The Ancient Korea Historic Collections

Ancient Korea

Historic Collections

Created By

Dr Iwan Suwandy,MHA

Private Limited E-Book In CD-ROM Edition

Copyright @ 2012


This is the story of the creation of the Korean people.

Dangun’s (단군; 檀君 ancestry

 begins with his grandfather Hwanin (환인; 桓因 ,

 the “Lord of Heaven”

(a name which also appears in Indian Buddhist texts).

 Hwanin had a son Hwanung who yearned to live on the earth among the valleys and the mountains.

 Hwanin chose Mount Taebaek (태백산; 太伯山) for his son to settle down in and sent him with 3,000 helpers to rule the earth and provide humans with great happiness. Hwanung descended to Mount Taebaek and founded a city, which he named Sinsi (신시; 神市), or “City of God.” Along with his ministers of clouds, rain, and wind, he instituted laws and moral codes and taught the humans various arts, medicine, and agriculture.

A tiger and a bear living in a cave together prayed to Hwanung to become human.

 Upon hearing their prayers, Hwanung called them to him and gave them 20 cloves of garlic and a bundle of mugwort. He then ordered them to only eat this sacred food and remain out of the sunlight for 100 days. The tiger shortly gave up and left the cave. However, the bear remained and after 21 days was transformed into a woman.

The bear-woman (Ungnyeo; 웅녀; 熊女)

was very grateful and made offerings to Hwanung. She lacked a husband, however, and soon became sad and prayed beneath a sandalwood tree to be blessed with a child. Hwanung, moved by her prayers, took her for his wife and soon she gave birth to a son, who was named Dangun Wanggeom (단군 왕검; 檀君王儉).

Dangun ascended to the throne in the 50th year of the reign of the Emperor Yao (a legendary Chinese sage Yao), the year of Gengyin, built the walled city of P’yŏngyang, and called the kingdom Joseon. He then moved his capital to Asadal on Mount Baegak (or Mount Gunghol). 1,500 years later, in the year Kimyo, King Wu of the Zhou Dynasty enfeoffed Jizi to Joseon, and Dangun moved his capital to Jangdangyeong. Finally, he returned to Asadal and became a mountain god at the age of 1,908.

I’ll just start off with a brief overview of Korean history and a list of rulers of major kingdoms…and if ya’ll like it i’ll go nation by nation next…maybe…So basically Wikipedia copy and paste with me making notes here and there adding in stuff…usually when you see * it’s me…hope this is helpful to someone…


Archaeological evidence shows that people were living in Korea during the Palaeolithic period. The physical culture found in these relics is largely identical with that in finds in Manchuria and Mongolia.

Ancient history

I. An Ancient Korean Kingdom 

I. An Ancient Korean Kingdom
1.1. The true name of Gojoseon is Joseon
Gojoseon (pronounced “gaw-jaw-sun,” also referred to as Kojoseon, 고조선, 古朝鮮; Proto-Choseon, Ancient Choseon, etc.) was the first Korean kingdom in recorded history.
The actual name of the kingdom was simply “Chosun.” The reason for calling the ancient Choseon “Gojoseon” is to distinguish this kingdom from other Joseons (or Choseons), all spelled exactly the same in Korean and Chinese.  
Ilyeon (a Korean Buddhist priest and historian, 1,206 – 1,289 A.D.; 일연 in Korean writing, 一然 in Chinese characters,
 also transliterated as “Ilyon” in many cases) first used the name “Gojoseon” in his Korean history book Samgukyusa (or “Samguk Yusa,” 삼국유사; 三國遺事, originally written using Chinese characters) to refer to the ancient Joseon at its founding and at its zenith in contrast with a much smaller later remnant of Gojoseon, which he called “Wimanjoseon” (i.e., the Joseon of the Wiman family). 
 Generally, Choseon (Joseon, Chosun, 조선; 朝鮮) without a prefix means later Choseon (1388 – 1897; succeeded by the Korean Empire (대한제국; 1897 – 1910)) unless the antiquity of the time is clearly implied in the context.
 To facilitate scholastic discussions, there is a practical need to differentiate the Chosun of antiquity from the later Choseon (Joseon, Chosun, 조선; 朝鮮). The convention devised by Ilyeon has been almost universally accepted now.  Thus, the prefix “Go (고, 古),” meaning “antiquity,” is attached to the word “Joseon (조선, 朝鮮)” to form the word “Gojoseon” and identity Joseon of antiquity. Obviously, Gojoseon was not an “ancient” country but a currently-existing country to the people at that time its existence.
 To the people of Gojoseon, “Joseon” was the name for their own country.
1.2. The founding date of Gojoseon
According to most history books,
Gojoseon was founded in the latter part of the third millennium B.C. Many ancient Korean history books pinned the founding date of Gojoseon at 2,333 B.C., although the accuracy of this date has not been archeologically established. Some other ancient Korean history books allege somewhat different founding years ranging between 2,313 B.C and 2,512 B.C.
 According to one estimation based on comparative interpretation of ancient literature, the actual founding date of Gojoseon may be about 2,000 B.C.
1.3. Prior Korean Kingdoms
Most Korean history books treat Gojoseon as the first Korean kingdom, although a Korean history book, Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記) alleges two previous proto-Korean kingdoms,
Hwanguk (환국: 桓國;
 a pre-historic era) and Baedalguk (배달국; 培達國; 3,998 B.C – 2,333 B.C.).
Archeological evidence
 for the existence of Hwanguk or Baedalguk have yet to be been found, and such efforts are likely to face extreme difficulties due to the antiquity of Hwanguk and Baedalguk.
 While some characters in Baedalguk are also referred to in Chinese history books, establishing the identity of such Korean characters would be just as difficult as establishing the identity of earliest legendary Chinese characters given the difficulty of establishing archeological evidences.
 Also, Hwanguk and Baedalguk would more properly be classified as proto-Korean since these alleged countries encompassed territories of many Altaic Tungus peoples.
The Altaic Tungus people
 included the Koreans, the Jurchens (Manchus, 女眞; 여진; Ruzhen; Nuzhen), the Qidans (Khitans; 契丹; 거란) and other non-Chinese people that inhabited the Korean peninsula,
the Liaohe River region (between Manchuria and the Yellow River region), i.e., all non-Chinese people who lived to the east of the area of the Yellow River civilization and the traditional Chinese dynasties in China proper.
In short, Gojoseon may, or may not be, the first country in Korean history
, and the answer depends on the existence of Hwanguk and Baedalguk, and the definition of the “Korean” people.
1.4. The identity of the Koreans
Once the history goes back to the third millennium B.C.,
it becomes necessary to reexamine the identity of the “Korean” people as professed by the people of the ancient time who are attributed to be the ancestors of the present day Korean people.
The people in the region of Goguryeo called themselves “i” (夷; 이; pronounced “ee” in Korean; pronounced “yi” in Chinese).
 For the Altaic Tungus people, the number 9 is the number completion encompassing all variations. The concept of completeness in the number 9 for the Altaic Tungus people is based on the premise that there are
 eight directions (north, east, south, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southeast) for movement, and there is one direction for non-movement, i.e., center.
(Note that the Chinese used four directions (north, east, south, west) and 4 was the number of completion. Also note that other civilizations used different numbers for completion, e.g., 7 for the Hebrews (God rested on the 7th day) and 3 for the Indo-Europeans (In folk tales, the third son would succeed where his two older brothers failed before.))
To connote all of the “i”‘s (夷; 이) of the world. the Koreans used 9-i, or Gu-i (九夷; 구이; meaning “Nine ‘i’s”).  Variants of the spelling of Gu-i are Gu-ryeo (九黎; 구려) and Gu-ryeo (句麗; 구려).
II. The Korean identity of Gojoseon and Dangun
2.1. Names of Korean kingdoms and the Korean people at the time of Gojoseon
Many Korean kingdoms throughout Korean history used “Joseon (조선; 朝鮮),” “Hahn (or Han, 한; 韓),” or “Guryeo (九黎 or 句麗; 구려)” in their name.
 As mentioned above, the real name of Gojoseon was simply “Joseon (조선; 朝鮮)” during its existence. The prefix “Go” is used for identification purposes because there are many Joseons (Choseons) in Korean history. Gojoseon included three major branches, which were called Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓). Each was also called Jinjoseon (진조선; 眞朝鮮), Mahjoseon (마조선; 馬朝鮮), or Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮), respectively . In short, the word “Joseon” equals the word “Hahn” for all practical purposes.
According to Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記),
a country founded in the area of Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) upon dissolution of Gojoseon around 238 B.C. proclaimed itself to be Gouryeo (고구려; 高九黎), “Go” meaning “Son of Heaven” and Guryeo meaning the people that it intended to rule, i.e., the Gu-i (九夷; 구이) or Gu-ryeo (九黎; 구려). A successor to that nation adopted the same name Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗), although different Chinese characters were employed. (The meaning is the same because the Chinese characters were intended to represent only the sound.) Goguryeo was routinely abbreviated as Goryeo (고려; 高麗) even during its time (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.). The name “Korea” originates from the name “Goryeo (고려; 高麗).” If any countries could claim to be Korean, Gouryeo (고구려; 高九黎) and Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) would be among them by definition.
2.2. Names of Korean kingdoms after Gojoseon
Eventually, Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) recovered all of the territory of Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) and at least half (perhaps all at its maximum extent) of the territory of Beonhahn (번한; 番韓). For an introduction to the history of Goguryeo, see Baekje and Shilla evolved from the territory of Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓).
The period in which Gogurye, Baekje, Shilla coexited is called the Three Kingdom Period in the Korean history.
The Three Kingdom Period comes to an end as the coalition of Shilla and Tang (a Chinese dynasty) destroys Baekje and Goguryeo in 660 A.D. and 668 A.D., respectively. Shilla succeeds in annexing all of the territory of Baekje. Tang retained most of Goguryeo’s vast territory in Manchuria and norther Korea after the fall of Goguryeo in 668 A.D. Within 30 years, however, a new Korean kindgom named Balhae (발해; 渤海: pronounced “bahl-hay”; Pohai in Chinese pronunciation; 698 – 926) is founded in eastern Manchuria, which expels Tang from Manchuria within a few decades.
Shilla comes to an end in 935 A.D. after a period of decline. The Korean dynasty that replaces Shilla named itself “Goryeo” (고려; 高麗; pronounced “gaw-ryuh” in which “yuh” is pronounced as in “Yum!” without the “m” sound; 918 – 1392). Goryeo is an abbreviation for Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗), a previous Korean kingdom. By adopting the name of Goryeo (고려; 高麗), this kingdom asserted to be the legitimate heir to Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗). In the founding years, however, the territory of Goryeo (고려; 高麗) started only with the territory of Shilla, which included the combined territory of Shilla and Baekjae in the 6th century but included only a relatively small southern portion of the territory of Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) in the 6th century. Goryeo (고려; 高麗) made the recovery of the “lost territory” of Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) its national policy and gained some territory to the north. Despite such efforts, the achievement of Goryeo (고려; 高麗) in terms of recovery of the territory of Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) was not spectacular. This was mainly because strong non-Korean nations arose in Manchuria (Liao and Jin) soon after the founding of Goryeo and occupied the northern part of the Korean peninsula, followed by occupation of Manchuria by Mongolia (Yuen) once Mongolia defeated the non-Korean nations founded in Manchuria.
The Korean dynasty that succeeded Goryeo was named Choseon (Joseon; 조선; 朝鮮; the Korean characters and the Chinese characters are the same for Choseon and Joseon, the difference is only in transliteration into English). The name Choseon is the same name as the true name of Gojoseon (고조선, 古朝鮮) during its existence. By adopting the same name, Choseon (조선; 朝鮮) claimed to be the legitimate heir of Gojoseon (고조선, 古朝鮮), impliedly laying claim to all territory held by Gojoseon (고조선, 古朝鮮) in ancient times. In principle, the legitimacy of Gojoseon (고조선, 古朝鮮) was handed down to Chosun through the three Kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje, Shilla, and then through Goryeo (고려; 高麗). As with Goryeo (고려; 高麗), Choseon (조선; 朝鮮) tried to recover the “lost territory” from the northern frontier whenever there was an opportunity. At the time of King Sejong, Choseon recovered all of the territory in the Korean peninsula from the Manchurian tribes. Had the people in Manchuria not formed a strong nation, the Korean expansion to the north would have continued. Unfortunately for the Koreans, efforts for recovery of the “lost territory” in Manchuria came to a standstill when the Manchus tribe from Manchuria founded the Qing dynasty and eventually occupied the entire China, making it impossible for the Koreans to advance any further. Under such circumstances, advancing north would have meant taking the “land of origin” of the Manchus and a total war with the Qing dynasty, an unacceptable proposition given the balance of military powers between Choseon and the Qing dynasty that ruled the entire China.
2.3. Names of modern Korean countries
When the last king Gojong of Choseon declared himself an emperor and founded the Korean Empire, the name “Daehahn Jeguk” (대한제국; 大韓帝國; “The Great Hahn Empire”; 1997 – 1910) was adopted for the Korean Empire. Here, Daehahn means three Hahns including the territory of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Shilla, i.e., all of the territory that Gojoseon occupied. In the end, however, “Daehahn Jeguk” was annexed by Japan in 1910 despite her desperate efforts to repel foreign aggressions. Korea was occupied by Japan between 1910 and 1945, that is, until the Allied Powers liberated Korea. The Japanese rule was in general brutal. Particularly, the Japanese policies were aimed at obliterating the Korean identity so that Koreans could be used as second class citizens in the Japanese Empire. (An illustrative example of this policy is the fact Japan allowed only about 10 % of the Korean children to go to elementary school while almost all Japanese children attended elementary school.)
After independence, the Allied Powers, and mostly the United States helped founding of the Republic of Korea, commonly referred to as “South Korea,” a non-official name. The official name of the Republic of Korea is “Daehan Minguk” (대한민국; 大韓民國; “The Great Hahn People’s Country”). The only difference between “Daehahn Jeguk” and “Daehan Minguk” is the difference between an empire and a people’s country (a republic). In both names, the name “Daehahn” (대한; 大韓) represent all of Hahns of Gojoseon, i.e., Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓).
A transliteration of the official Korean name for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly called North Korea, is “Choseon Minjujueui Inmin Gonwhaguk” (조선민주주의인민공화국; 朝鮮民主主義人民共和國), meaning Choseon People’s Democratic Republic. The same name “Joseon (조선; 朝鮮)” is used here as in Gojoseon (고조선), denoting the alleged legitimacy of the regime as successors to these kingdoms (although the oppression perpetrated by this regime might very well negate the validity of any such claim of legitimacy). For additional insight into the names of the various kingdoms and nations of Korea, see
2.4. Lack of claims of heirdom by other Altaic Tungus people
What happened to potential claims as heir by other Altaic Tungus people? After the fall of Balhae, Manchuria was ruled by non-Korean Altaic Tungus peoples, none of which seemed to have claimed to be an heir of Gojoseon or Goguryeo. Also, it is not certain if any of them claimed to be an “i”‘ (夷; 이) although their ancestors were within the domain of Goguryeo, and in fact fought on the side of Goguryeo in many battles according to historic records. Based on the extent of Gojoseon, it is almost certain that their ancestors constituted member tribes of Gojoseon. Despite having such historic connections and many chances to do so, none of the other Altaic Tungus tribes made a claim of heirdom to Gojoseon. For example, the Manchus could have claimed just about anything in terms of historic legitimacy after they occupied the entire China during the Qing dynasty (淸帝國; 1616 – 1912) because no other country could have objected to their claim as an heir of Gojoseon if there was one. Such a claim was never made. Now that the language and the identity of the Manchus (the Jerchens; 여진) and the Qidans (Khitan; 거란) are almost extinct, it is not certain if any of these groups can now claim to be a legitimate heir to Gojoseon.
In contrast, the Koreans have consistently claimed to be the heir to Gojoseon. In the oriental tradition, descendants are supposed to honor their ancestors by offering annual sacrifices to them. The Koreans have exclusively performed the ceremony for Dangun, the founder of Gojoseon. The people of Gojoseon is most closely identified with the the people of Goguryeo, and the present day Koreans. The Koreans have made unique and consistent claims as the legitimate heir to Gojoseon without opposition for the past 2000 years. The history of Gojoseon seems to find the best fit in the Korean history in light of this situation.
This is not to imply that only the present day Korean people could possibly claim ancestry to the people of Gojoseon. It is almost certain that many people in present day Manchuria are descendant of the people of Gojoseon, although they may not be aware of their origin. However, given the lack of claim by any other people, the Korean claim to Gojoseon as an ancestral nation is the only one that remains and stands.


2.5. Respect for Dangun in Korea Dangunwanggum (檀君壬儉; 단군왕검; pronounced “dahn-goon-wahng-gum”) or Dangun (檀君; 단군; Tangun) in short, is the founder of Gojoseon. Dangun enjoys a high level of popularity in both North Korea and South Korea as their ancestor. Traces of Dangun worship has been eliminated in North Korea due to North Korea’s official stance as an atheist country under the doctrine of Marxism. In South Korea, most Buddhist temples include a building called Samsingak (三神閣; 삼신각: meaning “three god building”), which is also referred to as Sansingak (山神閣; 산신각; meaning “mountain-god building”). The three gods mean Dangun (檀君; 단군), Hwaunung (桓雄; 환웅) who is Dangun’s father, and Hwanin (桓因; 환인) who is Dangun’s grandfather. Sansin (山神; 산신) refers to Dangun because he retired into a mountain to become an immortal spirit (신선; 神仙) according to the legend. A portrait of an elderly person is displayed with tigers as his helpers in a Samsingak (三神閣; 삼신각). This elderly person is generally acknowledged to be Dangun as an immortal spirit after retirement. While Dangun was the leader of a shamanistic religion in ancient Korea and Buddhism is a completely different religion from northern India, somehow Dangun found his way into a building in most Korean Buddhist temples. This phenomenon is generally attributed to the insistence of the general populace for a place for Dangun in the Buddhist temples at the time Buddhism was accepted in Korea (4th – 6th century) and the Buddhists’ accommodation of Dangun’s popularity at that time. Apparently, Hwaunung (桓雄; 환웅), Dangun’s father, managed to leave his mark in Buddhist temples, too. The most important building in the Korean Buddhist temples is called Daeungjeon (大雄殿; 대웅전), which means “Great Ung Building,” the “Great Ung” meaning Hwaunung (桓雄; 환웅).

A picture at Samsingak in Geumgangsa (금강사): Most scholars agree that the elderly person in such pictures represents Dangun (founder of Gojoseon) in his retirement. Dangun is sitting under a pine tree surrounded by his helpers that include a tiger and some children. Similar pictures are found in most Samsingaks in Korean Buddhist temples.

Worship of Dangun as the ancestor of Koreans literally reached a religious level. On January 15, 1905, Na Cheol founded the new religion Dangungyo (단군교; 檀君敎), which means “Dangun Religon.” Dangungyo’s name was later changed to Daejonggyo (대종교; 大倧敎), which means “Great God Religion” on July 30, 1910. In essence, Hwaunung (桓雄; 환웅) is the incarnation of the true God, and Dangun and his followers complete the will of Hwaunung (桓雄; 환웅) by benefiting and leading the world with truth. Daejonggyo has about 50,000 followers and about 100 sites in South Korea. (Note: Participating practitioners of Daejonggyo corresponds to about 0.1 % of the South Korean population. According to statistical data from 2005, the percentage of practitioners of various religions in Korea is: ~ 23 %: Buddhism, ~ 20 %: Protestant Christianity; ~ 10 % Catholicism, etc.)
To ordinary Koreans, Dangun conveys the image of a gentle elderly family member. Dangun is referred to as “Grandfather Dangun” (단군 할아버지), which is especially preferred by children. Traditionally, Dangun has never been portrayed as a ferocious warrior, but as a gentle approachable character. The picture above captures such general perception. The tiger symbolizes the authority of Dangun, but is not a scary animal that would harm people.
III. The Extent of Gojoseon
3.1. The extent of Gojoseon based on archeological evidences
Examination of archeological findings suggest that Gojoseon grew out of the Liaohe (遼河; 요하) region, a region on Liaohe River at the western end of Manchuria and east of present day Beijing. Very likely, the extent of Gojoseon eventually included most of the areas that produce a high concentration of dolmens (고인돌; a particular type of stone tomb structure) and comb-pattern pottery (Kammkeramik, 빗살무늬토기). Occupying most, if not all, of the Korean peninsula and Manchuria, Gojoseon became a virtually unchallenged superpower in this region in the second millemium B.C. Later, powerful Chinese dyansties began to challenge Gojoseon in the first millenium B.C., ultimately resulting in its fall in 108 B.C. by Han dynasty of China. However, new Korean kingdoms sprang up almost immediately to drive out the Chinese influence from the region.
Ancient relics found around the Liaohe river in present day China date back to 7,000 B.C.  The extent of such relics is not confined merely around the Liaohe river, but spans Manchuria, the Korean peninsula, and at least a portion of Mongolia.  This civilization is named Asadal civilization (아사달문명; 阿斯達文明) after the name of the capital of Gojoseon, Asadal (아사달; 阿斯達; pronounced “ah-sah-dahl”).  Asadal is a pure Altaic word.  ”Asa” means “morning” or “the rising sun” and has the same root as the word “알” (pronounced “ahl” and means an egg) in Korean, and “dal” means land, which survives in present day Korean of “양달” (pronounced “Yangdahl” and means “sunnyside”) and “음달” (pronounced “Uhmdahl and means “shadyside).  The meaning of “Asa” is captured in the Chinese character of “朝” (Cho), which means morning, within the name of “朝鮮” (Chosun), i.e., the Chinese name for Gojoseon during its existence.  The extent of the Asadal civilization includes not only what is commonly known as the area of the “Liaohe civilization” or “Yoha civilization” (遼河文明; 요하문명), which is understood to be confined to the region around the Liaohe river, but also other regions of Manchuria, Korea, and at least a portion of Mongolia, although it is not clear how far into Mongolia this civilization extends.  For a theory offering an explanation of the origin of the Asadal Civilization that brought forth the kingdom of Gojoseon, please refer to the video: Asadal Civilization (please open in a separate window.) 
The relics of the Asadal civilization predates the Yellow Rivier civilization of China at least by 1,000 to 2,000 years.  Such relics are also ubiquitous across Manchuria and the Korean peninsula.  It is not clear what other states may have existed before Gojoseon given such development of the Asadal civilization prior to the founding of Gojoseon.  However, given the antiquity of civilization in this region and the extent and the ubiquitous nature of the relics (e.g., dolmens and comb-pattern pottery) of Gojoseon throughout Korea and Manchuria, foundation of Gojoseon around 2,333 B.C., or at least by 2,000 B.C., within the frame of the Asadal civilization is most likely.  Many unique styles of bronze and iron age artifacts are found around the Liaohe River region and the northern Korea.  The location of such remains give a good indication of the extent of Gojoseon and to the extent of the Asadal civilization on which Gojoseon is based.  The historic records also suggest founding of Gojoseon at the time of founding of Xia dynasty in China.
Gojoseon either developed Bronze technology or acquired it through other Altaic Tungus people of the west. The earliest bronze artifact in Gojoseon is a bronze armor button found under a dolmen in Pyongyang and dated to be from the 25th century B.C. Between the 15th century B.C. and the 8th centuries B.C., Gojoseon develps the Korean Bronze Age culture, which exhibits unique styles. By the 7th century B.C., the entire Koren peninsula acquires the bronze technology. The extent of Gojoseon is easily estimated based on the range of distribution of articles unique to Gojoseon. A bronze age relic called a mandolin-shaped bronze dagger is found throughout the area occupied by Gojoseon during the bronze age, which roughly corresponds to 1,000 B.C.

