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To the 13th century
13th - 20th century
     Mongol overlords
     The Joseon dynasty
     Korea and Japan

To be completed

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Mongol overlords: 1231-1364

In 1231 a Mongol horde conquers the Korean peninsula. The court of the Wang dynasty in Koryo submits to a new way of life. Mongol customs are introduced, Mongol princesses enter the royal harem. Later in the century Kublai Khan uses Korea as his base for two invasions of Japan. The Mongol troops sail in Korean ships. On both occasions the fleets are shattered by great typhoons, the famous kamikaze.

The Mongols are finally driven from Korea in 1364 by a young general, Yi Song-gye. The enfeebled and discredited Wang rulers survive another twenty-eight years before Yi topples them, in 1392, to establish a dynasty of his own.


The Yi dynasty of Choson: from 1392

Yi Song-gye changes the name of his kingdom back to an earlier name, Joseon, by which his dynasty becomes known, and he moves the capital to Hanyang (the present-day Seoul). His successors develop an increasingly close link with China, accepting the status of 'tributary kingdom' to first the Ming and then the Qing dynasty. Confucianism is now the accepted state system, and as in China the influence of the Buddhists is curbed. Korean painting flourishes in the Chinese landscape style. For the second time, in the technology of printing, Korea shows China the way - on this occasion with movable metal type, a highly significant development in the history of printing.

But in the long term friendship with China proves no defence against an ancient enemy - Japan.


Korea and Japan: 1592-1910

Korea first suffers from Japanese expansionism during the reign of one of the most successful shoguns, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Attempting to attack China through Korea, the Japanese invade the peninsula in 1592 and remain there for seven years of conflict before being driven out in 1599.

Three centuries later Korea is again the battleground between Japan and rival powers on the mainland. Hostilities between Japan and China on Korean soil in 1884-5 are followed by the Chinese-Japanese war of 1894-5. It is won by Japan, exposing Korea to continuing Japanese interference. This in turn brings Japan into conflict with a new great power in the region - Russia.


When the Russo-Japanese War breaks out in 1904, Japan occupies Korea as a mainland base. The war ends in 1905 with a treaty to Japan's advantage. Russia accepts the principle of Japanese involvement in Korea.

The country is immediately declared by Japan to be a Japanese protectorate. Five years later, in 1910, Korea is formally annexed and placed under a Japanese governor-general. A prince of the Yi dynasty is taken to Tokyo and is given an aristocratic Japanese bride. The Korean royal family becomes, after the death of the Yi prince, a branch of the Japanese nobility.


This History is as yet incomplete.


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