Home > Introduction Korea > History


(2333 BC -108 BC)
photo Gojoseon was the first kingdom established in the Korean peninsula and had its cultural basis in the Bronze Age. Established by Dan-gun Wang-gum, the first king, it became stronger as it began to be exposed to the iron culture around the fourth century B. C., and ruled a large area of land across Manchuria and the northern part of the Korean peninsula. However, it was destroyed by the Han Chinese empire, in 108 B.C.
Three Kingdoms

(1C BC - 676 AD)
Around the first century B.C., small countries in the northern part of Korea became united and developed into a state, Goguryo, and in the southern part, Shilla, Baekje, and Gaya, which became part of Shilla later, were established. Goguryo was established in 37 B.C. It became prosperous in the fifth century, when it was under the rule of King Gwang-gae-to and King Jangsu. In the seventh century, Su and Dang of China attacked Goguryo, but they were driven away, and Goguryo protected its people and territory. Baekje was built in 18 B.C., and transmitted its culture including Buddhism and Chinese letters to Japan. Shilla, established in 57 B.C., was the last one to flourish among the three kingdoms. Around the sixth century, occupying the area around the Han river, it began to thrive, and stepped toward unification of the three kingdoms. In the seventh century, Shilla, allying itself with Dang of China, attacked Baekje and Goguryo, and destroyed them. After the collapse of Baekje and Goguryo collapse, Shilla declared war on Dang, and with the victory over Dang, it achieved unification.
age of the
unified Shilla(676-935)
Balhae (698-926)
photo After Goguryo collapsed, Dae-jo-young, who had formerly been a general of Goguryo, founded a nation in Manchuria and named it Balhae. It developed into a powerful country, but later became part of Goryo after being destroyed by Georan, a tribe from the north. Unified Shilla thrived soon with its active cultural exchange with China. It popularized Buddhism and achieved a highly developed Buddhist culture as we see in the temple of Bul-guk,Seok-gul-am, and others.From the late 8th century, Hojok, local aristocrats, led movements to reestablish Goguryo and Baekje in each original area. With the establishment of Hu-Goguryo and Hu-Baekje, the Later Three Kingdoms era began. Later Wang-geon of Hu-Goguryo changed his kingdom’s name to Goryo. Unification was achieved again by Goryo.
(936 - 1392)
photo Goryo, after unification, tried to achieve social stability with Buddhism as its national religion and Confucianism as its political philosophy. At the same time, it tried to restore the old territory of Goguryo. In the early 11th century, Georan, a northern tribe, attacked, but General Gang Gam-chan defeated them. Goryo was responsible for remarkable cultural achievements: They began to make inlaid celadon porcelain, and invented and used metal types in printing presses for the first time in the world. Its name became known even in Europe through Arabian merchants, and hence the current English name of this country “Korea” originated from the name “Goryo.” In the thirteenth century, Mongol invaded Goryo. Despite the determined resistance of its people, Goryo lost its independence and had to endure interferences in itsdomestic affairs by Mongol from then on. However, during the rule of King Gong-min, Goryo tried to free itself from Mongol’s control and was able to retrieve its autonomy. Toward the end of the fourteenth century, due to corruption of aristocrats and Buddhist priests, Goryo’s society weakened. Lee Seong-gye and young Confucian scholars joined together to destroy Goryo, and established a new nation, Joseon.
(1392 - 1910)
Seoul became the capital of the new nation, Joseon, and it banned Buddhism, taking Confucianism as the major principle and philosophy of governing. Its fourth king, Sejong, invented Han-geul, the Korean alphabet, which became the basis of the national culture, and he also contributed to scientific development by inventing Cheuk-u-gi (an udometer), a sundial, and a water clock. In 1592, Joseon was invaded by Japan. The war, called “Im-jin-wae-ran,” continued for 7 years but Joseon could defeat Japan with the active role of great generals such as Yi Sun-shin and “Ui-byeong,” civilian soldiers. However, right after the war, Joseon went through another war called “Byeong-ja-ho-ran,” when it was attacked by Chung, a nation established by a Chinese tribe. After the two wars, Joseon rearranged its national system, and in the time of King Young-jo and King Jung-jo, it enjoyed political stability and achieved great cultural development. Entering the nineteenth century, Joseon began to be exposed to the Western culture and political influence, but it decided to shut itself from the Western influence. However, Japan, having gone through a reform in the Meiji period by opening itself to the Western political and economical influence, attacked Joseon and entered into the Gang-hwa-do treaty, which became a stepping stone for Japanese colonialization of Joseon. After the treaty, Go-jong changed the name of the nation to “Dae-han Empire” and changed the title “King” into “Emperor” in order to renew the national status.
