The New History of Korean Civilization

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  1. History Book Review: The New History Of Korean Civilization by Chai-Shin Yu
  2. History of Korea - New World Encyclopedia
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This is simply wrong. Author Chai-Shin Yu, distinguished professor of Korean studies, surveys the history of cultural life in Korea and provides a detailed account of this country's remarkable heritage.


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From the prehistoric age through the rise of the Chos n Dynasty and up to the creation of the Republic of Korea, this concise history traces the development of history, politics, philosophy, religion, literature, and art. Chai-Shin Yu shows how Korean culture also played a vital role in the formation of Japanese culture.

Written for the purpose of introducing the roots of Korean culture to Westerners and second-generation Koreans living in the West, "The New History of Korean Civilization" is a bold addition to the historiography of Korea. Silla managed to expel the Chinese from the peninsula and unified the territory for the first time in history. This period is known as the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. The leaders of this group were the sons of noble warriors. Leader of the group was called Hwarang and his followers were called Nangdo. During their training, they traveled to the rugged mountainous areas, the rivers, and seacoasts to train in military techniques and martial arts.

Included in the training was the study of classical literature as well as that of dance and music. After the long for unification of the kingdoms by Silla in , the popularity of martial arts gradually declined. Freed from the concerns of internal struggles and foreign interventions, there was a rapid rise in art, religion, commerce, education, and other fields in which development was remarkable. The capital of Silla, now Kyongju, had a population of more than one million inhabitants in its day, currently about ,, which may help to get an idea of the importance it had in its time.

Buddhism flourished under the protection of the nobility and exerted a great influence in the affairs of the state, the artistic and moral creation. Silla reached the apogee of its prosperity and power in the middle of the eighth century, but later gradually fell into decay. The fighting in the nobility was intensified, while leaders of rebel groups claimed the right to the succession of the kingdoms that had been defeated, Koguryo and Paekche. Tae Cho-yong, a veteran general of Koguryo, founded Balhae south of Central Manchuria in a region belonging to the late kingdom of Koguryo.

Balhae not only had refugees from Koguryo but also a large population of Mongols. Balhae established a system of governance of five regional capitals based on the existing administrative structure in Koguryo.

History Book Review: The New History Of Korean Civilization by Chai-Shin Yu

During the heyday of its power, it occupied a vast territory that extended by the most northern part of the Korean peninsula and a great part of Manchuria including territories that at the moment belong to the Russian Federation. Soon it collided with the kingdom of Silla and the Tang dynasty, although later it initiated a peaceful relation with China. It also established diplomatic ties with the Ottoman Empire and Japan.

By the end of the eighth century, Silla had been weakened by the internal struggles of the nobles, and by the tenth century the leaders of powerful local factions, such as Gungye and Gyeon Hwon, had established their own governments. During the year , Gyeon Hwon established a kingdom called the Late Paekche, with Wansanju as its capital and controlled the territory of present Jeolla-do and Chungcheong-do.

In , Gungye, member of the royal family of Silla, founded Late Goguryeo that controlled the present Gangwon-do and Gyeonggi-do. He reformed the system of government, expanded the territory and moved the capital to Cheorwon. He also changed the name of the country to Taebong.

Gungye was losing popularity among his subjects, but still retained control over local leaders and entrenched his aspiration to the throne. He was eventually expelled by Wang Geon, a local Song-do leader, in Wang Geon established as the capital of the kingdom his hometown Song-do Actual Kaesong and announced a policy for recovering the lost territory of Goguryeo in Manchuria. For this reason, he called his kingdom Goryeo, from where comes the current name of Korea.

History of Korea - New World Encyclopedia

Goryeo maintained the hostilities with Late Paekche and adopted a policy of positive confrontation with Silla. In , the unified kingdom of Silla was peacefully incorporated to Goryeo and soon in the year Paekche Late also fell under its dominion. Thus, Wang Geon unified the three kingdoms of the Korean peninsula for the first time, becoming a very important figure in Korean history. Goryeo adopted Confucianism as an official ideology and established an effective system of education with the creation of Gukjagam a national higher education institution and numerous hyanggyo private schools.

