History Podcasts

Early Joseon Period Timeline

Early Joseon Period Timeline

  • 1392 - 1550

    Early Joseon Period in Korea.

  • 1392 - 1398

    Reign of King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty.

  • 1398

    Strife of the Princes in Korea; Taejo's sons fight to become their father's heir.

  • 1398 - 1400

    Reign of King Jeongjong of Joseon.

  • 1400

    The second Strife of the Princes in Korea.

  • 1400 - 1418

    Reign of King Taejong of Joseon.

  • 1418 - 1450

  • 1419

    The Gihae Expansion, Tsushima comes under Joseon control.

  • 1420

    Sejong the Great creates the Hall of Worthies (Jiphyeonjeon) to act both as advisors to the king and as an academic research engine.

  • 1443

    The Japanese and Korean governments sign the Treaty of Kyehae which permits legitimate trade with the intention of weakening the wako pirates.

  • 1443

    Hangul, the Korean alphabet, is finalized by Sejong the Great.

  • 1450 - 1452

    Reign of King Munjong of Joseon.

  • 1452 - 1455

    Reign of King Danjong of Joseon.

  • 1455 - 1468

    Reign of King Sejo of Joseon.

  • 1494 - 1506

    Reign of King Yeonsangun of Joseon.

  • 1494

    The First Literati Purge of the Early Joseon Period.

  • 1506 - 1544

    Reign of King Jungjong of Joseon.

  • 1544 - 1545

    Reign of King Injong of Joseon.

  • 1545 - 1567

    Reign of King Myeongjong of Joseon.


The Kingdom of Joseon (Chosŏn'gŭl:  대조선국 hancha:  wikt:大朝鮮國 , literally "Great Joseon State" also Chosŏn, Choson, Chosun) was a Korean kingdom founded by Yi Seonggye that lasted for approximately five centuries, from July 1392 to October 1897. It was officially renamed the Korean Empire in October 1897. [3] It was founded following the aftermath of the overthrow of Goryeo in what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul. The kingdom's northernmost borders were expanded to the natural boundaries at the Yalu and Tumen Rivers through the subjugation of the Jurchens. Joseon was the last dynasty of Korea and its longest-ruling Confucian dynasty.

During its reign, Joseon encouraged the entrenchment of Chinese Confucian ideals and doctrines in Korean society. Neo-Confucianism was installed as the new dynasty's state ideology. Buddhism was accordingly discouraged and occasionally faced persecutions by the dynasty. Joseon consolidated its effective rule over the territory of current Korea and saw the height of classical Korean culture, trade, science, literature, and technology. However, the dynasty was severely weakened during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) and the first and second Manchu invasions of 1636 nearly overran the Korean Peninsula, leading to an increasingly harsh isolationist policy for which the country became known as the "hermit kingdom". After the end of invasions from Manchuria, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace.

However, whatever power the kingdom recovered during its isolation further waned as the 18th century came to a close, and faced with internal strife, power struggles, international pressure and rebellions at home, the Joseon dynasty declined rapidly in the late 19th century.

The Joseon period has left a substantial legacy to modern Korea much of modern Korean etiquette, cultural norms, societal attitudes towards current issues, and the modern Korean language and its dialects derive from the culture and traditions of Joseon.

Popular interest in all things Korean has been growing in the United States. Samsung and Hyundai are now familiar household names, South Korea’s rapid economic expansion continues to defy most predictions, and recent reports on the health benefits of Korean food and the overseas popularity of Korean films, soap operas, and K-pop have captured the attention of many, especially those of us living in Los Angeles. But even ardent Korea-philes may be surprised to learn that many of the social customs, beliefs, and traditions still prominent in Korea today can be traced back to the Joseon dynasty.

The exhibition Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910, which just opened at LACMA on June 29, brings to Los Angeles the art and culture of this last dynasty of Korea. Most of the nearly 150 works in the exhibition, among them national treasures that have never been shown in the U.S., have been generously loaned by the National Museum of Korea as well as other museums and private collections in Korea. This exhibit, which is traveling between the Philadelphia Museum of Art, LACMA, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is part of an important cultural exchange between South Korea and the United States. In 2013, these three museums, along with the Terra Foundation for American Art, sent to Korea the first-ever survey of American art in the exhibition Art across America, which was on view at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul from February 4 through May 19, 2013, after which it traveled to the Daejeon Museum of Art (June 17–September 1, 2013).

Marked by a grand sense of pageantry, a strong sense of morality, and an unwavering reverence for nature—all characteristic of the Joseon dynasty—this exhibition is the first major presentation of traditional Korean art at LACMA. Treasures from Korea is also the third part of a larger effort to share traditional Korean art with the American audience. The two earlier installments, which featured works from the earlier dynasties of Silla (A.D. 57–668) and Goryeo (A.D. 918–1392), were presented at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, in 2013 and 2003, respectively.

Divided into five themes, Treasures from Korea captures the story of the life of an epic dynasty—its embrace of neo-Confucianism in the belief that the philosophy would sustain the country, how tastes emerged as the upper class developed new ceremonies and events (which then influenced the rest of society), how earlier historic Korean traditions were practiced in the private sphere, and how all these customs and assumptions were tested and reshaped by the pressures of modernization and the infiltration of the West.

The King and His Court

Korea’s Joseon dynasty spanned more than 500 years, overlapping with China’s Ming and Qing dynasties and Japan’s Muromachi, Momoyama, Edo, and Meiji periods. The dynastic founder, Yi Songgye, established Korea’s first secular state based on the principles of neo-Confucianism in a decisive move away from centuries of policies centered on Buddhism. In this revolutionary shift, the long-revered Korean traditions of shamanism (the indigenous religion of Korea), Buddhism, and Daoism, which together had sought to bring& understanding to the rules of nature and the cosmos, became absorbed and integrated into a larger order based on China’s Confucianism, a philosophy of attaining social harmony. Altered to suit Korea’s political needs, this version of Confucianism was known as neo-Confucianism.

This was both a radical and conscious shift espoused by the government to start the dynasty anew. (The name Joseon translates to “fresh dawn.”) Although Korea had historically regarded itself as a sovereign state of China, the implementation of neo-Confucian policies was an important step for Korea in its effort to become an independent country with a healthy respect for China. With the fall of the Chinese Ming dynasty to the Manchus in 1644, Koreans regarded themselves as representatives of the last bastion of Confucianism.

It was of quintessential importance for the newly founded dynasty, with its unfamiliar secular state policies and recently established kingship, to assert its legitimacy. Rituals played a critical role in bringing about a culture of pomp and pageantry thought to ensure continued dynastic prosperity. All festivities demanded a particular presentation and were massive affairs with countless artisans, laborers, and officials engaged in the production of these rituals of the court. The first section of the exhibition, titled “The King and His Court,” showcases the celebration and documentation of important rites of passage for the royal lineage. It illustrates how the birth of a royal was celebrated with large-scale folding screens and placenta jars, how the honoring of new regal progeny included the giving of official titles of rank, and how the welcoming of foreign envoys, royal weddings, and funerals involved colorful, vibrant folding screens and tranquil ceramics. This theme exhibits the regalia and aesthetic tastes of the court, as well as the public life and customs regarded as most important in the life of the king.

Joseon Society

The second theme, “Joseon Society,” explores how the royal aesthetic and adherence to neo-Confucian principles manifested itself in the Joseon upper class and trickled down to the rest of Joseon society. The underlying moral and social culture of the court deeply affected the rest of society. While the majority of the different classes of society were based on heredity, officials of the court secured their positions through government examinations that were based on Confucian teachings. With this, the culture of the scholar-official, or literati, was born. What began as a way to gain a court position evolved into a culture that held scholarship in the highest regard.

A consequence of this was the widening distinction between men and women. Women did not have a place in politics or the outside world and were relegated to overseeing the house with the primary obligation of producing sons. We see the difference in their roles manifested in the style of furniture, clothing, and choice of objects used by the male scholar-official as compared to the interests and decorative aesthetics of the female in the Joseon household. Symbols of nature, longevity, and good fortune visually populated the arts as ways to convey, acknowledge, and affirm an understanding of the shared importance of these beliefs.

In further efforts to promote Confucian studies, a native script known as Hangeul was developed in 1446. It allowed Chinese classics to be translated, but the new invention had a more far-reaching impact by allowing all members of society, including those who were not educated in classical Chinese, to read and write. It immediately generated a new, popular activity of writing personal letters.

Ancestral Rituals and Confucian Values

The Confucian concept of filial piety made it a moral duty to pay respect to one’s ancestors and, by correlation, to one’s king, making the practice of ancestral rituals an even more pronounced part of Joseon life than it had been in previous times. Korean shaman priests and the Buddhist clergy for centuries practiced respect for, and dedication to, one’s ancestors. Re-envisioned in a new ritualized form, the ceremonies honoring the dead held at the Joseon royal court were believed to control the fate of the country they were directly linked to proving and protecting the king’s legitimacy and authority. The social obligations expected of every court official quickly relegated these practices to the home, where the precise conduct of the ceremony and the quality of ritual wares used became equated with devotion and respect for one’s ancestors. The exhibition’s third theme takes us into this private realm of ancestor worship.

Continuity and Change in Joseon Buddhism

With Confucian state rites replacing Buddhist ones, Buddhism, which had been the moral and religious stronghold for previous Korean dynasties, was relegated to an even deeper private sphere of individual worship among members of the royal court and society when it came to matters of life and death. Paintings and devotional objects were commissioned to support prayer requests for a long and healthy life and wishes for a successful rebirth in the afterlife. But with the obligation to produce a son, women of both the Joseon court and society became the staunchest supporters. In these requests, all earlier Korean traditions were called upon, and Daoist and folk deities were jointly worshipped in the name of Buddhism.

Joseon in Modern Times

Despite a number of major attacks from China and Japan over the years, the dynasty survived centuries of relative political stability. But with the tide of Western influence, all aspects of the Joseon dynasty were brought into question and in many ways were interrupted. Although foreign influences had made their way indirectly to Korea by means of diplomatic missions to China, by and large the Joseon dynasty protected itself with a foreign policy of isolation. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, Korea was forced to open its ports to trade, a decision that prompted a range of responses from those who staunchly believed that Korea’s identity and independence lay in the strict continuation of neo-Confucian ideals to those who, with the changing atmosphere in the world beyond, believed that the future lay with joining the rest of the world. It’s evident that the introduction of electricity and photography and—in an effort to modernize—the declaration of the Korean empire in 1897 brought stylistic changes in art and uniforms as well as royal household items and books in English. From the pomp and pageantry of the king and his court to their influence on the rest of Joseon society, and from expressions of private individuals to their practice of ancestor worship and Buddhism, the seeming end of a dynasty turned out to be a coming of age as the country began to emerge into the modern period.

It is so often the case: politics affects art. The state policy introduced by early Joseon officials resulted in new artistic production that accommodated the needs of the new dynasty. Largely made by unknown craftspersons and court artists, the art of this period embodied a philosophy and social order that resulted in the longest-running Confucian dynasty in history. And that is a remarkable achievement worth seeing.

