The Josun Dynasty followed the Goryeo Dynasty. Many significant events happened during this period. I will try to highlight a few of them in this post. Joseon is the last dynasty of Korean history.
General Yi Seong Gye founded the Josunn dynasty. He was later named King Taejo and was raised to the rank of Emperor after he died. He was born in the North Korea city of Hamheung and died at the Chang deok Palace in Seoul, as he had made Seoul the capital city of the empire. This palace is part of the 5 great palaces complex in Seoul. The general had gained favor by pushing Mongol forces out of the peninsula and repelling attacks by Japanese pirates.
Confucianism was chosen as the official dynasty ideology. This was to counter the Buddhist religion from Goryeo and Shilla dynasties. Many Confucian societal mores continue today, especially within the education system. One example is the civil service examination. These exams were established to limit the movement between classes in Korea.
King Sejong the Great and the Korean alphabet 한글
During the reign of King Sejong the Great (r. 1418-1450), Joseon’s fourth monarch, Korea enjoyed an unprecedented flowering of culture and art. Under King Sejong’s guidance, scholars at the royal academy created the Korean alphabet Hangul. It was then called Hunminjeongeum, or “proper phonetic system to educate the people.”
The Turtle Ship 거북선 (Japanese Invasions 1592-98)
In 1592, Japan invaded the peninsula to pave the way for its incursion into China. At sea, Admiral Yi Sun-shin (1545-1598), one of the most respected figures in Korean history, led a series of brilliant naval maneuvers against the Japanese, inventing the geobukseon (turtle ship), the world’s first ironclad battleship.
General Yi sun-sin is credited with the resurrection and recreation of the turtle ship from former style of boats. Here are some pictures from Yeo-Su where general Yi had his headquarters. He used the turtle ships in four campaigns against the Japanese. The final campaign being fought in Busan. He was successful in all four campaigns.
After invasions by Japan and Manchuria, Korea was able to obtain a peaceful period of two hundred years. During this time they became known as the Hermit Kingdom because of their isolationist foreign policy. They just wanted to be left alone. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for long as Japan came to occupy Korea in 1910 ending the Joseon period of history.
Korean Confucian ethics encouraged frugality and pragmatism. This was reflected in very simple pottery of the time: