Timeline of Humanity
in focus: Korean Peninsula
Timeline: Korean Peninsula | BeingBlackToday.com
108 BC
China Conquers Northern Half of Korea Peninsula
China conqueers the northern half of the Korean peninsula, and then proceeds to establish four territories.

75 BC
Korea Tribes Win Back Territory Taken by China
Korean tribes win back three of the four territories taken by China in 108 BC.  

The territory of Lolang, in the northwestern part of the peninsula remained under Chinese control.

Through contact with Lolang, the Koreans adopt many Chinese arts and sciences and much of their system of government.

The Chinese would prove to have direct influence on Korean people and their culture for nearly 2000 years.

Where is Korea?
Korea: Two Sovereign States Bordered by China and Russia Across the Sea from Japan
Korea, located on the Korean Peninsula, has been divided into two distinct sovereign states, since 1945 --- North Korea (officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea). Korea is bordered by China to the northwest and Russia to the Northeast. It is separated from Japan by the Sea of Japan.

The combined population of the Koreans is about 76 million (North Korea: 25 million, South Korea: 51 million).

Japanese Lose Control of Korea to Russia and the United States
Korea was under Japanese military occupation since 1910. At the end of World War II, in 1945, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed on the surrender of Japanese forces. The Soviets occupied the North and the United States occupied the South. The two superpowers could not agree on the terms of Korean independence as a unified country.

North Korean Government Established by Russia, South Korean Government
Established by U.S./U.N
The Soviets established a communist government in North Korea, and the United States, with assistance from the United Nations, established a democratic government in South Korea.

North Korea, South Korea at War
Both Korean governments claimed sovereignty over all of Korea -- a civil war would ensue, each aided with millions of troops from powerful allies.

Nuclear Weapons Program
North Korea has a military nuclear weapons program that dates back to the 1980s. They also has a significant amount of chemical and biological weapons.

Russia and China Deny
Korea Help in Developing Nuclear Weapons
In 1963, North Korea asked the Soviet Union for help in developing nuclear weapons, but was refused. The Soviet Union agreed to help North Korea develop a peaceful nuclear energy program, including the training of nuclear scientists. Later, China, after its nuclear tests, similarly rejected North Korean requests for help with developing nuclear weapons.

2003: Korea Withdraws from
Nuclear Proliferation Treaty
In 2003, North Korea announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. In 2005, it admitted to having nuclear weapons but vowed to close the nuclear program.

2006: North Korea Conducts First Nuclear Test - Sanctions Follow
On October 9, 2006, North Korea announced it had successfully conducted its first nuclear test. An underground nuclear explosion was detected, its yield was estimated as less than a kiloton, and some radioactive output was detected. Beginning this year, and following, the country has come under sanctions for conducting nuclear tests.

The Three Kingdoms of Korea
Chinese Maintain Control of Most of Northern Korea
China conquered the northern half of the Korean peninsula in 108 BC, and established four territories there.  However, by 75 BC, Korean tribes had won back all territory, except for the territory of Lolang, which remained under Chinese control.  The Chinese would go on to control Lolang for nearly 500 years.

Korean Tribes Unite to form the "Three Kingdoms" - Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla in Unoccupied Territory
During the 100's, several Korean tribes united and formed the state of Koguryo, in the northeastern part of the peninsula.  Within the next 100 years, or so, the state of Paekche was formed in the southwest, and Silla in the southeast.

Koguryo Conquers Lolang Gaining Full Control of Northern Korea
In 313, Koguryo conquered Lolang to gain control of the northern half of Korea, but maintained close relationships with China.  Influenced by the Chinese, Buddhism became the chief religion of all Three Kingdoms.

Silla Conquers Paekche and Koguryo Gaining Full Control of the Entire Peninsula
In the 660's Silla conquered Paekche and Koguryo to gain full control of the Korean peninsula.

With close ties maintained with China, for the next 200 years, Korean art and learning flourished under the influence of their neighbor.

The Unified Government of Koryo (Korea) is Born
By the 800s, Silla was brought to collapse due to constant fighting between warlords to gain control of the the peninsula.

