Three Confederate States of Gojoseon

From New World Encyclopedia

History of Korea-108 BC.png

The Three Gojoseon kingdoms first appear in Joseon Sangosa and has been researched by South Korean, North Korean, and Chinese scholars.[1][2][3][4] Some leading Korea scholars omit mention of the Three Gojoseon kingdoms altogether.[5] [6] The myth of Dangun with legend following presents Gojoseon (고조선, 2333 B.C.E. – 239 B.C.E.) as the first state of Korea established in Liaoning, south Manchuria and northern Korean Peninsula. According to a historical theory rejected by many respected Korean historians, Gojoseon became a united kingdom composed of the three confederacies Majoseon (마조선), Jinjoseon (진조선) and Beojoseon(번조선), also known as Mahan, Jinhan, and Beonhan.

In conventional Korean history, the posterior Samhan (the three confederacies Mahan, Byeonhan, and Jinhan) existed in central and southern Korean Peninsula, all established around the time of Gojoseon's fall. They continued until fully absorbed into the Three Kingdoms of Korea around the fourth century C.E.. The posterior Samhan has been differentiated from the prior Samhan or Samjoseon.

The controversy over the creation of Gojoseon out of the Confederation of the States of Mahan, Jinhan, and Beonhan is basically a question of getting the history right. To accomplish that, archaeological sites in North Korea and China will need discovery and investigation by reputed archaeologists without political agendas or without governments controlling the digs and the interpretation of the digs. That is not the situation currently.

Government Structure

Based on Joseon Sangosa that is written by Sin Chaeho, Gojoseon had an organizational system of three states and five ministries. Three states were composed of Jinjoseon, Majoseon and Beojoseon. Jinjoseon was ruled by a Supreme-Dangun. Beojoseon and Majoseon were ruled by two Vice-Danguns. Five Ministries or Ohga were composed of Dotga (which means a pig), Gaeda (which means a dog), Soga (which means a cow), Malga (which means a horse) and Shinga according to their areas of east, west, south, north, and center. This ministry system using the name of animals were also used by Buyeo, which was a succession of Gojoseon. In wartime, five military troops of a central army, an advanced army, a left army and a right army were organized according to military commands by the general of central army. It is said that the traditional Korean game or Yut follows the structure of these five military structures. Generally, the succession system of the Supreme Dangun and the Vice-Dangun were judged by heredity, and sometimes the ruler could be succeeded by one of the Ohga, which shows that the sovereign's power was not absolute.

Territory of Three Confederacies

The Three Confederacies covered territory in the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, and Liaoning: Majoseon, on the Korean peninsula, Jinjoseon in Manchuria, and Beojoseon in the vicinity of Liaoning.

Gojoseon's location has been determined by the discovery of bronze wares from the Bronze Age and artifacts indicating the Iron Age. The territory of three Gojoseons has been identified by a unique style bronze sword. i.e., mandolin-shaped dagger (비파형동검, 琵琶形銅劍). The mandolin-shape dagger has been found in Liaoning, Manchuria, Korean Peninsula and even Hebei, indicating that the three Gojoseon territories covered at least the area shown on the inserted map. The shape of the mandolin-shape dagger of Gojoseon differs radically from those found in China and the composition of Gojoseon's bronze contains much more tin than those found in China. That lends evidence that the Bronze Age in Gojoseon differed from Chinese Bronze Age dramatically.

Jinjoseon (2333 B.C.E. - 239 B.C.E.)

Main Article: Jinjoseon

Scholars believe that people of the Three Confederate States of Gojoseon borrowed Chinese characters for Ma, Jin and Beon. "Jin," or sometimes "Shin," means "whole" or "general," indicating that Jinjosen stood as the central confederacy of Gojoseon. The vice Danguns governedAsadal (아사달), the legendary capital city of Jinjoseon governed by Dangun, and the other two Joseons. Joseon Sangosa says that Asadal corresponds to the current Harbin. Historical texts represent Jinjoseon as Jin. In 425 B.C.E., the name of Ancient Joseon changed to Great Buyeo, and the capital city moved to Jangdang. At that time, Jinjoseon lacked the power to conquer Beojoseon and Majoseon, leading to Gojoseon's gradual disintegration. At 239 B.C.E., Hae Mosu Dangun conquered Jinjoseon, and the state name changed to Buyeo.

Beojoseon (2333 B.C.E. - 108 B.C.E.)

Main Article: Beojoseon

"Beon," also known as "Byun," means "a plain or a field." Because Bejoseon neighbored Chinese states, Chinese history usually referred to Beojoseon as Gojoseon or simply Joseon. Gija Joseon and Wiman Joseon constitute usurptions of Beojoseon. The Danguns allowed Gija and Wiman to rule over Beojoseon because they came from the dong-i (동이) race. Chinese usually referred to the ancestral Korean race, "Dong-i," meaning an eastern barbarian. Dangun had assigned Chidoonam (치두남, 蚩頭男) as a vice Dangun of Beojoseon with its capital city Xianjixian (험독현, 險瀆縣), also called Wanggeomsung (왕검성, 王儉城). Chidoonam descended from Emperor Chi-Woo the Great of Baedalguk (치우, 蚩尤), of Baedal royalty. Xianjixian is currently located at Changli (昌黎) County of Hebei Province, China [7]. According to Joseon Sangosa, the "Gi" family became the kings of Beojoseon in 323 B.C.E., the authority of the Vice-Dangun becoming powerful. Wiman usurped the Gi family, leading to the collapse of Beojoseon, and the establishment of Wiman Joseonin 193 B.C.E.. The last Vice-Dangun, Gijun, fled with his nobles and a large number of people into the Korean peninsula. He conquered Majoseon, and established Mahan.

Majoseon (2333 B.C.E. - ?)

Main Article: Majoseon

Majoseon ("ma" meaning south) existed to the south of Jinjoseon. Dangun assigned Woongbaekda (웅백다, 熊伯多) as Vice Dangun of Majoseon with its capital city Pyongyang (평양). Gijun conquered Majoseon at an unknown date when Woongbaekda fled from Wiman, the name Majoseon changing to Mahan, one of the confederacies of posteria Samhan. Mahan appears to have fallen to Baekje.

Disintegration of Three Gojoseon Confederations

According to Joseon Sangosa, the disintegration of three Gojoseon started at 400 B.C.E., when Yan had attacked Gojoseon, and Gihu became the king of Beojoseon. When Gihu became the king of Beojoseon, Gihu ruled free of the jurisdiction of Jinjoseon and Beojoseon, ruled by the Gi family, remained independent of Jinjoseon. The power of Jinjoseon over Beojoseon and Majoseon greatly weakened, leading to the disintegration of Gojoseon.


  1. 김정배, 고조선 연구의 사적 고찰 (Historical Survey on Research of Kochosun), 단군학연구, 7, 2002.
  2. 이정복, 논점 한국사 사료집성 (The Collection of Korean History Controversy), 국학자료원, ISBN 8982064729
  3. 신채호, 조선민족의 전성시대 (The Prosperity Age of Joseon People), 삼천리, 7(1), 59-67. 1935/
  4. 강경구, 고대의 삼조선과 낙랑 (Three Gojoseon and Nangnang Nation), 기린원. 1991/)
  5. Lee Ki-baek, A New History of Korea, (Harvard University Press, 1984. ISBN 9780674615762)
  6. Yunesuko Hanguk Wiwonhoe Staff, Korean History: Discovery of its characteristics and developments, (Seoul: Hollym, 2004. ISBN 9781565911772)
  7. Shihchi jijie (史記集解), Records of Joseon Retrieved May 21, 2008.

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