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The Republic of Korea, also known as Korea is a sovereign state located in the Korean peninsula. The name "Korea" is derived from Goryeo, a dynasty that ruled in the Middle Ages. Its neighbors are Manchuria to the north and Japan to the east. It covers a total of 220,750 sq km and has a population of 43 million. The capital is Daejeon, and the largest city is Incheon.
Archaeology indicates that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by the Lower Paleolithic period. Korean history begins with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by the legendary Dan-gun. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea under Silla 668 AD, Korea was ruled by the Goryeo Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty. It was annexed by Japan in 1910. At the end of World War II, Korea was divided into Soviet and U.S. zones of occupation. An election was held the U.S. zone in 1948 which led to the creation of the Republic of Korea. Although the United Nations passed a resolution declaring the Republic to be the only lawful government in Korea, the Soviets set up a rival government in the North.
The Korean War began in 1950 when forces from the North invaded the South. The war lasted three years and involved the U.S., China, the Soviet Union, and many other nations. The border between the two nations remains the most heavily fortified in the world. In the decades that followed, the South Korean economy grew significantly and the country was transformed into a major economy. A civilian government replaced military rule in 1987.
South Korea is a de jure presidential republic and de facto benevolent dictatorship consisting of twenty five administrative divisions. It is a developed country with a very high standard of living for the post-apocalyptic world.
Prehistory and Gojoseon
The Korean Academy of North America discovered ancient hominid fossils originating from about 100,000 BC in the lava at a stone city site in Korea. Fluorescent and high-magnetic analyses indicate the volcanic fossils may be from as early as 300 000 BC. The best preserved Korean pottery goes back to the paleolithic times around 10,000 BC, and the Neolithic period begins around 6000 BC.
Gojoseon's founding legend describes Dangun, a descendent of heaven, as establishing the kingdom in 2333 BC until the fall in 108 BC. The original capital may have been at the Manchuria-Korea border, but was later moved to what used to be Pyongyang, North Korea. In 108 BC, the Chinese Han Dynasty defeated Wiman Joseon and installed the Four Commanderies of Han in the area of the northwestern Korean Peninsula and part of the Liaodong Peninsula, leaving many smaller kingdoms and confederacies in the southern and eastern parts of the peninsula. By 75 BC, three of those commanderies had fallen, but the Lelang Commandery remained as a center of cultural and economic exchange with successive Chinese dynasties until 313, when it fell to Goguryeo.
The Proto–Three Kingdoms period, sometimes called the Several States Period, is the earlier part of what is commonly called the Three Kingdoms Period, following the fall of Gojoseon but before Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla fully developed into kingdoms.
This time period saw numerous states spring up from the former territories of Gojoseon. Buyeo arose in what used to be North Korea and southern Manchuria, from about the 2nd century BC to 494. Its remnants were absorbed by Goguryeo in 494, and both Goguryeo and Baekje, two of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, considered themselves its successor. Okjeo and Dongye of northern Korea were eventually absorbed into the growing Goguryeo.
Located in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, Samhan refers to the three confederacies of Mahan, Jinhan, and Byeonhan. Mahan was the largest and consisted of 54 states. Byeonhan and Jinhan both consisted of twelve states, bringing a total of 78 states within the Samhan. These three confederacies eventually developed into Baekje, Silla, and Gaya.
The Three Kingdoms of Korea (Goguryeo, Silla, and Baekje) dominated the peninsula and parts of Manchuria at beginning of the 1st century AD. They competed with each other both economically and militarily.
Goguryeo united Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye and other states in the former Gojoseon territory. Goguryeo was the most dominant power; it reached its zenith in the 5th century, when reign of the Gwanggaeto the Great and his son, Jangsu expanded territory into almost all of Manchuria and part of inner Mongolia, and took the Seoul region from Baekje. Gwanggaeto and Jangsu subdued Baekje and Silla during their times. After the 7th century, Goguryeo was constantly at war with the Sui and Tang dynasties of China.
Founded around modern day Seoul, the southwestern kingdom Baekje expanded far beyond Pyongyang during the peak of its powers in the 4th century. It had absorbed all of the Mahan states and subjugated most of the western Korean peninsula (including the modern provinces of Gyeonggi, Chungcheong, and Jeolla, as well as part of Hwanghae and Gangwon) to a centralised government. Baekje acquired Chinese culture and technology through contacts with the Southern Dynasties during the expansion of its territory. Historic evidence suggests that Japanese culture, art, and language was strongly influenced by the kingdom of Baekje and Korea itself.
