Prehistoric Korea is the era of human existence in the Korean Peninsula for which written records do not exist. It nonetheless constitutes the greatest segment of the Korean past and is the major object of study in the disciplines of archaeology and palaeontology. Geological prehistory is the most ancient part of Korea's past; the oldest rocks in Korea date to the Precambrian. The Yeoncheon System corresponds to the Precambrian and is distributed around Seoul extending out to Yeoncheon-gun in a northeasterly direction, it is divided into upper and lower parts and is composed of biotite-quartz-feldspar schist, lime-silicate, graphite schist, mica-quartz-feldspar schist, mica schist, augen gneiss, garnet-bearing granitic gneiss. The Korean Peninsula had an active geological prehistory through the Mesozoic, when many mountain ranges were formed, became more stable in the Cenozoic. Major Mesozoic formations include the Gyeongsang Supergroup, a series of geological episodes in which biotite granites, sandstones, conglomerates andesite, basalt and tuff that were laid down over most of present-day Gyeongsang-do Province.
The remainder of this article describes the human prehistory of the Korean Peninsula. Historians in Korea use the three-age system to classify Korean prehistory; the three-age system was applied during the post-Imperial Japanese colonization period as a way to refute the claims of Imperial Japanese colonial archaeologists who insisted that, unlike Japan, Korea had "no Bronze Age". Bissalmuneui or Jeulmun pottery period 8000–1500 BCE Incipient 8000-6000 BCE Early 6000–3500 BCE Middle 3500–2000 BCE Late 2000–1500/1000 BCE Mumun pottery period 1500/1000–300 BCE Samhan / Proto–Three Kingdoms Period 100 BCE to 300 CEThere are some problems with the three-age system applied to the situation in Korea; this terminology was created to describe prehistoric Europe, where sedentism and agriculture go together to characterize the Neolithic stage. The periodization scheme used by Korean archaeologists proposes that the Neolithic began in 8000 BCE and lasted until 1500 BCE; this is despite the fact that palaeoethnobotanical studies indicate that the first bona fide cultivation did not begin until circa 3500 BCE.
The period of 8000 to 3500 BCE corresponds to the Mesolithic cultural stage, dominated by hunting and gathering of both terrestrial and marine resources. Korean archaeologists traditionally used a date of 1500 or 1000 BCE as the beginning of the Bronze Age; this is in spite of bronze technology not being adopted in the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula until circa 700 BCE, the archaeological record indicates that bronze objects were not used in large numbers until after 400 BCE. This does leave Korea with a proper Bronze Age, albeit a short one, as bronze metallurgy began to be replaced by ferrous metallurgy soon after it had become widespread; the origins of this period are an open question but the antiquity of hominid occupation in Korea may date to as early as 500,000 BCE. Yi and Clark are somewhat skeptical of dating the earliest occupation to the Lower Palaeolithic. At Seokjang-ri, an archaeological site near Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do Province, artifacts that appear to have an affinity with Lower Paleolithic stone tools were unearthed in the lower levels of the site.
Bifacial chopper or chopping-tools were excavated. Hand axes and cleavers produced by men in eras were uncovered. From Jeommal Cave a tool for hunting, made from the radius of a hominid was unearthed, along with hunting and food preparation tools of animal bones; the shells of nuts collected for nourishment were uncovered. In Seokjang-ri and in other riverine sites, stone tools were found with definite traces of Palaeolithic tradition, made of fine-grain rocks such as quartzite, obsidian and felsite manifest Acheulian and Levalloisian characteristics; those of the chopper tradition are of simpler in shape and chipped from pegmatite. Seokjang-ri's middle layers showed that humans hunted with these missile stones. During the Middle Paleolithic Period, humans dwelt in caves at the Jeommal Site near Jecheon and at the Durubong Site near Cheongju. From these two cave sites, fossil remains of rhinoceros, cave bear, brown bear and numerous deer, all extinct species, were excavated; the earliest radiocarbon dates for the Paleolithic indicate the antiquity of occupation on the Korean peninsula is between 40,000 and 30,000 BP.
