Korea

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Location of Korea in East Asia
The Korean peninsula at night contrasting the brightly lit South Korea and mostly dark North Korea

Korea is in northeast Asia. It covers a peninsula called the Korean Peninsula. Korea became a country (or state) in 918. In 1948, it split into two countries: North Korea and South Korea. North and South Korea and their allies fought against each other in the Korean War.

People have lived in Korea for about 15,000 years. In the past, some of Manchuria and Siberia were governed by Korea.

The best silk came from Korea. In the 7th century, the people of China also liked gold-workers from Korea. Europeans knew very little about Korea until modern times. Koreans built a printing machine in 1232. This machine used metal letters. This was long before Johannes Gutenberg improved the printing press in Europe.

Korea is famous for its traditional food kimchi. Kimchi is spicy pickled Chinese cabbage. It is very popular in Korea.

The Korean people usually eat sticky white rice. Traditionally, Koreans eat seaweed soup on their birthdays. People believe the soup is also good for pregnant women.

South Korea has over 48 million people, and North Korea has more than 23 million. South Korea's biggest city is Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The city has more than 10 million people and the region of Seoul has more than 21 million people. North Korea's biggest city is Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. It has fewer than 4 million people.

Korean people speak Korean. Many people in South Korea study English and other languages in school.

South Korea is an advanced country with large cities, high-speed trains, high-speed internet, and many television and radio networks. Many Korean television dramas are popular around the world. Korean TV commercials are among the most expensive in the world[source?]. But there are still poor areas in Korea. The Korean farmers are not rich and struggle to compete with cheap food from other countries.

History[change | change source]

Gochosun is the first state in Korean history. It was established in 2333 BCE. Its real name is Chosun, but it is called Gochosun to make it different from other Chosun in Korean history. Go is a Korean prefix meaning 'old'. The founder of Gochosun is said to be Dangun. The Korean people believe that Dangun established the country on October 3rd, and still celebrate that day. In Korea October 3rd is a national holiday, which is named Kaecheonjeol (The day heaven opened). It is said to be the day that Dangun's father whose name is Hwan-ung came from sky on October 3rd 2457 BCE. Gochosun was destroyed by the Chinese Han Dynasty in 108 BCE.

After Gojoseon had been obliterated there were many confederations in the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria : Mahan, Byeonhan, Jinhan, Buyeo, Dongye, Okjeo, Goguryeo, and so on. The ancient confederation countries later merged into three more powerful kingdoms and an advanced confederation country.

Three Kingdoms[change | change source]

Between 57 BC and the year 668 there were three kingdoms in Korean Peninsula and Manchuria. The names of the kingdoms were: Silla, Goguryeo and Baekje. In the year 372, the religion Buddhism came from China to Korea. Buddhism was very important in Korea.

In the year 660, the kingdom of Silla invaded the kingdom of Baekje. In the year 668 the kingdom of Silla invaded the kingdom of Goguryeo. The people of Goguryeo ran away and made a new kingdom with the name Barhae. After a little time, the kingdom of Balhae was invaded by Liao Dynasty.

The time when Silla was the only country has the name Unified Silla. In the Silla kingdom Buddhism was very important.

Year Event
57 BCE Silla was established. The first leader is Hyeokgeose.
37 BCE Goguryeo was established as a kingdom. The first leader is King Dongmyeong.
18 BCE Baekje was established. The first leader is Onjo. The age of Three Kingdoms of Korea began.
1st century Gaya was established by some states around Gimhae.
562 CE Gaya was destroyed by and merged into Silla.
660 CE Baekje was destroyed by Tang Dynasty and merged into Silla.
668 CE Goguryeo was destroyed by Silla-Tang Alliance. The age of Three Kingdoms of Korea was finished.
935 CE Silla was destroyed by and merged to Goryeo.

The northern and southern kingdoms[change | change source]

In the year 998, Balhae was founded by allies of Goguryeo. We call the time when united Silla and Balhae were exsisted together (698∼926) The northern and southern kingdoms period.

Goryeo(Korea)[change | change source]

In the year 918 the kingdom of Goryeo began. The name Korea comes from Goryeo. The kingdom of Goryeo had power until the year 1392.

The kingdom of Goryeo wrote the law in books, and had a big government. Buddhism was very important in the kingdom of Goryeo. Bronze-type printing technology was invented in Goryeo Dynasty. This is known as world's oldest bronze-type printing technology.

Joseon[change | change source]

In the year 1392 a man from the military of Korea went to China. His name was Yi Seonggye. Yi's job was to attack China. But Yi returned without doing it. When Yi came back to Korea, he changed the kingdom. Yi became king.

The name of the kingdom was Joseon. In the year 1394, the people of Joseon moved the capital to Seoul. The religion of Buddhism was not important. A new religion, Confucianism was important. Confucianism came from China.

In the year 1443 the king Sejong ruled. He invented the Korean alphabet Hangeul.

In the year 1592 and the year 1598 the people from Japan fought Korea. A man from the military made very strong ships, including the famous turtle ship. The name of the man was Yi Sun-sin. With the strong ships, the people of Korea won.

The people of Joseon were friends with the people of China.

Today, North Koreans use the name Joseon (officially Chosŏn) to mean Korea.

19th century[change | change source]

In the 19th century the people of Korea did not want to trade with other people. People called Korea Hermit Kingdom.

The people of the United States wanted to trade with Korea. The people of Japan also wanted to trade with Korea. Before 1876, people failed when they tried to use force to trade with Korea. In the year 1876 the military of Japan fought Korea. Korea and Japan made a contract to trade.

In 1895 Japan won a war against China. This war was fought in the Korean peninsula. The name of the war was Sino-Japanese War. The military of Japan killed the Queen of Korea in 1895. The last name of the Queen was Min[source?]. Korea's name changed to Daehan Jeguk (empire of Korea).

The people from Korea made friends with the people from Russia. In 1905 Japan won a war against Russia. The name of the war was Russo-Japanese War. In the year 1910, the emperor of Japan made Korea a colony of Japan.

Colony of Japan to today[change | change source]

Korea was occupied by Japan from the year 1910 to the year 1945.


When World War II started, the policy of the Japanese government changed. The government made the religion of Japan (Shinto) the religion of Korea.

In the year of 1945 Japan lost World War II. United States and Soviet Union made a contract. United States occupied the south of Korea and Soviet Union occupied the north of Korea.

The people of Korea wanted to be independent. United States and the Soviet Union agreed the people of Korea would be free and independent. But in 1945 United States and Soviet Union were not friends. The Cold War started. United States and Soviet Union refused to settle a deal. In 1948 the people in the south made an independent country called South Korea. United States helped the people of South Korea. In 1948 the people of North Korea also made a country. Soviet Union helped the people of North Korea.

In 1950 a war started in Korea. The name of the war was the Korean War. The war ended in 1953, but no peace treaty was signed. The border line between North and South was the same in the end as it was before the war. No land was lost or gained.

Now there are two countries: North Korea (also called the DPRK or Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (also called the Republic of Korea).

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Korea at Wikimedia Commons