Korean people
070721 korean hostages hmed 8a grid-6x2
Total population
approx. 80,000,000
Regions with significant populations
Majority Populations
South Korea South Korea 50,062,000 [1]
North Korea North Korea 24,051,218 [2]
Minority Populations
China China 2,336,771 [3]
United States United States 2,102,283 [4]
Japan Japan 904,512 [5]
Canada Canada 223,322 [6]
Australia Australia 203,633 [7]
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan 175,939 [8]
Philippines Philippines 115,400 [9]
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 103,952 [10]



Non-religious, atheist, Buddhism, Christianity, Shamanism, Confucianism

The Koreans (Korean: 한국인) are an East Asian ethnic group that is native to the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria. As a group, the Koreans have been under the subject of much foreign powers including that of the neighboring China and Japan - as well as the late Soviet Union and western powers like the United States.

Koreans today follow a melting pot of East Asian influence, including Chinese, Japanese and even some elements of Mongol culture.


Early History and Ancestry

Korean people have mixed origins from several places. Manchuria in China, Japan and Mongolia. Many Korean people are a mix of Chinese, Mongol and Japanese ancestry.[11] Much of the Korean Peninsula's history is recorded through Chinese and Japanese legends and folktales. Korean myth had it that the people of the Korean Peninsula were created from a bear after the King of Heaven descended near a Tan tree, in what is now Mt. Taebek in modern-day North Korea. As per archeaological findings, humans have existed in northeast Asia roughly 39,000 years ago and an agriculture developed in what in about 1,200 B.C. that created the inceptions of towns and civlizations used walls made of earth-materials. According to Chinese records, the Korean Peninsula was filled with thriving civilizations. The Han Dynasty set up trade posts in the peninsula around 108 B.C., introducing Chinese culture to the peninsula. Some even became protectorates of China.[12]

Three Kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula

Koguryo Kingdom 37 B.C.-668 A.D.

The Koguryo, also known as Goguryeo (Chinese: 高麗, Korean: 고구려) was formed in the northern part
Korean crown

A gilt-bronze crown from Goguryeo believed to have once adorned the head of a bodhisattva image.

of the peninsula near northeast China and the southern parts of Primorsky Krai in Russia which would emerge to be the Korean Peninsula's largest early kingdom. According to texts found from the era known as the Samguk Sagi (Chinese: 三國史記, Korean: 삼국사기) which literally means History of the Three Kingdoms in Korea, the kingdom was found by Jumong, a prince from Buyeo or Puyo, an early kingdom that existed in the peninsula.[13] The area was populated by a group of exiles known as the Yamaek and the region was not fertile enough to grow crops and feed its people leading king Taejo of Goguryeo (in 53 A.D.) to have resort to conquering tribes of fertile areas, he did so the those in southeastern Manchuria and the northern Korean Peninsua and forcing them to pay tributes to him.[14] Taejo also attacked Han Dynasty territories that existed in the Korean Peninsula, conquering Lelang, Xuantu, and Liaodong - initially freeing them from Chinese control.[15] In 244 A.D., Koguryo moved to attack more Chinese-controlled territory in the Korean Peninsula, waging war against the Chinese Wei Dynasty but lost. Hwando, the new Koguryo capital was destroyed by
Seated Buddha

Seated Buddhas and bodhisattvas from Wono-ri, Goguryeo.

Chinese Wei forces in 244. Seventy years later, Koguryo rebuilt their capital and revived their kingdom, much to the shock of Wei forces. Under King Micheon of Goguryeo in 313 A.D., the last Chinese command posts were finally conquered at Lelang. In 342, a confederation of Mongols known as the Xianbei attacked Hwando, forcing the Kugoryo king Gogukwon to temporarily flee. The Xianbei exerted control over the region and used the people of Koguryo as slaves.[16] He was killed in 371 in a battle against forced from the neighboring southern Paekche kingdom and Koguryo's largest city, Pyongyang was sacked. In 391, Gwanggaeto the Great became Koguryo's king and led it an expansion. He was known for being highly energetic. It is said that he captured 64 walled cities and 1,400 villages from campaigns against Khitan and Baekje.[17] He also annexed the Wa, Japanese territory and forced the rivalling Silla Kingdom to become a protectorate. Gwanggaeto led a reign that loosely unified the people of the Korean Peninsula. At his reign's end, Koguryo was the undisputed power in Manchuria and Korea. The culture of Kugoryo had played an everlasting impact on the history of the Korean people. These people considered themselves to be supernatural worshippers, of certain animals. And of course, as a result of Chinese influence in the area, Buddhism was also a a predominant religion in Koguryo. Its military style consisted of both private-owned militia groups and and local garrisons. Many ancient forts, palaces and burial sites from this region have become popular UNESCO tourist locations in North Korea.