A version of this article originally appeared in the summer 2014 (volume 8, issue 3) of LACMA’s Insider.

Early Joseon Period Timeline - History

When the new dynasty was brought into existence, Taejo brought up the issue of which son would be his successor. Although Yi Bangwon, Taejo's fifth son by Queen Sineui, had contributed most to assisting his father's rise to power, the prime minister Jeong Dojeon and Nam Eun used their influence on King Taejo to name his eighth son (second son of Queen Sindeok) Grand Prince Uian (Yi Bangseok) as crown prince in 1392. This conflict arose largely because Jeong Dojeon, who shaped and laid down ideological, institutional, and legal foundations of the new dynasty more than anyone else, saw Joseon as a kingdom led by ministers appointed by the king while Yi Bangwon wanted to establish the absolute monarchy ruled directly by the king. With Taejo's support, Jeong Dojeon kept limiting the royal family's power by prohibiting political involvement of princes and attempting to abolish their private armies. Both sides were well aware of each other's great animosity and were getting ready to strike first. After the sudden death of Queen Sindeok, while King Taejo was still in mourning for his second wife, Yi Bangwon struck first by raiding the palace and killed Jeong Dojeon and his supporters as well as Queen Sindeok's two sons (his half-brothers) including the crown prince in 1398. This incident became known as the First Strife of Princes. Aghast at the fact that his sons were willing to kill each other for the crown, and psychologically exhausted from the death of his second wife, King Taejo abdicated and immediately crowned his second son Yi Banggwa as King Jeongjong. One of King Jeongjong's first acts as monarch was to revert the capital to Kaesong, where he is believed to have been considerably more comfortable, away from the toxic power strife. Yet Yi Bangwon retained real power and was soon in conflict with his disgruntled older brother, Yi Banggan, who also yearned for power. In 1400, the tensions between Yi Bangwon's faction and Yi Banggan's camp escalated into an all-out conflict that came to be known as the Second Strife of Princes. In the aftermath of the struggle, the defeated Yi Banggan was exiled to Dosan while his supporters were executed. Thoroughly intimidated, King Jeongjong immediately invested Yi Bangwon as heir presumptive and voluntarily abdicated. That same year, Yi Bangwon assumed the throne of Joseon at long last as King Taejong, third king of Joseon.

Consolidation of royal power

In the beginning of Taejong's reign, the Grand King Former, Taejo, refused to relinquish the royal seal that signified the legitimacy of any king's rule. Taejong began to initiate policies he believed would prove his qualification to rule. One of his first acts as king was to abolish the privilege enjoyed by the upper echelons of government and the aristocracy to maintain private armies. His revoking of such rights to field independent forces effectively severed their ability to muster large-scale revolts, and drastically increased the number of men employed in the national military. Taejong's next act as king was to revise the existing legislation concerning the taxation of land ownership and the recording of state of subjects. With the discovery of previously hidden land, national income increased twofold. In 1399, Taejong had played an influential role in scrapping the Dopyeong Assembly, a council of the old government administration that held a monopoly in court power during the waning years of the Goryeo Dynasty, in favor of the State Council of Joseon ( ), a new branch of central administration that revolved around the king and his edicts. After passing the subject documentation and taxation legislation, King Taejong issued a new decree in which all decisions passed by the State Council could only come into effect with the approval of the king. This ended the custom of court ministers and advisors making decisions through debate and negotiations amongst themselves, and thus brought the royal power to new heights. Shortly thereafter, Taejong installed an office, known as the Sinmun Office, to hear cases in which aggrieved subjects felt that they had been exploited or treated unjustly by government officials or aristocrats. However, Taejong kept Jeong Dojeon's reforms intact for most part. In addition, Taejong executed or exiled many of his supporters who helped him ascend on the throne in order to strengthen the royal authority. To limit influence of in-laws, he also killed all four of his Queen's brothers and his son Sejong's father-in-law. Taejong remains a controversial figure who killed many of his rivals and relatives to gain power and yet ruled effectively to improve the populace's lives, strengthen national defense, and lay down a solid foundation for his successor Sejong's rule.

'', the original promulgation of the Korean alphabet]] In August 1418, following Taejong's abdication two months earlier, Sejong the Great ascended the throne. In May 1419, King Sejong, under the advice and guidance of his father Taejong, embarked upon the Gihae Eastern Expedition to remove the nuisance of waegu (coastal pirates) who had been operating out of Tsushima Island. In September 1419, the ''daimyō'' of Tsushima, Sadamori, capitulated to the Joseon court. In 1443, The Treaty of Gyehae was signed in which the ''daimyō'' of Tsushima was granted rights to conduct trade with Korea in fifty ships per year in exchange for sending tribute to Korea and aiding to stop any Waegu coastal pirate raids on Korean ports. On the northern border, Sejong established four forts and six posts ( ) to safeguard his people from the Jurchens, who later became the Manchus, living in Manchuria. In 1433, Sejong sent Kim Jong-seo, a government official, north to fend off the Jurchens. Kim's military campaign captured several castles, pushed north, and restored Korean territory, roughly the present-day border between North Korea and China. During the rule of Sejong, Korea saw advances in natural science, agriculture, literature, traditional Chinese medicine, and engineering. Because of such success, Sejong was given the title "Sejong the Great". The most remembered contribution of King Sejong is the creation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet, in 1443 everyday use of Hanja in writing eventually was surpassed by Hangul in the later half of the 20th century.

After King Sejong's death, his son Munjong continued his father's legacy but soon died of illness in 1452, just two years after coronation. He was succeeded by his twelve-year-old son, Danjong. In addition to two regents, Princess Gyeonghye also served as Danjong's guardian and, along with the general Kim Jongso, attempted to strengthen royal authority. However, Danjong's uncle, Sejo, gained control of the government and eventually deposed his nephew to become the seventh king of Joseon himself in 1455. After six ministers loyal to Danjong attempted to assassinate Sejo to return Danjong to the throne, Sejo executed the six ministers and also killed Danjong in his place of exile. King Sejo enabled the government to determine exact population numbers and to mobilize troops effectively. He also revised the land ordinance to improve the national economy and encouraged publication of books. Most importantly, he compiled the Grand Code for State Administration, which became the cornerstone of dynastic administration and provided the first form of constitutional law in a written form in Korea. However, he undermined much foundation of the many systems including the Jiphyeonjeon which his predecessors King Sejong and Munjong had carefully laid down, cutting down on everything he deemed unworthy of the effort and thus caused countless complications in the long run. Much of his own adjustments were done for his own power, not regarding the consequences and problems that would occur. Furthermore, the relentless favoritism which he showed towards the ministers who aided him in the taking of the throne led to much corruption in the higher echelon of the political field.

Institutional arrangements and Prosper culture

Sejo's weak son Yejong succeeded him as the eighth king, but died two years later in 1469. Yejong's nephew Seongjong ascended the throne. His reign was marked by the prosperity and growth of the national economy and the rise of neo-Confucian scholars called sarim who were encouraged by Seongjong to enter court politics. He established Hongmungwan (), the royal library and advisory council composed of Confucian scholars, with whom he discussed philosophy and government policies. He ushered in a cultural golden age that rivaled Sejong's reign by publishing numerous books on geography, ethics, and various other fields. He also sent several military campaigns against the Jurchens on the northern border in 1491, like many of his predecessors. The campaign, led by General Heo Jong, was successful, and the defeated Jurchens, led by the Udige clan (), retreated to the north of the Yalu River. King Seongjong was succeeded by his son, Yeonsangun, in 1494.

Yeonsangun is often considered the worst tyrant of the Joseon, whose reign was marked by Korean literati purges between 1498 and 1506. His behavior became erratic after he learned that his biological mother was not Queen Junghyeon but the deposed Queen Lady Yun, who was forced to drink poison after poisoning one of Seongjong's concubines out of jealousy and leaving a scratch mark on Seongjong's face. When he was shown a piece of clothing that was allegedly stained with his mother's blood vomited after drinking poison, he beat to death two of Seongjong's concubines who had accused Consort Yun and he pushed Grand Queen Insu, who died afterward. He executed government officials who supported Consort Yun's death along with their families. He also executed sarim scholars for writing phrases critical of Sejo's usurpation of the throne. Yeonsangun also seized a thousand women from the provinces to serve as palace entertainers and appropriated the Sungkyunkwan as a personal pleasure ground. He abolished the Office of Censors, whose function was to criticize inappropriate actions and policies of the king, and Hongmungwan. He banned the use of hangul when the common people wrote with it on posters criticizing the king. After twelve years of misrule, he was finally deposed in a coup that placed his half-brother Jungjong on the throne in 1506. Jungjong was a fundamentally weak king because of the circumstances that placed him on the throne, but his reign also saw a period of significant reforms led by his minister Jo Gwang-jo, the charismatic leader of sarim. He established a local self-government system called hyangyak to strengthen local autonomy and communal spirit among the people, sought to reduce the gap between the rich and poor with a land reform that would distribute land to farmers more equally and limit the amount of land and number of slaves that one could own, promulgated widely among the populace Confucian writings with vernacular translations, and sought to trim the size of government by reducing the number of bureaucrats. According to the ''Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty'', it was said that no official dared to receive a bribe or exploit the populace during this time because as Inspector General, he applied law strictly. These radical reforms were very popular with the populace but were fiercely opposed by the conservative officials who helped to put Jungjong on the throne. They plotted to cause Jungjong to doubt Jo's loyalty. Jo Gwangjo was executed, and most of his reform measures died with him in the resulting Third Literati Purge of 1519. For nearly 50 years afterward, the court politics was marred by bloody and chaotic struggles between factions backing rival consorts and princes. In-laws of the royal family wielded great power and contributed to much corruption in that era.

The middle period of Joseon dynasty was marked by a series of intense and bloody power struggles between political factions that weakened the country and large-scale invasions by Japan and Manchu that nearly toppled the dynasty.

The Sarim faction had suffered a series of political defeats during the reigns of Yeonsangun, Jungjong, and Myeongjong, but it gained control of the government during the reign of King Seonjo. It soon split into opposing factions known as the Easterners and the Westerners. Within decades the Easterners themselves divided into the Southerners and the Northerners in the seventeenth century the Westerners as well permanently split into the Noron and the Soron. The alternations in power among these factions were often accompanied by charges of treason and bloody purges, initiating a cycle of revenge with each change of regime. One example is the 1589 rebellion of Jeong Yeo-rip, one of the bloodiest political purges of Joseon. Jeong Yeo-rip, an Easterner, had formed a society with group of supporters that also received military training to fight against Waegu. There is still a dispute about the nature and purpose of his group, which reflected desire for classless society and spread throughout Honam. He was subsequently accused of conspiracy to start a rebellion. Jeong Cheol, head of the Western faction, was in charge of investigating the case and used this event to effect widespread purge of Easterners who had slightest connection with Jeong Yeo-rip. Eventually 1000 Easterners were killed or exiled in the aftermath.

