The Medieval and Early Modern History section displays historical and cultural items
from the Goryeo (918-1392) and Joseon (1392-1897) periods, tracing the events,
conflicts, and achievements that marked the two most significant periods of Korea’s
Division of Unified Silla
In the late stages of Unified Silla (676-935 CE), the kingdom was divided into the three kingdoms of Silla, Hubaekje (“Later Baekje”), and Hugoguryeo (“Later Goguryeo”), known as the Later Three Kingdoms. Then, in 936 CE (the 19th year of the rule of King Taejo), Goryeo (918-1392) unified the Later Three Kingdoms, launching the second unified dynasty in Korean history. Over the next 200 years, into the 12th century, the Goryeo Dynasty developed a brilliant aristocratic system, as well as a unique celadon culture.
The Goryeo government system was akin to an empire, with the leader known as the “Son of Heaven,” or emperor. The royal family was called the imperial family, and any order from the emperor was considered an imperial or royal order. Although Goryeo glorified and rendered tribute to the Song Dynasty, the Kitan, and the Jin Dynasty, such practices were mere formalities dictated by foreign policies of the time. Goryeo people considered themselves to be part of a state founded by the “Son of Heaven” because of their abundant pride at having unified the