Map of Korea Today King Sejong and the Invention of Hangul



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Focus on Korea

  • Korean Identity, History and Politics

Map of Korea Today

King Sejong and the Invention of Hangul

Hangul: The Korean Alphabet

The South Korean Flag

  • Three components of a nation: the land, the people, and the government

The North Korean Flag

  • Blue: desire for Peace
  • Red: revolutionary spirit
  • White: purity, dignity, strength
  • Star: Korean worker’s Party
  • White disc: universe

South Korean money today

  • Money is called Won
  • Exchange rate is about 1000 to 1

North Korean Money

  • Called Won
  • Exchange rate: 2.15 to 1

Origins of Korean People

King Chi Wu “Red Devil” of the Baidal kingdom ( 3,000 B.C.)

Stone tools

Excavation of the Go-Choson kingdom (3rd to 1st Millennium B.C.

Prehistoric dolmens in Korea

Chessboard type dolmens in the South

Mountain dolmens

Dan-gun and the mythological origins of the Korean people

Korea’s Bronze Age: 10th century B.C.

  • Bronze mirror and bronze rattle

Korea’s Iron Age: 300 B.C.

Proto Three Kingdoms Period

  • Jar coffins

Three Kingdoms: Koguryo, Paekche and Silla: 3rd Century A.D.. to 668 AD

Paekche: Tribes in Southwest begin to unite around 3rd century A.D.

  • Threat by Chinese Wei dynasty caused tribes to unite
  • Paekche depended upon alliances with Yamato (Japan) and Kaya to retain independence
  • Buddhism became important

Brick tomb of King Muryeong of the Paekche dynasty

Silla: Unification begun in 57 BC but first ruler was King Naemul (356AD)

  • Grew in Korea’s Southeast, separated form Paekche (and Chinese influence) by mountains
  • Engaged in military struggles with Paekche and Kaya, absorbing Kaya in the 6th century
  • Characterized by strong, independent women, including Queen Sondok ( 632-647)
  • Scientific advances, especially in astronomy

Cheomseongdae: observatory from 647: old Silla Kingdom

Silla, 5-6th centuries, Heavenly Horse Tomb

Koguryo: Expanded with fall of Chinese Han dynasty to control Manchuria and North Korea by 391

  • King Kwanggaet’o conquered 65 walled cities and 1,400 villages

Ancient capital of Koguryo (Jip-ahn)

General Ulichi Mundak, most famous Koguryo general (7th century)

Koguryo Women’s attire (based on cave painting)

Carriage from wall tomb (Koguryo)

Hunting scene from 6th century Koguryo tomb

Koguryo tomb

Buddhism was introduced in the 4th century: relics of early Buddhism

Confucianism became the basis of three kingdom’s governments

Confucian temple: gate and mortuary house

Confucian academy in present day North Korea

Modern Confucian Ceremony

Unified Silla Kingdom: 668-918

Silla and the Tang Dynasty of China

  • Tang helped Silla to conquer first Paekche and then Koguryo
  • Silla then had to resist Chinese control for the next 300 years!
  • New political, legal and educational institutions
  • Domestic and foreign trade (China and Japan) flourished
  • Medicine, astronomy and math flourished

Geongju: Capital of Unified Silla

  • Today an open air museum, one of Korean’s World Heritage sites.

Kim Yu-shin’s tomb: one of Silla’s unifiers

Bell from Geongju (Capital of unified Silla)

Tomb of the Heavenly Horse

Gold work: Girdle with Pendants

Pottery: Incense burner

Buddha sculptures

Zodiac figures: The Boar

Hwangnyong pagoda: destroyed by Mongols

Sarira Reliquaries

Sokkuram Grotto

Bulgaksa Temple

Plan of Bulgaksa

Bulgaksa Temple

Parhae Kingdom

  • Established by General from Koguryo
  • Fought and contained Silla
  • Rued parts of Manchuria and North Korea
  • Eventually defeated by Kitan uprising in 10th century

Koryo Dynasty: 918-1392)

General Wang Kon: founder of dynasty

  • Collapse of Silla gave opportunity to create new dynasty
  • Threatened by Kitan Liao tribes
  • Thriving commercial, intellectual and artistic activities (100 years)
  • Imitates China’s Song dynasty
  • Ally against Kitan

Koryo Intellectual Achievements

  • Great strides made in printing and publication
  • 1234: invention of movable metal type
  • Craving of the Buddhist Tripitaka in wood blocks
  • Painting became important art form
  • Pottery production: celadon glazes form important export commodity

Carving of the Tripitaka Koreanna in Haeinsa monastery

Map of Haeinsa (Haein Monastery)

Haeinsa Main Hall

Haeinsa Stupa (reliquary)

The Making of Korean Celadon

Celadon ware: Korea’s trade goods

Painting became an art of the literati

Mongol Invasion of Korea

  • 1258: Koryo overthrown by Mongols
  • 1279: Korea incorporated in to the Yuan empire of China
  • 1392: Choson (Yi) Kingdom founded
  • Cultural Flourishing and struggle for independence

Korea: Part of the Yuan Dynasty: 1279-1368

  • Khubilai Khan: conqueror of China and Korea
  • Enlists Koreans in attempt to invade Japan in 1274 and 1281
  • Defeat by divine winds: Kamikazi
  • Koryo kings marry Mongol princesses

