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The Korean Legend of Dangun


The national founder of Korea is Dangun. A grand ritual is observed to celebrate the Legend of Dangun. This event is called Eocheonjeol and observes the day Dangun went to heaven. According to the lunar calendar, this is March 15th. The legend says Dangun came to the earth from heaven. After opening the nation, Dangun went back to heaven. Dangun came to earth with the belief that if the world were ruled with humanitarian principles, it would create a utopia. This ceremony has been held throughout the history of Korea. This includes both the Jeoseon and Goryo dynasties. Imperial Japan stopped the Eocheonjeol ceremony from 1910 until 1935 when they colonized the Korean Peninsula.


The Great Religion includes four festivals. One of these is Eocheonjeol. The day Hanbegeom went to heaven is celebrated on March 15 by the lunar calendar. It was the year of sangwongapja when Hanbegeom came to earth. Hanbegeom taught and opened the city of God. Later on, Hanbegeom became the king and governed. He provided the virtues of education and creation while governing in the Trinity for 217 years. Hanbegeom is celebrated by the grand religion as he ascended to heaven. Each temple holds both the gyeonghasik and the seoneuisik.


The legendary founder of Gojoseon was Dangun Wanggeom. This was Korea’s first kingdom. In Liaoning of the current day, this is the Korean and Manchuria peninsula. According to the legend, Dangun Wanggeom is the God of heaven’s grandson. The year was 2333 BCE when he founded the kingdom. The term Dangun is a reference to the founder. There are some people who believe this term was a title all the rulers of Gojoseon used. They believe the correct name for the founder was Wanggeom.


The ancestry of Dangun starts with Hwanin, his grandfather. This term appears in the texts of the Indian Buddhists and is referred to as Lord of Heaven. The name of Hwanin’s son was Hwanung. He wanted to live on the earth in the mountains and the valleys. Hwanin gave his permission for Hwanung and 3000 of his followers to descend into the Baekdu Mountain. These were called the Taebaek mountains at this time. This was where Hwanung found the City of God or the Sinsi. He taught humans different agriculture, medicine and arts and instituted moral and law codes with his ministers of wind, rain and clouds.


A bear and a tiger prayed to Hwanung because they wanted to become human. When Hwanung heard their prayers, he gave them a bundle of mugwort and twenty cloves of garlic. He ordered them to stay out of the sun for 100 days and eat nothing but this sacred food. After roughly twenty days, the tiger gave up and left the cave. The bear stayed in the cave and was transformed into a woman.


The bear woman made offerings to Hwanung out of gratitude. She became sad because she did not have a husband. She prayed under the Divine Betula or Shindansu tree to receive the blessing of a child. Her prayers moved Hwanung and he took the bear woman for his wife. She gave birth to a son and named him Dangun Wanggeom.


Dangun eventually ascended to the throne and was responsible for the construction of the walled city of Pyongyang. This city is now known as North Korea’s capital and is referred to as the kingdom Joseon. Dangun moved the capital Asadal on Mount Gunghol or Mount Baegak. After fifteen hundred years had passed, in the year Kimyo, the capital was moved to Jangdangyeong by Dangun. He was now age 1,908 and became a mountain God after his return to Asadal.



With the second World War looming every country was busy preparing for it. This fueled political, economic and social changes at various levels. The buildup to the war involved competition and governments were starting to come up with mechanisms of gaining an advantage over other. In some instances, the governments through the legislature had to come up with laws that would promote strengthening the army. The Empire of Japan also resorted to these reforms to restructure their system to favor military advancement.


The beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese saw the Japanese legislature, the Diet of Japan, make reforms to the law. The laws were set up to gain some control over civilians and to benefit the Japanese army. There was resistance opposing the formulation of the law at the start of 1938. This pressure, however, was subdued by the military. By May the same year, the bill was put into effect. The fifty clauses created by the legislature were collectively termed as the National Mobilization Law.

