General History

The Three Kingdoms, Samguk (삼국), of Korea (traditional dates: 57 BCE-668 CE), refer to the kingdoms of Koguryo [Goguryeo] (고구려), Baekje (백제) and Silla (신라), in the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria. As a result, the Three Kingdoms period of Korea, 1st century BC. our era in the 7th century CE saw them clash with each other. Then Silla remained alone until 935. But 78 small tribal states coexisted with these three kingdoms, as well as several other states, more modest, of which the Confederacy of Gaya [Kaya] (42-562), Tongye [Dongye], Okcho [ Okjeo], Puyŏ [Buyeo] and Usan [Usan-guk] (Ulleungdo and neighboring islands). All were absorbed by the older ones.

The three kingdoms were preceded by a long period, that of the Samhan, where confederations of cities were formed: the three confederations of Mahan (future Baekje), Jinhan (future Silla) and Byeonhan (future confederation of Gaya) thus took forms in the peninsula, in the Center and in the South, at the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. These three confederations are referred to as Samhan ("Three han", where han refers to these confederations and not to the Han, Chinese ethnicity). This Samhan period is also sometimes referred to as the "proto-Three Kingdoms period" of Korea.

These states then occupied the entire peninsula and a large part of Manchuria, currently Chinese and Russian territories. In the 7th century, Silla, allied with China under the Tang dynasty, united the Korean peninsula for the first time in its history. After the fall of Baekje and Koguryo, the Tang dynasty established a short-lived protectorate to administer parts of the Korean peninsula. However, following the Silla-Tang wars (c. 670-676), the forces of Silla expelled the armies of the Protectorate from the peninsula in 676. The following period was called the Unified Silla or later Silla (668-935).

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In Korea, the period of unified Silla (or Grand Silla) is called the period of unification of the peninsula into a single kingdom, Silla, a period which extends from the last third of the 7th to the 10th century. It is preceded by the kingdom of Silla (1st century BCE - last third of the 7th century). It is followed by a period of instability, even anarchy, which ranges from 892, according to some, or from 918, according to others, to 936 with the emergence of the Goryeo (Koryŏ) dynasty; this short period is called the Late Three Kingdoms.

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The kingdom of Goryeo, sometimes transliterated as Koryo, is the state that occupied the entire area of ​​the Korean Peninsula in the early xth century at the end of the xivth century (918–1392). For two centuries, the arts and commerce were the wealth of Korea and Buddhism took a very large place. The capital was then Gaegyeong, now Kaesong in North Korea.

During the two centuries which follow this period of peace and prosperity, in the xiith and xiiith centuries, Mongol invasions completely devastated the country. The Mongols install their central power in Beijing: it is the Yuan dynasty. They remained there for 89 years and were eventually defeated in Korea in the late 1370s and early 1380s by General Yi Seonggye. This general founded the Yi dynasty, or Joseon dynasty, in 1392.

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The Joseon Period is the period in Korean history when the country was ruled by the Joseon dynasty, sometimes referred to as the Yi dynasty, a dynasty of Korean kings who occupied the throne from 1392 to 1910.

The Joseon dynasty was founded in 1392 by the Korean general Yi Seonggye, who overthrew the kingdom of Goryeo and at the same time put an end to the period of Mongol rule which had lasted since 1259. The name Yi dynasty therefore comes from the name of its founder, but the common name in Korea is period Joseon (조선 시대).

During the Joseon period, a centralized administration was set up, Confucianism returned in force and with it, a new system of values. The Joseon dynasty also experienced two great periods of prosperity, during which the culture flourished. Koreans made many discoveries during this time, such as the first eastern sundial, and the first hydraulic clock. The first printing press using metal type was invented in the Joseon dynasty. The dynasty built several fortresses, trading ports and sumptuous palaces. It implemented an agrarian reform, but was the victim of inheritance disturbances and factional struggles.

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The first part of Japanese colonization was marked by a violent repression of the resistance forces which appeared at the end of the 19th century. The invader proves to be an expert in "refined" annoyances. In addition to the repression and torture inflicted on Korean resistance fighters, a whole series of more subtle acts aim to deeply undermine Korean culture and destroy its identity. Koreans must speak Japanese in public and use Japanese names. The symbols of the Korean nation are attacked one after another. The Confucian National Academy is transformed into a primary school. For reasons of urbanization, the walled wall of Seoul is largely razed. Many national treasures are sent to Japanese museums. The former Changgyeonggung Royal Palace has even been turned into a zoo. During the Japanese occupation, Seoul took the name of Gyeongseong, the fortress-capital, and was transformed. With opening up to foreign legations and Japanese colonization, the capital is experiencing a wave of modernization, urbanization efforts ruined by the Korean War. In 1934 the Society for the Study of the Korean Language was created, twice dissolved in 1938 and 1939. On August 15, 1945, Korea was finally liberated from 35 years of occupation.

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For a video about Korea's story, see below:

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