- Published: Monday, 12 June 2017 13:44
Buddhism entered the northern Korean peninsula in the 4th century CE (the official date is given as 372, but it was probably earlier) from China and spread south when, with Chinese help, the Silla kingdom conquered the Paekche and Koguryo kingdoms in the 7th century. In 935 the Silla dynasty was overthrown peacefully by Wang Kon who founded the Koryo dynasty and established Buddhism as the state religion, although Confucianism, which also had entered with the Chinese, was the dominant philosophy for running the government. When the Mongols invaded China, an alliance was made between them and the Koryos. The Ming dynasty replaced the Mongols in 1368 CE and Yi Songgye set up the Yi Dynasty in Korea in 1392, establishing the capital at Seoul and making Confucianism the state religion, although Buddhism never died out. In the first half of the 17th century, the Manchus invaded China and made Korea a vassal state. This resulted in Korea closing its border to all non-Chinese influences until 1876 when Japan forced a commercial treaty and Korea became open to both Japanese and Western influences. These various cultural influences – including the Communist rule in the north as a result of the Cairo Conference in 1943 – have made Korea a mixture of atheist, Buddhist, Confucian, and Christian philosophies.