Mandolin-shaped bronze daggers have been found throughout the Daillinghe River (大凌河 / 대릉하), the Liaohe River (遼河/요하), and all of Korean peninsula and even in Jeju island.



Photo above: A northern style dolmen in Gangwhado (an island off the coast of Incheon in the Yellow Sea. Such dolmens are burial sites for tribal leaders or kings around 1,000 B.C. within the domain of Gojoseon. The table (top stone) weighs about 50 tons on this dolmen.  Some dolmens have an intricate set of “star holes” that collectively represent constellations in the night sky.

Large domens were erected as tombs of powerful people beginning around the 10th century B.C. A dolmen is a stone tomb built with two or more supporting rocks and a flat rock at the top. A dolmen is called Goindol (고인돌) in Korean, which literally means “supported (stabilized) rocks.” Present day territories of North Korea and South Korea include about 30,000 dolmens, which is about 40 % of all dolmens in the world. If additional dolmens within Manchuria are also counted, Gojoseon contained more than half of the world’s dolmens. There are northern style dolmens that are distributed in the upper Korea and above, and southern dolmens that are found in the lower Korea. While dolmens are rare to the west of Liaohe River (遼河/요하), large rocks are also rare in that region. Combination of the regions in which mandolin-shaped daggers and dolmens are found gives a snapshot of the extent of Gojoseon at the beginning of the first millennium B.C.


Estimation of the extent of Gojoseon based on distribution of mandolin-shaped bronze dagger and concentration of northern style dolmens. Black dolmen shaped icons represents areas with a high concentration of northern style dolmens, and the red dots represents areas in which mandolin-shaped bronze daggers have been found.

Based on archeological evidences, it is possible that the Asadal civilization was a successor to the civilization that built the “white pyramids” in Shaanxi (陕西) province in China.  The white pyramids are gigantic pyramids on the scale of the Egyptian pyramids, built around 5,000 B.C. ~ 3,000 B.C., and attributed to the predecessor civilization.  Other tone pyramids are also found in Manchuria and northern Korea.  For example, a mausoleum in present day North Korea, having a shape of a stepped pyramid and built around 3,000 B.C., has been known as the Mausoleum of Dangun (단군릉).  Many large tombs of Goguryeo, one of successor kingdoms to Gojoseon, were built as pyramids between the 1st century B.C. and the 6th century A.D.  A cluster of about 1,500 tombs of various styles, found at Jian (集安; 집안) in Jilin province (吉林省, 길림성) of Manchuria near one of the capitals of Goguryeo, include many stepped pyramids.  The biggest one is Janggunchong (장군총; 將軍塚; also spelled Zangkunchong) estimated to be built as late as the 5th century A.D.  Considering the continuity of pyramid-style tombs across northern China, Manchuria, and Korea through the centuries, it is possible that there has been a continuous cultural link between the various civilizations in this region, i.e., the civilization that built the pyramids at Shaanxi, the Asadal civilization of Gojoseon, and the successor civilization of the later Korean kingdoms.  Confirmation of such a link would require further archeological evidences.  It is also possible that these various civilizations were really one civilization manifested across different eras.  What is undeniable is that there existed an advanced civilization existed in Manchuria even before the founding of Gojoseon.  
Currently, there is much debate as to the nature of the civilization that built the pyramids, and presumably, precedes the founding of Gojoseon.  While one pyramid has been identified as the Maoling mausoleum, the burial mound of Emperor Wudi (156 B.C. – 87 B.C.) of the Han dynasty constructed in Wudi’s lifetime, most other pyramids seem to have been built before.  Some pyramids allegedly date to ~ 3,000 B.C. and possibly further back.  The Chinese government has not allowed research on the other pyramids by foreign excavation teams. Also, publication of results of archeological discovery seems to be tightly controlled by the Chinese government.  Some allege that suppression of research on the white pyramids has been the Chinese policy after the excavation of relics with distinctly non-Chinese characteristics from some of the earlier excavated pyramids.  For additional details on the pyramids in present day China, see:


3.2. The extent of Gojoseon based on mythology
According to Chinese books and Korean book that describe prehistoric events, one prominent figure is a non-Chinese people led by Chiu (Chiyou; 蚩尤; 치우) fought with the Chinese people led by Huangdi (黃帝; 황제; Yellow Emperor). According to the Chinese version, Chiu was a monster with six arms, four eyes, bull’s horns and hooves, and head made of bronze and iron, and ate sand. According the the Korean version as narrated in Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記), Chiu was Jaoji Hwanung, the 14th Hwanung (Hwan-Ung) of Baedalguk, which is the predecessor of Gojoseon. Chiu was a fierce warrior. In the Chinese version, Huangdi defeats Chiu in the end. In the Korean version, Chiu was invincible and was never defeated. Despite the differences, the story of Chiu appears in both the Chinese mythology and the Korean mythology as leaders of each nation. The place of their struggle is presumably the extent of Baedalguk at that time, and is a good indication of the border of Gojoseon that followed Baedalguk. Irrespective of the reality or identity of Baedalguk, the location of their struggle may be presumed to be the location of the struggle between the non-Chinese peoples and the Chinese people, presumably led by the Koreans.  
It turns out that some Chinese people claim ancestral heritage to Chiu and worship him. The locations of their struggle are in history books. In addition, some non-Chinese people were left in the area of the struggle, and were generally called Gu-i (九夷; 구이) or Dong Yi (東夷; 동이; dong-i; meaning east “i”). Outside the region of the Dong Yi people who inhabited China, there was presumable the nation founded by the Dong Yi people themselves, Gojoseon. This provides an estimate of the location of Gojoseon.  Some people in Vietnam also claim to be descendants of Chiu.


Estimated domain of Gojoseon based on the area presently occupied by alleged descendants of Chiu (the green area) and the area of the remnant of the Dong Yi (東夷; 동이; Dong-i; East i) people about 3000 years ago within the border of China (the purple area).
3.3. The Extent of Gojoseon based on the location of Gojoseon’s capitals and the Great Wall
The Korean history book Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記) provides the location of the capitals of Gojoseon. Although the dates may be highly disputed, the location of the capital reflects the political activity of that time. The later capitals of Gojoseon are clustered around the Liaohe River. It may thus be presumed that the Liaohe River was the political center of Gojoseon.
The most important archeological evidence for the northern limit of the Chinese civilization around the third century B.C. is the location of the Great Wall.  The Great Wall was erected at the time of Qin Shi Huangdi, i.e., around 220 B.C. – 200 B.C. The location of the Great wall is the border between China and Wimanjoseon at that time.  The Great Wall bordered the Yellow Sea at Shan Hai Guan, which is located around the mouth of the Luanhe river, i.e., somewhat north of the Yellow river but to the far west of the Liaohe river.  Thus, the Chinese people in the classical sense did not control the area around the Liaohe river even by the time the Great Wall was built.  Some scholars view Wimanjoseon as the last of three successive Gojoseons. Some other scholars view Wimanjoseon as a remnant kingdom of Gojoseon that politically disintegrated prior to building of the Great wall. Correspondingly, these two views generate different duration of Gojoseon. Whether viewed as a proper integral part of the third Gojoseon or as a peripheral remnant of a defunct Gojoseon, the Great Wall roughly corresponds to the western limit of Gojoseon in its final days.
Thus, relics from the Asadal civilization belongs to the non-Chinese people, or at least people not yet assimilated into the traditional Chinese civilization by that time.  In sum, the Asadal civilization is a civilization that is distinct from the Chinese civilization that originated around the Yangtze river and extended only up to the Yellow River region by the time of the construction of the Great Wall.   

Capitals of Gojoseon according to Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記); while the exact locations and dates have not been established, the locations of successive capitals of Gojoseon are good indications of the domain of Gojoseon and the sphere of influence. The Great Wall is a border with China around 220 B.C. and 200 B.C. at the time of its construction.

3.4. The Extent of Gojoseon based on the names of Chinese rivers and cities
The Asasal civilization was not dominated by the traditional “Chinese” people at that time.  The extent of civilization by the traditional Chinese people expanded from around the Yangtze river.  This is best illustrated by the names given to rivers by the traditional Chinese people.  The most important river to the traditional Chinese people were named “Jiang,” i.e., Changjiang (長江), or the “Long River.”  This river is the Yangtze river.  As the area of the traditional Chinese people expanded, other big rivers were encountered.  One of them is the Yellow River, or “Huanghe” (黃河).  The name Huanghe signifies that the Yellow River is displaced from the true origin of the Chinese civilization.  All such rivers were named “He” (河).  But there was only one ”Jiang.”  
Further, the very name of “Liaohe” (遼河) means “far river” or a “border river,” signifying that this river was far away from the site of original Chinese civilization.  Thus, it is clear that the region of the ”Liaohe” (遼河) cannot be the center of the Chinese civilization, but is a border or a boundary located “far away” from the center of the Chinese civilization.  As one may expect, the name ”Liaohe” (遼河) occurs in Chinese records only after military conflict with Gojoseon in this region.  Later on, as the Chinese territory expanded and additional rivers were encountered in occupied territories, use of the word “Jiang” became in vogue.  Thus, the word “Jiang” () began to appear in the names of rivers, i.e., more than one ”Jiang” () began to exist.  For example, the present day border between China and Korea uses the word ”Jiang” () in the name Yalujiang (鴨綠江).  
Another evidence for estimating the extent of the Chinese civilization is the names of cities.  By the time large cities were built as capitals around 1 A.D., the location of Beijing (北京) was around the northern center of the Chinese civilization, and the location of Nanjing (南京) was around the southern center of the Chinese civilization.  


IV. The Rise and Fall of Gojoseon
4.1. A theocratic Feudal kingdom
Gojoseon was a theocracy in which the king had the political power and the religious power, as can be attested by the title “Dangunwanggeom” (檀君壬儉; 단군왕검), in which “Dangun” means a religious leader and “Wanggeom” means a political king. Thus, the title Dangunwanggeom meant a priest-king with both religious power and political power. The title Dangunwanggeom was used by all leaders of Gojoseon. A Wanggeom of Gojoseon had the ultimate religious and political authority as the rightful heir to the first Dangun (檀君; 단군), the grandson of the supreme ruler of heaven according to their religion. On the flip side, if a leader does not claim to be a Dangunwanggum, he was not alleging to be a priest-king on par with a Dangunwanggeom. Thus, upon dissolution of Gojoseon, no more Dangunwanggeom could exist, although many secular king could be established.
Gojoseon was founded at a time when the religious power and the political power were unified. The local leader having the political and religious power was called cheongun (천군; 天君; meaning “Lord of Heaven” or “Lord with Heavenly Authority’). A cheongun (천군; 天君) controlled his own direct rule area called sodo (소도; 蘇盜), and indirectly ruled a much wider area outside his sodo. During the early years of Gojoseon, any local political power outside a sodo seems to have been insignificant. The development of the bronze age culture and the iron age culture changed the social dynamics of power in Gojoseon. In the later years of Gojoseon, however, local political leaders began to develop political power in the area outside sodos. As political power was taken away by the local political leaders, the cheongun retained only religious power. Since Dangun’s power was based on the power delegated to him by consensus of the leaders, the division of power between local leaders and cheonguns meant Dangun could exercise less power under such circumstances. While it is likely that cheonguns continued to support Dangun unconditionally, the secular political leaders increasingly asserted their independent power. Since forcible subjugation of opposing political powers was not a preferred course of action in the theocracy practiced by Dangun, weakening of the power of Dangun became inevitable.
Gojoseon itself seems to have included all Altaic Tungus people in the region. There is no evidence that Gojoseon tried to exclude or antagonate other Altaic Tungus kingdoms without provocation. Participation in Gojoseon by Altaic Tungus peoples other than Koreans seems to have been encouraged or at least tolerated. Thus, if Gojoseon is seen as the first Korean kingdom, as opposed to the first “proto-Korean” kingdom, Gojoseon was an open country for all other Altaic Tungus peoples of the region.
The rule of Gojoseon was possible because all the Altaic Tungus peoples in the region believed in the supreme ruler of heaven, or the God of heaven. Shamanism and animism were also common among the Altaic Tungus peoples. Having someone as a mediator between them and the heaven was a natural and established tradition. The power of Wanggeom derived not only from the political power base that he could draw on, but also on the general support of the kingdoms and leaders within Gojoseon.
Most likely, Wanggeoms were elected from the ancestors of the Koreans and not from the ancestors of other Altaic Tungus peoples of the region. The ruling class was almost certainly Korean. Also, it is interesting that only Goguryeo, and Goryeo, and Choseon, all of which are Korean countries, alleged to be the successor to Gojoseon, while the Jin dynasty and the Qing dynasty of the Manchus (Jerchens; 여진) or the Liao dynasty of the Qidans never alleged to be successor to Gojoseon, although their territory overlapped the central region of Gojoseon. Very likely, however, other Altaic Tungus tribes also played a role in Gojoseon. These tribes probably included the Manchus (Jerchens; 여진), Qidans (Khitan; 거란), and possibly some Mongolians.
Gojoseon was a theocratic feudal state. Kingdoms could join Gojoseon by promising allegiance to the Wanggeom, or alternatively, leave Gojoseon for any reason. The power of Gojoseon was based on the power of its constitutient kingdoms, although it is likely that Wanggeom had some of his own territory.

Gojoseon as a theocratic feudal state did not, and could not engage in a conquest by the will of the Wanggeom. The feudal states had to agree with the decisions involving such decisions. Although the feudal state must have supported the decisions of Wanggeom, a consensus was required. Very likely, defending under a foreign aggression must have reached a consensus more easily than an offensive war.

4.2. A confederate kingdom with three states


At the height of its power in the second millennium B.C., all of the Altaic Tungus kings of the region seem to have submitted to Gojoseon’s authority. Thus, the extent of Gojoseon extended to all of the Korean peninsula, all of Manchuria, and the Liaohe region and most likely up to the border with the Chinese dynasties. The area of the distribution of bronze age relics of substantially identical design throughout these regions is a good indicator of the political extent of Gojoseon.
The area of Gojoseon was divided into three confederate kingdoms, Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓). Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) referred to the notheastern region including present day eastern Manchuria and northern Korea. Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) referred to the area roughly corresponding to the area of present day South Korea. Beonhahn referred to western Manchuria and the region of the Liaohe river. Apparently, Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) was under more direct control of Dangun, which is implied in the name Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) , i.e., a “True Hahn,” or Jinjoseon (진조선; 眞朝鮮), i.e., a “True Joseon”). Even in Jinhahn, the influence of Wanggeom may not have been very direct. The ideology of Gojoseon, is also reflective of the limited power of Wanggeom. Hwandangogi (a Korean history book) is specific about the nature of the three confederate kingdoms. Shin Chaeho, a Korean historian of the early 20th century, was a proponent of this theory.
Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) means “Southern Hahn.” The word “Ma (마; 馬)” does not mean a horse as the Chinese character might suggest. The word “Ma (마; 馬)” captures a root Korean word meaning “South.” The meaning of this root word is best illustrated in an old Korean proverb, “마파람에 게눈 감추듯 하다” meaning “as fast as a crab hides its eyes when the southern wind blow.” (Apparently, the ancient Koreans observed that crabs quickly hide their eyes when the wind blows.) This proverb specifies southern wind “마파람,” which is a combination of “마ㅎ” meaning “South” and “바람” meaning “wind.” Despite the clear indication that Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) was located to the south of the other two Hahns, the border between Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) and Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) is not clear, but it seems to have been between Abrok River (압록강; Yalu River) and Daedong River (대동강; around present day Pyeongyang in North Korea). This view is based on the record in Samgukyusa which states that the forces of Mahahn (마한; 馬韓) joined forces with Goguryeon on an attack on Xuantu Jim (玄菟郡; 현도군) in 121 A.D. Since Samguksagi records that the Mahahn (마한; 馬韓) fell to a king of Baekje in 9 A.D., this reference is generally interpreted as a remnant of Mahahn (마한; 馬韓). To be able to survive from the influence of Baekje centered around present day Seoul, to be able to offer any meaningful military assistance to Goguryeo, and not to overlap with the terrotory of Goguryeo, the remnant of Mahahn would have to be located between the Han River (around Seoul) and the Abrock River. Assuming that the boundary between Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) and Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) did not change sustantially between the time of Gojoseon and the second century A.D. (which is a precarious assumption), the boundary between Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) and Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) is drawn as in the figure below.
Beonhahn (번한; 番韓) means “Plain Hahn” or “Field Hahn.” The word “Beon (번; 番) is a derivative of the Korean root word “Beol (벌).” This Korean root word is found in Korean words such as “갯벌 (Gaetbeol; meaning muddy land at the border of land with sea),” “벌판 (Beolpan; meaning a large open field),” and “황산벌 (Hwangsanbeol; a place name of a field at which Gyebaek, the last General of Baekjae, along with his 5,000 soldiers fought the advancing army of 50,000 from Shilla). Indeed, the Liaohe region is a large plain without high mountains. But this description does not delineate the boundary. Here, the border between Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓) is based on the assumption that all capitals of Gojoseon must necessarily be located within the territory of Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) during the duration of Gojoseon because Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓) is the primary Hahn of all three Hahns.
The three confederate kingdom structure of Gojoseon is alluded to in the foundation mythology of Dangun. In the version of the story related in Samgukyusa (a Korean history book of the 14th century), Hwanin (the ruler of heaven) gave three heavenly Seals (symbols) to his son, Hwanung, and let him go down to rule the world undeneath (the earth). There were three separate seals, symbolizing three different power centers.


The three Hahns of Gojoseon. The Hahns were also called Joseons. Thus, Gojoseon had three Joseons. Jinhahn was the Gojoseon ruled more directly by Dangun than Beonhahn or Mahhahn.




Note: The boundaries between the three Hahns are constructed based on events described in Hwandangodi.  Due to the difficulty in interpreting the ancient place names, there is uncertainty as to the precise location of the boundaries. 

Note: provides the version of the history of Gojoseon as presented in Hwandangodi for the overall confederate structure of Gojoseon and chronology. This version is a plausible version, with the caveat that the exact dates and the characters have not been verified. Shin Chaeho (신채호), one of the historians cited there and provided the framework of this version, may have had access to more information as far as old history books are concerned than than present day historians because of the destruction of the books on ancient history of Korea during the Japanese occupation. Apart from dates and details on individual characters, this version is fully consistent with the version presented in this article. While this article might convey the idea that the three Joseons are not supported by documents, this knowledge was actually so pervasive even at the end of the 19th century that when King Gojong declared the beginning of the new empire in 1897 and adopted the name Daehahn Jeguk (대한제국; 大韓帝國) for it, it was understood by all Koreans as common knowledge that Daehahn (대한; 大韓; meaning “Great Hahn” or “All Hahn”) represents all of Hahns of Gojoseon, i.e., Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓) as discussed in section 2.3. This is documented in the Wikepedia entry for the Korean Empire,대한제국 , but unfortunately has been omitted in the English version of the entry for Korean Empire For Daehan (대한; 大韓) to be the successor to Joseon, it is logically necessary that Daehan encompasses all Hahns of Gojoseon, which means Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓). To summarize, the three Hahns that some modern scholars object to were actually taken for granted by common Korean folks without question as historical fact in the 19th century.


