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History of Sino-Korean relations

The history of Sino-Korean relations dates back to prehistoric times.


Han and GojoseonEdit

The earliest written record on Gojoseon, the most advanced polity on the Korean peninsula based in Pyongyang has been found in Shang-Shu-Da-Zhuan. It recorded the founding history of Gija Joseon which, according to local legend, was established by Chinese Shang dynasty descendants in the 12th century BC. Chinese political culture was influential in Gojoseon; for example, the term Wang (Hangul; Hanja) was shared between China and Korea to describe their respective "King"s.[1]

In 194 BC, Wiman, a former Yan Chinese general, took over the throne of Gojoseon after disposing of its former ruler, and relationships between Han China and Gojoseon deteriorated. The Gojoseon–Han War occurred in 109 BC, resulting in the defeat of Gojoseon and the establishment of the Four Commanderies of Han to govern China's Korean provinces, the largest one - the Lelang Commandery - lasting 400 years.[2]

Cao Wei and GoguryeoEdit

However, Chinese control over its northeast frontier and northern Korea provoked unity among the local tribes, resulting in the establishment of the Goguryeo state, which took advantage of Chinese conflict with the Xiongnu to expand into the Liaodong Peninsula.[3]

In 238, Sima Yi of Cao Wei led a successful campaign against his rival Gongsun Yuan, with the aid of Goguryeo. This led to the Chinese recapture of Liaodong as well as establishing great contacts with the Korean kingdoms and Japan.

By 242, the alliance between Cao Wei and Goguryeo broke down when Dongcheon of Goguryeo initiated a raid into Wei territory. In response, the Goguryeo–Wei War erupted in 244, ending with the devastation of Goguryeo and resettlement of many of its inhabitants. Other states resisted Goguryeo expansionism; for example, the Later Yan state sacked Pyongyang and made Goguryeo tributary to Yan and Later Qin.[3]

Tang and Three Kingdoms of KoreaEdit

During the Tang dynasty in China, the Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo and Balhae were regarded as tributary states by the Chinese imperial court.(it is still controversial. Some say Goguryeo and Balhae were autonomous nations with distinguishable from Tang dynasty) As the Emperor of China saw himself as the emperor of the entire civilized world, it was not possible for such an emperor to have equal diplomatic relations with any other regional powers, and as such all diplomatic relations in the region were construed by the Chinese as tributary regardless of the intention of those regions. After the Goguryeo–Tang War liquidated Goguryeo in 668, Silla absorbed the bulk of territory on the Korean peninsula, but leaving northeast China unmolested.[4]

Liao, Jin and GoryeoEdit

The Liao and the Jin Dynasties, which ruled the north China, frequently fought against Goryeo. Both sides could not win. Finally Goryeo agreed to tribute to two empires to maintain independence.

Mongol invasionsEdit

During the 13th century, the Mongol Empire invaded China and defeated the Jin and Song dynasties, eventually establishing the Yuan dynasty in 1271 under Kublai Khan. During the period of 1231–1259, the Mongol led Yuan Dynasty invaded Korea, ultimately resulting in the capitulation of Goryeo and becoming a vassal state of the Yuan Dynasty for over 80 years. The Yuan Dynasty eventually fell in 1368.

Ming and JoseonEdit

Ming dynasty China shared a close trade and diplomatic relationship with Joseon Dynasty Korea. Both dynasties emerged from Mongol rule and shared Confucian ideals in society.

Ming China assisted Joseon Korea during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea, in which the Wanli Emperor sent a total of 221,500 troops.

Qing and Joseon, and Korean EmpireEdit

Manchu ambassador Akdun was greeted by the Korean king near the Yeongeunmun Gate.

