Humans and their hominid ancestors have inhabited the Korean peninsula for 700,000 years, with various kingdoms vying for territory since before the pharoahs of Egypt. Modern Korean history can be said to begin with the Goryeo dynasty in the year 918, and after Korea was invaded several times by the Mongols during the 13th century, by the Japanese in the late 16th century, and by the Manchurians in the 17th century, the kings of the Joseon dynasty successfully engineered a nearly 200 year era of peace.
The first half of the 20th century saw more conflict and hard times for Korea, but the story of the past 50 years has been one of resilience and rebirth. The economy of the Republic of Korea, completely rebuilt since the end of the Korean War, is now one of the 20 strongest in the world. Crime rates are low, tourism is booming, and rates of both education and employment are extremely high.
Once referred to as the “Hermit Kingdom” due to its isolationist policies, Korea has opened its doors to the world. The country now engages in cultural dialogue with Western nations that have only begun to discover the richness of Korean history, culture, and art.