Ancient History


The Birth and Development of Human Beings

From the first period of mankind the Korean nation has continuously lived on this land. They developed into an "old type of Korean man" and modern Korean man through primitive, Paleolithic, Neolithic Men in the course of evolution process.

The primitive remains excavated in Korea such as Komunmoru Remains in Sangwon County, Pyongyang, Taehyon-dong Remains in Ryokpho District, Pyongyang and Sungrisan Remains in Tokchon City, South Phyongan Province mean the primitive man (Komunmoru Remains) developed into a Palaeolithic Man ("Ryokpho Man") and Neolithic Man ("Sungrisan Man"). Especially Pyongyang area is endowed with remains and relics representing different periods of primitive society including the fossils of mankind showing the successive stage of evolution.

These prove that Korean people originated and developed around Pyongyang. They produced wealth through the creative activities to reform the nature and society and advanced the society step by step via the period of primitive community, matriarchal clan society, consanguinean clan society to a class society.


Ancient Kingdoms

Kojoson (Ancient Korea)

Kojoson is the first slave-owning state in the Korean history. Tangun, founder of the state established it early in the 30th century BC. It existed till 108 BC in vast areas, of Northeast Asia around Pyongyang. The capital was Pyongyang. Kojoson was the powerful kingdom wide-known to neighboring countries with its integral ruling system and developed economy. It had a statute "8 Provisions of Violating of Bans", three provisions of which have been transmitted up to now.

Developed from early period of its establishment were agriculture (rice, foxtail millet, barley, Indian millet, bean and etc.), stock-farming, handicraft (especially the pipha-shaped dagger, narrow brass dagger, bronze mirror with small striped patterns and etc.) and foreign trade. They used ironware before the 12th century BC, and further produced and used carbon tool steel through dry metallurgical process by the 7th century BC.


Puyo Puyo was one of the duchies of Ancient Korea, but in the 15th century or so it became free from Ancient Korea. Its capital was Yesong (Jilin region today). Agriculture (Indian millet, foxtail millet, bean, millet and barley), stock-farming and handicraft (pipha-shaped dagger, narrow brass dagger and etc.) were developed in the country. By the spread of iron extracting technology around the 5th century BC, iron culture was developed.

However, the socio-class contradiction became acute from the 3rd century BC and the national power was on the decline, thus it was ruined in 219 BC by Koguryo, newly emerged powerful kingdom.  


Kuryo was one of the duchies of Ancient Korea, but became free around the mid-15th century. Its capital was Jolbon (Hwanin area, Liaoning, China today). Developed in the country were agriculture and handicraft (especially bronze ware and ironware). At the early 3rd century BC Ko Ju Mong seized Kwarubu, one of the five administrative districts and established Koguryo, thus the country was ruined.


Jinguk was one of the ancient states existed in the southern part. It is separated from Ancient Korea and became an independent slave-owning kingdom before the 12th century BC. Its capital was Woljiguk (Jiksan region, South Chungchong Province today) and later moved to Kumma (Iksan region, South Jolla Province today).

Developed in Jinguk were agriculture (rice, wheat, barley, bean, foxtail millet), handicraft (especially ironware, bronze ware and silk), commerce, foreign trade and so on. Jinguk people who created developed economy and culture sailed across the Japanese archipelago to disseminate the advanced culture and made a great contribution to the development of Japan's ancient culture.

It began to collapse early in the 3rd century BC and minor countries like Paekje Minor State in Mahan region, Saro Minor State in Jinhan region and Kaya Feudal State in Pyonhan region. But later early in the first century the minor countries were incorporated with Pakeje, thus it brought ruin of Jinguk.


Feudal States


Koguryo was the first feudal state founded by King Tongmyong (Ko Ju Mong) in 277 BC. Its first capital was Jolbon but later moved to Jian, China and Pyongyang in 427. Koguryo was the most powerful state in the Korean history. It had developed economy and culture which was in the van of the three kingdoms and played the key role.

Its science and culture were considerably developed, in particular, astronomy and fine arts including drawing, handicraft and sculpture. It had its independent astronomical chart at the end of 5th century to the early 6th century and mural paintings in the underground preserve their vivid colours and the art of drawing. It prospered for nearly a millennium and was ruined in 668.


As one of the feudal states established at the end of the first century BC among the minor countries in Paekje area with the acceleration of feudalization. The capital was Hansong (Kwangju, Kyonggi Province today), but moved to Ungjin (Kongju, South Chungchong Province today) and Sabi (Puyo, South Chungchong Province today) in 538.

