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Korea is a
region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental geography). Geographic re ...

region
in
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
. Since 1945, it has been divided between two countries at or near the 38th parallel,
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...

North Korea
(the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and
South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Zone, land border with North Korea. Its western border is for ...

South Korea
(the Republic of Korea). Korea consists of the Korean Peninsula,
Jeju Island Jeju Island (; ) is the largest island in South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the lan ...

Jeju Island
, and several minor islands near the peninsula. It is bordered by
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
to the northwest and
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
to the northeast. It is separated from
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
to the east by the
Korea Strait The Korea Strait is a sea passage in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern ...

Korea Strait
and the
Sea of Japan The Sea of Japan is the marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% ...

Sea of Japan
(East Sea). During the first half of the 1st millennium, Korea was divided between three states,
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
,
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
, and
Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced ...

Silla
, together known as the
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
. In the second half of the 1st millennium, Silla defeated and conquered Baekje and Goguryeo, leading to the "
Unified Silla Unified Silla or Later Silla (, ) is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks an ...

Unified Silla
" period. Meanwhile,
Balhae Balhae ( ko, 발해) or Bohai ( zh, c=渤海, p=Bóhǎi, russian: Бохай, ) (698–926) was a multi-ethnic kingdom in Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East. The history of the founding of the state, its ethnic compositi ...

Balhae
formed in the north, superseding former Goguryeo. Unified Silla eventually collapsed into three separate states due to
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
, ushering in the
Later Three Kingdoms The Later Three Kingdoms of Korea (892–936) consisted of Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BC57 BC according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Kore ...
. Toward the end of the 1st millennium,
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
was resurrected as
Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom founded in 918, during a time of national division called the Later Three Kingdoms period, that unified and ruled the Korean Peninsula until 1392. Goryeo achieved what has been called a "true national ...
, which defeated the two other states and unified the Korean Peninsula as a single sovereign state. Around the same time, Balhae collapsed and its last crown prince fled south to Goryeo. Goryeo (also spelled as ''Koryŏ''), whose name developed into the modern
exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
"Korea", was a highly cultured state that created the world's first metal
movable type Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system and technology Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of a ...
in 1234. However, multiple incursions by the
Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the List of largest empires, largest contiguous land empire in history and the second largest empire by landmass, second only to the British Empire. Originating in Mongolia in East Asia, the ...
during the 13th century greatly weakened the nation, which eventually agreed to become a
vassal state A vassal state is any state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...
after decades of fighting. Following military resistance under King Gongmin that ended Mongol political influence in Goryeo, severe political strife followed, and Goryeo eventually fell to a coup led by General
Yi Seong-gye Taejo of Joseon (October 27, 1335 – May 24, 1408), born Yi Seong-gye (Middle Korean Middle Korean is the period in the history of the Korean language Korean ( /, ''hangugeo''; /, ''chosŏnmal'') is an Languages of East Asia, East Asian ...
, who established
Joseon Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye Taejo of Joseon ...
on 17 July 1392. The first 200 years of the Joseon era were marked by relative peace. During this period, the
Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisine * Korean culture * Korean language **Korean alphabet, known as Hangul or Chosŏn'gŭl **Korean dialects and the Jeju language **S ...

Korean
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semanti ...
was created by
Sejong the Great Sejong the Great (세종대왕, ; 15 May 1397 – 8 April 1450) was the fourth king of the Joseon dynasty The Joseon dynasty (also transcribed as Chosŏn or Chosun, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean Korean may refer to: ...
in the 15th century and there was increasing influence of
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
. During the later part of the dynasty, Korea's isolationist policy earned it the Western nickname of the " Hermit Kingdom". By the late 19th century, the country became the object of imperial design by the
Empire of Japan The was a historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 until the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of Japan, 1947 constitution and subsequent formation of modern Japan. It encomp ...

Empire of Japan
. After the
First Sino-Japanese War The First Sino-Japanese War (25 July 1894 – 17 April 1895) was a conflict between the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperi ...

First Sino-Japanese War
, despite the
Korean Empire The Korean Empire (transcribed as ''Daehan Jeguk'', , ) was a Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sover ...
's effort to modernize, the country became a protectorate of Japan in 1905 then was
annexed by Japan File:Gulf War Saudi Flag.JPEG, upCivilians and coalition military forces wave Kuwaiti flag, Kuwaiti and Saudi flag, Saudi Arabian flags as they celebrate the Liberation of Kuwait, reversal of the Kuwait Governorate, annexation of Kuwait by Ba'at ...
outright on 22 August 1910 and directly ruled by it until the end of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
on 2 September 1945. In 1945, the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
agreed on the surrender of Japanese forces in Korea in the aftermath of World War II, leaving Korea partitioned along the 38th parallel. The North was under Soviet occupation and the South under American occupation. These circumstances became the basis for the
division of Korea For centuries before 1945, Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sovereign states: North Korea (officially ...
by the two
superpower A superpower is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

superpower
s with two different
ideologies An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of co ...
, exacerbated by their inability to agree on the terms of Korean independence. The Communist-inspired government in the North received backing from the Soviet Union in opposition to the pro-Western government in the South, leading to Korea's division into two
sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relatio ...
s in 1948: North Korea, and South Korea. Tensions between the two resulted in the outbreak of the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea and South Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in So ...

Korean War
in 1950. With involvement by foreign troops, the war ended in a stalemate in 1953, but without a formalized
peace treaty A peace treaty is an agreementAgreement may refer to: Agreements between people and organizations * Gentlemen's agreement A gentlemen's agreement, or gentleman's agreement, is an informal and legally non-binding wikt:agreement, agreement betwe ...
. This status contributes to the high tensions that continue to divide the peninsula. Both governments of the two Koreas continue to claim to be the sole legitimate government of the region.


Etymology

"Korea" is the modern spelling of "Corea", a name attested in English as early as 1614. Korea was
transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific elements or symbols, or that repertoire * Script (styles of ha ...
as ''Cauli'' in
The Travels of Marco Polo ''Book of the Marvels of the World'' (Italian language, Italian: ''Il Milione'', lit. "The Million", deriving from Polo's nickname "Emilione"), in English commonly called ''The Travels of Marco Polo'', is a 13th-century travelogue written down by ...
, of the
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
( MC: ''Kawlej'',Baxter, William & al.
Baxter–Sagart Old Chinese Reconstruction
", pp. 43, 58 & 80. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
mod. ''Gāolì''). This was the
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
for the Korean kingdom of
Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom founded in 918, during a time of national division called the Later Three Kingdoms period, that unified and ruled the Korean Peninsula until 1392. Goryeo achieved what has been called a "true national ...
(), which ruled most of the Korean peninsula during Marco Polo's time. Korea's introduction to the West resulted from trade and contact with merchants from Arabic lands, with some records dating back as far as the 9th century. Goryeo's name was a continuation of
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
(Koguryŏ) the northernmost of the
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
, which was officially known as Goryeo beginning in the 5th century. The original name was a combination of the adjective ''go'' ("high, lofty") with the name of a local
Yemaek Yemaek or Yamaek () were an ancient tribal group in Northeast China and the northern Korean Peninsula Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been divided into the two parts which soon became t ...
tribe, whose original name is thought to have been either *''Guru'' (, "walled city," inferred from some toponyms in Chinese historical documents) or ''Gauri'' (, "center"). With expanding British and American trade following the opening of Korea in the late 19th century, the spelling "Korea" appeared and gradually grew in popularity; its use in transcribing
East Asian East Asia is the eastern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and ...
languages avoids the issues caused by the separate
hard and soft C In the Latin-based orthographies of many European language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a w ...
s existing in English vocabulary derived from the
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance languages
. The name Korea is now commonly used in English contexts by both North and South Korea. In
South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Zone, land border with North Korea. Its western border is for ...