In 936, a general name Wang Kong was able to reunite the country, and he renamed the country Koryo.

The government of Koryo worked to improve education.  It built schools and encouraged the development of printing to make more books available.  

Northern Korea Territory Held by the Chinese Conquered by Korean Kingdom of Koguryo
Koguryo, one of the three Korean kingdoms, conquer Lolang, held by the Chinese, to take complete control of the northern half of Korea.

Koguryo goes on to develop close relations with China.  Buddhism, which the Koreans learned about from the Chinese, became the chief religion of the Three Kingdoms during the 300's and 400's.

King Gyeongsun, Last King of Silla
Kingdom of Silla Gains Control of Korea
During the 660's, the kingdom of Silla conquered both Paekche and Koguryo, to take control of the entire Korean peninsula.

During the next 200 years, Korean art and learning flourished.

Silla rulers maintained close ties with China.  Confucianism was introduced into Silla from China and became a strong influence on Korean thought and behavior.

United Kingdom of Silla Broken by Fights from Within
In the 800's, the kingdom of Silla broken apart as warlords from different provinces within the kingdom began to fight among themselves for total control of the Korean peninsula.

Taejo Wang Geon (Wang Kŏn)
General Wang Kŏn Establishes the Koryŏ Dynasty Established by General Wang Kŏn
General Wang Kŏn (aka Taejo Wang Geon), was included in the fight for control of Korea, among the battling warlords.  In 918 all tribes of Silla surrendered to him.  Wang Kon changed the name of the peninsula to Koryo, founding the Koryo Dynasty, also known as the Goryeo Dynasty.

By 936, Emperor Taejo Wang Geon (Wang Kon) reunited Koryo (Korea).  His government worked to improve education, by developing schools and encouraging the development of printing to make books.

Mongol Tribes Begin Campaign of Attacks to Conquer Korea
In the early 1200's, Mongol tribes from the north, begin making repeated attacks against Korea.

In 1259, after many years of battle, the Mongols finally conquered Korea.

Korea did not regain its freedom from Mongol rule, until over 100 years had passed -- in 1388.

The Yi Dynasty Korea Regains Its Freedom from Mongol Rule
After regaining its freedom, two primary groups fought for control of the peninsula for over 20 years.

General Yi Songgye Captures Koryo, Changes Name from Koryo to Choson, and Establishes New Dynasty
In 1388, a general named Yi Songgye led his troops to victory, and four years later, in 1392, he became king of Koryo.  Once he became king, Yi renamed the Korean peninsula Choson.  A name Koreans would use to identify themselves for centuries, until the 1940's.

Buddhism No Longer Observed
One of Yi's goals was to eliminate the power of the Buddhist church, which had existed for over 600 years. Buddhist temple lands were confiscated, and Confucianism was established as the state "religion."

Strict Divisions Between Social Classes and the Outside World
Under Yi, there were strict social divisions, based upon social status and occupation. Positions in government were limited only to the upper class. It was under Yi that Koreans began to embrace isolating themselves from most of the outside world.

A Strong and Unified Korea
Yi and those who followed him reunited Korea.

Internal Conflicts Weaken Yi Dynasty
During the 1500's, after over 200 years of continual progress and Korean unification, the government of the Yi Dynasty is weakened by a struggle for political power, between government officials and wealthy landowners.

Japan Invades Korea but is Driven Back
The Japanese, sweeping over the countryside with great force, made several attempts to conquer Korea. They made repeated large-scale, swarming attacks, while the Koreans engaged in a form of guerrilla warfare and commanded the sea battles between the two countries. The Yi Dynasty was able to withstand the Japanese in each of the bloody battles, until they fully retreated.

The Korean victory, however did not come without cost.  In the course of the seven-year struggle, great numbers were slaughtered all over Korea.  Population decreased drastically, entire villages disappeared.  The majority of their cultural treasures were destroyed by fire.

The Korean people were plagued by famine and disease, and their suffering prompted many uprisings.

Military Advancements
Battles against Japan brought advancement in military tactics and new weaponry for Korea.  They developed a mobile rocket launcher and a "heaven-shaking explosive shell".

