Glossary      Chapter 1

KOREA

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Hangul: (hahn ghoul) Promoted by King Sejong (r. 1418-1450), hangul is a phonetic alphabet used to write Korean.

 

Hwarang: "Flower youths." An elite corps of troops formed by Silla, the hwarang were trained in both literary and martial arts. Their philosophy was based on Buddhist and Confucian values

 

Koguryo: (co goo ryo) One of Korea's three ancient kingdoms, Koguryo ruled the northern two-thirds of Korea from 313 to 668. Buddhism entered Koguryo in 372. In 668, the combined Silla and Tang armies defeated Koguryo.

 

Koryo: (co ryo) Founded in 918, Koryo controlled the entire Korean peninsula by 935. The word "Korea" is derived from Koryo. Buddhism and Confucianism flourished under the Koryo kingdom. The government was Confucian-based and was greatly influenced by Song China. Koryo was invaded by the Mongols in 1231, and lost its autonomy to the Mongols in 1273. hi 1392, General Yi Song-gye turned against Koryo and toppled it.

 

Paekche: (pak cheh) One of Korea's three ancient kingdoms. Founded in 350, Paekche controlled the southwestern quarter of the Korean peninsula, and was the conduit for the flow of Chinese culture to japan. In 663, Paekche fell to Silla.

 

Silla: One of Korea's three ancient kingdoms, Silla controlled the southeastern third of Korea from 356. After conquering its rival states in the 660s, Silla ruled the Korean peninsula until 935, when it was overcome by Koryo. Silla reached great artistic heights, and much of Korea's traditional culture is based on Silla's achievements.

 

Sirhak: "Practical Learning." A school of thought that emphasized Korean culture and identity over pervasive Chinese influence. It also stressed practical application, such as agriculture, defense, and trade.

 

Sowon: Private Confucian academies, located in areas outside of major Korean cities. Sowon represented different groups of yangban and added to the factionalism of Yi Korea. Sowon were endowed with their own lands, which were removed from the imperial tax registers.

 

Turtle Ships: Ironclad boats with plated decks; the plating was rounded and resembled a turtle's shell. Admiral Yi Sun-sin, commanding a fleet of turtle ships, successfully defended against the Hideyoshi-ordered Japanese invasion of Korea.

 

Yangban: (yahng ben) The educated aristocracy of Korea.

 

Yi Dynasty: Also known as the Choson ("Morning Serenity") Dynasty. In 1392, while leading an expedition against the Ming, General Yi Song-gye, a Koryo general, turned against Koryo and toppled it. One of the Yi kings, Sejong, brought about a golden age in Korean history. The Manchus invaded Korea in 1627 and 1636, and forced the Yi court to acknowledge Manchu supremacy. The Yi ruled Korea until 1910, when Japan annexed Korea.