A Political Chronology of Central, South and East Asia

By Ian Preston | Go to book overview
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The Republic of Korea (South Korea)

57 BC: Tribal federations in the central and southern regions of the Korean peninsula were consolidated into the kingdom of Silla.

18 BC: There was further consolidation of tribal federations in central and southern regions, forming the kingdom of Paekche.

3rd century AD: Buddhism arrived in Korea from China.

663: The kingdom of Silla destroyed that of Paekche.

668: In collaboration with China, Silla unified Korea by destroying the kingdom of Koguryo, which had emerged in the southern region of Manzhou, along the Yalu River, in 37 BC and had later extended into the Korean peninsula. Following unification Buddhism in Korea reached its zenith and many historic Buddhist temples, pagodas and statues were produced.

918: The kingdom of Koryo (Korea) rose in the central region of the Korean peninsula.

935: Koryo brought about the demise of Silla. During the Koryo period the political system became similar to that of China.

1170: The military, displeased with being discriminated against by the ruling civilian classes, carried out a coup d’état and took control of government. Gen. Choe Chung-hon established a military regime that lasted for some 60 years. The suppression of Buddhism by the Choe family led to the formation, by monks who fled to the mountains, of the Chogye sect, which became the main Buddhist sect in Korea.

1206-1368: During the rule of the Yuan dynasty in China (established by the Mongol conquest), Korea became a vassal to China.

1392: Gen. Yi Song-Gye overthrew the Koryo dynasty, established the Yi dynasty and renamed the kingdom Choson, with Hanyang (Seoul) as the new capital. The Yi dynasty brought the entire Korean peninsula and the island of Cheju under its rule and governed the kingdom with a Confucian bureaucracy manned by an élite class of scholar-officials. Under the Yi dynasty Korea became increasingly Confucianized as a vassal to China, which was then ruled by the Ming dynasty, and Buddhism declined suddenly.

1446: King Sejong adopted and promulgated a new Korean script called han’gul (‘Korean Letters’), which helped sijo, the Korean form of poetry, to flourish.


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