3000 B.C. – Settlers from central Asia began to establish an early civilization in the Korean Peninsula.
108 B.C. – Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom, collapsed due to conflicts with Han Dynasty in China. The Proto-Three Kingdoms founded, which later became the Three Kingdoms that ruled over the Korean peninsula until it was unified under the Silla Dynasty in 676 A.D.
171 B.C. – A major wave of Japanese people migrated to the Korean Peninsula. People from other parts of Asia also migrated to Korea, bringing with them metal tools, farming techniques, and influence on the Korean language.
200 – The Chinese writing system that used characters was adopted by Koreans. Laws were developed and implemented.
918~1392 – Korea’s Age of Enlightenment occurred in the Goryeo Dynasty. During this time period, Buddhism was introduced into Korea by Chinese missionaries. Buddhism rapidly spread throughout the peninsula as works of art portraying the Buddhist ideal were commissioned to be drawn by the Buddhist aristocracy.
1446 – The Korean alphabet was created with the support of King Sejong.
1791~1888 – The Joseon Dynasty attempted to close off all Western influence from the Korean peninsula. The 124 Catholics that were executed as a result of this were canonized as saints by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
1866 – The execution of French Catholic missionaries in Korea inspired the French to act out in retaliation, burning an upwards of 5,000 Korean manuscripts during a raid on the Korean royal library.
1871 – A U.S. diplomatic mission involving five U.S. warships resulted in a series of misunderstandings between the Korean locals and the American vessel that turned into an armed conflict. The U.S. effort to establish diplomatic trade relations with the isolated Korea ended in the loss of 200 Korean troops and 3 Americans.
1910 – The Chosun Dynasty ended with the deposal of the royal family by the Japanese.
1919 – Japanese military forces along with the police repressed the Korean independence demonstrations that were peacefully held throughout the nation. Thus the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was instead temporarily established in Shanghai, China.
1920 – In October of 1920, the Korean guerrillas found the Imperial Japanese Army in Qingshanli, an eastern region in Manchuria. The battle lasted 6 days, and is referred to as The Battle of Qingshanli. For Koreans, this battle is considered to be a great victory against the Japanese.
1932 – Several Korean independence activists took action against the Japanese. The most notable being Lee Bong-chang and Yun Bong Gil. The former had attempted to assassinate the Japanese Emperor Hirohito with a hand grenade, but was unsuccessful. The latter had been arrested and later executed for bombing a Japanese army celebration that killed two and injured several others.
1945 – World War II ended; Korea was liberated from Japanese colonization. The Korean DMZ was established at the 38th parallel, dividing the Korean Peninsula into North and South. A provisional government called the People’e Republic of Korea was established with Yuh Woon-Hyun as the leader.
1948 – The Republic of Korea (South Korea) declared independence with Syngman Rhee as the elected president.
1950 – South Korea’s declaration of independence sparked the North Korean invasion.
1953 – Armistice ends Korean War, which produced two million deaths total. This does not officially end the war however, it still stands as a ceasefire
1960 – President Syngman Ree resigns amid student protests against electoral fraud. New constitution is ratified, but actual freedom is limited
1961 -1972 A military coup by General Park Chung-hee places him in dictatorial power. He restores some political freedoms and begins a program of industrial development.
1979 – General Park is assassinated. Another military official, General Chun Doo-hwan, assumes power.
1980 – Martial law is declared after student demonstrations turn violent. The South Korean Army killed 200 citizens during the demonstration.
1981 – An indirect election leads to President Chun having a seven year term. Martial law ends, but citizen dissent is still very common.
1981 – South Korean economy is oriented towards high-tech components and the computer industry
1987 – President Chun is pushed out of office by student unrest and international pressure to resign. President Roh Tae-woo succeeds Chun, and grants greater political freedoms.
1988 – Olympic games are held in Seoul. Free parliamentary elections are held for the first time.
1991 – South Korea is admitted to the United Nations
1998 – President Kim Dae-Jung is sworn in and pursues a policy of unconditional economic and humanitarian aid to North Korea
2000 – The South Korean government granted amnesty to 3,500 political prisoners. 100 North Koreans were allowed to meet their relatives in South Korea. President Kim Dae-Jung was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his reunification efforts.
2001 – Incheon International Airport officially opens, built on tidal land on the shores of Incheon. To date it is one of the largest Airports in the world handling millions of passengers annually.
2003 – In one of the largest mass crossings since the Korean War, hundreds of South Koreans travel to the North Korean capital Pyongyang for a the opening of a gymnasium.
2006 – Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon is elected as the Secretary General of the United Nations. It is the first time a Korean citizen has held the post.
2007 – In a historic meeting and negotiation, the leaders of North and South Korea pledge to begin the process to formally end the Korean War.
2008 – In a swift break with an earlier agreed process, North Korea announces that it is ending all military and political ideals with South Korea over “hostile intent” and recent events.