I am currently reading The Calligrapher’s Daughter. Written by the talented Eugenia Kim, it is set in
Since I pretty much know squat about Korean history (other than the fact that M*A*S*H was set there during the Korean War), I decided to do a little research. Now granted, this research is mostly comprised of info from www.korea.net and Wikipedia, but hey…it’s a start.
It’s that small yellow country in the top right of the map. The one without a name. How rude.
Way back in 2333 BC Dangun united many of the warring tribes of the Korean peninsula to found Gojoseon. This date is generally regarded as the beginning of Korean history. Gojoseon fell in 313 and several smaller kingdoms emerged. In 918 Wang Geon united these kingdoms and founded the Goryeo Dynasty, from which the name
In 1392 the Joseon Dynasty replaced the Goryeo Dynasty and introduced Confucianism as the guiding philosophy of the kingdom. Civil service exams allowed for social mobility and emphasized learning. In the 1400s court scholars created Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. Invasions by both the Japanese and the Manchurians were successfully repelled. By the 1800s
However, in 1910
After WWII North Korea was occupied by Soviet forces, while US forces occupied the South. The UN Commission planned general elections, but since the Soviet Union denied access to
War broke out in 1950 when
Some additional facts:
, the family name is placed first. Korea
- Koreans are considered 1 year old when born.
- In 1234, during the Goryeo Dynasty, the world’s fist moveable metal type was invented.
- The yangban class was the traditional ruling class of the Joseon Dynasty. It exemplified the Confucian ideal of the “scholarly official” and relied on the slave labor of the lower classes to enjoy the life of scholarly gentlemen.
- Despite the cease fire of 1953, a peace treaty was never signed. Therefore, North and
are still officially at war. South Korea
Besides The Calligrapher’s Daughter, here are a few other novels set in
The Red Queen, Margaret Drabble
Jia, Hyejin Kim
And a non-fiction book that looks interesting:
Korea: A Walk through the Land of Miracles, Simon Winchester