The National Mobilization Law had placed the government in a position where its activities favored military operations. The government was given the authority to impose unlimited subsidies on the production of military-related goods. The actions of the labor unions were curtailed thereby reducing private opinion over government matters. Industries that were deemed crucial by the government were nationalized. This increased government control in the economy. Price controls were set up by the government on various products, rationing of the goods was also used. Majority of what was in the media was government controlled. The press was nationalized.


Articles one up to three interpreted the Mobilization Law and its relation to the industries. Article thirteen gave the government powers to control what was happening in the private sector. The government had aims of providing an environment that would favor armament and increase of military strength. The government would then have the ability to confiscate, hire and manage private business entities. The law explained in article twenty-one that the government might appoint civilians if the government sees it fit. It was a requirement for some industries to keep in hand a certain number of goods if a directive was made. There were policies under which firms and organizations would create plans to conduct research and do experiments that may advance the military. In return, the government would provide subsidies to these organizations.

The creation of the supervisory commission also fulfilled the government need for control. The commission was responsible for overlooking sectors of the economy that were deemed “crucial.” The law, at first was only to be applied during emergency situations. It was, however, invoked and was made to include cases like the conflict with China. The National Service Draft Ordinance was also created to supplement National Mobilization Law. The Ministry of Welfare was in charge of recruiting workers to serve industries that promoted supplies to the war. At its peak, the ministry had hired 1.6 million people, another 4.5 million people had been reassigned from their previous jobs.


The National Mobilization Law had a social impact on the Japanese people. The women in the Japanese society were more like caretakers of their homes. According to custom, they were required to stay at home doing household duties. The advent of the Second Sino-Japanese war pushed the government to recruit women thereby changing their roles. As the war continued, the labor force required was insatiable. This situation prompted the recruitment of children to work in factories. The standards of living had also deteriorated. More hours were spent to increase military oriented production leaving other sectors deprived.

The Anti-Chinese riots of 1931


Wanpaoshan used to be a small village located north of Changchun, Manchuria. The town was marshy and alongside Itung river. Japanese Empire had at the time taken power over Koreans. Some Koreans decided to lease a large piece of land from a Chinese broker with the intention of irrigation practices. In preparation for the irrigation, they dug a ditch some kilometers along but extended from the Itung River to a piece of land that was exclusive of what they had leased and was at the time occupied by the local Chinese farmers. On seeing this, local Chinese farmers protested by reporting the activity to the Wanpaoshan local authorities. At this time, a considerable length of the ditch had already been dug which called for action to be taken. Police were dispatched, and the Koreans were ordered to terminate the project and leave the area immediately. On the other hand, the Imperial Japanese Consul from Changchun also sent Japanese consular police for the Koreans protection. The collision between the Japanese and Chinese authorities based in the city called for an agreement point that the matter needed joint investigation.


Wanpaoshan Incident- Joint investigation needed time to lunch and complete and the Chinese farmers got impatient. Four hundred local Chinese farmers who were whose lands were cut by the ditch decided to take matters in their own hands, armed with pikes and agricultural tools. Their main aim was to drive the Koreans away however they also filled the most substantial part of the ditch. As the incident took place, Japanese consular police tried to disperse the group while protecting the Koreans farmers by firing rifles. Luckily, no casualties were recorded, and Chinese farmers withdrew. Japanese police had to guard the project until the Koreans farmers were able to finalize on digging the ditch and dam along the Itung River.


Anti-Chinese riots in Korea incident- the incident happened in Pyongyang, Korea as a result of the Wanpaoshan Incident. Anti-Chinese riots were severe as opposed to the Wanpaoshan Incident and even had to be published in both Japanese and Korean newspapers. The riots started at Incheon on July 3 and spread all over Korea cities. Chinese authorities claimed that one hundred and forty-six lives were lost, five hundred and forty-six wounded and properties of great value destroyed with July 5 as a day that worst rioting happened in Pyongyang. The Chinese authorities also lamented that the authorities in Japanese did not take precautions to protect Chinese lives and properties and also failed to prohibit the publishing of inflammatory accounts. In defense, Japanese authorities claimed that the riots were random outbursts that were settled as soon as they could and also gave compensation to the families that were bereaved.