South Korea
, Korea as a whole is referred to as (, , ). The name references ''
Samhan Samhan, or Three Han, is the collective name of the , , and confederacies that emerged in the first century BC during the , or Samhan, period. Located in the central and southern regions of the , the Samhan confederacies eventually merged and d ...

Samhan
'', referring to the
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
, not the ancient confederacies in the southern Korean Peninsula. Although written in Hanja as , , or , this ''Han'' has no relation to the Chinese place names or peoples who used those characters but was a
phonetic transcription Phonetic transcription (also known as phonetic script or phonetic notation) is the visual representation of speech sounds (or ) by means of . The most common type of phonetic transcription uses a phonetic alphabet, such as the . Versus orthogra ...
( OC: *''Gar'', MC: ''Han'' or ''Gan'') of a native Korean word that seems to have had the meaning "big" or "great", particularly in reference to leaders. It has been tentatively linked with the title '' khan'' used by the nomads of
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
and
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
. In
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...

North Korea
, Korea as a whole is referred to as (, , ). is the modern Korean pronunciation of the Hanja , which is also the basis of the word for Korea as a whole in
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
(, ),
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
(, ), and
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
(). "Great
Joseon Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye Taejo of Joseon ...
" was the name of the kingdom ruled by the
Joseon dynasty Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and repl ...
from 1393 until their declaration of the short-lived Great Korean Empire in 1897. King Taejo had named them for the earlier
Gojoseon Gojoseon () was the first Korean kingdom that lasted until 108 BCE. According to the legend of the kingdom, the kingdom was established by the founder named Dangun Dangun (; ) or Dangun Wanggeom (; ) was the legendary * :"The continuing p ...
(), who ruled northern Korea from its legendary
prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, ...
until their conquest in 108 BCE by China's
Han Empire The Han dynasty () was the second imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang Emperor Gaozu of Han (256 – 1 June 195 BC), born Liu Bang () with courtesy name Ji (季), was the founder and f ...

Han Empire
. The ''Go-'' in Gojoseon is the Hanja and simply means "ancient" or "old"; it is a modern usage to distinguish the ancient Joseon from the later dynasty. It is unclear whether was a transcription of a native Korean name ( OC *''T wser'', MC ''Trjewsjen'') or a partial translation into Chinese of the Korean capital
Asadal In Korean mythology and history, Asadal () was the capital city of the kingdom of Gojoseon Gojoseon (), originally named Joseon (), was an ancient Korean state on the Manchuria and Korea, Korean Peninsula. The addition of ''Go'' (, ), meaning ...
(), whose meaning has been reconstructed as "Morning Land" or "Mountain".


Geography

Korea consists of a
peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el ...

peninsula
and nearby islands located in
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
. The peninsula extends southwards for about from continental
Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area of , about 30% of Earth's total lan ...

Asia
into the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents o ...

Pacific Ocean
and is surrounded by the
Sea of Japan The Sea of Japan is the marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% ...

Sea of Japan
(East Sea) to the east and the
Yellow Sea The Yellow Sea is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% o ...

Yellow Sea
(West Sea) to the west, the
Korea Strait The Korea Strait is a sea passage in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern ...

Korea Strait
connecting the two bodies of water. To the northwest, the
Amnok River The Yalu River, known by Koreans as the Amrok River or Amnok River, is a river on the border between North Korea and China. Together with the Tumen River to its east, and a small portion of Paektu Mountain, the Yalu forms the China–North Kor ...
separates Korea from China and to the northeast, the Duman River separates it from China and Russia. Notable islands include
Jeju Island Jeju Island (; ) is the largest island in South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the lan ...

Jeju Island
, Ulleung Island,
Dokdo The Liancourt Rocks are a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan. While South Korea controls the islets, its sovereignty over them is Liancourt Rocks dispute, contested by Japan. South Korea classifies the islets as Dokdo-ri, Ulleung-e ...

Dokdo
. The southern and western parts of the peninsula have well-developed plains, while the eastern and northern parts are mountainous. The highest mountain in Korea is
Mount Paektu Paektu Mountain ( ko, 백두산, 白頭山), also known as Baekdu Mountain and in China as Changbai Mountain ( zh, s=长白山, t=長白山), is an active stratovolcano A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a conical volca ...
(2,744 m), through which runs the border with China. The southern extension of Mount Paektu is a highland called Gaema Heights. This highland was mainly raised during the
Cenozoic The Cenozoic ( ; ) is Earth's current geological era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy, a calendar era used for a given calendar, or the ge ...

Cenozoic
orogeny Orogeny is the primary mechanism by which mountains are formed on continents. An orogeny is an event that takes place at a convergent plate margin when plate motion compresses the margin. This leads to both structural deformation Deformation ...
and partly covered by volcanic matter. To the south of Gaema Gowon, successive high mountains are located along the eastern coast of the peninsula. This mountain range is named
Baekdudaegan The Baekdu-daegan is a mountain-system and watershed-crest-line which runs through almost all of the length of the Korean Peninsula, from Paektu Mountain (2,744m) in the north to the Cheonhwang-bong or "Heavenly Monarch Peak" of Jirisan (1,915 ...
. Some significant mountains include or Sobaeksan (1,439 m),
Mount Kumgang Mount Kumgang () or the Kumgang Mountains are a mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summi ...
(1,638 m), (1,708 m), Mount Taebaek (1,567 m), and Mount Jiri (1,915 m). There are several lower, secondary mountain series whose direction is almost perpendicular to that of Baekdudaegan. They are developed along the tectonic line of
Mesozoic The Mesozoic Era ( ), also called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers, is the second-to-last era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy ...
orogeny and their directions are basically northwest. Unlike most ancient mountains on the mainland, many important islands in Korea were formed by volcanic activity in the Cenozoic orogeny. Jeju Island, situated off the southern coast, is a large volcanic island whose main mountain, Mount Halla or Hallasan (1,950 m), is the highest in South Korea. Ulleung Island is a volcanic island in the Sea of Japan, the composition of which is more
felsic In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the processes ...
than Jeju. The volcanic islands tend to be younger, the more westward. Because the mountainous region is mostly on the eastern part of the peninsula, the main
rivers A river is a natural flowing watercourse A watercourse is the channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path o ...
tend to flow westwards. Two exceptions are the southward-flowing
Nakdong River The Nakdong River or Nakdonggang () is the longest river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the ...
and Seomjin River. Important rivers running westward include the Amnok River, the
Chongchon River The Ch'ŏngch'ŏn is a river of North Korea North Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, McCune–Reischauer, MR: ''Chosŏn''; literally /, McCune–Reischauer, MR: ''Pukchosŏn'', or /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Bukhan'' in ...
, the
Taedong River The Taedong River (Chosŏn'gŭl The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul (Hangeul), .Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's Revised Romanization of Korean, standard Romanization. in South Korea and Chosŏn'gŭl in North Kore ...
, the
Han RiverHan River may refer to: *Han River (Guangdong) (''Han-jiang'', 韩江), southeast China, flows into the South China Sea *Han River (Hubei) (''Han-shui'', 漢水 or ''Han-jiang'', 漢江), the longest tributary of the Yangtze, China *Han River (Korea ...
, the
Geum River The Geum River is located in South Korea South Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Hanguk''; literally /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Namhan'', or /, McCune–Reischauer, MR: ''Namchosŏn ...
, and the
Yeongsan River The Yeongsan River is a river in south-western South Korea South Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Hanguk''; literally /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Namhan'', or /, McCune–Reischauer ...
. These rivers have vast flood plains and provide an ideal environment for
wet-rice fields in Hanalei Valley, Kaua'i, Hawaii A paddy field is a flooded field (agriculture), field of arable land used for growing Aquatic plant, semiaquatic crops, most notably rice and taro. It originates from the Neolithic rice-farming cul ...