The Chinese Manchu Conquer Korean Peninsula
Manchu armies from China conquered Korea in the 1630's, but left the Yi family on the throne.  However, they required the Koreans to pay tribute (make payments) to them over the next 200 plus years. 

The Koreans would go on to have contact only with the Chinese during this time.

Korea Closes its Borders to All Foreigners
Beginning in the 1600's, Korea's rulers closed the country to all foreigners -- for almost 200 years.

It had some contact with China, but the policy was to restrict all foreigners.

Catholic Missionaries Enter Korea and are Persecuted
Roman Catholic missionaries from Europe first entered Koread during the 1830's.

The Korean authorities persecuted the missionaries and killed thousands of Koreans who had become Catholics.

Japanese Gain Complete Control of Korea
The Japanese government took over the management  of Korean businesses.  They set up many new industries on the peninsula and put them under Japanese control.  They also took much of the land and sold it to Japanese settlers.

Korea Becomes a Divided Nation: 30-Year Control of Korean Peninsula Lost to Russia and the U.S.
The Japanese held control of Korea continuously for 30 years, until forced to surrender to allied forces, bringing an end to World War II.

U.S. Occupies the South
Russia Occupies the North
After Japan's defeat, United States troops moved to occupy the southern half of Korea, while Russian forces occupied the northern half -- each formed separate governments in their occupied half of the country.

For the two years following, the United States, Russia, the two Korean governments and Britain tried to develop a plan for reuniting Korea.  But their attempt at cooperative effort failed, and the problem was submitted to the United Nations (UN) in 1947.

Russia Refuses to Yield to the United Nations
The UN devised a plan to supervise an election to choose one government for Korea, but, the Russians refused to allow UN representatives into the north.

UN Works to Form the South Korean Government
Without cooperation from Russia, the UN supervised an of a national assembly in the south.  This national assembly drew up a constitution and elected Syngman Rhee as president of the newly formed Republic of Korea.

Russia Forms the North Korean Government
Approximately one month after the formation of the South Korean government, communist Russia announced the formation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Russia and the United States Remove Their Troops from Korea
In December, 1948, Russia announced that all its troops had left Korea.  The United States announced all of its troops withdrawn from South Korea in mid-1949.

Meanwhile, each of the newly formed Korean governments claimed sovereignty over all of Korea.

The Korean War: Russia and U.S. Establish Two Koreas after Victory Over Japan Leading to Civil War
After Japans surrender and the subsequent end of World War II,  the Korea territory that they once controlled was taken over and occupied by Russia (in the north) and the United States (in the south). 

North Korea and South Korea Established by Foreign Powers
Russia established a North Korean government, and with the help of the United Nations, the United States, established a South Korean government.  

Sovereignty Claimed by both North Korea and South Korea
Soon after they formalized the two separate governments in Korea,  the United States and Russia announced, over time, that they had removed all of their troops.  Each of the governments that they left behind claimed  sovereignty over all of Korea, and became involved in many border clashes. 

Civil War Begins: North Korea Invades South Korea
In June, 1950, North Korean troops invaded South Korea, to begin the Korean War.

Their civil war, soon involved the most powerful Communist and non-Communist nations in the world.

The Weak South vs the Strong North
Each Gains Powerful Allies
The division of Korea left the South weak economically and militarily.  It had very little industry and very few electric power plants.

The North Koreans had about 135,000 men in their army, many who had fought for China and Russia during World War II.  North Korea also had airplanes, artillery, and tanks.  The South Koreans, on the other hand, had an army of about 95,000 men, mostly whom were untrained and inexperienced.

However, with support of the Member States of the United Nations, including the United States who contributed over 700,000 troops, South Korea was greatly strengthened.  

China, on the other hand contributed a million additional troops to North Korea.

Kim Il Sung
1912 - 1994
1st Leader of Soviet Union Controlled North Korea Government
At the end of World War II, Russia and the United States, split the Korean territory, once controlled by Japan.  Russia claimed dominion of Northern Korea, the United States claimed dominion of Southern Korea. 

Communist Russia established a new government in North Korea, and the United States, with the help of the United Nations, established a new government in South Korea. 

Kim Il Sung became the first leader of communist North Korea.

