South Korea: Historical Overview                               

6000 BC       

Early Stone Age humans arrive in present-day Korea.

108 AD        

Chinese Han dynasty establishes 4 territories on the Korean Peninsula.

57-18            

The Silla, Goguryeo and Baekje kingdoms are founded.

668                

The Goguryeo and Baekje kingdoms are unified under Silla.

918                

Wang Kon founds the Goryeo dynasty.

1231             

The Mongols invade Goryeo.

1392             

Yi Seong-gye founds the Joseon dynasty.

1446             

King Sejong introduces Hangul. Hangul is a phonetic alphabet that replaced the Chinese-based writing system.

1592             

Japan invades Korea.

1598           

With help from the Chinese, Korea forces Japan out of Korea. Admiral Yi Sun-sin uses ironclad “turtle” ships to defeat the Japanese.

1656             

Shipwrecked Dutch sailors were the first Europeans to reach the Korean peninsula.

1894             

The Donghak Uprising leads to the Sino-Japanese War for control of Korea.

1910             

Japan adds Korea to its territory.

1945             

The Korean peninsula is divided at the 38th parallel. Soviet troops occupy the north and U.S. troops occupy the south.

1948             

Syngman Rhee (formerly Yi Sungman) is elected president of South Korea.

1950-3         

The Korean War takes place. The “Demilitarized Zone” (DMZ) is established.

1988             

Seoul, South Korea hosts the Olympic Games.

1991             

North and South Korea join the United Nations.

1998-2008  

Kim Dae Jung of South Korea enacts the “Sunshine Policy” in the hopes of improving relations with North Korea.

2000             

Kim Dae Jung (South Korea) and Kim Jong-Il (North Korea) meet. Families separated by the border are allowed to reunite for a brief visit. Kim Dae Jung wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to open relations between the two countries.

2002             

South Korea and Japans co-host the World Cup.

2010             

Japan apologizes to South Korea for colonization on the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula.

2014             

MW Sewol, a South Korean ferry carrying 476 people, sinks on its way to the island of Jeju. Three-hundred people died in the accident.

2018             

Pyeongchang, South Korea hosts the Olympics Games.