Anti-Korean sentiment in China incident- in response to the Anti-Chinese riots, riots by Chinese against Koreans erupted in China. The hatred and ethnicity among Koreans and Chinese grew dramatically. According to an article published by the New York Times, in Jilin alone, ten thousand Koreans were brutally killed by the Chinese ethnic groups. Several Korean houses were also burnt down and looted in the province. In Supingkai, anti-Korean riot claimed three hundred lives. May 1931, Chinese boycotted Japanese-made products as a way of resistance.


Results- the situation was worse and called for Japanese and Chinese authorities to come up with ways to resolve the situation. On the one hand, Chinese felt that Koreans broke the law by leasing land outside of Gando District according to Gando Convention. On the other hand, maintained that since Koreans were Japanese subjects, they had the right to lease land all over South Manchuria and that the Koreans were in good faith apart from the Chinese broker. Koreans farmers remained.

Ewha Womans University



Ewha is a school in Seoul Korea that holds a lot of history behind its name. A determined woman named Mary F. Scranton founded the university in 1886. The school was designed for woman seeking higher education. As of today, the University still operates and functions effectively providing students a host of essential courses. Although, the school is in Korea, it provides courses to many different ethnic backgrounds and services students from more than 70 countries.


Ewha features graduate and undergraduate courses and today it has more than fifteen thousand students that are currently enrolled. One hundred and seven-two thousand who successfully graduated and achieved a Bachelor’s degree. More than forty-eight thousand who have received their master’s degree and over four thousand who have received a Doctorate degree.

Housing Dorms

This enormous school has a host of housing dorms that is quite useful for students that attend. EWHA offers students on campus dorming and off campus dorming options. Today, more than four thousand students currently occupy the dorming facilities. The students are matched with dorms pertaining to the courses of study. Furthermore, the school provides the students a variety of accommodations while in the dorm, such as recreation, cultural programs and essential academic programs.

Most of the rooms are completely furnished where others just include the basic materials, such as desks and beds. Prices typically start at three hundred and fifty thousand, but are well worth the payment for the quality and professionalism the school offers. Moreover, there are scholarship programs available through the school to assist students with financial hardship. Students are provided hot/cold meals twice a day with access to refrigerator, microwaves and many useful accessories.

Academic Affairs

This department consists of professional administrators who are there to help students along the way. They typically handle calendar scheduling, arranging school events, directing academic courses and student reviews on performance of grades and day-to-day management with administration and faculty concerns.

Registration Process

Non-English registers interested will adhere to an application process and will then be required to write a brief essay. Once this process is complete, the registrar will then be notified for a thorough interview. Furthermore, students will then be notified whether they fit the criteria to attend. In addition, students may be required to provide identity credentials, such as a passport, English language certification etc.; Unqualified registrars are usually notified by mail if they are not selected to attend EWHA.


To get an idea and hands on experience of the University there are a host of tours that are available usually from Monday through Saturday and other guided tours are available from Monday through Friday. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn and visit all the nearby amenities and attractions offered. The touring process is open to anyone that has interest in EWHA and what they have to offer. However, they must receive full consent from the school before partaking in touring with EWHA.

1948- Women Gain Their Rights

Source : jia.sipa.columbia.edu

After decades of occupation and dictatorship Korea attempted to become a democracy in 1948. A traditionally male-dominant society due to their adherence to the male-dominated religion of Confucianism, the 1948 Constitution guaranteed all citizens equal treatment under the law and that religion, gender and social status no longer could legally provide a barrier to personal and political rights.

As is often the case it took some time for these legal decrees to actually become practiced in the law and indeed there is still a gender equality gap in South Korean society.

The religious influence of Confucianism led to a strictly patriarchal society. Women were expected to maintain and stay in the home and defer to the man of the house on all things. Their rights to own property, even as an inheritance from their husband, were severely limited. The Constitution, through its various forms since 1948, has always guaranteed women the legal right to leave the home, vote and hold positions in business and cultural institutions. Though women have had these rights for decades they have not been put into practice and often the courts reflected the patriarchal attitude as opposed to the constitutional attitude. Women were not generally allowed “out of the house” until later, and this is reflected in their participation in government.

