As part of the Visual Timeline series, this pages highlights key events in the Korean peninsula from 2333 BC through to the founding of Joseon in 1392.
2333BC: Legendary founding of Gojoseon by Dangun.
~300BC: Jin confederacy est in southern Korean peninsula.
195BC: Wiman Joseon dynasty established.
108BC: Han China conquers Wiman Joseon and establishes four commanderies in northern Korean peninsula.
57BC: Silla founded by Park Hyeokgeose.
37BC: Gorguyeo founded by Jumong
18BC: Baekje founded by Onjo.
53: Goguryeo becomes a centralized kingdom under Taejo.
220: Han dynasty (206BC-220AD) ends; start Three Kingdoms period (220-265)
234: Baekje becomes a centralized kingdom under Goi.
313: Goguryeo conquers Chinese Lelang Commandery.
356: Silla becomes a centralized kingdom under Naemul’s reign.
371: Baekje’s King Geunchogo invades Goguryeo and kills King Gogugwon.
372: Goguryeo imports Buddhism from China.
384: Baekje officially adopts Buddhism.
392: Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo begins reign and expands territory.
433: Baekje and Silla form an alliance against Goguryeo aggression.
475: Goguryeo captures Hanseong (modern day Seoul) from Baekje. Baekje moves its capital south to Ungjin (modern day Gongju).
494: Gorguyeo annexes last remains of Buyeo.
527: Silla formally adopts Buddhism
553: Silla attacks Baekje, breaking the alliance.
562: Silla completes annexation of Gaya kingdom.
590: Sui dynasty (581-618) unites China; expands Grand Canal, disintegrates Confucianism and makes way for Taoism and Buddhism.
598: Gorguyeo-Sui War (598-613) begins; 1m Sui troops invade Gorguyeo.
612: Decisive Goguryeo victory over Sui at Battle of Salsu. General Mundeok inflicts 300k casualties with just 30k troops by ambushing at a river. Second most deadly battle in recorded history leading up to this date. Leads to fall of Sui dynasty, being replaced by Tang dynasty (618-907).
618: Tang dynasty begins in China (618-907)
632: Queen Seondeok begins reign in Silla (r.632-647); sovereign being female sends shockwaves at home and region. Seondeok promotes literature and arts, and goes down history as “generous, benevolent, wise, and smart.”
642: General Yeon Gaesomun coup in Gorguyeo.
645: Emperor Taizhong of Tang dynasty uses coup as pretext for invasion of Gorguyeo over next few decades; but campaigns fail.
648: Silla establishes alliance with Tang.
654: King Muyeol of Silla begins reign; begins first wave of Silla unification conquests.
660: Silla’s General Kim Yushin, allied with Tang navy, defeat Baekje at Battle of Hwangsanbeol.
Tang dynasty invades Gorguyeo with 350k but fails again.
King Munmu of Silla (r.661-681) begins second wave Silla unification conquests.
663: Silla-Tang alliance defeats Baekje-Yamato alliance at Battle of Baekgang; Baekje falls.
666: Silla unifies Korean peninsula.
668: Goguryeo falls to the Silla-Tang alliance.
670: Tang-Silla War (670-676) disputing over newly conquered territory; Silla recaptures the territory south of Taedong River, but Tang retains former Gorguryeo territory north of Taedong River.
698: General Dae Jo Yong leads Gorguyeo refugees to found Balhae kingdom.
751: Seokguram buddha and Bulguksa temple constructed in Silla at its cultural peak
763: An Lushan rebellion suppressed in Tang China; 20m killed.
828: Jang Bogo fends pirates establishes Cheonghaejin, a major Silla trade center with China, Japan, and Vietnam.
900: Hubaekje (“later Baekjae”) established in the southwest of the peninsula.
918: Goryeo founded by King Taejo Wang Geon (r.918-943) in southeast of the peninsula.
926: Khitan Liao dynasty conquers Balhae. Goryeo welcomes refugees
935: Goryeo conquers Silla
936: Goryeo conquers Hubaekjae, unifying Korea
942: Manbu Bridge incident: Goryeo rejects Khitan Liao envoy and gifts
956: Goryeo king Gwangjong reforms: (i) land and slavery reforms weaken power of nobility and strengthen crown by directly collecting more taxes; (ii) introduces civil service exams in 958
960: Song dynasty begins in China (960-1279)
993: First Goryeo-Khitan War: Khaiten Liao invades Goryeo with 800k troops, withdraws after Goryeo agrees to end tributary relations with Song and become Liao tributary.
1004: Song dynasty agrees to pay tributes to Khitan.
1010: Second Goryeo-Khitan War; Liao withdraws burning Goryeo capital Kaesong
1018: Third Goryeo-Khitan War; decisive Goryeo victory at Battle of Gwiju, 90k casualties. Goryeo enters 200 years of peaceful golden age.
1033: Goryeo builds large wall running along northern border (Cheonri Jangseong)
1046: King Munjong (r. 1046-1083); most prosperous and peaceful period of Goryeo history.
1104-1107: Goryeo invades and defeats Jurchen tribes in north; fortresses are built.
1125: Jurchen Jin state conquers Khitan Liao, before capturing Song capital Kaifeng in 1126 and ending northern Song dynasty in 1127.
1145: Samguk Sagi, Korea’s oldest historical text is compiled by Ki Bu Sik.
1170: Mushin military coup in Goryeo deposes king Uijong (r.1146-1170) for his brother, puppet king Myeongjong (r.1170-1197); next 3 kings puppets of Cho family clan
1215: Mongols capture Jin dynasty capital Zhongdu
1231: Mongols invade Goryeo 6 times (1231-1270); scholars make peace in 1258 but military class resists in southern regions until 1270. Mongol-introduced Levantine distilling techniques lead to development of soju.
1234: Choi Yun-ui’s Sangjeong Gogeum Yemun is published in Goryeo, world’s first metal-block printed text (200 years before Gutenberg’s printing press)
1251: Tripitaka Koreana completed in Goryeo, the most comprehensive and oldest intact version of Buddhist canon in Chinese script.
1270: Goryeo accepts Yuan dynasty overlordship until 1356
1279: Mongol Yuan victory at Battle of Yamen ends Southern Song dynasty
1281: Japanese repel Mongol invasion
1285: Samguk Yusa compiled, another comprehensive Korean history book.
1356: King Gongmin of Goryeo declares independence from Mongols
1359: Turmoil in Goryeo (1359-1383) fighting off Red Turban, Jurchen and Waku pirate attacks
1368: Ming dynasty begins in China (1368-1644)
1388: Goryeo general Yi Seonggye, loyal to scholar Jeong Do Jeon seeking neo-confucian govt, turns army against Goryeo court instead of conquering Liaodong
1392: Last Goryeo king deposed; Goryeo becomes Joseon (1392-1897), and Yi Seong Gye becomes first king king Taejo (r.1392-1398)
South Korea (1945 – present): Miracle on Han River
Korea (1392 – 1945): Joseon to Japanese Occupation
Ancient Korea (to 1392): Three Kingdoms, Silla, Goryeo