wet-rice
cultivation. The southern and southwestern coastlines of the peninsula form a well-developed
ria A ria (; gl, ría) is a coastal inlet An inlet is an indentation of a shoreline, usually long and narrow, such as a small bay or arm, that often leads to an enclosed body of salt water, such as a sound In physics, sound is a vibration th ...

ria
coastline, known as ''Dadohae-jin'' in Korean. This convoluted coastline provides mild seas, and the resulting calm environment allows for safe navigation, fishing, and
seaweed farming Seaweed farming or kelp farming is the practice of cultivating and harvesting seaweed. In its simplest form, it consists of the management of naturally found batches. In its most advanced form, it consists of fully controlling the life cycle of t ...
. In addition to the complex coastline, the western coast of the Korean Peninsula has an extremely high tide, tidal amplitude (at Incheon, around the middle of the western coast, the tide can get as high as 9 m). Vast tidal flats have been developing on the south and west coastlines.


Climate

Korea has a temperate climate with comparatively fewer typhoons than other countries in East Asia. Due to the peninsula's position, it has a unique climate influenced by Siberia in the north, the Pacific Ocean in the east and the rest of Eurasia in the west. The peninsula has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.


Spring

As influence from Siberia weakens, temperatures begin to increase while the high pressure begins to move away. If the weather is abnormally dry, Siberia will have more influence on the peninsula leading to wintry weather such as snow.


Summer

During June at the start of the summer, there tends to be a lot of rain due to the cold and wet air from the Sea of Okhotsk and the hot and humid air from the Pacific Ocean combining. When these fronts combine, it leads to a so-called rainy season with often cloudy days with rain, which is sometimes very heavy. The hot and humid winds from the south west blow causing an increasing amount of humidity and this leads to the fronts moving towards
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
in China and thus there is less rain and this is known as midsummer; temperatures can exceed daily at this time of year.


Autumn

Usually, high pressure is heavily dominant during autumn leading to clear conditions. Furthermore, temperatures remain high but the humidity becomes relatively low.


Winter

The weather becomes increasingly dominated by Siberia during winter and the jet stream moves further south causing a drop in temperature. This season is relatively dry with some snow falling at times.


Wildlife

Animal life of the Korean Peninsula includes a considerable number of bird species and native freshwater fish. Native or endemic species of the Korean Peninsula include Korean hare, Water deer, Korean water deer, Korean field mouse, Korean brown frog, Korean pine and Picea koraiensis, Korean spruce. The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) with its forest and natural wetlands is a unique biodiversity spot, which harbours eighty-two endangered species. Korea once hosted many Siberian tigers, but as the number of people affected by the tigers increased, the tigers were killed in the Joseon Dynasty and the Siberian tigers in the South Korea became extinct during the Japanese colonial era period. It has been confirmed that Siberian tigers are only on the side of
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...

North Korea
now. There are also approximately 3,034 species of vascular plants.


History


Prehistory and Gojoseon

The Korean Academy claimed ancient hominid fossils originating from about 100,000 BCE in the lava at a stone city site in Korea. Fluorescent and high-magnetic analyses indicate the volcanic fossils may be from as early as 300,000 BCE. The best preserved Korean pottery goes back to the paleolithic times around 10,000 BCE and the Neolithic period begins around 6000 BCE. According to legend, Dangun, a descendant of Cheon, Heaven, established
Gojoseon Gojoseon () was the first Korean kingdom that lasted until 108 BCE. According to the legend of the kingdom, the kingdom was established by the founder named Dangun Dangun (; ) or Dangun Wanggeom (; ) was the legendary * :"The continuing p ...
in 2333 BCE. In 108 BCE, the Han dynasty defeated Gojoseon and installed Four Commanderies of Han, four commanderies in the northern Korean peninsula. 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. By 313,
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
annexed all of the Chinese commanderies.


Proto–Three Kingdoms

The Proto–Three Kingdoms period, sometimes called the Multiple States Period, is the earlier part of what is commonly called the Three Kingdoms of Korea, Three Kingdoms Period, following the fall of
Gojoseon Gojoseon () was the first Korean kingdom that lasted until 108 BCE. According to the legend of the kingdom, the kingdom was established by the founder named Dangun Dangun (; ) or Dangun Wanggeom (; ) was the legendary * :"The continuing p ...
but before
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
,
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
, and
Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced ...

Silla
fully developed into kingdoms. This time period saw numerous states spring up from the former territories of Gojoseon, which encompassed northern Korea and southern
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
. With the fall of Gojoseon, southern Korea entered the
Samhan Samhan, or Three Han, is the collective name of the , , and confederacies that emerged in the first century BC during the , or Samhan, period. Located in the central and southern regions of the , the Samhan confederacies eventually merged and d ...

Samhan
period. Located in the southern part of Korea, Samhan referred to the three confederacies of Mahan confederacy, Mahan, Jinhan confederacy, Jinhan, and Byeonhan confederacy, Byeonhan. Mahan was the largest and consisted of 54 states. Byeonhan and Jinhan both consisted of twelve states, bringing a total of 78 states within the
Samhan Samhan, or Three Han, is the collective name of the , , and confederacies that emerged in the first century BC during the , or Samhan, period. Located in the central and southern regions of the , the Samhan confederacies eventually merged and d ...

Samhan
. These three confederacies eventually developed into
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
,
Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced ...

Silla
, and Gaya confederacy, Gaya.


Three Kingdoms

The
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
consisted of
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
,
Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced ...

Silla
, and
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
. Silla and Baekje controlled the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, maintaining the former
Samhan Samhan, or Three Han, is the collective name of the , , and confederacies that emerged in the first century BC during the , or Samhan, period. Located in the central and southern regions of the , the Samhan confederacies eventually merged and d ...

