, conquered Baekje. In , Silla and Tang moved on Goguryeo but were repelled. King Munmu , son of Muyeol and nephew of Kim, launched another campaign in and Goguryeo fell in the following year. Gaya was a confederacy of small kingdoms in the Nakdong River valley of southern Korea , growing out of the Byeonhan confederacy of the Samhan period. Gaya's plains were rich in iron, so export of iron tools was possible and agriculture flourished.
In the early centuries, the Confederacy was led by Geumgwan Gaya in the Gimhae region. However, its leading power changed to Daegaya in the Goryeong region after the 5th century. Constantly engaged in war with the three kingdoms surrounding it, Gaya was not developed to form a unified state, and was ultimately absorbed into Silla in During this time, culture and technology significantly advanced, especially in Later Silla. After the unification wars, the Tang dynasty established outposts in the former Goguryeo , and began to establish and administer communities in Baekje.
Silla attacked Tang forces in Baekje and northern Korea in Tang then invaded Silla in but Silla drove the Tang forces out of the peninsula by to achieve unification of most of the Korean peninsula. Later Silla was a golden age of art and culture. Persian chronics described Silla as located at the eastern end of China and reads 'In this beautiful country Silla , there is much gold, majestetic cities and hardworking people.
Their culture is comparable with Persia'. Later Silla carried on the maritime prowess of Baekje , which acted like the Phoenicia of medieval East Asia ,  and during the 8th and 9th centuries dominated the seas of East Asia and the trade between China, Korea and Japan, most notably during the time of Jang Bogo ; in addition, Silla people made overseas communities in China on the Shandong Peninsula and the mouth of the Yangtze River.
Silla began to experience political troubles in late 8th century. This severely weakened Silla and soon thereafter, descendants of the former Baekje established Hubaekje. In the north, rebels revived Goguryeo, beginning the Later Three Kingdoms period. Later Silla lasted for years until King Gyeongsun surrendered the country to Goryeo in , after years and 56 monarchs.
Balhae was founded only thirty years after Goguryeo had fallen, in It was founded in the northern part of former lands of Goguryeo by Dae Joyeong , a former Goguryeo general   or chief of Sumo Mohe. Balhae styled itself as Goguryeo's successor state and inherited Goguryeo culture. It also adopted the culture of Tang dynasty , such as the government structure and geopolitical system. In a time of relative peace and stability in the region, Balhae flourished, especially during the reigns of King Mun and King Seon.
Balhae was called the "Prosperous Country in the East".
History of Korea - Wikipedia
No historical records from Balhae have survived, and the Liao left no histories of Balhae. While Goryeo absorbed some Balhae territory and received Balhae refugees, it compiled no known histories of Balhae either. The Samguk Sagi "History of the Three Kingdoms" , for instance, includes passages on Balhae, but does not include a dynastic history of Balhae. The 18th century Joseon dynasty historian Yu Deukgong advocated the proper study of Balhae as part of Korean history, and coined the term "North and South States Period" to refer to this era. During the late 9th century, as Silla declined in power and exorbitant taxes were imposed on the people, rebellions erupted nationwide and powerful regional lords rose up against the waning kingdom.
Later Baekje was founded by the general Gyeon Hwon in , and its capital was established in Wansanju modern Jeonju. The kingdom was based in the southwestern regions in the former territories of Baekje. In , Later Baekje attacked Gyeongju , the capital of Later Silla, and placed a puppet on the throne. Eventually, Gyeon Hwon was ousted by his sons due to a succession dispute and escaped to Goryeo, where he served as a general in the conquest of the kingdom he personally founded.
Later Goguryeo was founded by the Buddhist monk Gung Ye in , and its original capital was established in Songak modern Kaesong. The kingdom was based in the northern regions, which were the strongholds of Goguryeo refugees. In , Wang Geon , a prominent general of Goguryeo descent, deposed the increasingly despotic and paranoid Gung Ye, and established Goryeo. By , Goryeo conquered its rivals and achieved the unification of the Later Three Kingdoms. Goryeo was founded by Wang Geon in and became the ruling dynasty of Korea by It was named "Goryeo" because Wang Geon, a descendant of Goguryeo nobility,  deemed the nation as the successor of Goguryeo.
The dynasty lasted until , although the government was controlled by military regime leaders between and During this period, laws were codified and a civil service system was introduced. Buddhism flourished and spread throughout the peninsula. The development of celadon pottery flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. After defeating the Khitan Empire, Goryeo experienced a golden age that lasted a century, during which the Tripitaka Koreana was completed, and there were great developments in printing and publishing, promoting learning and dispersing knowledge on philosophy, literature, religion, and science; by , there were 12 universities that produced famous scholars and scientists.
