The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 1,100 km (680 mi) from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan (In Korea known as Donghae/East Sea) to the east, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.
World War II, Korea was a single political entity whose territory roughly coincided with the Korean Peninsula. Since the Armistice Agreement ended the Korean War in 1953, the northern division of the peninsula has been governed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, while the southern portion has been governed by the Republic of Korea.
The northern boundaries for the Korean Peninsula are commonly (and tacitly) taken to coincide with today's political borders between North Korea and its northern neighbors, China (1,416 km (880 mi) along the provinces of Jilin and Liaoning) and Russia (19 km (12 mi)). These borders are formed naturally by the rivers Yalu/Amnok and Tumen/Tuman/Duman. Taking this definition, the Korean Peninsula (including its islands) has an area of 220,847 km2 (85,270 sq mi).
The peninsula's names in Chosonmal, Chinese and Japanese all have the same origin, that being Joseon, the old name of Korea under the Joseon Dynasty and Gojoseon even longer before that. In North Korea's Chosonmal, the peninsula is called Chosŏn Pando (Chosongul: 조선반도 / Hanja: 朝鮮半島), while in China it is called Cháoxiǎn Bàndǎo (朝鲜半岛/朝鮮半島) and in Japan it is Chōsenhantō (Kanji: 朝鮮半島 / Hiragana: ちょうせんはんとう). In South Korea, meanwhile it is called Han Bando (Hangeul: 한반도 / Hanja: 韓半島), referring to the Samhan. They both use "Korea" as part of their official English names, which is a name that comes from the Goryeo (or Koryŏ, in North Korea) dynasty (고려/高麗). The Korean Peninsula is sometimes referred to in older English historical books as the Sino-Russian Peninsula or Silla/Sila.
Korea is a historical state in Northeast Asia, since 1945 divided into two distinct sovereign states: North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast. It is separated from Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
Korea emerged as a singular political entity after centuries of conflict among the Three Kingdoms of Korea, which were unified as Silla (57 BC – AD 935) and Balhae (AD 698 – 926). The united Silla was eventually succeeded by Goryeo in 935 at the end of the Later Three Kingdoms period. Goryeo, which gave name to the modern exonym "Korea", was a highly cultured state and created the Jikji in the 14th century. The invasions by the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, however, greatly weakened the nation, which forced it into vassalage. After the Yuan dynasty's collapse, severe political strife followed. Goryeo eventually fell to an uprising led by General Yi Seong-gye, who established Joseon in 1388.
The first 200 years of Joseon were marked by relative peace and saw the creation of the Korean alphabet by King Sejong the Great in the 14th century and the increasing influence of Confucianism. During the later part of the dynasty, however, Korea's isolationist policy earned it the Western nickname of the "Hermit kingdom". By the late 19th century, the country became the object of imperial design by the Empire of Japan. Despite attempts at modernization by the Korean Empire, in 1910, Korea was annexed by Japan and remained a part of Imperial Japan until the end of World War II in August 1945.
In 1945, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed on the surrender of Japanese forces in Korea in the aftermath of World War II, leaving Korea partitioned along the 38th parallel, with the North under Soviet occupation and the south under U.S. occupation. These circumstances soon became the basis for the division of Korea by the two superpowers, exacerbated by their inability to agree on the terms of Korean independence. The Communist-inspired government in the North received backing from the Soviet Union in opposition to the pro-Western government in the South, leading to Korea's division into two political entities: North Korea (formally the Democratic People's Republic of Korea), and South Korea (formally the Republic of Korea). This eventually led to the Korean War in 1950, which ended in a stalemate without a formalized peace treaty, a factor that contributes to the high tensions which continue to divide the peninsula.
- The Cold War
- 1950–1953 Korean War
- List of Korean Republics
- The Korean Air Flight 007 incident in 1983
- Major Cold War wars that killed over 250,000 people