Old Choson (Gojoseon) 古朝鮮   2333 - 109 BC 

The country name Choson was first mentioned in the ancient chronicles that had been allegedly written by the 7th century BC. The name was used until 108 AD, when the Kingdom collapsed. Only in 1392 after Lee Dynasty came to power, the united country has got back the name Choson and kept it until 1897.

The core of the population in Old Choson was formed by two Altaic tribal groups: e in the east, and maek in the west, probably being mixed with migrants from Chinese lands of Qi, Yan, Zhou and Qin. It is not unusual that people of the first Korean Kingdom was called emaek. They occupied Liaodong Peninsula and Southern area of Jilin Province of modern China as well as North Korea. 

What the legend says:

Once upon a time there lived Hwanin (桓因). His son Hwanung (桓雄), born by a concubine, was eager to enjoy earthly life and to stay among humans. Father found out about the will of his son. Having looked from Heaven at the lands of Samwi and Taebaek, he realized that his son can do a lot of good.  Given three symbols of the Heaven power and three thousand lieges, Hwanun came down to the summit of Thaebaek Mountain (Taebaeksan) under the shade of a sandal tree. The place was named Sity od God - Sinsi (神市). Hwanung has got a title of Heavenly King. He was leading the Earl of Wind, the Master of Rain and the Master of Clouds. Hwanung knew how grains could be grown, determined fates of people, could rule illness and punishment, good and evil. All 360 doings of the people depended on him. 

At that time, on the Earth in a cave there lived a tiger and a she-bear. As often as not, they prayed Hwanung, asking him to transform them into humans. Then the Deity gave each of them a bundle of sacred mugworts and 20 cloves of garlic. Hwanung said: "Eat all of these and do not look at Sunlight for a hundred days, and thus you will look like humans". The tiger and she-bear took what they were given and consumed all. But the tiger could not keep himself away from light and had not turned to a human being. The bear observed the taboo and transformed into a woman. But she couldn't find anybody to marry her. That's why she prayed and prayed under the sandal tree asking for a baby. Hwanung came down, changed his appearance and married her. She got him a son. He was named Tangun Wanggom. His capital was Pyongyang. 

How the scholars explain it:

This legend reflects a reality where on the territory of Old Choson people used to treat bear as an animalistic totem, that means they considered bear as their ancestor like many other peoples of the Far East and Siberia. Then followers of the cult of Bear in southern Manchuria and on the north of Korean peninsula were dominated by migrants from Altai or China. They settled at Changbaishan (长白山) in modern China. Some Korean scholars insist that it was Myohyangsan in North Korea. Anyway the process reflected in the Legend of Tangun could look like this: started from a region in Central Asia at the end of the third millennium BC, the ancestors of modern Koreans was moving southern areas and finally reached Liaodong Peninsula and North Korea by the first millennium BC. 

In "Samguk Yusa" it is mentioned that "Tangun ruled the country for 1500 years".  Chinese annals noted that at the end of Yin Dinasty in China there lived a sage Jizi (箕子) or Kija, in Korean. He was thrown to jail by unmerciful King Zhou-xin, the last one of the Yin Dynasty. After Yin had been overthrown by King Wu of Zhou, Jizi was released but flown to Choson. According to "Han-shu", Jizi (Kija) has taught Chosonese people how to follow rituals and laws, how to do agriculture and weaving, and the people of the country established eight restrictions. However, some scholars believe that the story of Jiji in Choson was a legend, told by Chinese ideologists of Han Dinasty. 

Another historical figure mentioned in old Chinese chronicles was Wei Man or Wiman (衛滿from Yan Kingdom of China. In 195 BC, with a thousand followers he came to Choson wearing Chosonese cloth and was employed as a counsellor of Chosonese King Jun. One year after, he and other migrants from Yan Kingdom overthrown King Jun, and started a new dynasty in Choson. King Jun escaped to the southern part of Korean peninsula. 

Chinese origin of Wiman is also questioned by some historians. Throne of Wiman was succeeded by his son and then his grandson Ugo. The last one was betrayed and in 109 BC killed by invaders from Han Kingdom of China. Historian Yuri Butin believes that the main reason for aggression from Han was the fact that Choson was an obstacle for Chinese trade with other neighboring countries. Existence of Choson came to an end.