Under Emperor Hong Taiji, the Manchuria-based Qing dynasty invaded Korea twice, in 1627 and 1636. Following the Second Manchu invasion of Korea, the Qing claimed victory and forced Injo of Joseon into submission, severing its relations with the collapsing Ming dynasty, which eventually fell in 1644. Qing China's national strength gradually declined after its defeat in the First and Second Opium Wars. As such, China was forced to sign a series of concessions and "unequal treaties" with the Western colonial powers. At the same time, the Meiji Restoration occurred in Japan and led to the rise of the Empire of Japan, which gradually expanded its military power. The Donghak Peasant Revolution of Korea in 1894 became a catalyst for the First Sino-Japanese War, which saw the defeat of the Qing military. As part of the terms in the post-war Treaty of Shimonoseki, China recognized the independence of Korea and ceased its tributary relations. The Korean Empire established modern diplomatic relationship with Qing, but Korea was eventually annexed, against their will, by Japan under the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910.

Republic of China and Provisional Government of the Republic of KoreaEdit

The anti-Japanese March 1st Movement protests erupted in Korea in 1919. Shortly after, the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was established as a government in exile, based in Shanghai, with Syngman Rhee serving as its first president with its subsequent recognition[citation needed] by the Republic of China. They coordinated the armed resistance against the Japanese imperial army during the 1920s and 1930s, including the Battle of Chingshanli in October 1920 and Yoon Bong-Gil's assassination of Japanese officers in Shanghai in April 1932. The Provisional Government received modest recognition by the Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang regime in China.

Following the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the fall of Shanghai, the Korean Provisional Government relocated to Chongqing, where it formed the Korean Liberation Army (KLA) in 1941. The hundreds-strong KLA engaged in guerrilla warfare actions against the Japanese throughout the Asian theater of war until Japanese surrender in 1945.

The Republic of China was one of the participants of the Cairo Conference, which resulted in the Cairo Declaration. One of the main purposes of the Cairo Declaration was to create an independent Korea, free from Japanese Colonial Rule.[citation needed]

Cultural relationsEdit

The Chinese character system, known as Hanja in Korean, was introduced into Korea through the spread of Buddhism during the Tang Dynasty. Hanja was used as the sole means of writing Korean until Sejong the Great promoted the invention of Hangul during the 15th century.

Confucianism also became a fundamental part of Korean society, rising into promenance under Goryeo and prospered under the Joseon Dynasty. Examples included civil service examinations, known as gwageo, and educational institutions (gukjagam and sungkyunkwan), promoting the studies of Chinese classical texts.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Simons 1999, p. 71
  2. ^ Simons 1999, pp. 73–74
  3. ^ a b Simons 1999, pp. 75–78
  4. ^ Simons 1999, p. 88


  • Simons, G. L. (1999), Korea: The Search for Sovereignty, Palgrave MacMillan
  • Alston, Dane. 2008. “Emperor and Emissary: The Hongwu Emperor, Kwŏn Kŭn, and the Poetry of Late Fourteenth Century Diplomacy”. Korean Studies 32. University of Hawai'i Press: 104–47.
  • Kye, Seung B.. 2010. “Huddling Under the Imperial Umbrella: A Korean Approach to Ming China in the Early 1500s”. The Journal of Korean Studies 15 (1). University of Washington Center for Korea Studies: 41–66.
  • Robinson, David M.. 2004. “Disturbing Images: Rebellion, Usurpation, and Rulership in Early Sixteenth-century East Asia—korean Writings on Emperor Wuzong”. The Journal of Korean Studies 9 (1). University of Washington Center for Korea Studies: 97–127.
  • Robinson, Kenneth R.. 1992. “From Raiders to Traders: Border Security and Border Control in Early Chosŏn, 1392—1450”. Korean Studies 16. University of Hawai'i Press: 94–115.
  • Rogers, Michael C.. 1959. “Factionalism and Koryŏ Policy Under the Northern Sung”. Journal of the American Oriental Society 79 (1). American Oriental Society: 16–25. doi:10.2307/596304.
  • Rogers, Michael C.. 1961. “Some Kings of Koryo as Registered in Chinese Works”. Journal of the American Oriental Society 81 (4). American Oriental Society: 415–22. doi:10.2307/595688.