Samhan
territories, while Goguryeo controlled the northern half of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria and the Liaodong Peninsula, uniting Buyeo, Okjeo, Eastern Ye, Dongye, and other states in the former
Gojoseon Gojoseon () was the first Korean kingdom that lasted until 108 BCE. According to the legend of the kingdom, the kingdom was established by the founder named Dangun Dangun (; ) or Dangun Wanggeom (; ) was the legendary * :"The continuing p ...
territories.
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
was a highly militaristic state; it was a powerful empire and one of the great powers in East Asia, reaching its zenith in the 5th century when its territories expanded to encompass most of Manchuria to the north, parts of Inner Mongolia to the west, parts of Russia to the east, and the Seoul region to the south. Goguryeo experienced a golden age under Gwanggaeto the Great and his son Jangsu of Goguryeo, Jangsu, who both subdued Baekje and Silla during their times, achieving a brief unification of the
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
and becoming the most dominant power on the Korean Peninsula. In addition to contesting for control of the Korean Peninsula, Goguryeo had many Military history of Goguryeo, military conflicts with various Chinese dynasties, most notably the Goguryeo–Sui War, in which Goguryeo defeated a huge force said to number over a million men. "China, which had been split into many states since the early 3rd century, was reunified by the Sui dynasty at the end of the 6th century. Soon afterward, Sui China mobilized its army and invaded Koguryŏ. However, the people of Koguryŏ were united and able to repel the Chinese invasion. In 612, Sui troops invaded Korea again, but Koguryŏ forces fought bravely and destroyed Sui troops everywhere. General Ŭlchi Mundŏk of Koguryŏ completely wiped out some 300,000 Sui troops which came across the Yalu River in the battles near the Salsu River (now Ch'ŏngch'ŏn River) with his ingenious military tactics. Only 2,700 Sui troops were able to flee from Korea. The Sui dynasty, which wasted so much energy and manpower in aggressive wars against Koguryŏ, fell in 618." In 642, the powerful general Yeon Gaesomun led a coup and gained complete control over Goguryeo. In response, Emperor Tang Taizong of China led a First conflict of the Goguryeo–Tang War, campaign against Goguryeo, but was defeated and retreated. After the death of Tang Taizong, his son Emperor Tang Gaozong allied with the Korean kingdom of Silla and invaded Goguryeo again, but was unable to overcome Goguryeo's stalwart defenses and was defeated in 662. However, Yeon Gaesomun died of a natural cause in 666 and Goguryeo was thrown into chaos and weakened by a succession struggle among his sons and younger brother, with his eldest son defecting to Tang dynasty, Tang and his younger brother defecting to Silla. The Tang-Silla alliance finally conquered Goguryeo in 668. 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 Balhae ( ko, 발해) or Bohai ( zh, c=渤海, p=Bóhǎi, russian: Бохай, ) (698–926) was a multi-ethnic kingdom in Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East. The history of the founding of the state, its ethnic compositi ...

Balhae
and successfully expelled the Tang presence from much of the former Goguryeo territories. The southwestern Korean kingdom of
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
was founded around modern-day Seoul by a Onjo of Baekje, Goguryeo prince, a son of the Dongmyeong of Goguryeo, founder of Goguryeo. Baekje absorbed all of the Mahan confederacy, Mahan states and subjugated most of the western Korean peninsula (including the modern provinces of Gyeonggi, Chungcheong-do, Chungcheong, and Jeolla, as well as parts of Hwanghae and Gangwon-do (South Korea), Gangwon) to a centralised government; during the expansion of its territory, Baekje acquired Chinese culture and technology through maritime contacts with the Southern Dynasties. 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. Historic evidence suggests that Japanese culture, art, and language were influenced by the kingdom of Baekje and Korea itself; Baekje also played an important role in transmitting advanced Chinese culture to the Japanese archipelago. Baekje was once a great military power on the Korean Peninsula, most notably in the 4th century during the rule of Geunchogo of Baekje, Geunchogo when its influence extended across the sea to Liaoxi and Shandong in China, taking advantage of the weakened state of Former Qin, and Kyushu in the Japanese archipelago; however, Baekje was critically defeated by Gwanggaeto the Great and declined. Although later records claim that
Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced ...

Silla
was the oldest of the
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
, it is now believed to have been the last kingdom to develop. By the 2nd century, Silla existed as a large state in the southeast, occupying and influencing its neighboring city-states. In 562, Silla annexed the Gaya confederacy, which was located between Baekje and Silla. The Three Kingdoms of Korea often warred with each other and Silla was often dominated by Baekje and Goguryeo. Silla was the smallest and weakest of the three, 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 660, King Muyeol of Silla, Muyeol ordered his armies to attack
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
. General Kim Yu-shin, aided by Tang dynasty, Tang forces, conquered Baekje after defeating General Gyebaek at the Battle of Hwangsanbeol. In 661, Silla and Tang attacked Goguryeo but were repelled. King Munmu of Silla, Munmu, son of Muyeol and nephew of General Kim Yu-shin, launched another campaign in 667 and Goguryeo fell in the following year.


North–South States Period

Beginning in the 6th century,
Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced ...

Silla
's power gradually extended across the Korean Peninsula. Silla first annexed the adjacent Gaya confederacy in 562. By the 640s, Silla formed an alliance with the Tang dynasty of China to conquer
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
and later
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
. After conquering Baekje and Goguryeo, Silla repulsed Tang China from the Korean peninsula in 676. Even though Silla unified most of the Korean Peninsula, most of the Goguryeo territories to the north of the Korean Peninsula were ruled by
Balhae Balhae ( ko, 발해) or Bohai ( zh, c=渤海, p=Bóhǎi, russian: Бохай, ) (698–926) was a multi-ethnic kingdom in Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East. The history of the founding of the state, its ethnic compositi ...

Balhae
. Former Goguryeo general or chief of Sumo Mohe Dae Jo-yeong led a group of Goguryeo and Mohe people, Mohe refugees to the Jilin and founded the kingdom of
Balhae Balhae ( ko, 발해) or Bohai ( zh, c=渤海, p=Bóhǎi, russian: Бохай, ) (698–926) was a multi-ethnic kingdom in Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East. The history of the founding of the state, its ethnic compositi ...

Balhae
, 30 years after the collapse of Goguryeo, as the successor to Goguryeo. At its height, Balhae's territories extended from southern
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
down to the northern Korean peninsula. Balhae was called the "Prosperous Country in the East". Later Silla carried on the maritime prowess of
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
, which acted like the Phoenicia of medieval
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

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. Later Silla was a prosperous and wealthy country, and its metropolitan capital of Gyeongju was the fourth largest city in the world. Later Silla was a golden age of art and culture, as evidenced by the Hwangnyongsa, Seokguram, and Emille Bell. Buddhism flourished during this time, and many Korean Buddhists gained great fame among Chinese Buddhists and contributed to Chinese Buddhism, including: Woncheuk, Wonhyo, Uisang, Kim Hwasang, Musang, and Kim Gyo-gak, a Silla prince whose influence made Mount Jiuhua one of the Four Sacred Mountains of China, Sacred Mountains of Chinese Buddhism. Later Silla fell apart in the late 9th century, giving way to the tumultuous Later Three Kingdoms period (892–935), and Balhae was destroyed by the Khitan people, Khitans in 926.
Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom founded in 918, during a time of national division called the Later Three Kingdoms period, that unified and ruled the Korean Peninsula until 1392. Goryeo achieved what has been called a "true national ...
unified the Later Three Kingdoms and received the Dae Gwang-hyeon, last crown prince and much of the ruling class of Balhae, thus bringing about a unification of the two successor nations of
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
.


Goryeo dynasty

Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom founded in 918, during a time of national division called the Later Three Kingdoms period, that unified and ruled the Korean Peninsula until 1392. Goryeo achieved what has been called a "true national ...
was founded in 918 and replaced Silla as the ruling dynasty of Korea. Goryeo's land was at first what is now South Korea and about 1/3 of North Korea, but later on managed to recover most of the Korean peninsula. Momentarily, Goryeo advanced to parts of Jiandao while conquering the Jurchen people, Jurchens, but returned the territories due to the harsh climate and difficulties in defending them. The name "Goryeo" (高麗) is a short form of "
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most of the Korean peninsula, lar ...
" (高句麗) and was first used during the time of King Jangsu of Goguryeo, Jangsu. Goryeo regarded itself as the successor of Goguryeo, hence its name and efforts to recover the former territories of Goguryeo. Wang Geon, the founder of Goryeo, was of Goguryeo descent and traced his ancestry to a noble Goguryeo clan. He made Kaesong, his hometown, the capital. During this period, laws were codified and a civil service system was introduced. Buddhism flourished and spread throughout the peninsula. The development of Goryeo ware, celadon industries flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. The publication of the Tripitaka Koreana onto more than 80,000 wooden blocks and the invention of the world's first metal
movable type Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system and technology Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of a ...
in the 13th century attest to Goryeo's cultural achievements. Goryeo had to defend frequently against attacks by nomadic empires, especially the Khitan people, Khitans and the Mongols. Goryeo had a hostile relationship with the Khitans, because the Khitan Empire had destroyed
Balhae Balhae ( ko, 발해) or Bohai ( zh, c=渤海, p=Bóhǎi, russian: Бохай, ) (698–926) was a multi-ethnic kingdom in Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East. The history of the founding of the state, its ethnic compositi ...