Under Kim Il Sung, the government took farmland from wealthy landowners and gave it to the farmworkers.  He also took control of most industries.

In the 1950's, Kim's government organized all of the country's farmland into collective farms.

Kim's government operated as a strict dictatorship.  It carefully limited freedom of speech and of the press.  It decided which citizens would receive a higher education.  Kim's government even decided where people would live and work.

In 1977, the government announced that Kim's eldest son, Kim Chong (aka Jong) Il, would become president after Kim's retirement or death.

Syngman Rhee
1875 - 1965
1st Leader of U.S. Controlled South Korean Government
After the United States occupied the South Korean territory after the defeat of Japan, at the end of World War II,  the United Nations intervened to supervise an election of a national assembly made up of the Korean people there.  The newly formed national assembly drafted a constitution and elected their first president, Syngman Rhee, who was 73 years old at the time.  

Rhee Faces a Korean Civil War
Two years into his presidency, South Korea was invaded by the newly formed government of North Korea and the Korean (Civil) War began.  Each side had powerful allies who provided millions of troops to each.  Communist China contributed close to a million troops to North Korea, and the United States contributed nearly a million troops, along with military contributions made by other UN Member States.  A truce was called in 1953.

Rhee Amends the Constitution to Ensure His Reelection
Because Rhee feared that the legislators would not reelect him in 1952, he submitted an amendment to the constitution that turned over election of the president to the people.  As a result, the voter reelected him twice, in 1952 and 1956.

Rhee Fixes Fourth Term Election
In 1960, Rhee ran for a fourth term, determined to keep control of the government, so he fixed the election to ensure victory.

Rhee Resigns Office Under Pressure of Political Protests
At the age of 85 Syngman Rhee resigned from the office of President, following nationwide demonstrations against the government, soon after his fraudulent reelection.

For several months following there was political upheaval and turmoil in South Korea.

North Korea Signs Biological and Toxic Weapons Agreement
North Korea signs the Geneva Protocol and agreed to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC).

Mikhail Gorbachev, Last Leader of Soviet Union and Kim Jong-Il, Supreme Leader North Korea
North Korea Begins to Lose Long-Standing Support from USSR
As Soviet control of the communist governments begins to weaken, the security guarantees and economic support provided North Korea for nearly 45 years begin to erode.

Park Geun-hye, President South Korea 2013 - 2017
1st Female President Receives 24 Year Prison Sentence After Impeachment
2012  Meeting that Would Lead to President Park’s Downfall
Shortly after Park Geun-hye was elected President of South Korea, Ko Young-tae (36 years), operator of a bag manufacturing company, met Choi Soon-sil (56 years), the president’s aide, who commissioned him to design 40 bags made of ostrich skin and crocodile leather, as well as 100 clothing items for President Park, for tens of thousands of dollars.  Two years later, a personal disagreement between the two would eventually lead to President Park’s downfall.

President Park’s former clothier, Ko Young-tae (L) and former personal aide Choi Soon-sil (R) at court appearances., 2014.

2014 Ko Young-tae Resents Being Disrespected by Choi Soon-sil
Ms. Choi left a dog, belonging to her only child, in the care of Ko Young-tae, and when Ms. Choi discovered that Ko neglected the dog and went out to play golf instead, she strongly berated him. Mr. Ko stated that it was this incident was the last straw in his resentment of Ms. Choi, who often cursed at him and “treated him like a slave”. He then decided to expose the relationship dynamics of Ms. Choi to President Park that he’d witnessed over time. He began video tapping Ms. Choi, recording her giving orders to two presidential aides as if they were servants.

2015 Ko Young-tae Begins Leaking Information to the Media
In 2015, Mr. Ko turned his video over to Chosun TV, but the news channel held on to it as journalist conducted an investigation of Ms. Choi and President Park, including the investigation of two foundations set up by Ms. Choi to receive donations from business conglomerates (in exchange for favorable treatment by the government).

Later, media investigations revealed that the personal aide, Choi Soon-sil used her position to seek donations of money from several business conglomerates (known as cahebol), and that she and President Park's senior staff used their influence to extort $60 million from Korean chaebols -- family-owned large business conglomerates -- and set up two culture- and sports-related foundations, Mir and K-sports foundations.

