Visual Timeline: Ancient Korea (to 1392)

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.

Source

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

Jumong depicted in 2006 TV series

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.

Korea in 300AD. Source

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.

Korea in 500AD: Gorguyeo is major regional power. Source

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).

Battle of Salsu, 612.

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.”

Queen Seondeok as depicted in the 2009 TV series

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.

661:
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.

Battle of Baekgang, 663. Source

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

Seokguram. Source

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.

Portrait of King Taejo. Source

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.

Queen Dowager of Goryeo (r.997-1009); period depicted in 2009 series Iron Empress.

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.

Samguk Sagi. Source

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.

Soju varieties today

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

Japanese wako pirates

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)