Although later records claim that Silla, in the southeast, was the oldest of the three kingdoms, it is now believed to have been the last kingdom to develop. By the 2nd century, Silla existed as a large state, occupying and influencing nearby city states. Silla began to gain power when it annexed the Gaya confederacy in AD 562. The Gaya confederacy was located between Baekje and Silla. The three kingdoms of Korea often warred with each other and Silla often faced pressure from Baekje and Goguryeo but at various times Silla also allied with Baekje and Goguryeo in order to gain dominance over the peninsula.
In 660, King Muyeol of Silla ordered his armies to attack Baekje. General Kim Yu-shin (Gim Yu-sin), aided by Tang forces, conquered Baekje. In 661, Silla and Tang moved on Goguryeo but were repelled. Munmu, son of Muyeol and nephew of General Kim launched another campaign in 667 and Goguryeo fell in the following year.
North and South States period
In the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries, Silla's power gradually extended across the Korean Peninsula. Silla first annexed the adjacent Gaya confederacy. By the 660s, Silla formed an alliance with the Tang Dynasty of China to conquer Baekje and later Goguryeo. After repelling Chinese forces, Silla partially unified the peninsula, beginning a period often called Unified Silla.
In the north, former Goguryeo General Dae Joyeong led a group of Goguryeo refugees to the Jilin area in Manchuria and founded Balhae (698–926) as the successor to Goguryeo. At its height, Balhae's territory extended from northern Manchuria down to the northern provinces of modern-day Korea. Balhae was destroyed by the Khitans in 926.
Unified Silla fell apart in the late 9th century, giving way to the tumultuous Later Three Kingdoms period (892–935). Goryeo unified the Later Three Kingdoms and absorbed Balhae refugees.
The country Goryeo was founded in 918 and replaced Silla as the ruling dynasty of Korea. "Goryeo" is a short form of "Goguryeo" and the source of the English name "Korea". The dynasty lasted until 1392.
During this period laws were codified, and a civil service system was introduced. Buddhism flourished, and spread throughout the peninsula. The development of celadon industry flourished in 12th and 13th century. The publication of Tripitaka Koreana onto 80,000 wooden blocks and the invention of the world's first movable-metal-type printing press in 13th century attest to Goryeo's cultural achievements.
Their dynasty was threatened by Mongol invasions from the 1230s into the 1270s, but the dynastic line continued to survive until 1392 since they negotiated a treaty with the Mongols that kept its sovereign power.
In 1350s, King Gongmin was free at last to reform a Goryeo government. Gongmin had various problems that needed to be dealt with, which included the removal of pro-Mongol aristocrats and military officials, the question of land holding, and quelling the growing animosity between the Buddhists and Confucian scholars.
In 1392, the general Yi Seong-gye established the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) with a largely bloodless coup. He named it the Joseon Dynasty in honor of the previous Joseon before (Gojoseon is the first Joseon. "Go", meaning "old", was added to distinguish between the two).
King Taejo moved the capital to Hanseong (formerly Hanyang; modern-day Seoul) and built the Gyeongbokgung palace. In 1394 he adopted Confucianism as the country's official religion, resulting in much loss of power and wealth by the Buddhists. The prevailing philosophy was Neo-Confucianism.
Joseon experienced advances in science and culture. King Sejong the Great promulgated hangul, the Korean alphabet. The period saw various other cultural and technological advances as well as the dominance of neo-Confucianism over the entire peninsula. Slaves, nobi, are estimated to have accounted for about one third of the population of Joseon Korea.
Between 1592 and 1598, the Japanese invaded Korea. Toyotomi Hideyoshi tried to invade the Asian continent through Korea, but was completely defeated by Admiral Yi Sun-sin and assistance from Ming China. This war also saw the rise of the career of Admiral Yi Sun-sin with the "turtle ship". Japanese warriors brought back to Japan war trophies an estimated 100,000–200,000 noses cut from Korean victims. In the 1620s and 1630s Joseon suffered invasions by the Manchu.
After Second Manchu invasions from Manchuria, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. King Yeongjo and King Jeongjo led a new renaissance of the Joseon dynasty.
However, during the last years of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea's isolationist policy earned it the name the "Hermit Kingdom", primarily for protection against Western imperialism before it was forced to open trade beginning an era leading into Japanese colonial rule.
