Portal:Korea

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Introduction

Korea (orthographic projection).svg

Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1948, it has been divided between two distinct sovereign states: North Korea and South Korea. Korea consists of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island, and several minor islands near the peninsula. Korea is bordered by China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and neighbours Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

During the first half of the 1st millennium, Korea was divided between the three competing states of Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla, together known as the "Three Kingdoms of Korea". In the second half of the 1st millennium, Baekje and Goguryeo were conquered by Silla, leading to the "Unified Silla" period. Meanwhile, Balhae formed in the north following the collapse of Goguryeo. Unified Silla eventually collapsed into three separate states due to civil war, ushering in the Later Three Kingdoms. Toward the end of the 1st millennium Goryeo, which was a revival of Goguryeo, defeated the two other states and unified the Korean Peninsula as one single state. Around the same time, Balhae collapsed and its last crown prince fled south to Goryeo. Goryeo (also spelled as Koryŏ), whose name developed into the modern exonym "Korea", was a highly cultured state that created the world's first metal movable type in 1234. However, multiple invasions by the Mongol Empire during the 13th century greatly weakened the nation, which eventually agreed to become a vassal state after decades of fighting. Following military resistance under King Gongmin which ended Mongol political influence in Goryeo, severe political strife followed, and Goryeo eventually fell to a coup led by General Yi Seong-gye, who established Joseon in 1392.

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US forces prepare to retreat from Taejon, July 1950

The Battle of Taejon was an early battle between United States and North Korean forces during the Korean War. Forces of the United States Army, attempting to defend the headquarters of the 24th Infantry Division were overwhelmed by numerically superior forces of the Korean People's Army at the major city and transportation hub of Taejon. Hampered by lack of communications equipment and shortages of heavy weapons to match North Korean firepower, the American forces, outnumbered, ill-equipped and untrained, were pushed back from the river bank after several days, before fighting an intense urban battle to defend the city The delay imposed at Taejon probably prevented an American rout during the subsequent Battle of the Pusan Perimeter. Also significant, the North Koreans captured Major General William F. Dean, the commander of the 24th Infantry Division, and highest ranking American prisoner during the Korean War.

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Korean sedan chair
Credit: Unknown; Restoration: Lise Broer

A c. 1890 Korean illustration of a litter (gama in Korean), a type of human-powered transport, for the transport of persons. Gamas were primarily used by royalty and government officials, or in traditional weddings. Because of the difficulties posed by the mountainous terrain of the Korean Peninsula and the lack of paved roads, gamas were preferred over wheeled vehicles.

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Mo Tae-Bum during the 500 m speed skating competition at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

Mo Tae-bum (Hangul: 모태범, Hanja: 牟太釩 born 15 February 1989) is a South Korean speed skater. He is the 2010 Olympic Champion and the 2012 World Champion in 500 m. He started speedskating while in the third grade. Prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Mo won two distances at the 2006 World Junior Speed Skating Championships. He has competed on the national level since 2004 and has competed internationally since 2005. He won two Junior World Championships in 2006, but did not win any other events until 2009. In 2009 he won gold in the 1000 m and 1500 m events at the Winter Universiade. The international community gave him little attention before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, but he became the first Korean to win a gold medal in a long track speed skating event as well as earning the silver medal in the 1000 m race. This was a large upset, as he was ranked fourteenth in the world in the 500 m race. Lee Myung-bak congratulated Mo for his achievements in speed skating following these wins. Mo currently attends the Korea National Sport University, and lives with his parents in Pocheon province.

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