Throughout Korean history, there was frequent piracy on sea and brigandage on land. The only purpose for the Joseon navy was to secure the maritime trade against the wokou. The navy repelled pirates using an advanced form of gunpowder technologies including cannons and fire arrows in form of singijeon deployed by hwacha. During the Japanese invasions in the 1590s, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, plotting the conquest of Ming China with Portuguese guns, invaded Korea with his ''daimyōs'' and their troops, intending to use Korea as a stepping stone. Factional division in the Joseon court, inability to assess Japanese military capability, and failed attempts at diplomacy led to poor preparation on Joseon's part. The use of European firearms by the Japanese left most of the southern part of the Korean Peninsula occupied within months, with both Hanseong (present-day Seoul) and Pyongyang captured. However, the invasion was slowed when Admiral Yi Sun-sin destroyed the Japanese invasion fleet. The guerrilla resistance that eventually formed also helped. Local resistance slowed down the Japanese advance and decisive naval victories by Admiral Yi left control over sea routes in Korean hands, severely hampering Japanese supply lines. Furthermore, Ming China intervened on the side of the Koreans, sending a large force in 1593 which pushed back the Japanese together with the Koreans. During the war, Koreans developed powerful firearms and the turtle ships. The Joseon and Ming forces defeated the Japanese at a deep price. Following the war, relations between Korea and Japan were completely suspended until 1609.

After the Japanese invasions, the Korean Peninsula was devastated. Meanwhile, Nurhaci (r. 1583&ndash1626), the chieftain of the Jianzhou Jurchens, was unifying the Jurchen tribes of Manchuria into a strong coalition that his son Hong Taiji (r. 1626-&ndash1643) would eventually rename the "Manchus." After he declared Seven Grievances against Ming China in 1618, Nurhaci and the Ming engaged in several military conflicts. On such occasions, Nurhaci required help from Gwanghaegun of Joseon (r.1608&ndash1623), putting the Korean state in a difficult position because the Ming court was also requesting assistance. . Gwanghaegun tried to maintain neutrality, but most of his officials opposed him for not supporting Ming China, which had saved Joseon during Hideyoshi's invasions. In 1623, Gwanghaegun was deposed and replaced by Injo of Joseon (r. 1623&ndash1649), who banished Gwanghaejun's supporters. Reverting his predecessor's foreign policy, the new king decided to openly support the Ming, but a rebellion led by military commander Yi Gwal erupted in 1624 and wrecked Joseon's military defenses in the north. Even after the rebellion had been suppressed, King Injo had to devote military forces to ensure the stability of the capital, leaving fewer soldiers to defend the northern borders. In 1627, a Jurchen army of 30,000 led by Nurhaci's nephew Amin overran Joseon's defenses. After a quick campaign that was assisted by northern yangban who had supported Gwanghaegun, the Jurchens imposed a treaty that forced Joseon to accept "brotherly relations" with the Jurchen kingdom. . Because Injo persisted in his anti-Manchu policies, Qing emperor Hong Taiji sent a punitive expedition of 120,000 men to Joseon in 1636. Defeated, King Injo was forced to end his relations with the Ming and recognize the Qing as suzerain instead. Injo's successor Hyojong of Joseon (r. 1649&ndash1659) tried to form an army to keep his enemies away and conquer the Qing for revenge, but could never act on his designs. Despite reestablishing economic relations by officially entering the imperial Chinese tributary system, Joseon leaders and intellectuals remained resentful of the Manchus, whom they regarded as barbarians. Long after submitting to the Qing, the Joseon court and many Korean intellectuals kept using Ming reign periods, as when a scholar marked 1861 as "the 234th year of Chongzhen."

Emergence of Silhak and renaissance of the Joseon

After invasions from Japan and Manchuria, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. Joseon witnessed the emergence of Silhak (Practical Learning). The early group of Silhak scholars advocated comprehensive reform of civil service examination, taxation, natural sciences and the improvement in agromanagerial and agricultural techniques. It aimed to rebuild Joseon society after it had been devastated by the two invasions. Under the leadership of Kim Yuk, the chief minister of King Hyeonjong, the implementation of reforms proved highly advantageous both to state revenues and to the lot of the peasants. Factional conflict grew particularly intense under the reigns of the kings Sukjong and Gyeongjong, with major rapid reversals of the ruling faction, known as *hwanguk* (換局 literally ''change in the state of affairs''), being commonplace. As a response, the next kings, Yeongjo and Jeongjo, generally pursued the ''Tangpyeongchaek'' - a policy of maintaining balance and equality between the factions. The two kings led a second renaissance of the Joseon dynasty. Yeongjo's grandson, the enlightened King Jeongjo enacted various reforms throughout his reign, notably establishing Gyujanggak, a royal library in order to improve the cultural and political position of Joseon and to recruit gifted officers to run the nation. King Jeongjo also spearheaded bold social initiatives, opening government positions to those who would previously have been barred because of their social status. King Jeongjo had the support of the many Silhak scholars, who supported his regal power. King Jeongjo's reign also saw the further growth and development of Joseon's popular culture. At that time, the group of Silhak scholars encouraged the individual to reflect on state traditions and lifestyle, initiating the studies of Korea that addressed its history, geography, epigraphy and language.

Government by in-law families

In 1863 King Gojong took the throne. His father, Regent Heungseon Daewongun, ruled for him until Gojong reached adulthood. During the mid-1860s the Regent was the main proponent of isolationism and the instrument of the persecution of native and foreign Catholics, a policy that led directly to the French Campaign against Korea in 1866. The early years of his rule also witnessed a large effort to restore the dilapidated Gyeongbok Palace, the seat of royal authority. During his reign, the power and authority of the in-law families such as the Andong Kims sharply declined. In order to get rid of the Andong Kim and Pungyang Cho families, he promoted persons without making references to political party or family affiliations, and in order to reduce the burdens of the people and solidify the basis of the nation's economy, he reformed the tax system. In 1871, U.S. and Korean forces clashed in a U.S. attempt at "gunboat diplomacy" following on the General Sherman incident of 1866. In 1873, King Gojong announced his assumption of royal rule. With the subsequent retirement of Heungseon Daewongun, the future Queen Min (later called Empress Myeongseong) became a power in the court, placing her family in high court positions. Japan, after the Meiji Restoration, acquired Western military technology, and forced Joseon to sign the Treaty of Ganghwa in 1876, opening three ports to trade and granting the Japanese extraterritoriality. Port Hamilton was briefly occupied by the Royal Navy in 1885. Many Koreans despised Japanese and foreign influences over their land and the corrupt oppressive rule of the Joseon Dynasty. In 1881, the ''Byeolgigun'', a modern elite military unit, was formed with Japanese trainers. The salaries of the other soldiers were held back and in 1882 rioting soldiers attacked the Japanese officers and even forced the queen to take refuge in the countryside. In 1894, the Donghak Peasant Revolution saw farmers rise up in a mass rebellion, with peasant leader Jeon Bong-jun defeating the forces of local ruler Jo Byong-gap at the battle of Go-bu on January 11, 1894 after the battle, Jo's properties were handed out to the peasants. By May, the peasant army had reached Jeonju, and the Joseon government asked the Qing dynasty government for assistance in ending the revolt. The Qing sent 3,000 troops and the rebels negotiated a truce, but the Japanese considered the Qing presence a threat and sent in 8,000 troops of their own, seizing the Royal Palace in Seoul and installing a pro-Japanese government on 8 June 1894. This soon escalated into the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) between Japan and Qing China, fought largely in Korea. [*The king made a deal with Japan partially out of isolationist views and conservative-misogynistic distrust of the queen's support for open trade policies towards the Western civilizations and China. He ended up preempting a specific disadvantageous, exclusive negotiation with Japan previous to the Queen's decision, which was later used as a political premise for Japan to wage military action. Scholars particularly during the Joseon era were touted for expressing allegiance to the king] [[Empress Myeongseong]] (referred to as "Queen Min" Characteristics of Queen of Corea
''The New York Times'' November 10, 1895 ) had attempted to counter Japanese interference in Korea and was considering turning to the Russian Empire and to China for support. In 1895, Empress Myeongseong was assassinated by Japanese agents. The Japanese minister to Korea, Lieutenant-General Viscount Miura, almost certainly orchestrated the plot against her. A group of Japanese agents entered the Gyeongbokgung Royal Palace in Seoul, which was under Japanese control, and Queen Min was killed and her body desecrated in the North wing of the palace. The Qing acknowledged defeat in the Treaty of Shimonoseki (17 April 1895), which officially guaranteed Korea's independence from China. It was a step toward Japan gaining regional hegemony in Korea. The Joseon court, pressured by encroachment from larger powers, felt the need to reinforce national integrity and declared the Korean Empire, along with the Gwangmu Reform in 1897. King Gojong assumed the title of Emperor in order to assert Korea's independence. In addition, other foreign powers were sought for military technology, especially Russia, to fend off the Japanese. Technically, 1897 marks the end of the Joseon period, as the official name of the empire was changed however the Joseon Dynasty would still reign, albeit perturbed by Japan and Russia. In a complicated series of maneuvers and counter-maneuvers, Japan pushed back the Russian fleet at the Battle of Port Arthur in 1905. With the conclusion of the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War with the Treaty of Portsmouth, the way was open for Japan to take control of Korea. After the signing of the Protectorate Treaty in 1905, Korea became a protectorate of Japan. Prince Itō was the first Resident-General of Korea, although he was assassinated by Korean independence activist An Jung-geun in 1909 at the train station at Harbin. In 1910 the Japanese Empire finally annexed Korea.

Joseon dynasty was a highly centralized monarchy and neo-Confucian bureaucracy as codified by Gyeongguk daejeon, a sort of Joseon constitution.

The king had absolute authority, but his actual power varied with political circumstances. He was bound by tradition, precedents set by earlier kings, Gyeongguk daejeon, and Confucian teachings. The king commanded absolute loyalty from his officials and subjects, but the officials were also expected to persuade the king to the right path if the latter was thought to be mistaken. The natural disasters were thought to be due to the king's failings, and therefore, Joseon kings were very sensitive to their occurrences. When there was severe drought or a series of disasters, the king often formally sought criticism from both the officials and citizenry, and whatever they said or wrote were protected from prosecution in such cases (although there were a few exceptions). Direct communication between the king and the common people was possible through the ''sangeon'' () written petition system and the ''gyeokjaeng'' () oral petition system. Through the ''gyeokjaeng'' oral petition system, commoners could strike a gong or drum in front of the palace or during the king's public processions in order to appeal their grievances or petition to the king directly. This allowed even the illiterate members of Joseon society to make a petition to the king. More than 1,300 ''gyeokjaeng''-related accounts are recorded in the Ilseongnok.

