South Korea History

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History of South Korea

Prior to the Korean War, there was only one country of Korea. This country traces its modern founding to 2333 BC by Dangun Wanggeom.

The Lower Paleolithic era in the Korean Peninsula began roughly half a million years ago. The earliest known Korean pottery dates to around 8000 BC, and the Neolithic period began after 6000 BC, followed by the Bronze Age by 800 BC, and the Iron Age around 400 BC.

The Gija Joseon was purportedly founded in 12th century BC, and its existence and role have been controversial in the modern era.

Since the 1st century AD, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla grew to control the peninsula as well as Manchuria as the Three Kingdoms (57 BC – 668 AD) until unification by Silla in 676.

The Korean peninsula, currently including South and North Korea, was under the reign of the Joseon (Choson) dynasty from 1392 to 1910. The Joseon Dynasty came to power in the late 1300’s, after the overthrow of the Goryeo Dynasty. Numerous conflicts pervaded the Korean kingdom through the mid 1600’s, but afterwards the Korean area experienced peace for about 200 years. In the latter part of the 1800’s, the Joseon Dynasty weakened due to increasing foreign influence, and the Korean area was annexed by Japan in 1910.

From the late 16th century, the Joseon dynasty faced foreign invasions, internal power struggle and rebellions. Support from China, particularly militarily, became increasingly important to maintaining rule, and the dynasty maintained a strict isolationist policy to all countries except China. By the 19th century, with the country unwilling to modernize, and the decline of China due largely to European powers, Korea became subject to foreign powers. After Japan defeated China, a brief period of independence and reform occurred.

After the defeat of Japan in 1945, the country was divided into a northern area, protected by the Soviets, and a southern area protected primarily by the United States of America. The "Republic of Korea" was created in the south. This initiated the Korean war of 1954, which split the country.

The peninsula was occupied as a Japanese colony from 1910 until 1945. With Japan’s surrender at the end of the Second World War, Korea was liberated in August 1945 after thirty-six years under the rule of Japanese imperialism. In 1948, when the powers failed to agree on the formation of a single government. Subsequently in June 1950, the Korean War broke out between the two regions, and lasted until July, 1953. The two regions became the modern states of North and South Korea. Korea has remained as a divided country since the Armistice Agreement in 1953.

Local Histories and Gazettes (Shin-moon-ji or Ji-bang-ji)

Research Use: Local histories and gazettes can be very useful for research. For example, one can consult various sections to find information about clan origin, family movements, birth or burial places, etc. Local histories also are a valuable aid in understanding geographic conditions and historical background of the area. The can supplement genealogy books and official records which are often nonexistent today for many localities and time periods. The biographical data is very valuable for those with prominent ancestors and these records may contain data for females and lower-class individuals which are not available elsewhere. They are an invaluable source of historical place names and administrative boundary changes. This makes them very useful for correlating research even when they don’t provide information about the user’s specific ancestry.

Record Type: These are historical geographic studies of specific villages and towns that include some biographical and genealogical information.

Background: These books are quite similar to the local histories and gazettes found in China. Korean local histories, like their Chinese counterparts, usually contain a number of sections dealing with the history and geography of the particular locale and with influential families and individuals in the community. Each local history covers a specific administrative unit (county, town, city, or prefecture).

Time Period: About 1500 to present.

Contents: A typical local history is divided into sections covering a wide range of topics and categories, including: geography, historical events, local literary contributions, taxes, population, products and trade, education, transportation, local legends and folklore, and so on. Many include a chapter devoted to recording the famous or influential families or clans of the area. They often include precise biographical information about prominent individuals as well as mention of – or even lists of – local persons of merit such as local officials, persons who lived long lives (more than 90 years), faithful sons and chaste widows. In North Korea the biographies would spotlight local martyrs of the revolution. Approximately 20 to 30% of the contents contain genealogical or biographical information.

Location: University and local libraries, the Central National Library of Seoul, Harvard library and some other foreign libraries.

Percentage in Family History Library: 55%.

Population Coverage: About 5%. Local histories and gazettes generally include data about important personalities and special categories of individuals. Reliability: Generally very reliable.

Accessibility: These works are available for research in local archives and libraries but are difficult to access from outside Korea. Books for places in North Korea can be particularly difficult to access.[1]

Economy

South Korea's market economy ranks 13th in the world by both nominal and purchasing power parity GDP, identifying it as one of the G-20 major economies. It is a developed country with a high-income economy and is the most industrialized member country of the OECD.

South Korea's economy was one of the world's fastest-growing from the early 1960s to the late 1990s, and South Korea is still one of the fastest-growing developed countries in the 2000s, along with Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, the other three Asian Tigers.

However despite the South Korean economy's high growth potential and apparent structural stability, the country suffers damage to its credit rating in the stock market because of the belligerence of North Korea in times of deep military crises, which has an adverse effect on South Korean financial markets. There seems to be no solution to this conundrum.
It should be noted that South Korea is showing remarkable strength in the development of world class products in the following major categories:

1) Automobiles and automotive technology.

2) Robotics.

3) Aerospace technology development.

4) Biotechnology, and,

5) Cybersecurity.

Online Histories

References

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Korea,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2001.