Between the adoption of this Constitution in 1948 and 2004 the percent of women in the South Korean National Assembly was less than three (2.9%), with only three years in that period (1973, 2000, 2004) seeing women elected to over five percent of parliamentary positions. 2004 was the highest percent of any year in that range at 13%, more than doubling the second highest year of 2000 at 5.9%

These low numbers persisted even though several administrations in South Korea pledged to do better. It was not until the election of Kim Jae-jung in 1998 that things truly began to turn around for women in South Korea.

Kim Jae-jung ran on an inclusive platform aimed specifically at women. His campaign was a success on some levels. 50% of voters in his election were women, the highest percentage at the time. He promised to appoint four women to Cabinet positions and to help get elected officials achieve being at least 30% women in parliament.

He also changed several policies and laws to become fairer to women and to reflect their equal standing with men under the nations Constitution. He also passed the Gender Discrimination Prevention and Relief Act in 1999 which resulted in the formation of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, a government organization dedicated to increasing participation by women in all aspects of South Korean culture including politics.

In reality his policies fell short of his promises. Though many legal steps forward were taken in favor of women’s rights government participation fell short. The year Kim Jae-jung promised to have 30% of parliament was 2000, where the percent was only 5.9%.

There has been an increase in women’s participation in government since Kim Jae-jung’s tenure. In local and national elections more and more women enter the political arena by seeking office. They still make up a small percentage of elected of officials but they are exercising their freedoms and their rights by running for office and gaining ground against the patriarchal tendencies of their culture. Women overwhelmingly register for liberal parties, making up 70% of the Democratic Liberal Party in 1995 although general participation in organized parties is minimal.

It is notable that women in South Korea attained suffrage and equal rights under the law without violence. This method is atypical in history.

The Division of Korea


The division between North and South Korea happened after the conclusion of World War II, and it ended the Japanese rule, which had been in effect for 35 years. The United States and the USSR each took control of one half of the former country of Korea, with the USA taking the south and the USSR taking the north. The two countries attempted to negotiate towards the goal of a unified Korea, but failed. As a result, elections were held in the south portion in 1948, supervised by the United Nations. The winner was Syngman Rhee, who was a noted anti-communist. Meanwhile, in the north, Kim Il-sung was named leader by Joseph Stalin.

The Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

South Korea became the Republic of Korea and North Korea became the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and both governments claimed that they were the official government of the entire Korean peninsula. This eventually lead to the Korean War, which began in 1950. Korea had previously been unified for centuries, and the sudden division was viewed as extremely contentious right away by both governments. It was also seen as temporary. After the governments were established, and before the official start of the war, both sides engaged in various conflicts along the dividing border. The forces of North Korea eventually took it a step further by invading the south. The UN immediately intervened with a force led by the USA.

While North Korea’s forces were in the South, they attempted to unite Korea under their regime. Initially, the intervention from the UN was supposed to restore the border, however, both Syngman Rhee and General Douglas MacArthur agreed that North Korea’s forces had ruined the border concept entirely. MacArthur further said that he wanted to pursue uniting Korea, not just driving the North back to their territory.

The Korean War

North Korea’s forces were able to take over 90 percent of the South’s territory before being attacked by US forces. The North’s forces were driven from the South, and then South Korean and UN forces crossed the previous border. Before this happened, China warned that it would get involved if the South tried to take over the North. As the North had attempted to do, the South also tried to unite Korea with its occupation. However, China finally intervened, as it said it would, and drove the South’s forces back into their own territory.

By 1951, the 38th parallel had become a fairly stable front line for the ongoing war, but both sides began to consider peace. Syngman Rhee wanted the war continue until the South won, but the North’s side wanted an armistice. After three years, both sides eventually signed the Korean Armistice Agreement, which created the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Rhee did not accept the agreement and continued to lobby for uniting Korea by force.

