Episode 155 – Best of Frenemies, Part 1


This week: we get up to speed on Korean history, so that we can begin exploring the turbulent Korean-Japanese relationship. Pirates, coups, Mongols, poetry battles — we’ve got it all!


Listen to the episode here.


Cummings, Bruce. Korea’s Place in the Sun.

Eckert, Carter J. Korea Old and New.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.


Mt. Baektu (Paektu), the site where the founder of Korea supposedly descended from heaven (and where, according to North Korean propagandists, Kim Il-Sung was born).
Korea c. 600 CE. A divided state, the Korean kingdoms fought each other — with Japanese intervention — until only Silla in the south and a new northern state of Goryeo remained. Goryeo would eventually triumph and unify Korea.
A status of Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaisajya Buddha) from Asuka-period Japan. Buddhism first entered Japan from Korea in the 500s CE.
Yi Seong-gye, the Goryeo general who launched a coup in 1392 and founded the new Joseon dynasty. His descendants would rule Korea for the next 600 years.
Yi Sun-shin, the admiral who defeated the Japanese on multiple occasions during the Imjin War, is a patriotic hero in Korea. His accomplishments are truly spectacular — including one battle where he defeated the Japanese with 13 ships to their 130, without losing a single ship himself.
A Korean embassy in Edo (Tokyo) in 1748. Korea sent 12 embassies to Japan during the Edo period, all of which were occasions of much interchange and celebration between the two states.