Note: Confusion between the three Hahns of Gojoseon and later three Hahns within the Korean peninsula:
The three Hahns of Gojoseon in the second and first millennia B.C. are different from the three later Hahns that immediately preceded Baekje (百濟; 백제; 18 B.C. – 660 A.D.), Shilla ((新羅; 신라; 57 B.C. – 935 A.D.), and Gaya (伽倻 or 加耶; 가야; a minor Korean kingdom, 2nd century A.D. – 562 A.D.). The three Hahns of Gojoseon are: Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓). The three later Hahns that immediately preceded the formation of Baekje, Shilla, and Gaya are Mahahn (마한;馬韓), Jihhahn (진한; 辰韓) and Byeonhahn (변한; 弁韓). All territory of the three later Hahns are within the territory of Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) of Gojoseon. Also, notice the differences in the Korean spelling Beonhahn and Byeonhahn. The extra “y” makes all the difference. “Beon (번; 番)” means “plain” or “field.” “Byeon (변; 弁) means “periphery,” “edge,” or “margin.” Also, notice the difference between the Chinese characters for Jin in “Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓)” of Gojoseon and Jin in Jihhahn (진한; 辰韓) of the three later Hahns. One might ask why the name “Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓)” is the same across the two sets of names. This is because “Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓)” of Gojoseon is the original political entity from with Jihhahn (진한; 辰韓) and Byeonhahn (변한; 弁韓) spun off later. While Gojoseon existed, all of the middle portion and the southern portion of the Korean peninsula belonged to “Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓)” of Gojoseon. As a group of people came from northwest during the third and second century B.C. due to hardship (e.g., loss of Gojoseon’s territory to Yan around 281 B.C.), they settled in the eastern part of Mahahn, and later became an independent political entity called Jihhahn (진한; 辰韓). This triggered many military attacks by Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) and some of the attacks seem to have employed the military forces from Tsushima (now a Japanese territory) that Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) controlled at that time. Later, a small region of Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) also asserted political independence as Byeonhahn (변한; 弁韓), and later as Gaya. The names of the three later Hahns are transitional names for various portions of the original Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) of Gojoseon.

Note: Most likely, the extent of Gojoseon extended to Tsuchima island (the red island closest to Japan in the map above, now a Japanese island.  A canal extending from a deep bay divides the island into two parts).  Thushima island was recognized as Korean territory from ancient times well into the eighteenth century.  See, for example, (in Korean)  This article shows an old official map of Tsushima made by a Japanese geographer, Morigoan (森幸安), in 1756.  In the map, Tsushima is shown as a Korean territory accompanied by the following statements:  
Rules of Busan of Korea apply in all counties, divisions, and towns.  The distance is 470 li (from Busan).  
Thsushima belonged to Shilla (a Korean dynasty).  The distance is 470 li (from the mainland of Shilla).  (Thushima) belonged to the County of Dongrae (東萊府).  (It is) located to the southeast (from the Country of Dongrae) in the sea.  Japanese people immigrated to this island from the seventh year (i.e., 408 A.D.) of the reign of King Shilseong (a King of Shilla, reigned from 402 to 417 A.D.), the year of Mushin (one of 60 names of years cyclically applied in the east Asian calendar system).  (Contents in parentheses supplied in translation.)  
Further, Japanese maps made in preparation of invasion of Korea (1592-1598) in the sixteenth century marked Tsushima an enemy territory (i.e., Territory of Korea) to be conquered, not a friendly territory controlled by Japan.  Many English encyclopedic entries tend to describe Tsushima erroneously as if it has been a part of Japan throughout history, but Tsushima was in reality a vassal state of Korea throughout most of the history as many ancient maps attest to.

4.3. The ideology and the society of Gojoseon The ideology of Gojoseon is surmised in two concepts that are shown in the text of Samgukyusa, a Korean history book that tells the story of Dangun. The first concept is “Widely benefit the Mankind” (弘益人間; 홍익인간). This is the alleged motivation of Hwangung’s (Hwanung is Dangun’s father) decision to come down to the human world. In other world, the purpose of Hwanung’s decision was to benefit the mankind greatly. Precisely how does Hwanung does that? The second concept is to “Advance Reason in the (present) World” (在世理化; 제세이화). This concept may be restated as “Rule the world with Reason” or “Enlighten the World with Reason.” Hwangung was not promising a better world after death. In that sense, he was not propagating a religion in the normal sense. But he was going to make things better for the people by using reason, or the true way of doing the right things by using reason and enlightenment. A corollary is that use of force without reason is precluded from the beginning. All decisions had to be based on reason (理; 이) or enlightenment. Thus, the submission to the authority of Dangunwanggeom was apparently voluntary, and later Wanggeoms do not seem to have deviated from this principle. According to records in Hwandangogi, political separation from Gojoseon was tolerated by Dangun without military resistance. 
Gojoseon was a stratified society in which the wealth was accumulated by the upper class, while the lower class probably spent most of their time working. The advent of bronze technology and iron technology accelerated the accumulation of wealth and disparity between the rich and the poor. Gojoseon’s law had 8 major prohibitions, of which 3 are presently known. Among the known major prohibitions are: a murderer shall be put to death; a batterer shall atone for his wrong with grains; and a thief shall become a servant.
4.4. The disintegration of Gojoseon
Samgukyusa further states that “when Dangun became 1,908 years old, he became an immortal spirit (신선; 神仙).” According to Jewangungi (제왕운기; 帝王韻紀; published in 1287 A.D.) by Lee Seunghyu (이승휴; 李承休), “Dangun ruled for 1028 years, and went into Asadal mountain (아사달산; 阿斯達山) to become an immortal spirit.” The discussion of exact dates aside, the power of Wanggeom seems to have dwindled in time. The individual kingdoms seemed to have asserted such power toward the end threatening to leave the federation if their will is not respected. The end of Gojoseon may not have come through an external conquest, but by internal political disintegration. All record on Gojoseon agree that at the end of the reign, Dangun became an immortal spirit. There is no suggestion that Dangun faced a major war or a violent death at the end. This is indeed a very proper ending for a power that did not use violence for founding and used reason as the guiding principle for the rule instead of military might (although the practice might possibly have included some instances of violation of this principle).
The original political structure of Gojoseon collapsed around 1,000 B.C. according to calculations based on Samgukyusa, around 1,200 B.C. according to Jewangungi, and around 238 B.C. according to Hwandangogi. Although different historical sources provide different dates for the ending of the original political entity of Gojoseon, all sources agree that the region of Beonhahn remained as a coherent political entity. Also, more historical records are found about Beohhahn, or Beonjoseon, perhaps because of its proximity to, and struggle with, China. Upon collapse of the original political structure, many Korean kingdoms seem to have sprung up in the territory of Jinhahn and Mahhahn.
Upon disintegration of Gojoseon, the various Joseons, or Hahns that were the states of Gojoseon acquired independence as their overlord disappeared. While the rise and fall is described using the dates in Hwandandgogi, earlier disintegration of Gojoseon does not change the basic mechanism. If Gojoseon disintegrated early on in the first millennium, the disappearance of Dangun among the politics of the various Korean kingdoms was accelerated that much. If Gojoseon lasted for a long time, e,g., until 238 B.C. as described in Hwandangogi, there must have been more Danguns to carry out the political role of Gojoseon. At any rate, the move of the capital to Jangdanggyeong occurred close to the end of Gojoseon. Each of the Hahn were also called Joseon. For example, Beonhahn (번한; 番韓) was also called Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) or Joseon (조선; 朝鮮) for short. Thus, even after the disintegration of Gojoseon, individual Joseons existed. The only difference was whether one of the kingdoms under original Gojoseon was asserting to be a Joseon (조선; 朝鮮) or whether a Dangun with full authority of Gojeoseon was asserting power.

A political map upon the disintegration of Gojoseon: Gojoseon’s territory was divided into Beonjoseon and other Korean kingdoms. The border with China changed in time, and tended to recede toward Beonjoseon. The border with China corresponds to about 3rd Century B.C. when the Great Wall was erected. The beginning date of this political structure may be between 12th century B.C. and the 3rd century B.C. according to various sources. If Samgukyusa version is accepted, this breakup may have occurred around 8th or 9th century B.C.

4.5. History of Beonjoseon, a remnant of Gojoseon
Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記), relates that Qin Kai (진개; 秦開), who was held hostage at Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮), escaped to his native state Yan (燕; 연) and raised an army to attack Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮). In 281 B.C., Qin Kai (진개; 秦開) attacked Beonjoseon Beonjoseon and took away a territory extending about 1000 li (400 km), which extended from Shanggu (上谷; 상곡; modern Zhangjiakou, Hebei) to Man Fan Han (滿番汗; 만번한). The Man Fan Han refers to a place within Fan Han Xian (番汗縣; 번한현) through which Kahn Shui (汗水; 한수) flew according to Han Shu Geography (Vol. 28, 漢書地理志: 한서지리지). This record is replicated in Chinese history books although Chinese books disagree about the depth of land taken, i.e., one states 1,000 li and another states 2,000 li. The records agree that Man Fan Han (滿番汗; 만번한) was the limit of the land taken from Beonjoseon. Man (滿; 만) means or to fill, to fulfill, filled, or packed. Fan (番; 번) is an abbreviation of Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮). Han (汗; 한) means Han Shui (汗水; 한수). According to Shui Jingju (水經注; 수경주; see Note 1 below.), Han Shui (汗水; 한수) is a tributary of Luanhe River (灤河; 난하) located to the west of the Liaohe River. Taken together, Man Fan Han (滿番汗; 만번한) literally means “Full (extent of the land of) the river Han Shui (汗水; 한수) of Beonhahn.” After the defeat by Qin Kai (진개; 秦開) in 281 B.C., the western border of Gojoseon was located at Han Shui (汗水; 한수), a tributary of the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하). See Note 2 below.
Ancient Chinese records refer to conquest of “Liaodong” (遼東; 요동; literally meaning “Far East”) by Qin Kai. Some modern historians rashly jumped to the conclusion that the Chinese conquered the present day Liaodong region to the east of the present day Liaohe River (遼河; 요하). This is a mistake caused by assuming the name of the region stays the same throughout centuries when the name (See Note 3 below). Literally, “Liaodong” was not a proper pronoun at that time, and only meant “Far East.” The location of “Far East” means the far eastern region of that time, to be measured from where one described the event, before the name “Liaodong” (遼東; 요동)” was established as a proper noun. “Liaodong (遼東; 요동)” in early Chinese records (before China annexed the present day Liaodong peninsula by defeating Goguryeo in 668 A.D.) do not mean the present day Liaoding peninsula, the region to the east of the present day Liaohe River (遼河; 요하) as a proper pronoun. Instead, Liaodong in the context means the far eastern region of China at the time the term Liaodong was defined.



(Note 1: Shui Jingju (水經注; 수경주) is an ancient 40 volume book on geography and especially on water written by a 5th century Chinese geologist, Li Dao Yuan (酈道元; 역도원). Shui Jingju (水經注; 수경주) was supposed to be a commentary (ju; 注; 주) on a prior book called Shui Jing (水經; 수경) written a 3rd century Chinese geologist Sang Qin (桑欽; 상흠) to cure the insufficiency of that book but turned out to be much bigger than the book it was supposed to augment. Since the author of Shui Jingju (水經注; 수경주) could not personally verify the geographic features by travel, a number of mistakes are present. Despite this defect, this book is considered to be very useful in studying ancient geography. In Shui Jingju (水經注; 수경주), the rivers to the east of Beijing are described in the order as they would be encountered as one travels east. The order is, from west to east: Luo Shui (邏水; 라수, 나수” meaning “Patrol River”), Shi Yu Shui (濕餘水; 습여수; meaning “Wetland Remainder River”), Guhe (沽河; 고하; “Gu” refers to a region in Hebei), Bao Qiu River (鮑丘水; 포구수; meaning “Abalone Hill River”), Ru Shui (濡水; 난수), Dai Liao Shui (大遼水; 대요수; meaning “Great Distant River” or “Great Far River”), Xiao Liao Shui (小遼水; 소요수; meanning “Little Distant River” or “Little Far River”), and Pei Shui (浿水; 패수; meaning unclear, seems to mean “border river”). Gohe and Bao Qiu River are described as tributaries of Ru Shui, which is present day Luanhe River (灤河; 난하). Xiao Liao Shui is described as a tributary of Dai Liao Shui, which means the present day Liaohe River (遼河; 요하). Pei Shui (浿水; 패수) refers to Hunhe River (渾河; 혼하), which was a separate river 2,300 years ago that flowed into the Yellow Sea. To return to main text, click here.) 

(Note 2: It is interesting to note that the letter, “Han (汗; 한)” means a Khan, a leader of an Altaic Tungus tribe (e.g., Genghis Khan). The King of Shilla was named Gan (干; 간), a derivative of Han (汗; 한) or Khan. The name Han Shui (汗水; 한수) suggests that the river was located on a capital of a foreign kingdom, e.g., a feudal kingdom of Gojoseon or Beonjoseon. To return to main text, click here.)

(Note 3: In considering the location of these rivers, it must be taken into account that the coastline at the mouth of the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하) moved seaward by at least 50 km in the past 2,300 years as deposits accumulated at the mouth of the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하). Notice the lack of any mandolin-shaped bronze daggers in the present day coastal region of the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하) on the map in section “3.1. The extent of Gojoseon based on archeological evidences” – there can’t be any because this area was under sea water at that time unless one finds a shipwreck from that era! Apparently, the Hunhe River (渾河; 혼하) did not join the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하) 2,300 years ago, i.e., the Hunhe River (渾河; 혼하), referred to as Pei Shui (浿水; 패수), probably flowed directly into the Yellow Sea 2,300 years ago. While Pei Shui (浿水; 패수) may have been a relatively small river compared to the Luanhe River (灤河; 난하) or the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하), Pei Shui was politically and historically important. For example, the capital of Gojoseon seems to have been on Pei Shui when Wimanjoseon fell to the Han forces later on. To add to the confusion of later historians, however, the name “Pei Shui (浿水; 패수)” was subsequently used to denote other rivers than Hunhe River (渾河; 혼하). Through the indiscriminate us of the word, “Pei Shui (浿水; 패수),” the ancient historians manged to frustrate many present day historians in a manner similar to the confusion of the term, the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하).  The “Liaohe River (遼河; 요하)” literally meant a “Far River” or a “Distant River.” “Liaodong (遼東; 요동) meant a “Far East” region. “Pei Shui (浿水; 패수)” meant a “Border River.” What helpful names! Of these names, the “Liaohe River (遼河; 요하)” and the “Liaodong (遼東; 요동)”  region became proper nouns after the border between China and Korea moved east after the collapse of Goguryeo. To return to main text, click here.)


According to Shih Ji (史記; 사기; Historical Records) by Sima Qian (145 B.C. – 86 B.C.), “Liaodong (遼東; 요동)” referred to Yu Zhou (幽州; 유주) including 55,972 households, 270,000 people, and 18 Xians (縣; 현). If “Liaodong (遼東; 요동)” meant a region west of Luanhe River (遼河; 요하) 400 years later, “Liaodong (遼東; 요동)” around 300 B.C. must have meant a region located in the same area (or further to the west logically) because the boundary between China and the Korean kingdoms moved eastward with the collapse of Wimanjoseon at 108 B.C. Liaodong (遼東; 요동) had its literal meaning of “Far East,” not the meaning of the proper noun it later became after the fall of Goguryeo in 668 A.D. In other words, before the word acquired the present day meaning as a proper noun for the present day Liaodong region, Liaodong referred to a easternmost region of China. Since the easternmost region of China kept on moving, the Liaodong region of any Chinese history books need to be read in the historical context. Man Fan Han (滿番汗; 만번한) refers to the mouth of the Liaohe River (灤河; 난하), and thus, Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) lost territory up to the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하) after a defeat by Qin Kai in 281 B.C.

In a debilitating military loss, Beonjoseon loses a significant amount of territory in 281 B.C. to Yan.
Yan underwent a sharp decline after a military defeat by Ji (濟; 제; a state of China at that time) in 279 B.C. BeonjosBy 238 B.C. Apparently, Beonjoseon took advantage of this situation to recover most of the previously lost territory. Between 220 B.C and 200 B.C., when Qin Shi Huangdi constructed of the Great Wall, the border between Qin (the unified Chinese dynasty of that time) coincided with the location of the Great Wall.
In 194 B.C., there was a Coup d’Etat in Beonjoseon. An exile of Yan (燕: a state of China that neighbored Beonjoseon) named Wiman (衛滿;위만: Wei Man in Chinese pronunciation) fled his country and came to Beonjoseon with about 1,000 men. King Junwang (준왕; 準王) of Beonjoseon accepted him, gave him a land of about 100 li (40 km, or 25 miles) at the border with Yan, and made him a vassal. The next year, Wiman succeeded in usurping the throne in a Coup d’Etat, driving out King Junwang (준왕; 準王).
Hu Han Shu, Dong Yi Liezhuan (後漢書 東夷列傳; 후한서 동이열전) relates the story of the defeated King Junwang (준왕; 準王) of Beonhahn (번한; 番韓) and his followers sailed away across the sea and occupied Jinguk (辰國; 진국), which is likely to have been a country of Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and proclaimed himself a Hanwang (韓王; 한왕; meaning “King of Hahn (韓; 한)). This is important in determining the location of Wimanjoseon (위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮). The theory that the location of Wimanjoseon (위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮) was in present day Korea cannot explain why the defeated king would sail away across the sea (Yellow Sea) if Wimanjoseon (위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮) was located right next to Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) in South Korea.
Wiman succeeds in a Coup d’Etat in 194 B.C. and proclaims himself a king of Joseon. His Joseon is called Wimanjoseon.
Between 194 B.C. and 108 B.C., Wimanjoseon grew in power. According the Chinese records, Wimanjoseon monopolized trade between China and the various kingdoms. While this charge is plausible, the real motive may be that Han wanted to exert the ascendant power of a newly unified dynasty.
Shih Ji (Historic Records), Chosun (referring to Gojoseon) section (史記 朝鮮傳) relates a Chinese version of the fall of Wimanjoseon:



傳子至孫右渠 所誘漢亡人滋多 又未嘗入見 眞番旁眾國欲上書見天子 又擁閼不通 元封二年 漢使涉河譙諭 右渠終不肯奉詔 何去至界上 臨浿水 使御刺殺送何者 朝鮮裨王長 即渡 馳入塞 遂歸報天子曰 殺朝鮮將 上爲其名美 即不詰 拜何爲遼東東部都尉 朝鮮怨何 發兵襲攻殺何。 



The throne was passed to his son (note: referring to Wiman’s son) and then to his grandson Ugeo. Many remnants of the Korean people (漢亡人; note: referring to the Dong Yi people within the territory of Han) were tempted into Joseon (note: meaning Wimanjoseon) and the number of people in Joseon increased still more. Joseon did not pay homage to Han. Further, Joseon blocked emissaries from the region of Chenfan (辰番) to Han. In the second year of Yuan Feng (元封) (note: this is 109 B.C.), Han sent an ambassador named She He(涉何) to Joseon to rebuke Ugeo for his acts. Ugeo refused to accept Wudi’s edict. As She He reached Pei Shi (浿水; note: this word means “border river”) at the border, he made one of his subject to assassanate a vassal king (裨王) Jang (長) of Joseon. Right away, he crossed Pei Shui and ran into a fortress of Han. Upon his return, he reported to the Emperor that “I have killed a general of Joseon.” The Emperor thought that She He did well on his mission (note: by killing the general of Wimanjoseon) and appointed him the governor of Liaodong, Eastern District. In retaliation, Joseon raised an army and killed She He. 

Chinese historic records tend to portray a view favorable to China by presenting that other nations were subjected to China from the beginning, and the Chinese attack on these nations were caused by a “rebellion” against China. According to this logic, attacks on foreign nation were brought upon them by their own insubordination to China, and therefore, the foreign nations, not China, are at fault for causing the justifiable Chinese invasion into their countries. The records of Shih Ji is not an exception in this regard. A more accurate interpretation of history requires compensation for such a bias in Chinese records. The truth of the matter was that both Wimanjoseon and Han were sovereign nations without any duty to pay homage to each other. Would emissaries from a country be really stopped just because one nation is blocking the way when other roundabout paths are also available?
At any rate, Wimanjoseon’s attack into the territory of Han to kill She He provided a waited-for excuse for declaring war against Wimanjoseon for Emperor Wudi. It is quite likely that Wudi was virtually inviting an attack into the Han territory by placing She He right next to the border with Wimanjoseon (which obviously had grievances against him after the assassanation of Jang). The Chinese Han dynasty sends an expeditionary force of about 50,000 army and 7,000 navy. Ugeo fell victim to a rebellion during the siege of the capital. Even after the death of the King of Wimanjoseon, Wangheomseong (王險城; the fortress of 王險 or Wanggeom) did not fall. Only after a political intrigue divides the inhabitants after a year-long siege, the capital of Wimanjoseon falls to the Han forces in 108 B.C. With the fall of Wimanjoseon, the last remaining part of Gojoseon directly bearing its name of Joseon came to an end in form. In substance, Gojoseon had already disintegrated into many kingdoms before the fall of Wimanjoseon. See (in Korean) for further details of the fall of Wimanjoseon.
The fall of Wimanjoseon is a distinct event from the disintegration of Gojoseon. The last king of Wimanjoseon faced a violent death by assassination, while the last Dangun of Gojoseon retired as the political disintegration of Gojoseon became evident. Historical records are clear about this point. No evidence suggests that Ugeo of Wimanjoseon was a Dangun of Gojoseon in the proper sense. The fact that the official name of Wimanjoseon was Joseon gives Wimanjoseon the presumption of heirdom to Gojoseon prior to disintegration. In reality, Wimanjoseon controlled much less territory than Gojoseon. In other parts of the territory of Gojoseon, other local Korean kingdoms were already consolidating power by the time of fall of Wimanjoseon.
4.6. The rise and fall of Wimanjoseon according to Samgukyusa
Samgukyusa differentiates “Gojoseon” from “Wimanjoseon” by describing these two entities separately.  The story of Gojoseon is described under the heading “Gojoseon,” and the story of Wimanjoseon is described under the heading “Wimanjoseon.”  The history of Wimanjoseon is detailed in Samgukyusa.  However, Ilyeon heavily relies on previous Chinese sources, and the story is tinted with a Chinese perspective.  