Pakje had developed agriculture (rice, barley, bean and etc), handicraft (metallurgy and metal processing) transport and foreign trade. The metal processed goods including gold crown, gold earrings, gold bracelets and the "Sword of Paekje with 3 blades at each side" show metal processing of it were in high level. Science of several fields like astronomy, geography and medical science were also developed as well as literature and fine art.

Its science and technology gave a considerable influence to Japan. Its technologists helped building of varieties of temples including the Temple of Four Devas, Horyuji Temple, Pophung Temple, Popgi Temple and Paekje Temple. It was ruined in the mid-7th century by Silla conspired with Tang dynasty.


Silla existed from early or mid-first century BC to 935. Its capital was Kyongju. Silla existed in the period of Three Kingdoms were called Former Silla (Early or mid-first century-mid -7th century) and Silla appeared later called as Later Silla (mid-7th century-935).

It had developed agriculture and handicraft. Especially it was in high level of gold and silver work. For example, the well-known gold crown excavated from the Silla Tomb of gold crown proves the fact. Casting technique was also developed. The Buddhist Saint of Hwangnyong Temple was cast in copper (more than 210 000 kg) and plated with gold at one heat in 574.

Meteorology, astronomy, architecture and other science and technology were also developed. Astronomical observatory built in the first half of 7th century in Kyongju has been world-famous and a long-lasting precious cultural legacy of the nation among the remaining observatory remains. 9-story pagoda of Hwangnyong Temple, Tabo Pagoda of Bulguk Temple and Shakyamuni Pagoda are evidencing the developments of architectural technique during the Silla dynasty.

A peasant war was swept over the nation at the end of 9th century. In this turmoil, the schemers established Later Paekje and Thaebong State. Thus, three kingdoms existed in Later Silla. This period is called the period of Later Three Kingdoms in the Korean history.

King Kyongsun, last king of Later Silla personally went to Koryo with the royal family to surrender to it, and this led to the downfall of Silla.


Palhae inherited Koguryo. It has existed from 698 to 926. It took a vast land and enjoyed a state power, and it developed the economy and culture while displaying the wisdom and dignity of the nation. Its capital was Tongmosan (Wudongcheng in Dunha).

Agriculture (foxtail millet, barley, bean and sorghum), hunting, livestock husbandry, fishing, handicraft (hemp, silk and porcelain), commerce and foreign trade were developed. Palhae which inherited the culture of preceded Koguryo developed mathematics, astronomy, calendar science and other sciences. It can be proved from the fact that 0 Hyo Sin, scholar of Palhae went over to Japan in 859 to deliver an astronomical calendar called Sonmyongryok and taught how to use.

It ended its existence in 926 due to the aggression by the Kitan who took an advantage of the weak state power caused by the internal conflicts and corruption within the rulers from the beginning of the 10th century.


Koryo was a feudal state which existed from 918 to 1392, founded by Wanggon. Its capital was Kaesong. As soon as Palhae was collapsed, Koryo inherited a unified policy of Koguryo, winning the ruined people over to its side. On the other hand, it has merged Later Silla in 935 and Later Paekje in 936, thus it achieved its cause to unify the land. So there appeared the first unified state in the Korean history.

Its culture was much more superior compared with other cultures. People in Koryo advanced publishing by inventing metallic types. Its fame was displayed with the Koryo Celadon treasured by the world people for its peculiar color, pattern and shape, shipbuilding and invention of gunpowder and its weapons.

Koryo with developed economy, culture, science and technology has been come down as Corea. Koryo saw its end in 1392 by Ri Song Gye and his followers who, with an ambition for power, staged a coup d'etat to overthrow the king.

Ri Dynasty

Ri dynasty ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910. It was the last feudal state in the Korean peninsula. Korea was known as Joson by then. However, to differentiate it from either the Kojoson or modern Korea, it is commonly referred to as Ri dynasty or Korea under Ri's rule--named after the royal family.

Korean people, during the Ri dynasty, made their country known all over the world by inventing rain gauge made of iron, creating Hunminjongum, the Korean alphabet and building Kobukson, the world-first armored battleship and thus greatly contributed to the development of science and technology of the mankind.

The Japanese imperialists colonized Korea by cooking up the unlawful "Five Point Korea-Japan Treaty" in November 1905, and subsequently fabricated the "Korea-Japan Annexation Treaty" in 1910. Koreans were thus deprived of their country