Paekche 18 B.C.-669 A.D.

Main Article: Baekje

According to the Samguk Sagi, Baekje was founded in 18 BCE by King Onjo, who led a group of people from
Incense burner

Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje

Goguryeo south to the Han River basin. According to the Chinese Records of the Three Kingdoms, during the Samhan period, one of the chiefdoms of the Mahan confederacy was called Baekje.

Baekje was founded by Onjo, the third son of Goguryeo's founder Jumong and So Seo-no, at Wiryeseong (present-day southern Seoul). Baekje, like Goguryeo, claimed to succeed Buyeo, a state established in present-day Manchuria around the time of Gojoseon's fall.

Baekje alternately battled and allied with Goguryeo and Silla as the three kingdoms expanded control over the peninsula. At its peak in the 4th century, Baekje controlled most of the western Korean peninsula, as far north as Pyongyang, and may have even held territories in China, such as in Liaoxi, though this is controversial. It became a significant regional sea power, with political and trade relations with China and Japan.

In 660, it was defeated by an alliance of Silla and Chinese Tang Dynasty, submitting to Unified Silla.

Silla 57 B.C.-935 A.D.

Main Article: Silla


Gold ornament from early Silla.

Scholars have traditionally divided Silla history into three distinct periods: Early (trad. 57 BC–654 AD), Middle (654–780), and Late (780–935). According to Korean records, Silla was founded by King Park Hyeokgeose in 57 BC, around present-day Gyeongju. The earliest recording of this date is found in the Samguk Sagi, a 12th-century Korean history. Current archeological evidence indicates that while a polity may have been established even earlier than this in the Gyeongju region, it is too early to call it a kingdom. The author of the Samguk Sagi, Kim Bu-sik, probably attempted to legitimize Silla rule by giving it historical seniority over its rival kingdoms Baekje and Goguryeo.

King Naemul (356–402) of the Kim clan established a hereditary monarchy, eliminating the rotating power-sharing scheme, and the leader's now truly royal title became Maripgan (from the native Korean root Han or Gan, "leader" or "great", which was previously used for ruling princes in southern Korea, and which may have some relationship with the Mongol/Turkic title Khan). In 377, it sent emissaries to China and established relations with Goguryeo.

Facing pressure from Baekje in the west and Japan in the south,[18] in the later part of the 4th century, Silla
Golden inner cap

A golden inner cap. 5-6th century Silla.

allied with Goguryeo. However, when Goguryeo began to expand its territory southward, moving its capital to Pyongyang in 427, Nulji was forced to ally with Baekje.

By the time of King Beopheung (514–540), Silla was a full-fledged kingdom, with Buddhism as state religion, and its own era name systems. Silla absorbed the Gaya confederacy during the Gaya–Silla Wars, annexing Geumgwan Gaya in 532 and conquering Daegaya in 562, thereby expanding its borders to the Nakdong River basin.

King Jinheung (540–576) established a strong military force. Silla helped Baekje drive Goguryeo out of the Han River (Seoul) territory, and then wrested control of the entire strategic region from Baekje in 553, breaching the 120-year Baekje-Silla alliance. Also, King Jinheung established the Hwarang.

The early period ended with the demise of the "hallowed bone" (seonggol) rank with the death of Queen Jindeok.

Dynasties on the Korean Peninsula

Unified Shilla Dynasty 668-935

Main Article: Korea’s first united kingdom: Unified Silla

Along the way, Silla asked for the help of Chinese military forces from the Tang Dynasty, and while helpful at first, this actually led to serious trouble when Tang eventually revealed its intention to take over the peninsula for itself. Silla managed to drive away the Chinese military power from the old Baekjae and Silla areas but could not do so in the extensive northern territory of Goguryeo.

Hence, Silla failed to unify the entire expansive northern region with the rest of the peninsula. The Tang Dynasty had its subordinate tribes control what had previously been Goguryeo. But this did not last for long because refugees from Goguryeo, led by General Dae Jo-yeong set up a new country there called Balhae in 698, which became very prosperous.