Beginning in the 1870s, Japan began to force Korea out of the Manchu Qing Dynasty's traditional sphere of influence into its own. As a result of the Sino-Japanese War, the Qing Dynasty had to give up such a position according to Article 1 of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which was concluded between China and Japan in 1895. That same year, Empress Myeongseong was assassinated by Japanese agents.
In 1897, the Joseon dynasty proclaimed the Korean Empire, and King Gojong became Emperor Gojong. This brief period saw the partially successful modernization of the military, economy, real property laws, education system, and various industries, influenced by the political encroachment into Korea of Russia, Japan, France, and the United States.
In 1904, the Russo-Japanese War pushed the Russians out of the fight for Korea. In Manchuria on October 26, 1909, An Jung-geun assassinated the former Resident-General of Korea, Itō Hirobumi for his role in trying to force Korea into occupation.
In 1910, an already militarily occupied Korea was a forced party to the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty. The treaty was signed by Lee Wan-Yong, who was given the General Power of Attorney by the Emperor. However, the Emperor is said to have not actually ratified the treaty according to Yi Tae-jin. There is a long dispute whether this treaty was legal or illegal due to its signing under duress, threat of force and bribes.
A Korean resistance was formed in resopnse to the brutal Japanese occupation. The Korean liberation movement also spread to neighboring Manchuria and Siberia.
Over five million Koreans were conscripted for labour beginning in 1939, and tens of thousands of men were forced into Japan's military. Close to 400,000 Korean labourers lost their lives due to the war. Approximately 200,000 girls and women, mostly from China and Korea, were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military. In 1993, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono acknowledged the terrible injustices faced by these euphemistically named "comfort women".
During the Japanese Colonial rule, the Korean language was suppressed in an effort to eradicate Korean national identity. Koreans were forced to take Japanese surnames, known as Sōshi-kaimei. Traditional Korean culture suffered heavy losses, as numerous Korean cultural artifacts were destroyed or taken to Japan. To this day, valuable Korean artifacts can often be found in Japanese museums or among private collections. One investigation by the South Korean government identified 75,311 cultural assets that were taken from Korea, 34,369 in Japan and 17,803 in the United States. However, experts estimate that over 100,000 artifacts actually remain in Japan. Japanese officials considered returning Korean cultural properties, but has not done so. To date Korea and Japan still dispute the ownership of the Liancourt Rocks, islets located east of the Korean Peninsula.
There was a significant level of emigration to the overseas territories of the Empire of Japan during the Japanese colonial period, including Korea. By the end of World War II, there were over 850,000 Japanese settlers in Korea. After World War II, most of these overseas Japanese repatriated to Japan.
With the surrender of Japan in 1945 the United Nations developed plans for a trusteeship administration, the Soviet Union administering the peninsula north of the 38th parallel and the United States administering the south. The politics of the Cold War resulted in the 1948 establishment of two separate governments, North Korea and South Korea.
In June 1950 North Korea invaded the South, using Soviet tanks and weaponry. During the Korean War more than one million people died and the three years of fighting throughout the nation effectively destroyed most cities. The war ended in an Armistice Agreement at approximately the Military Demarcation Line.
Division of Korea
The aftermath of World War II left Korea partitioned along the 38th parallel, with the north under Soviet occupation and the south under the occupation of other allied countries. Consequently, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a Soviet-style socialist republic, was established in the north while the Republic of Korea, a Western-style regime was established in the South. The Korean War broke out when Soviet-backed North Korea invaded South Korea, though neither side gained much territory as a result. The Korean Peninsula remains divided, the Korean Demilitarized Zone being the de facto border between the two states.
Since the 1960s, the South Korean economy has grown enormously and the economic structure was radically transformed. In 1957 South Korea had a lower per capita GDP than Ghana. In 2004, South Korea joined the Trillion Dollar Club of nations whose annual GDP was or exceeded one trillion dollars.
Forced labor, executions, and concentration camps were responsible for over one million deaths in North Korea from 1948 to 1987; others have estimated 400,000 deaths in concentration camps alone. Estimates based on the most recent North Korean census suggest that 240,000 to 420,000 people died as a result of the 1990s famine and that there were 600,000 to 850,000 unnatural deaths in North Korea from 1993 to 2008.
