Portal:Korea

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Korea is a civilization and geographical area situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia, bordering China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast, with Japan situated to the southeast across the Korea Strait. It is often called the "Land of the Morning Calm" (조선 朝 (Morning) 鮮 (Bright and Fresh and Beautiful and Soft).

One of the world's oldest civilizations, Korea has a recorded history dating back to approximately 2,333 B.C. It enjoyed long periods of relative peace throughout its history. In 1910, Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan, becoming a colony until 1945. Following World War II, the country was devastated in the Korean War and divided into two political entities as a result, North Korea and South Korea.

North Korea is a socialist state that is sometimes described as Stalinist and isolationist. South Korea is a capitalist liberal democracy, and its world economic ranking is 10th (based on GDP).

Korea is populated by a relatively homogeneous ethnic group, the Koreans, who speak a distinct language called Korean and use a unique script, called Hangul in south Korea, also called Chosongul in North Korea.

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US forces prepare to retreat from Taejon, July 1950

The Battle of Taejon was an early battle between United States and North Korean forces during the Korean War. Forces of the United States Army, attempting to defend the headquarters of the 24th Infantry Division were overwhelmed by numerically superior forces of the Korean People's Army at the major city and transportation hub of Taejon. Hampered by lack of communications equipment and shortages of heavy weapons to match North Korean firepower, the American forces, outnumbered, ill-equipped and untrained, were pushed back from the river bank after several days, before fighting an intense urban battle to defend the city The delay imposed at Taejon probably prevented an American rout during the subsequent Battle of the Pusan Perimeter. Also significant, the North Koreans captured Major General William F. Dean, the commander of the 24th Infantry Division, and highest ranking American prisoner during the Korean War.

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Wongudan, Seoul
Credit: Burton Holmes; Restoration: Lise Broer

A 1925 photo of Wongudan, an altar site in Seoul built in 1897 as a location for the performance of the rite of heaven. King Seongjong of the Goryeo Dynasty was the first to perform the rite, designed to ensure a bountiful harvest, in the tenth century. The practice was discontinued by later Goryeo kings, revived briefly in the mid fifteenth century by Sejo of the Joseon Dynasty, then reinstated with the founding of the Korean Empire in 1897. Much of the altar complex was destroyed during the Japanese occupation, and the gate and fountain seen here were also subsequently removed, leaving only the three-storey Hwangungu pagoda remaining.

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Dae Soen Sa Nim shortly before his death (photo by Joan Halifax)

Seung Sahn (August 1, 1927—November 30, 2004) was a Korean Jogye Seon master and founder of the international Kwan Um School of Zen—the largest Zen institution present in the Western world. He was the seventy-eighth teacher in his lineage. As one of the early Korean Zen masters to settle in the United States, he opened many temples and practice groups across the globe. He was known for his charismatic style and direct presentation of Zen, which was well tailored for the Western audience. Known by students for his many correspondences with them through letters, his utilization of Dharma combat, and expressions such as "only don't know" or "only go straight" in teachings, he was conferred the honorific title of Dae Soen Sa Nim in June 2004 by the Jogye order for a lifetime of achievements. Considered the highest honor to have bestowed upon one in the order, the title translates to mean Great honored Zen master. He died in November that year at Hwa Gae Sah in Seoul, South Korea, at age 77.

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Announcement of the Sōshi-kaimei policy issued by the Taikyu court, written bilingually in Japanese and Korean, in a special parallel style in which hanja/kanji were printed only once and were "shared" by the hangul and kana texts

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