Portal:Korea

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Introduction

Koreas on the globe (Japan centered).svg

Korea is a region in East Asia; since 1948 it has been divided between two distinctive 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.

Selected article

Iris is a South Korean espionage television drama series broadcast by KBS in 2009. With a budget in excess of 20 billion won (17 million USD), it, along with its spin-off Athena: Goddess of War, share the record for the most expensive Korean dramas ever produced. Premiering in October 2009, the series was a critical and commercial success, with an average viewership of over 30% in addition to ranking as the top program consistently every week after its debut. The series also took home many of the highest honors at the 2009 KBS Drama Acting Awards, including Lee Byung-hun winning the top recognition, the Daesang Award. The plot revolves around two friends from the 707th Special Mission Battalion recruited into a secret South Korean black ops agency known as the National Security Service. Of the pair, recruit Kim Hyun-jun begins to uncover evidence that his foggy past may not be so irrelevant to his joining of the secret organization after all. As the two friends find their loyalties tested and forge new, unlikely alliances, the journey takes them from their home country to Hungary, Japan, and China where they find themselves at the center of an international conspiracy.

Selected image

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.

Web resources

General information

  • Official website of South Korea
  • Official website of North Korea
  • CIA World Factbook: South Korea
  • CIA World Factbook: North Korea
  • South Korean Tourism Organization

News in English

  • Asia Today Korea
  • Billboard k-pop news
  • The Chosun Ilbo
  • The Dong-a Ilbo
  • KBS World Radio
  • The Korea Herald
  • Korea Joongang Daily
  • The Korea Times
  • K-Pop Herald
  • Yonhap News Agency

Selected biography

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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Sui-ho Dam under construction in 1942

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