History of Korea Part II

The Koryo Dynasty (918-1392) that immediately followed witnessed a flourishing of Buddhism which had arrived in Korea during the Three Kingdoms era. The period is best known internationally for its famous blue-green inlaid celadon pottery, arguably the finest in the world. It was also during this period that the world's first moveable type was developed.

The year 1392 saw the end of the Koryo Dynasty and the establishment of the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910) by Yi Song-gye, later known as King T'aejo (r.1392-1398). In 1394, he moved the capital from Song-ak (present day Kae-song) to Hanyang (present day Seoul). Confucianism replaced Buddhism as the main ideological influence, and a rigidly structured, heirarchical social system evolved, dominating the kingdom for five centuries. Chosun pursued a rigorous isolationist policy until the late 19th century, earning the nickname "the Hermit Kingdom." Korea's foreign relations were basically limited to China, and as its traditional patron and ally struggled in coping with the West and the rising might of Japan, Chosun, already weakened by the increasingly inefficient bureaucracy, became vulnerable to exploitation and was annexed by Japan in 1910.

  1. Part I
  2. Part II
  3. Part III