The Tang Dynasty had been of great military assistance to Silla helping it defeat Goguryeo and Baekje. After the downfall of the two countries, however, it made no secret of its intention to assume their domains and even attempted to incorporate Silla under its rule.

Silla then fought against Tang for the next decade and obtained victory after beating the latter’s army at a castle close to today’s Seoul, and then overpowering its navy in the western coast adjoining the Yellow Sea in the mid 670s. In 676, eight years after the fall of Goguryeo and 16 years after that of Baekje, Silla finally expelled the Tang forces to complete the unification of the Three Kingdoms, which lasted for some seven centuries. In the process, Silla combined forces with the people of Baekje and Goguryeo. The long unification campaign was spearheaded by two heroes: Kim Chun-chu and General Kim Yu-sin.

Koryo Dynasty 918-1392

Goryeo, also known as Koryŏ (918–1392), was established in 918 by King Taejo. This kingdom later gave
Goryeo palace

A Goryeo painting depicting the Imperial/Royal Palace.

name to the modern state of Korea.[19] It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the leader of the Joseon dynasty in 1392. The Goryeo dynasty expanded its borders to present-day Wonsan in the north-east (936–943) and the Amnok River (993) and finally almost the whole of the Korean peninsula (1374).

Two of this period's most notable products are Goryeo celadon pottery and the Tripitaka Koreana — the Buddhist scriptures (Tripitaka) carved onto roughly 80,000 woodblocks and stored, and still in, Haeinsa. Subjects and officials of the Goryeo dynasty also created the world's first metal-based movable type in 1234; the oldest surviving movable metal type book, the Jikji, was made in 1377.

In 668, Silla conquered Baekje and Goguryeo with alliance of Tang Dynasty, but by the late 9th century it was tottering, its monarchs being unimaginative and pressed by the power of powerful statesmen. Many robbers and outlaws agitated and in 900 Gyeon Hwon revolted from Silla control in the Jeolla region as Hubaekje and next year Gung Ye revolted from the northern regions as Hugoguryeo (Taebong). A son of a regional lord, Wang Geon went into Hugoguryeo as a general.

Hugoguryeo fell when Wang Geon revolted and killed Gung Ye in 918; Silla was overpowered by Goryeo and Hubaekje and surrendered to Goryeo in 935. In 936 Hubaekje surrendered and Goryeo started an unbroken dynasty that ruled Korea for 474 years.

By the 14th century Goryeo had lost much of its power under Yuan Dynasty influences. Although King Gongmin managed to free his kingdom from the Mongol influence, the Goryeo general Yi Seonggye revolted and overthrew the last king of Goryeo, King Gongyang in 1392. Gongyang was killed in 1394.

Choson (Yi) Dynasty 1392-1910

The Joseon state (Korean: 조선; Hanja: 朝鮮; also Chosŏn, Choson, Chosun, Cho-sen) founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries, from July 1392 to October 1897. It was founded
Korean fortress

Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon.

following the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo Dynasty 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 Amnok and Duman rivers through the subjugation of the Jurchens. Joseon was the last dynasty of Korean history and the longest-ruling Confucian dynasty.

During its reign, Joseon consolidated its effective rule over the territory of current Korea, encouraged the entrenchment of Korean Confucian ideals and doctrines in Korean society, imported and adapted Chinese culture, 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 invasions by the neighboring states of Japan and Qing nearly overran the 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.

Koreans Under Foreign Power Struggle

Sino-Japanese Wars

As a newly emergent power, Japan turned its attention toward Korea. In order to protect its own interests and security, Japan wanted to block another power from annexing Korea or maintaining dominance in Korea, or at least ensure Korea's effective independence by developing its resources and reforming its administration.
Japanese troops

Japanese troops during the Sino-Japanese war

As Prussian advisor Major Klemens Meckel put it to the Japanese army, Korea was "a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan".[20] Japan felt that another power having a military presence on the Korean peninsula would have been detrimental to Japanese national security, and so resolved to end the centuries-old Chinese suzerainty over Korea. Moreover, Japan realized that having access to Korea’s coal and iron ore deposits would benefit Japan's growing industrial base. Korea was also seen as a source of agricultural imports to Japan, helping to feed the growing Japanese population.