In , the Mongols began their invasions of Korea during seven major campaigns and 39 years of struggle, but was unable to conquer Korea. In the s, the Yuan dynasty declined rapidly due to internal struggles, enabling King Gongmin to reform the Goryeo government. During the s, Goryeo turned its attention to the Wokou menace and used naval artillery created by Choe Museon to annihilate hundreds of pirate ships.
The Goryeo dynasty would last until Taejo of Joseon , the founder of the Joseon dynasty, took power in a coup in and after serving as the power behind the throne for two monarchs, established the Joseon dynasty in In , the general Yi Seong-gye , later known as Taejo, established the Joseon dynasty — , named in honor of the ancient kingdom Gojoseon ,    and based on idealistic Confucianism -based ideology.
Taejo moved the capital to Hanyang modern-day Seoul and built Gyeongbokgung palace. In he adopted Neo-Confucianism as the country's official religion, and pursued the creation of a strong bureaucratic state. His son and grandson, King Taejong and Sejong the Great , implemented numerous administrative, social, and economic reforms and established royal authority in the early years of the dynasty.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, Joseon enjoyed many benevolent rulers who promoted education and science. Internal conflicts within the royal court, civil unrest and other political struggles plagued the nation in the years that followed, worsened by the Japanese invasion of Korea between and Toyotomi Hideyoshi marshalled his forces and tried to invade the Asian continent through Korea, but was eventually repelled by the Korean military, with the assistance of the righteous armies and Chinese Ming dynasty.
This war also saw the rise of the career of Admiral Yi Sun-sin with the turtle ship. As Korea was rebuilding, it had to repel invasions by the Manchu in and Internal politics were bitterly divided and settled by violence. After the second Manchu invasion and stabilized relations with the new Qing dynasty, Joseon experienced a nearly year period of external peace. However internally, the bitter and violent factional battles raged on. In the 18th century, King Yeongjo reigned —76 and his grandson King Jeongjo reigned — led a new renaissance. The printing press was rejuvenated by using movable metal type; the number and quality of publications sharply increased.
Jeongjo sponsored scholars from various factions to work in the Kyujanggak, or Inner Royal Library, established in However, corruption in government and social unrest prevailed in the years thereafter, causing numerous civil uprisings and revolts. The government made sweeping reforms in the late 19th century, but adhered to a strict isolationist policy, earning Korea the nickname " Hermit Kingdom ".
The policy had been established primarily for protection against Western imperialism , but soon the Joseon dynasty was forced to open trade, beginning an era leading into Japanese rule. Korea's culture was based on the philosophy of Neo-Confucianism , which emphasizes morality, righteousness, and practical ethics.
Wide interest in scholarly study resulted in the establishment of private academies and educational institutions. Many documents were written about history, geography, medicine, and Confucian principles. The arts flourished in painting, calligraphy, music, dance, and ceramics. The most notable cultural event of this era is the creation and promulgation of the Korean alphabet Hunmin jeongeom later called Hangul by Sejong the Great in During Joseon dynasty, a social hierarchy system existed that greatly affected Korea's social development. The king and the royal family were atop the hereditary system, with the next tier being a class of civil or military officials and landowners known as yangban , who worked for the government and lived off the efforts of tenant farmers and slaves.
A middle class, jungin , were technical specialists such as scribes, medical officers, technicians in science-related fields, artists and musicians. Commoners, i. They had obligations to pay taxes, provide labor, and serve in the military. By paying land taxes to the state, they were allowed to cultivate land and farm.
The lowest class included tenant farmers, slaves, entertainers, craftsmen, prostitutes, laborers, shamans, vagabonds, outcasts, and criminals. Although slave status was hereditary, they could be sold or freed at officially set prices, and the mistreatment of slaves was forbidden. This yangban focused system started to change in the late 17th century as political, economic and social changes came into place.
By the 19th century, new commercial groups emerged, and the active social mobility caused the yangban class to expand, resulting in the weakening of the old class system. The Korea government ordered the freedom of government slaves in The class system of Korea was completely banned in Prior to the war, Korea sent two ambassadors to scout for signs of Japan's intentions of invading Korea.
However, they came back with two different reports, and while the politicians split into sides, few proactive measures were taken. Subsequently, Korea was invaded in and again in by the Manchus, who went on to conquer China and establish the Qing dynasty , after which the Joseon dynasty recognized Qing suzerainty.
Though Joseon respected its traditional subservient position to China, there was persistent loyalty for the perished Ming and disdain for the Manchus, who were regarded as barbarians. During the 19th century, Joseon tried to control foreign influence by closing its borders to all nations but China. Several Americans shipwrecked on Korea in and were also treated well and sent to China for repatriation. The Joseon court was aware of the foreign invasions and treaties involving Qing China, as well as the First and Second Opium Wars , and followed a cautious policy of slow exchange with the West.
