Wiman Joseon–194 BC to 108 BC

As the school year winds down, we’re finally getting to a place in history where we’ll get to visit Korea history more often. I’m excited about that! Today we studied Wiman Joseon, which is a period in ancient Korean history between 194 BC and 108 BC. As with all of the ancient history of the peninsula, I’ve had to piece together the story and as usual lately, I’ve found a lot of information at Wikipedia.

In the 2nd century BC, the land we know today as the Korean peninsula was divided into to main states: Gojoseon and Jin. King Jun ruled over Gojoseon.

After the founding of the unified Han Dynasty in China in 206 BC, political upheaval ensued and many people from the former Yan State of China sought refuge in Gojoseon. Wiman, a Yan leader, was one of these refugees; he reportedly led more than 1000 followers to Gojoseon. The story says that he dressed in the style of Gojoseon, even wearing his hair in a topknot.

King Jun allowed Wiman to live in Gojoseon and even granted Wiman’s request to become a commander around 195 BC. He was ordered to fortify the country’s northwestern border. But instead, around 194 BC, Wiman overthrew the throne and claimed to be king of Gojoseon. King Jung fled south into the Jin state.

Wiman located the capital of his Gojoseon at Wanggeom-seong (the archeological evidence of the location is disputed; some say it’s near Pyongyang, while others say it was further north). Since the Han Dynasty in China wasn’t completely stable, the governor of Liaodong appointed Wiman as an outer subject somewhere around 192  or 191 BC. Using its superior military force, Wiman Joseon was able to extend its borders.

But the kingdom wasn’t to last. In 109 BC, Wiman’s grandson King Ugeo reigned over Wiman Joseon and a conflicted broke out when he refused to allow ambassadors from the Jin State (to the south) to use his land to reach China. When the dispute couldn’t be settled through negotiations, Emperor Wu of Han launched a two-front attack on Wiman Joseon–one by sea and one by land. Although the forces took heavy losses, the two forces merged on Wanggeoum and the capital fell in 108 BC.

Han took over the Wiman Joseon lands and established the Four Commanderies of Han in the western part of the former Gojoseon area. This led to several small states emerging in what is known as the Proto-Three Kingdoms Era (which will likely be our next lesson).

Wiman is the first Korean king who was written about in documents from the time period in which he ruled, thus his Korean state is the first one to be verified historically.

For an activity to accompany this lesson, I drew a map of the area noting the significant places, which our son colored, and I had him draw a picture of what he though Wiman looked like.

Sources: In addition to various Wikipedia sites, I gathered information for this post from “The Land of Scholars: Two Thousand Years of Korean Confucianism” by Jaeun Kang. You can preview this book at via Google Books.

I also found information and maps at http://byeongjupark.wordpress.com/article/gojoseon-2zvfgrgyend5c-5/

And since the histories of China and Korea are linked, you might want to check out this changing map that shows the various dynasties in China.




Mumun Pottery Period, 1500-300 BC

I love doing history chronologically. It just makes so much sense. And while our curriculum does a good job of covering the expansion of people onto every continent, ancient Korean history isn’t included (as usual Asia is limited mostly to China and Japan). But one reason we homeschool is to include Korean history and language into our school day. So for Korean lessons I must research and put together my own lessons.

I’ll admit that given the busyness of this year, I haven’t done as much as I wanted to. But we have included a couple of lessons already about ancient Korea, and as we move forward there will be more since written history is more accessible.

So today’s post fits in where we are chronologically in history right now in the 500s BC. It is about the Mumun Pottery period in Korea. It stretched from 1500 BC to 300 BC, with the height of the age being between 850 BC and 550 BC.

This period saw the development of complex societies and an increasing reliance on agriculture. During this early period, each house mostly produced for the family.

Evidence of this period has been found in North Korea and the Liao River Basin in what is now China and includes large stone burial markers, pottery, and evidence of large settlements.

The Early Mumun period spanned from 1500 BC to 850 BC) and saw the shifting of the culture from a hunting and gathering society to one of a more settled nature. As with most ancient cultures, settlements were concentrated in river valleys. Evidence of these have been found along the Geum River in west-central Korea and the Middle Nam River Valley in south-central Korea. One of the largest Early Mumun settlements was called Eoeun (어은) was found in the Middle Nam River Valley.

