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Gija Joseon (? - 194 BC) describes the period after the alleged arrival of Gija in in the northwest of Korean peninsula. It was considered by most of the Chinesemarker and the Koreanmarker scholars as a part of the Gojoseon period (2333 BC - 108 BC) of Korean history. Today, it is generally rejected as a later embellishment in Korea while it is still accepted in China.

Understanding before 1900s

Chinese records before the third century BC describe Gija(箕子) as the paternal uncle (or brother in other records) of the last emperor of the Chinesemarker Shang Dynasty, the tyrannical King Zhou, but contain no mention of his relationship with Gojoseon. Gija was imprisoned by the tyrant until the downfall of Shang Kingdom, when King Wu of Zhou released him.

Records written after the third century BC, when China and Gojoseon were at war, add that Gija led 5,000 to east of present-day Beijing, as written in the Geography of Hanshu from Han Dynasty (though some, especially in China, believe him to have moved to present-day Korea), and became the king of Gija Joseon.

Previously, it was widely believed that Gija Joseon was located in present-day Korea, replacing Gojoseon of Dangun. Some scholars today believe that Gija settled west of Gojoseon, based on records from Geography of Hanshu, and Korean record of Samguk Yusa that suggests that Gojoseon continued to coexist with Gija Joseon after the migration of Gija. These scholars believe that Gija's influence was limited to western part of Gojoseon, west of Liao River, as attested by Geographical record of Hanshu that recorded that Gija migrated to the west of Liao River. Furthermore, the record in Samguk Yusa,

Later Dangun moved his capital to Asadal on T'aebaek-san and ruled 1500 years, until king Wu of Chou (ancient Chinese dynasty) placed Kija on the throne (traditional date 1122 BC). When Kija arrived, Tangun moved to Changtang-kyong and then returned to Asadal, where he became a mountain god at the age of 1908. (Ilyon, Samguk Yusa, translated by T. Ha & G. Mintz (1997), Yonsei University Press, p.33)


(御國一千五百年. 周虎{武}王卽位己卯, 封箕子於朝鮮, 壇君乃移於藏唐京, 後還隱於阿斯達爲山神, 壽一千九百八歲),

and the record in Sima Qian's Shi Ji that

King Wu appointed Gija to Joseon, though he was not a vassal (of Zhou)

(於是武王乃封箕子於朝鮮而不臣也).

suggests that Gija's role in ancient Korean history was limited.

The Genealogy of the Seonwu Clan of Taewon (태원선우씨세보, 太原鮮于氏世譜) lists the names of 41 rulers of Gija Joseon and their periods of reign, although not widely accepted by mainstream historians.

Wiman Joseon is said to begin with the usurpation of the throne from the line of kings descended from Gija.

Controversy on whether Gija and Jizi were the same person

Those records made no references to Jizi being enfeoffed with Joseon by King Wu or his seizing power in Joseon. Archeological evidence suggests that Chinese bronze cultures were very different from Korean bronze cultures through this period, and Chinese writing system was not used in Korea at this period. Until such evidence put the Gija/Jizi theory into doubt, it was widely believed that Gija Joseon was located in current Korea, replacing Gojoseon of Dangun.

Some scholars , who try to reconcile the Book of Han account with archaeological evidence, believe that Jizi settled west of Beonjoseon based on the Book of Han's assertions and Korean record of Samguk Yusa, arguing that the records suggest that Gojoseon continued to coexist with Gija Joseon after the migration of Jizi. These scholars believe that Jizi's influence was limited to western Gojoseon, west of Liao River.

Historian Kim Jung-bae argues that the association between Jizi and Joseon has generally been disproven. He believed that the existence of Gija Joseon as a state established by Jizi was fabricated during Han Dynasty. He and historians holding similar views point out that the Bamboo Annals, and Confucius's Analects, which was the earliest extant text that referred to Jizi, did not say anything about his going to Gojoseon. Similarly, the Records of the Grand Historian, written soon after the conquest of Wiman Joseon by Han, made no reference to Joseon in its discussions about Jizi and no reference to Jizi in its discussions about Joseon. Kim, and other scholars holding similar views, believe that the confusion and/or intentional fabrication of the account arose out of the confusion between Jizi and Gihun's ancestor Gija.

Sin Chaeho's assertion

Sin Chaeho asserted that Gija Joseon (323 BC-194 BC) refers to the putative period of Beonjoseon, one of the Three Confederate States of Gojoseon, after Gihu (기후, 箕詡) became the king of Beonjoseon. Chinese traditional accounts indicate that Gihu's ancestor, Gija, was the same person as Jizi (both written as 箕子 in Hanzi/Hanja), although such theories are largely considered discredited due to lack of archaeological evidence supporting such accounts, and due to the lack of corroborating textual evidence from relatively contemporary Chinese accounts.

According to Sin Chaeho's Joseon Sangosa, Beonjoseon began disintegrating after its king had been killed by a rebel from the Chinese state of Yan at around 323 BC. With this, the five ministers of Beonjoseon began contending for the throne. Gihu joined in this struggle, and emerged victorious as the new king of Beonjoseon, defeating the competitors for the throne. He established Gija Joseon, named after his ancestor Gija. During Gija Joseon, the king enjoyed strong sovereign powers. Eventually, in 94 BC, Gija Joseon fell after King Jun was overthrown by Wiman, who established Wiman Joseon in its place.

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