Present Day Korean Relations

North and South Korea have remained in technical conflict since the Korean War, which never really ended in a final sense. Both governments have continued to claim ownership of the Korean peninsula, and negotiations between both countries have generally failed to produce any results towards unification, or even full peace. Military confrontations have continued as well. North Korea is largely supported by China in the present day as the USSR no longer exists. South Korea is still strongly supported by the United States and its allies.

In 2018, some progress was made as the North’s leader Kim Jong-un met with the South’s leader Moon Jae-in. The leaders met in the DMZ and signed the Panmunjom Declaration to end military activities at the border.

Assassination of Queen Min


At a time when all the world’s eyes and ears are on peace talks with North Korea, it is interesting to note the Korean Queen Min’s assassination back in 1895 is still of interest and trending online. “Part of the reason why there is so much interest in Empress Myeongseong is this popular ‘Queen Min’ was killed by stabbing with a knife. The a new conspiracy theory today in 2018, good Queen Min was murdered by “a band of ruffians” said to be both Koreans and Japanese; while famed historian Clarence Norwood states in his book, “Hulbert’s History of Korea,” that the Queen’s assassin was believed to be linked “by the Japanese minister to Korea.”

Queen Min was a political power player

The detailed history of King Lojong and his wife, Lady Min or Queen Min, is very interesting in wake of current peace talks between North and South Korea and nearby Japan. While Japanese history states that there’s always been “cultural tensions between Korea and Japan,” the Japanese government has refused to confirm if, in fact, one of his government officials played a role in the infamous 1895 killing of Korea’s beloved queen. In fact, it is well-known in Korea’s national history that Queen Min was heart-broken after her own child, Wnja, passed away just after giving birth back in 1871. In response, the queen became “more political,” states Korean history texts “because Queen Min wanted to help King Kojong with his rule when it involved issues impacting Korean women and family members.”

Politically savvy Queen Min remembered

There are many fans of Queen Min in both North and South Korea today. For example, there are very exciting stories from that period in Korean national history that speaks of “corruption” and how a political upheaval, in the “Kapsin Year 1884” that resulted in the Royal Mins being removed from power until good Queen Min helped expose corruption in Seoul that the queen linked to Ch’ing China’s negative influence. This newly promoted history of Korea from the 19th century speculates that it may have been someone from China and not Japan who actually committed the stabbing of the queen. Still, the jury is out on who killed Queen Min because the government officials in China and Japan both are keeping mum, or quiet, about who may have assassinated this rising “Queen of the Korean People.”

Overall, there will continue to be theories about who killed Queen Min because “we live in a heated political time when leaders in China and Japan do not want to admit to anything that will upset their Korean allies who trade goods with them,” explained Korean historians in various college history texts of Asia in the 19th century. The consensus is Queen Min’s killer “may have been known to the queen and even the king,” while it is truly difficult today, some 123 years after Queen Min’s killing to known exactly who did the deed in a country where such violence is not soon forgotten.

Koiso Kuniaki


Koiso Kuniaki is a Japanese legend who was born on April 1st, 1880 in Utsunomiya, Japan. He is remembered for serving Japan as its Prime minister and army General during the World War II. Koiso Kuniaki graduated as the top army graduate of his class in the army academy. He exited the army academy in 1900. He later proceeded to the Army War College to cement his military skills. At this time, Koiso Kuniaki served in one of the most active positions during the Russo-Japanese War.

Koiso worked very hard in all the positions he held. His passion for serving his country was evident right from the time he was in the war academy. He scaled up the ranks, and in 1930, Koiso received an appointment to become the Chief of Bureau of Military Affairs. He worked on this task for close to two years. During his time as the Chief of Bureau of Military Affairs, Kuniaki ensured that all military matters were taken seriously by both the government and the military body. He streamlined various military departments for efficiency.