From an interesting habitation site at Locality 1 at Seokjang-ri, excavators claim that they excavated some human hairs of Mongoloid origin along with limonitic and manganese pigments near and around a hearth, as well as animal figurines such as a dog and bear made of rock. Reports claim; the Palaeolithic ends when pottery production begins c 8000 BCE. The earliest known Korean pottery dates back to c 8000 before; this pottery is known. Some examples of Yunggimun-era sites are Gosan-ri in Ubong-ri in Greater Ulsan. Jeulmun or Comb-pattern pottery is found after 7000 BC, pottery with comb-patterns over the whole vessel is found concentrated at sites in west–central Korea between 3500–2000 BC, a time when a number of settlements such as Amsa-dong and Chitam-ni existed. Jeulmun pottery bears basic design and form similarities to that of the Russian Maritime Province, the Amur and Sungari River basins of Manchuria, the Baiyue of southeastern China and the Jōmon culture in Japan; the people of the Jeulmun practiced a broad spectrum economy of hunting, gatherin
The Han Chinese, Han people, are an East Asian ethnic group and nation native to China. They constitute the world's largest ethnic group; the estimated 1.3 billion Han Chinese people are concentrated in mainland China and in Taiwan. Han Chinese people make up three quarters of the total population of Singapore; the Han Chinese people trace a common ancestry to the Huaxia, a name for the initial confederation of agricultural tribes living along the Yellow River. The term Huaxia represents the collective neolithic confederation of agricultural tribes Hua and Xia who settled along the Central Plains around the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River in northern China; the two tribes were the ancestors of the modern Han Chinese people that gave birth to Chinese civilization. In addition, the Huaxia was distinctively used to represent the Huaxia as a civilized ethnic group in contrast to what was perceived of different ethnic groups as barbaric peoples around them. In many overseas Chinese communities, the term Hua Ren may be used for people of Chinese ethnicity as distinct from Zhongguo Ren which refers to citizens of China.
The term Zhongguo Ren includes people of non-Han ethnicity. Han people may be used for people of ethnic Chinese descent around the world; the Han Chinese people are bound together with a common genetic stock and a shared history inhabiting an ancient ancestral territory spanning more than four thousand years rooted with many different cultural traditions and customs. The Huaxia tribes in northern China experienced a continuous expansion into southern China over the past two millennia. Huaxia culture spread from its heartland from the Yellow River Basin southward, absorbing various non-Chinese ethnic groups that became sinicised over the centuries at various points in China's history; the Han dynasty is considered to be the one of the first great eras in Chinese history as it made China the major regional power in East Asia and projected much of its influence on its neighbours while rivalling the Roman Empire in population size and geographical reach. The Han dynasty's prestige and prominence influenced many of the ancient Huaxia to begin identifying themselves as "The People of Han".
To this day, Han Chinese people have since taken their ethnic name from this dynasty, the Chinese script is referred to as "Han characters". The name Han was derived from the name of the eponymous dynasty, which succeeded the short-lived Qin dynasty, is considered to be the first golden age of China's Imperial era due to the power and influence it projected over much of East Asia; as a result of the dynasty's prominence in inter-ethnic and pre-modern international influence, Chinese people began identifying themselves as the "people of Han", a name, carried down to this day. The Chinese language came to be named the "Han language" since. In the Oxford Dictionary, the Han are defined as "The dominant ethnic group in China". In the Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania, the Han are called the dominant population in "China, as well as in Taiwan and Singapore." According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the Han are "the Chinese peoples as distinguished from non-Chinese elements in the population."The Han dynasty's founding emperor, Liu Bang, was made king of the Hanzhong region after the fall of the Qin dynasty, a title, shortened to "the King of Han" during the Chu-Han contention.
The name "Hanzhong", in turn, was derived from the Han River, which flows through the region's plains. The river, in turn, derives its name from expressions such as Tianhan, Xinghan or Yunhan, all ancient Chinese poetic nicknames for the Milky Way and first mentioned in the Classic of Poetry. Prior to the Han dynasty, ancient Chinese scholars used the term Huaxia in texts to describe China proper as an area of illustrious prosperity and culture, while the Chinese populus were referred to as either the "various Hua" or the "various Xia"; this gave rise to a term used nowadays by overseas Chinese as an ethnic identity for the Chinese diaspora – Huaren, Huaqiao as well as a literary name for China – Zhonghua. Zhonghua refers more to the culture of Chinese people, although it may be seen as equivalent to Zhonghua minzu; the overseas Chinese use Huaren or Huaqiao instead of Zhongguoren, which refers to citizens of China. Among some southern Han Chinese varieties such as Cantonese and Minnan, a different term exists – Tang Chinese, derived from the Tang dynasty, regarded as another zenith of Chinese civilization.
