Volume 14, Issue 1, 2017
Silk Road and Korea: Past and Present
The Silk Road originated in China in the 1st century B.C.E. The purpose of the route was to expand silk trade which initially was elaborated exclusively by the Chinese. European aristocrats showed great devotion for this textile, which was carried mainly by Persian merchants. Seveal commercial silk routes were created to connect China with Mongolia, Korea, India, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Europe. Due to its geographic position, Korea served as the last Silk Route destiny for the Arab merchants in the Asian Continent. As early as the Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C-668) in Korea, Muslim traders travelled from the Caliphate of Turkey to Tang China and established contact with Shilla. Trade and cultural exchange were developed significantly and foreign influence reached Korea through the Silk Road. Arab merchants who arrived during the Koyeo Dynasty period (935-1392) were in fact the first to coin the English name “Korea”. In modern period, Korea maintained an important role in the New Silk Road, participating actively during the splendid periods of Unified Shilla and the Koryeo Dynasty.