Below is the Chinese text of the Wimanjoseon section of Samgukyusa.  The square brackets, i.e., [ and ], and punctuations have been added.  The square brackets are Ilyeon’s comments.  The text reads:

前漢朝鮮傳云. 自始燕時. 常略得眞番朝鮮.[師古曰. 戰國時[燕]因始略得此地也.] 爲置吏築障. 秦滅燕, 屬遼東外徼. 漢興爲遠難守. 復修遼東故塞. 至浿水爲界.[師古曰. 浿在樂浪郡.] 屬燕. 


燕王盧綰反入匈奴. 燕人魏滿亡命. 聚黨千餘人. 東走出塞. 渡浿水. 居秦故空地上下障. 稍役屬眞番朝鮮蠻夷, 及故燕齊亡命者王之. 都王儉.[李曰. 地名. 臣瓚曰. 王儉城在樂浪郡浿水之東.]
以兵威侵降其旁小邑. 眞番臨屯皆來服屬. 方數千里. 傳子至孫右渠.[師古曰. 孫名右渠] 眞番辰國. 欲上書見天子. 雍閼不通.[師古曰. 辰謂辰韓也.] 



元封二年. 漢使涉何諭右渠. 終不肯奉詔. 何去至界. 臨浿水 使馭刺殺送何者朝鮮裨王長.[師古曰. 送何者名也.] 卽渡水. 馳入塞遂歸報.



天子拜何爲遼東之部都尉. 朝鮮怨何. 襲攻殺何. 天子遣樓舡將軍楊僕, 從齊浮渤海. 兵五萬. 左將軍筍彘出遼. 討右渠. 右渠發兵距嶮. 



樓舡將軍將齊七千人. 先到王儉. 右渠城守. 規知樓舡軍小. 卽出擊樓舡. 樓舡敗走. 僕失衆遁山中獲免. 左將軍擊朝鮮浿水西軍. 未能破. 


天子爲兩將未有利. 乃使衛山. 因兵威往諭右渠. 右渠請降. 遣太子獻馬. 人衆萬餘持兵. 方渡浿水. 使者及左將軍疑其爲變. 謂太子已服. 宜毋持兵. 太子亦疑使者詐之. 遂不渡浿水. 復引歸. 



報天子誅山. 左將軍破浿水上軍. 迺前至城下. 圍其西北. 樓舡亦往會居城南. 右渠堅守. 數月未能下. 



天子以久不能決. 使故濟南太守公孫遂往正之. 有便宜將以從事. 遂至. 縛樓舡將軍. 並其軍與左將軍. 急擊朝鮮. 朝鮮相路人相韓陶, 尼谿相參, 將軍王啖[師古曰. 尼谿地名. 四人也.] 相與謀欲降. 王不肯之. 陶啖路人. 皆亡降漢. 路人道死. 





元封三年夏. 尼谿相參. 使人殺王右渠來降. 王儉城未下. 故右渠之大臣成己又反. 左將軍使右渠子長, 路人子最, 告諭其民. 謀殺成己. 故遂定朝鮮. 爲眞番 臨屯 樂浪 玄菟四郡. 


Below is an English translation, paragraph by paragraph.  The square brackets in the translation correspond to the square brackets in the above text (so the contents in the square brackets are present in the original text).  Contents between the curly brackets, i.e., { and }, have been added by the author of this knol, but can be safely treated as if present in the original text.  Comments by the author of this knol are in parentheses, i.e., ( and ), and marked as such.


The chapter on Chosun in the book of Former Han (Qianhan) states: 
“From about the time of Yan, (China) aquired the territory of Jinbeonjoseon.”  [Shigu (refers to Yan shigu(顔師古)(581-645) – a Chinese scholar of the Tang dynasty) states that {the independent Chinese state of} Yan acquired this territoty at the time of the warring states period (475 B.C. to 221 B.C)]  ”{Then, China} appointed officials to this territory and fortified this place.  When {the Chinese state of} Qin destoryed Yan, {this place} (i.e., the former territory of Jinbeonjoseon) belonged to the outer territory of Liaodong (i.e., the Jun of Liaodong) {of the Qin dynasty}.  When (the dynasty of) Han arose, {this place} became too far and difficult to defend.  {The dynasty of Han} repaired the old fortresses of Liaodng, made Peishui (浿水: meaning a “border river”) a boundary {of the Han territory}, and made it belong to {the state of} Yan (which was by then within the empire of Han).  [Shigu states that Peishui was located in (the territory of) Lelangjun.]


{When} Luwan, the king of Yan (i.e., a vassal king of Han), betrayed {the emperior of Han} and went to Xiongnu (present day Mongolia), Wiman, a person from Yan, took asylum with a party of over one thousand men.  He left a fortress and moved eastward, crossed Peishui (the border river with Jinbeonjoseon), and settled in the abandoned ancient terriotry of Qin (i.e., the territory that Qin (221 B.C. – 206 B.C.) temporarily held upon acquisition of Yan’s territory but abandoned at the time of Han) named Shangxiazhang (meaning “the fortress of Shangxia(上下)).  (Wiman) gradually acquired the {Korean} people(夷) of Jinbeonjoseon and the asylees of {the Chinese states of} Yan and Qi, and became a king, and selected {the fort of} Wanggeom as his capital.  [Li (refering to Liji(李寄)) stats that “Wanggeom” is a place name, and Chenzan (a Chinese commentator to Hanshu, the history book) states that Wanggeomseong is located to the east of Peishui of Lelangjun.]   (Knol Author’s note: The name “Wanggeom” itself means a king, and “Wanggeomseeong” means the fortress of Wanggeom.)  






Wiman attacked neighboring towns employing his military power and subjugated (but did not annex) {the region of} Jinbeon(眞番; Zhenfan) and Imdun(臨屯; lintun).  {His kingdom} extended over thousands of lis (1 li = 400 m = 1/4 mile). Wiman’s son ascended to the throne after him, followed by Wiman’s grandson Ugeo (右渠).  [Shigu states that the grandson’s name is Ugeo.]  Jinbeon and Jinguk submitted a letter to the Chinese emperior (of Former Han) and wanted to send an envoy to him, but Ugeo blocked the envoy.  [Shigu state that Jinguk(辰國) refers to Jinhan(辰韓).]


In the second year of Yuanfeng(元封) (i.e., 109 B.C.), {the Chinese emperior sent} a message to Ugeo through Shehe(涉何), an ambassador.  In the end, Ugeo rejected the message {of the Chinese emperor}.  Shehe went back to the border {between Han and Wiman’s realm} at Peisui. {Shehe} instructed his horseman to stab and kill an escorting Office of Choseon (i.e., Wimanjoseon) named Jang, who was a vassal king {to Wiman}.  [Shigu states that Jang is the name of the escorting officer for Shehe.]  {Shehe} immediately crossed the {Peishi} river, and entered into an outer fortress of {Han}, and then returned {to the court of the Han emperor} and reported the matter.


(Knol author’s note: Yuanfeng(元封) is one of the periods of the reign of Wudi of Han(漢武帝; 156 B.C. – 87 B.C).  Wudi ruled Former Han (202 B.C. to 8 A.D.), a unified dynasty of China, from 141 B.C to 87 B.c.)




The Chinese emperior appinted Shehe as a regional military officer of Liaodong (遼東;Far East).  Choseon hated Shehe, and killed him in a {surprise} military raid.  The Chinese emperior dispatched Yangpu(楊僕), a fleet admiral, from the region of Qi (i.e., Shandong peninsula) across the {Sea of} Pohai with 50,000 soldiers, and commanded his left general (this is a military title)  Sunzhi to depart from the region of Liao (i.e.,Liaodong) against Ugeo.  {In response}, Ugeo raised his army and defended at a region of rugged terrain. 


The fleet adminal led 7,000 of the soldiers of Qi (the region of Shandong peninsula) and arrived at the {fortress} of Wanggeom.  Ugeo, defending the fortress {of Wanggeom}, realized that the fleet adminal had only a small number of soldiers and went out to attack the fleet admiral.  The fleet admiral lost and retreated.  After losing many soldiers, the fleet admiral ran away and hid in a mountain to spare his life.  The left general (i.e., Sunzhi) attacked the {Choseon} army at the west of the Peishi {river}, but was not able to break through.   


Seeing that the two generals have not achieved any {strategic} advantage, the Chinese emperior sent Weishan(衛山) to persuade Ugeo by demonstrating {his} military might (i.e., by displaying additional soldiers).  Ugeo wanted to surrender, and sent his eldest son (the prince of Wimanjoseon) to offer horses.  10,000 soldiers escorted the eldest son.  The messenger {of the Chinese emperior} (i.e., Weishan) and the left admiral suspected that these people might revolt, and told {the prince of Wimanjoseon) that since the price has already surrendered, he should not be brining any soldiers with him.  {Then}, the prince also suspected that the messenger might be tricking him, and did not cross Peishui {river} and went back.    


{When Weishan} reported this event to the Chinese emperor, {the Chinese emperior} decapitated Weishan.  {Subsequently}, the left general defeated the {Choseon} soldiers at the upper region of Peishui.  Then, {the soldiers of Han} advanced forward up to the fortress {of Wanggeomseong}, and encircled northwest region of the fortress.  The fleet admiral also moved to assemble at the southern side of the fortress.  Ugeo defended the fortress firmly, and {the Han forcess} were not able to conquer the fortress.
Because {result of the war} could not be decided for a long time, the Chinese emperior appointed Gong Sunsui (公孫遂), a former governer of southern Qi {region}, to go and fix this {problem} and manage all matters the way he deemed fit.  Thereupon, {Gong Sunsui} went to {CHoseon}, arrested the fleet admiral and took his soldiers, and immediately attacked Choseon with the left general.   Ministers of Choseon named Noin(路人) and Hando(韓陶), the minister of Nigye named Sahm(參), and a general Wanghyeob(王啖) [Shigu states that Nigye is the name of a geographical region and that there were a total of four people.] discussed the matter and wanted to surrender, but the King (Ugeo) was not willing to listen.  Hando, Wanghyeob, and Noin all ran away to surrender to Han, but Noin died on the way {to his surrender}.


In the summer of the third year of Yuanfeng(元封) (i.e., 108 B.C.), Sahm(參), the minister of Nigye, hired someone to kill Ugeo and surrendered to Han.  However, the Wanggeomseong still did not fall.  This was because the prime minister Seonggi(成己) was still opposing {Han}.  The left general made Jang(長), the son of Ugeo, and Choi, the son of Noin, to incite the people {of Gojoseon} and the {instigated} people killed Seonggi. Thus, {the forces of Han} conquered Choseon.  {Han divided the conquered land of Choseon into} four juns (commanderies) to set up Zhenfan(jun), Lintun(jun), Lelang(jun), and Xuantu(jun).  


As mentioned above, the above narrative heavily relies on previous Chinese sources, and the Chinese perspective pervades the narrative.  For example, the prime minister Seonggi, the last holdout of Wimanjoseon is portrayed as “opposing” (

反) Han instead of “resisting” or “fighting” Han.  There is a negative nuance in the word “opposing” (
反) because this word is used to describe opposition to legitimate authority as in a rebellion.  (One familiar with Chinese philosophy should recall that “harmony” was considered a virtue, and opposition was considered a vice in traditional Chinese thinking.)  It is possible that the original Chinese version of the story may have conveniently omitted references that look bad to the Han dynasty.  If the original Chinese references made omissions, it would have been very difficult to bring back the omitted portion of the full story.






4.7. Location of 4 Juns of the Han: Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군), Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군), Lintun Jun (臨屯郡; 임둔군), Chenfan Jun (辰番郡; 진번군)

After Wimanjoseon fell to the expeditionary forces of the Han dynasty, four Juns were set up in the territory of Gojoseon. These four Juns include: Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군, or Lelang Commandery), Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군; or Xuantu Commandery), Lintun Jun (臨屯郡; 임둔군, or Lintun Commandery), Chenfan Jun (辰番郡; 진번군, or Chenfan Commandery). Chenfan (辰番; 진번) literally means “True Fan,” or the “capital region of Fan (番; 번),” in which Fan (番; 번) is an abbreviation for Beonhahn (번한; 番韓) or Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮). Lintun Jun (臨屯郡; 임둔군) and Chenfan Jun (辰番郡; 진번군) lost so much territory to the neighboring Korean kingdoms that they were officially discontinued in 82 B.C. (lasted less than 26 years). Any remaining territories of Lintun Jun and Chenfan Jun were added to Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) and Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군).
Chinese archeological research teams discovered many archeological remains from a site at Taijutun (邰集屯; 태집둔) Xiaohuangdi (小荒地; 소황지) at Jinzhoushi (锦州市; 금주시) in Liaoningsheng (遼寧省; 요녕성). The area of Jinzhoushi (锦州市; 금주시) is at the center of the circle, and the area of Liaoningsheng (遼寧省; 요녕성) encompasses the area surrounded by the purple border in the map below. Among the discovered remains was a clay seal (封泥; 봉니) that was sent from the central government of the Han dynasty to the governor of Lintun Jun (臨屯郡; 임둔군).


The image of the clay seal found at at Jinzhoushi (锦州市; 금주시) in Liaoningsheng (遼寧省; 요녕성). The addressee as it appears on the clay seal is the governor of Lintun Jun (臨屯郡; 임둔군), i.e., ” 臨屯太守章(임둔태수장).”
Thus, present day Jinzhoushi (锦州市; 금주시) is most likely to be the capital of Lintun Jun (臨屯郡; 임둔군). If the capital of Lintun Jun (臨屯郡; 임둔군), which was abolished in 82 B.C. due to attacks by the Korean kingdoms of that time, was located west of the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하), it is not clear whether the Han forces ever reached into the Korean peninsula, let alone establishing a boundary that bordered on the Korean peninsula for any significant time. For details of this discovery, please refer to: (This article is written in Korean. If the original link does not work for any reason, you can access my private back-up copy here: )

Location of the capital of Lintun Jun (臨屯郡; 임둔군) as established by recent archeological discovery of 1993 – 1994.

Based on rapid loss or territory of Chenfan Jun (辰番郡; 진번군), the implication of the “capital region of Fan (番; 번)” in the name, and subsequent incorporation into Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군), Chenfan Jun (辰番郡; 진번군) seems to have been in the northeastern region of Beonjoseon close to its capital, Wanggeomseong (may have been called “Pyeongyang”).
Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) and Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) lasted longer than Lintun Jun and Chenfan Jun. Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) included a region around Rao Yue Sui (饒樂水; 요락수) and Bai Lang Shui (白狼水; 백랑수). Rao Le Sui (饒 樂水; 요락수) is believed to be present day Xilamulunhe (西拉木倫河; upper Liaohe river), and Bai Lang Shui (白狼水; 백랑수) is believed to be the present day Dailingha (大凌河; 대릉하). The name “Lelang (樂浪; 낙랑)” comes from the combination of “Le” in Rao Le Sui (饒樂水; 요락수) and “Lang” in Bai Lang Shui (白狼水; 백랑수), and seems to have included the lower (coastal) region of the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하). The territory of Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) seems to have extended to the Luanhe River (灤河; 난하) near the Great Wall, which had been completed before by 200 B.C. Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) was located in the region of Juli (句麗; 고려, Korean reading is Goryeo), which is in the eastern upper region of the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하). Juli (句麗; 고려) refers to the kingdom of Goguryeo (高九黎; 고구려), from which the better known korean kingdom of Goguryeo (高句麗; 고구려) branched off as an independent kingdom in 37 B.C. Records on the Han dynasty of this period indicates that Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) had a population of only about 200,000. Therefore, Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) cannot have encompassed a large area.
Some historians present the view that the territory of Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) extended into Korea and cites the record that Okjeo (沃沮), a Korean kingdom that is described to be located along the East Sea in some other historic records, as a support. This view is erroneous because Hu Han Shu, Dong Yi Liezhuan clearly indicates that the location of Okjeo, which is elsewhere described to be at the northeastern coastal region of Korea, is described to be located to the Northwest of Goguryeo, which could not have existed in the East Sea. The record in Hu Han Shu Vol. 85, Dong Yi Liezhuan Book 75 (後漢書 卷八十五 東夷列傳第七十五; 후한서 권85 동이열전 제75) states: 



Emperor Wu (of the Han dynasty) conquered Joseon (meaning Beonjoseon). He formed Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) in the land of Woju (沃沮; 옥저; the Korean reading is Okjeo). The people of Yi Mo (夷貊; 예맥; refers to the Koreans) invaded the place. So he moved the Jun (Xuantu Jun; 玄菟郡; 현도군) to the northwest of Goguryeo (高句驪; 고구려) and made Okjeo a Xian (縣; 현), which belonged to the Eastern Division (東部都尉; 동부도위) of Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군).

If the first half the above record is to be used to assert any fact in combination with another record describing the location of Okjeo (沃沮; 옥저) anywhere else, the second half of the record must be included in the interpretation. One cannot select the first half of a record and combine it with another record, while deliberately discarding the second half of the same record. (This is not to say that there was only one Okjeo (沃沮; 옥저). There may, or may not, have been another Okjeo (沃沮; 옥저) elsewhere.)
The view that Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) might have been located around the present day Pyongyang in northern Korea is contradicted by the clear references about the geography of Peishui.  Peishui was the border between the Chinese empire of Han and Wimanjoseon as indicated by the following passage:



臨浿水 使馭刺殺送何者朝鮮裨王長.[師古曰. 送何者名也.] 卽渡水. 馳入塞遂歸報.




{Shehe} went back to the border {between Han and Wiman’s realm} at Peisui. {Shehe} instructed his horseman to stab and kill an escorting Office of Choseon (i.e., Wimanjoseon) named Jang, who was a vassal king {to Wiman}.  [Shigu states that Jang is the name of the escorting officer for Shehe.]  {Shehe} immediately crossed the {Peishi} river, and entered into an outer fortress of {Han}, and then returned {to the court of the Han emperor} and reported the matter.



See 4.6. The rise and fall of Wimanjoseon according to Samgukyusa.  Samgukyusa makes repeated references to east-west division of land by Peishui.  Specifically, Samgukyusa states:




左將軍擊朝鮮浿水西軍. 未能破. 



The left general (i.e., Sunzhi) attacked the {Choseon} army at the west of the Peishi {river}, but was not able to break through.   



All rivers on the west coast of the Korean peninsula flow from east to west.  Rivers that divide land east and west are located not on the west coast of the Korean peninsula, but between the Abrok (Yalu) river and the Yellow river.  While Taedong river has a 60 km stretch that flows from north to south, this stretch hardly divides the region east and west considering most of the 450 km long river runs west.  
Further, Samgukyusa states:



左將軍破浿水上軍. 迺前至城下. 圍其西北. 


The left general {of the Chinese empire of Han} defeated the {Choseon} soldiers at the upper region of Peishui.  Then, {the soldiers of Han} advanced forward up to the fortress {of Wanggeomseong}, and encircled northwest region of the fortress.  


It was necessary to defeat the Choseon soldiers “at the upper region” of Peishui in oder to be able to “advance forward” to get to the fortress of Wanggeomseong.  Present day Pyongyang in the Korean peninsula is located about 110 km from the mouth of the river, i.e., much closer to the mouth of the river than to any upstream portion of the Taedong river.  There would have been no military advantage in occupying an “upper region” of Peishui if Wanggeomseong was Pyongyang in the Korean peninsula.  Further, if Peishui were to be the Taedong river, there would have been no need to advance anywhere after crossing the Taedong river since Pyongyang in the Korean peninsula is directly on the Taedong river. Placing one’s capital on the border of a kingdom spanning over thousands of lis (1 li = 400 m) would be a military suicide.  Wherever Wanggeomseong may have been, it must have been some distance away from Peishui.


The author of this knol conclusively asserts that Peishui is not Taedong river.  Peishui, as a river that divides land east and west, is one of the rivers between the Abrok (Yalu) river and the Yellow river. 


In addition, Peishui must have been close to the region of Qi and the region of Yan.  This is because Wiman’s power grew by absorbing the asylees of Qi and Yan.  Specifically, Samgukyusa states:


稍役屬眞番朝鮮蠻夷, 及故燕齊亡命者王之. 都王儉.


(Wiman) gradually acquired the {Korean} people(夷) of Jinbeonjoseon and the asylees of {the Chinese states of} Yan and Qi, and became a king, and selected {the fort of} Wanggeom as his capital.   




The region of Qi is the region of the present day Shandong peninsula, and the capital of Yan was present day Beijing.  The extent of Yan is uncertain but the location of the Great Wall gives an idea of the border of Yan around 210 B.C, which is only decades before the coming of Wiman to a region of Beonjoseon.  The Shandong peninsula is the protruding easternmost part of China between the Yellow river and the Yangtze river.  See the map below, which shows the present day Shandong province, which corresponds to the ancient dominion of Qi.  The region of Yan bordered Wimanjoseon anyway, so asylees from Yan are to expected.  However, the distance between the region of Qi and the Great Wall (which marked the border of Qin at the time of its construction around 210 B.C.) is at least 250 km.  The farther Peishui is from the Great Wall, the farther the asylees of Qi would have traveled just to get to the border with Wimanjoseon.  For any significant number of Qi asylees to make their way to Wiman’s kingdom, Wiman’s kindom could not have been very far from the region of Qi.  Wiman also absorbed the people of Yi, i.e., the people of Choseon (Korea) to expand his kingdom.  The map below graphically illustrates Wiman’s initial settlement and his subsequent expansion.  