Author=毎日新 / Source = 毎日新聞社編『明治・大正・昭和・平成歴代宰相 下巻』(毎日新聞社、2004年)

In the year 1932, Koiso Kuniaki was appointed to be the vice minister of war. As the vice minister for war in Japan, Koiso helped in strengthening the military position of his country. He ensured that all the soldiers and other military personnel received the necessary support from the government and the general public. He also enforced discipline and hard work among the military bodies.

Koiso Kuniaki was appointed as the commander of the 5th division. Koiso Kuniaki was also nominated to become the Chief of staff of Kantogun that was tasked with military operations in China. He became the Commander in 1935 and served for three years until 1938. His duty as the commander was to direct military operations in Korea. The government of Japan and Korea highly appreciated his work. Koiso was a real military tool.

At this time, Koiso Kuniaki had acquired extensive experience and expertise in military operations. He had grown into a resource. The whole department depended on his tactics and innovations. His skills could not be matched with anyone else in the entire region.

Koiso Kuniaki later became the minister of overseas affairs during the Hiranuma of 1939 and Yonai of 1940 cabinets. In the two assemblies, Koiso was considered as the best-suited person to guide and enlighten the country about the military affairs. He was among the most famous people in the cabinet.

共同通信 / Kyodo News

Koiso Kuniaki returned to Korea at the onset of the World War II and served as the governor-general of Korea. He performed his duties as the Governor-General with passion and love for the people. He utilized his extensive skills in leadership and governance that he had acquired in his previous positions.

Later, after the fall of the Tojo cabinet in the year 1944, Koiso received an appointment to be the Prime Minister. His appointment was aimed at tasking him with the duties of propelling the war effort. Koiso proved to be equal to the task when he started consolidating various military issues. He had a plan to make the army stronger than he found it.

The U.S military arrived in Okinawa in 1945. Following the landing of the U.S troops, Koiso chose to resign from the duties of the Prime Minister. The U.S army trailed him and captured him. He was then convicted of war crimes and received a life sentence. Koiso Kuniaki died on November 3rd, 1950 while serving a life sentence in Tokyo. It was suspected that prison conditions and aging accelerated his death. Koiso will remain to be remembered.

Nobuyuki Abe


Who is Nobuyuki Abe?

Nobuyuki Abe lived between November 24, 1875, and September 7, 1953. Known to some as Nobuyuki Abe, he held a post as a Japanese Prime Minister from August 30, 1939, to January 16, 1940. Nobuyuki Abe also happened to be the Korean Governor-General and the General in the Imperial Army of Japan.

Abe’s Birth and Educational Background

Abe’s birth took place in the ex-samurai lineage in a city called Kanazawa, a Japanese City found in Ishikawa Prefecture on Honshu Island. Kanazawa is the central city of the Prefecture. The Samurai dynasty, also known as the “bushi” comprised of the Japanese warriors. They were considered a military class of great importance. This was before the transformation of the Japanese society that took place in 1868. “Samurai” is a word depicted from the Japanese verb samurai with the meaning “to serve” (someone).

Abe schooled at Tokyo No.1 Middle School, popularly known as the Tokyo Metropolitan Hibiya High School. After that, he attended No.4 High School. At the school level, Abe served in the military service as a volunteer. This was the era of the war between the Empire of Japan and the Qing Dynasty (First Sino-Japanese War).

The Empire of Japan eventually conquered the war. The signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki was initiated in 1895. This was the same time that Abe’s graduation from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy took place. He was a student in the 19th class of the Army War College.

Abe’s Career in Military


In 1918, Abe was appointed the commander of the Third Field Artillery Regiment. In August that same year, Abe’s regiment was referred to Siberia at the time of Japan’s Siberian Intervention, though was never included in combat. The Siberian Intervention took place from 1918 to 1922. It was a portion of the significant plan by Japan and the western powers. They intended to back up the White Russians to pursue the Bolshevik Red Army at the time of the Russian Civil War. By 1920, the Allied Forces withdrew, though the Imperial Japanese Army remained in Siberia until 1922. The European warriors then entered the Russian Maritime Provinces.

