Tag Archive | Korean pottery

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

from Korea.net

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

Goryeo Kingdom (고려) 918-1392 A.D.

The Goryeo Dynasty or Kingdom is where the name Korea is derived. You might find that I spell the name different ways. That’s because I can’t decide which romanization to use. Korea used to be spelled with a ‘C’ Corea. Some Koreans say the reason it was changed to the ‘K’ is because when Japan occupied the peninsula they wanted Korea’s name to start with a letter after theirs ‘J’. I don’t know about that, but there has been some discussion as to whether to change the spelling back to the ‘C’.

Goryeo 1374

Goryeo 1374

From Wikipedia:

Goryeo, also known as Koryŏ (Hangul: 고려; hanja: 高麗; Korean pronunciation: [koɾjʌ]; 918–1392), was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by King Taejo. This kingdom later gave name to the modern exonym for Korea.[2] It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the leader of the Joseon dynasty in 1392. The Goryeo dynasty expanded its borders to present-day Wonsan in the north-east (936–943) and the Amnok River (993) and finally almost the whole of the Korean peninsula (1374).

“Korea” is the modern spelling of Corea, a name attested in English as early as 1614.[4] It is an exonym derived from Cauli, Marco Polo‘s transcription[5] of the Chinese 高麗 (simp.高丽, MCKawlej,[6] mod.Gāolì). This was the Hanja for the Korean kingdom of Goryeo or Koryŏ (고려; 918–1392), which ruled most of the peninsula during the time of his travels.

I did a post earlier about the Shilla Dynasty. Shilla preceded Goryeo.

Here’s how things looked during the Shilla Dynasty:


Two of Goryeo period’s most notable products are Goryeo celadon pottery and the Tripitaka Koreana — the Buddhist scriptures (Tripitaka) carved onto roughly 80,000 woodblocks and stored, and still in, Haeinsa. Subjects and officials of the Goryeo dynasty also created the world’s first metal-based movable type in 1234; the oldest surviving movable metal type book, the Jikji, was made in 1377.

Examples of the celadon pottery here:


Tripitaka woodblock Buddhist writings housed at Hae In Sa (temple)

Tripitaka Koreana woodblock Buddhist writings housed at Hae In Sa (temple)

The capital cities of this kingdom were mainly located in North Korea. Goryeo dynasty diminished and the next dynasty to take over, the last one before the Japanese occupation, was Joseon Dynasty.

From Wikipedia:


In the Goryeo dynasty, trade was frequent. In the start of the dynasty, Byeokrando was the main port. Byeokrando was a port close to the Goryeo capital. Trade included:

# Trading country Import Export
1 Song dynasty Silk, pearls, tea, spices, medicine, books, instruments Gold and silver, ginseng, marble, paper, ink
2 Liao dynasty Horses, sheep, low-quality silk Minerals, cotton, marble, ink and paper, ginseng
3 Jurchen Gold, horses, weapons Silver, cotton, silk
4 Japan Mercury, minerals Ginseng, books
5 Abbasid dynasty Mercury, spices, tusk Gold, silver


Goryeo Kingdom

Goryeo Kingdom