Balhae
, also a successor state of Goguryeo. In 993, the Khitans, who had established the Liao dynasty in 907, First conflict in the Goryeo–Khitan War, invaded Goryeo, demanding that it make amity with them. Goryeo sent the diplomat Seo Hui to negotiate, who successfully persuaded the Khitans to let Goryeo expand to the banks of the Yalu River, Amnok (Yalu) River, citing that in the past the land belonged to Goguryeo, the predecessor of Goryeo. During the Goryeo–Khitan War, the Khitan Empire invaded Korea twice more in Second conflict in the Goryeo–Khitan War, 1009 and Third conflict in the Goryeo–Khitan War, 1018, but was defeated. After defeating the Khitan Empire, which was the most powerful empire of its time, 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 1100, there were 12 universities that produced famous scholars and scientists. Goryeo was Mongol invasions of Korea, invaded by the Mongols in seven major campaigns from the 1230s until the 1270s, but was never conquered. Exhausted after decades of fighting, Goryeo sent its Wonjong of Goryeo, crown prince to the Yuan dynasty, Yuan capital to swear allegiance to the Mongols; Kublai Khan accepted, and married one of his daughters to the Korean crown prince, and the dynastic line of Goryeo continued to survive Korea under Yuan rule, under the overlordship of the Mongol Yuan dynasty as a semi-autonomous vassal state and compulsory ally. The two nations became intertwined for 80 years as all subsequent Korean kings married Mongol princesses, and the Empress Gi, last empress of the Yuan dynasty was a Korean princess. In the 1350s, Gongmin of Goryeo, King Gongmin was free at last to reform the Goryeo government when the Yuan dynasty began to crumble. Gongmin had various problems that needed to be dealt with, which included the removal of pro-Mongol aristocrats and military officials, the question of land holding, and quelling the growing animosity between the Buddhists and Confucian scholars. During this tumultuous period, Goryeo momentarily conquered Liaoyang in 1356, repulsed two large Red Turban invasions of Goryeo, invasions by the Red Turbans in 1359 and 1360, and defeated the final attempt by the Yuan to dominate Goryeo when General Choe Yeong defeated a Mongol Tumen (unit), tumen in 1364. During the 1380s, Goryeo turned its attention to the Wokou threat and used Naval history of Korea, naval artillery created by Choe Museon to annihilate hundreds of pirate ships.


Joseon dynasty

In 1392, the general Taejo of Joseon, Yi Seong-gye overthrew the
Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom founded in 918, during a time of national division called the Later Three Kingdoms period, that unified and ruled the Korean Peninsula until 1392. Goryeo achieved what has been called a "true national ...
dynasty after he staged a coup and defeated General Choe Yeong. Yi Seong-gye named his new dynasty
Joseon Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye Taejo of Joseon ...
and moved the capital from Kaesong to Hanseong (formerly Hanyang; modern-day Seoul) and built the Gyeongbokgung palace. In 1394, he adopted
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
as the country's official ideology, resulting in much loss of power and wealth by the Korean Buddhism, Buddhists. The prevailing philosophy of the Joseon dynasty was Korean Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism, which was epitomized by the seonbi class, scholars who passed up positions of wealth and power to lead lives of study and integrity. Joseon was a nominal tributary state of
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
but exercised full sovereignty, and maintained the highest position among China's tributary states, which also included countries such as the Ryukyu Kingdom, Vietnam, Burma, Brunei, Laos, Thailand, and the Philippines, among others. In addition, Joseon received tribute from Jurchens and Japanese until the 17th century, and had a small enclave in the Ryukyu Kingdom that engaged in trade with Siam and Java. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Joseon enjoyed many benevolent rulers who promoted education and science. Most notable among them was
Sejong the Great Sejong the Great (세종대왕, ; 15 May 1397 – 8 April 1450) was the fourth king of the Joseon dynasty The Joseon dynasty (also transcribed as Chosŏn or Chosun, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean Korean may refer to: ...
(r. 1418–50), who personally created and promulgated Hangul, the Korean alphabet. This golden age saw great cultural and scientific advancements, including in printing, rain gauge, meteorological observation, astronomy, calendar science, Korean pottery and porcelain, ceramics, military technology, geography, cartography, medicine, and agricultural technology, some of which were unrivaled elsewhere. Joseon implemented a class system that consisted of ''yangban'' the noble class, ''jungin'' the middle class, ''yangin'' the common class, and ''cheonin'' the lowest class, which included occupations such as butchers, tanners, shamans, entertainers, and ''nobi'', the equivalent of slaves, bondservants, or serfs. In 1592 and again in 1597, the Imjin War, Japanese invaded Korea; the Korean military at the time was unprepared and untrained, due to two centuries of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Toyotomi Hideyoshi intended to conquer China and India through the Korean Peninsula, but was defeated by strong resistance from the Righteous Army, the naval superiority of Admiral Yi Sun-sin and his turtle ships, and assistance from Wanli Emperor of Ming dynasty, Ming China. However, Joseon experienced great destruction, including a tremendous loss of cultural sites such as temples and palaces to Japanese pillaging, and the Japanese brought back to Japan an estimated 100,000–200,000 Nose tomb, noses cut from Korean victims. Less than 30 years after the Japanese invasions, the Manchus took advantage of Joseon's war-weakened state and Manchu invasion of Korea, invaded in 1627 and 1637, and then went on to Qing conquest of the Ming, conquer the destabilized Ming dynasty. After normalizing relations with the new Qing dynasty, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. Kings Yeongjo of Joseon, Yeongjo and Jeongjo of Joseon, Jeongjo led a new renaissance of the Joseon dynasty during the 18th century. In the 19th century, the royal in-law families gained control of the government, leading to mass corruption and weakening of the state, with severe poverty and peasant rebellions spreading throughout the country. Furthermore, the Joseon government adopted a strict isolationist policy, earning the nickname "the hermit kingdom", but ultimately failed to protect itself against imperialism and was forced to open its borders, beginning an era leading into Korea under Japanese rule, Japanese imperial rule.


Korean Empire

Beginning in 1871, Empire of Japan, Japan began to exert more influence in Korea, forcing it out of China's traditional sphere of influence. As a result of the Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), the Qing dynasty had to give up such a position according to Article 1 of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which was concluded between China and Japan in 1895. That same year, Empress Myeongseong of Korea was assassinated by Japanese agents. In 1897, the Joseon dynasty proclaimed the
Korean Empire The Korean Empire (transcribed as ''Daehan Jeguk'', , ) was a Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sover ...
(1897–1910). Gojong of the Korean Empire, King Gojong became emperor. During this brief period, Korea had some success in modernizing the military, economy, real property laws, education system, and various industries. Russian Empire, Russia, Japan, French Third Republic, France, and the United States all invested in the country and sought to influence it politically. In 1904, the Russo-Japanese War pushed the Russians out of the fight for Korea. Korea became a protectorate of Japan the following year. In
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
on 26 October 1909, An Jung-geun assassinated the former Governor-General of Korea, Resident-General of Korea, Itō Hirobumi, for his role in trying to force Korea into occupation.