On February 27, 1876, after certain incidents and confrontation involving Korean isolationists and the Japanese, Japan imposed the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876; forcing Korea to open itself to Japanese trade. Similar treaties were signed between Korea and other nations.

Korea had traditionally been a tributary state and continued to be so under the influence of China's Qing Dynasty, which exerted large influence over the conservative Korean officials gathered around the royal family of the Joseon Dynasty. Opinion in Korea itself was split; conservatives wanted to retain the traditional subservient relationship with China, while reformists wanted to establish closer ties with Japan and western nations. After two Opium Wars in 1839 and 1856 against the British Empire and the Sino-French War, China was unable to resist political intervention and territorial encroachment by western powers (see Unequal Treaties). Japan sought to prevent any major power from dominating Korea, fearing that would allow another power to threaten Japan, but this became a desire to replace Chinese influence in Korea with its Japanese influence.

During the Second World War, ethnic Koreans were used as means of wartime labor, serving in the Imperial Japanese Forces.

Cold War

During the Cold War, the Korean people experienced political division as a result of the political and arms race betweene the United States and the Soviet Union.

Creation of North Korea and South Korea

Korean protestors

South Korean citizens protest allied trusteeship in December 1945.

The division of Korea into South Korea and North Korea was the result of the 1945 Allied victory in World War II, ending the Empire of Japan's 35-year colonial rule of Korea by General Order No. 1. The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to temporarily occupy the country as a trusteeship with the zone of control along the 38th parallel. The purpose of this trusteeship was to establish a Korean provisional government which would become "free and independent in due course",[21] as set forth in the Cairo Conference.

Though elections were scheduled, the Soviet Union refused to cooperate with United Nations plans to hold general and free elections in the two Korean zones, and as a result, a Communist state was permanently established under Soviet auspices in the north and a pro-Western state was set up in the south.[22] The two superpowers backed different leaders and two states were effectively established, each of which claimed sovereignty over the whole Korean peninsula.

The Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, left the two Koreas separated by the Korean Demilitarized Zone through the Cold War and into the 2010s. The 2000s saw some improved relations between the two sides, overseen in the south by liberal governments, who were more amicable towards the north than previous governments had been.[23] These changes were largely reversed under conservative South Korean president Lee Myung-bak who opposed the north's continued development of nuclear weapons. In addition to this, after the death of Kim Jong-il, the incumbent supreme leader, Kim Jong-un threatened to bomb parts of South Korea.

Korean War 1950-1953

Korean refugees

Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans fled south in mid-1950 after the North Korean army invaded

The Korean War (25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953)[24] was a war between the Republic of Korea (South Korea), supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), at one time supported by China and the Soviet Union. It was primarily the result of the political division of Korea by an agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War at the end of World War II. The Korean Peninsula was ruled by the Empire of Japan from 1910 until the end of World War II. Following the surrender of the Empire of Japan in September 1945, American administrators divided the peninsula along the 38th parallel, with U.S. military forces occupying the southern half and Soviet military forces occupying the northern half.

The failure to hold free elections throughout the Korean Peninsula in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides; the North established a communist government, while the South established a right-wing government. The 38th parallel increasingly became a political border between the two Korean states. Although reunification negotiations continued in the months preceding the war, tensions intensified. Cross-border skirmishes and raids at the 38th parallel persisted. The conflict escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. The United States and other countries looked to help defend South Korea.

Korean combat

Combat in the streets of Seoul

Outmaneuvered and suffering heavy casualties in the first two months of the conflict, the defenders were forced back to the Pusan perimeter. With the Soviet Union boycotting the United Nations Security Council in 1950, a Security Council resolution was passed authorizing military intervention. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations contributed to the defense of South Korea, with the United States providing 88% of the soldiers. An amphibious U.N. counter-offensive was launched which cut off many of the North Korean attackers. Those that escaped envelopment and capture were forced back north all the way to the Yalu River at the Korea-China border. At this point Chinese forces crossed over the Yalu and entered the war on the side of North Korea. Chinese intervention forced the Southern-allied forces back behind the 38th parallel. The fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when the armistice agreement was signed. The agreement maintained the border between the Koreas near the 38th Parallel and created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a wide fortified buffer zone between the two Korean nations. Border incidents continue to the present.

For the major world powers the war was a proxy conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, one of many that would mark the Cold War. While not directly committing forces to the conflict, the Soviet Union provided strategic planning, weapons and material aid to both the North Korean and Chinese armies. From a military science perspective, the Korean War was initially fought using the mobile operations of World War II, but after the first year the conflict settled down into a holding operation while an armistice was argued over, and the static tactics of World War I trench warfare became the norm for the last two years of the conflict.



Hanja, the traditional Chinese script that was used to write the Korean language

Korean is a world major language containing about 78,000,000 speakers. The language is written in the Hangul script. Although the old traditional Chinese script known as hanja is still intact today, but barely used. Sometimes Korean is also writting in the Cryllic alphabet as a result of Russian and Soviet influence.[25] The language family that Korean belongs to is in a topic of research and dispute. Some linguists suggest that Korean belongs to the Japonic family, the language family that Japanese belongs to. Other linguists suggest that Korean belongs to the Altaic family. The ethnic Koreans living in China speak the Chinese language as a second language.


For the most part, Koreans are rather irreligious people. South Korea and North Korea's populations are by the majority, irreligious. About 50% of people in South Korea are irreligious. This is not to say that spiritual elements and beliefs are not part of Korean life, and as a whole, the Korean Peninsula is still home to a diverse amount of faiths. Followrs of Shamanistic or spiritual faiths are also not normally counted as part of the religious population. Religions do exist in South Korea, and those religions that South Koreans follow reflect the various cultural influences that the Korean Peninsula has absorbed. Buddhism, Confucism, Protestant and Roman Catholicism are the predominant religions practiced in South Korea. Much of these religious were introduced through centuries-old ties and connections with China and Japan. The overseas Koreans living in China, as well as Japan, are predominantly Buddhist, with a Christian minority. North Korea's population is mostly irreligious, though Korean shamanistic traditions still predominate North Korean society. Despite denouncing public religion overall, Chenodoism (Korean: 천도교) influences much of North Korean politics and society. Chenodoism is an off-shoot of Confucism, and means "religion of the Heavenly way", and originates with the various peasant-based rebellions. Most Korean immigrants to the United States and the Philippines and their descendants are Christians (particularily Protesant and Evangelical), most being immigrants from South Korea. Many other Korean Americans follow Roman Catholicism, with a Buddhist and non-affiliation minority. A lot of churches in the United States are conducted in Korean since they are for Korean-speaking communities in the United States.

Art and Architecture


General view

General View of Mt. Geumgang by Jeong Seon.

Korean calligraphy is seen as an art where brush-strokes reveal the artist's personality enhancing the subject matter that is painted. This art form represents the apogee of Korean Confucian art.

Korean fabric arts have a long history, and include Korean embroidery used in costumes and screenwork; Korean knots as best represented in the work of Choe Eun-sun, used in costumes and as wall-decorations; and lesser known weaving skills as indicated below in rarer arts. There is no real tradition of Korean carpets or rugs, although saddle blankets and saddle covers were made from naturally dyed wool, and are extremely rare. Imperial dragon carpets, tiger rugs for judges or magistrates or generals, and smaller chair-covers were imported from China and are traditionally in either yellow or red. Few if any imperial carpets remain. Village rug weavers do not exist.

Korean paper art includes all manner of handmade paper (hanji), used for architectural purposes (window screens, floor covering), for printing, artwork, and the Korean folded arts (paper fans, paper figures), and as

Dragon-shaped Celadon Ewer.

well Korean paper clothing which has an annual fashion show in Jeonju city attracting world attention.

In the 1960s, Korean paper made from mulberry roots was discovered when the Pulguksa (temple) complex in Gyeongju was remodelled. The date on the Buddhist documents converts to a western calendar date of 751, and indicated that indeed the oft quoted claim that Korean paper can last a thousand years was proved irrevocably. However after repeated invasions, very little early Korean paper art exists. Contemporary paper artists are very active.


