What is the Korean History Project?
The Korean History Project began in late 1989 as general research for a book on the Korean War. As the amount of material grew, I turned more toward Korea's past to better understand the roots of the war.
The work quickly evolved into a major effort to tell the amazing story of Korea, one of the few places on earth with a history tightly interwoven with that of its neighbors. The result was a massive 1400 page manuscript entitled, Korea in the Eye of the Tiger, which became the heart of the Korean History Project.
After a frustrating pursuit through the normal channels for publication, I decided to look to the Internet, which has made it possible to bring this compelling story to far more people in a world-wide audience than would ever be possible through traditional book publishing.
In the summer of 1996, work began in earnest to transform the manuscript into a dynamic, living story enriched with maps, illustrations and interactive features. Words long frozen on paper began coming to life in a dynamic, interactive format. I believe the choice was a good one, since it has given me the creative freedom and control needed to continually expand and update this "electronic history book."
The Korean History Project exists online to bring you an innovative, chronological narrative history of Korea and its Asian neighbors. It's an evolving interactive multimedia project devoted to telling the story of a proud, resilient and spirited people and the homeland they call Korea.
It's a dramatic tale of the men and women, the warlords, emperors, kings and queens, the bureaucrats and brigands, princes and peasants and slaves who left their mark on history. It's a story of imperial designs and colonial ambitions, civil rebellions, foreign invasions, and great battles led by Asian military heroes that were the equal of any produced in the West.
History is an invaluable asset that collects and refines the trail of facts and clues about past events to help us understand where we've been.
Though facts are sometimes lost in the rushing tide of historical data, theory, statistics, and opinion, one fact clearly stands out; men and women walked the earth before us; they really did.
The creators, writers and builders among them left behind permanent traces of their lives - not imagined, but real. They are knowable, and if you are willing to listen, their words and ideas will wing their messages across the centuries to teach you about the long distance we have traveled through time and the seemingly unchanging nature of human events.
Bound by its geography, Korea remains one of the few places on earth with a history tightly interwoven with that of its neighbors. A nation trapped and battered by neighbors in an environment not of its own making, Korea's history has been largely beyond its control. Asia and the West have collided in the Far East for centuries and whether intended or not, Korea has always stood in the middle or just on the edge of competing political, economic or military interests.
More than any other East Asian nation, the strong have envied Korea not only for its rich natural treasures, but for what it represents; an Asian gateway to Japan and the Pacific, a bridgehead to China, Central Asia and Russian Siberia. The history of China, Japan, Manchuria, or Russia can be effectively told with only a fleeting mention of Korea. The same cannot be said about Korea's unique history, which cannot be fully understood or appreciated in isolation from the complex panorama of East Asian history.
Korea has struggled for national sovereignty for over two thousand years, all the while living under the heavy influence or control of the Chinese, the Manchus, the Mongols, the Japanese, the Russians, and the United States, always striving to align itself with whoever could afford it the greatest protection.
To this day, Korea is still struggling to find its own way among competing international political, economic and military interests. It is a nation with a clear sense of national identity, a strong sense of fatalism, a historically justified fear that its fate has rarely been in its own hands and a stubborn determination to shape its own destiny.
The Korean History Project is proud to be able to bring you this story and hopes you will find it both educational and enjoyable. Research and development work continues on this project daily and updates and improvements are made as new discoveries and facts come to light.
I remain excited about the work and invite you to share your thoughts, comments, opinions, praise, criticism, and/or suggestions to help me continually improve this project. Though it takes all my spare time and money, my goal is to have this work fully online and freely accessible. The gracious financial donations and emails from visitors like you helps keep the project going.
The "Tiger" continues to grow in popularity and has made a difference through its presence on the Internet. I hope you'll visit often to satisfy your love of history and enjoy a truly unique history resource.
Thank you for being there and best regards,