The term is used in everyday conversation and is an element in the Cantonese word for Chinatown: "street of the Tang people" (Chinese: 唐人街. The phrase Huá Bù 華埠 is use
Chuseok "Autumn eve", once known as hangawi, is a major harvest festival and a three-day holiday in South Korea celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar on the full moon. Chuseok is the biggest and most important traditional holiday of South Korea from the past because Korea was an agrarian society and considered the harvest season as a major event around the year. Like many other harvest festivals around the world, it is held around the autumn equinox, i.e. at the end of summer or in early autumn. As a celebration of the good harvest, Koreans visit their ancestral hometowns and share a feast of Korean traditional food such as songpyeon and rice wines such as sindoju and dongdongju. There are two major traditions related to Chuseok: Seongmyo. According to popular belief, Chuseok originates from gabae. Gabae started during the reign of the third king of the kingdom of Silla, when it was a month-long weaving contest between two teams. On the day of Gabae, the team that had woven more cloth won and would be treated to a feast by the losing team.
However, it is said that Chuseok marks the day Silla won a great victory over the rival kingdom of Baekje. It is believed that weaving competitions, archery competitions, martial arts demonstrations were held as part of the festivities. Many scholars believe Chuseok may originate from ancient shamanistic celebrations of the harvest moon. New harvests are offered to local deities and ancestors, which means Chuseok may have originated as a worship ritual. In some areas, if there is no harvest, worship rituals are postponed, or in areas with no annual harvest, Chuseok is not celebrated. In contemporary South Korea, on Chuseok, masses of people travel from large cities to their hometowns to pay respect to the spirits of their ancestors. Chuseok strives for the next year to be better than the last. People perform ancestral worship rituals early in the morning, they visit the tombs of their immediate ancestors to trim plants and clean the area around the tomb, offer food and crops to their ancestors.
South Koreans consider autumn the best season of the year due to clear skies, cool winds, it is a perfect harvesting season. Harvest crops are attributed to the blessing of ancestors. Chuseok is translated as "Korean Thanksgiving" in American English. Although most South Koreans will be visiting their families and ancestral homes, there are festivities held at the National Folk Museum in Seoul. Many places are closed during this national holiday including: banks, post offices, governmental departments, etc. Travel tickets are sold out three months in advance and roads and hotels are overcrowded. Charye is one of the ancestral memorial rites celebrated during Chuseok, symbolising the returning of favours and honoring ancestors and past generations; the rite involves the gathering of families in holding a memorial service for their ancestors through the harvesting and presentation of special foods as offerings. The rite embodies the traditional view of spiritual life beyond physical death, respecting the spirits of the afterlife that now serve to protect their descendants.
The foods offered have traditionally varied across provinces depending on what was available, but constitute of freshly harvested rice, rice cakes and fresh meat and vegetables. The arrangement of the foods of Charye on the table are notable: traditionally rice and soup are placed on the north and fruits and vegetables are placed on the south; these details can vary across regions. Seongmyo and Beolcho are done around Chuseok week. Seongmyo is a visiting to ancestral grave sites and Beolcho is the activity to remove weeds around the grave to clean their ancestor's site. One of the major foods prepared and eaten during the Chuseok holiday is songpyeon, a Korean traditional rice cake which contains stuffing made with ingredients such as sesame seeds, black beans, mung beans, pine nut, chestnut and honey; when making songpyeon, steaming them over a layer of pine-needles is critical. The word song in songpyeon means a pine tree in Korean; the pine needles not only contribute to songpyeon's aromatic fragrance, but its beauty and taste.
Songpyeon is significant because of the meaning contained in its shape. Songpyeon's rice skin itself resembles the shape of a full moon, but once it wraps the stuffing, its shape resembles the half-moon. Since the Three Kingdoms era in Korean history, a Korean legend stated that these two shapes ruled the destinies of the two greatest rival kingdoms and Silla. During the era of King Uija of Baekje, an encrypted phrase, "Baekje is full-moon and Silla is half moon" was found on a turtle's back and it predicted the fall of the Baekje and the rise of the Silla; the prophecy came true. Since, Koreans have believed a half-moon shape is an indicator of a bright future or victory. Therefore, during Chuseok, families gather together and eat half-moon-shaped Songpyeon under the full moon, wishing for a brighter future. Another popular Korean traditional food that people eat during Chuseok is hangwa, it is an artistic food textured with patterns. Hangwa is made with rice flour, honey and roots. People use edible natural ingredients to express various colors, flav
Baekje was a kingdom located in southwestern Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Silla. Baekje was founded at Wiryeseong. 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, may have held territories in China, such as in Liaoxi, though this view is controversial, it became a significant regional sea power, with political and trade relations with Japan. Baekje was a great maritime power. In 660 it was defeated, by an alliance of Silla and the Chinese Tang Dynasty, submitted to Unified Silla. Baekje was founded in 18 BC by King Onjo, who led a group of people from 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.
