In Korean mythology and history, Asadal (Hangul: 아사달; Hanja: 阿斯達) was the mythical capital city of the kingdom of Gojoseon (Hangul: 고조선; Hanja: 古朝鮮 - meaning "Older Joseon"), the first Korean kingdom and notably founded by the legendary god-king Dan'gun. It is thought that Asadal was located in Manchuria, or in the northeastern Hwanghae Province (Hangul: 황해; Hanja: 黃海) in North Korea, or in the Pyongyang Province (Hangul: 평양; Hanja: 平壤), not referring to the modern-day capital of North Korea - Pyongyang.
It is often hypothesized that Asadal may be a compound noun composed of two elements, asa and dal. This hypothesis appears to be motivated by an assumption of equivalence between the Chinese phonetic transcription 阿斯達, which is read in Modern Korean as Asadal (but in Mandarin Chinese as Asīdá and in Modern Japanese as Ashitatsu or Ashidachi), and the word (Chinese: 朝鮮; pinyin: Cháoxiǎn or Cháoxiān, Korean Joseon, Japanese Chōsen) "Joseon, another name for Korea." However, the etymology of Joseon is unknown; it is not even clear whether it has been created as a phonetic transcription of a foreign name or rather as a semantic calque of a foreign name, and the Cháo reading of the first syllable of the Mandarin Chinese form is identical with the reading of this character when used to mean "dynasty," not with the reading of this character when used to mean "morning" (which would be *Zhāo instead).
Asa- in Asadal is sometimes claimed to be cognate with a common Korean word for "morning" (Middle Korean achɔm, Modern Korean achim), probably because of obvious phonetic similarity with Japanese 朝 asa "morning." However, the Chinese character 斯, which is used in the modern Chinese language mainly to represent the phoneme /s/ or /θ/ in word-final and preconsonantal positions when transcribing foreign words, has always had a sibilant (/s/) rather than an affricate like Korean ch, and the Chinese language has plenty of characters that would be better suited to transcribing Korean ch. Dal may be the result of reading Chinese characters in the Korean way, and the original Chinese pronunciation at the time Asadal was recorded in ancient historical texts could have been "Da," a transcription of the Korean word sdah or ddang meaning "land." If such is the case, "Asadal" would mean "Morning Land." However, if "dal" has been used much like the Goguryeo city name suffix "-dal" used for mountains and cities founded on plateaus/mountains, then "Asadal" would mean "Morning Mountain."
The first Korean historical work that mention Asadal is the Samguk Yusa (삼국유사; 三國遺事 - "Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms"), which cites the Chinese Book of Wei (Korean Hangul/ Hanja: 위서/魏書 - wi-seo). The Samguk Yusa also cites the lost historical records of Go-gi (고기; 古記 - "Old Analects/ Records") to the effect that Dan'gun's capital was located in Pyongyang. But recent studies show that there were more than one city named Pyongyang (which literally means "flat soil" in Chinese), situated in the north deep in Manchuria - possibly bordering in between China and Russia. The today Pyongyang, capital of North Korea, is actually the southern counterpart. At that time it was common for an emperor to manage two capitals and rule in two palaces. Therefore, it could be that the "true" Asadal is located in Manchuria.
- Wanggeom-seong, a capital of later Gojoseon.
- Lee, Peter H & Wm. Theodore De Bary. Sources of Korean Tradition, page 5-6. Columbia University Press, 1997.
- Pai, Hyung Il; Pai, Hyung 1l (2000). Constructing "Korean" Origins: A Critical Review of Archaeology, Historiography, and Racial Myth in Korean State-formation Theories. Harvard Univ Asia Center. ISBN 9780674002449.
- Grayson, James H. (2012-12-06). Myths and Legends from Korea: An Annotated Compendium of Ancient and Modern Materials. Routledge. ISBN 9781136602894.
- Naver Encyclopedia (in Korean)