These settlements were made up of long houses as evidenced in what is modern Cheonan City. The houses were rectangular in shape and had one or more hearths inside, some having as many as six hearths, indicating that multiple generations lived in these homes. The average settlement during this time period was small.

It was during the Early Mumun period that the following traditions began:   building large stone burial markers, the production of reddish pottery, and the use of polished groundstone daggers.

The Middle Mumun period (from 850-550 BC) is when the society began to do more farming. Evidence of this has been discovered at Daepyong,which was a large settlement with hundreds of pit houses and fields located in the Nam River valley near what is now Jinju. Korean archaeologists refer to this period as Songguk-ri (송국리 문화), and they have found evidence of the culture in regions of southeast Korea and as far south of Jeju Island and as far west as Japan.

During this period, smaller houses were the norm. While still pit houses, the houses could be square, circular or oval in shape and did not have interior hearths. Instead there was a central area on the floor equipped with an an oval work pit. It is believed these smaller houses indicate a change from large multiple generation families living together to smaller families of only parents and children living in the same house.

Larger settlements began to emerge during the Middle Muman period. Some had several hundred pit-houses making up the settlement. Also during this period, craft production and redistribution entered the economy. Items that were sold or exchanged include greenstone ornaments, bronze objects, and some kinds of red-burnished pottery.

The Late Mumun period (550-300 BC) saw increased conflict, fortified hilltop settlements, and a concentration of population in the southern coastal area. During this period, Mumun-like settlements appear in northern Japan.

Pit houses continued to be used but during this period they were sometimes surrounded by a large ring ditch, indicating conflict and the need to keep people out. The number of settlements decreased during this time period, possibly because of settlements being reorganized into a smaller number of larger settlements.

The Mumun period ends when iron is appears in the settlements.

All of the information for this post was taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumun_pottery_period. If you go there, you’ll find photos of pottery and links to sketches of what the housing looked like.

More information on this period in history can be found at: http://www.academia.edu/245929/Craft_Production_and_Social_Change_in_Mumun_Pottery_Period_Korea

Timeline of Korean History

I know that sometimes Wikipedia isn’t completely reliable as an encyclopedia. But I’ve been checking out the Timeline of Korean History they have and it seems to be fairly well documented. So I thought I would share it.

The link is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Korean_history

It begins with the most ancient references or discoveries on the Korean peninsula and goes through 2012. What a great resource when someone (me!) is having to build their own Korean history curriculum for a first grader.

Here are another couple of resources for early Korean history:

Ohio State University has several pages on this site about Korean history. http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/bender4/eall131/EAHReadings/module02/m02korean.html

5,000 Years of Korean Martial Arts: The Heritage of the Hermit Kingdom Warriors by R. Barry Harmon (you can get a sneak peak by following this link to Google Books http://books.google.com/books?id=tZbVl-Cd-SgC&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=korea+Yemak+and+Puyo&source=bl&ots=vhT7qYZTy3&sig=4hAylZ9MaaTB_ksSjGqeOYUZz2I&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-shAUYDvA8TbyAHA8ICQCQ&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=korea%20Yemak%20and%20Puyo&f=false

Dangun, 2333 BC

Today we had our second lesson on Korea as part of first grade history, and learned the myth of Dangun.

Dangun is the legendary founder of Korea and is celebrated on National Foundation Day, which is Oct. 3 every year. The legend says that Dangun established Choson (ancient Korea) in 2333 BC, establishing his capital at Pyeongyang.

For today’s lesson I read The Birth of Dangun by Edward B. Adams. We found this book as part of a set of picture books on Korean history at a local Korean bookstore. Check your library. If you can’t find it, there are other options for teaching about Dangun, which I’ve listed below.

In addition to reading the story, I had my son mark the important locations in the story (Baektu Mountain, Ganghwa Island, Mani Mountain, Taedong River, and Pyeongyang, on a map of the Korean peninsula. And while I read he colored a sheet of Dangun’s grave, which I found here: www.handipoints.com/fun-facts/korean-holidays/national-foundation-day.html.

Another idea would be for your child to draw his favorite part of the story. Or use stuffed animals to act out the story after hearing it.

