Korea Empire Leaders: Wang Kon Starting technologies: Mining Mysticism Unique unit: Hwacha Unique building: Seowon
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First colony: Japanese Empire
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Archaeological evidence indicates that humans have been living on the Korean peninsula for the last 700,000 years. The earliest discovered settlements date back to at least 3000 BC. According to legend, Korean history began in 2333 BC when King Dangun founded the kingdom of Gojoseon. Dangun was said to have been born of the son of Heaven and a woman from a bear-totem tribe ancient Korea was characterized by clan communities which combined to form small city-states. The Bronze Age began around 1000 BC in Korea, and many weapons from this period have been found, as well as archaeological evidence of walled settlements. This suggests that the Korean city-states did not always enjoy peaceful relations with one another, despite their nominal unity under the Kingdom of Gojoseon. The kingdom of Gojoseon came to an end in 109 BC when the Chinese launched a massive invasion near the Liao River. The Chinese established four provinces in northern Korea and Manchuria, but were unable to hold these for any length of time.
After the fall of the Gojoseon kingdom, three new states emerged in Korea (these are collectively known as the "Three Kingdoms"). Baekje was founded in 18 BC on the southwest of the Korean Peninsula it was based around the city of Seoul and played an important role in transporting Chinese culture (such as Buddhism, iron making, the Chinese alphabet, etc.) across the sea to Japan. Goguryeo was founded in 37 BC it usually was the largest of the three kingdoms. In addition to its Korean citizens, it also included Chinese and Tugusic tribesman from Manchuria. Finally, the third kingdom of Silla (founded 57 BC) was culturally distinct from the other two because of the cultural influence of northern nomads from the steppes - Baekje and Goguryeo were mostly dominated by Chinese culture. The three kingdoms coexisted on the peninsula for over six centuries, until King Munmu of Silla ordered an attack on Baekje in 660 AD. With the help of forces from Tang China, the Sillans conquered first Baekje and then Goguryeo (in 668 AD). The Sillans then drove out the Chinese and ruled over a united Korean state.
Unified Silla remained peaceful and prosperous for the next two centuries, until it was overthrown in 935 AD by a new dynasty, the kingdom of Goryeo, which would last for over four hundred years. During this period laws were codified, a civil service system was introduced, and Buddhism spread throughout the Korean peninsula. In 1231 the Mongols invaded Korea, and the king of Goryeo was forced to surrender a short time later. Under the treaty of capitulation the Korean kings continued to rule as a figurehead, while the Mongols held all of the real power. As time passed the Mongol power began to decline, and in the 1340s King Kongmin was able to throw them out. Upon regaining power the Goryeo dynasty enacted important reforms to the government. It remained in power some fifty years, until overthrown by the turncoat Korean general Yi Seonggye in 1392.
Yi Seonggye had been sent to China to fight against the Ming Chinese, but once there he switched sides and returned to Korea backed by Chinese power. He then overthrew the Goryeo Dynasty and founded his own. This new Joseon Dynasty moved the capital to Seoul and adopted Confucianism as the state religion, causing great loss of power and wealth by Korea`s Buddhists. The Joseon state successfully fought off a series of invasions from Japan between 1592 and 1598, but succumbed to an attack by the Qing Dynasty of China in 1636. For the next two centuries Korea remained nominally independent, but in actuality was a province of the Chinese Qing Empire.
At the end of the nineteenth century Korea was invaded and occupied by Japan after its victories over China in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) and Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). The Japanese ruthlessly exploited the Korean population and attempted to destroy the Korean culture in order to replace it with their own. After Japan`s defeat in World War II (1945), Korea was divided at the thirty-eighth parallel into north and south regions, a division which the Korean War of 1950-53 made permanent. South Korea has since become a prosperous economic powerhouse, while North Korea remains stifled by an oppressive communist regime.