On December 22, 1930, Abe was crowned to serve as the commander of the Fourth Infantry Division. Later on, he was appointed to instruct in the Army War College succeeded by the chief of the Military Affairs Bureau and then the Army’s Vice Minister. Abe got a promotion to full general in 1933. He served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Taiwan Army. Eventually, Abe was put on the reserve list in 1963.

His political Background

The Nobuyuki Abe Cabinet on its inaugural day. commons.wikimedia.org

On August 30, 1939, Abe Nobuyuki was appointed the 36th Prime Minister. However, Mitsumasa Yonai substituted him in January 1940. Abe decided to link up with the House of Peers. He made this decision in the year 1942. After that, he was granted the post of the tenth Korean Governor-General for 2 consecutive years, 1944, and 1945. This period was associated with the Second World War – the time when there was the global war that involved fighting in most sections of the world and many countries.

Abe’s Arrest and Release

When this World War II ceased, the Americans arrested Abe. This plan was initiated during the reign of General Douglas MacArthur- an American General who exercised his powers in the First World War, Second World War, and the Korean War. Abe Nobuyuki was not guilty of a crime related to war. He was later released.

The Joseon Dynasty


In 1910, Japan formally claimed Korea as its own, marking the end of Korea’s long-lived Joseon dynasty. The dynasty, which began in 1392, was lead by Gen. Yi Sŏng-gye, who, in what is now Seoul, established the capital of Hanyang.

Gen. Yi Sŏng-gye, also known as King Taejo, maintained relations with Korea’s Chinese neighbors, the Ming dynasty. This heavily influenced the Peninsula as King Taejo followed the model of the Chinese bureaucracy as well as allow neo-Confucianism to take hold throughout ancient Korea.

Throughout Korea’s past, the land had simply belonged to high-ranking bureaucrats, but with the installation and rise of the Joseon dynasty, the land began to be redistributed, and with it came the rise of a new aristocracy, the yangban. The yangban were scholar-officials and throughout the early years of the Joseon dynasty scholarship bloomed, even bringing about the Korean phonetic alphabet, Hangul, in 1443.

Unfortunately, this peace and prosperity would be short-lived as Japan began to invade and war against the Korean peninsula in 1592. Though their Chinese allies managed to repel the Japanese troops, the damage had already been done. This damage was only multiplied in 1627 as invaders from the Machu tribes of Manchuria, in preparation for an invasion of China, ransacked Korea’s Northwest border in an attempt to protect their rear. These back to back invasions, with little time to recover, left the Joseon central government severely weakened. It would take nearly a century for the dynasty to recover.

With the reigns of King Taejo’s descendants, King Yŏngjo and King Chŏngjo, much of what the invasions had stolen were now being recovered. Agriculture became prosperous, as irrigation became more widespread and Korea’s monetary economy was on the upswing. Though there were many administrative problems within the government, the Joseon dynasty managed to instill a new school of practical learning or Silhak in order to remedy these problems.

As many of their counterparts did, Korea practiced a policy of isolationism until the 1880s, where, in 1876 Japan urged them to sign the treaty of Kanghwa which declared Korea an independent state and ultimately lead them to form diplomatic relationships with Japan and their ancient ally China. As they began to open up to the outside world, Korea became the center of competition between the world powers and was ultimately influenced by Japan, who had claimed victory over China and Russia in Sino-Japanese war and Russo-Japanese war respectively.

Korea harbored disdain towards their Japanese overseers and in 1895 Japanese officials assassinated Korea’s Queen Min, a person suspected of inciting the resistance. This left her husband King Kojong as ruler until he was forced to cede the throne to his son in 1907, who ruled until the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910, marking the fall of the Joseon dynasty for good.

Founded through the strength and courage of Gen. Yi Sŏng-gye, the Joseon dynasty ruled and prospered Korea for over 500 years and became Korea’s longest-lived dynasties. They survived wars and instilled Korea’s phonetic alphabet, and instilled new schools of learning in their time of rule and they truly are Korea’s greatest dynasty.

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