The government officials were ranked in 18 levels, ranging from first senior rank (정1품, 正一品) down to ninth junior rank (종9품, 從九品) based on seniority and promotion, which was achieved through the royal decree based on examination or recommendation. The officials from 1st senior rank to 3rd senior rank wore red robes while those from 3rd junior rank to 6th junior rank wore blue and those below wore green robes. Here a government official refers to one who occupied a type of office that gave its holder a yangban status - semi-hereditary nobility that was effective for three generations. In order to become such an official, one had to pass a series of gwageo examinations. There were three kinds of gwageo exams - literary, military, and miscellaneous, among which literary route was the most prestigious. (Many of key posts including all Censorate posts were open only to officials who advanced through literary exam.) In case of literary route, there was a series of four tests, all of which one had to pass in order to qualify to become an official. 33 candidates who were chosen in this manner took the final exam before the king for placement. The candidate with the highest score was appointed to a position of 6th junior rank (a jump of six ranks). Two candidates with the next two highest scores were appointed to a position of 7th junior rank. Seven candidates with next highest scores were assigned to 8th junior rank while the remaining 23 candidates were given 9th junior rank, the lowest of 18 ranks. The officials of 1st senior rank, 1st junior rank, and 2nd senior rank were addressed with honorific "dae-gam" (대감, 大監) while those of 2nd junior rank and 3rd senior rank were addressed with honorific "yeong-gam" (영감, 令監). These red-robed officials, collectively called "dangsanggwan" (당상관, 堂上官), took part in deciding government policies by attending cabinet meetings. The rest of ranked officials were called "danghagwan" (당하관, 堂下官).

State Council (Uijeongbu, 의정부, 議政府) was the highest deliberative body, whose power however declined over the course of dynasty. The Chief State Councillor (Yeonguijeong, 영의정, 領議政), Left State Councillor (Jwauijeong, 좌의정, 左議政), and Right State Councillor (Uuijeong, 우의정, 右議政) were the highest-ranking officials in the government (All three were of 1st senior rank). They were assisted by Left Minister (Jwachanseong, 좌찬성, 左贊成) and Right Minister (Uichangseong, 우찬성, 右贊成), both of 1st junior rank, and seven lower ranking officials. The power of State Council was inversely proportional to the king's power. There were periods when it directly controlled Six Ministries, the chief executive body of Joseon government, but it primarily served in advisory role under stronger kings. State councillors served in several other positions concurrently.

Six Ministries (Yukjo, 육조, 六曹) make up the chief executive body. Each minister (Panseo, 판서, 判書) was of 2nd senior rank and was assisted by deputy minister (Champan, 참판, 參判), who was of 2nd junior rank. Ministry of Personnel was the most senior office of six ministries. As the influence of State Council waned over time, Minister of Personnel was often de facto head of ministers. Six ministries include in the order of seniority. :*Ministry of Personnel (Ijo, 이조, 吏曹) - was primarily concerned with appointment of officials :*Ministry of Taxation (Hojo, 호조, 戶曹) - taxation, finances, census, agriculture, and land policies :*Ministry of Rites (Yejo, 예조, 禮曺) - rituals, culture, diplomacy, gwageo exam :*Ministry of Defence (Byeongjo, 병조, 兵曺) - military affairs :**Office of Police Bureau (Podocheong, 포도청, 捕盜廳) - office for public order :*Ministry of Justice (Hyeongjo, 형조, 刑曺) - administration of law, slavery, punishments :*Ministry of Commerce (Gongjo, 공조, 工曹) - industry, public works, manufacturing, mining

Three Offices, or ''Samsa'' (삼사), is a collective name for three offices that functioned as major organ of press and provided checks and balance on the king and the officials. While modeled after the Chinese system, they played much more prominent roles in Joseon government than their Chinese counterparts. In their role as organ of press, they did not have actual authority to decide or implement policies, but had influential voice in the ensuing debate. The officials who served in these offices tended to be younger and of lower rank compared to other offices but had strong academic reputation and enjoyed special privileges and great prestige (For instance, censors were permitted to drink during working hours because of their function of criticizing the king). To be appointed, they went through more thorough review of character and family background. Three Offices provided the fastest route of promotion to high posts and was almost a requirement to becoming a State Councillor. :*Office of Inspector General (Saheonbu·사헌부) - It monitored government administration and officials at each level in both central and local governments for corruption, malfeasance, or inefficiency. It was also in charge of advancing public morals and Confucian customs and redressing grievances of the populace. It was headed by Inspector General (Daesaheon·대사헌), a position of 2nd junior rank, who oversaw 30 largely independent officials. :*Office of Censors (Saganwon·사간원) - Its chief function was to remonstrate with the king if there was wrong or improper action or policy. Important decrees of the king were first reviewed by censors, who could ask to withdraw them if judged improper. It also issued opinions about the general state of affairs. It was composed of five officials, led by Chief Censor (Daesagan·대사간), of 3rd senior rank. While the primary focus for Office of Inspector General is the government officials and Office of Censors is focused on the king, two offices often performed each other's functions, and there was much overlap. Together they were called "Yangsa," (양사) which literally means "Both Offices," and often worked jointly especially when they sought to reverse the king's decision. :*Office of Special Advisors (Hongmungwan·홍문관 弘文館) - It oversaw the royal library and served as research institute to study Confucian philosophy and answer the king's questions. Its officials took part in the daily lessons called ''gyeongyeon'' (경연), in which they discussed history and Confucian philosophy with the king. Since these discussions often led to commentary on current political issues, its officials had significant influence as advisors. It was headed by Chief Scholar (Daejehak·대제학), a part-time post of 2nd senior rank that served concurrently in another high post (such as in State Council), and Deputy Chief Scholar (Bujehak·부제학), a full-time post of 3rd senior rank that actually ran the office. There was great prestige attached to being Chief Scholar in this deeply Confucian society. (The office was established to replace Hall of Worthies (Jiphyeonjeon·집현전) after the latter was abolished by King Sejo in the aftermath of Six martyred ministers.)

The major offices include the following: *Royal Secretariat (Seungjeongwon, 승정원) served as a liaison between the king and Six Ministries. There were six royal secretaries (승지), one for each ministry, and all were of 3rd senior rank. Their primary role was to pass down royal decree to the ministries and submit petitions from the officials and the populace to the king, but they also advised the king and served in other key positions close to the king. In particular Chief Royal Secretary (도승지), a liaison to Ministry of Personnel, served the king in the closest proximity of all government official and often enjoyed great power that was derived from the king's favor. Hong Guk-yeong (during Jeongjo's reign) and Han Myeong-hwe (during Sejo) are some examples of chief royal secretaries who were the most powerful official of their time. *Capital Bureau (Hanseongbu, 한성부) was in charge of running the capital, ''Hanyang'' or present-day Seoul. It was led by ''Panyoon'' (판윤), of 2nd senior second rank equivalent to today's mayor of Seoul. *Royal Investigation Bureau (Uigeumbu, 의금부) was an investigative and enforcement organ under direct control of the king. It chiefly dealt with treason and other serious cases that concerned the king and royal family and served to arrest, investigate, imprison, and carry out sentences against the suspected offenders, who were often government officials. *Office of Records (Chunchugwan, 춘추관) officials wrote, compiled, and maintained the government and historical records. It was headed by State Councillors, and many posts were held by officials serving in other offices concurrently. There were eight historiographers whose sole function was to record the meetings for history. *Seonggyungwan or Royal Academy (성균관) prepared future government officials. Those who passed first two stages of gwageo examinations (literary exam) were admitted to Seonggyungwan. The class size was usually 200 students, who lived in the residential hall and followed strict routine and school rules. (Tuition, room and board were provided by the government.) It also served as the state shrine for Confucian and Korean Confucian sages. The students' opinions on government policies, especially collective statements and demonstrations, could be influential as they represented fresh and uncorrupted consensus of young scholars. The official in charge was Daesaseong (대사성), of 3rd senior rank, and 36 other officials including those from other offices were involved in running the academy.

Administrative divisions

During most of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea was divided into eight provinces (do 도 道). The eight provinces' boundaries remained unchanged for almost five centuries from 1413 to 1895, and formed a geographic paradigm that is still reflected today in the Korean Peninsula's administrative divisions, dialects, and regional distinctions. The names of all eight provinces are still preserved today, in one form or another.

Royal guards, the Naegeumwi were elite troops consisting of 200 men tasked with guarding the king, queen, and ministers. These were soldiers hand-selected by the king. They usually wore red robes.

Although the Joseon dynasty considered 1392 as the foundation of the Joseon kingdom, Imperial China did not immediately acknowledge the new government on the Korean peninsula. In 1401, the Ming court recognized Joseon as a tributary state in its tributary system. In 1403, the Yongle Emperor conveyed a patent and a gold seal to Taejong of Joseon, thus confirming his status and that of his dynasty. Kang, Etsuko H. (1997)
''Diplomacy and Ideology in Japanese-Korean Relations: from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century,'' p. 49.
/ref> Traditionally, China had a ''laissez-faire'' policy toward Joseon despite being a tributary of China, Joseon was autonomous in its internal and external affairs, and China did not manipulate or interfere in them. However, after 1879, China abandoned its ''laissez-faire'' policy and became directly involved in the affairs of Joseon. This "radical change in China's policy" was in reaction to the growing influence of Western powers and Japan in Joseon, and to ensure China's national security. China's new policy toward Joseon was set by Li Hongzhang and implemented by Yuan Shikai. According to Ming-te Lin: "Li's control of Korea from 1885 to 1894 through uan Shikaias resident official represented an anachronistic policy of intervention toward Korea."

This long-term, strategic policy contrasts with the ''gyorin'' (''kyorin'') (neighborly relations) diplomacy in dealings with Jurchen, Japan, Ryukyu Kingdom, Siam and Java. Gyorin was applied to a multi-national foreign policy. The unique nature of these bilateral diplomatic exchanges evolved from a conceptual framework developed by the Chinese. Gradually, the theoretical models would be modified, mirroring the evolution of a unique relationship.