On December 21, 2012, at 22:27 Korean Standard Time, the first of 3 Russian nuclear weapons struck South Korea. Two SS-18 "Satan" ICBMs were launched from the Aleysk nuclear missile base in Altai Krai, Russia. However, one missile malfunctioned while en route, landing harmlessly in the Russian wilderness. The second missile released five reentry vehicles, each carrying 1 megaton "city killer" warheads. It is still unclear why only five reentry vehicles were launched, out of the possible maximum limit of ten. The MIRVs were aimed at Inchon, Seoul, Busan, and Daegu. However, two were shot down by short-range Patriot batteries. Two missiles still struck Seoul while another landed in Busan.
Over 3.5 million were instantly killed in Seoul and over 5 million were injured in various degrees. During the next few months, an additional 4 million were killed from radiation, burns, and other related injuries. However, radiation was not extremely severe as the warheads were detonated from an extremely high altitude, higher than the usual. However, the detonation of the high warhead caused an EMP to spread through most of the nation, frying most of the electronics.
In Busan, over 700,000 were instantly killed and 2 million suffered various injuries. During the next few months, 1.3 million more were killed from radiation, burns, and other injuries. The warhead that destroyed Busan was detonated much lower than the warheads that destroyed Seoul, leading to a much greater radiation spread that is expected to cause problems for generations to come.
It is unclear why North Korea did not launch its missiles. It is believed that most of the missiles were, ironically, fried by the Russian EMP blast generated from the missile over Seoul.
In the immediate aftermath of the blasts, over 7 million more perished from starvation, hypothermia, disease, and fighting. The total casualty count is 15 million on the low end and over 25 million on the high end. The flat farmlands of inland Korea was turned first into a zone of robbers and marauding gangs, who were eventually killed off as North Korea launched their attack.
North Korean Invasion
- See main article: Second Korean War
On December 25, four days after the Apocalypse, North Korean artillery bombarded South Korean and American forces along the DMZ, as well as the city of Inchon. North Korean forces crossed the 36th parallel in Operation Red Phoenix. Over 800,000 infantry from 22 infantry divisions supported by 3,200 main battle tanks (mostly obsolete T-54, T-55, and T-59s with 700 T-62) and 3,000 armored personnel carriers.
Because USAG Yongsan had been destroyed in the South Korean blast, South Korean and American forces were unable to coordinate in the first few days of the war. However, military cohesion picked up again as USAG Daegu, which had not been hit began coordinating the war. Also, Commander Fleet Activities Chinhae had not been destroyed, which led to a complete domination of the seas by the joint Korean/American fleet. Most of the North Korean navy was destroyed on the second day of the war.
On the first day, the North Korean units began the Battle of the DMZ as 10,000 artillery guns pounded South Korean positions at a rate of 20,700 hits per minute, turning the DMZ into a literal "sea of fire". Counter-battery fire, however, quickly began to diminish that number thanks to the technological advancement of radar. After a full three hours of bombardment, after which over 2,000 artillery guns had been silenced, North Korean infantry and armor crashed into the DMZ at the Kaesong-Mundan Corridor. In what would later be called "the battle that went on for eternity", the fighting lasted for a full nine hours in a desperate struggle. However, the battle eventually turned in favor of South Korea thanks to massive air superiority enjoyed by the ROKAF (Republic of Korea Air Force) and USAF (United States Air Force). Over 200 North Korean aircraft were downed in the first day and 300 more were destroyed while still on the ground from cruise missiles. After the first day of fighting, the KPAF (Korean People's Air Force) was effectively neutered. This was helped even more by the fact that the leader of the KPAF, Colonel General Ri Poyong- Choi had been killed while having a state dinner in Pyongyang. Meanwhile, over 2,000 Special Forces paratroopers were launched from transport planes. However, due to poor training and equipment, many of them actually landed in North Korea itself, or in the middle of the fighting. About 400 made it behind enemy lines unscathed. Those who did, however, managed to cause significant damage, destroying several fuel depots and supply centers. They did not, however, have a meaningful impact on the war.
After the first day, North Korea had suffered over 87,000 casualties and had lost over 1,100 tanks and 1,300 armored personnel carriers. South Korea had suffered 41,000 casualties and lost over 300 tanks and 200 armored personnel carriers. Meanwhile, an astonishing 38,000 North Korean soldiers had deserted to the South Korean side. Whole platoons of men surrendered at a time in some cases. North Korean military cohesion was weak at best and terrible at worst, due to radio signals being blocked by the mountains and poor coordination between the units and central command.