Thus, the theory that the land of Wimanjoseon was primarily in the Korean peninsula is difficult to justify given the express statements about the origin of Wiman and his people, and the geography implied in the description of its final battle.  Consequently, the theory that Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) might have been located around the present day Pyongyang in northern Korea cannot be supported by Samgukyusa.  The theory of Lelangjun within the Korean peninsula is further contradicted by the following passage in Hu Han Shu Vol. 85, Dong Yi Liezhuan Book 75 (後漢書 卷八十五 東夷列傳第七十五; 후한서 권85 동이열전 제75) reinforces this view. The relevant portion states:




In the fifth year of the reign of Andi (111 A.D.; Andi is an emperor of Later Han), the king of Buyeo (夫余; 부여) led 7,000 ~ 8,000 foot soldiers and cavalry and attacked Lelang (樂浪; 낙랑; meaning Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) and killed and harmed officers and people and returned.


Buyeo was located to the north of Goguryeo and most of her territory was located outside of the Korean peninsula in A.D. 111. Goguryeo occupied the territory south of Buyeo. If Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) was located around the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하), the above passage would make sense. This was a military raid operation by the king of Buyeo at an enemy territory located at her border. If the located of Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) is assumed to be within the Korean peninsula, there is a major diplomatic and military problem because Goguryeo would have to give permission to a military expedition of a potential adversary the right to pass through its territory twice – on its way to attack and on its way to return. What kind of sovereign nation would allow that?
Another reference, Jin zhi (晋志: 진서; “Book of Jin”; history of Jin (265 – 420) and succeeding Chinese kingdoms (420 – 618) written in the early years of the Tang dynasty (618 – 907)), Geography section (地理志; 지리지), Tai Hong Land History (太康地志; 태강지지) states:




Sui Chen Xian (遂城縣; 수성현) of Lelang (樂浪; 낙랑) is located at Jie Shi Shan (碣石山; 갈석산), the beginning point of the Great Wall.

Here, a Chinese reference specifically references a Xian of Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) that was located at the beginning point of the Great Wall. Looking at the map below, Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) would have to be a mega-size Jun having a size of several normal Juns to be able to reach into any part of the Korean peninsula.
At any rate, both Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) and Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) were subjected to constant attacks by Korean kingdoms, and notably by Goguryeo (高句麗; 고구려). In the end, Goguryeo occupies all of the land to the east of the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하) and extended further west in the 4th century A.D. Afterwards, the border of Goguryeo with China moved about, but was confined between the the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하) and the Great Wall until the fall of Gogureo in 668 A.D.

The political map of Wimanjoseon and neighboring countries before the fall of Wimanjoseon in 108 B.C. The occupying Han forces set up 4 Juns (郡; 군) in the territory of Wimanjoseon, which were immediately subjected to attack by the neighboring Korean kingdoms. It is unlikely that the territory of Wimanjoseon extended into the Korean peninsula given the strong opposition to the four Juns of Han, notably, from the southeastern direction by Goguryeo of Haemosu.

While the end of Wimanjoseon is associated with the end of Gojoseon by some, this view is somewhat erroneous because Wimanjoseon represent only one of the many Hahns, or Choseons, within Gojoseon, the overlord nation. By the time Wimanjoseon fell to the Han forces, Gojoseon had already disintegrated. While the fall of Wimanjoseon provides a more vivid image of the fall of a nation, this image is not reflective of what actually happened. Gojoseon had disintegrated before this event in a much less dramatic manner. 
4.8. The main event – Disintegration of Gojoseon
In summary, Gojoseon disintegrated and left independent Korean states. This event may have occurred as early as 957 B.C. or as late as 238 B.C. As Gojoseo disintegrated, individual Korean kingdoms exercised dominion as independent regional powers. This result remains essentially the same despite the possibly wide range of the last year of Gojoseon. This is because of a unique characteristic of Gojoseon. It was a type of federal government that derived its powers through the individual states, which are best grouped as inhahn (진한; 眞韓), Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓). The improvement in weaponry made the individual kingdoms exercise more power, rendering the concept of a priest-king obsolete. Perhaps becoming obsolescent was the reason why the end of Gojoseon was not violent. What used to be feudal states of Gojoseon became sovereign kingdoms. Perhaps this development parallels the obsolescence of the feudal system of the Zhou dynasty. When the feudal kings could exert power, they did not need the Zhou emperor. The same phenomenon may have happened in Gojoseon, perhaps a few hundred years earlier and in a non-violent way.




V. History of Gojoseon according to Samgukyusa (Foundation Mythology)
5.1. The foundation mythology
The foundation mythology of Gojoseon as presented in Samgukyusa (삼국유사; 三國遺事; pronounced “sahm-gook-you-sah”; a 13-th century history book by a Buddhist priest Il Yeon (일연; 一然; 1266 ∼ 89 A.D.; pronounced “eel-yun”) states that the first capital of Gojoseon was Ahsahdahl (Ah-Sah-Dahl), which remained the capital for 1,500 years. According to Samgukyusa, the first capital of Gojoseon was present day Pyeongang (平壤; Pyongyang). The capital of Gojoseon was Asadal, and the capital was subsequently moved to Baekaksan Asadal. “Asadal” means “New Place” or “Bright Place.” The reign of Wanggeom is 1,908 years according to Samgukyusa (삼국유사; 三國遺事) although Samgukyusa does not provide a list of Wanggeoms. The relevant part of Samgukyusa is as follows:


魏書云 乃往二千載 有壇君王儉 立都阿斯達[經云無葉山 亦云白岳 在白州地 或云在開城東 今白岳宮是] 開國號朝鮮 與高[堯]同時
古記云 昔有桓因[謂帝釋也] 庶子桓雄 數意天下 貪求人世 父知子意 下視三危太伯 可以弘益人間 乃授天符印三箇 遣往理之 雄率徒三千 降於太伯山頂[卽太伯今妙香山] 神壇樹下 謂之神市 是謂桓雄天王也 將風伯雨師雲師 而主穀主命主病主刑主善惡 凡主人間三百六十餘事 在世理化
時有一熊一虎 同穴而居 常祈于神雄 願化爲人 時神遺靈艾一炷 蒜二十枚曰 爾輩食之 不見日光百日 便得人形 熊虎得而食之 忌三七日 熊得女身 虎不能忌 而不得人身 熊女者 無與爲婚 故 每於壇樹下 呪願有孕 雄乃假化而婚之 孕生子 號曰壇君王儉
以唐高卽位五十年庚寅[唐高卽位元年戊辰 則五十年丁巳 非庚寅也 疑其未實] 都平壤城[今西京] 始稱朝鮮 又移都於白岳山阿斯達 又名弓[一作方] 忽山 又今彌達 御國一千五百年 周虎[武]王卽位己卯 封箕子於朝鮮 壇君乃移於藏唐京 後還隱於阿斯達爲山神 壽一千九百八歲

Wei Shu (魏書; 위서; note: a Chinese history book, there are multiple books titled “Wei Shu”) states that “about 2,000 years ago (from the time of writing of this book at 1,281 A.D.), there was Dangun Wanggeom (壇君王儉) at the capital of Asadal (阿斯達).” [ The book (of Wei Shu) says that this is located at Muyeopsan (無葉山; 무엽산; Wu Ye Shan in modern Chinese pronunciation), also called Baekak (白岳; 백악; Bai Yue in modern Chinese pronunciation) in Baekju (白州; 백주; Bai Zhou in modern Chinese pronunciation). Some people (of the 13th century) allege that this is located to the east of Gaesung (開城; 개성), present day Baekakgung (白岳宮; 백악궁).] Dangun founded a country called Joseon (朝鮮; 조선), and this was at the time of Yao (堯).
Gogi (記云; 고기; refers to Dangungogi (단군고기; 檀君古記) – a prior Korean history book on Dangun) says:
Once upon a time, there was Hwanung (Hwan-Ung; 桓雄; 환웅), who was an illegetimate son (son of a concubine) of Hwanin (Hwan-In, 桓因; 환인) [refers to the Lord of Heaven (帝釋; 제석)]. Hwanung had his mind on the world below, and wanted to rule the world of the humans. The father knew the will of the son. When Hwanin surveyed the SamwiTaebaksan (三危太伯山; 삼위태백산; meaning “Three-peaked Taebaksan”), [and determined that these places are] places where great benefit may be given to the human world. Thus, He gave three heavenly Seals (symbols) to his son and let him go down to rule the world there.

Hwanung led 3,000 [people] and came down to the top of Taebaksan (太伯山; Tai Bo Shan) [present day Myohyangsan (妙香山; 묘향산) under Sindansu (神壇樹; 신단수) (meaning “Holy Birch Tree” or “Holy Alter Tree”), and called the place Sinsi (神市; 신시; meaning “City of God”). Thus, Hwangung is called Hwanung Cheonwang (환웅 천왕(桓雄天王); “King of Heaven” or “Son of Heaven”). Commanding Pungbaek (風伯; 풍백; meaning “Minister of Wind”), Usa (雨師; 우사; meaning “Minister of Rain), and Unsa (雲師, 운사; meaning “minister of Cloud”), he administered agriculture, life (and death), medicine, (criminal) law, and justice (literally “good and evil”). He administered three hundred and sixty plus matters in human affairs. He ruled the world with reason (He enlightened the world).
A bear and a tiger lived in the same cave. They kept on asking Hwanung to turn them into humans. He gave them a bundle of holy mugwort and 20 cloves of garlic and said “If you eat these and do not see sunlight for 100 days, you will turn into humans.” The bear and the tiger took and ate the mugwort and the garlic. The bear dedicated herself and acquired a woman’s body in 21 days. The tiger was not dedicated. Thus, the tiger did not acquire a human body. The bear-woman (熊女; 웅녀) did not have a partner to marry. So she kept on praying for a child under a birch tree (or the “Sindansu” (神壇樹; 신단수)). Hwanung married her temporarily and the bear-woman became preganant. The bear-woman had a boy, who became Dangunwanggeom (壇君王儉; 단군왕검).
This was in the fiftieth year of the reign of Yao (refered to as 唐高) – the first year of the reign of Yao is a year of Mujin (戊辰; 무진; note: one of 60 names cyclically employed to name a year in oriental calendars), thus, the fiftieth year of the reign of Yao is a year of Jeongsa (丁巳; 정사) and not a year of Gyeongin (庚寅; 경인). Thus, this (the record in Gogi) does not seem to be true. – After founding the capital at the fort of Pyeongyang (平壤城; 평양성; meaning “Flat Field” or “Flat Soil”) – present day Seogyeong (西京; 서경, meaning “West Capital”; See the Note below), the name of the country was called Joseon (朝鮮; 조선). Then the capital was moved to Baekaksan Asadal (白岳山阿斯達; 백악산아사달), which is also called Gung (궁; 弓) – or Bang (방; 方) – or Holsan (홀산; 忽山) or Geummidal (금미달; 今彌達). He reigned there for 1,500 years. In the year of Gimyo (己卯; 기묘) when Howang – Wudi – of the Zhou dynasty came to power, Wudi appointed Gija(箕子; 기자; Jizi in Chinese reading) to Joseon (朝鮮; 조선) (note: It is not clear whether Wudi had any authority over the land to which he was sending Jizi because Dangun had the power there. Gija’s ascent is likely to have been due to his Korean ancestral bloodline rather than by any power he had.) Then, Dangun moved to Jangdanggyeong (장당경; 藏唐京) and later returned to Asadal, and became an immortal spirit (산신; 山神). His age was 1,908 years.

Facts and symbols are woven into the foundation mythology. Some elements are clearly symbolic, while some other elements are narratives of facts known to the author at that time. Some others are between symbols and facts. Among the clear messages of the foundation mythology, the nonviolent beginning of Gojoseon and nonviolent ending of Gojoseon are clear enough. Also, there seems to be some relationship between the coming of Gija(箕子; 기자; Jizi) and the ending of Gojoseon (which may be only temporal or perhaps causal in some indirect manner). The discussion on the exact date of the founding year should not be given too much weight since the author himself is unsure about the exact date. But the author agrees on the general period of the foundation of Gojoseon. Many scholars interpret the Bear-Woman as a representation of a tribe having a bear as their totem and the tiger as a representation of another tribe having a tiger as their totem. In this interpretation, the bear tribe accepts the teachings of Hwanung. Hwangung is the promoter of peace and reason. His unique philosophy is captured in the two passages: “Hong Ik In Gan” (弘益人間; pronounced ‘hawng-eek-een-gahn”) meaning “greatly benefiting the human world” and “Je Se I Hwa” (在世理化; pronounced “je-se-ee-wha” in which “je” is pronounced as “jet” without the t sound, likewise for “se”) meaning “ruling the world with reason” or “enlightening the world.” This short story includes fundamental philosophical implications of the Gojoseon and their Wanggeoms.


Note: According to Il Yeon, the capital of Gojoseon was in present day Pyeongyang at least at one point in time.  Recent discovery of the alleged mausoleum of Dangun in Pyeongyang, if this mausoleum truly belongs to Dangun, would confirm Il Yeon’s assertion in Samgukyusa.  However, there seems to have been multiple locations having the same name Pyeongyang.  This was pointed out by Ji-Weon Park (연암 박지원; 朴趾源; 1737 – 1805) in his Diary at Yeolha (熱河日記; 열하일기), which is a record of his travel to China in 1780.  See (in Korean) for discussion on multiple locations of Pyeongyang.  Pyeongyang (평양; 平壤) means a “flat field” or “flat soil.”  

Even if present day Pyeongyang turns out to be the true capital of Gojoseon, the overall analysis of the history of Gojoseon according to this article does not change.  Further, the location of Wimanjoseon, the last remnant of Gojoseon in Manchuria, remains the same irrespective of the location of the capital of Gojoseon prior to disintegratoin.  In summary, the overall history of Gojoseon, Beonjoseon, and Wimanjoseon remains substantially the same irrespective of the location of the capital of Gojoseon prior to disintegration.

Many other Korean historical records that specify the the location of the capital of Gojoseon assert that the capital of Gojoseon was located around the Liaohe River, outside the Korean peninsula and not within the Korean peninsula. The assertion from other Korean history books that the capital of Gojoseon was located around the Liaohe River is further corroborated by archeological data. For example, the distribution of bronze age relics from archeological sites shows a much higher density around the Liaohe River and not nearly as much near present day Pyeongyang in North Korea. See, for example, the distribution of mandolin-shaped bronze daggers and northern style dolmens in the section

3.1. The extent of Gojoseon based on archeological evidences.  Thus, It is possible that Il Yeon (일연; 一然) may have made an error in equating the fort of Pyeongyang (平壤城; 평양성) in the old record with Pyeongyang of Goryeo at that time.  If Il Yeon is correct, however, other Korean history books are in error, including Hwndangogi.  Either way, an error on the location of the capital of Gojoseon (which was moved during the duration of the kingdom) is innocuous as long as the capital of Gojoseon is distinguished from the capital of Wimanjoseon, which was definitely located in Manchuria in the opinion of the author of this knol.


5.2. Estimation of the year of founding of Gojoseon
Dating of prehistoric figures is very difficult because their reign is not realistic. Many rulers rule close to 100 years and live over 100 years. To cope with this problem, the following assumptions are made.
First, it is assumed that people were better at remembering the names and the sequence of the kings, while the number of years is easily exaggerated.
Second, the dates up to the beginning of the Shang dynasty are reasonably accurate. The reign of the first Shang king is set at 1,600 B.C. This is base on the observation that the 39 rulers of the Zhou dynasty ruled for 797 years, which corresponds to an average of 20.4 years of reign per a Zhou ruler. Similar calculation on the Shang dynasty shows that 30 rulers ruled for 554 years, which corresponds to an average of 18.5 years of reign per a Shang ruler.
Third, the prehistoric rulers reigned on average for about the same period of time as the later rulers. This number is set at 20 years per ruler for all prehistoric figures.
The reverse chronological order of the Chinese rulers upon application of these assumptions show:
For the first ruler of the Shang dynasty
湯 Tang 1600 B.C.
For Xia (夏;하) dynasty
桀 Jie 1620 B.C.
發 Fa 1640 B.C.
皋 Gao 1660 B.C.
孔甲 Kong 1680 B.C.
廑 Jin 1700 B.C.
扃 Jiong 1720 B.C.
不降 Bu 1740 B.C.
泄 Xie 1760 B.C.
芒 Mang 1780 B.C.
槐 Huai 1800 B.C.
杼 Zhu 1820 B.C.
少康 Shao 1840 B.C.
相 Xiang 1860 B.C.
仲康 Zhong 1880 B.C.
太康 Tai 1900 B.C.
啟 Qi 1920 B.C.
禹 Yu 1940 B.C.
For 3 Sovereigns and 5 Emperors
舜 Shun 1960 B.C.
堯 Yao 1980 B.C.
帝嚳 Diku 2000 B.C.
顓頊 Zhuanxu 2020 B.C.
少昊 Shaohao 2040 B.C.
黄帝 Huangdi 2060 B.C.
神農 Yandi 2080 B.C.
伏羲 Fuxi 2100 B.C.


This formula estimates Yao’s (堯;요) reign about 1980 B.C. Although Yao is alleged to have ruled for 100 years and lived to be about 150 years old, he is assumed to have ruled only for 20 years in this model. The Korean records state that Dangun founded Gojoseon in the 50th year of Yao’s reign. Assuming that Gojoseon was founded during Yao’s reign, the founding date of Gojoseon is estimated to be about 1980 B.C., or about 2,000 B.C. in loose counting. Dangun and Yao are considered to be a contemporary.
5.3. Estimation of the duration of Gojoseon
During the history of Gojoseon, King Wu of Zhou dynasty (1,046 B.C. – 1,043 B.C.) sent Gija (箕子; 기자; Jizi in Chinese pronunciation; means a person of eastern descent, an “Oriental” in loose translation, i.e., a person of eastern Altaic Tungus origin or heritage) to the east and appointed him to Joseon. There was already Dangun in Gojoseon at that time. While the nature of the position of Gija is not certain, his position was a different position than the position of Dangun. Apparently, Gija received some power or gained some power in Gojoseon, since his descendants have become the king of Beonjoseon, or Beonhan. Samgukyusa is silent on the relationship between Dangun and Gija, but the implication is that the power of Dangun dwindled after Gija came. Samgukyusa is explicit in stating that Dangun ruled in.Baekaksan Asadal (白岳山阿斯達; 백악산아사달) for 1,500 years, and that Dangun lived to be 1,908 years old. One person cannot be that old. Thus, the 1,908 years must be the total number of Dangun’s reign. While Samgukyusa is silent on how much time Dangun reigned in Pyeongyang, the time that Dangun reigned after the coming of Gija cannot exceed 408 years. Assuming that the reign in Pyeongyang was negligibly short, the end of Gojoseon came in less than 408 years from 1,046 B.C., i.e., before 638 B.C. The two limits to the ending dates according to Samgukyusa is between 638 B.C. and 1,046 B.C. Apparently, there was no violent clash at the end.





VI. History of Gojoseon according to Jewangungi
6.1. Estimation of the duration of Gojoseon
According to According to Jewangungi (제왕운기; 帝王韻紀; pronounced “Je-wang-oon-ghee” with “je” representing the sound from the word “jet” except the “t” sound and “gh” representing the “g” sound in the word “gain”; published in 1287 A.D.) by Lee Seunghyu (이승휴; 李承休), Dangun went to Asadal and became an immortal spirit in the 8th year of the Wu Ding (the 23rd king of the Shang dynasty), which is estimated to be 1,243 B.C. This is before the advent of Gija in 1,046 B.C.
If the rule of Yao is attributed to an earlier date as the Chinese and and Korean historians of the 13th century assumed and set at 2,333 B.C., Dangun’s reign of 1,028 years according to Jewangungi puts the end date of Gojoseon at 1,305 B.C.
Another passage of Jewangungi states that the total reign of Dangun was 1,028 years. Assuming 1,980 B.C. as the approximate founding year of Gojoseon, this puts the end date of Gojoseon at 952 B.C., which is after the advent of Jizi and contradicts the statements in Jewangungi.
Thus, among the assumptions of 1,208 year duration of Gojoseon, the assumption of the beginning of Gojoseon around 1,980 B.C., and the alleged fall of Gojoseon before 1,046, at least one is false. Given this situation and the contradicting statement from Samgukyusa that Gojoseon fell after the coming of Jizi, the allegation that Gojoseon ended before 1,046 B.C. is questionable.
6.2. The Theory of Gijajoseon
Jewangungi provides an interesting theory on Gojoseon. Although Gojoseon ended between 1,305 B.C. and 1,243 B.C. before coming of Gija (箕子; 기자; Jizi in Chinese pronunciation), Jewangungi implies that Joseon (조선; 朝鮮) was continued when Giza became a king of a country. Thus, the country in which Giza became a king is called Gijajoseon (기자조선; 箕子朝鮮) and is attributed to be the heir to Gojoseon in Jewangungi.
As described above, Jewanungi contradicts Samgukyusa in asserting that Gojoseon ended before the coming of Gija. Also, Jewangungi contradicts Samgukyusa and all Korean authorities in asserting that somehow Gojoseon was continued in the country that Gija became a king. It is possible that Giza became a king in the east. What is questionable is how becoming a king brings back the defunct country of Gojoseon, if Gojoseon had been a defunct country over 100 years as the author of Jewangungi alleges.
Relevant records from Chang Shu Great Book, Section “Shang Dynasty” (尙書大傳, 殷傳) says:


《書傳》云: “武王釋箕子之囚,箕子不忍周之釋,走之朝鮮。武王聞之,因以朝解封之。箕子既受周之封,不得無臣禮,故于十三祀來朝,武王因其朝而問《洪範》。 from 尙書大傳

According to Shu Chuan: “Wuwang (Wudi) released the prisoner Jizi. Jizi could not bear to be released by Wuwang. Thus, Jizi went to Joseon. Wuwang heard this news. Thus, Wuwang appointed him to (the position of the ruler of) Joseon. Once Jizi was appointed, he had to show homage (to Wuwang) as a servant (vassal). Thus, Jizi came back on the 13th year of Wuwang’s reign. [When Jizi returned,] Wuwang asked Jizi about “Hongfan” (referring to “洪範九疇” – 9 rules of emperor Yu of the Xia dynasty).



