Topic: Discuss the history of Korea and its impact on Korea’s culture, politics and business. Korea is a civilization and formerly unified nation currently divided into two states. Korean civilization is one of the oldest ancient civilizations in world history, and Korea has the oldest history in East Asia. * Gojoseon (National foundation in BC 2333 ) The first Korean kingdom Gojoseon was established on a flourishing bronze culture in BC 2333 by Dangun who was the legendary founder of Gojeseon and people believed he was the grandson of heaven (Edward 2005).
It was centered in the basins of Liao (China) and Northern part of the Korean Peninsula. Politics and economy In Korean history, Gojoseon was the first state to unify its political and religious functions within one governing system and legal system as represented by its Eight Prohibitions (Edward 2005). Society It is believed that Gojoseon had achieved the status of a kingdom with a class-based society. * Three Kingdoms Period ( BC 18 ~ AD 676) Town-states gradually united into tribal leagues with complex political structures which eventually grew into kingdoms.
Koguryo (BC 37 ~ AD 668) Koguryo was the first to mature into a kingdom. Koguryo’s aggressive troops conquered neighboring tribes one after another, and in 313, they even occupied China’s Lolang outposts (Qiancheng 2009). Paekje (BC 18 ~ AD 660) Paekje, which grew out of a town-state located south of the Han River in the surroundings of present-day Seoul(Capital city of South Korea), was another confederate kingdom similar to Koguryo (Jeane 2006). Shilla (BC 57 ~ AD 935) Shilla was the weakest and most underdeveloped among three kingdoms at the beginning.
However, because it was geographically removed from Chinese influence, it was more open to non-Chinese practices and ideas. The society was built on an advanced Buddhist in Shilla (Edward 2005). * Unified Shilla (676 ~ 918) By the mid-sixth century, the Shilla kingdom had brought under its control all of surrounding town-states within the Gaya confederation. Through an alliance with China, Shilla finally unified the Korean peninsula in 668 and saw the peak of its power and prosperity in the mid-eighth century.
It attempted to build an ideal Buddhist country during Unified Shilla but Buddhist social order started to deteriorate as the nobility indulged in increasing luxury (Kim 2005). Hwarang-do (Flower-knight art) in Unified Shilla It is culturally important to Korea and Taekwondo which is well known Korean martial arts in the world. It was a military academy for young, aristocratic youth in Unified Shilla. They intimated with nature and studied poetry, art, literature and song, as well as martial arts. Confucianism and Taoism also were very influential to Hwarang-do.
The Hwarang-do’s ethics and legends of this knighthood helped form the ethical background of taekwondo (Theodore 2005). * Koryo Period ( 918 ~ 1392) Internal dissensions and external problems of Shilla between the king and regional leaders led to the disruption of Shilla. The name Koryo derives from “Koguryo” and it is the root of the modern name of Korea. The Koryo period from 935 to 1392 was marked by periodic internal disharmony and external wars (mostly defensive) with China and Japan. And also Koryo was invaded by the Mongols in 1231 and Mongols nearly destroyed Koryo.
However, there were also great achievements which are flowering of culture that led to great advances in art and scholarship, particularly in the ceramics industry, which developed the unique grey-green celadon stoneware for which Korea is well-known today (Thomas 2003). * Chosun Dynasty (1392 ~ 1910) In 1392, a general Yi Seong-gye founded a new dynasty Chosun. In the early Chosun period, Confucianism was highly supported as the guideline of philosophy. And then, this Confucianism transformed into Neo-Confucianism incorporating Taoist and Buddhist elements with and adaptation of Confucianism.
Neo-Confucianism is what people know as Korean culture and tradition today (Thomas 2003). From 1418 to 1450, by Chosun’s fourth monarch king Sejong, Korea had an unprecedented flowering of art and culture. The greatest achievement of king Sejong was invention of the Korean alphabet Hangeul. Before he invented the Korean alphabet, Korean used Chinese character (Theodore 2005). In 1592, Toyotomi Hideyosi, who united Japan, wanted to conquer the Korean Peninsula and use it the way for its incursion into China.
However, Japan was defeated by Admiral Yi sun-sin, one of the most respected figures in Korean history. They invaded again in 1597 but they withdrew in 1598. The new religion, Catholicism, slowly spread in Korea since 18th century by Dutch Jesuit priest. In the 19th century of Chosun, they adopted an isolationist policy by the prince Taewongun because he was afraid that Chosun would be infected by western ideas. Therefore, he tried to prevent the opening of the country to foreign trade by closing the borders (Edward 2005). Korea under Japanese Rule (1910~1945) During Japanese occupation, the first thing they did was construction of Korea’s infrastructure especially street and railroad system to control all over Korea easily and supply food for Japanese military properly. Japanese ruled with iron hand and tried to root out all elements of Korean culture from society. In addition, Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese names, convert their religion to Shinto (native Japanese religion) and Koreans were not allowed to use Korean language in schools and business (Steve 2009).
During World War 2, many Koreans either volunteered or forced to work in Japan but many of the forced laborers were never returned back to Korea. And also women were forced into prostitution as a form of sexual slavery by Japanese military. These women are now called comfort women and still big issue between South Korea and Japan (Mark 2005). * Founding of Republic (Since 1945 ~ ) The Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, caused Korea to undertake divided rule: The USSR (Soviet) occupied Korea north of the 38th parallel, while the US occupied the southern part of Korea.
In 1950, the North Korea invaded the South, starting Korean War. UN helped the South while China and Soviet Union sided with the North, resulting in a three year war (Curtis 2007). Different paths followed by the two Koreans since separation South Korea is one of the most successful post war economic and political development cases. * 10th largest economy (member of OECD) * 12th largest trading country * 11th in global competitiveness (WEF 2007) * Fully democratized political system North Korea * Communist system * The world most isolated regime ; economic backwardness * Dictatorship and human rights issues Nuclear development ; ‘military-first policy (Konstantin 2005) * Important to remember * The Korean War is not over * In Korea, history strongly influences the present as several contentious periods and it will not be forgotten. * Colonial period in current politics: * Internationally, continuing issue with the Japanese * Internally, Truth Commission and “collaborators” * Korean War and the continuing problems of US-South Korea-North Korea relations ;Reference Lists; Curtis, H. (2007), ‘The War for Korea: 1945-1950, A House Burning’, Infantry. Fort Benning, vol. 96, no. 2, pp. 51-52
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