Samguk Yusa, the book on the legends and history of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, written by Buddhist priest Ilyeon during the latter period of the Goryeo Kingdom, records the foundation of Old Joseon. According to the book, Hwanung, who had the power to command the clouds, rain and wind, descended from the heavens and had a son named Dangun Wanggeom. Dangun later founded Old Joseon3)
There are many mythological legends related to the birth of Danggun Wanggeom and the foundation of Old Joseon. In many cases, however, the foundation of other nations are also based on mythology. From these records, the lives of people back then can be grasped. Through these documents, however, the lives of the people at the time can be understood as follows : Old Joseon was established in Manchuria and the Korean peninsula at the start of the Bronze Age, and that it was an agrarian society at the time judging by the fact that Hwanung commanded the rain, clouds and the wind.
By about the 7th century B.C., Old Joseon had developed to the point where its existence was known in China. By around the 4th century B.C., Old Joseon became sufficiently powerful as to wage war with the Chinese state of Yen.
It was during the second century B.C. that Old Joseon reached its peak of expansion, immediately after a leader by the name of Wiman succeeded Dangun Joseon. Taking advantage of the iron culture, Wiman and his successors combined the small and large tribal forces in the northern part of the Korean peninsula. History books of China record that the“ territory of Old Joseon expanded to thousands of kilometers in all directions.”Old Joseon, in particular, was a powerful nation that controlled vast areas based on a well-knit administrative system. It became a powerful force of the East, that resisted the attack by the Han Dynasty of China, and united China for more than a year.