In 2016, Mr. Ko was still peddling information to the media that Ms. Choi directly influenced and interfered with government policies, even though she had no official position in government. When interviewed by JTBC in October 2016, stated “Choi’s favorite thing to do is edit presidential speeches”. After the interview, JTBC somehow came into possession of a tablet previously owned by Ms. Choi that contained drafts of 44 speeches and statements President Park had given between 2012 and 2014.

October 24, 2016 The Media Releases Leaked Information and Reports on Its Investigation
On October 24, 2016, aired its findings, and Chosun TV followed up by releasing its incriminating video, supplied by Mr. Ko, the following day.

October 25, 2016 President Park Makes Televised Apology
In a televised address, President Park apologizes to the nation for giving Choi access to draft speeches during the first months of her presidency.

Protests against President Park
Massive rallies held across South Korea supporting the impeachment of President Park

October 26, 2016 Protests Against Park Spread Across South Korea
Protests began across South Korea calling on President Park's resignation and her approval rating dropped to 4%.

October 29, 2016 Park Dismisses Staff
President Park dismissed her top aides, two members of the cabinet, and attempted to replace prime minister Hwang Kyo-ahn with Kim Byong-joon, former aide to former president Roh Moo-hyun, but this was rejected by the National Assembly.

October 31, 2016 Choi Soon-sil Arrested
On October 31, Choi Soon-sil was arrested and formally charged with abuse of power and fraud the following month.

November 4, 2016 President Park Makes Apology
President Park made yet another apology, promising to take responsibility if she was found guilty.

November 29, 2016 President Park Makes Third Apology
Days after Ms. Choi is charged with abuse of power and fraud, President Park made a third public apology, and called for the National Assembly to decide how she should leave the office of the presidency. The following day, she appointed Park Young-soo, former head of the Seoul High Prosecutor's Office, as a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations.

December 3, 2016 Parks Impeachment Proposal Moves to National Assembly
With opinion polls showing that 78% of South Koreans support the impeachment of President Park, Woo Sang-ho of the Democratic Party, Park Jie-won of the People's Party, and Roh Hoe-chan of the Justice Party moved the "President (Park Geun-hye) impeachment proposal" in the National Assembly on behalf of 171 members of their respective parties and other independent representatives, on the grounds that Geun-hye had violated the Constitution and the law

December 9, 2016 Impeachment of Park Approved
The National Assembly approved the impeachment motion by a vote of 234 in favor and 56 against in a secret ballot.

As a result of the motion's passage, President Park's powers and duties were suspended for up to 180 days while the Constitutional Court of Korea considered the validity of the impeachment motion. It was necessary for six of the nine judges on that court to agree with the impeachment for the removal to take effect.

Protests against President Park
Supporters of President Park gather in massive rallies across South Korea

Citizens who have been rallying in massive numbers against Park rejoiced at the news, while Park's supporters called the parliamentary impeachment a "witch-hunt" without concrete evidence of Park's wrongdoings.

President Park Holds Final Cabinet Meeting
President Park held a final cabinet meeting acknowledging the impeachment motion and apologized for causing uncertainty, before Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn assumed presidential powers and duties, on an interim basis.

March 10, 2017 Parks Impeachment Upheld, Park’s Presidency Ends
The Constitutional Court upheld the impeachment in a unanimous 8–0 decision read out by Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung mi which formally ended Park's presidency.

As a result of impeachment, Park was stripped of her post-presidential benefits such as retirement pension, free medical services, state funding for her post-retirement office, personal assistants and a chauffeur and right to burial at the Seoul National Cemetery after death. However, she is entitled to retain security protection under the Presidential Security Act.

March 31, 2017 Park Arrested and Charged
Park was arrested and placed into custody after indictment by prosecutors on charges of bribery, abuse of power, coercion, and leaking government secrets.

April 6, 2018 Park Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison
Former President Park Geun-hye, age 66, was found guilty on multiple counts of abuse of power, bribery and coercion and formally sentenced to 24 years in prison and fined $17 million.