in the Joseon period]] The exact population figures of Joseon-era Korea are disputed as government records of households are considered unreliable in this period. Between 1810 and 1850, the population declined approximately 10% and remained stable. Before the Gwangmu Reform#Health care system|introduction of modern medicine by the Korean Empire government in the early 20th century, the average life expectancy for peasant and commoner Korean males was 24 and for females 26 years, accounting for infant mortality. Joseon Korea installed a centralised administrative system controlled by civil bureaucrats and military officers who were collectively called Yangban. By the end of the 18th century, the yangban had acquired most of the traits of a hereditary nobility except that the status was based on a unique mixture of family position, gwageo examinations for Confucian learning, and a civil service system. The family of a yangban who did not succeed to become a government official for the third generation lost their yangban status and became commoners. For most part, the only way to become a government official was to pass a series of gwageo exams (One had to pass "lesser gwageo" exam (소과) in both of two stages to qualify for greater gwageo exam, which again one had to pass in both of two stages to become a government official.) The yangban and the king, in an uneasy balance, controlled the central government and military institutions. The proportion of yangban may have reached as high as 30% by 1800, due to the later practices of transaction of yangban status to peasants, although there was considerable local variation. As the government was small, a great many yangban were local gentry of high social status, but not always of high income. Another portion of the population were slaves or serfs (''nobi''), "low borns" (''cheonmin'') or untouchable outcastes (''baekjeong''). Slavery in Korea was hereditary, as well as a form of legal punishment. The nobi were socially indistinct from freemen other than the ruling yangban class, and some possessed property rights, legal entities and civil rights. Hence, some scholars argue that it's inappropriate to call them "slaves", while some scholars describe them as serfs. There were both government- and privately owned nobi, and the government occasionally gave them to yangban. Privately owned nobi could be inherited as personal property. During poor harvests, many sangmin people would voluntarily become nobi in order to survive. The nobi population could fluctuate up to about one-third of the population, but on average the nobi made up about 10% of the total population. Joseon slaves could, and often did, own property. Private slaves could buy their freedom. Many of the remaining 40-50% of the population were surely farmers, but recent work has raised important issues about the size of other groups: merchants and traders, local government or quasi-governmental clerks (''Chungin''), craftsmen and laborers, textile workers, etc. Given the size of the population, it may be that a typical person had more than one role. Most farming was, at any rate, commercial, not subsistence. In addition to generating additional income, a certain amount of occupational dexterity may have been required to avoid the worst effects of an often heavy and corrupt tax system. During the Late Joseon, the Confucian ideals of propriety and "filial piety" gradually came to be equated with a strict observance to a complex social hierarchy, with many fine gradations. By the early 18th century the social critic Yi Junghwan (1690–1756) sarcastically complained that " th so many different ranks and grades separating people from one another, people tend not to have a very large circle of friends." But, even as Yi wrote, the informal social distinctions of the Early Joseon were being reinforced by legal discrimination, such as Sumptuary law regulating the dress of different social groups, and laws restricting inheritance and property ownership by women. Precisely because of the tenets of the Confucian ''Classic of Filial Piety'', the adult male practice of Joseon Korea prescribed to keep both hair and beard, in contrast to the Japanese Tokugawa period. Yet, these laws may have been announced precisely because social mobility was increasing, particularly during the prosperous century beginning about 1710. The original social hierarchy of the Joseon Dynasty was developed based on the social hierarchy of the Goryeo era. In the 14th–16th centuries, this hierarchy was strict and stable. Since economic opportunities to change status were limited, no law was needed. In the late 17–19th centuries, however, new commercial groups emerged, and the old class system was extremely weakened. Especially, the population of Daegu region's Yangban class was expected to reach nearly 70 percent in 1858. In 1801, Government-owned slaves were all emancipated, and the institution gradually died out over the next century. By 1858 the nobi population stood at about 1.5 percent of the total population of Korea. The institution was completely abolished as part of a social plan in the Gabo Reform of 1894. In Joseon Dynasty, jeogori of women's hanbok became gradually tightened and shortened. In the 16th century, jeogori was baggy and reached below the waist, but by the end of Joseon Dynasty in the 19th century, jeogori was shortened to the point that it did not cover the breasts, so another piece of cloth (''heoritti'') was used to cover them. At the end of the 19th century, Daewon-gun introduced Magoja, a Manchu-style jacket, to Korea, which is often worn with hanbok to this day. Chima was full-skirted and jeogori was short and tight in the late Joseon period. Fullness in the skirt was emphasized round the hips. Many undergarments were worn underneath chima such as darisokgot, soksokgot, dansokgot, and gojengi to achieve a desired silhouette. Because jeogori was so short it became natural to expose heoritti or ''heorimari'' which functioned like a corset. The white linen cloth exposed under jeogori in the picture is heoritti. The upper classes wore hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other high-grade lightweight materials in warm weather and of plain and patterned silks the rest of the year. Commoners were restricted by law as well as resources to cotton at best. The upper classes wore a variety of colors, though bright colors were generally worn by children and girls and subdued colors by middle-aged men and women. Commoners were restricted by law to everyday clothes of white, but for special occasions they wore dull shades of pale pink, light green, gray, and charcoal. Formally, when Korean men went outdoors, they were required to wear overcoats known as ''durumagi'' which reach the knees.

The Mid-Joseon dynasty painting styles moved towards increased realism. A national painting style of landscapes called "true view" began - moving from the traditional Chinese style of idealized general landscapes to particular locations exactly rendered. While not photographic, the style was academic enough to become established and supported as a standardized style in Korean painting. At this time China ceased to have pre-eminent influence, Korean art took its own course, and became increasingly distinctive to the traditional Chinese painting. 220px|thumb|Landscape of Mt. Geumgang by Kim Hong-do (1745–1806?) in 1788. Ceramics are a form of popular art during the Joseon Dynasty. Examples of ceramics include white porcelain or white porcelain decorated with cobalt, copper red underglaze, blue underglaze and iron underglaze. Ceramics from the Joseon period differ from other periods because artists felt that each piece of art deserved its own uniquely cultivated personality. Beginning in the 10th century, white porcelain has been crafted in Korea. Historically overshadowed by the popularity of celadon, it was not until the 15th and 16th centuries that white porcelain was recognized for its own artistic value. Among the most prized of Korean ceramics are large white jars. Their shape is symbolic of the moon and their color is associated with the ideals of purity and modesty of Confucianism. During this period, the bureau that oversaw the meals and court banquets of the royal family strictly controlled the production of white porcelain. Blue and white porcelain artifacts decorating white porcelain with paintings and designs in underglaze by using natural cobalt pigment are another example of popular wares of the Joseon period. Many of these items were created by court painters employed by the royal family. During this period, the popular style of landscape paintings is mirrored in the decoration of ceramics. Initially developed by the Chinese at the Jingdezhen kilns in the mid-14th century, Joseon began to produce this type of porcelain from the 15th century under Chinese influence. The first cobalt imported from China was used by Korean artists. In 1463 when sources of cobalt were discovered in Korea, artists and their buyers found the material was inferior in quality and preferred the more expensive imported cobalt. Korean porcelain with imported cobalt decoration contradict the emphasis of an orderly, frugal and moderate life in Neo-Confucianism. Strikingly different from cobalt, porcelain items with a copper-red underglaze are the most difficult to successfully craft. During production, these items require great skill and attention or will turn gray during the process of firing. While the birthplace of ceramics with copper red underglaze is widely disputed, these items originated during 12th century in Korea and became increasingly popular during the second half of the Joseon period. Some experts have pointed to the kilns of Bunwon-ri in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, a city that played a significant role in the production of ceramics during the Joseon period, as a possible birthplace. Porcelain was also decorated with iron. These items commonly consisted of jars or other utilitarian pieces.

During the Joseon dynasty, the ''Yangban'' scholars and educated literati studied Confucian classics and Neo-Confucian literature. The middle and upper classes of Joseon society were proficient in Classical Chinese. The Joseon official records (such as the ''Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty'' and ''Seungjeongwon ilgi'') and the written works of the Yangban literati were written in Classical Chinese. Newspapers like the ''Hwangseong Sinmun'' towards the end of the dynasty were written in the Korean language using the Korean mixed script.

Annals of the Joseon Dynasty

The ''Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty'' (also known as the ''Annals of the Joseon Dynasty'') are the annual records of the Joseon Dynasty, which were kept from 1413 to 1865. The annals, or ''sillok'', comprise 1,893 volumes and are thought to cover the longest continual period of a single dynasty in the world. With the exception of two ''sillok'' compiled during the colonial era, the ''Annals'' are the 151st national treasure of Korea and listed in UNESCO's Memory of the World registry.

''Uigwe'' is a collection of royal protocols of the Joseon Dynasty, which records and prescribes through text and stylized illustration the important ceremonies and rites of the royal family.

Buddhism and Confucianism

The Joseon Dynasty under the reign of Sejong the Great was Korea's greatest period of scientific advancement. Under Sejong's new policy, Cheonmin (low-status) people such as Jang Yeong-sil were allowed to work for the government. At a young age, Jang displayed talent as an inventor and engineer, creating machines to facilitate agricultural work. These included supervising the building of aqueducts and canals. Some of his inventions were an automated (self-striking) water clock (the Jagyeokru) which worked by activating motions of wooden figures to indicate time visually (invented in 1434 by Jang), a subsequent more complicated water-clock with additional astronomical devices, and an improved model of the previous metal movable printing type created in the Goryeo Dynasty. The new model was of even higher quality and was twice as fast. Other inventions were the sight glass, and the udometer. The highpoint of Korean astronomy was during the Joseon period, where men such as Jang created devices such as celestial globes which indicated the positions of the sun, moon, and the stars. Later celestial globes (Gyupyo, 규표) were attuned to the seasonal variations. The apex of astronomical and calendarial advances under King Sejong was the Chiljeongsan, which compiled computations of the courses of the seven heavenly objects (five visible planets, the sun, and moon), developed in 1442. This work made it possible for scientists to calculate and accurately predict all the major heavenly phenomena, such as solar eclipses and other stellar movements. Honcheonsigye is an astronomical clock created by Song I-yeong in 1669. The clock has an armillary sphere with a diameter of 40 cm. The sphere is activated by a working clock mechanism, showing the position of celestial objects at any given time. Kangnido, a Korean-made map of the world was created in 1402 by Kim Sa-hyeong (김사형, 金士衡), Yi Mu (이무, 李茂) and Yi Hoe (이회, 李撓). The map was created in the second year of the reign of Taejong of Joseon. The map was made by combining Chinese, Korean and Japanese maps.

The following is a simplified relation of Joseon royalty (Korean Imperial Family) during the late period of the dynasty: * Emperor Gojong (1852–1919) – 26th head of the Korean Imperial Household, adoptive heir to Crown Prince Hyomyeong ** Emperor Sunjong (1874–1926) – 27th head of the Korean Imperial Household ** Yi Kang, Prince Imperial Ui (1877–1955) – 5th son of Gojong *** Prince Yi Geon (1909–1991) – eldest son of Yi Kang renounced the Imperial title and heritage by becoming a Japanese citizen in 1947 *** Prince Yi U (1912–1945) – 2nd son of Yi Kang adopted as the heir to Yi Jun-yong, grandson of Heungseon Daewongun **** Yi Cheong (1936–) **** Yi Jong (1940–1966) *** Yi Hae-won (1919–2020) – 2nd daughter of Yi Kang married in 1936 to Yi Seung-gyu from the Yongin Yi Clan *** Yi Gap (1938–2014) – 9th son of Yi Kang **** Yi Won (1962–) – eldest son of Yi Gap adopted by Yi Ku as the 30th head of the Korean Imperial Household ***** 1st son (1998–) ***** 2nd son (1999–) *** Yi Seok (1941–) – 10th son of Yi Kang self-claimed head of the Korean Imperial Household **** Yi Hong (1976–), first daughter of Yi Seok ***** 1st daughter (2001–) **** Yi Jin (1979–), 2nd daughter of Yi Seok **** Yi Jeonghun (1980–), son of Yi Seok ** Yi Un, Imperial Crown Prince (1897–1970) – 28th head of the Korean Imperial Household married in 1920 to Princess Masako of Nashimoto (Yi Bangja), an imperial member of the Empire of Japan. *** Prince Yi Jin (1921–1922) *** Prince Yi Ku (1931–2005) — 29th head of the Korean Imperial Household son of Yi Un ** Princess Deokhye (1912–1989) — married in 1931 to Count Sō Takeyuki *** Jong Jeonghye (1932–?), disappeared since 1956

* ''A Cultural History of Modern Korea'', Wannae Joe, ed. with intro. by Hongkyu A. Choe, Elizabeth NY, and Seoul Korea: Hollym, 2000. * ''An Introduction to Korean Culture'', ed. Koo & Nahm, Elizabeth NJ, and Seoul Korea: Hollym, 1998. 2nd edition. * ''Noon Eu Ro Bo Neun Han Gook Yuk Sa #7'' by Jang Pyung Soon. Copyright 1998 Joong Ang Gyo Yook Yun Goo Won, Ltd, pp. 46–7.
Alston, Dane. 2008. "Emperor and Emissary: The Hongwu Emperor, Kwŏn Kŭn, and the Poetry of Late Fourteenth Century Diplomacy". Korean Studies 32. University of Hawai'i Press: 104–47.

