Josun Dynasty 조선 (1392-1897)

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.

Joseon dynasty

Joseon dynasty


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.

Sosuseowon Confucian School

Sosuseowon Confucian School – Kyung-ju, South 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.

Turtle Ship 1795 Wikipedia

Turtle Ship 1795

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.

Josun Society

Korean Confucian ethics encouraged frugality and pragmatism. This was reflected in very simple pottery of the time:



Hwa fortress near Seoul UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hwa fortress near Seoul UNESCO World Heritage Site

Jinju fortress

Korea Jinju fortress built during Joson Dynasty

North gate of the Dongnae fortress in Busan

North gate of the Dongnae fortress in Busan about 20 minutes from where we live

Pottery site Leeum Museum

10 thoughts on “Josun Dynasty 조선 (1392-1897)

    • I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the history. It’s a great way for me to consolidate what I’ve learned. I appreciate your ongoing support Sue. I find it interesting that there has been somewhat of a division between north and south throughout history. I’m glad to see you’re making the best of the weather there!

  1. I’ve Been to 41 countries but never Korea ,Your blog has def opened My eyes and curiosity For the country .It’s now on My travel list .I enjoy Reading your posts .make ME feel like I was there . Hope Everything is alright with u and your loved one s , how long are u Gon stay n Korea ?

    • Hi Simon, thank you for your comment. I’m glad you found some interesting things here. I’m very honored that whatever I have written about Korea has made you want to visit. We’ve always just taken things as they come to us here. We only planned to stay one year when we came here in 2001. We’re not sure when we’ll be returning to Canada. We are actually feeling like things are winding down here, so maybe we could be heading home next year. We’ll see. I appreciate your kind words for me and my family. I wish the same for you. Have a wonderful day:-)

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