Korean music history is divided into three Terran periods: ancient, medieval, and modern. The first period, or the ancient one, dates from the ancient tribal states to the foundation of Goryeo dynasty. The distinguishing characteristics of this period can be found in the development of akkamu (music, songs, and dance) comprising the kamu (singing and dancing) or angmu (music and dance) performed in the worship rites of heaven and Earth of the ancient society, the introduction of some instruments from Central Asia during the Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C.-668 AD), and the development of hyangakki (indigenous instruments) in each of the Three Kingdoms. Thus, in southern Manchuria, music and dance developed in worship rites and rituals such as the Yonggo of the Buyeo state, the Dongmaeng of the Goguryeo state, and the Much'on of the Ye tribal state, while in the Samhan, the Kip'ungje provides an example of song and dance in connection with an agricultural ritual. Thus, the religious song and dance tradition of the ancient society of southern Manchuria and Korean peninsula became the root of the indigenous music, hyangak of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla during Three Kingdoms period. The concept of akkamu is also discussed in the music section in the Korean Samguk Sagi. With the rise of royal authority, the advent of Three Kingdoms brought about the creation of royal music institutions to support the cultural life of the royal and aristocratic families, and of palace musicians and dancers specializing in the songs, dances, and instrumental music supported by those institutions. Another historical development and outcome of these trends in the ancient period was the introduction of the music of the Three Kingdoms to the Japanese court of the music of Baekje (Kudaragaku in Japanese), of Goguryeo (Komagaku), and of Silla (Shiragigaku).

Buddhist and shamanistic dancing, and shamanistic drum music are extant, as well as a melodic dance music called sinawi.

Traditional Korean music can be divided into at least four types: courtly, aristocratic, scholarly, and religious.


South korean palace
Traditional Korean architecture contains some Chinese and Japanese influence. From a technical point of view, buildings are structured vertically and horizontally. A construction usually rises from a stone subfoundation to a curved roof covered with tiles, held by a console structure and supported on posts; walls are made of earth (adobe) or are sometimes totally composed of movable wooden doors. Architecture is built according to the k'a unit, the distance between two posts (about 3.7 meters), and is designed so that there is always a transitional space between the "inside" and the "outside." The console, or bracket structure, is a specific architectonic element that has been designed in various ways

Balguk Temple

through time. If the simple bracket system was already in use under the Goguryeo kingdom (37 BCE–668 CE)—in palaces in Pyongyang, for instance—a curved version, with brackets placed only on the column heads of the building, was elaborated during the early Goryeo (Koryo) dynasty (918–1392). The Amita Hall of the Pusok temple in Antong is a good example. Later on (from the mid-Koryo period to the early Joseon dynasty), a multiple-bracket system, or an inter-columnar-bracket set system, was developed under the ancient Han Chinese influence during the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1279–1368). In this system, the consoles
Arch of reunification

Arch of Reunification - Pyongyang, North Korea

were also placed on the transverse horizontal beams. Seoul's Namdaemun Gate Namdaemun, Korea's foremost national treasure, is perhaps the most symbolic example of this type of structure.

In the mid-Joseon period, the winglike bracket form appeared (one example is the Yongnyongjon Hall of Jongmyo, Seoul), which, according to some authors, better suited the peninsula's poor economic situation that resulted from repetitive invasions. Only in buildings of importance like palaces or sometimes temples (Tongdosa, for instance) were the multicluster brackets still used. Korean Confucianism also led to more sober and simple solutions.



Gimbap, Korean sushi

Korean cuisine is well-known for its typical use of fermented and spicy ingredients in their cuisine. A typical Korean meal includes a wide array and diverse selections of sauces and pastes that the food can be dipped in. Korean cuisine has also been regarded as one of the spiciest cuisines. Wrapping foods in lettuce and other leaves is also another characteristic of Korean food. Doenjang (Korean: 된장) is a fermented bean paste, which is common in Korean meals. The paste is kept rotting in barrels in big farms in South Korea. Koreans also use fermented red chili paste known as gochujang (Korean: 고추장). Ssamjang (Korean: 쌈장) is a combination of both sauces, and is used for foods that are wrapped in leaves. Rice is part of Korean cuisine to a lesser extent than in other Asian countries like China, Japan or Malaysia. But noodles is a big staple ingredient in Korean cooking. Dolsotbap is rice cooked in a stone pot. Beef,