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Politics and Family

Soon, the Taewongun realized that he had chosen his daughter-in-law unwisely. Her serious program of study concerned him, prompting him to quip, "She evidently aspires to be a doctor of letters look out for her." Before long, Queen Min and her father-in-law would be sworn enemies.

The Taewongun moved to weaken the queen's power at court by giving his son a royal consort, who soon bore King Gojong a son of his own. Queen Min proved unable to have a child until she was 20 years old, five years after the marriage. That child, a son, tragically died three days after he was born. The queen and the shamans (mudang) she called in to consult blamed the Taewongun for the baby's death. They claimed that he had poisoned the boy with a ginseng emetic treatment. From that moment on, Queen Min vowed to avenge her child's death.



The dynasty was founded by Yi Sŏnggye, who then took the name King Taejo, ruling from 1392 until 1398. ΐ] The fall of the preceding Koryŏ Dynasty came in part due to Koryŏ campaigns against Ming Dynasty China over control of the Ssangsŏng region, and Yi Sŏnggye's preference for negotiation over combat as a means to resolve the matter. Taejo named the new kingdom after Gija Joseon, the legendary first state ever established in the Korean peninsula. Α]

Immediately after establishing the new dynasty, Yi made efforts to reaffirm Korea's tributary loyalties to the Ming, and sought to receive investiture in return. Doing so would serve both to bolster the sense of legitimacy of the new regime, and to protect it from being overthrown (almost before it even began) by "the most powerful state in its political universe." Β] The Ming court finally granted that investiture in 1403 (during the reign of Taejo's successor, King Jeongjong), formally recognizing the Yi clan (i.e. the Joseon dynasty) as legitimate rulers of all the territory Koryŏ had previously held. Γ] From that generation forward, until the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644, every king of Joseon received investiture from the Ming. Δ]

At the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty, the population of Korea was likely around 3.5 million, up from 3 million a century earlier. Ε]

The early Joseon Dynasty (c. 1400-1450) saw the introduction of porcelain technology into Korea. Ζ]

King Taejo was raised in a Yuan Dynasty commandery, the son of a Yuan official of Korean extraction as such, he grew up with close Jurchen, Mongol, and Han Chinese associates, as well as those of Korean ethnicity. Following the fall of the Yuan, that commandery became a portion of Korean territory once again, and after taking the throne, Taejo began receiving tribute from the Jurchens immediately. Around a century later, Joseon had incorporated a number of Jurchen areas (and thus, many Jurchen people) into its territory, and had begun re-settling Koreans into the northern border regions. Six garrisons on the Tumen River (today the eastern part of North Korea's border with China and Russia) guarded these settlements. Η]

Court Ritual & Confucianism

Following Red Turban (Ming) attacks on the Koryo capital in 1361, and the chaos surrounding Koryo's fall, Choson worked to rebuild, and began in the 1390s into the 1400s to establish a government more strongly based upon ancient Confucian classics, and Zhu Xi’s commentaries, rather than on Buddhism. However, different advisors advocated different threads of Confucianism, and considerable factionalism emerged, with doctrinal conflicts often following regional or kinship lines. State rituals began to be standardized and codified more strongly under King Sejong (1418-1450). Sejong commissioned court scholars to consult ancient Chinese texts, and to compile a singular authoritative and comprehensive ritual code for the kingdom. The result was expansions of the Orye uiju (五礼儀注), a text compiled in 1415, which outlined the chief “auspicious rites.” Other state rituals were added to the text in 1444-1451, and the volume was revised into the Kukcho orye ui (国朝五礼儀) in 1474. The main focus of all of these ritual writings was the construction of a cosmic order through the enactment of rituals, and specifically those rituals which the Chinese order permitted the head of a vassal state (i.e. a king, not an Emperor) to perform. In contrast to the preceding Koryo Dynasty, which was heavily dominated by Buddhist political culture, the people surrounding the Chosŏn founder decided to replace an eclectic mix of various state rituals with a more systematized and organized order of Confucian state ritual, based on Chinese models. As early as the very first year of Chosŏn rule, there were officials who petitioned that certain state rituals should be abolished, as the Chinese order dictated they were only to be performed by the Emperor of China, and not by tributary Kings. Overall, however, this stance was not immediately adopted by the Court. Amidst droughts and other problems, many at Court were quite willing to retain whatever seemed to work, whether it be Buddhist or Confucian in origin. These included Imperial Chinese rituals, as well as native Korean rain rituals, performed on a Round Altar (圓壇) like that which Chinese Confucian ideology dictated should be restricted to the Emperor’s use. ⎖] Sejong's reforms also included changing the royal costume (gollyongpo) from the blue which was standard under Goryeo to the red which would remain standard for the remainder of the Joseon period, as well as various changes to ceremonial court music. ⎗]

Overall, Confucianism was seen as universal, as something not necessarily representing submission to China as a political entity, or to Chinese ways as a particular (foreign) culture, but rather as a set of attitudes and practices constituting the observance of proper civilization, the observance of the best way of doing things. But, still, considerable disagreements and debates continued for centuries as to how precisely to implement Confucian political culture in Korea, a country with its own distinctive history and traditions. For the first several centuries of the Joseon period, the Court shifted nearly constantly on issues of proper ritual practice, as factions rose and fell, and as various attitudes and approaches accordingly gained and lost support. Korean stances towards state rituals remained somewhat contradictory, or complicated many steps towards fuller Confucianization were resisted on the grounds of adhering to precedents, i.e. on the grounds of continuing to do things the proper Korean way. ⎘]

Even at the earliest stage, however, in the first decade after the dynasty's founding, the Court began taking some actions to better embody a distinctive Korean identity, and an appropriately kingly (tributary) one, distancing Joseon from emulation of at least some Chinese Imperial practices. One such change was for former kings, going back to the 6th or 7th century, to be retroactively renamed, in Joseon official histories, "-wang", meaning "king," in place of the "-jo" (C: -zu) and "-jong" (C: -zong) suffixes many of them had employed in their temple names, in emulation of Chinese emperors. ⎙]

After the Manchu invasions of Korea in the 1620s-30s, and especially after the fall of China's Ming Dynasty to the Manchus in 1644, however, the Court shifted considerably towards a strong dedication to proper Confucian state ritual and embodiment of loyalty to the Ming.

Once hopes for a Ming restoration faded in the 1670s, Joseon began constructing altars to Ming emperors. Song Siyol (1607-1689) was among the leading Confucian officials who proposed the construction of altars to the Wanli and Chongzhen Emperors to be built, to “symbolize repaying the kindness of the Ming and for implanting… the spirit of ch’unch’u taeui [春秋大義, C: Chūnqiū dàyì],” a principle of loyalty to the state even while that state is collapsing. A generation later, King Sukchong continued to support such attitudes, and proposed ritual sacrifices to the Chongzhen Emperor beginning in 1704. However, some factions at court questioned or critiqued such moves, noting that such sacrifices would seem to place the Ming emperors above the King’s own royal ancestors, and further that such sacrifices had no precedent in the established Chinese ritual code. Many officials also protested that only direct descendants of the Ming Imperial family should be making such sacrifices to the Ming imperial ancestors. Still, with the support of students from Korea’s own National Confucian Academy, the altar was created. Originally dedicated to the memory of the Wanli Emperor and called the Taebodan, it was later expanded – under Sukchong’s successor King Yongjo - to be dedicated to the Hongwu and Chongzhen Emperors as well. Yongjo began the tradition of performing ritual sacrifices dedicated to these three emperors (Hongwu, Wanli, and Chongzhen) in 1749. Through these rituals, Yongjo affirmed Joseon as the heir to Ming civilization, with one key saying from the time declaring that “the Central Plains exude the stenches of barbarians and our Green Hills are alone” (i.e. China has fallen to the barbarians, and it is in Korea alone that true civilization survives). ⎚] Yet, while this notion of Korea as the "small central civilization" (K: sojunghwa), that is, the only remaining bastion of high Confucian civilization surrounded by uncivilized, or barbarian, regimes, certainly gained strength following the Manchu conquest, it had its roots in the preceding century. As early as 1574, Korean officials visiting Beijing reported back that the Ming National Academy (Guozijian) and other centers of Confucian learning were in states of severe disrepair, and that few teachers or students were present. ⎛]

An office called the Joseon guó lǐjo (朝鮮国礼曹, "Joseon Office of National Rites") oversaw court rituals, ritual music, and foreign relations. ⎜]

Foreign Relations

Wakô pirate raids on the Korean and Chinese coasts were perhaps the most major concern in Japan's relations with both Joseon Korea and Ming Dynasty China in the 15th-16th centuries. Due to these pirate threats, the Korean court gave up on attempts to send formal missions to Southeast Asian courts after the 1390s. Trade in Southeast Asian goods continued, however, through Korea's contacts with China, Japan, and Ryûkyû. ⎝] The wakô (lit. "Japanese pirates") were in fact people from all over the region, mainly Chinese, under the direct control of no central or prominent Japanese authority. Despite demands from Joseon and Ming to the Ashikaga shogunate to put an end to the piracy, it was not within the shogun's power to command the pirates. In the 15th century, Joseon made several attempts to curb or cut off this pirate activity, eventually entering into an arrangement in 1443 with the Sô samurai clan of Tsushima, who were granted a variety of privileges in exchange for taking a leading role in ensuring that all Japanese trading ships traveling to Korea were properly licensed and authorized, and in taking care of those which were not (i.e. the pirates). ⎞] In the Edo period, the Sô came to be the only Japanese traveling or communicating between Korea and Japan, wielding considerable power as the only intermediaries between the Joseon court and the Tokugawa shogunate, overseeing and managing all trade and diplomatic interactions between the two lands.