Japanese occupation and Japan-Korea Annexation

In 1910, an already militarily occupied Korea was a forced party to the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty. The treaty was signed by Lee Wan-Yong, who was given the General Power of Attorney by the Emperor. However, the Emperor is said to have not actually ratified the treaty according to Yi Tae-jin. There is a long dispute whether this treaty was legal or illegal due to its signing under duress, threat of force and bribes. Korean resistance to the brutal Japanese occupation was manifested in the nonviolent March 1st Movement of 1919, during which 7,000 demonstrators were killed by Japanese police and military. The Korean independence movement, Korean liberation movement also spread to neighbouring
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
and Siberia. Over five million Koreans were conscripted for labour beginning in 1939, and tens of thousands of men were forced into Japan's military. Nearly 400,000 Korean labourers died. Approximately 200,000 girls and women, mostly from China and Korea, were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military. In 1993, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono acknowledged the terrible injustices faced by these euphemistically named "comfort women". During the Japanese annexation, the Korean language was suppressed in an effort to eradicate Korean national identity. Koreans were forced to take Japanese surnames, known as Sōshi-kaimei. Traditional Korean culture suffered heavy losses, as numerous Korean cultural artifacts were destroyed or taken to Japan. To this day, valuable Korean artifacts can often be found in Japanese museums or among private collections. One investigation by the South Korean government identified 75,311 cultural assets that were taken from Korea, 34,369 in Japan and 17,803 in the United States. However, experts estimate that over 100,000 artifacts actually remain in Japan. Japanese officials considered returning Korean cultural properties, but to date this has not occurred. Korea and Japan still dispute the ownership of the Liancourt Rocks, Dokdo islets, located east of the Korean Peninsula. There was significant emigration to the overseas territories of the
Empire of Japan The was a historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 until the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of Japan, 1947 constitution and subsequent formation of modern Japan. It encomp ...

Empire of Japan
during the Japanese occupation period, including Korea under Japanese rule, Korea. By the end of World War II, there were over 850,000 Japanese settlers in Korea. After World War II, most of these overseas Japanese repatriated to Japan. Migrants who remained Squatting in South Korea, squatted in informal settlements.


Division

In 1945, with the surrender of Japan, the United Nations developed plans for a trusteeship administration, the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
administering the peninsula north of the 38th parallel and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
USAMGIK, administering the south. The politics of the Cold War resulted in the 1948 establishment of two separate governments, North Korea and South Korea. The aftermath of World War II left Korea partitioned along the 38th parallel on 2 September 1945, with the north under Soviet occupation and the south under US occupation supported by other allied states. Consequently, North Korea, a Soviet-style socialist republic was established in the north and South Korea; a Western-style regime, Division of Korea, was established in the South. North Korea is a one-party state, now centred on Kim Il-sung's Juche ideology, with a Planned economy, centrally planned industrial economy. South Korea is a multi-party state with a capitalism, capitalist market economy, alongside membership in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the G-20 major economies, Group of Twenty. The two states have greatly diverged both culturally and economically since their partition, though they still share a common traditional culture and pre-Cold War history. Since the 1960s, the South Korean economy has grown enormously and the economic structure was radically transformed. In 1957, South Korea had a lower per capita GDP than Ghana, and by 2008 it was 17 times as high as Ghana's. According to R. J. Rummel, slavery, forced labor, executions, and concentration camps were responsible for over one million deaths in North Korea from 1948 to 1987; others have estimated 400,000 deaths in concentration camps alone. Estimates based on the most recent North Korean census suggest that 240,000 to 420,000 people died as a result of the North Korean famine, 1990s famine and that there were 600,000 to 850,000 unnatural deaths in North Korea from 1993 to 2008. In South Korea, as guerrilla activities expanded, the South Korean government used strong measures against peasants, such as forcefully moving their families from guerrilla areas. According to one estimate, these measures resulted in 36,000 people killed, 11,000 people wounded, and 432,000 people displaced.


Korean War and peace

The Korean War broke out when Soviet-backed North Korea invaded South Korea, though neither side gained much territory as a result. The Korean Peninsula remained divided, the Korean Demilitarized Zone being the ''de facto'' border between the two states. In June 1950 North Korea invaded the South, using Soviet tanks and weaponry. During the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea and South Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in So ...

Korean War
(1950–53) more than 1.2 million people died and the three years of fighting throughout the nation effectively destroyed most cities. The war ended in an s:Korean Armistice Agreement, Armistice Agreement at approximately the Military Demarcation Line, but the two governments are officially at war. In 2018, the leaders of North Korea and South Korea officially signed the Panmunjom Declaration, announcing that they will work to end the conflict. In November 2020, South Korea and China agreed to work together to mend South Korea's relationship with North Korea. During a meeting between President Moon and China's foreign minister, Wang Yi (politician), Wang Yi, Moon expressed his gratitude to China for its role in helping to foster peace in the Korean Peninsula. Moon was quoted telling Wang during their meeting that “[the South Korean] government will not stop efforts to put an end (formally) to war on the Korean Peninsula and achieve complete denuclearization and permanent peace together with the international community, including China.”


List of heads of state (since 1897)

* The name "Korea" is written as it started from 1897.


Demographics

The combined population of the Koreas is about 76 million (North Korea: 25 million, South Korea: 51 million). Korea is chiefly populated by a highly wikt:homogeneous, homogeneous ethnic group, the Koreans, who speak the Korean language. The number of foreigners living in Korea has also steadily increased since the late 20th century, particularly in South Korea, where more than 1 million foreigners reside. It was estimated in 2006 that only 26,700 of the old Ethnic Chinese in Korea, Chinese community now remain in South Korea. However, in recent years, immigration from mainland China has increased; 624,994 persons of People's Republic of China, Chinese nationality have immigrated to South Korea, including 443,566 of Ethnic Koreans in China, ethnic Korean descent. Small communities of ethnic Chinese and Japanese people in North Korea, Japanese are also found in North Korea.


Language

Korean language, Korean is the official language of both North and South Korea, and (along with Mandarin) of Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in the Manchuria area of China. Worldwide, there are up to 80 million speakers of the Korean language. South Korea has around 50 million speakers while North Korea around 25 million. Other large groups of Korean speakers through Korean diaspora are found in People's Republic of China, China, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
, former
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
and elsewhere. Modern Korean is written almost exclusively in the script of the Hangul, Korean alphabet (known as Hangul in South Korea and Chosungul in China and North Korea), which was invented in the 15th century. Korean is sometimes written with the addition of some Chinese characters called Hanja; however, this is only occasionally seen nowadays.


Culture and arts

In ancient Chinese texts, Korea is referred to as "Rivers and Mountains Embroidered on Silk" (, ) and "Eastern Nation of Decorum" (, ). Individuals are regarded as one year old when they are born, as Koreans reckon the pregnancy period as one year of life for infants, and age increments increase on Korean New Year, New Year's Day rather than on the anniversary of birthdays. Thus, one born immediately before New Year's Day may only be a few days old in western reckoning, but two years old in Korea. Accordingly, a Korean person's stated age (at least among fellow Koreans) will be one or two years more than their age according to western reckoning. However, western reckoning is sometimes applied with regard to the concept of legal age; for example, the Legal drinking age, legal age for purchasing alcohol or Smoking age, cigarettes in the Republic of Korea is 19, which is measured according to western reckoning.