One might be led to believe that Wuwang (Wudi) might actually have given a useful title to Jizi. If Wuwang had any land in the area Jizi was going to (He was going back to the land of his ancestry, the Koreans), Jizi’s title would be useful. Was it? Another relevant record shows that this “title” was just a lip service since Wuwang had no land above the Yellow River. Shih Ji (Historic Records), Xiongnu (Mongolians) Section (史記, 匈奴列傳) states:



After more than 10 years, Wuwang defeated the king of the Shang dynasty, he made Luo-i his capital. Then he lived in Feng Jiao, then he drove Rong Yi (戎夷: one of Yi’s, referes to a non-Chinese tribe living around China) across the north of Jing (River) and Luo (River).


Luo River (洛河) is a tributary of the Yellow River in Henan area. If Wuwang had to cross this river to attack the Xiongnu, how could he have any land that he has to travel much farther? The land inhabited by the by the Dong Yi people just above the territory inhabited by Chiu’s descendants was not fully under his control. Apparently, Jizi was nice enough to come back to Wuwang to show his courtesy, but it is obvious that Wuwang just gave a nice title to someone he knew that he could not control any longer. Apparently, Jizi’s career in the land of Gojoseon took off since his descendants ended up as kings although whether he became a king himself is not clear. The Shang dynasty was founded by the Dong Yi people, and upon collapse of the Shang dynasty, Jizi was returning to the land of his own people rather than serving Wudi of the Zhou dynasty, although he was courteous enough to show him respect. If Jizi returned tot Wuwang to show respect, Jizi’s behavior is not surprising because he seemed to be a good teacher of ethics. Some records show that Jizi did not display homage to Wuwang. Records of Song Family, the 8th, vol. 38 (宋微子世家; 第八, 史记卷三十八) records:



Although Wuwang appointed Jizi (a ruler of) Joseon, Jizi did not show homage to Wuwang as a servant.


If Jizi did not want to serve a king who destroyed a dynasty of his relatives, this is understandable. Apparently Jizi was a good teacher of ethics although his capacity is not clear.
Record of Three Kingdoms, Section Wei (三國志 濊傳) records:



昔 箕子旣適朝鮮 作八條之敎以敎之 無門戶之閉而民不爲盜 其後四十餘世 朝鮮侯准 僭號稱王

Once upon a time, Jizi went to Joseon, made 8 laws and taught them. There was no household that kept the door of the house shut, nor was there any thieves. His 40th descendant Zhun (准), a lord of Joseon, proclaimed himself to be a King.


While the success of his posterity is indisputable, the person who was a lord of Joseon is his 40th descendant, not Jizi himself. Jizi only had an honorary title from Wudi, a good will gift from the King of the Zhou dynasty to an exile who was not expected to Wudi’s land. Given this, the interpretation of the kingdom that Jizi’s descendants took over as a resurrected Gojoseon is very stretchy.
6.3. Beonjoseon
Irrespective of when Gija (Jizi) or his descendants became the king of a Joseon, Beonjoseon continued in the Liaohe River region. According to the version presented in Jewangungi, Beonjoseon was governed by Gija (Jizi). There is no support that Beonjoseon was an overlord for other Korean kingdoms. Thus, whether Gija’s descendants became the king of Beonjoseon is irrelevant because Beonjoseon did not achieve any higher status relative to other Korean kingdoms unllike Gojoseon controlled by Dangun. In other words, the rulers of Beonjoseon may have been a king, but they were not Danguns in effect. In this regard, the hypothesis presented in Jewangungi seems to fail in this regard. Beonjoseon became one of the many Korean kingdoms, not a successor to Gojoseon for lack of authority of an overlord, or a priest-king.


VII. History of Gojoseon according to Hwandangogi
7.1. List of 47 Danguns
47 Wanggeoms (priest-kings) of Gojoseon are listed in the chronology of Gojoseon in all Korean history records that list the rulers of Gojoseon. While three records all agree on the order and names of the 47 Wanggeoms, the period of their reign varies from record to record. 
Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記; pronounced “whahn-dahn-gaw-ghee” with “gh” representing the “g” sound in the word “gain”) states that the 47 Wanggeoms ruled from 2,333 B.C. to 238 B.C. for 2,096 years.

(note: Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記) was allegedly complied in 1911 by Gye Yeonsu (계연수; 桂延壽). The publication was delayed due to Japanese occupation at that time. Ultimately, the first publication came out in 1979. Some historians are skeptical about the authenticity of this book because of the contents. Perhaps the authenticity is not the real issue here because the authors acknowledge that this book was complied based on previous records. The real issue may be the accuracy of the records given that at least some portions seem anachronistic or unrealistic. However, others believe that the book includes many useful information despite the apparent inaccuracy and mythological descriptions in some parts.)

According to the instructions of the Dangigosa (단기고사; 檀奇古史; pronounced “dahn-ghee-gaw-sah” with “gh” representing the “g” sound in the word “gain”) agrees with the duration of 2,096 years, but the period of the rule is from 2,512 B.C. to 416 B.C. 


(note: Dangigosa (단기고사; 檀奇古史) was allegedly written in 728 A.D. in the language of Balhae (발해; 渤海; 698 – 926 A.D.; a Korean Kingdom in Manchuria; Pohai in Chinese reading) by Dae Ya Bal (대야발; 大野勃), a brother of the founder of Balhae . A Chinese scholar Huang Zuo Fu (皇祚福; 황조복) translated the original book to Chinese 100 years after publication. Recognizing the name of the book (the existence of this book was known in Korea), a 19th century Korean scholar Yu Deungdu (유응두; 柳應斗) found a copy of this book in an antique book store in China and made dozens of copies. This book was published in 1949 and 1959.)

Guwonsahwa (규원사화; 揆園史話; pronounced “gyou (“g” + you) – won-sah-whah”) states that the 47 Wanggeoms ruled from 2,333 B.C. to 1,128 B.C. for 1,205 years.

(note: was written in 1675 by Buk Aeja (북애자; 北崖子) and was first quoted by another book in 1925. The North Korean historians accept the authenticity of this book. Some historians in South Korea are skeptical. The book describes the prehistoric era before Gojoseon and the events during Gojoseon, and includes stories of legendary nature.)

The reign of Wanggeom is 1,908 years according to Samgukyusa (삼국유사; 三國遺事) although Samgukyusa does not provide a list of Wanggeoms. While the accuracy of these records are disputed, while it is possible that the records that these books depended on may have been more accurate. The earliest time that may be credited for origination of this record is the writing of the original of Dangigosa (단기고사; 檀奇古史) in the language of Balhae by Dae Ya Bal (대야발; 大野勃) in 728 A.D.

Wanggeoms were also called as Danguns. Only the first Wanggeom was referred to as Dangun Wanggeom to avoid confusion. His successors were typically called a Wanggeom or a Dangun. But each of them was a Dangun and a Wanggeom, i.e., a Dangunwanggeom. Thus, the passages from the Korean history books that state that Dangunwanggeom lived for thousands of years, and that there were 47 Danguns are not contradictory. In a sense, Dangunwanggeom kept on living by succession. The common list of Danguns (Wanggeoms) in Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記), Dangigosa (단기고사; 檀奇古史), and Guwonsahwa (규원사화; 揆園史話) is presented here.
The 47 Danguns (or Wanggeoms) are listed in chronological order below:
1. Wnaggeom Dangun; 왕검(王儉)단군 (the founder, moves the capital from Asadal to (Pyeongyang) Asadal
2. Buru Dangun; 부루(扶婁)단군
3. gareuk Dangun; 가륵(嘉勒)단군
4. Osagu Dangun; 오사구(烏斯丘)단군
5. Gueul Dangun; 구을(丘乙)단군
6. Dalmun Dangun; 달문(達文)단군
7. Hanyul Dangun; 한율(翰栗)단군
8. Useohan (Osaham) Dangun, 우서한(于西翰) or 오사함(烏舍咸)단군
9. Asul Dangun; 아술(阿述)단군
10. Noeul Dangun; 노을(魯乙)단군
11. Dohae Dangun; 도해(道奚)단군
12. Ahhan Dangun; 아한(阿漢)단군
13. Heuldal (Daeeumdal) Dangun; 흘달(屹達) or 대음달(代音達)단군
14. Gobul Dangun; 고불(古弗)단군
15. Huheuldal (Daeeum) Dangun; 후흘달(後屹達) or 대음(代音)단군
16. Wina Dangun; 위나(尉那)단군
17. Yeoeul Dangun; 여을(余乙)단군
18. Dongeom Dangun;동엄(冬奄)단군
19. Gumoso Dangun; 구모소(緱牟蘇)단군
20. Gohol Dangun; 고홀(固忽)단군
21. Sotae Dangun; 소태(蘇台)단군
22. Saekbullu dangun; 색불루(索弗婁)단군 : (gains power by coup d’etat, moves the capital from (Pyeongyang Asadal to Baekaksan Asadal)
23. Ahhol Dangun; 아홀(阿忽)단군
24. Yeonna Dangun; 연나(延那)단군
25. Solna Dangun; 솔나(率那)단군
26. Churo Dangun; 추로(鄒盧)단군
27. Dumil Dangun; 두밀(豆密)단군
28. Haemo Dangun; 해모(奚牟)단군
29. Mahyu Dangun; 마휴(摩休)단군
30. Nahyu Dangun; 나휴(奈休)단군
31. Deungol (Deung-Ol) Dangun; 등올(登兀)단군
32. Chumil Dangun; 추밀(鄒密)단군
33. Gammul Dangun; 감물(甘勿)단군
34. Orumun Dangun; 오루문(奧婁門)단군
35. Sabeol Dangun; 사벌(沙伐)단군
36. Maereuk Dangun; 매륵(買勒)단군
37. Mahmul Dangun; 마물(麻勿)단군
38. Dahmul Dangun; 다물(多勿)단군
39. Duhol Dangun; 두홀(豆忽)단군
40. Daleum (Dal-Eum) Dangun 달음(達音)단군
41. Eumcha Dangun; 음차(音次)단군
42. Euluji (Eul-U-JI) Dangun; 을우지(乙于支)단군
43. Mulli Dangun; 물리(勿理)단군
44. Gumul Dangun; 구물(丘勿)단군 : moves capital from Baekaksan Asadal to Jangdanggyeong
45. Yeoru Dangun; 여루(余婁)단군
46. Boeul (Bo-Eul) Dangun; 보을(普乙)단군
47. Goyeolga Dangun; 고열가(古列加)단군
7.2. Capitals of Gojoseon according to Hwandangogi


Hwandangogi version of successive capitals of Gojoseon (2,333 B.C. – 238 B.C.) The Great Wall was built by Qin Shi Huandi between 220 – 200 B.C., about 30 years after the disintegration of Gojoseon. The Great Wall is shown here because the location of the Great wall is the extent of the outer boundary of Gojoseon prior to disintegration.


According to Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記), Dangunsegi (단군세기; 檀君世紀) section, Gojoseon had three capitals; Asadal (아사달; 阿斯達; pronounced “Ah-Sah-Dahl”), Baekaksan Asadal (백악산아사달; 白岳山阿斯達; pronounced “Baek-Ahk-Sahn Ah-Sah-Dahl”), and Jangdanggyeong (장당경; 藏唐京; pronounded “Jang-Dang-Gyung”). Hwandangogi 환단고기(桓檀古記), notes section (소도경전본훈; 蘇塗經典本訓) states that the very first Asadal means present day Harbin (哈爾濱; 하르빈) at Song Hua Jiang (松花江; 송화강 Songwhagang). Guwonsahwa (규원사화; 揆園史話) states that the very first capital of Gojeoseon was Usuha (우수하; 牛首河). According to Guwonsahwa (규원사화; 揆園史話), in the 10th year of the founding of Gojeoseon (2,323 B.C.), the capital was moved to Pyeongyang (평양; 平壤), which is the second Wanggeomseong (왕검성; 王儉城) because the productivity of the land was not good at the first capital. (Wanggeomseong means the fort of Wanggeom, i.e., the capital.)
The second capital was located on the north of Paesu (패수; 浿水), which is in the land of the region of Seogyeongabrokbu (서경압록부; 西京鴨淥府; West Administrative Province of Yalu; located not on present day Yalu River, but closer to Liaohe River) of the land of Balhae (발해; 渤海; Pohai; a Korean kingdom in Manchuria between 698 – 926 A.D., Guwonsahwa was written in 1,675 A.D.). Guknaeseong (국내성; 國內城; the first capital of Goguryeo (58 B.C. – 668 A.D.) of Jumong) and Hwandoseong (환도성; 桓都城) are within this region. According to Hwandangogi, Haemosu occupied an old capital of Gojoseon in 239 B.C. in a successful rebellion against the Wanggeom of Gojoseon, and named the city Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎; Go (고; 高) means “Son of Heaven” and Guryeo (구려; 九黎) means the people, specifically, the Altaic Tungus people that constituted Gojoseon). In 107 B.C., the Han forces occupy the city of Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) (note, not the entire country of Goguryeo) and sets up Xuantu Gun (玄菟郡; 현도군) Goguryeo Xian (고구려현; 高句麗縣). Thus, locating Goguryeo Xian would locate both the second capital of Gojoseon and the first capital of Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) of Haemosu. (Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) of Haemosu precedes Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) of Jumong (주몽) by about 200 years.) According to Samguksagi (三國史記; 삼국사기) Jabji (雜志; 잡지), the location of Xuantu Gun and Goguryeo Xian is 400 li (160 km) east of Eumuryeosan (의무려산; 醫巫閭山) of Bukjin. Thus, the second capital of Gojoseon is near present day Shenyang (沈陽; 심양). The foundation mythology of Gojoseon as presented in Samgukyusa (삼국유사; 三國遺事; a 13-th century history book by a Buddhist priest Il Yeon (일연; 一然; 1266 ∼ 89 A.D.; pronounced “eel-yun”) states that the first capital of Gojoseon was Ahsahdahl (Ah-Sah-Dahl), which remained the capital for 1,500 years. According to Samgukyusa, the first capital of Gojoseon was present day Pyeongang (平壤; Pyongyang).  The identification of Asadal with present day Pyeongyang in North Korea seems to contradict the description in Samguksagi, Guwonsahwa, and Hwandangogi. “Asadal” means “Land of Morning,” “Land of Rising Sun,” “New Place,” or “Bright Place.”
According to Hwandangogi, the capital of Gojoseon moved in 1,286 B.C. to Baekaksan Asadal (백악산아사달; 白岳山阿斯達; pronounced “Baek-Ahk-Sahn Ah-Sah-Dahl”), or Asadal at Baekaksan. Baekaksan is the name of the mountain nearby. Baekaksan Asadal included a new palace of Buyeo ( The location of Ahsahdahl has not been ascertained. Baekaksan Asadal was also called Sangchun (상춘; 常春), and included the New Palace at Buyeo (부여신궁; 夫餘新宮) first built in 1984 B.C. Dangunsegi states that Baekaksan Asadal is located to the south of Guweolsan ( 구월산; 九月山). Hwandangogi states that Sangchun is located in Jugaseongja (주가성자; 朱家城子) and in Changchun (長春; 장춘).
At some point, King Wu of Zhou dynasty (1,046 B.C. – 1,043 B.C.) sent Gija (箕子; 기자; Jizi in Chinese pronunciation; means a person of eastern descent, an “Oriental” in loose translation, i.e., a person of eastern Altaic Tungus origin or heritage) to the east as a feudal lord. Apparently, Gija was a leader of the people from the east (Dong Yi) and was supportive of the then deposed Shang dynasty. He had been imprisoned by King Wu until he was sent to the east (presumably with his people of the East-i (東夷; 동이; dong-i) descent). King Wu appointed him as a feudal lord of his Zhou dynasty as he sent Gija away to the east. Gija subsequently became the king of Beonhahn (번한; 番韓), apparently with the blessing or at least acquiescence of the Wanggeom of Gojoseon. It does not seem like Gija took King Wu’s actions kindly later on because he did not pay homage to his first nominal feudal lord King Wu, perhaps because he remembered his imprisonment and the treatment of his people. Beonhahn (번한; 番韓) ruled by Gija and his descendants remained an integral part of Gojoseon, meaning that the loyalty of him and his descendants was to the Wanggeom of Gojoseon.
The capital of Gojoseon moved to Jangdanggyeong (장당경; 藏唐京; pronounded “Jang-Dang-Gyung”) in 425 B.C. Hwandangodi states that Jangdanggyeong is present day Kaiyuan (開原; 개원), which became the last capital of Gojoseon until 238 B.C.
7.3. Estimation of the years of prehistoric figures
Attempts to establish the exact date of the founding of Gojoseon suffers from the same problem as attempts to establish the founding date from Samgukyusa, i.e., the lack of an anchor date in antiquity. To remedy this problem, the same approach may be used as in 5.2. Estimation of the year of founding of Gojoseon.
The result is the same, i.e., about 1,980 B.C. or 2,000 B.C.
Performing a similar exercise on the list of Hwanungs of Baedalguk in Hwandangogi, the alleged predecessor of Gojoseon provides the following result:
Baedalguk Hwanungs:
거발한(居發桓)환웅 Geobalhan Hwanung
거불리(居佛理)환웅 Geobuli Hwangung
우야고(右耶古)환웅 Uyago Hwanung
모사라(慕士羅)환웅 Mosara Hwanung
태우의(太虞儀)환웅 Taeueui (Tae-U-Eui) Hwanung
다의발(多儀發)환웅 Daeubal Hwuanung
거련(居連)환웅 Georyeon Hwanung
안부련(安夫連)환웅 Anburyeon Hwanung
양운(養雲)환웅 Yangun Hwanung
갈고(葛古)환웅 Galgo Hwanung
거야발(居耶發)환웅 Geoyabal Hwanung
주무신(州武愼)환웅 Jumushin Hwanung
사와라(斯瓦羅)환웅 Sawara Hwanung
자오지(慈烏支)환웅, 치우천왕 Jaoji Hwanung (Chiu Cheonwang) 2080 B.C.
치액특(蚩額特)환웅 Chiaekteuk Hwanung 2060 B.C.
축다리(祝多利)환웅 Chukdari Hwanung 2040 B.C.
혁다세(赫多世)환웅 Hyukdase Hwanung 2020 B.C.
거불단(居弗壇)환웅 Geobuldan hwanung 2000 B.C.
Gojoseon Danguns:
왕검(王儉)단군 Wanggeom Dangun 1980 B.C.



This comparison shows that Huangdi (黄帝; 황제) reigned around 2960 B.C. and Chiu (Chiyou; 蚩尤) reigned around 2080 B.C., i.e., the ancient archenemies are separated only by 20 years, a close match. (Of course, Huangdi is the winner of the battle in the Chinese version of the story, while Chiu is the winner of the battle in the Korean version of the story.)
7.4. The calculated end date of Gojoseon
If there are 47 Danguns, the last Dangun is projected to have ruled about 1040 B.C. Before Gojoseon came to an end, however, Jizi (箕子: 기자) came to Gojoseon. Even if the end of Gojoseon came after the advent of Giza (Jizi), the end of Gojoseon seemed to be a little after the advent of Jizi. Samgukyusa seems to connote that soon after Jizi (箕子: 기자) came to Gojoseon, the capital of Gojoseon moved. While Samgukyusa states that Dangun had ruled for 1,500 years and that Dangun retired at the age of 1,980, thereby allowing 408 years between the move of the capital and the disintegration of Gojoseon, the text seems to indicate that Jizi (箕子: 기자) coming coincided with the decline of power of Gojoseon. This is based on the connotation of the word “乃” which tends to correlate two events. The original text is :



以唐高卽位五十年庚寅都平壤城 始稱朝鮮 又移都於白岳山阿斯達又名弓忽山 又今彌達 御國一千五百年 周虎王卽位己卯 封箕子於朝鮮 壇君乃移藏唐京 後還隱於阿斯達 爲山神 壽一千九百八歲

Considering this passage, perhaps a few more years may be added to the end date of Gojoseon, but the end date derived from the assumption of 47 Danguns and a founding date of around 1,980 results in ending of Gojoseon around 1,000 B.C. However, this is not the version offered in Hwandangogi.
7.5. The end of Gojoseon according to Hwandangogi
According to Hwandangodi, Gojoseon was founded in 2,333 B.C. and lasted through 238 B.C. 47 Danguns reigned over 2096 years, which makes the average reign of each Dangun about 44.6 years each. This begs the question of accuracy. Since kings do not ordinarily reign for over 40 years, at least one of the number of Danguns is wrong, the beginning date is wrong, or the end date is wrong. If Gojoseon disintegrated in 238 B.C., this assumption requires that that there were more Danguns or Gojjoseon was founded significantly at a later date than about 1,980 B.C.
As described above, Samgukyusa and Jewangungi offers different descriptions. In the version presented below, the accuracy of this description in Hwandangogi is taken to be true in the latter part. In other words, if there is any inaccuracy, the inaccuracy is attributed to an earlier years and the description of events after 400 B.C. is prima facie taken to be true. In other words, the description of the events in Hwandangogi is considered under the assumption that the earlier events in Hwandangogi is not accurate.
The disintegration of Gojoseon is described in Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記). During the reign of the 46th Wanggeom Boeul (보을; 普乙), the Yan (燕; 연; a vassal state of the Zhou dynasty) forces invaded Gojoseon after 350 B.C. Gihu (기후; 箕詡), the leader of the Suyu tribes (수유족; 須臾族) at first functioned as the leading force in opposing the Yan forces, but in B.C. 323 turned against Gojoseon and usurped the kingdom of Beonhahn (번한; 番韓) proclaiming himself to be the king of Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮 ), i.e., the king of Beonhahn (번한; 番韓). Beonjoseon is also called Wimanjoseon (위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮) after the name of the first king Wiman, or Dong Hu (東胡; 동호; meaning “East Hu”) by the Chinese.
According to Hwandangogi (환단고기; 桓檀古記), Wanggeom Boeul had no choice but to accepted the coup d’etat as fait accompli because he did not have enough power at this point to unseat Gihu through an all out war against him. Worse, in 296 B.C., Hangae (한개; 韓介), a general of the Suyu tribes led the army of Beonjoseon to attack Jangdangyyeong, the capital of Gojoseon. While the attack was successfully repelled by a general named Goyeonga (고열가(高列加), who later became the 47th (and last) Wanggeom, this event brought about a deep fissure in Gojoseon. If the version of Hwandangogi is inconsistent with 47 Danguns, this passage may be interpreted as an attack on the ruler (Dangun) of a successor nation to Gojoseon, or may be ignored as a nonexistent event.
According to (환단고기; 桓檀古記), in 238 B.C., at the end of the reign of the last Wanggeom Goyeonga (고열가(高列加), Haemosu (해모수; 解慕漱) plotted rebellion and occupied the old capital Baekaksan Asadal (백악산아사달; 白岳山阿斯達) and declared himself Cheonwangrang (천왕랑; 天王郞; meaning “Son of Heaven”) and other kings supported him. With the loss of Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), Gojoseon was cut off from the rest of the territory, Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓). Wanggeom Goyeonga (고열가(高列加) had to concede the end of Gojoseon and he retired. One striking feature of all references to the last Dangun is that he does not face a violent end. The last Dangun retires in all versions of the Dangun story to become an immortal spirit.



