Kings of Korea

Korea is an old country, with the earliest states beginning about the time of the Late Chou Dynasty in China. Despite the predominant Chinese influence on Korea and the vast borrowing of Chinese vocabulary, the Korean language is unrelated to Chinese. There is no agreement about just what it is related to, though kinship with Japanese seems likely and to the Altaic languages (Manchu, Mongol, Turkish) possible. Originally written in Chinese characters, Korean now uses its own unique writing system, Han-gul, promulated by King Sejong in 1446. Han-gul writes syllabic characters that are regularly composed of elements indicating the phonology of the syllables. This would allow Han-gul to be easily and freely mixed with Chinese characters, as was long done, or completely replace them, as has largely been the custom since 1945. To the uninitiated, Han-gul characters can easily be distinguished from Chinese, since they contain circles, which are not used in Chinese characters.

The earliest important state in Korea was Old Choson, which began in the 4th century BC and endured until its conquest by the Chinese state of Yen (or Yan) around 300 BC. When Yen was conqured by the Ch’in Dynasty in 222, its Korean possessions passed with it, though my map of the Ch’in actually doesn’t show it extending that far, so perhaps Ch’in control quickly lapsed. Nevertheless, at the fall of the Ch’in in 206, Han Dynasty control was extended into Korea, but briefly. A rebellion between 194-180, under a Chinese leader, Wiman, resulted in the independence of Choson until renewed Han conquest in 108 BC. Chinese control lapsed in the last reign of the Later Han Dynasty, around 210 AD, but then was restablished in the Three Kingdoms Period by the Wei Dynasty, around 238.

Meanwhile, other Korean states developed. North of the Chinese possessions was Puyo, beginning in the 4th century BC, which later was absorbed by Koguryo, traditionally founded in 57 BC. South of Chinese possessions in the Korean penninsula was the state of Chin, beginning in the 2nd century BC. Chin broke apart into the “three Hans,” the states of Mahan, Chinhan, and Pyonhan.

The Han states ended up aborbed by new kingdoms in the South, Paekche, Silla, and Kaya. The Kings of Paekche and Silla are listed here. Mahan fell to Paekche in 369. When Koguryo drove out the Chinese in 313 and arrived at the borders of Paekche and Silla, this began the “Three Kingdoms” period in Korean history (313-668). Koguryo is the kingdom that was attacked by the Sui Dynasty in 612. This was followed by T’ang Dynasty invasions, also defeated, 645-647. But the Chinese made headway, conquering Paekche in 660 and combining with Silla to overthrown Koguryo in 667-668. The Chinese tried to retain their Korean territory; but Silla took Paekche in 671, and the Chinese conceded the penninsula in 676.

Silla becomes the single kingdom of Chosen or Korea. The initial state survives until broken up by rebellions beginning in 891. A new “Three Kingdoms” period develops, until the country is reunified by the Koryo (“Later Koguryo”) state, which annexed Silla in 935. This is indicated in the King list as no more than a change in dynasty.

These lists come entirely form Bruce R. Gordon’s Regnal Chronologies. Korean language information is from Barron’s Korean at a Glance, by Daniel D. Holt and Grace Massey Holt [Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1988], and NTC’s Compact Korean and English Dictionary, by B.J. Jones and Gene S. Rhie [NTC Publishing Group, 1995].

The modern Japanese occupation of Korea, although recent, had major long term effects. The oppressive Japanese regime included the forced imposition of Shinto rites and the “missions” of various Japanese Buddhist sects. This tended to motivate sympathy for Western religion and, in particular, to discredit Buddhism altogether. Thus, up to a third of (South) Koreans are now Christians, and it is a rare church in California that does not have some Korean on its signs. A third of Koreans, however, are still Buddhist, and the rest observe the Korean equivalent of traditional Chinese Confucian/Taoist religion.

The Japanese occupation, of course, did not end without a new national trauma being introduced — the Russian occupation of the northern part of the country and then the establishment there of a Communist regime. When the North, with Russian blessing, invaded the South in 1950, this set off the first major shooting war in the Cold War. Before the front stabilized, the Communists nearly overwhelmed the surprised South Koreans and Americans. The North Koreans collapsed, however, when Douglas MacArthur daringly landed in their rear at Inchon. Only the intervention of the Chinese recovered the Communist position and resulted in a stalemate and a cease-fire with roughly the status quo ante.