Literature

Korean literature written before the end of the Joseon Dynasty is called "Classical" or "Traditional." Literature, written in Chinese characters (hanja), was established at the same time as the Chinese script arrived on the peninsula. Korean scholars were writing poetry in the classical Korean style as early as the 2nd century BCE, reflecting Korean thoughts and experiences of that time. Classical Korean literature has its roots in traditional folk beliefs and folk tales of the peninsula, strongly influenced by
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
, Buddhism and Taoism. Modern literature is often linked with the development of hangul, which helped spread literacy from the aristocracy to the common people. Hangul, however, only reached a dominant position in Korean literature in the second half of the 19th century, resulting in a major growth in Korean literature. ''Sinsoseol'', for instance, are novels written in hangul. The
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea and South Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in So ...

Korean War
led to the development of literature centered on the wounds and chaos of war. Much of the post-war literature in South Korea deals with the daily lives of ordinary people, and their struggles with national pain. The collapse of the traditional Korean value system is another common theme of the time.


Music

Traditional Korean music includes combinations of the folk, vocal, religious and Korean Court Music, ritual music styles of the Korean people. Korean music has been practiced since prehistoric times. Korean music falls into two broad categories. The first, Hyangak, literally means ''The local music'' or ''Music native to Korea'', a famous example of which is Sujechon, a piece of instrumental music often claimed to be at least 1,300 years old. The second, ''yangak'', represents a more Western style.


Religion

Confucian tradition has dominated Korean thought, along with contributions by Buddhism, Taoism, and Korean Shamanism. Since the middle of the 20th century, however, Christianity has competed with Buddhism in South Korea, while religious practice has been suppressed in North Korea. Throughout Korean history and culture, regardless of separation; the influence of traditional beliefs of Korean Shamanism, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism have remained an underlying religion of the Korean people as well as a vital aspect of their culture; all these traditions have coexisted peacefully for hundreds of years up to today despite strong Westernisation from Christian missionary conversions in the South or the pressure from the Juche Government of North Korea, government in the North. According to 2005 statistics compiled by the South Korean government, about 46% of citizens profess to follow no particular religion. Christianity in Korea, Christians account for 29.2% of the population (of which are Protestants 18.3% and Catholics 10.9%) and Korean Buddhism, Buddhists 22.8%. Islam in South Korea is practiced by about 45,000 natives (about 0.09% of the population) in addition to some 100,000 foreign workers from Muslim countries.


Cuisine

Koreans traditionally believe that the taste and quality of food depend on its spices and sauces, the essential ingredients to making a delicious meal. Therefore, soybean paste, soy sauce, ''gochujang'' or red pepper paste and kimchi are some of the most important staples in a Korean household. Korean cuisine was greatly influenced by the geography and climate of the Korean Peninsula, which is known for its cold autumns and winters, therefore there are many fermented dishes and hot soups and stews. Korean cuisine is probably best known for kimchi, a side dish which uses a distinctive fermentation (food), fermentation process of preserving vegetables, most commonly cabbage. Kimchi is said to relieve the pores on the skin, thereby reducing wrinkles and providing nutrients to the skin naturally. It is also healthy, as it provides necessary vitamins and nutrients. Gochujang, a traditional Korean sauce made of red pepper is also commonly used, often as pepper (chilli) paste, earning the cuisine a reputation for spiciness. Bulgogi (roasted marinated meat, usually beef), galbi (marinated grilled short ribs), and samgyeopsal (pork belly) are popular meat entrees. Fish is also a popular commodity, as it is the traditional meat that Koreans eat. Meals are usually accompanied by a soup or stew, such as galbitang (stewed ribs) or doenjang jjigae (fermented bean paste soup). The center of the table is filled with a shared collection of sidedishes called banchan. Other popular dishes include ''bibimbap'', which literally means "mixed rice" (rice mixed with meat, vegetables, and red pepper paste), and naengmyeon (cold noodles). Instant noodles, or ''ramyeon'', is a popular snack food. Koreans also enjoy food from ''pojangmachas'' (street vendors), which serve tteokbokki, rice cake and fish cake with a spicy gochujang sauce; ''gimbap'', made of steamed white rice wrapped in dried laver (seaweed), laver seaweed; fried squid; and glazed sweet potato. Sundae (Korean food), Soondae, a sausage made of cellophane noodles and pork blood, is widely eaten. Additionally, some other common snacks include "Choco Pie", shrimp crackers, "bbeongtwigi" (puffed rice grains), and "nurungji" (slightly burnt rice). Nurungji can be eaten as it is or boiled with water to make a soup. Nurungji can also be eaten as a snack or a dessert. Korea is unique among Asian countries in its use of metal chopsticks. Metal chopsticks have been discovered in archaeological sites belonging to the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla.


Education

The modern South Korean school system consists of six years in elementary school, three years in middle school, and three years in high school. Students are required to go to elementary and middle school, and do not have to pay for their education, except for a small fee called a "School Operation Support Fee" that differs from school to school. The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, ranks South Korea's science education as the third best in the world and being significantly higher than the OECD average. South Korea ranks second on math and literature and first in . Although South Korean students often rank high on international comparative assessments, the education system is criticised for emphasising too much upon passive learning and memorization. The South Korean education system is rather notably strict and structured as compared to its counterparts in most Western societies. The North Korean education system consists primarily of state school, universal and state funded schooling by the Politics of North Korea, government. The national literacy rate for citizens 15 years of age and above is over 99 percent.Library of Congress country study
see p. 7 for Education and Literacy ()
Children go through one year of kindergarten, four years of primary education, six years of secondary education, and then on to University, universities. The most prestigious university in the DPRK is Kim Il-sung University. Other notable universities include Kim Chaek University of Technology, which focuses on computer science, Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies, which trains working level diplomats and trade officials, and , which trains teachers.


Science and technology

One of the best known artifacts of Korea's history of science and technology is the Cheomseongdae (첨성대, ), a 9.4-meter high observatory built in 634. The earliest known surviving Korean example of woodblock printing is the Seokgatap#National treasure No.126, Mugujeonggwang Great Dharani Sutra. It is believed to have been printed in Korea in 750–51, which if correct, would make it older than the Diamond Sutra. During the Goryeo Dynasty, metal movable type printing was invented by Choe Yun-ui in 1234. This invention made printing easier, more efficient and also increased literacy, which observed by Chinese visitors was seen to be so important where it was considered to be shameful to not be able to read. The
Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the List of largest empires, largest contiguous land empire in history and the second largest empire by landmass, second only to the British Empire. Originating in Mongolia in East Asia, the ...
later adopted Korea's movable type printing and spread as far as Central Asia. There is conjecture as to whether or not Choe's invention had any influence on later printing inventions such as Gutenberg's Printing press. When the Mongols Mongol invasion of Europe, invaded Europe they inadvertently introduced different kinds of Asian technology. During the Joseon period, the Turtle Ship was invented, which were covered by a wooden deck and iron with thorns, as well as other weapons such as the Korean cannon, bigyeokjincheolloe cannon (비격진천뢰, ) and the hwacha. The Korean alphabet hangul was also invented during this time by Sejong the Great of Joseon, King Sejong the Great.


Sport

North Korea and South Korea usually compete as two separate nations in international events. There are, however, a few examples of them having Korea Team, competed as one entity, under the name Korea. While association football remains one of the most popular sports in South Korea, the martial art of taekwondo is considered to be the national sport. Baseball and golf are also popular. The board game Go (game), Go, known in Korea as ''baduk'', has also been popular for over a millennium, first arriving from China in the 5th century CE; ''baduk'' is played both casually and competitively.