Hwandangogi version of Disintegration of Gojoseon in 238 B.C.: While it is not clear how much of the lost territory Beonjoseon has recovered by this time, it is very likely that Beonjoseon recovered most of its territory because Yan underwent a sharp decline after 279 B.C.
By 238 B.C., Beonjoseon was already outside the sphere of influence of Gojoseon. Haemosu’s insurrection converted Jinhahn to Goguryeo, depriving Wanggeom of Gojoseon of available power. With the resignation of Wanggeom Goyeonga, Gojoseon came to an end. Mahahn became a supreme state by default. Between 220 B.C and 200 B.C., when Qin Shi Huangdi constructed of the Great Wall, the border between Qin (the unified Chinese dynasty of that time) coincided with the location of the Great Wall. Beonjoseon was taken over by Wiman in 194 B.C., and grew in power. China became unified under the Han dynasty, which thrust the power of a newly unified country against Wimanjoseon, the successor of Beonjoseon. By this time, the other progenies of Gojoseon included many developed kingdoms such as Goguryeo, a prototype of a later Goguryeo with the same name.
VIII. Clarification on key issues about Wimanjoseon, Lelang Jun, and Nakrang-Guk
8.1. Wimanjosen was only a remnant of Gojoseon.



Gojoseon is not Beonjoseon or Wimanjoseon (TRUE) v. Gojoseon, Beonjosen, and Wimanjoseon are the same. (FALSE) – Confusion about the identity of Gojoseon and Beonjoseon (a remnant of Gojoseon after Gojoseon’s disintegration)
Wimanjoseon was ruled by kings.  Gojoseon was ruled by Danguns.  The leader of Wimanjoseon never claimed to be a Dangun.  The leader of Gojoseon was always a Dangun.  Wimanjosen came to a violent end (through conquest by an external force) and the last king of Wimanjoseon was murdered.  Gojoseon came to a relatively peaceful end (by political disintegration) and the last Dangun retired.
A common misconception equates Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) with Gojoseon despite the clear indication that the end of Gojoseon and Beonjoseon are different identities. Gojoseon had some relationship, either causal or only temporal, with the advent of Gija about 1046 B.C. Gojoseon subsequently disintegrated as euphemistically expressed in Samgukyusa as the last Dangunwanggeom retiring into a mountain. Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) lasted the disintegration of Gojoseon, and became a sovereign nation. Apparently, Gija’s descendants become the kings of Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮). In a coup d’etat, Wiman came to power in Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) in 194 B.C., from which Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) is called Wimanjoseon (위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮). The official name of all of these countries was simply Joseon (조선; 朝鮮). The disintegration of Gojoseon seems to be in the early part of the first millennium B.C. according to Samgukyusa, and the fall of Wimanjoseon (위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮) was in 108 B.C. (almost 1,000 years of difference). Other Korean history books may offer different dates for disintegration of Gojoseon, but the ending of Gojoseon and the ending of Wimanjoseon are different events in ALL versions.
Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) is a political continuation of Beonhahn (번한; 番韓), which is one of the three “Hahns” (한; 韓) of Gojoseon, namely, Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓). Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) as an independent nation started around 1,000 B.C. with the disintegration of Gojoseon. The capital of Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) was located in the territory of its predecessor, Beonhahn (번한; 番韓). Gojoseon is an entity including all three of Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), and Beonhahn (번한; 番韓) before its disintegration. The capital of Gojoseon was located in Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓; meaning “True Hahn”) as the name implies (“True” means the heartland).
In summary, the description of the fall of Wimanjoseon (위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮), which became the successor to Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) when Wiman (위만; 衛滿) came to power in Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮) in a coup d’etat, has nothing to do with the capital of Gojoseon because Wimanjoseon and Gojoseon are different countries. When Gojoseon disintegrated, the last Dangun retired and became an immortal spirit according to Samgukyusa. When Wimanjoseon fell, the last king of Wimanjoseon, Wi Ugeo (위우거; 衛右渠) died defending the capital during a siege.
8.2. Wimanjoseon and the four Juns of Han were located outside the Korean peninsula.
The four Jins of Han were located outside the Korean peninsula (TRUE) v. The four Jins of Han were located inside the Korean peninsula (FALSE) – Confusion about the location of Wimanjoseon
If the mistake on the location of the capital of Gojoseon inadvertently introduced by Il Yeon in Samgukyusa and the mistake of equating Beonjoseon with Gojosron are combined, truly preposterous hypotheses that directly contradict many historic records follow. For example, the locations of the four juns (郡; 군) of Han after the fall of Wimanjoseon (위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮) becomes extremely difficult. In this scenario, Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) may stretch from Luanhe River (灤河; 난하) near the Great Wall into the Korean peninsula, a gigantic size for Yue Lang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) that would be roughly 5 – 10 times the typical size of other Juns (郡; 군). Attempts to reduce the size of Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) removes the the regions that gave rise to the name itself, i.e., the regions of Rao Le Sui (饒樂水; 요락수) and Bai Lang Shui (白狼水; 백랑수) that are located around the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하), thereby giving the new Jun a name that is completely removed from the origin of the name.
Another anomaly is the placement of Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군). The Chinese records recite that Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) was located in the region of Juli (句麗; 고려, Korean reading is Goryeo; a predecessor of Goguryeo (高句驪; 고구려) of Jumong), which was in the upper eastern region of the Liaohe River (遼河; 요하).  Records also state that Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) was later moved to the northwest of “Goguryeo” (高句驪; 고구려; seems to mean Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) of Haemosu, a predecessor of Goguryeo (高句驪; 고구려) of Jumong founded in 37 B.C.). Lintun Jun (臨屯郡; 임둔군) and Chenfan Jun (辰番郡; 진번군), the other two of the four Juns of Han, were discontinued in 82 B.C. If Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) is not located directly to the south of Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) in the lower Liaohe River (遼河; 요하) region, Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) becomes an isolated territory within the Korean peninsula, implying a situation in which “Goguryeo (高句驪; 고구려),” located between Yue Lang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) and Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) attacks Xuantu Jun (玄菟郡; 현도군) to the northwest and attacks Yue Lang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) to the south.
Further, Lelang Jun (樂浪郡; 낙랑군) would have to display an extraordinary level of military prowess to be able to continue in hostile territory after being cut off from the contiguous portion of the Han territory. The tenuous hypotheses keep on requiring even more tenuous hypothesis for justification.
Finally, the lack of any archeological remains of this era from the Korean peninsula renders this hypothesis unsupportable.
8.3. Lelang Jun is different from Naklang-Guk.
The Lelang Jun (樂浪郡) is a different entity from Naklang-Guk (樂浪國; 낙랑국). (TRUE) v. All references to “樂浪” mean the same entity. (FALSE) – Confusion about the two different entities.
Lelang Jun (樂浪郡) of Han was formed after the fall of Wimanjoseon in Manchuria, while Naklang-Guk (樂浪國; 낙랑국), a Korean kingdom, was located in the Korean peninsula.  A total of 28 references to Nakrang (樂浪) are found in Samguk Sagi (삼국사기, 三國史記; meaning “History of Three Kingdoms”). Samguk Sagi is the oldest extant Korean history book that was compiled in 1145 A.D. by a historian Bu Shik Kim.  Note that the name of a Korean kingdom should be read in Korean pronunciation even if Chinese characters are employed.  18 references to Nakrang (樂浪) relate to events between 28 B.C.  One reference to Lelang (樂浪) relate to an event in 146 A.D. and 9 references Lelang (樂浪) refer to events between 246 A.D. and 313 A.D.   See
The 14th reference to Nakrang (樂浪) in time relate to an event in 37 A.D., and appears under Goguryeo section in Sanguk Sagi. The 14th reference states:





The King attacked Nakrang and destroyed (terminated, obliterated) it.

The 15th reference to Nakrang (樂浪) relate to the same event as the 14th reference, and appears under Shilla section in Sanguk Sagi. The 15th reference states:





十四年 高句麗王無恤 襲樂浪滅之 其國人五千來投 分居六部
In the 14th year (of the reign of Yuri Isageum, king of Shilla), the king of Goguryeo, Muhyul, attacks Nakrang and destroys it.  5,000 people from this country came, and (the King) let them live within the six districts (of Shilla). 

The 16th reference to Nakrang (樂浪) in time relate to an event in 40 A.D., i.e., 3 years after fall of Nakrang.  This reference does not specify Nakrang, but lists two former provinces of Nakrang.  Apparently, these two provinces resisted the subjugation by Nakrang and acted independently.  This reference appears under Shilla section in Samguk Sagi.


十七年 秋九月 華麗不耐二縣人連謀 率騎兵犯北境 貊國渠帥 以兵要曲河西敗之 王喜 與貊國結好
In September of the seventeenth year (of the reign of Yuri Isageum, king of Shilla), the alliance of the two hyuns (xians) of Hwaryeo and Bulnae sent cavalry and invaded the northern border.  The leader of Maek-guk led an army and defeated them at Haseo.  The king rejoiced (over this) and entered alliance with the Mak-guk.

The 17th reference to Nakrang (樂浪) relate to an event in 44 A.D. and appears under Goguryeo section in Sanguk Sagi.  The 17th reference states:


秋 九月 漢武帝遺兵渡海伐樂浪 取其地爲郡縣 薩水巳南屬漢
In September in the fall, Wudi (refers to Guangwudi (光武帝 ; 6. B.C. – 57 A.D. of Later Han) of Han sent his soldiers across the sea and attacked Nakrang (樂浪) and took the territory and made Juns and Xians (administrative divisions).  The territory south of Sa Shui Si (薩水巳) belonged to Han.

Some argue that the 17th reference is not to Nakrang (樂浪), the Korean kingdom, but to Lelang (樂浪), one of the Juns of Han.  There are at least problems with this argument.  
1. There is no reference to an internal rebellion to the Han dynasty in the text. 
2. This text is provided in Goguryeo section of Samguk Sagi, a book on Korean history.  This book was not supposed to discuss internal politics of the Han dynasty.
3. Why would Han make new administrative districts if the the administrative districts existed before?
4. The territory did not belong to Han before this conquest.  Otherwise, a conquered territory cannot become the territory of Han.
Also, the fact that the soldiers of Han crossed the sea suggests that the conquered territory was not contiguous with existing territory.  The 17th reference means the conquest of the territory of Goguryeo because the text appears in the Goguryeo section of Sanguk Sagi, but does not refer to the Lelang Jun, which is the territory of Han to begin with.  While Goguryeo succeeds in defeating (樂浪國; 낙랑국), Han is the final winner that takes the territory.  It is the author’s opinion that Han establishes a colony in the Korean peninsula in 44 A.D. for the first time in history.
The 18th reference to Nakrang (樂浪) relate to an event in 47 A.D. and appears under Goguryeo section in Sanguk Sagi.  The 18th reference states:


冬 十月 蠶友落部大家載升一灣餘家詣樂浪投漢
In December in the winter, 10,000 households of Daega (大家) and Daeseung (載升) of Jamurak district (switched allegiance from Goguryeo and) went to Nakrang and surrendered to Han.

The destroyed independent Korean kingdom of Naklang-Guk (樂浪國; 낙랑국) did not come back to life, but existed as a region of Han after 44 A.D.  Thus, Nakrang (樂浪) in the 18th reference refers to the region that used to be occupied by Naklang-Guk (樂浪國; 낙랑국) until 37 A.D., held briefly by Goguryeo between 37 A.D. and 44 A.D., and taken over by the forces of Han that came into the Korean peninsula by crossing the sea.
Nakrang-Guk was present in the Korean peninsula around present day Pyeongyang.  Nakrang-Guk bordered Goguryeo, Baekjae, and Shilla based on the Samguk Sagi because Samguk Sagi records military conflicts between Nakrang and each of Goguryeo, Baekjae, and Shilla.  Due to the isolation of the Nakrang region that Han occupied, continued defense of the Nakrang region was difficult for Han.  Most likely, the Nakrang region that Han occupied did not last very long once the military support of Han was withdrawn, and became absorbed by Goguryeo, which undoubted considered the Nakrang region as her own territory.   

Photo to the left:  a wooden tablet listing the districts and population of NakrangGuk.  The territory of Nakrang-Guk may be inferred based on this recently discovered (2005) wooden tablets, which list names and population of many districts.  Some characters are not legible due to the age of the wooden tablet.  The presence of Nakrang (樂浪) between 28 B.C. and 40 A.D. around present day Pyeongyang is undisputed.

The next reference employing the word, “樂浪” is a reference to Lelang Jun, and relates to an event in 146 A.D.  


秋 八月 王遺將襲漢遼東西安平縣 殺帶方令 掠得樂浪太守妻子
In August in the fall, the king (of Goguryeo) sent a general to attack the district (xian) of Xi An Ping in Liaodong (Jun), killed the commander of Daifang (Jun of Han), and captured the wife and children of the commander of Lelang Jun.  

In this event, Goguryeo attacks a region in Manchuria, a territory of Daifang Jun.  The wife and children of the commander of Lelang Jun are captured there.  Presumably, the wife and children of the commander of Lelang Jun came from a nearby area, thus suggesting that Lelang Jun was physically close to Daifang Jun, which was located in Manchuria.
The next reference to to Lelang Jun refers to an event in 246 A.D.  Between 44 A.D. and 246 A.D., Goguryeo and Han were in a continuous war.  The fact that the record of direct attack on Lelang Jun occurs only in 246 A.D. must mean that Lelang Jun did not border Goguryeo until about 246 A.D.  In 313 A.D., Goguryeo destroys Lelang Jun.
See (in Korean) for a brief discussion of other theories.
In summary, Nakrang (樂浪) is the name of a Korean kingdom, while Lelang (樂浪) is the name of a Jun of Han.  The date of the foundation of the kingdom of Nakrang (樂浪) is unclear, while the founding date of Lelang Jun is 108 B.C.  The kingdom of Nakrang (樂浪) was destroyed in 37 A.D., and Lelang Jun (樂浪郡) was destroyed in 313 A.D.  The region of the kingdom of Nakrang (樂浪) was held by Goguryeo between 37 A.D. and 44 A.D., taken by Han for some time afterwards but retaken by, and incorporated into, Goguryeo (presumably soon because of the logistical difficulty of maintaining a region across the Yellow Sea on the part of Han).  While one cannot preclude that Nakrang region might have been controlled by an official of Lelang Jun, given the difficulty of controlling a remote region from the point of Han, the central issue here is the extent of Wimanjoseon at the time of fall.  The fact that Han controlled Nakrang regon for a while (possibly up to 200 years through political arrangements) after 44 A.D. does not tell anything about the period before 44 A.D.   


8.4. Jeomjaehyun Sinsabi was moved!


Jeomjaehyun Sinsabi was moved to an area (corresponding to the sea of 108 B.C.) by an unscrupulous scholar (TRUE) v. Jeomjaehyun Sinsabi proves that the four Jins of Han were located inside Korea (FALSE) – Confusion caused by intentional perpetration of a false theory by Japanese historians during 1910 – 1945.
The view that the four Juns of Han were located within the Korean peninsula were vigorously propagated by Japanese historians and collaborating Korean historians during the Japanese occupation of Korea between 1910 and 1945. A Japanese historian Ryu Imanishi (今西龍) apparently took the trouble of moving a monument from a region around Shan Hai Guan (山海關; 산해관) of China to the mouth of Daedong River on which present day Pyeongyang is located, apparently to reinforce the erroneous view on the location of the capital of Gojoseon intentionally. This monument became known as Jeomjaehyun Sinsabi (점제현 신사비; 棕蟬縣神祠碑). The region from which this monument was found turned out to be a region well under the sea around 108 B.C. Please refer to this website for details (written in Korean): This incident is an epitome of the Japanese efforts to belittle the Korean history that was perpetrated at that time, which included the destruction of all Korean history books. The Japanese effort to distort the Korean history was part of a grand scheme to culturally subjugate Korea to Japan, and eventually to eliminate the trace of Korean identity from all Koreans. See the Epilogue for details on this point.
8.5. Relics from the Korean peninsula are from Later Han periods, not from Former Han periods.
Relics from around Pyeongyang in North Korea are from Later Han (25 A.D. – 220 A.D.), having nothing to do with the area of the four Jins of Han established in 108 B.C. (TRUE) v. Relics of “Han” from around Pyeongyang proves that the four Jins of Han were inside the Korean peninsula (FALSE) – Confusion caused by an anachronous interpretation of relics from the Later Han dynasty (25 A.D. – 220 A.D.) from around present day Pyeongyang.
Relics of the Former Han dynasty (前漢; 전한; 206 B.C. – 24 A.D.) are found only in the Liaohe region and not around Pyeongyang. This conclusively established the location of Wimanjoseon. Despite this fact, some scholars make an anachronous argument that relics of Later Han dynasty (25 A.D. – 220 A.D.) has somehow something to do with the territory of Wimanjoseon. Relics of the Later Han dynasty (25 A.D. – 220 A.D.) are found around Pyeongyang, which seems to have come from a later invasion of Han forces during the Later Han dynasty. Specifically, Guangwudi (光武帝; 광무제) of Later Han (後漢; 후한) sent an invasion force that successfully occupied the region including present day Pyeongyang in the Korean peninsula, the deepest penetration of Chinese forces into the Korean kingdoms and apparently the first successful invasion into the Korean peninsula.
The relics of the Later Han (後漢; 후한) from the Pyeongyang area seems to have caused significant confusion among later historians despite the differences in time, i.e., the fall of Wimanjoseon was during the Former Han dynasty (前漢; 전한; 206 B.C. – 24 A.D.). Despite the initial military success, the management of this region became extremely difficult as this area became an isolated pocket surrounded by hostile Korean kingdoms. In some occasions, Later Han could not even appoint a governor for this region for an extended period of time. However, the brief establishment of this colony, from which the remains of the Later Han dynasty come from, during Later Han dynasty is a completely different event that does not have any relationship with the extent of the territory of Wimanjoseon, let along the territory of Gojoseon that disintegrated centuries before.
In order for proponents of the theory that Lelang Jun existed in the Korean peninsula, a discovery of relics of the Former Han period must be found within the Korean peninsula.  The textual analysis of history books in combination of the absence of such relics (despite the discovery of relics of the Later Han period, which substantiate the text of Samgk Sagi about Wudi’s temporary conquest of the region of Nakrang) points to the four Juns of Han, and the territory of Wimanjoseon, being in Manchuria.



