Korean historical past dates again to a bronze tradition known as “Gojoseon (Outdated Joseon)” that existed in modern-day Manchuria approx. 1000 BC ~ 108 BC. The dominion left a basis fable, 3 penal statutes, one unhappy music, shamanic tradition, and many mandolin-shaped bronze daggers and dolmens
Virtually all Korean youngsters develop up listening to concerning the basis fable of **Gojoseon** and the legendary god-king Dangun. Later in school, college students study concerning the archeological relics of the tradition, one surviving poem, and three surviving penal statues – which is commonly examined within the standardized state exams.
**The muse fable**:
(copied from [https://www.reddit.com/r/HistoryAnecdotes/comments/61y8dw/koreas_origin_myth/](https://www.reddit.com/r/HistoryAnecdotes/feedback/61y8dw/koreas_origin_myth/))
>… Hwanung, the son of the Emperor of Heaven, wished to descend from heaven and dwelling the world of human beings. Realizing his son’s need, the Emperor of Heaven surveyed the three highest mountains and located Mount Taebaek probably the most appropriate place for his son to settle and assist human beings. … Main the Earl of Wind, the Grasp of Rain, and the Grasp of Clouds, he [Hwanung] took cost of some 300 and sixty areas of accountability, together with agriculture, allotted life spans, sickness, punishment, and good and evil, and introduced tradition to his individuals.
>At the moment **a bear and a tiger** dwelling in the identical cave prayed to Holy Hwanung to rework them into human beings. The king gave them **a bundle of sacred mugworts and twenty cloves of garlic** and stated, ‘**For those who eat these and shun the daylight for 100 days**, you’ll assume human type.’ Each animals ate the spices and prevented the solar. After twenty-one days **the bear grew to become a girl**, however the tiger, unable to watch the taboo, remained a tiger. Unable to discover a husband, the bear-woman prayed beneath the alter tree for a kid. Hwanung metamorphosed himself, **lay along with her, and begot a son known as Dangun** Wanggeom (the legendary king of Korea).
>Within the fiftieth yr of the reign of Emperor Yao (one among China’s mythological founders), Dangun made **the walled metropolis of Pyongyang** (not the trendy day metropolis) the capital and **known as his nation Joseon**. He then moved his capital to Asadal on Mount Paegak … he later hid in Asadal as a mountain god on the age of 1 thousand 9 hundred and eight.
(Supply: *Samguk Yusa or Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms*, one of many two oldest chronicles of the Korean historical past, written in 1281)
**3 surviving penal statutes**:
Chinese language sources say that Gojoseon had 8 penal statutes known as “Eight Prohibitions.” Solely 3 of them are identified now.
* Those that commit homicide shall be put to dying instantly
* Those that trigger damage should compensate with grain.
* Those that steal might be enslaved or pay recompense.
which pulls an fascinating parallel to the earliest penal codes from different cultures (e.g. The Code of Hammurabi).
(Supply: Chinese language supply *The Guide of Han*, written in 111)
Music <**My expensive, do not cross the river** (Gongmudohaga 公無渡河歌)>
That is the one surviving poem from Gojoseon, handed down in a Chinese language supply <古今注> (written in 300 A.D.)
>Pricey, my expensive, please do not cross that river
>Oh, my expensive is now crossing the river
>Ah, he is drowned, he is gone
>What am I to do, what am I to do
The Chinese language supply additionally tells a heartbreaking background story:
>At some point a bargeman in Gojoseon was slowly rowing within the river. Then **a madman with gray hair walked into the river** with a bottle of liquor in his hand. His spouse was chasing after him to cease him. He ignored her and stored going till **he was swept away, and drowned**. In despair, the spouse took out her Gong-hu (a string instrument) and began singing. **The music was unspeakably unhappy**. Then **she adopted her husband into the river and drowned**. The bargeman got here again residence and informed his spouse about this story and the music. She cried and sang the music along with her Gong-hu, and everybody who heard the music shed tears.
(Edit: there is a well-known fashionable interpretation of this music by musician Lee Sang-eun [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_zYhn6bzR0](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_zYhn6bzR0))
**Bronze daggers and dolmens**
The historic information of Gojoseon are supported by archaeological websites present in modern-day Manchuria and North Korea. The tradition is characterised by massive dolmen tombs and mandolin-shaped bronze daggers, amongst others.
* Conventional Korean people tradition has a robust shamanic factor, and many individuals hyperlink this trait to **shamanism in Northern Asia and Siberia**. In some Korean areas shamans have been known as *Danggol*, just like *Dangun* (the identify of the god-king within the basis fable). That is typically interpreted as a cognate of *Tengri* (deity, god) in lots of Mongolic and Turkic cultures.
**The Fall of Gojoseon**
Round 200 BC, Wiman, a common from the Kingdom of Yan of northeastern China, took refuge in Gojoseon within the chaos of the collapse of Qin Dynasty in China. Later, WIman revolted and took over the dominion.
A few hundred years later, China grew to become reunified by Han Dynasty. In 109 BC, the Emperor Wu of Han invaded Wiman Joseon, destroyed it, and established the 4 Commanderies of Han.
This triggered many Gojoseon refugees emigrate to the southern a part of the Korean peninsula – **new Koreanic-kingdoms** equivalent to Buyeo, Goguryeo, and Baekje arose.
* Particularly, the inspiration myths of Buyeo (Manchuria), Goguryeo (Manchuria and Northern Korea), and Baekje (Central Korea) are interrelated.