Buddhism also exerted a considerable influence on the society of Goryeo in general, which reached a great splendor and stimulated the construction of temples and the carving of images of Buddha. Historians know little about Jin except it established relations with Han China and exported artifacts to the Yayoi of Japan. Jin later evolved into the Samhan confederacies.

Scholars dispute the course of the decline and fall of Gojoseon, depending on how historians view Gija Joseon. Joseon Sangosa suggests the theory that Gojoseon disintegrated by about B. Goguryeo and Baekje descended from Buyeo. The Three Kingdoms refer to Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla , although Buyeo and the Gaya confederacy existed into 5th and 6th centuries respectively. The era includes Goguryeo , Silla , and Baekje , and occurred after the fall of Gojoseon. This time period consisted of numerous states that sprang up from the former territories of Gojoseon.

Among those states, Dongbuyeo and Bukbuyeo stood as the largest and most influential. After the fall of Gojoseon , Hae Mosu, a person of Gojoseon descent, gathered an army of Gojoseon people at Ungshin Mountain to establish a kingdom that would reassert the glories of Gojoseon. In B. Hae Mosu and his descendants ruled over Buyeo through seven generations. Hae Mosu and his descendants constantly fought with Wiman Joseon and its many neighbors.

Buyeo slowly began to conquer those neighboring states, reunifying much of Gojoseon's former territories. Buyeo split in 86 B. Hae Buru lost and fled to the east, where he reopened his kingdom, forming Dongbuyeo. Go Dumak continued on as the 5th ruler of Buyeo, and passed the throne to his son, Go Museo Dangun, upon his death in 60 B. Go Museo ruled over Jolbon Buyeo for two years before dying in 38 B.


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Go Museo Dangun had no sons, therefore, gave the throne to his son-in-law, who was Jumong, the founder of Goguryeo. Jolbon Buyeo later became the foundation for establishing Goguryeo, the northernmost and grew to become the most powerful of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Geumwa's son, Daeso, became the third and last king of Dongbuyeo. He fought against King Daemusin, dying in battle, thus bringing an end to Dongbuyeo. The Kingdom of Okjeo, a tribal state located in the northern Korean Peninsula , established after the fall of Gojoseon.

Okjeo, a part of Gojoseon before its fall, never became a fully-developed kingdom due to the intervention of neighboring kingdoms. Okjeo became a tributary of Goguryeo, eventually annexed into Goguryeo by Gwanggaeto Taewang in the fifth century. Dongye, a small kingdom situated in the northern Korean Peninsula , bordered Okjeo. The two kingdoms faced the same fate of becoming tributaries of the growing empire of Goguryeo. Dongye existed as a former part of Gojoseon before its fall. After the fall of Gojoseon in B. Though scholars vigorously dispute its existence, certain passages in Samguk Sagi and several other ancient sources have provided proof.

Nangnang Joseon coexisted with and paid tribute to Buyeo. Historical records mention only one ruler's name,Choe Ri, the last ruler is named. Goguryeo conquered Nangnang Joseon in 32 C.

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Samhan refers to the three confederacies of Mahan, Jinhan, and Byeonhan. The Samhan were located in the southern region of the Korean Peninsula.

History of Korea

These three confederacies eventually become the foundations, at which Baekje , Silla , and Gaya were established. Mahan was the largest and consisted of 54 states. Byeonhan and Jinhan both consisted of 12 states, bringing a total of 78 states within the Samhan. The term "Samhan" is later used to describe the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

Jumong posthumous name Dongmyeongseong founded Goguryeo in 37 B. King Taejo centralized Goguryeo. During King Sosurim reign Goguryeo became the first of the three kingdoms to adopt Buddhism as the state religion in Goguryeo reached its zenith in the fifth century, when King Gwanggaeto and his son, King Jangsu expanded into almost all of Manchuria and part of inner Mongolia, and took the Seoul region from Baekje. Gwanggaeto and Jangsu subdued Baekje and Silla during their times, bringing about a loose unification of Korea.

