Do you know about the "Three Kingdoms" period? Do you know why the Korean War began? Did you know that a bear lived in a cave eating only garlic for 100 days and became a human? Well, maybe not that last one, but you'll find out all about Korea's history in just 10 minutes!

안녕하세요! (An-nyong ha-se-yo!) Hello! I'm Billy from GO! Billy Korean on YouTube.

Check out the video here, and read along with the article below!

Korea has a pretty amazing history that most people don't learn anything about. So I wanted to make a video to compress every major point in Korea's history into only 10 minutes.

Of course, because this is a short video, some smaller events and details will be left out. Let me know in the comments if I left out something you'd like to learn more about.

If you watch Korean historical dramas, a lot of this information will come in handy (since they're usually set in real history, even though the stories are often fictional).

This video and article will cover Korea's history from the very beginning of the country until the modern day.

8,000 BC: People first began living in Korea. These were not Koreans, as there was no Korea or a Korean language yet.

2,300 BC: Legend says that the first Korean kingdom began, founded by a guy named 단군 왕검 ("Dan-gun Wang-geom") in North Korea who married a bear that became a human. This legend isn't true (really?), but it's interesting at least.

700 BC: First records and evidence of a Korean kingdom (known as 고조선 "go-jo-seon") and of Koreans living in Korea. We know this from old Chinese records.

100 BC: Korea was invaded by the Han Dynasty in China, and 고조선 ("go-jo-seon") broke into smaller kingdoms. This began the "Three Kingdoms Period" in Korea. Korea was ruled by three separate kingdoms - 고구려 ("go-gu-ryeo"), 백제 ("baek-je"), and 신라 ("shil-la"). Each kingdom was ruled by a king (or sometimes a queen). The kingdoms often fought each other.

고구려 ("go-gu-ryeo"): Founded by a guy named 주몽 ("Ju-mong"). This kingdom was famous for its military horses. They expanded Korea's borders north into Manchuria (modern day China).

백제 ("baek-je"): Founded by a guy named 온조 ("On-jo"). This kingdom was famous for its agriculture and rice. They also established strong relationships with China and Japan, importing and exporting a lot of their culture.

신라 ("shil-la"): Founded by a guy named 박혁거세 ("Bak-hyeok-geo-se"). This kingdom was famous for its gold. It was ruled by an aristocratic society, and only the most elite could be king. They were also famous for their elite young warriors, called 화랑 ("hwa-rang") - literally meaning "flower boys."

660 - 668 AD: 신라 ("shil-la") conquers both the 고구려 ("go-gu-ryeo") and the 백제 ("baek-je") kingdoms through warfare. This unites Korea as one kingdom. But eventually, by 935 AD this kingdom declines due to constant civil war.

918 AD: The 고려 ("go-ryeo") kingdom was founded by 태조 왕건 ("Tae-jo Wang-geon"). This once again reunited Korea as one kingdom, taking the place of the 신라 ("shil-la") Kingdom. This kingdom's name is also where the name "Korea" originally comes from. It was famous for its movable metal type printing (which they had before Gutenberg in Germany), and several other major changes in Korea. They imported gunpowder from China, and promoted Buddhism and Feng Shui. They also opened immigration with China to recruit musicians, writers, translators, doctors, and fortunetellers.

1200 AD: A few times the Mongols from the Yuan Dynasty in China invaded the Korean peninsula. One of these invasions was very successful for the Mongols. They took over 200,000 Koreans as slaves, and destroyed many cities and relics. They also took over and used the island of Jeju for breeding military horses (there are still many horses there today, and many influences of that language left in the Jeju dialect). Using Korean labor to build ships, the Mongols attempted to invade Japan twice by sea - but failed both times. There were also many marriages between Mongols and Koreans for political stability. Around 400,000 Koreans today are descendants of those marriages.

1356 AD: The Yuan Dynasty crumbled in China, and the Mongols stopped ruling over Korea.

1392 AD: The Ming Dynasty rises in China. Some Korean leaders were loyal to the new Ming Dynasty (such as General 최영 - "Choi-yeong"), while others were still loyal to the older Yuan Dynasty (such as General 이성계 - "Yi-seong-gye"). 최영 ("Choi-yeong") gave an order to 이성계 ("Yi-seong-gye") to conquer a small area of land previously owned by the Yuan Dynasty, but 이성계 ("Yi-seong-gye") rebelled and killed 최영 ("Choi-yeong") and his followers. It was a military coup.

1392 AD: After rebelling, 이성계 ("Yi-seong-gye") founded a new kingdom, called 조선 ("jo-seon"). This kingdom was ruled by the royal family. Buddhism was weakened, and Confucianism rose. Confucianism is where many of Korea's traditional cultures and beliefs come from, such as honoring parents and people who are older. The most powerful class in 조선 ("jo-seon") were the 양반 ("yang-ban"). 양반 ("yang-ban") were civil and military officials who controlled the government. They were also wealthy and could afford to help their children to become like they were.

1418 AD: 세종대왕 ("Se-jong Dae-wang"), or King Sejong becomes the king of 조선 ("jo-seon"). He's the face on the 10,000 Won bill in Korea. King Sejong diversified the government by appointing people from all classes. He improved foreign relations with Japan, and traded with them. He strengthened the military by opening new posts to protect from China, and by helping to develop new cannons and new types of arrows. He invented an automated water clock, improved metal type, and created a rain gauge for measuring rainfall. He also encouraged invention, which led to new astronomical maps. He improved agriculture in Korea by giving books to farmers, and improved literacy in Korea by creating a new writing system.