The South Korean flag, with its traditional Chinese yin and yang symbols, is given at right. The North Korean flag, with a typical Communist red star, is unworthy of notice. Indeed, as South Korea grew into one of the economic “Four Tigers” of East Asia and left behind decades of dictatorship for democracy, North Korea developed into one of the nastiest and most psychotic tyrannies in history, with a dynasty of despots, the Kims, who have actually allowed the country to starve rather than have the word “pragmatism” cross their minds. North Korea even charges foreign relief organizations for the privilege of providing free food. Recently, the North and South have established some more friendly contacts, and the North has allowed some communication between divided families, but the present “Great Leader” of the North, Kim Jong Il, has given no indication of releasing his iron grip either on power or on the suffocated economy of his prison-state — which has not stopped radical and clueless South Korean students from demonstrating on behalf and the North and for reunification.

Recent developments, late in 2002, have thrown new light on North Korea. The government recently admitted that it had been kidnapping Japanese, in Japan itself, including one 13-year-old girl, in order to plant North Korean agents. They have now allowed some of these victims to visit relatives in Japan, but since they are not allowing their Korean families out of the country, the victims are expected to dutifuly return to their North Korean prison — most have not, hoping that their families will eventually be allowed to follow. The most unsettling revelation, however, has just been that North Korea ignored right from the beginning the agreement negotiated in 1994 by Jimmy Carter by which they would receive technical assistance in their nuclear power program, on the condition that they end their nuclear weapons program. Since there never was any provision for verifying the end of the weapons program, they simply didn’t bother to end it. Why they have now admitted this is a matter of speculation. In retrospect, one remembers Ronald Reagan’s maxim when dealing with the Soviets, “Trust, but verify.” Jimmy Carter, consistently naive in Realpolitik, demonstrates his ability to do damage even long out of office (even Bill Clinton didn’t want him in North Korea and had to accept the fait accompli negotiated by Carter). In 2003, the North Korean government announced that it had actually already produced a number of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, North Koreans, who are allowed to travel to China, have been seeking asylum in Western embassies and consulates there. In one incident, Chinese police broke into a Japanese consulate to drag out Korean supplicants. Japan protested, since this is a violation of International Law, and the Chinese actually released the Koreans.


In November 2004 National Geographic released a map showing the Earth at night. Japan, South Korea, and even much of China are lit up like lamps. North Korea, however, is as dark as many uninhabited places on Earth. Few things would be as graphically revealing of the poverty and misery of the North.

 

Koguryo
Tongmyong/
Chumong Wang
37-19
Yurimyong Wang19-18
Taemusin Wang18 BC-
44 AD
Mingjung Wang44-48
Mobong Wang48-53
T’aejo Taewang53-146
Ch’adae Wang146-165
Sindae Wang165-179
Kogukch’ong
Wang
179-197
Sangsang Wang197-227
Tongch’ong Wang227-248
capital falls to
Wei Dynasty, 244
Ch’ungch’ong
Wang
248-270
Soch’ong Wang270-292
Pongsang Wang292-300
Mich’ong Wang300-331
Chinese Western Tsin
Dynasty) driven from
Korea, Beginning of
“Three Kingdoms”
Period, 313
Kogukwong Wang331-371
capital sacked by
state of Yan, 342
Sosurim Wang371-384
adoption of
Buddhism, 372
Kogukyang Wang384-392
Kwangaet’o Wang392-413
Changsu Wang413-491
Munja Wang491-519
Anjang Wang519-531
Angwong Wang531-545
Yangwong Wang545-559
P’yongwong Wang559-590
Yonyang Wang590-618
Yongnyu Wang618-642
Invasion by Sui Dynasty
defeated, 612
Pojang Wang642-668
Invasion by T’ang Dynasty
defeated, 645-647;
conquered by Silla
& the Chinese, 667-668