On the second day, over 600,000 troops were in South Korea. However, after the end of the first major push, the weather began to take its toll on North Korean troops, who were mostly unprepared for the bitterly cold weather. Snow blocked tanks and other vehicles, while the cold caused many machine parts to simply shatter. Later studies show that over 80,000 North Korean troops either froze to death or died from other cold-related issues. Winter meant that there were no animals available to hunt, and starvation began to spread through the ranks. Dissention and desertion was rampant, as well as even some sketchy reports of cannibalism.
Many North Korean tanks and vehicles were forced to stop due to lack of fuel. Eventually North Korean tank commanders resorted to taking fuel from disabled South Korean tanks. Many tanks tried to shoot to disable to gain the fuel. However, this severely reduced the North Korean ability to press forward.
Meanwhile, on the South Korean side, the effects of the weather were much less. No soldier was reported to have frozen to death, although a few died from starvation. Starvation was usually a non-issue as most units carried enough MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) to last several weeks, and water was plentiful from the many rivers in the South Korean mountains. Fuel was also not a major problem due to dozens of hidden fuel depots throughout the mountains.
Despite inflicting large casualties on the North Koreans, the invading assault could not be completely stopped. South Korean forces were forced to retreat towards the south, trying to slow down the North Korean advance enough for Incheon and the surrounding cities to be evacuated. However, thousands more were killed, since the battlefield was the crowded area just north of Inchon. An estimated 437,000 civilians died during the Battle of Incheon. Vicious house-to-house fighting that rivaled Stalingrad took place in a crowded city. The North Korean invaders occupied the northern half of the city, while the South Korean defenders occupied the southern side. However, as in the Battle of Stalingrad, the invaders were pushed out of the city with extremely heavy casualties. It is thought by most people that the Battle of Incheon was the major turning point of the Second Korean War. Over 420,000 North Korean troops were killed during a fierce three month battle. Over 180,000 South Korean troops were killed as well. Many today compare the Battle of Incheon to the Battle of Stalingrad on a smaller scale.
The North Korean advance was completely crushed in the Battle of Incheon. The North Korean army lost most of its main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, fuel trucks, and other vehicles. The North Korean army was also cut in half in terms of nominal strength, and their armored strength was almost completely destroyed. Without air superiority or enough numbers, the North Korean army was unable to take the city of Inchon.
After withdrawing from Incheon, North Korean troops began a full on retreat back towards the DMZ. During the retreat, 42,000 troops, 2 entire divisions' worth of troops surrendered to the South Korea and American side. By March 23, 2013, the original border had been restored. However, South Korean troops did not cross the DMZ to retake North Korea.
The Second Korean War was concluded on April 5, 2013, 101 days after the North Korean invasion. After much intelligence work, South Korean intelligence located the bunker Kim Jong-Un was holed up in. Seven F-15E Strike Eagle fighters dropped five 5,000 pound GBU-28 "bunker buster" bombs. All five bombs successfully penetrated , with one penetrating through the ventilation system. All estimated 103 people inside the bunker was killed, including Kim Jung-Un, his family, his advisors, his top generals, and all their families.
Shortly after the death of Kim Jong-Un, surviving North Korean military units began to surrender en masse to South Korea. South Korean troops crossed the DMZ on April 6, finding almost no resistance. In fact, they were welcome by cheering hungry North Korean civilians. Victory was declared on April 7, although a few pockets of resistance remained.
President Lee Myung-bak, who had survived in a bunker, formed a new Emergency Interim Council (EIC) made up of his cabinet members and himself to oversea the reunification of Korea and form the new government. President Lee and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Han Min-goo disagreed vehemently on the next course of action. Lee wanted to immediately begin sending aid and build infrastructure in the North while Han wanted to take care of their own matters first. Furthermore, Lee wanted to form a new democratic government as soon as possible while Han believed the best course of action would be to have a temporary emergency government for three years.
Frustrated by what he felt were politicians trying to run a ruined country, Han met with Kim Kwan-jin, the Minister of Defense,and Won Sei-hoon, Director of the National Intelligence Service. Both felt the same about what Lee and his supporters were planning.
On April 17, South Korea soldiers entered a meeting of the EIC. Lee and most of his cabinet were arrested on charges of incompetence and led off. Han, Kim, and Won later declared over the radio that President Lee was retiring due to health issues and that an emergency government had been formed.
On April 19, the First Republic of Korea was founded. A triumvirate of Han, Kim and Won ruled.