Korea: Between China and Japan

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Korea: Between China and Japan

  • By the 4th century BC, people living in Korea began adopting sedentary farming and metal working from the Chinese

  • 1st Korean kingdom was founded in 109 BC Choson Kingdom

  • after Wudi and the Han over run Choson kingdom, the Chinese settlers who stay behind are how Chinese culture enters Korea

  • despite conquest, tribal groups in Korea (Koguryo) resist Chinese influence

  • the Koguryo establish their own independent state in the north and eventually come into conflict with two other states in the south (Silla and Paekche)

  • Korean kingdoms continue contact with the “splinter states” that form after the fall of the Han. This continued contact with “splinter states” result in the first wave of “sinification” adoption of Chinese culture

  • Buddhism provides a key link in connecting Chinese and Korean culture

  • Korean rulers patronized Buddhist art, built Buddhist monasteries, traveled to China, and some even to India

  • Chinese written language was adopted, but the spoken language was harder to catch on in Korea like in Japan

  • Koguryo monarch imposed unified law similar to that of Han China

  • Education focused on Confucianism and China rather than Korea

Tang Alliances and Conquest of the West

  • The Tang took advantage of the political divisions in Korea to help themselves conquer all three kingdoms (Silla, Paekche, and Koguryo)

  • The Tang withdraw in 668 and leave the Silla in control of a newly unified Korea

Sinification: the Tributary Link

  • Chinese culture peaked between 668-1392 in Korea

  • Silla initially intended to turn Korea into a miniature Chinese state by:

  1. Spending tribute to Chinese

  2. Sending embassies to the Tang court

  • The tributary system provided privileged access to Chinese learning, goods, art, and culture

  • The Tribute System became the main source of exchange between the Koreans, the Japanese, the Vietnamese, and the Chinese

Sinification of Korean Elite Culture

  • Silla rulers rebuild the capital at Kumsong to look like the Chinese counterpart

  • Most elite Koreans lived in Kumsong to avoid the “backward rural areas”

  • Some aristocrats studied in Chinese schools, and some even took civil service examinations

  • Korean elite preferred Buddhism over Confucianism

  • Koreans borrowed techniques of porcelain manufacturing from Chinese, and then improved the quality by experimenting with Korean techniques

  • Koreans also improved the Chinese art of printing with honey

Civilization for the Few

  • Imports of Chinese culture were experienced primarily by the elite classes

  • Trading with Japan and China was aimed at improving the lives of the elites

  • Korean exports consisted of: forest products and metals

  • ***the aristocrats were the “only people who really counted for anything in Korean society”

Koryo Collapse, Dynastic Renewal

  • periodically, the lower classes got tired of the monotony and rebelled their boring lives

  • these peasant rebellions and outsider invasions helped sink the Koryo and Silla dynasties

  • after the fall of these two dynasties, the aristocracy brought about the Yi Dynasty (1392-1910)

Between China and Southeast Asia: the Making of Vietnam

  • the Viet people feared becoming engulfed by China’s culture, and thus made extensive efforts to remain separate

  • 1st and 2nd centuries BC, the Chinese traded silk to the Vietnamese in exchange for ivory, tortoise shells, pearls, peacock feathers, aromatic woods, and other luxury goods

  • Vietnamese people favored the “immediate family” over the “extended family”

  • Women in Vietnam experienced more influence and greater freedom than their counterparts back in China

  • Vietnamese dressed DIFFERENTLY than the Chinese

  • Vietnamese women “blackened” their teeth, which was repulsive to Chinese women

  • The Vietnamese stick to Buddhism ideologically, and developed art and literature that was distinctly Vietnamese

Conquest and Sinification

  • The Han ruler initially accepted the Vietnamese admission as a “vassal” state with payments of tribute

  • In 111 BC, they decide to invade and conquer Vietnam

  • In the next centuries, Vietnamese elite were drawn into the Chinese bureaucracy

  • Vietnamese children attended Chinese-styled schools, wrote in Chinese script, and studied Confucian ideals

  • The Vietnamese introduced irrigation and agricultural techniquesexplains with Vietnam had one of the highest population densities in Asia at the time

  • The Viet people also adopted the political and military organization of China

  • Over time, the Vietnamese change their minds on this notion of “immediate family” over “extended family”

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