Martial arts


Taekwon-Do

Taekwon-Do is Korea's most famous martial art and sport. It combines combat techniques, self-defence, sport and exercise. Taekwon-Do has become an official Olympic sport, starting as a demonstration event in 1988 Summer Olympics, 1988 (when South Korea hosted the Games in Seoul) and becoming an official medal event in 2000 Summer Olympics, 2000. The two major Taekwon-Do federations were founded in Korea. The two are the International Taekwon-Do Federation and the World Taekwondo Federation.


Hapkido

Hapkido is a modern Korean martial arts, Korean martial art with a grappling focus that employs joint locks, throws, kicks, punches and other striking attacks like attacks against pressure points. Hapkido emphasizes circular motion, non-resisting movements and control of the opponent. Practitioners seek to gain advantage through footwork and body positioning to employ leverage, avoiding the pure use of strength against strength.


Ssireum

Ssireum is a traditional form of wrestling that has been practiced in Korea for thousands of years, with evidence discovered from Goguryeo of Korea's Three Kingdoms Period (57 BCE to 688). Ssireum is the traditional national sport of Korea. During a match, opponents grip each other by sash belts wrapped around the waist and the thigh, attempting to throw their competitor to the sandy ground of the ring. The first opponent to touch the ground with any body part above the knee or to lose hold of their opponent loses the round. Ssireum competitions are traditionally held twice a year, during the Dano (Korean festival), Dano Festival (the 5th day of the fifth lunar month) and Chuseok (the 15th day of the 8th lunar month). Competitions are also held throughout the year as a part of festivals and other events.


Taekkyon

Taekkyon is a traditional martial art, considered the oldest form of fighting technique of Korea. Practiced for centuries and especially popular during the Joseon, Joseon dynasty, two forms co-existed: one for practical use, the other for sport. This form was usually practiced alongside Ssireum during festivals and competitions between villages. Nonetheless, Taekkyon almost disappeared during the Korea under Japanese rule, Japanese Occupation and the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea and South Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in So ...

Korean War
. Though lost in North Korea, Taekkyon has enjoyed a spectacular revival from the 1980s in South Korea. It is the only martial art in the world (with Ssireum) recognized as a National Treasure (South Korea), National Treasure of South Korea and a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.


Comparison of the two countries of Korea


Notable public holidays in South Korea


Independence Movement Day, March 1st

Samiljeol, Independence Movement Day, commemorates Korea's declaration of independence from Japanese occupation on 1 March 1919. The name is derived from Korean 삼 "sam" 'three', 일 "il" 'one,' and 절 "jeol" 'day', the date of the uprising in 1919. Korea was annexed to the Empire of Japan on 29 August 1910 following the imposed Japan-Korea Treaty. On 1 March 1919, Korean presented their resistance towards Japan and Japanese occupation with a declaration of independence. Following the conclusion of World War II, Korea was liberated from Japan and its independence restored. The newly established Korean government set aside 1 March as a national holiday to commemorate the sacrifices borne in the long struggle for Korean independence.


Memorial day, 6 June

Memorial Day (South Korea), Hyunchoongil is the national holiday in Korea commemorating those who fought and died for the nation. In August 1948, only a few years after Korea achieved its independence from Japan, the Korean War, in Korea also known as the 6.25 war, broke out between North and South Korea. During this war, approximately 400,000 soldiers and some one million citizens were killed or injured. In 1953, North and South Korea agreed to a cease-fire, and three years later the Korean government established Hyungchoogil to commemorate the soldiers who fought in the Korean War. Subsequent to its establishment, Hyungchoogil was reinterpreted as a day of remembrance for those who died defending Korea in all conflicts, not only during the Korean War.


National Liberation Day, 15 August

National Liberation Day of Korea, Gwangbokjeol is the day for celebrating liberation of the country from Japan in 1945 as well as celebrating the establishment of Korean government in 1948. Gwangbok means "returned light" representing gaining national sovereignty from Japan. It was first declared to be national holiday in 1949 October 1. On this date every year, the president of Korea visits Independence Hall, and invites diplomatic envoys from many countries and all social standings in countries to Cheongwadae (the Blue House, the Korean presidential residence).


Hangul Day, 9 October

Hangul Day (also spelled as Hangeul Day) is a day that celebrates the creation of the Hunminjeongeum (Hangul, Korean alphabet), which was inscribed to the Memory of the World Register – Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 1997. Hangul was created by
Sejong the Great Sejong the Great (세종대왕, ; 15 May 1397 – 8 April 1450) was the fourth king of the Joseon dynasty The Joseon dynasty (also transcribed as Chosŏn or Chosun, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean Korean may refer to: ...
in 1443 and proclaimed in 1446. Before the creation of Hangul, people in Korea (known as
Joseon Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye Taejo of Joseon ...
at the time) primarily wrote using Classical Chinese alongside native phonetic writing systems that predate Hangul by hundreds of years, including Idu script, idu, hyangchal, gugyeol, and gakpil. However, due to the fundamental differences between the Korean and Chinese languages, and the large number of characters needed to be learned, there was much difficulty in learning how to write using Chinese characters for the lower classes, who often didn't have the privilege of education. To assuage this problem, King Sejong created the unique alphabet known as Hangul to promote literacy among the common people. Hangul Day was founded in 1926 during the Korea under Japanese rule, Japanese occupation by members of the Korean Language Society, whose goal was to preserve the Korean language during a time of rapid forced Japanization. Today, both South Korea and North Korea celebrate Hangul Day as a national holiday.


See also

* Index of Korea-related articles * Inter-Korean summits * Korean cuisine * Korean name * Korean natural farming *
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea and South Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in So ...

Korean War
* List of Korean inventions and discoveries * List of people of Korean descent * National Treasures of North Korea * National Treasures of South Korea * North Korea–South Korea relations


Notes


References

Sources * . * * . * . * * . * . * .


Further reading

* Chun, Tuk Chu. "Korea in the Pacific Community". ''Social Education'' 52 (March 1988), 182. EJ 368 177. * Bruce Cumings, Cumings, Bruce. ''The Two Koreas''. New York: Foreign Policy Association, 1984. * * ''Focus on Asian Studies''. Special Issue: "Korea: A Teacher's Guide". No. 1, Fall 1986. * . * Hart, Dennis. ''From Tradition to Consumption: Construction of a Capitalist Culture in South Korea''. Seoul: Jimoondang, 2003. * * Joe, W.J. & Choe, H.A. ''Traditional Korea: A Cultural History'', Seoul: Hollym, 1997. * Joungwon, A.K. ''Divided Korea: The Politics of Development'', Harvard University Press, 1975. * Lee Ki-baik. ''A New History of Korea''. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1984. * Lee Sang-sup. "The Arts and Literature of Korea". ''The Social Studies'' 79 (July–August 1988): 153–60. EJ 376 894. * * Tae-Jin, Y. "The Illegality of the Forced Treaties Leading to Japan's Annexation of the Great Han Empire", In the ''Korean National Commission for UNESCO'', Vol. 36, No. 4, 1996. * . * .


External links

* * * {{Coord , 38, 19, N, 127, 14, E, type:country_region:KR, display= title Korea, Disputed territories in Asia Divided regions East Asia Former countries in Asia Korean-speaking countries and territories Northeast Asia States and territories disestablished in 1948