As the Manchus gained strength in Northeast Asia in the early decades of the 17th century, factions emerged within the Joseon Court for and against submission to the Qing. Prince Gwanghae, who reigned as king from 1608, sought to accommodate the Manchus, and was supported by the Puk'in faction however, the rival Sŏin faction saw this as submission to barbarians, as a violation of the recognition of Ming China as the source of great civilization, and as a betrayal to the Ming, who had so aided Korea in defeating Hideyoshi's forces. In 1623, the Sŏin faction staged a coup, and placed King Injo on the throne, marking the beginning of an even deeper adherence to Confucian orthodoxy, and Ming loyalty. This came to be known as the Injo Revolt. Manchu attacks on Korea in 1636 only strengthened anti-Manchu attitudes within the Korean court, and though the court did eventually capitulate to paying tribute to the Qing, they maintained their loyalty to the Ming as one of the central ideals of their state. ⎟] The Qing record Taizong shilu, as well as certain official Chosŏn records, give 1637/1/30 as the date Chosŏn officially declared its submission to the Qing. ⎠]

The Manchus demanded Chosŏn express its loyalty to the Qing in a number of ways: adopting the Qing calendar and Qing reign names switching the Ming-granted royal seal for a Qing-granted one and by addressing the Qing in formal communications in the way Chosŏn had previously addressed the Ming (e.g. with terms such as "Heavenly Realm" 天朝, rather than simply "the Qing" 清朝 or 清国, let alone terms referring to the Manchus as "barbarians"). Chosŏn court officials were united in opposing the Manchu invasion, but after their kingdom was defeated, they ultimately agreed to participate in the tribute/investiture relationship, and to many of the associated practices mentioned above. At the same time, however, the fall of the Ming necessitated the development of a Korean identity separated from China. The kingdom could no longer draw legitimacy from (contemporary) China, which had fallen to chaos and to barbarian invaders, but had to find new ways to continue to base its legitimacy in the idea of the Ming. In internal (domestic) documents, Chosŏn continued to employ the Ming calendar, and to refer to the Qing as simply the Qing, or as barbarians the Court also put into place numerous anti-Qing or Ming loyalist state rituals, which ritually, symbolically, represented loyalty to the Ming, and a view of the Qing as an illegitimate regime. ⎠]

While Joseon maintained a policy of maritime restrictions more or less just as strict as that of the Tokugawa shogunate, it was less strict in banning Christianity, and a number of Christian missionaries managed to sneak into Korea from China over the course of the period. ⎡] A Chinese-language translation of the Christian Bible first circulated in Korea beginning in 1784. ⎢]

In the 1860s, seeking to protect and continue its traditional tributary relationship with Qing Dynasty China, Korea resisted entering into diplomatic relations in the Western mode with either Western powers, or with the Qing's own Western-style foreign affairs office, the Zongli Yamen. ⎣] When informed in 1869 of the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate and the establishment of a new Imperial Japanese government, the Korean Court chastised the Sô family for its breach of the traditional vassal/tributary relationship, and Japanese-Korean relations soured for several years after Tsushima and the Sô clan were removed from their traditionally special permission, and the Meiji government more fully took over control of foreign relations, factions within the government debated in 1873-1874 whether to invade Korea as punishment for its hostile position in the end, there was no invasion, and several prominent figures in support of the invasion resigned from government. In 1875, a Japanese ship requesting aid, food, and water at a Korean port was fired upon in response, and so Inoue Kaoru and Kuroda Kiyotaka traveled to Korea on an official mission to address the issue. Mori Arinori was simultaneously dispatched to China, to seek China's assistance in securing friendly relations with Korea. ⎤]

Japanese-Korean relations in the Western/modern mode were finally established in 1876. The Treaty of Ganghwa signed that year has been regarded as one of the Unequal Treaties, granting Japan many of the same privileges in Korea that Western powers now enjoyed in Japan. ⎥]

On October 12, 1897, King Gojong declared the end of the Kingdom of Korea, and the beginning of the Korean Empire, naming himself Emperor. ⎦]

History of science and technology in Korea

Like most other regions in the world, science and technology in Korea has experienced periods of intense growth as well as long periods of stagnation.

1. Prehistory
At the end of the Palaeolithic, people of the Korean Peninsula adopted microlithic stone tool technology, a highly efficient and useful way of making and maintaining a flexible prehistoric toolkit. The Palaeolithic also marks the beginning of a long period of plant and human interaction in which people undoubtedly adopted a number of wild plants for medicinal use.
Archaeological evidence from Gosan-ri in Jeju-do indicates that pottery was first made c. 8500-8000 BC. People depended on gathering, hunting, and fishing as the main source of food until the Middle Jeulmun Period c. 3500 to 2000 BC when small-scale cultivation of plants began.
The earliest known constellation patterns in Korea can be found on dolmens dating back to 3000 BC.
Farmers of the Mumun Period began to use multiple cropping systems of agriculture some time after 1500 BC. This advance in food production irrevocably altered the subsistence systems of the Mumun and hastened the beginnings of intensive agriculture in the Korean Peninsula. Korea and adjacent areas of East Asia seem to have been a part of the domestication region of soybean Glycine max between 1500 and 500 BC. Paddy-field agriculture, a system of wet-rice cultivation, was also introduced into the southern Korean Peninsula during this period.
Widespread archaeological evidence shows that after 850 BC the technology for heating homes changed. Before 850 BC pit-houses were heated using fire from various kinds of hearths that were dug into the floor of the pit-house. After 850 BC, hearths disappeared from the interior of pit-house architecture and was likely replaced with some kind of brazier-like technology in Hoseo, Honam, and western Yeongnam.
Bronze objects were exchanged into the Korean Peninsula from the outside before 900 BC. However, the moulds for bronze casting from Songguk-ri and an increased number of bronze artifacts indicates that people in the southern part of the peninsula engaged in bronze metallurgical production starting from c. 700 BC. Several hundred years later iron production was adopted, and Korean-made iron tools and weaponry became increasingly common after approximately 200 BC. Iron tools facilitated the spread of intensive agriculture into new areas of the Korean Peninsula.
Until recently, Koreans were thought to have invented under-floor heating, a system they call "ondol". It was first thought to have been invented by the people of the Northern Okjeo around 2.500 years ago. However, the recent discovery of a c. 3.000-year-old equivalent indoor heating system in Alaska has called current explanation into question. The absence of prehistoric and/or ancient ondol features in the area between the two archaeological sites makes it unlikely that the two systems might have come from the same source. However, there has also been hypothesis that whale-hunting people from the Korean peninsula have migrated to Alaska by sea during the time period, and this could explain the phenomenon.

3. Goryeo Dynasty
During the Goryeo Dynasty metal movable type printing was invented by Choe Yun-ui in 1234. This invention made printing easier, more efficient and also increased literacy, which observed by Chinese visitors was seen to be so important where it was considered to be shameful to not be able to read. The Mongol Empire later adopted Koreas movable type printing and spread as far as Central Asia. There is conjecture as to whether or not Choes invention had any influence on later printing inventions such as Gutenbergs Printing press. When the Mongols invaded Europe they inadvertently introduced different kinds of Asian technology.
During the late Goryeo Dynasty, Goryeo was at the cutting edge of shipboard artillery in world. In 1356 early experiments were carried out with gunpowder weapons that shot wood or metal projectiles. In 1373 experiments with incendiary arrows and "fire tubes" possibly an early form of the Hwacha were developed and placed on Korean warships. The policy of placing cannons and other gunpowder weapons continued well into the Joseon Dynasty and by 1410, over 160 Joseon warships had cannons on board. Choe Mu-seon, a medieval Korean inventor, military commander and scientist, introduced the widespread use of gunpowder to Korea for the first time and created various gunpowder-based weapons. The weapons were created because of Japanese pirates Wokou frequently raiding Koreas coastal regions. Choe obtained knowledge of gunpowder from a Chinese merchant named Lee Yuan despite the fact that it was against Mongol law. Lee was at first reluctant but eventually came around because he was impressed by Choes patriotism and determination. Choe later impressed the Koryo court and King U which then built him a laboratory and a factory geared solely toward gunpowder. He invented the first Korean cannons and other weapons such as the Singijeon Korean fire arrows and later the Hwacha which were first built in 1377 and are widely considered to be the first true multiple rocket launchers. These weapons were a vast improvement over the previous rocket weapons with one of the key features was that it could fire up to 200 rockets at one time.

4.2. Joseon Dynasty 16th-19th century
The scientific and technological advance in the late Joseon Dynasty was less progressed than the early Joseon period.
16th-century court physician, Heo Jun wrote a number of medical texts, his most significant achievement being Dongeui Bogam, which is often noted as the defining text of Traditional Korean medicine. The work spread to its East Asian neighbors, China and Japan, where it is still regarded as one of the classics of Oriental medicine today.
The first soft ballistic vest, Myunjebaegab, was invented in Joseon Korea in the 1860s shortly after the French campaign against Korea 1866. Heungseon Daewongun ordered development of bullet-proof armor because of increasing threats from Western armies. Kim Gi-du and Gang Yun found that cotton could protect against bullets if thick enough, and devised bullet-proof vests made of 30 layers of cotton. The vests were used in battle during the United States expedition to Korea 1871, when the US Navy attacked Ganghwa Island in 1871. The US Army captured one of the vests and took it to the US, where it was stored at the Smithsonian Museum until 2007. The vest has since been sent back to Korea and is currently on display to the public.

5.1. Modern period North Korea
In late 1985 North Koreas first integrated circuit plant became operational. By the early 1990s, North Korea was producing about 20.000 computers a year, reportedly 60% were exported and the remainder were mostly for domestic military use. The development of a software industry started in the early 1990s. In general, software development is on a high level and it could become a major export item in the future, along with world-class voice recognition, automation and medical technology. North Korea has developed its own operating system, the Red Star, and has an intranet network named Kwangmyong, which contains censored content from the Internet. North Korean IT specialists demonstrate a high degree of technological literacy.
The National Aerospace Development Administration is the countrys national space agency. As of 2010, two space launch facilities are operational - the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground in North Hamgyong province, and the Tongchang-dong Space Launch Center in North Pyongan province. Kwangmyŏngsŏng-class satellites were launched from the former site by means of Paektusan and Unha rockets. So far, a total of three launch attempts were made, although none of them was successful.
North Korea is also researching and deploying various military technologies, such as GPS jammers, stealth paint, midget submarines and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, anti-personnel lasers and ballistic missiles.

6. Works cited
Barnes, Gina L. 2001 State Formation in Korea: Historical and Archaeological Perspectives. London: Curzon
Seong-Rae, Park. 2005. Science and Technology In Korean History, Excursions, Innovations and Issues.
Kuzmin, Yaroslav V. 2006 Chronology of the Earliest Pottery in East Asia: Progress and Pitfalls. Antiquity 80: 362–371.
Sang-woon, Jeon. 1998. A History of Science in Korea.
Lee, Sung-joo. 1998. Silla - Gaya Sahwoe-eui Giwon-gwa Seongjang. Seoul: Hakyeon Munhwasa.
Crawford, Gary W. and Gyoung-Ah Lee 2003 Agricultural Origins in the Korean Peninsula. Antiquity 77295:87-95.

Joseon Dynasty.