Dolsotbap, food cooked in a stone pot

chicken and pork are the three most priced meats in Korean cuisine. Of the three, beef is considered the biggest delicacy meat. The significance of beef and the cattle industry is huge in Korean society. As for pork, samgyeopsal (Korean: 삼겹살) is a fatty pork belly dish, that is grilled and usually consumed as an evening food. Fish and seafoods are also important parts of Korean cuisine. It can be boiled, grilled, fried or eaten raw. Eating fish and seafoods raw is popular in both Korea and Japan, raw foods are known as hoe (Korean: 회) in Korea and bears close resemblance to Japanese sashimi. Korean cuisine contains a lot of raw delicacies that westerners may find un-appetizing. One particular raw delicacy is sannakji (Korean: 산낙지), which consists of a live octupus, normally a baby octupus that is eaten raw. Sannakji is eaten either in cut up pieces, or as a whole. When cut up in pieces, the octupus can still be seen squirming on the plate. Sannakji is considered one of the world's most dangerous foods, since if swallowed incorrectly, the tentacles can stick to the throat, causing death. Like the other foods, hoe is also dipped in the various sauces and pastes that accompany and compliment most foods. Maeuntang (Korean: 매운탕) is a spicy fish soup, that people often order or eat with hoe. Miyeokguk (Korean: 미역국) is a special seaweed soup. The significance of this soup is its association with birth and gender roles of women. Women eat this soup after giving birth, due to the nutrients iodine and calcium believed to be present in the miyeok vegetable used in the soup. To show appreciation and remembrance of their mothers, Koreans eat the soup to emulate they way their mothers ate it. The soup is a common dish served during the birthday parties.  Due to lots of historical interactions with the Japanese, sushi is as popular in Korea as they are in Japan. In Korea it is called gimbap (Korean: 김밥). Noodles were not common in Korean cuisine until 1945. Tea is a popular beverage in Korea. Makgeolli (Korean: 막걸리 is an alcoholic beverage in Korea, made with rice wine and soju (Korean: 소주) is a distilled beverage, and is considered Korea's most popular alcoholic beverage.

Notable Koreans or People of Korean Origin 

Eulji Mundeok

A military leader of early 7th century Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, who successfully defended Goguryeo against the Sui Chinese. He is often numbered among the greatest heroes in Korean military history.

Kim Yushin

A general in 7th-century Silla. He led the unification of the Korean peninsula by Silla under the reign of King Muyeol of Silla and King Munmu of Silla. He is said to have been the great-grandchild of King Guhae of Geumgwan Gaya, the last ruler of the Geumgwan Gaya state. This would have given him a very high position in the Silla bone rank system, which governed the political and military status that a person could attain.


One of the leading thinkers, writers and commentators of the Korean Buddhist tradition. Essence-Function, a key concept in East Asian Buddhism and particularly that of Korean Buddhism, was refined in the syncretic philosophy and worldview of Wonhyo. He was an influential figure in the development of the East Asian Buddhist intellectual and commentarial tradition.

Choe Chiwon

A noted Korean Confucian official, philosopher, and poet of the late Unified Silla period (668-935). He studied for many years in Tang China, passed the Tang imperial examination, and rose to high office there before returning to Silla, where he made ultimately futile attempts to reform the governmental apparatus of a declining Silla state. In his final years he turned more towards Buddhism and became a hermit scholar residing in and around Korea's Haeinsa temple.

Gang Gam-chan

A medieval Korean government official and military commander during the early days of Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392). Even though he was a career scholar and government official, he is best known for his military victories during the Third Goryeo-Khitan War.


A Korean monk of the Goryeo period, who is considered to be the most influential figure in the formation of Korean Seon (Zen) Buddhism. He is credited as the founder of the Jogye Order, by working to unify the disparate sects in Korean Buddhism into a cohesive organization.


Real name is Jeong Do-jeon, a politician of the early Joseon dynasty. He was a supporter and adviser to King Taejo, who founded the Joseon dynasty. Jeong Do-jeon was the principal architect of the Joseon regime—laying down its ideological, institutional, and legal framework which would govern it for five centuries.

Fourth king of Joseon, he reinforced Confucian policies and executed major legal amendments, oversaw the creation of Hangul, encouraged advancements of scientific technology, and instituted many other efforts to stabilize and improve prosperity. He dispatched military campaigns to the north and installed Samin Policy to attract new settlers to the region. To the south, he subjugated Japanese raiders and captured Tsushima Island.
Yi Hwang

One of the two most prominent Korean Confucian scholars of the Joseon Dynasty, the other being his younger contemporary Yi I (Yulgok). A key figure of the Neo-Confucian literati, he established the Yeongnam School and set up the Dosan Seowon, a private Confucian academy.

