A Concise History of Korea and Japan, Revisited

Japan North Korea South Korea

The last time I completed a big webpage project, I didn’t know what I would be doing next.  It looked like I would write either a history of Central Asia or one of the South Pacific.  Indeed, in late November I realized that my notes on the South Pacific were almost complete enough to make a history paper in that series, so I completed and released that chapter.

Likewise, when my office closed for the Christmas-New Year’s break and I had plenty of time on my hands, I began working on updates to several papers, and before I knew it, I was concentrating on one area – Northeast Asia, specifically Korea and Japan.  Therefore I spent the next six weeks doing a complete rewrite of those papers.  Those papers certainly needed it.  I originally wrote the history of Korea and Japan in 1988, and look how much has happened since then; Japan got a new emperor, to start with.  Some updates were made later, but they were mostly minor, and I think the most recent one was made in 2001.  In addition, South Korea introduced a new way of spelling Korean words in English, called Revised Romanization.  For example, the South Korean city that American soldiers fought to defend in August 1950 was called Pusan back then, but it is spelled Busan now.

Another big change is that Korea and Japan are no longer in separate papers, but in separate sections of the same papers.  This way you can compare the two countries side by side and see what is happening in each.  If you’re like me, you’ll notice that their histories ran parallel, almost matching one another, in much of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries (see Chapter 3).  Finally, quite a few new pictures were added, many of them scanned from my books, and instead of one chapter/paper for each country, there are five papers now, organized as follows:

Chapter 1: The Formation of Korean and Japanese Civilizations

Korea Before 668, Japan Before 710

Introduction to Korea


Later Gojoseon and Jin

Japan: How It All Began

Korea: The Samhan (Proto-Three Kingdoms) Period

Japan: The Yayoi Culture

Japan: The Kofun Period

Korea: The Three Kingdoms

Japan: The Asuka Period

Chapter 2: Medieval Korea and Japan

Korea from 668 to 1637, Japan from 710 to 1603


Japan: The Nara Period

Silla & Sinicization

Ultracivilization: The Heian Era

Goryeo: Civilization For the Few

Japan: The Kamakura Shogunate

Korea: The Joseon Dynasty

Japan: The Ashikaga Shogunate

European Contact

The Reunification of Japan

Chapter 3: Closed and Opened Societies

Korea from 1637 to 1910, Japan from 1603 to 1912

Japan: The Tokugawa Shogunate

Korea: The Hermit Kingdom

Perry Opens Japan

The Meiji Restoration

The First Sino-Japanese War

The Russo-Japanese War

The End of the Korean Empire

Chapter 4: The War-Ravaged Years

Korea from 1910 to 1953, Japan from 1912 to 1945

Korea: Pax Japonica

Japan: The Militants Take Over

World War II


   Siberia or the Pacific?

   The Rise and Fall of Tojo

   Iwo Jima and Okinawa

   The Grim Endgame

The Creation of North and South Korea

The Korean War

Chapter 5: Northeast Asia Today

Korea since 1953, Japan since 1945

Japan, Incorporated

South Korea: Growing Pains

Japan’s Lost Decades

South Korea: The Sixth Time is the Charm

The Bizarre Land of North Korea

Click here for a map of Northeast Asia (160 KB, will open in a separate window).

© Copyright 2015 Charles Kimball


Enjoy the updates!

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