General Yi Song-gye founds the Choson Dynasty

  • Moved the capital from Kaesong to modern day Seoul (Hanyang)
  • Gate to Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Hall

Economic and political repression of Buddhism

  • Land reform stripped monasteries of land
  • -land not on tax rolls
  • -peasant tenant farmers on land owned by temples
  • Political attacks stripped monasteries of power
  • -great power in Koryo
  • -great corruption in monasteries
  • Results: decline in religious fervor and Buddhism

Triumph of Confucianism

  • Creation of the hereditary Yangban class
  • Rule by literati
  • Use of Confucian rituals in governmental business
  • Confucian schools and development of Confucian philosophy

Choson dynasty: 1392-1910

  • The Yangban class: literati rule both civil and military functions

Brush holder and tablet

Portrait of an official

Gateway to Suwon Confucian Temple

Confucian temple lecture hall

Inner Shrine of Confucian Temple

Portrait Hall: Pictures of Confucius and disciples

Ondul Underfloor heating: Korea’s conquest of winter

18th and 19th century porcelian

Suwon walled city

Approaching one of the gates

Southwest Secret gate

Command Post

West Gate

Japanese invasions: 1592 and 1597

Decline of the Choson Dynasty:17th and 18th centuries

  • Attacks by Japanese and Manchus
  • Weak rulers
  • Economic depression
  • Sirhak movement: practical philosophy
  • Discontented scholars and government officials
  • Coming of Western ideas
  • Natural Calamities

Korea: the Hermit Kingdom

  • Forced opening to the West and to Japan
  • Japan forced Korea to sign an unequal treaty (1876), opening three Korean ports and giving Japanese citizens extraterritoriality
  • China and Japan both try to control Korea’s foreign relations
  • Western powers seeks trade and treaties

Japanese conquest of Korea

  • Japan and China struggle for support at the Korean court
  • The Tonghak rebellion (1894) is the excuse for the Sino-Japanese War over Korea
  • The resulting Treaty of Shimonoseki gave Japan hegemony over Korea
  • Japan forces passage of measure designed to prevent more uprisings
  • Korea reforms: abolishes classes, liberates slaves, abolishes civil service exams

Korea becomes a Japanese colony

  • The Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 results in Russia “ acknowledging Japan’s paramount political, military and economic interest in Korea”
  • In the Taft-Katsura Agreement (US and Japan) gives Japan a free hand in Korea in exchange for Japan giving the US a free hand in the Philippines.
  • In 1910: Japan annexes Korea as its second colony

Japan annexes Korea: 1910

Korea under Japanese rule

  • Japan disbands the Korean Army

Koreans protest Japanese occupation and call for Korean Independence

World War II and Korea’s Role

  • Great Repression in the 1930’s
  • Build up industry in the North to serve Japanese War aims
  • Build up agriculture in the South: Rice shipped to Japan
  • Forced recruitment of Korean soldiers
  • Forced recruitment of Korean women to serve as “comfort women”
  • Western thought replaces traditional thought
  • Education in Japanese

The Japanese surrender and the division of Korea

  • Russia takes surrender in the North
  • US takes surrender in the South

North and South Korea: temporary or Permanent

  • Truman and Stalin agree to divide at 38th parallel
  • Truman and Stalin agree to 5-year trusteeship during which Korea prepare for full independence
  • Joint US-USSR commission set up to administer Korea
  • Protests from Korean political parties, both right and left

Economic Problems

  • Heavy industry in North
  • Agriculture in South
  • South dependent upon North for electricity to run its lights and industries
  • South depends upon Northern coal for fuel
  • Most industry had been owned by Japanese: now bereft of managers
  • Great influx of refugees: several million return to Korea

Changing US policy

  • 1947; convinced that the Communists would lose in China, decide to rebuild Japan as ally in Asia
  • Worsening Cold War with Berlin blockade (1848): end of co-operation with Russia
  • Syngman Rhee sets up first Korean government in South (1848
  • South Korean Army formed)
  • US withdraws most troops from Korea, June, 1949

North Korea: a success story (1945-1950)

  • Communist Party under Kim Il-Sung forms first provisional and then permanent government
  • Reorganizes and strengthens armed forces
  • Rebuilds industry with Soviet help

The Korean War: 1950-1953

Post-War South Korea: Road to Democracy

  • Rule of Syngman Rhee: 1946-1960
    • Rebuild Southern industry and agriculture
    • Massive American aid
    • Constant opposition to his political repression
    • Improved education at all levels: student revolts bring down government
  • Democratic interlude: 1960-1961: military junta takes over and Park Chung Hee rules 1961-1979
    • Korea’s economic progress continues

Korea’s economic miracle

  • Transition from military rule to democratic rule: 1980s and 1990s.
  • Large industrial conglomerates emerge similar to the Japanese Zaibatsu of war years
  • Korea emerges as a “tiger” of Asia
  • Korea intends to beat Japan
  • Highly literate and homogeneous society

North Korea: Communism and Isolation

  • Kim Il-Sung: The Great Leader

Kim Il-Sung and his anti-Japanese partisan army

Kim Il-Sung leading the nation

Celebration of Kim’s birthday

Juche: the North Korean way to Independence

Kim Jong-Il: The Dear Leader

Rapprochement with the South: Kim Jong-Il and Kim Dae Jung



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