Portal:Korea

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Introduction

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Korea is a region in East Asia; since 1948 it has been divided between two distinct sovereign states: North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and neighbours Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

Korea emerged as a singular political entity in 676 AD, after centuries of conflict among the Three Kingdoms of Korea, which were unified as Unified Silla to the south and Balhae to the north. Unified Silla divided into three separate states during the Later Three Kingdoms period. Goryeo, which had succeeded Goguryeo, defeated the two other states and united the Korean Peninsula. Around the same time, Balhae collapsed and its last crown prince fled south to Goryeo. Goryeo (also spelled as Koryŏ), whose name developed into the modern exonym "Korea", was a highly cultured state that created the world's first metal movable type in 1234. However, multiple invasions by the Mongol Empire during the 13th century greatly weakened the nation, which eventually agreed to become a vassal state after decades of fighting. Following military resistance under King Gongmin which ended Mongol political influence in Goryeo, severe political strife followed, and Goryeo eventually fell to a coup led by General Yi Seong-gye, who established Joseon in 1392.

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Graphic from the United States Geological Survey showing the location of seismic activity at the time of the test

The 2009 North Korean nuclear test was the underground detonation of a nuclear device conducted on 25 May 2009 by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. This was its second nuclear test, the first test having taken place in October 2006. Following the nuclear test, Pyongyang also conducted several missile tests. The test was nearly universally condemned by the international community. Following the test, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1874 condemning the test and tightening sanctions on the country. It is widely believed that the test was conducted as a result of a succession crisis in the country. After Kim Jong-Il suffered a stroke in the summer of 2008, arrangements were made for his third son, Kim Jong-un, to take power upon his death. It is believed the North Koreans conducted the nuclear test to show that, even in a time of possible weakness, it did not intend to give up its nuclear weapons program.

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Taepyeongmu
Credit: Ddol-mang

Taepyeongmu (태평무), a Korean dance wishing a great peace for Korea. Its origin is unknown but the late Han Seungjun (한성준 韓成俊 1875-1941), a known dancer and drummer, rearranged it in the early 20th century. It is assumed to have been a court dance occasionally performed by kings during the Joseon dynasty of Korea. Therefore, the costumes used for dancers are almost similar to a king and queen's gwanbok (관복, official clothing). Taepyeongmu is designated as one of the Important Intangible Cultural Properties of South Korea.

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Choe Bu (1454–1504) was a Korean official during the early Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). He is best known for the account of his shipwrecked travels in China from February to July 1488, during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). He was eventually banished from the Joseon court in 1498 and executed in 1504 during two political purges. However, in 1506 he was exonerated and given posthumous honors by the Joseon court. Choe's diary accounts of his travels in China became widely printed in the 16th century in both Korea and Japan. Modern historians also utilize his written works, since his travel diary provides a unique outsider's perspective on Chinese culture in the 15th century and valuable information on China's cities and regional differences. The attitudes and opinions expressed in his writing represent in part the standpoints and views of the 15th-century Confucian Korean literati, who viewed Chinese culture as compatible with and similar to their own. His description of cities, people, customs, cuisines, and maritime commerce along China's Grand Canal provide insight into the daily life of China and how it differed between northern and southern China during the 15th century.

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