In , reacting to greater numbers of Korean converts to Catholicism despite several waves of persecutions, the Joseon court clamped down on them, massacring French Catholic missionaries and Korean converts alike. Later in the year France invaded and occupied portions of Ganghwa Island.
The Korean army lost heavily, but the French abandoned the island. The General Sherman , an American-owned armed merchant marine sidewheel schooner, attempted to open Korea to trade in After an initial miscommunication, the ship sailed upriver and became stranded near Pyongyang. After being ordered to leave by the Korean officials, the American crewmen killed four Korean inhabitants, kidnapped a military officer and engaged in sporadic fighting that continued for four days. After two efforts to destroy the ship failed, she was finally set aflame by Korean fireships laden with explosives.
In response, the United States confronted Korea militarily in , killing Koreans in Ganghwa island before withdrawing. This incident is called the Sinmiyangyo in Korea. Five years later, the reclusive Korea signed a trade treaty with Japan, and in signed a treaty with the United States, ending centuries of isolationism. Conflict between the conservative court and a reforming faction led to the Gapsin Coup in The reformers sought to reform Koreans institutionalized social inequality, by proclaiming social equality and the elimination of the privileges of the yangban class.
The reformers were backed by Japan, and were thwarted by the arrival of Qing troops, invited by the conservative Queen Min. The Chinese troops departed but the leading general Yuan Shikai remained in Korea from as Resident, directing Korean affairs. Korea became linked by telegraph to China in with Chinese controlled telegraphs. China attempted to block the exchange of embassies in Western countries, but not with Tokyo. The Qing government provided loans. China promoted its trade in an attempt to block Japanese merchants, which led to Chinese favour in Korean trade.
Anti-Chinese riots broke out in and and Chinese shops were torched. Japan remained the largest foreign community and largest trading partner. After a rapidly modernizing Meiji Japan forced Korea to open its ports in , it successfully challenged the Qing Empire in the First Sino-Japanese War — , forcing it to abandon its long-standing claims to deference. In , the Japanese were involved in the murder of Empress Myeongseong ,   who had sought Russian help, and the Russians were forced to retreat from Korea for the time. It stipulated the abolition of traditional relationships Korea had with China, the latter of which recognised the complete independence of Joseon and repudiated the former's political influence over the area.
The imperial government aimed to become a strong and independent nation by implementing domestic reforms, strengthening military forces, developing commerce and industry, and surveying land ownership. Organizations like the Independence Club also rallied to assert the rights of the Joseon people, but clashed with the government which proclaimed absolute monarchy and power.
Russian influence was strong in the Empire until being defeated by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War — Korea effectively became a protectorate of Japan on 17 November , the Protectorate Treaty having been promulgated without Emperor Gojong's required seal or commission. Following the signing of the treaty, many intellectuals and scholars set up various organizations and associations, embarking on movements for independence.
In , Gojong was forced to abdicate after Japan learned that he sent secret envoys to the Second Hague Conventions to protest against the protectorate treaty, leading to the accession of Gojong's son, Emperor Sunjong. Along with all other prior treaties between Korea and Japan, this was confirmed to be null and void in While Japan asserts that the treaty was concluded legally, Korea disputes this argument: the treaty was not signed by the Emperor of Korea as required and it violated the international convention on external pressures regarding treaties.
Korea was controlled by Japan under a Governor-General of Korea from until Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces on 15 August De jure sovereignty was deemed to have passed from the Joseon dynasty to the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. After the annexation, Japan set out to repress Korean traditions and culture, and to develop and implement policies primarily for the Japanese benefit. This infrastructure was mostly destroyed later during the Korean War. The banking system was consolidated and the Korean currency abolished. The Japanese removed the Joseon hierarchy, destroyed much of the Gyeongbokgung palace, and replaced it with the government office building.
After Emperor Gojong died in January , with rumors of poisoning, independence rallies against Japanese invaders took place nationwide on 1 March the March 1st Movement.
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This movement was suppressed by force and about 7, persons were killed by Japanese soldiers and police. The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was established in Shanghai , China, in the aftermath of the March 1 Movement, which coordinated the Liberation effort and resistance against Japanese control. Some of the achievements of the Provisional Government include the Battle of Chingshanli of and the ambush of Japanese Military Leadership in China in The Provisional Government is considered to be the de jure government of the Korean people between and Its legitimacy is enshrined in the preamble to the constitution of the Republic of Korea.
Continued anti-Japanese uprisings, such as the nationwide uprising of students in November , led to the Japanese strengthening their military rule in The continuance of Korean culture itself began to be illegal. Worship at Japanese Shinto shrines was made compulsory. The school curriculum was radically modified to eliminate teaching in the Korean language and history. Numerous Korean cultural artifacts were destroyed or taken to Japan. Advertisement Hide.
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