Gojoseon, the oldest kingdom of Korea

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Gojoseon, the oldest kingdom of Korea

 

The people of Gojoseon or the oldest kingdom of Korea are recorded as Dong-i, "eastern bowmen." They propagated in Manchuria, the eastern littoral of China, areas north of the Yangtze River, and the Korean Peninsula. The eastern bowmen had a myth in which the legendary founder Dan-gun was born of a father of heavenly descent and a woman from a bear-totem tribe. He is said to have started to rule in 2333 B.C., and his descendants reigned in Joseon, the "Land of Morning Calm," for more than a millennium.

When the Zhou people pushed the Yin, the eastern bowmen moved toward Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula for better climatic conditions. They seem to have maintained unity, as China's great sages, Confucius and Mencius, praised their consanguineous order and the decorum of their society.

The eastern bowmen on the western coast of the Yellow Sea clashed with the Zhou people during China's period of warring states (475 B.C.-221 B.C.). This led them to move toward southern Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula.

There were other tribes of eastern bowmen, the Yemaek in the Manchurian area and the Han on the Korean Peninsula, all of whom belonged to the Tungusic family and linguistically affiliated with the Altaic. When Yin collapsed, Gija, a subject of the Yin state, entered Dan-gun's domain and introduced the culture of Yin around the 11th century B.C.

Then came the invasion of Yen in the northeastern sector of China, and Gojoseon lost the territories west of the Liao River in the third century B.C. By this time, iron culture was developing and the warring states pushed the refugees eastward.

Among the immigrants, Wiman entered the service of Gojoseon as military commander with a base on the Amnokgang (Yalu) river. He drove King Jun to the south and usurped power. But in 109 B.C. the Han emperor Wu-ti dispatched a massive invasion by land and sea to Gojoseon in the estuary of the Liao River. Gojoseon was defeated after two years and four Chinese provincial commands were set up in southern Manchuria and the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. Not long after the establishment of the four commanderies, however, the Korean attacks became fierce and the last of the commanderies, Lolang (Korean: Nangnang) was destroyed by Goguryeo in 313.

 

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