Here are some resources you can use if you can’t find a book on Dangun. The Korea Society has lesson plans that can be used to teach Dangun. You’ll find them under Folktales of the K-12 Resources section of the Publications drop-down menu. There are at least two lessons here on Dangun. “Exploring Korea’s Creation Myth,” the lesson for 6th-8th graders has a scripted play of the myth, which could be read if you don’t have another written version of the story to go over.  You can find the PDF lesson for download a: www.koreasociety.org/102_k-12_teachers/103_by_subject_area/118_folktales/view_category.html

The Office of Language and Cultural Education of the Chicago Public Schools also has lesson plans you could use. Chapter 1, Lesson 6 is the story of Dangun, including the story. You can download these PDFs at www.olce.org/publications.html

Additionally you might want to visit the following two sites. Both have photos of Dangun’s grave, which is located in North Korea.



Ancient Korea

For our first-grade homeschool history, we are using Story of the World, Vol. 1. It’s a chronological world history that highlights stories and people from every continent. I love chronological history; it just makes so much sense to me. And I love this curriculum, as does our son; it has great stories, including some Bible history; coloring sheets, map work, and lots of activities to do. But I’ve made a couple of adjustments. First, I supplemented the first couple of weeks because I wanted to start with Creation. And second, I’m adding Korean history as it falls in the chronology since it is something I think our son ought to know.

So today was our first lesson on Korea. I’m basing my lessons on a timeline for Korea that I found on the Korea Society web site. I printed it out when I found it, and unfortunately can’t find the link now. But I have included some timeline sites below.

Given that it’s hard to date the earliest history, I decided to include the first lesson on Korea after lessons on the settling of ancient Africa. This lesson was very pieced together. I largely used a Korean history book, written in both Korean and English, that we purchased from our Korean school.

As with almost all cultures, people began to populate Korea as they settled down to farm and raise livestock after being hunters and gatherers. Growing rice was introduced into Korea as villages began to be established. The history book says that these early Korean settlers are known as the Yemaek people or the Han people of Korea. The history book has photos of axe heads, mandolin-shaped bronze daggers, and early cave paintings that have been found on the Korean peninsula.

We also talked about “dolmen,” which are stone structures (think a smaller versions of Stonehenge) that marked the graves of military generals in early Korea. Many of these remain mostly in what is now North Korea.

You can see a photo of a dolmen on the right side of this page: www.mygoguryeo.com/history.htm. This dolmen is located on the island of Kanghwa(do, which means island) and is dated to be from the 20th century BC.

Another site with information about the dolmen: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/CU/CU_EN_8_5_5_6.jsp

As a notebook page for this lesson, I had our son draw a picture of a dolmen. Other activities could include building a dolmen out of clay, filling in a map with locations of famous dolmen, crafting a mandolin-shaped dagger out of cardboard, or recreating an ancient Korean cave painting (which we actually studied Korean cave paintings as an addition to a Story of the World lesson on pictographs and petroglyphs).

Here are some general Korean history links that can be great resources:






Outline of One Schools Korean Courses

As I’m planning out our first-grade homeschool curriculum and schedule, I’ve been looking for ideas to help teach Korean as a subject. Of course, we do a lot of unintentional learning as we listen to Korean music and watch Korean shows. But I want to incorporate some intentional learning in that too.

In my search, I’ve stumbled on an outline of Korean courses taught by the Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Va. Each level of courses has four or five themes, and a little bit about each one is detailed on the outline.

Level 1 starts out personal with family and home life, as well as school life being explored. As the levels progress students learn about civic responsibilities, voting, scientific advancements, and more. It appears that the Korean courses are taught in grades 7-12.

Since the actual curriculum isn’t shared online (just the outline), putting together the lessons would take a some work. But combined with some of the other resources I’ve shared (including lessson PDFs from the Korea Society), it’s certainly doable. For me having the outline and ideas is the hardest part of the planning so this might be very helpful to me in the future.

You can find the outlines here: http://www.fcps.edu/is/worldlanguages/korean/index.shtml.

Korean Culture Camps

Summer isn’t that far away and people are starting to make vacation plans. So I thought I’d direct adoptive families to KAAN’s page listing several Korean culture camp options. Here’s the link: www.kaanet.com/korean_cultural_programs/camps.php. (No sense in re-inventing the wheel, so to speak.)