Goguryeo defeated a massive Chinese invasion in the Goguryeo-Sui War of , contributing to Sui's fall, and continued to repel the Tang dynasty. Numerous wars exhausted Goguryeo and it fell into a weak state after internal power struggles. An allied Silla-Tang force conquered Goguryeo in Baekje 's foundation by King Onjo in 18 B.

Expanding into the southwest Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces of the peninsula, Baekje became a significant political and military power. In the process, Baekje came into fierce confrontation with Goguryeo and the Chinese commanderies in the vicinity of its territorial ambitions. At its peak in the fourth century, it had absorbed all of the Mahan states and subjugated most of the western Korean peninsula including the moder provinces of Kyonggi, Chungcheong, and Jeolla, as well as part of Hwanghae and Kangwon to a centralized government.

Baekje acquired Chinese culture and technology through contacts with the Southern Dynasties during the expansion of its territory. Baekje played a fundamental role in transmitting cultural developments, such as Chinese characters , Buddhism, iron-making, advanced pottery , and ceremonial burial into ancient Japan.

A coalition of Silla and Tang Dynasty forces defeated Baekje in According to legend, the kingdom Silla began with the unification of six chiefdoms of the Jinhan confederacy by Bak Hyeokgeose in 57 B. Its territory included the present-day port city of Busan , and Silla later emerged as a sea power responsible for destroying Japanese pirates, especially during the Unified Silla period.

Silla artifacts, including unique gold metalwork, show influence from the northern nomadic steppes, with less Chinese influence than Goguryeo and Baekje showed. Silla expanded rapidly by occupying the Han River basin and uniting the city states. By the second century, Silla existed as a large state, occupying and influencing nearby city states.

Silla began to gain power when it annexed in the Gaya confederacy , between Baekje and Silla. Silla often faced pressure from Baekje and Japan, and at various times allied and warred with Baekje and Goguryeo. In , King Muyeol of Silla ordered his armies to attack Baekje. General Kim Yu-shin, aided by Tang forces, conquered Baekje. In , Goguryeo repelled a Silla and Tang allied attack. King Munmu, son of Muyeol and nephew of General Kim, ordered his uncle to launch another campaign in and Goguryeo fell in the following year. Gaya, formed from a confederacy of chiefdoms in the Nakdong River valley of southern Korea , grew out of the Byeonhan confederacy of the Samhan period.

Constituting one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea , Gaya developed ironware culture. In , Silla absorbed Gaya. Post Silla kingdom is often referred to as Unified Silla , though the term North-South States, in reference to Balhae, is also used. Unified Silla lasted for years until falling to Goryeo , under the leadership King Gyeongsun, in After the unification wars, the Tang Dynasty established territories in the former Goguryeo, and began to administer and establish communities in Baekje.

Silla attacked the Chinese in Baekje and northern Korea in Defeating the Chinese army in the north, Silla drove the Tang forces out of the peninsula by to achieve unification of most of the Three Kingdoms.

History of Korea

Korean arts flourished dramatically and Buddhism became a large part of Silla culture during the Unified Silla period. Buddhist monasteries such as the Bulguksa provide examples of advanced Korean architecture and Buddhist influence. Silla began to experience political troubles in when rebel leaders repeatedly assassinated kings. That severely weakened Silla and soon thereafter, descendants of the former Baekje established Later Baekje. In the north, rebels revived Goguryeo, beginning the Later Three Kingdoms period.

Dae Joyeong, a former Goguryeo general, founded Balhae in the northern part of former lands of Goguryeo.