Korea (/kəˈriːə/ kə-ree-ə or /kɔrˈiːə/; Korean: 한국 Hanguk [hanɡuːk] or 조선 Joseon [tɕosʌn] – see etymology) is an East Asian territory that is divided into two separate 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), and it is separated from Taiwan to the south by the East China Sea.
The adoption of the Chinese writing system (“Hanja” in Korean) in 2nd century BC and Buddhism in 4th century AD had profound effects on theThree Kingdoms of Korea, which was first united during the Silla Dynasty (57 BC – AD 935) under the king Munmu of Silla. The united Silla dynasty fell to Goryeo Dynasty in 935 at the end of Later Three Kingdoms of Korea era. Goryeo was a highly cultured state and created the Jikjiin the 14th century. The Mongol invasions in the 13th century, however, greatly weakened the nation, which was forced to become a tributary state. After the Mongol Empire‘s collapse, severe political strife followed and Goryeo was replaced by the Joseon Dynasty in 1388.
The first 200 years of Joseon were marked by relative peace and saw the creation of the Korean alphabet Hangul by King Sejong the Great in the 14th century and the rise in influence of Confucianism in the country. During the later part of the dynasty, however, Korea’s isolationist policy earned it the Western nickname the “Hermit kingdom“. By the late 19th century, the country became the object of the colonial designs of Japan. In 1910, Korea was annexed by Japan and remained a colony until the end of World War II in August 1945.