Changes brought about by the introduction of Neo-Confucianism led to social and political reform and the establishment of Choson Dynasty in 1392. This dynasty became one of the world's longest continuously ruling royal families, lasting until 1910. The first 200 years of the Choson reign were peaceful, enabling another flowering of culture. The era is known for new forms of ceramics and painting. A new alphabet for the Korean language was created, so that Koreans had a means of writing in their own language in place of using Chinese. Much of the philosophy of government used in South Korea today developed during this time.
During the next few centuries, Korea successfully fought off invasions by its old neighbors Japan (1592) and Manchuria (1627, 1636). But in the 1700s a new element appeared: European influence, first through traders and Christian missionaries, and then by military might. The efforts of the Europeans to colonize East Asia involved all of the nations of the area, including Korea. Japan was the quickest to adopt western military and industrial methods, and became the dominant local political power.
During this period, Columbus discovered America, the Protestant Reformation split Europe, and modern nationalism created powerful states like Germany, Italy, and Russia. The Industrial Revolution gave Europe great military and economic advantages over the rest of the world. Consequently, globe-spanning empires were created by France, England, Germany, Russia and the Netherlands. European imperialism reached into the Far East, and the histories of Europe and Korea became entwined.
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