Silla
Pak Hykkose
Kosogun
57 BC-
4 AD
Namhae
Ch’ach’aung
4-24
Yuri Isagum24-57
Sok T’arhae
Isagum
57-80
Pak P’asa Isagum80-112
Chima Isagum112-134
Ilsong Isagum134-154
Adalla Isagum154-184
Sok Porhyu
Isagum
184-196
Naehae Isagum196-230
Chobun Isagum230-247
Ch’omhae Isagum247-261
Kim Mich’u
Isagum
261-284
Sok Yurye
Isagum
284-298
Kirim Isagum298-310
Hurhae Isagum310-356
Kim Naemul
Maripkan
356-402
Silson Maripkan402-417
Nulji Maripkan417-458
Chabi Maripkan458-479
Soji Maripkan479-500
Chijung Wang500-514
Pop’ung Wang514-540
adoption of
Buddhism, 535
Chinghung Wang540-576
conquers Kaya, 562
Chingji Wang576-579
Chingp’yong
Wang
579-632
Sondok
Yowang (f)
632-647
Chindok
Yowang (f)
647-654
T’aejong
Muyol Wang
654-661
Munmu Wang661-681
Munmu Wang668-681
Paekche, 671;
Koguryo, 676
Sinmun Wang681-692
Hyoso692-702
Songdok Wang702-737
Hyosong Wang737-742
Kyondok Wang742-765
Hyegong Wang765-780
Sondok Wang780-785
Wonsong Wang785-799
Sosong Wang799-800
Aejang Wang800-809
Hondok Wang809-826
Hongdok Wang826-836
Huigang Wang836-838
Minae Wang838-839
Sinmu Wang839-857
Honan Wang857-861
Kyogmun Wang861-875
Hongong Wang875-886
Chonggang
Wang Kim
886-887
Chinsong
Yowang (f)
887-897
Hyogong Wang897-912
Sindok Wang912-917
Kyong Myong
Wang
917-924
Koryo
T’aejo I924-943
Hyejong944-945
Chongjong I946-949
Kwangjong950-975
Kyongjong976-981
Songjong I981-997
Mokshong997-1009
Hyonjong I1010-1032
Tokjong1032-1035
Chongjong II1035-1047
Munjong I1047-1083
Sunjong1083
Sonjong1084-1095
Honjong I1095
Sokjong1096-1105
Yejong I1106-1122
Injong I1123-1146
Uijong1147-1170
Myongjong1170-1197
Sinjong1198-1205
Huijong1205-1211
Kangjong1212-1213
Kojong I1213-1259
Mongol invasion, 1231;
Mongol suzereinty, 1258
Wonjong1260-1274
Ch’unguyol1275-1309
Ch’ungson1309-1314
Ch’ungsuk1314-1330
Ch’unghye1330-1332,
1339-1344
Ch’angsuk1332-1339
Ch’ungmok1344-1348
Ch’unajong1349-1351
Kongmin1351-1374
Sin U1374-1389
Sinch’ang1389
Kongyang1389-1392
Joseon/Choson/Yi
T’aejo II1392-1398
Chongjong III1398-1400
T’aejong1401-1418
Sejong1418-1450
Han-gul introduced, 1446
Munjong II1450-1452
Tanjong1452-1455
Sejo1456-1468
Yejong II1468-1469
Songjong II1470-1494
Yonsan Gun1494-1506
Chungjong1506-1544
Injong II1544-1545
Myonjong1546-1567
Sonjo1567-1608
Japanese invasions,
defeated, 1592,
1597-1598
Kwan Naegun1609-1623
Injo1623-1649
Hyojong1650-1659
Hyonjong II1660-1675
Sukchong1675-1720
Kyonjong1720-1724
Yongjo1725-1776
Chongjo1777-1800
Sunjo1801-1834
Honjong II1835-1849
Ch’oljong1850-1864
Kojong II1864-1907,
d. 1919
Sungjong1907-1910
Japanese Protectorate,
1905-1910;
Annexed to Japan,
1910-1945;
Allied Military Occupation,
1945-1948
Republic of Korea,
1948-present;
Communist government,
1948-present

Paekche
Ongjo Wang18 BC-
28 AD
Taru Wang28-77
Kiru Wang77-128
Kaeru Wang128-166
Kusu Wang166-214
Sabang Wang214-234
Koyi Wang234-286
Ch’aekkyo
Wang
286-298
Punso Wang298-304
Piryu Wang304-344
Kye Wang344-346
Kunch’ogo
Wang
346-375
Kungusu Wang375-384
adoption of
Buddhism, 384
Ch’imnyu Wang384-385
Chinsa Wang385-392
Asin Wang392-405
Chongji Wang405-420
Kungsin Wang420-427
Piyu Wang427-455
Kaero Wang455-475
Mungju Wang475-477
Samgung Wang477-479
Tongsong Wang479-501
Munyong Wang501-523
Song Wang523-554
Widok Wang554-598
Hye Wang598-599
Pob Wang599-600
Mu Wang600-642
Uyja Wang642-660
overthrown by
T’ang Dynasty
China, 660

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Many Thanks to: www.friesian.com

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