1443 AD: King Sejong, with the help of scholars, creates a new writing system for the Korean language called 한글 ("Han-gul"). The writing system was developed to allow anyone to learn the basics of it in only a few hours. Before this, Korea had no writing system at all, and only wealthy and educated people were able to read and write - but only using the Chinese written language.

1592 - 1598 AD: General Hideyoshi Toyotomi invaded Korea, in order to invade the Ming Dynasty in China. Korea was not prepared, and was taken over... but not without a fight. Many 양반 ("yang-ban"), Buddhist monks, slaves, and peasants rose up to form guerrilla armies and fought back. But Japan was successful in taking over Korea, destroying many buildings and books. This invasion weakened Korea, but Japan was still unable to invade the Ming Dynasty. Instead, the Ming Dynasty came down from China to help Korea fight back against Japan, and pushed Japan away. General Hideyoshi tried once more to invade Korea, but failed the second time due to the Ming Dynasty's help together with Korea. When Hideyoshi died in 1598, Japan stopped trying to invade Korea.

1597 AD: The Battle of 명량 ("Myeong-nyang") took place in the ocean near Korea, between Admiral 이순신 ("Yi-sun-shin") and the Japanese navy. 이순신 ("Yi-sun-shin") is the most famous Admiral in Korean history, because he fought well in naval battles but had no naval training. He led a defense against the entire Japanese navy which had at least 130 gunboats, using only 13 Korean turtle ships (ships that looked like turtles with spikes on their backs). He was able to do this because of his strong knowledge of Korea's ocean currents, which the Japanese thought would be a weakness to Korea's navy. After he had sank 30 Japanese ships, the Japanese navy retreated and it was considered a victory for Korea. Today you can find 이순신 ("Yi-sun-shin") on the front of Korea's 100 Won coin.

1627 AD: The Qing Dynasty in China invades Korea in order to capture King 인조 ("In-jo"). Previously, the king had helped the Ming Dynasty to attack the Qing Dynasty, so they wanted to get him to apologize and to agree to never do that again. But when the Qing Dynasty entered Korea, he ran away. Instead, the Qing Dynasty made Korea sign an agreement not to attack them again, and to trade with them. However, Korea did not honor this agreement, so the Qing Dynasty entered Korea a second time in 1636 to get the king. This time they were able to capture the king before he could run away, and they made him agree to pay tribute to the Qing Dynasty. This is how Korea became a tribute state to the Qing Dynasty in China. Korea remained a tribute state to China all the way until the 1900s.

1800s AD: Korea hears about some problems going on in China with opium trading from Britain. Korea closes its borders to trading with all countries (except with China) to avoid any problems.

1866 AD: The US wants to trade with Korea, and sends a gunboat to force them to open their borders. Korea sinks the gunboat. However, Korea eventually signs trade agreements later with both Japan (1876) and the United States (1882).

1905 AD: Japan is fighting a war with Russia, and enters Korea for strategic reasons. While in Korea already, they decided to annex the country.

1910 AD: Japan forced Korea's leaders to sign over the country, and began occupying Korea with its military. Many things happened during this time - many bad and some good - and this can be a heated political topic of discussion in Korea. For a summary, Japan introduced Japanese language classes to Korea, and many Koreans were pressured to change their names to Japanese names. Korean language classes were phased out. Japan shut down most of Korea's newspapers, stole relics, and introduced Christianity to Korea for the first time. There were many cases of execution, torture, and slavery - such as "culture women." "Culture women" were women who were tricked by Japanese and also by other Koreans into becoming prostitutes to the Japanese army. This time also brought massive urban growth to Korea. Japan introduced free public education in Korea (modeled after Japan's own system), radio stations, movies, electricity, running water, telephones, and railroads. They also improved Korea's industrial development, such as their agriculture, fishing, and mining industries. Overall, the annexing had its few pros and its many cons.

1945 AD: World War II ended, and Japan stopped controlling Korea. But Korea was divided into two halves politically, with Communism in the north and a US-supported government in the south. This led to internal issues.

1950 AD: Because the war had ended, and Japan was no longer controlling Korea, North Korea decided to take over the country while it had the chance. North Korea began invading and pushed all of the way down into the south. The US stepped in to intervene, afraid of Communism spreading to the south, and this began the Korean War. The US helped South Korea to push North Korea back up, into China - a bit too far - so China stepped in and helped North Korea to push back down.

1953 AD: The Korean War never officially ended in an official peace treaty, but the two sides did stop fighting. The US divided Korea into two halves - North Korea and South Korea - along the 38th parallel. The 38th parallel was chosen because it divided Korea into approximately two halves. This left North Korea with Communism, separated from South Korea with a US-supported government.

Today, North Korea still has Communism, but South Korea is famous for its technology. Specifically, South Korea is famous for its electronics, steel production, and its shipping. This fame is due to the Korean people's determination and hard work. South Korea even held the Summer Olympics in 1988, and will be hosting the Winter Olympics in 2018 (I will definitely be there). However, North Korea has yet to hold any such event.

Again, since this is a summary, I apologize if I've missed something important. Let me know in the comments if there's anything you'd like to learn more about.

If you have any questions for me, you can also comment below this article. I love teaching Korean, and I'd love to help you.


If you're learning Korean for the first time, check out my book here. --> Korean Made Simple: A beginner's guide to learning the Korean language

Also visit my YouTube channel, where I upload videos about Korea and Korean every week. --> GO! Billy Korean on YouTube

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