* The legendary founding father of the **Buyeo** kingdom is Hae Mo-su (the son of heaven)
* Jumong, the legendary founding father of **Goguryeo**, was the son of Hae Mo-su and a daughter of a river god. Jumong was an distinctive archer, however his half-brothers acquired jealous of him. With the assistance of fishes and turtles that created a bridge for him, he escaped Buyeo and established a brand new kingdom.
* There is a k-drama known as ***Jumong*** that first triggered a worldwide curiosity in k-drama within the mid-2000s…
* Additionally, Kim Il-sung created comparable myths for his cult of character…
* When Jumong left Buyeo, he left his first son there. He had two different sons, Biryu and Onjo, with a brand new spouse named Soseono in his new kingdom. He thought his first son was useless. However when his first son confirmed up, Jumong instantly made him the crown prince. After this, Jumong’s spouse Soseono left the dominion, taking her two sons **southwards** for them to discovered their very own kingdom. That is the origin story of **Baekje**.
There are a number of hypotheses about who lived within the southern a part of the Korean peninsula earlier than this wave. One of many latest and most radical hypotheses I’ve heard is that Japonic languages had beforehand been spoken within the southern a part of the peninsula, and these have been changed by the advance of Koreanic-speakers from the North ([https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsular_Japonic](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsular_Japonic)). Though this can be a rising speculation amongst linguists, most Koreans have not but heard about that (and plenty of may have emotional reactions to it).
* The consensus amongst linguists up to now is that the Koreanic languages and Japonic languages didn’t originate from the identical root. They as a substitute got here up with this substitute idea.
Hope somebody finds this fascinating!
Comments ( 14 )
This was a very enjoyable/ interesting read! I’ve opened all your links to read more later! Thanks!
Thank you very interesting to learn. Sad songs are timeless.
This felt like a nice overview of what is known and what is believed about a culture and time I know very little about. Those links will keep me busy for a while! Thanks!
Jumong is still my favorite historical drama of all-time. It’s one of the best coming of age type character growth story ever written imo.
This was incredibly interesting! Jumong and it’s sequel were the very first Korean dramas I watched back in the 2000’s and while I didn’t understand everything at the time about the mythology surrounding the characters, I enjoyed it immensely. Thanks for shining some more light on these fascinating stories.
I’m a fan of Korea and of mythology and folklore and all on a whole, so I appreciate this OP. Thanks.
Also, re: the Korean/Japanese migration at the end there, archeological evidence shows that the Japanese people came from Korea and around the same time as this. The very first evidence of Japan being populated (not Hokkaido, where the Ainu were, but the main island) includes pottery and tombs of the exact same style that has been used in Korea.
So it would make sense that the people in ‘Southern Korea’ went to Japan during that migration.
Quibble: the instrument is a 箜篌 konghou, not gonghu. It’s an instrument like a harp, or a Burmese saung, that came to China from the west in about the fourth century ce.
That Son of Heaven origin story sounds vaguely familiar.
Awesome post that was a great read thank you so much!
Thanks for the really cool overview!
Wow this was such a fascinating read. Gonna share this one at the next gathering I’m at!
Came for the three statues of penises, stayed for the actual history very cool
The Chu-Han Contention lasted less than a decade and was very brief. However, during the earliest Han emperors’ reigns , they were a lot more concerned about the Xiongnu problem so after they enfeoffed Yan to a regime supporter they made very little moves on the Far East. Sima Qian even suggests that Liu Bang (Gaozu of Han) nearly got captured by the Xiongnu after trying to personally lead the army into war . What Han Wudi did was to expand on the economic base of his predecessors to mobilise greater assets to finance the state’s impending war efforts.
An ancillary fact is that Gojoseon is a historian’s term for the state, used by various sources to differentiate from later kingdoms with similar names. In their day they went by “Joseon” according to the texts we have . Why they did so is still unclear, and the theory that hinges on a literal translation of the Chinese characters is no longer in vogue. Ancient Chinese is quite different from modern Chinese, which complicates the already hard question of whether the Chinese copied the sound or the meaning of the name. Joseon would later be used by the last dynasty of Korea, which famously ruled for centuries before revamping itself into the Empire of Korea and then getting annexed by Japan. It was a very prolific state in its own right, creating things like Hangul that we consider quintessentially Korean even today. Even now, the actual name of North Korea still appropriates the name of Joseon to claim continuity with both kingdoms, since North Korea has been very strident about its promotion of “true” Korean culture to legitimise the Paektu Bloodline. Joseon’s influence extends to the modern Chinese language, as in Mainland Chinese people of ethnic Korean descent are still referred to as Joseon-min (there is a significant Korean Minority in China, including around Yanbian and Dandong, they actually have small Korean autonomous counties in certain parts of Northeastern China). The peninsula itself is more subject to debate, but generally Mainland sources refer to it as the Joseon peninsula while non-communist sources sometimes use the term Hanguk Peninsula.
The discovery of dolmens in the Shandong region is no doubt interesting, as it suggests close cultural connection across the Yellow Sea . Speculation is rife that these may have been the work of the people dubbed Donghu in Chinese texts, especially since it is also recorded that the Shandong Peninsula was one of the last regions in the area to be conquered by the early Chinese state, later forming part of the Kingdom of Qi. People have wondered if some ethnic connection exists between the communities in correlation to the culture, especially since a new theory puts the ethnogenesis of Korean in the modern Liao River Basin in China.