The Samguk Sagi provides a detailed account of Baekje's founding. Jumong had left his son Yuri in Buyeo when he left that kingdom to establish the new kingdom of Goguryeo. Jumong became Divine King Dongmyeong, had two more sons with So Seo-no, Onjo and Biryu; when Yuri arrived in Goguryeo, Jumong promptly made him the crown prince. Realizing Yuri would become the next king, So Seo-no left Goguryeo, taking her two sons Biryu and Onjo south to found their own kingdoms with their people, along with ten vassals, she is remembered as a key figure in the founding of both Baekje. Onjo settled in Wiryeseong, called his country Sipje, while Biryu settled in Michuhol, against the vassals' advice; the salty water and marshes in Michuhol made settlement difficult, while the people of Wiryeseong lived prosperously. Biryu went to his brother Onjo, asking for the throne of Sipje; when Onjo refused, Biryu lost. In shame, Biryu committed suicide, his people moved to Wiryeseong, where King Onjo welcomed them and renamed his country Baekje.
King Onjo moved the capital from the south to the north of the Han river, south again all within present Seoul, under pressure from other Mahan states. King Gaeru is believed to have moved the capital north of the river to Bukhansanseong in 132 in present-day Goyang to the northwest of Seoul. Through the early centuries of the Common Era, sometimes called the Proto–Three Kingdoms Period, Baekje gained control over the other Mahan tribes. During the reign of King Goi, Baekje became a full-fledged kingdom, as it continued consolidating the Mahan confederacy. In 249, according to the ancient Japanese text Nihonshoki, Baekje's expansion reached the Gaya confederacy to its east, around the Nakdong River valley. Baekje is first described in Chinese records as a kingdom in 345; the first diplomatic missions from Baekje reached Japan around 367. King Geunchogo expanded Baekje's territory to the north through war against Goguryeo, while annexing the remaining Mahan societies in the south. During Geunchogo's reign, the territories of Baekje included most of the western Korean Peninsula, in 371, Baekje defeated Goguryeo at Pyongyang.
Baekje continued substantial trade with Goguryeo, adopted Chinese culture and technology. Buddhism became the official state religion in 384. Baekje became a sea power and continued mutual goodwill relationships with the Japanese rulers of the Kofun period, transmitting continental cultural influences to Japan; the Chinese writing system, advanced pottery, ceremonial burial, other aspects of culture were introduced by aristocrats, artisans and monks throughout their relationship. During this period, the Han River basin remained the heartland of the country. In the 5th century, Baekje retreated under the southward military threat of Goguryeo, in 475, the Seoul region fell to Goguryeo. Baekje's capital was located at Ungjin from 475 to 538. Isolated in mountainous terrain, the new capital was secure against the north but disconnected from the outside world, it was closer to Silla than Wiryeseong had been, a military alliance was forged between Silla and Baekje against Goguryeo. Most maps of the Three Kingdoms period show Baekje occupying the Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces, the core of the country in the Ungjin and Sabi periods.
In 538, King Seong moved the capital to Sabi, rebuilt his kingdom into a strong state. From this time, the official name of the country was Nambuyeo, a reference to Buyeo to which Baekje traced its origins; the Sabi Period witnessed the flowering of Baekje culture, alongside the growth of Buddhism. Under pressure from Goguryeo to the north and Silla to the east, Seong sought to strengthen Baekje's relationship with China; the location of Sabi, on the navigable Geum River, made contact with China much easier, both trade and diplomacy flourished during his reign and continuing on into the 7th century. In the 7th century, with the growing influence of Silla in the southern and central Korean peninsula, Baekje began its decline. In 660, the coalition troops of Silla and Tang of China attacked Ba
The Korean Empire was the last independent unified Korean state. Proclaimed in October 1897 by Emperor Gojong of the Joseon dynasty, the empire stood until Japan's annexation of Korea in August 1910. During the Korean Empire, Emperor Gojong oversaw the Gwangmu Reform, a partial modernization and Westernization of the military, land system, education system, of various industries. Korea in the Joseon dynasty had been a perfunctory client kingdom of China in the Qing dynasty due to the diplomatic reason though Joseon was managed by the King independently from China. Towards the end of the 19th century, influence over Korea was an area of conflict between the Qing and Japan; the First Sino-Japanese War marked the rapid decline of any power the Joseon state had managed to hold against foreign interference, as the battles of the conflict itself had been fought on Korean soil and the surrounding seas. With its newfound preeminence over the waning and weak Qing dynasty, Japan had delegates negotiate the Treaty of Shimonoseki with the Qing dynasty.