I have to be honest and say that our family has yet to do a culture camp, even though there is one within two hours of house. Several of our friends go and rave about the experience. Right now my family needs the most cultural bang for its buck, which for us means taekwondo with a Korean American master four days a week and Korean school on Saturdays. Hopefully someday we’ll be able to add culture camp to our Korean culture agenda because I’m sure we would have a great time. But for now we’ll stick with the daily and weekly experiences that we’ve seen truly enrich our son’s life.

And for parents who are interested, KAAN registration is now open as well. Yours truly (that would be me) and two friends are presenting a panel this year at KAAN on embracing Korean culture. The dates for it are in late July, and I’ll be posting more about this as the dates get closer.

Seolnal School Presentation

So Monday, my exchange student, my son, and I will do a Seolnal (lunar new year) presentation for our student’s class. Since I know lots of families give presentations around this time of year, I thought I’d share what we’re doing. The class is upper elementary, but this presentation idea could be adapted for any age class, I think.

First we’re doing an introduction, which will include a brief history of Korea (how it’s 5,000 years old vs. the US being only 238 years old, and how for most of that time it was one country). During the introduction we’ll hand out maps of Korea that we found in one of the curriculums listed in the bar at right.

Next, we’ll give a brief “class” on the Korean language. We’ll explain how and when the alphabet was developed, show the kids the alphabet (and give them handouts of the alphabet), and teach them to say hello and thank you in Korean

Since our exchange student is only here for a year, she’d like to talk to her classmates about how the schools in Korea are different from schools in the US. She’ll talk about the school year being different, as well as how their school days are different.

Then we’ll give an overview of holidays in Korea, talking about how some are similar (like Memorial Day and Independence Day) and how some are the same (like Christmas, although it isn’t widely celebrated). But we’ll focus on the two main holidays of Chuseok and Seolnal. We’ll explain how these are family holidays and that families travel for several hours to be with their families and honor their ancestors.

We’ll tell them on Seolnal Koreans eat a special rice cake soup, play games, and the children will do a special bow in front of the oldest family member, for which they receive money.

We plan for our student and our son to demonstrate the sebae bow and then have all of the students try it, for which they will receive sebae ton in the form of chocolate coins.

Then we’ll teach the class how to play yut nori. Since you play yut nori in teams so I’ll lead a team and our student will lead a team. Once the game is over, we’ll have the students make their own yut nori set using craft sticks and buttons. We’ll have the rules of yut nori and the game boards printed out already so each student can take their set and play at home.

At the end of the presentation, we’ll have a Korean snack for each student which we’ve decided will be a ChocoPie with a Korean flag tooth pick stuck in it.

I’ve also recommended some books that the kids could read on their own if they want to know more. The titles include: The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park, The Next New Year by Janet Wong, and New Clothes for New Year’s Day by Hyun-Joo Bae.

Honestly there are so many things to include that it was hard to narrow it down. But since the presentation is going to be on Seolnal, I thought it would be best to stick with a general overview and then specifics for the holiday. We’re all looking forward to the presentation, and hopefully the class will enjoy learning a little bit about a different culture.


Konglist Baby blog

I’m always looking for great resources that will help my family and to pass along to you. This blog is one of my new favorites. It’s http://konglishbaby.blogspot.com/.

This mom shares links to Korean children’s songs, posts about great Korean language apps, and shares vocabulary you can use with your kids.

It’s an awesome resource so I encourage you all to check it out.

The Grand Narrative, a blog about culture in Korea

If you’ve adopted from Korea, you know that cultural attitudes play a large part in why many birthmothers place their children for adoption. Looking at it from an American perspective, it’s often hard to under the lack of choices Korean women feel they have, even though a very similar situation existed in our country half a century ago or less. Which is what makes the blog I’m sharing today so interesting.

The Grand Narrative (http://thegrandnarrative.com/) delves into “Korean sociology through gender, advertising, and popular culture.” This blogger talks about all kinds of subjects, including adoption, sexuality, domestic violence, censorship, shaping of body image, and more. It’s an insightful look into the culture–and some of the circumstances that perpetuate the role of international adoption in Korea–though of course no one view/opinion/attitude encompasses a whole culture.

The author of this blog, a British expat, has lived in Korea since 2000 and is now married to a Korean women, with whom he has two daughters. It’s a blog worth perusing if you have some spare time.