HomeBrief History of Korea

4000 B.C.

There is evidence of human habitation of Korea going back to 4000 B.C.


2333 B.C.

Legend of the man-god Dan-Gun who founded the Chosun Kingdom in 2333B.C. (Land of the Morning Calm)

(see also Chon-Ji)

Up to 1st Century


Almost no centralized communities until the time of the Three Kingdoms


57 B.C. –

668 A.D.

The Three Kingdoms Koguryo in the North, Silla and Paekche in the South.

All these peoples had similar ethnic backgrounds and language.

All three were heavily influenced by China. 

(see Ul-Ji, Yon-Gae, Kwang-Gae )


660 A.D.

Silla allied with China to overthrow Paekche. (see Ge-Baek )

Koguryo fell shortly after in 668A.D.

It is around this time that Tae Kwon-do began -

the Hwa-Rang youth group originated in the Silla dynasty.



Silla Dynasty. Beginning of Korea’s cultural development.

Silla remained mainly tribal. Society was divided into distinct classes,

with a large semi-slave population supporting the aristocratic minority.

Warlords in the North eventually take over Silla and found Koryeo.

(see   Moon-Moo, Yoo-Sin )


Death of Won-Hyo who introduced Buddhism to the Silla Dynasty.



918-1392 A.D.

Koryeo period.  English name for Korea derived during this time after the journeys of Marco Polo.

Buddhism flourished and spread.

1231 A.D.

Mongols invade Korea and take control of Koryeo period.



1392 A.D.

Korean General Yi Song-Gye sent to China to campaign against Ming rulers,

instead allied with Chinese and returned to overthrow the Korean King. 

Set up his own Dynasty the Yi.

(see Po-Eun , Choi-Yong)

1392-1910 A.D.

The ruler of the Yi Dynasty moved the capital to Hanyang-gun (modern Seoul)



1394 A.D.

Confucianism was adopted as the official religion.

Korean written down for the first time and the Korean alphabet (Hangul) invented.       

(see  Se-Jong)


1501-1570 A.D.

Toi-Gye  (Yi Hwang)

one of the two pillars of the Korean Neo-Confucian tradition.



1536-1584 A.D.

Yul-Gok (Yi I) a contemporary of Toi-Gye

but interpreted the Neo-Confucian philosophy differently.



1592-1598 A.D.

Invasions by the Japanese.

(see Choong-Moo, So-San, Choong-Jang )


1627-1636 A.D.

Invasions by the Manchu.



Korea closed its borders to foreign trade.



1876 A.D.

Japan forced a series of trade agreements on Korea,

leading to Japans eventual annexation of the country in 1910.

(see Eui-Am)



1876-1938 A.D.

Do-San dedicated his life to the education of Korea and its

Independence movement, attempting to keep Korean culture and language alive.

 (see Do-San)

Sino-Japanese War 1894-95




Russo-Japanese War – despite Korean declarations of neutrality, Japanese forces moved into the peninsula.


1905 A.D.

Japan-Korea Protectorate Treaty gave Japan virtual control of Korea.


1910 A.D.

A Korean Royal Proclamation announced annexation by Japan,

Emperor forced into signing of Treaty of Annexation.

Patriot Ahn Joong-Gun executed in Lui Shung prison.

(see Joong-Gun)



1910-1945 A.D.

Japanese Occupation.

Korean people forced to adopt Japanese names, religion (Shintoism)

 and forbidden to use Korean language in schools and businesses.



1919 A.D.

1st March – Korean Independence Movement– Koreans were brutally repressed.

Thousands killed, tens of thousands maimed and imprisoned, hundreds

of churches, temples, schools and homes destroyed.

(see Sam-Il)



WWII 1939-1945 A.D.

Japan siphoned off more and more of Koreas resources and people to feed its

 Imperial War Machine.

Many forced labourers were never repatriated to Korea.



1945 A.D.

15th August, Japanese surrender and the beginning of divided rule.

USSR occupied North of 38th parallel, US occupied South of 38th parallel.

(see  Tong-Il, Ko-Dang)



1950-1953 A.D.

25th June, North Korean Army invaded the South starting the Korean War.

UN helped the South and China sided with the North.

The three year war left millions dead on both sides.






4000 B.C. - Korean history begins

2333 B.C. - Dan-Gun founded first Kingdom

57 B.C.- 668 A.D. - Three Kingdoms: Silla, Paek je and Koguryo

668-935 A.D. Late Silla

918-1392 A.D. Goryeo Dynasty (also Koryeo)

1382-1910 A.D. Yi Dynasty (Joeson or Chosun Dunasty)

1910- Modern Korea