Through signing the treaty, a move designed to prevent the southern expansion of Russia, Japan wrested control over the Liaodong Peninsula from Qing and more over Korea. However, Russia recognized this agreement as an act against its interests in northeastern China and brought France and Germany to its side, in saying that the Liaodong Peninsula should be repatriated to Qing China. At the time, Japan was powerless to resist such foreign pressure by nations that it considered far more advanced and which it sought to emulate, as such relinquished its claim to Liaodong Peninsula. With the success of the three-country intervention, Russia emerged as another major power in East Asia, replacing the Qing Dynasty as the entity that the Joseon court's many government officials advocated close ties with to prevent more Japanese meddling in Korean politics. Queen Min, the consort of King Gojong recognized this change and formally established closer diplomatic relations with Russia to counter Japanese influence.
Queen Min began to emerge as a key figure in higher-level Korean counteraction against Japanese influence. Japan, seeing its designs endangered by the queen replaced its ambassador to Korea, Count Inoue, with Lieutenant-General Viscount Miura, a diplomat with a background in the Imperial Japanese Army, he subsequently orchestrated the assassination of Queen Min on October 8, 1895, at her residence at the Geoncheong Palace, the official sleeping quarters of the king within Gyeongbok Palace. With the assassination of his wife Queen Min, King Gojong and the Crown Prince fled to the Russian legation in 1896. During the time from Queen Min's death to the king's return from Russian protection, Korea underwent another major upheaval both at home and abroad. By 1894, new laws passed by progressives and reformers in the royal cabinet forced through long-desired reforms aimed at revamping Korea's antiquated society; these laws were called referring to the year in which they began. Meanwhile, the new reforms aimed at modernizing Korean society soon attracted controversy from within.
Anti-Japanese sentiment, which had become entrenched in the minds of commoners and aristocrats alike during the Japanese invasions of Korea, became pervasive in the royal court and upper echelons of society following the Ganghwa Treaty of 1876 and soon extended explosively to most Koreans following perceived Japanese meddling in court politics and the assassination of Queen Min. However, the new and modern reforms pushed forward by the pro-Japanese progressives, the most controversial of, the mandatory cutting of the traditional man bun, ignited further resentment and discontent; this led to the uprising of the Eulmi temporary armies aimed at avenging the assassination of Queen Min. In 1897, King Gojong, yielding to rising pressure from both overseas and the demands of the Independence Association-led public opinion, returned to Gyŏngungung. There, he proclaimed the founding of the "Great Korean Empire" re-designated the national title as such, declared the new era name Gwangmu severing Korea's superficial historic ties as a tributary of Qing China, which Korea had adhered to since the prior Manchurian invasion in 1636.
Gojong became the Gwangmu Emperor, the first imperial head of state and hereditary sovereign of the Korean Empire. This marked the complete end of the old world order and traditional tributary system in the Far East. Korea's new status as an empire meant "Completely independence from Qing's sphere of influence" which means Korea was not influenced from Qing externally according to the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895 and implemented the "full and complete" independence according to the treaty; the name meaning "Great Han Empire", was derived from Samhan the Three Kingdoms of Korea, in the tradition of naming new states after historic states. The significance of the declaration of an Empire, in the Korean understanding of the situation was to declare Korea's end of tributary relationship with the Qing dynasty; the usage of Emperor was reserved only for the emperor of China, the Son of Heaven. Korean dynasties had given tribute to Chinese dynasties; when Japan experienced the Meiji Restoration, the Emperor of Japan was declared the source of sovereignty in the Japanese government.
Upon receiving news of the Meiji restoration from Japan, the Korean government refused