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Japanese occupation

In a complicated series of manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres, Japan pushed back the Russian fleet at the Battle of Port Arthur in 1905. Both the fleets of China and Russia had given Korea sufficient protection to prevent a direct invasion, but this ambuscade of the Russian fleet gave Japan free reign over north China, and Korea was left at the mercy of the new regional naval power: Japan.

Korea became a protectorate of Japan in 1895 when Japan forced Emperor Gojong of Korea to abdicate his throne and assassinated his wife, Empress Min of Joseon. Japan annexed the country in 1910 and Korea became a Japanese colony.

The event is recalled both in books and at the historical site itself, (Cheong'duk Palace in Seoul), with a monument. Queen Min's brutal murder &mdash she was stabbed repeatedly, cut into pieces, desecrated, and thrown into a fish pond &mdash didn't shock the world powers as it should have: the events were not known widely for decades because of the suppression of journalism and the sacking and looting of Seoul, which was occurring at the same time.


Towards the end of the 14th century, Goryeo found itself in a difficult situation due to internal and external problems, including a struggle for power among the nobility and incursions by red-turbaned bandits and Wako pirates. At that time, General Yi Seong-gye had become popular among the people for his role in driving away foreign invaders. He overthrew the Goryeo dynasty and founded a new dynasty, Joseon. As the first King Taejo of Joseon, he chose Hanyang (present day Seoul) – judged to be a propitious spot according to the principles of feng shui – as the capital of the new dynasty. He also ordered the construction of Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Jongmyo shrine, as well as roads and markets. The new capital, located in the center of the Korean Peninsula, was easily accessible via the Hangang River, which flowed directly through its heart.

King Taejong, the third king and son of the founder of the dynasty, made a significant contribution to stabilizing the centralized system of governance. He adopted a system under the law of hopae (identification tags) to figure out the population, and launched the major executive bodies called the Six Ministries of Joseon: Personnel (Ijo), Taxation (Hojo), Rites (Yejo), Military Affairs (Byeongjo), Punishments (Hyeongjo), and Public Works (Gongjo), all of which had to report directly to their king. King Sejong, the fourth king and a son of King Taejong, ushered in an era of great political, social, and cultural prosperity. Scholars at the Jiphyeonjeon (Hall of Worthies) developed strong and effective policies. During the reigns of Sejo, Yejong, and Seongjong, the Gyeongguk daejeon (National Code) was drawn up with the aim of establishing a long-lasting ruling system.

The Creation of Hangeul

Koreans had used the Traditional Chinese characters for a writing system for many centuries. Idu and Hyangchal, systems for writing the spoken word, using Chinese characters, had been developed, but they left much to be desired. Hangeul (the Korean alphabet), was created by King Sejong in 1443 and was promulgated as the national writing system in 1446. The shapes of the Korean alphabet were based on the shapes made by the human vocal apparatus during pronunciation. Many scholars have stated that Hangeul is the most scientific and easy-to-learn writing system in the world. It contributed to drastically enhancing communication between the people and the government, and played a decisive role in becoming a culturally advanced country.

Development of Science and Technology

During the Joseon period, the country’s science and technology developed remarkably. The Jagyeongnu (clepsydra), Angbuilgu (sundial), and Honcheonui (armillary sphere) were all invented in the early period of the dynasty. A rain gauge, the first of its particular kind in the world, was used to measure precipitation. Devices for land surveying and mapmaking were also made. During the reign of King Taejo, the Cheonsang yeolcha bunya jido (Celestial Chart) was made based on a previous version drawn up during the Goguryeo period. During the reign of King Sejong, Chiljeongsan (meaning the calculation of the motions of the seven celestial determinants) was made on the basis of the Shoushili calendar of China and the Islamic calendar of Arabia. Noticeable advances were made in the sphere of medical science. Hyangyak jipseongbang (Collection of Native Prescriptions for Saving Lives) and Uibang yuchwi (Classified Collection of Medical Prescriptions) were compiled regarding Korean native medicines, and treatments. Metal printing types, such as Gyemija and Gabinja, were making it possible to publish many books.

Joseon’s Foreign Relations

Joseon maintained friendly relations with the Ming dynasty of China. The two countries exchanged royal envoys every year and engaged in busy cultural and economic exchanges. Joseon also accepted Japan’s request for bilateral trade by opening the ports of Busan, Jinhae, and Ulsan. In 1443, Joseon signed the Gyehae Treaty with the clan of Tsushima Island for limited bilateral trade. and Joseon also traded with other Asian countries such as Ryukyu, Siam, and Java.

Development of Handcraft Skills

Ceramic ware is perhaps the most representative handcraft of the Joseon period. Grayish-blue-powdered celadon or white porcelain was widely used at the royal court or government offices. By about the 16th century, Joseon’s ceramic production skills had reached their zenith. Its white porcelain typically exhibited clean, plain shapes based on the tradition established during the Goryeo period. They were suited to the aristocratic taste of the Confucian scholars.

Cheonsang Yeolcha Bunya Jido (Joseon, 17th Century)
This astronomical chart from Joseon shows the constellations.

Imjin Waeran (Japanese Invasion of 1592)

Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, Joseon maintained good relations with Japan. In the 16th century, however, Japan called for a larger share of the bilateral trade, but Joseon refused to comply with the request. The Japanese threw the Joseon society into turmoil by causing disturbances: the Disturbance of the Three Ports, also known as Sampo Waeran, in 1510 and Eulmyo Waebyeon (Japanese pirates’ disturbance) in 1555. In Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi brought the 120-yearlong Sengoku period (Age of Warring States) to a conclusion and unified the country. Then, in 1592, he invaded Joseon with around 200,000 troops, with the aim of dissipating local lords’ strength and stabilizing his rule in Japan. The war lasted for 7 years until 1598, which is called the Japanese invasions of Korea of 1592–1598 or Imjin War.

Angbuilgu (Joseon, 17th-18th Centuries)
A sundial capable of marking changes in both time and season

Rain Gauge Support (Joseon, 18th Century)
Rain gauge support in Seonhwadang, Daegu, on which a rain gauge is put to measure rainfall

Feeling threatened by the invading Japanese troops, King Seonjo of Joseon fled to Uiju, close to the Ming dynasty, and asked Ming to come to his aid. The Japanese invaders marched into the northern provinces of Joseon. Korean militias started fighting against the invaders here and there across the country. It is particularly noteworthy that Korean naval forces led by Admiral Yi Sun-sin won one victory after another against the invaders and defended the nation’s breadbasket in Jeolla-do, and thus blocked the Japanese supply lines, thereby demoralizing the Japanese army. The Japanese forces pulled out of Korea, but invaded Joseon again in 1597. Although Admiral Yi Sun-sin was left with only thirteen warships, he won a devastating victory against the Japanese fleet of 133 ships. The sea battle waged in the Strait of Myeongnyang was one of the greatest military engagements of all time.

White Porcelain Jar with Plum, Bamboo, Bird Design (Joseon, 15th Century)
This vase made in the early Joseon period displays a uniquely Korean atmosphere in its refined portrayal of bamboo, plum, and birds.

Following the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Japanese invaders returned home. During the seven-year war, many cultural properties in Joseon, including Bulguksa Temple, were destroyed. The Japanese took away books, printing types, and works of art from Joseon. With these spoils of war, the Japanese were able to enhance scholarship and the arts in their own country, while potters whom the Japanese troops abducted from Joseon helped Japan develop its own china culture.

Development of Grassroots Culture

In the late Joseon period, commerce and industry entered a period of rapid development. Many children could receive education at private schools in their local neighborhood. With these improvements in the quality of life of the people, they began to enjoy diverse entertainments. Stories written in easily understood Hangeul, as opposed to literary works published in Chinese, were widely distributed. Pansori (a genre of musical storytelling) and mask dances developed into the representative genres of the grassroots culture. In the late 19th century, Sin Jae-hyo adapted and rearranged pansori saseol (stories), which is today called the five madang of pansori: Chunhyangga (Song of Chunhyang), Simcheongga (Song of Sim Cheong), Heungboga (Song of Heungbo), Jeokbyeokga (Song of Red Cliff), and Sugungga (Song of the Rabbit and the Turtle). In addition, masked dance-dramas such as tallori and sandaenori enjoyed great popularity among ordinary people.

This is a regional variant of Korean mask dance drama, in which masked actors and actresses engage in witty jokes, dances, songs, etc.

Chosŏn dynasty

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Chosŏn dynasty, also called Yi dynasty, the last and longest-lived imperial dynasty (1392–1910) of Korea. Founded by Gen. Yi Sŏng-Gye, who established the capital at Hanyang (present-day Seoul), the kingdom was named Chosŏn for the state of the same name that had dominated the Korean peninsula in ancient times. The regime is also frequently referred to as the Yi dynasty, for its ruling family.

General Yi established close relationships with the neighbouring Ming dynasty (1368–1644) of China, which considered Korea a client state, and Chinese cultural influences were very strong during this period. Chosŏn’s administration was modeled after the Chinese bureaucracy, and Neo-Confucianism was adopted as the ideology of the state and society.

Under the previous dynasties, ownership of land was concentrated in the hands of a few high-ranking bureaucrats, but Yi Sŏng-Gye (who ruled as King Taejo) and his successors redistributed the land throughout the various levels of officialdom, creating a new aristocracy of scholar-officials called the yangban. Scholarship flourished under the Chosŏn dynasty, and in 1443, during the reign of King Sejong, the Korean phonetic alphabet, Hangul (han’gŭl), was invented. By the time of the Chosŏn ruler King Sŏngjong (1470–94), a bureaucratic system for government administration was established.

In 1592 Korea suffered an invasion from Japan. Although Chinese troops helped repel the invaders, the country was devastated. This was followed by the invasion of northwestern Korea in 1627 by the Manchu tribes of Manchuria, who were attempting to protect their rear in preparation for their invasion of China. Many cultural assets were lost, and the power of the central government was severely weakened. By the reigns of King Yŏngjo (1724–76) and King Chŏngjo (1776–1800), the country had largely recovered from the destruction of the wars. With an increased use of irrigation, agriculture was in a prosperous condition, and a monetary economy was burgeoning. In an effort to solve administrative problems, a school of learning called Silhak, or “Practical Learning,” arose.

Korea maintained an isolationist policy until the 1880s. The Treaty of Kanghwa (1876), concluded at the insistence of Japan, defined Korea as an independent state and led to the establishment of diplomatic relations with not only Japan but also China. China lobbied for Korea to open up to trade with the West, especially the United States, for the first time, and the country soon became an arena for competition among the powers. Japanese influence in the area became predominant, especially after the Japanese victory in wars with China (the Sino-Japanese War, 1894–95) and Russia (the Russo-Japanese War, 1904–05). Korean opposition to Japanese dominance grew, and in 1895 Japanese agents assassinated Queen Min, who was suspected of encouraging the resistance. Her husband, King Kojong, remained on the throne until 1907, when he was forced to cede it to his son. In 1910 Japan formally annexed Korea, bringing the Chosŏn dynasty to an end. In 2009 several dozen royal tombs of the Chosŏn dynasty—including those of Kings Taejo and Kojong—located in the area around Seoul were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.

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