Every place I live, I like to study the history of the people who live there, and I have studied about where the Korean came from too. Back when the Europeans were still living in caves, there were people on the Korean Peninsula. I went sight seeing with some friends a couple of years ago, and they showed me some rocks that looked almost like a small Stone Henge, and they said they were made by the original people on the Korean Peninsula, but that they really didn’t know very much about them. When Abraham from the Bible was living in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, during the Bronze Age, there were people who had found their way to the Korean Peninsula. These were the original Koreans, but they weren’t called Koreans yet.
The name of the Kingdom in Korea at that time was Gojoeson. The Gojoeson Kingdom lasted from 2333 B. C. to 108 B. C. They not only ruled over the Korean Peninsula, but they also ruled over Manchuria, the southern part of China. When the Koreans make movies about Manchuria, they make it seem like Manchuria was a wild place like the old west in the U.S.
If you are following my blog, you will find stories than originated during this time and have been passed down through many centuries and still being told today. The most important one is a story there about the original emperor of Gojoseon, Dan-gun Wang-gum. He was supposed to be the grandson of God. His father had come from Heaven wanting to live on the earth. His mother was originally a bear who wanted to be human. The story says that a bear and a tiger both wanted to be human, so the son of God put them in a cave and gave them human food to eat for (I think it was 100 days, but the each person tells the story a little differently). Needless to say, it was an extended period of time. The tiger gave up and left, but the bear stuck it out. At the end of the period of time, the bear became a human woman. The son of God married her, and their son was Dan-gun Wang-gum, the first emperor on the Korean Peninsula during the Gojoseon period.
I find it very interesting that many cultures have stories about their original emperor coming from the gods or from God. In Japan, the Shinto religion teaches that their emperor is a god, and the Japanese people are descended from the gods. I also find it interesting that the Koreans have known about God from the very beginning of time. According to the Koreans, their ancestors came here after the tower of Babel. They can really trace their history back far.
These original Korean people couldn’t keep all the land they had. in 108 B. C., the Han Dynasty in China took Manchuria away from them, and many Han Chinese mixed with the Korean people. After that, Korea was divided into three kingdoms, Goguryo, the original name that evolved into the word Korea, Baekje, and Shilla. I know Goguryo and Korea don’t look that much alike to us, but in Korean, they have a letter that doesn’t distinguish very well between “g” and ‘k.” The European and Arabian merchants of the third period of Korean history when Korea was called the kingdom of Guryo, 936-1332 B. C., actually began calling Korea Korea. The reason was probably because when the Koreans tried to tell them who they were, they heard a “k” instead of a “g” because the Koreans often do that with words even today.
The Koreans themselves now a days, don’t actually call their country Korea. They call it Hanguk. Han is the name of the big river that runs through Seoul. The Han Chinese mixed with the original Korean people to make who the Korean people are now. They also have Mongolians who came here to make war and mixed with them, and you can see the influence of the Mongolians in their language. The Korean language and the Mongolian languages are so similar that when I met Mongolian students at the university, they told me that Korean was easy for them because it was so close to Mongolian. It is like Portuguese and Spanish. If you have been exposed to those languages, you know that they are so close that when they are spoken and you know one of them, you can understand the ones speaking the other language. However, if you get into them, you will find there are vocabulary differences and the spelling is quite different even if their words sound the same. Mongolian and Korean are like that. I have been told the grammar of Mongolian mirrors the Korean grammar. It seems those early Mongolians who came down here had a lot of influence on the original Koreans and the Han Chinese who were living on the Korean Peninsula.
The next period of Korean history after this is also very interesting, but this gives you an idea of who the original Koreans were and how long they have been here on the Korean Peninsula. Perhaps I will write another blog for you about the three ancient kingdoms of Korea. They are also very interesting.