I bought a Discovery Channel Insight's Guide Book on South Korea and it had a timeline in it that I enjoyed. So I am just going to lift the whole thing and put it on my blog for other people to read. History rocks!
circa 30,000 BC – Evidence of early settlement is provided by various Paleolithic sites discovered in the 1960s.
circa 4000-800 BC – Neolithic man settles on the peninsula, forming Walled-Town states and leaving behind dolmen burial tombs.
circa 2333 BC – The mythical founder of the nation, Dangun, is said to have begun his reign.
800-400 BC – Korea’s Bronze Age. The merging of the Walled-Town states into confederations.
THE THREE KINGDOMS PERIOD
57 BC – Foundation of Saro state (renamed Silla).
37 BC – The state of Goguryeo in Manchuria emerges.
18 BC – The Baekje tribe arises in central Korea.
AD 372 – Buddhism is introduced to Goguryeo and a school is established for Confucian studies.
400-500 – Silla is transformed from a tribal league to a kingdom. Another tribal federation, the Kaya league, occupies the southern coast.
660-668 – Joining forces with China, Silla defeat the Baekje in 660 and the Goguryeo in 668.
UNITED SILLA DYNASTY
668 – The Silla Kingdom is able to repel Chinese forces and unifies the peninsula for the first time – beginning a cultural, artistic and religious golden age centered in Gyeongju.
Mid 700s – Buddhists texts are printed.
751 – Silla is at the height of its glory, and the building of Seokguram and Korea’s most famous temple, Bulguk-sa, begins.
918 – The Kingdom of Goryeo is founded by Wang Geon, finally overthrowing Silla in 935.
958 – A competitive civil examination system is created, filling the highest offices with members of the ruling class most highly schooled in Chinese literature and Confucian classics.
1018 – Invasions of the Khitans.
1231 – Mongols for divine intervention in forcing out the Mongols, Buddhist sutras are carved on to wood blocks (the Koreana Tripitaka).
1271 – The Mongols adopt the dynastic name Yuan and proceed to take over the rest of China. Korea becomes a tributary state to China.
1392 – Yi Seonggye ousts the Goryeo king, becoming the founder of his own dynasty.
1446 – Under King Sejong’s direction, the Korean alphabet (Hangeul) is created.
1592-98 – The Imjin War: hoping to gain a foothold for an invasion of China, Japan invades Korea and lays waste to the peninsula.
1598 – Yi Sun-sin, Admiral of the Korean Navy, dies a hero having outwitted the Japanese. Under pressure from Chinese troops, the Japanese withdraw.
1627 – First Manchu invasion.
THE WESTERNERS ARRIVE
1780s – Catholicism is introduced.
1811, 1862 – Rebellions occur after decades of social unrest and popular agitation.
1839 – Religious persecution results in the deaths of 130 Christians.
1860 – The Donghak (“Eastern learning”) movement is founded, beginning as a religious society.
1866 – Nine French Catholic priests and some 8,000 Korean converts are executed.
1871 – Americans try to establish trade links, occupying island; 350 Koreans and three Americans are killed before the mission is aborted.
1876 – The rise of Japanese influence spurs the Chinese to preserve their traditional influence, leading to a series of confrontations.
1894 – The Donghak uprising begins, followed by the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War.
1895 – Russia weakens the Japanese position. Queen Min, the real power behind the throne, is murdered.
1902 – Alliance between Japan and Great Britain begins to turn the situation in Japan’s favor.
1905 – Japan’s control of Korea is officially recognized, ending a brief war with China.
1910 – Japanese control the justice system and have complete police power, but Korean resistance is unflagging. Official end of the Joseon dynasty.
1919 – Independence Movement of March 1, with provisional governments formed outside of Korea.
1937 – Colonial policy turns toward a complete “Japanization of Korea”.
1939-42 – Hundreds of thousands of Korean workers are conscripted to the Japanese army.
INDEPENDENCE AND THE KOREAN WAR
1945 – Despite bitter opposition from the Koreans, the Allied foreign ministers agree to direct Korean affairs through a provisional government, staffed by Koreans, for at least five years.
1946 – Communists begin to dominate politics under the leadership of Soviet-backed Kim Il Sung.
1948 – The Republic of Korea is recognized by the UN and Syngman Rhee is sworn in as president. A formidable North Korean army is created with Russian help. The stage is set for civil war.
1950 – On June 25, North Korean troops pour across the 3th parallel. US forces, backed by UN troops, are ordered into battle by President Truman.
1953 – An armistice agreement is reached, but not before Korea has been reduced to ruins.
1948-60 – A period of heavy-handed military rule under President Rhee; economic stagnation.
1960 – Yun Po-son is elected.
1962 – The Yun government falls. Military government is formed under Major General Park Chung-hee, who retains control for 18 years until his assassination in 1979. Industrialization gathers momentum.
1980 – Major General Chun Doo-hwan is president.
1980 – Citizen’s democratic movement in Gwangju threatens government. Military crushes uprising.
1987 – Roh Tae-woo becomes the first “democratically” elected president. Roh’s ruling party merges with opposition forces of Kim Young-sam (“YS”).
1988 – South Korea hosts the Olympic Games.
1993 – “YS” takes office as the first civilian president in over 30 years, promising democratic reform.
1996 – Former presidents Roh and Chun go on trial facing charges of corruption, sedition and treason.
1997 – Korea affected by Asian economic crisis.
1998 – Opposition leader Kim Dae-jung is elected president and inherits an economy in disarray.
2000 – On June 13, Kim Dae-jung visits Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang – an unprecedented thaw in relations. Families, separated for decades, are reunited.
2002 – South Korea co-hosts soccer World Cup.
2003 – Roh Moo-hyun becomes president, amid rising tension between North Korea and the U.S.
2003-06 – Six-party talks with North Korea over the nuclear issue fail to make significant progress.