Yi Sun-shin
Yi sun

A Korean naval commander, famed for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war in the Joseon Dynasty, and is well-respected for his exemplary conduct on and off the battlefield not only by Koreans, but by Japanese Admirals as well. His most famous achievement was defeating the Japanese at the Battle of Myeongnyang, despite being outnumbered 13 against 133 Japanese warships.

Kim Gu
Kim Gu

A South Korean politician, educator, the sixth and later the last president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, leader of Korean independence movement against the Japanese colonial rule, he is referred to as the father of the nation in the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

Kimg Il-Sung
Kim Il Sung

The leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly referred to as North Korea, from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death. He is a national hero in North Korea, and known as its "eternal president".

Ban Ki-moon
Ban ki moon

The eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before becoming Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he graduated from university, accepting his first post in New Delhi, India. In the foreign ministry, he established a reputation for modesty and competence.

Han Myeong-sook
Han M

Prime Minister of South Korea from April 2006 to March 2007. She is South Korea's first female prime minister. She was from the United New Democratic Party (UNDP) as a member of the Korean National Assembly (representative) for Ilsan-gab, and is a graduate of Ewha Womans University in Seoul with a degree in French literature. She resigned as Prime Minister on March 7, 2007 and declared her presidential candidacy on June 17, 2007, but did not win election. She was born in the North Korean city of Pyongyang, at the time under Japanese control.

Francis Hong Yong-ho
홍용호 프란치스코
Francis Hong

A Roman Catholic prelate from North Korea who was imprisoned by the communist regime of Kim Il-sung in 1949 and later disappeared. After his disappearance, he was for many years listed as the Bishop of Pyongyang, North Korea.

Juju Chang
주주 장
Juju Chang

A South Korean-American Emmy Award-winning television journalist for ABC News, and currently serves as an anchor of Nightline. She previously served as a special correspondent and fill-in anchor for Nightline. Previously she was the news anchor for ABC News’ morning news program Good Morning America from 2009–2011

Michelle Rhee
Michelle Rhee

An American public figure involved in the American education system. She was chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools from 2007 to 2010. In late 2010, she founded StudentsFirst, a non-profit organization which works on education reform issues such as ending teacher tenure. She was born to South Korean migrants in Michigan.

Park Ji-Sung
Park Ji Sung

A South Korean footballer who plays as a midfielder for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, on loan from English club Queens Park Rangers. He was also the captain of the South Korean national team until his retirement from international football. He is the most decorated Asian footballer in history, as the first Asian footballer to have won the UEFA Champions League trophy, the first Asian footballer to play in a UEFA Champions League Final, as well as the first Asian footballer to have won the FIFA Club World Cup.

Kim Yuna

A former South Korean figure skater. She is the 2010 Olympic champion and 2014 silver medalist in ladies' singles; the 2009, 2013 World champion; the 2009 Four Continents champion; a three-time (2006–2007, 2007–2008, 2009–2010) Grand Prix Final champion; the 2006 World Junior champion; the 2005 Junior Grand Prix Final champion; and a six-time (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2013, 2014) South Korean national champion.


  13. 'Mark E. Byington, "A History of the Puyo State, its History and Legacy" 2003 PhD dissertation for the department of East Asian History, Harvard University, p. 234'
  14. 'Gina L. Barnes', "State Formation in Korea", 2001 Curzon Press, page 22'
  15. 'Ki-Baik Lee', "A New History of Korea", 1984 Harvard University Press, page 24'
  16. Charles Roger Tennant (1996). A history of Korea (illustrated ed.). Kegan Paul International. p. 22. ISBN 0-7103-0532-X. Retrieved 2012 February ninth. "Soon after, the Wei fell to the Jin and Koguryŏ grew stronger, until in 313 they finally succeeded in occupying Lelang and bringing to an end the 400 years of China's presence in the peninsula, a period sufficient to ensure that for the next 1,500 it would remain firmly within the sphere of its culture. After the fall of the Jin in 316, the proto-Mongol Xianbei occupied the North of China, of which the Murong clan took the Shandong area, moved up to the Liao, and in 341 sacked and burned the Koguryŏ capital at Hwando. They took away some thousands of prisoners to provive cheap labour to build more walls of their own, and in 346 went on to wreak even greater destruction on Puyŏ, hastening what seems to have been a continuing migration of its people into the north-eastern area of the peninsula, but Koguryŏ, though temporarily weakened, would soon
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