Japanese Colonial Period
(1910 - 1945)
After losing the nation’s sovereignty and independence in 1910, Korean people organized independence movements such as 3.1 Movement in 1919 and 6.10 Movement in 1926. In Shanghai, China, the Korean temporary government was established in 1919. The Korean temporary government led Korean independence movements, and mobilized military activities by organizing the Korean Independence Army in Manchuria and in Yeon-hae-ju. Amid Korean people’s consistent resistance to Japanese colonization, on August 15, 1945, Allied Forces declared their victory in World War II, and Korea became free from Japanese rule, restoring its right as an independent nation.
Republic of Korea
(1948 - present)
photo After restoring its independence upon Japan’s surrender in 1945, Korea became divided into two (North and South Korea) in accordance with Russian and American political and military interests. In 1948, a general election was held only in the South, and a new constitution was drafted. Yi Seung-man was elected as the first president of Republic of Korea in 1948, and the Korean government was established. In North Korea, a communist regime was established with Kim Il-seong as its head, and it attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950. The UN Security Council decided to send the UN army to help South Korea, but the prospect of ending the war soon turned out to be premature as China decided to step in and send its troops in support for North Korea. In 1953, a truce treaty was signed. As President Yi Seung-man and the liberation party committed illegal activities in the presidential election on March 15th, 1960, in order to prolong their regime, students and civilians started a protest against the illegal election and the dictatorship of the liberation party. As the demonstration spread all over the country and got out of control, President Yi Seung-man stepped down. On May 16th, 1961, some soldiers under the command of Bak Jeong-hee carried out a military coup, and took the control of the government. The Bak Jeong-hee government worked towards development of the national economy with its aim of modernizing the country, and achieved great progress in the economy which was later called “the miracle on the Han river.” After the assassination of President Bak Jeong-hee on October 26, 1979, General Jeon Du-hwan became president. The Jeon Du-hwan government strived for stability in the national economy and an increase in foreign exports, but was faced with criticisms and protests from the public due to its military dictatorship and corruption. As the “June struggle for democracy” led to nation-wide demonstrations in 1987, the government made the 6.29 declaration and carried out a peaceful transfer of power to its successor. In the election following the new constitution, No Tae-woo was elected as president. The No Tae-woo government held the 24th Olympic games in Seoul in 1988, and broadened its diplomatic partners to Russia, China, and Eastern European countries. With the appointment of Kim Young-sam as president in 1993, a civilian government was established. The Kim Young-sam government led reforms towards democracy and globalization, but had difficulties due to the IMF crisis in 1997. Kim Dae-jung, who began his presidency in 1998 as the 15th president of Korea, in his efforts to improve the relationship with North Korea, visited Pyongyang on June 15, 2000. He had summit talks with Kim Jeong-il, and they issued a joint statement for peace on the Korean peninsular. These talks brought the relationship between the North and the South to a different level as it led to exchanges on the civilian level, such as opening the Geum-gang mountain tour for South Koreans and allowing family reunions of those separated in the Korean War. Roh Mu-hyeon, who was elected as the 16th president with his slogan of “government of engagement,” had worked towards democracy engaging the public in social development with equality, and towards a peaceful and prosperous East Asian Age. Mr. Lee Myung Bak, who was elected as the 17th president, is doing his very best to improve the Korean Economy and fulfill the interests of Korean citizens. To reach the goals of his Green Growth Plan, the President is playing a leading role at summit meetings such as the ASEAN summit, APEC summit, etc.

Overseas study application wizard

You can use the wizard to conveniently apply for overseas study step by step.

Start Now >>


Search Univ. & College

Search by region

map Gangwon-do Seoul Incheon Gyeonggi-do Sejong Chungcheongbuk-do Chungcheongnam-do Gyeongsangbuk-do Daejeon Jeollabuk-do Daegu Ulsan Busan Gyengsangnam-do Gwangju Jeollanam-do Cheju Island