IX. Progenies of Gojoseon


With the fall of Gojoseon, the three major territories of Gojoseon are politically separated. The political separation seems to be both the cause and the effect of the fall of Gojoseon. The advent of Iron Age technology and consequent increase in the military capability of each kingdom correlates with the disintegration of Gojoseon as a nation led by theocracy.
Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓), located in the present day South Korea, became a sovereign power. Mahhahn stayed under a consolidated power for a while, but some states began to assert supremacy. Shilla was among the first to do that, and Gaya followed suit. Soon, another state, Baekjae, asserted supremacy. Eventually, Mahhahn was consolidated into two major kingdoms of Baekjae and Shilla, and a minor kingdom of Gaya.
Jinhahn (진한; 眞韓), located in present day eastern Manchuria and northern Korean is absorbed into Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎), which is the country Haemosu founded. The name of Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) is identical in Korean to another Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) founded in 37 B.C. by Jumong (주몽) and later became one of the three Korean kingdoms. The Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) that Haemosu (해모수; 解慕漱) founded was later called Bukbuyeo (북부여; 北夫餘) by the people of later Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) of Jumong (주몽). The Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) of Haemosu was absorbed into Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) of Jumong (주몽) within a few hundred years. After Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮; Wimanjoseon; 위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮) falls to the Han dynasty, Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) of Haemosu (해모수; 解慕漱) engages in fierce battles with the Hiens of Han in the territory of Beonjoseon near Liaohe River. After Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) of Jumong (주몽) absorbs Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) of Haemosu (해모수; 解慕漱), this battle continues until the border is stabilized around the Liaohe River later on.
Beonhahn (번한; 番韓), which became Beonjoseon (번조선; 番朝鮮), or Wimanjoseon; 위만조선; 衛滿朝鮮), and erroneously identified as the last remnant of Gojoseon (*Note: Wimanjoseon rebelled against Gojoseon and attempted to usurp the title Wanggum, and Gojoseon dissolved politically, not by external conquest as discussed above), is noted in Chinese and Korean historical records for its dramatic ending. After Wimanjoseon was politically isolated from Goguryeo (고구려; 高九黎) of Haemosu (해모수; 解慕漱), the Chinese Han dynasty sends an expeditionary force of about 60,000 army and 7,000 navy. After a year long battle, the capital of Wimanjoseon falls to the Han forces in 108 B.C. However, the Han rule over the territory of Wimanjoseon turned out to be fleeting because Goguryeo of (고구려; 高九黎) of Haemosu (해모수; 解慕漱) Goguryeo (고구려; 高句麗) of Jumong (주몽) continued their attack.
The capital of Wimanjoseon was located around Liaohe River. While some historians suggested that present day Pyeongyang in North Korea was the last capital of Wimanjoseon, the key evidence of a monument discovered in the region turned out to be a fake. This monument is called Jeomjaehyun Sinsabi (점제현 신사비; 棕蟬縣神祠碑). This monument was first found and investigated by a Japanese historian, Imanishi Ryu (今西龍) in 1913. Upon investigation, the composition of the monument does not match any of the granites in that region or near Pyongyang, but matches the granite stones of Shan Hai Guan (山海關; 산해관), the ending point of the Great Wall at Yellow Sea, and the obvious border of the Chinese territory with Wimanjoseon of at the beginning of the Han dynasty. (Note: The Great Wall was constructed by Qin Shi Huangdi (關秦始帝; 진시황제; 259 B.C. – 210 B.C.), which immediately preceded the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.) Despite the obvious purpose of serving as an outer frontier of the Chinese territory at that time, many articles on China (Qin) around this time as propagated by Chinese historians are replete with maps that eliminates Beonjoseon as an independent entity and incorporating the territory of Beonjoseon into the territory of Qin. There is no historical basis for this distortion since Gojoseon fell only in 108 B.C. Qin Shi Huandi would not have needed the eastern part of the Great Wall if he had a control over the territory of Gojoseon at this point.)
Why would Qin Shi Huangdi build the great wall at Shan Hai Guan (山海關; 산해관) if that was not the border with Wimanjoseon? If they were not fighting against Wimanjoseon, who were they fighting against there? Apparently, Imanishi Ryu (今西龍) played tricks by apparently planting fake clay seals (封泥; 봉니). Please refer to this website for details (written in Korean):
The theory that the last capital of Wimanjoseon was located in the Korean peninsula is also rebutted by analysis of types of tombs in the Liaohe region and the tombs around Pyongyang. Please refer to this website for details (written in Korean):
Also, the escape path of Junwang (준왕; 準王), who is the last king Beonhahn (번한; 番韓), across the sea to a country in Mahhahn (마한; 馬韓) is another proof that the theory of Wimanjoseon within the Korean peninsula is a pure fabrication advanced by the Japanese scholars during the occupation of the Korea (1910 – 1945).
Why did the Japanese try to limit the Korean history within the Korean peninsula? While a full answer would require analysis of the Japanese historians and government officials at that time, the Epilogue of this article provides some answer to this question.


X. Chinese References to Gojoseon
Ancient Choseon was a powerful country that was dominated by the Korean people, who were refered to as East-i (東夷; pronounced “dawng-ee” in Korea and pronounced “Dong-yi” in Chinese). According to the Chinese record of “Si Ku Quan Shu” (四庫全書), 經部, 禹貢錐指, Gojoseon was called “九夷” (Gu-i; 구이; “9″-i) or “嵎夷(U-i; 우이).”  ”The book of Later Han Dynasty” (後漢書) and “Du Tongdian” (杜氏通典) state that the 9 varieties (九種) of East-i (東夷; 동이; dong-i)” are all “嵎夷(우이; U-i), and that Choseon (meaning Gojoseon) and Goguyeo were all in the land of Qing (靑; the name of a later Qing dynasty that originated from Manchuria and founded by the Manchus, i.e., the Jurchens) during the reign of Emperor Yu(禹) of Xia dynasty (~ 2,100 B.C – ~ 1600 B.C.) (朝鮮句麗諸國 禹時實皆在靑域). Since Yu is the first Emperor of the Xia (夏) dynasty, Gojoseon was present in the third millennium B.C.  According to the Chinese record in “On Yugong” (禹貢論), (the land and people of) Gojoseon later became (the land and people of) Goryeo (meaning Goguryeo) (“朝鮮於後世爲高麗”) . In other words, the land of Gojoeon encompassed the land of Goguryeo that followed.
The Chinese records need to be interpreted with the fact that Gojoseon and China were in constant conflict except for the time when the people of Gojoseon founded a Chinese dynasty themselves, e.g., the Shang (商) dynasty (also referred to as the Yin (殷) dynasty). Thus, characters in Gojoseon are rarely glorified or portrayed in favorable light. For example, Chiyou (蚩尤; 치우) is portrayed in Chinese records as a monster with six arms, four eyes, bull’s horns and hooves, and head made of bronze and iron, and ate sand. He is supposed to have used a lance and a shield for the first time. In the Korean records, he is Chi-u Cheonhwang (蚩尤天皇), a supreme ruler of Baedalguk, the predecessor to Gojoseon, who was a genius of war and never suffered a defeat. If Chi-u (Chiyou) was actually present, who is right?
If the Chinese record are used to establish the chronology of Gojoseon, it needs to be noted that King Wu of Zhou dynasty of China attacked and put and end to Shang (商) dynasty (also referred to as Yin dynasty (殷代)) around 1,000 B.C. The power that put the Shang (商) dynasty into existence was the people that originated from Gojoseon, the people called east-i (Dong Yi). Apparently, the people of east-i continued to resist the Zhou (周) dynasty after the collapse of Shang dynasty, and King Wu had to defeat east-i, meaning Gojoseon had to be dealt with. The Chinese records also include that many influential people in the Chinese history had east-i (Dong Yi) ancestry, i.e., the people from Gojoseon went into China and contributed to their development.
XI. The Legacy of Gojoseon
The political ideology of Gojoseon is summed up in the two mottoes, “Widely benefit the Mankind” (弘益人間; 홍익인간) and “Advance Reason in the (present) World” (在世理化; 제세이화). The implication of these mottoes is that peaceful coexistence with neighboring nations was an implied goal. The consequence of this non-obvious goal becomes clearer when contrasted with the political concepts impliedly used by other neighboring countries. For example, conquest of the world was accepted as the right and God-given mission of the Mongolian people, especially during the era of Genghis Khan. Such an approach is outright rejected by the implications of these two mottoes. For the Chinese, the word Zhong Hua (中華), which is the name for China, means “Central China.” Most non-Chinese tribes were given names with one of the directions (North, South, East, or West) attached to them, with the implication that China is superior to them and that the rest of the world should be under their influence. Such implications were outright precluded by the principles promulgated by Danguns even when Gojoseon was a regional superpower. According to the guiding principles for Danguns, all decisions were to be made to benefit the mankind and to advance reason in the world. Abuse of power by a ruler for his own benefit would be inconceivable.
Later, these guiding principles became so pervasive in Korean philosophy and was impliedly enforced without a written code. No king would be able to do acts against these principles and survive for long because the subjects would not take such an abuse. Thus, the power of the King was limited throughout the later Korean dynasties.
In some aspects, these concepts may have backfired to the Korean’s disadvantage. The concepts advanced by Gojoseon’s rulers were not equally shared by rulers of neighboring countries. Thus, the neighboring countries did not look upon military aggression on another country with disdain. Consequently, Koreans were invaded often, but seldom invaded other countries. The militaristic conducts of the apparently belligerent kingdom of Goguryeo may be an exception, but this needs to be interpreted in the frame of recovering all the land of Gojoseon as the professed heir to Gojoseon. By trying to adhere to reason, the Koreans may have overlooked the possibility that others may not be as much willing to use reason instead of military force as they did.
In some other aspects, the legacy of Gojoseon as captured the teachings of Dangun was very useful. Through the story of the Bear-Woman, the foundation mythology teaches that perseverance is a virtue. In the foundation mythology, the bear turned into a human by persevering in the cave without seeing sunlight for 21 days (literally three times seven days) and “dedicating herself” (“in pursuit of enlightenment” implied). Throughout all the difficult periods in history, the Koreans displayed remarkable perseverance and dedication to overcome the challenges. Some of these events include 70 years of Mongolian invasion followed by over 100 years of Mongolian meddling, the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592, the invasion of Qing in 1637, the Japanese occupation during 1910 – 1945, the Korean War (1950 – 1953), and the current division between South Korea and North Korea. Perhaps, the spirit of perserverance among the Koreans is best symbolized by the Korean national flower, Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus linnaeus). The Korean name for this flower is Mugunghwa (무궁화; 無窮花), literally meaning “forever flower,” i.e., the flower that continues to bloom for ever despite the daily troubles. It may be that the collective consensus of the Koreans that they would persevere through troubled times is implied in the act of adopting this flower as the national flower. 
Incorporation of Dangun in the religious affairs of the Korean people is as described above. Whether modern day Koreans are consciously aware of the effect of Dangun’s philosophy or not, the effect of principles of “Widely benefit the Mankind” (弘益人間; 홍익인간) and “Advance Reason in the (present) World” (在世理化; 제세이화) has already become tremendous in the way Koreans think in general as well as in religion and philosophy. An example of manifestation of these principles is the Korean Declaration of Independence that was proclaimed on March 1, 1919. The Korean Declaration of Independence sets forth as the goal for the Korean people not only the independence and restoration of Korean as a country, but also contribution to the general welfare of the world as a leading participant of the world order to come. The fact that such proclamations could come from a cruelly oppressed people struggling for immediate survival is the proof that the guiding principles of Gojoseon had already became ingrained in the minds of the Koreans. In the darkest hours of the Korean history, the Koreans did not define the Korean’s ultimate goal as the independence and well being of their own nation. They saw beyond these goals into the future. Following the teachings of the founder of Gojoseon, the Korean Declaration of Independence proclaimed bringing common prosperity for the rest of the world as the ultimate goal for the Korean people. This seems to be the true legacy of Gojoseon and its founder, Dangunwanggeom – a legacy that is worthy of remembrance for the Korean people (and for all those who understand Dangun’s ideology) in the modern age filled with vice called “selfishness.”
1. For a theory offering an explanation of the origin of the Asadal Civilization that brought forth the kingdom of Gojoseon, please refer to the video: Asadal Civilization
2. For general information on Gojoseon, please refer to (This site is in Korean.)
3. For ancient Korean history in general, please refer to a website by Sun-Geun Han: (This site is also in Korean.)
4. To join Kochosun History Society, please visit This is a private society for supporting research on Gojoseon (Kochosun) and there is an annual membership due.
5. provides the version of the history of Gojoseon as presented in Hwandangodi for the overall confederate structure of Gojoseon and chronology.
I must apologize to those whose primary language is English for the very few number of English sites that provide accurate information that reflects the most recent information on Gojoseon and avoids all gross errors. Some scholars seem to insist on grossly erroneous positions that I consider to lack merit in the final analysis. Unfortunately, many English sites on Gojoseon seem to contain at least one of the many misconception that was pointed out in 5.4. Common misconceptions about the nature, duration, and location of Gojoseon, Beonjoseon, and Wimanjoseon. In many cases, these misconceptions are manifested as multiple incompatible muddled and illogical statements. (For example, a country cannot fall by invasion and gradually disintegrate politically, nor can a country be located around the Liaohe River and leave a territory in the Korean peninsular for the conquerers, nor should a correct version of the history require an undocumented and archeologically unsupportable move of the capital of Wimanjoseon from the Liaohe region into the Korean peninsula.) Correcting these mistakes through exchange of knowledge is one of the purposes of this article. In this regard, this article is an unprecedented effort to rectify the previously propagated misinformation on Gojoseon by pointing out the problems in widely circulated misconceptions on Gojoseon through other articles in English. Please keep a keen eye on these issues. I would very much appreciate your effort if you could help correct existing mistakes elsewhere, or at least provide contradicting theories contained in this article.
While anyone is free to have his/her own opinion on these subjects based on available information, I assert that the positions taken in section 5.4 of this article reflect the inevitable conclusion that follows the logical analysis of all available information up to date. I further assert that the positions taken in section 5.4 do not encroach into any area having tenuous support, and are fully defensible based on the current knowledge. Should you have any more useful information, please let me know. This knol may be edited but is subject to the author’s final approval. .

According to other ancient transcripts, a kingdom called Gija Joseon was established in 1122 BC, when a Chinese exile Jizi (Gija) led 5,000 followers to the mountainous peninsula and founded the kingdom by merging with existent populations. Historians are still debating the exact order of events. Go-Joseon was later revived as Wiman Joseon, which lasted until 108 BC. It has become common to refer to Wiman Joseon, Gija Joseon and the initial Go-Joseon as parts of a longer Go-Joseon period, this time to distinguish them from the later Joseon Dynasty.

Various chiefdoms

After the fall of Go-Joseon, many different minor chiefdoms arose in Manchuria and the Korean peninsula. Okjeo and Dongye were located on the eastern coast of modern-day North Korea, and Buyeo was in Manchuria. Okjeo, Dongye, and Buyeo were later conquered by Goguryeo.

In the southern part of the peninsula, three different confederate of chiefdoms existed: Mahan, Jinhan, and Byeonhan. According to Later Book of Han, Mahan contained 54 states, Jinhan and Byeonhan contained 14 each.

Among those chiefdoms, Baekje arose in Mahan and Silla in Jinhan. Mahan and Jinhan were gradually conquered/absorbed by Baekje and Silla. Byeonhan became Gaya.


Gochosun is the first state in Korean history. It was established in 2333 BCE. Its real name is Chosun, but it is called Gochosun to make it different from other Chosun in Korean history. Go is a Korean prefix meaning ‘old’. The founder of Gochosun is said to be Dangun. The Korean people believe that Dangun established the country on October 3rd, and still celebrate that day. In Korea October 3rd is a national holiday, which is named Kaecheonjeol (The day heaven opened). It is said to be the day that Dangun’s father whose name is Hwan-ung came from sky on October 3rd 2457 BCE. Gochosun was destroyed by the Chinese Han Dynasty in 108 BCE.

Proto-Three Kingdoms

After Gojoseon had been destroyed there were many ancient confederations in the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria : Mahan, Byeonhan, Jinhan, Buyeo, Dongye, Okjeo, Goguryeo, and so on.

The ancient confederation countries later merged into three more powerful kingdoms and a advanced confederation country.

Chinese commanderies

After Emperor Han Wudi of China’s victory over Wiman Joseon (108 BC), the Chinese established four commanderies: Lelang (樂浪)(Korean: Nangnang), Xuantu (玄菟) (Korean: Hyeonto), Zhenfan(真番) (Korean: Jinbeon), and Lintun (臨屯) (Korean: Imdun). Some sources such as [1] (http://www.chinaknow…/han-event.html) indicate that a fifth commandery named Bohai (渤海) (Korean: Balhae) was also established, not connected with the later Bohai kingdom. These commanderies held military control over much of Manchuria and part of northern Korea.

The Mahan and Jinhan confederations reconquered three of the commanderies shortly after they were established. They took the Zhenfan commandery and the Lintun commandery in 82 BC. The Xuantu commandery fell in 75 BC (Yang, 1999, p. 41). However, the Lelang commandery survived.

After the Han dynasty perished, the Gongsun clan still ruled some of the commandery area and parts of Southern Manchuria, yet soon their territories were conquered by the kingdom of Wei. Under the Jin Dynasty, the Chinese rule still was present, but since it was a weak dynasty, the Xianbei, Tungus or proto-Mongol nomads took advantage of the situation, creating their own Yan kingdom (not the Yan of the Warring States era).

Goguryeo’s conquest of the Lelang commandery in 313 AD marked the end of direct Chinese rule on the Korean peninsula, and the beginning of Goguryeo’s rise as a major regional power.

The commanderies were known for their strong cultural influence on Korea. The Chinese occupation of Northern Korea influenced the Southern “Han” tribes and even the Three Kingdoms era. In particular, the Chinese presence is often credited with bringing Confucian scholarship and Chinese script to Korea. Goguryeo set up the first Korean school of Confucian learning in the 4th century AD.

Three Kingdoms (三國時代/삼국시대)

Main article: Three Kingdoms of Korea

Silla (or Shilla), Goguryeo, and Baekje are called the Three Kingdoms. The confederacy of chiefdoms called Gaya occupied much of the Nakdong River valley until conquered by Silla in 562.

Goguryeo first founded a kingdom in Southern Manchuria in 37 BC, and expanded into North Korea by occupying the Chinese commandery at Pyongyang in the fourth century. The kingdom was at its zenith in the fifth century when occupying the Liaodong Plains in Manchuria and today’s Seoul area. The Goguryeo kings controlled not only Koreans but also Chinese and other Tsungusic tribes in Manchuria and North Korea. Since the establishment of the Sui Dynasty in China, the kingdom continued to suffer from Chinese invasion until conquered by the allied Silla-Tang forces in 668.

The origin of Baekje is still controversial, but the kingdoms of Goguryeo and Baekje had similar ethnic and linguistic backgrounds and the kingdom was firmly established in the southwest of the Korean Peninsula with its capital at Seoul by the fourth century. Driven by Goguryeo, the kingdom moved its capital southwards to Gongju, and then to Buyeo. Culturally Baekje introduced Chinese civilization through its relationship with the Southern Dynasties in China. Baekje was fundamental in implanting high civilization, including Chinese characters and Buddhism, into ancient Japan with which the kingdom sustained friendly relations all the time. The kingdom of Baekje was conquered by the Silla-Tang forces in 660.

The remaining material culture from the kingdom of Silla including unique gold metalwork shows influence from the northern nomadic steppes, differentiating it from the culture of Goguryeo and Baekje where Chinese influence was more pronounced. Silla expanded rapidly by occupying Seoul and annexing Gaya in the sixth century. Goguryeo and Baekje responded by forming an alliance. To cope with invasions from Goguryeo and Baekje, Silla deepened its tributary relations with the Tang Dynasty, with her newly-gained access to the Yellow Sea making direct contact with the Tang possible. After the conquering of Goguryeo and Baekje with her Tang allies, the Silla kingdom drove the Tang forces out of the peninsula and occupied the lands south of Pyongyang.

Ulji Munduk

Yeon Gaesomun

Korean Armor

Three Kingdoms

Main article: Three Kingdoms of Korea

Between 57 BC and the year 668

there were three kingdoms in Korean Peninsula and Manchuria. The names of the kingdoms were: Silla, Goguryeo and Baekje.

In the year 372,

the religion Buddhism came from China to Korea. Buddhism was very important in Korea.

In the year 660,

the kingdom of Silla invaded the kingdom of Baekje. In the year 668 the kingdom of Silla invaded the kingdom of Gyguryeo. The people of Goguryeo ran away and made a new kingdom with the name Barhae. After a little time, the kingdom of Balhae was invaded by Liao Dynasty.

The time when Silla was the only country has the name Unified Silla. In the Silla kingdom Buddhism was very important.

Year Event
57 BCE Silla was established. The first leader is Hyeokgeose.
37 BCE Goguryeo was established as a kingdom. The first leader is King Dongmyeong.
18 BCE Baekje was established. The first leader is Onjo. The age of Three Kingdoms of Korea began.
1st century Gaya was established by some states around Gimhae.
562 CE Gaya was destroyed by and merged into Silla.
660 CE Baekje was destroyed by Tang Dynasty and merged into Silla.
668 CE Goguryeo was destroyed by Silla-Tang Alliance. The age of Three Kingdoms of Korea was finished.
935 CE Silla was destroyed by and merged to Goryeo

Balhae (or Barhae) (발해) period

The state of Balhae (also written Bohai or Pohai in Roman text) was founded in the former lands of Goguryeo by Dae Joyeong. Balhae controlled the northernmost areas of the Korean Peninsula, parts of Manchuria (but not the Liaodong Peninsula), and expanded into the region which is today’s Russian Maritime Province. Balhae styled itself as Goguryeo’s successor state. It also modelled itself on the Tang Empire, for example in the layout of its capitals.

In a time of relative peace and stability in the region, Balhae culture flourished, especially during the long reign of the third king, Mun Wang (r. 737-793). Like Silla culture, the culture of Balhae was strongly influenced by Buddhism. However, Balhae was severely weakened (many presume in-fighting) by the tenth century, and the Khitan Liao Dynasty conquered Balhae in 926.

No historical records from Balhae have survived, and the Liao left no histories of Balhae. Goryeo (see below) absorbed some Balhae territory and received Balhae refugees, including the royal family, but compiled no known histories of Balhae either. The Samguk Sagi, for instance, includes passages on Balhae, but does not include a dynastic history of Balhae (as it does of the Three Kingdoms). The eighteenth century Joseon historian Yu Deukgong was probably the first to advocate the proper study of Balhae as part of Korean history, and it was he who coined the term “North-South Period” to refer to the era when Silla and Balhae existed side by side.
 the end @ copyright dr Iwan Suwandy 2012


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