The Koreans' civilization ability is Three Kingdoms, which increases the Science yield of Mines and the Food yield of Farms placed adjacent to their civilization's unique infrastructure. Their unique unit is the Hwacha (which replaces the Field Cannon), and their unique District is the Seowon (which replaces the Campus).
Often described as one of the most newbie friendly civilizations to play, Korea is also a pure Science civilization whose entire gameplay revolves heavily around a centerpiece, the Seowon. Backed up by an outrageous amount of Science gained from their Seowons, Korea will always be a threat when they are present in the game.
The Seowon is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the entire Korean gameplay, so much so that even the entire civilization ability, Three Kingdoms, revolves solely around it. Learning how to play Korea effectively only boils down to how place Seowons in the most efficient manner, which is pretty simple.
The Seowon has a starting adjacency bonus of 4, scaling downward by 1 for every adjacent District, including non-specialty Districts like the City Center or Aqueduct. The only exception is the Government Plaza, whose own built-in bonus cancels the penalty. For this reason, combined with the civilization ability, the best spot to place down a Seowon is in the second ring of the city in an open area where you can start putting down Farms and Mines afterwards. Keep in mind that Seowons can only be built on Hills when you settle new cities. Considering the significant Science output of this District and the level of importance it has for Korea, Pottery and Writing should always be the first two technologies you research every game. The only detour that you can sometimes take is to pick up Mining, if you happen to spawn in an area with a lot of Woods, and you need to clear them to make space for your Seowon.
This also means that Natural Philosophy (unlocked with Recorded History) and Rationalism (unlocked with The Enlightenment) are two incredibly powerful cards for Korea, and thus their respective civics will need to be beelined as quickly as possible, especially Recorded History, since Natural Philosophy is just an easier card to be effective for Korea and it will shine in every game and every situation. Regarding Rationalism, after a series of nerfs to this card, its power level is definitely not where it used to be. While Korea pretty much guarantees the first condition (high adjacency Campuses), growing cities to 15 Population reliably is a tall order. Their civilization ability is very underwhelming and serves a complementary role more than anything, additional Food from Farms next to Seowons will barely be enough to set you apart from other civilizations without any bonus towards growth. Therefore, if you mess up the Seowon placement by putting down a District next to it, there is no way to reverse that since the Seowon's adjacency bonus only scales downward, never upward. This actually happens more often than it should, even for experienced players. Since the Seowon is most likely the first District you build in every city, and for every District afterward, the habit of putting down Districts where they benefit from the highest starting adjacency often distracts from the fact that that optimal spot may be right next to a Seowon, thus disqualifying that Seowon from being able to benefit from the one condition of Rationalism that is supposed to be easy to grab. For that reason, whenever you put down a Seowon, you may want to put a marker to remind yourself never construct a District in that area. Last but not least, try to plan your game so that you can get a Golden Age in Industrial Era and/or Modern Era, so you can pick the Heartbeat of Steam Dedication. When combined with Natural Philosophy, each Seowon grants up to 8 Production on top of the Science it is already generating.
As highlighted above (and even more so in the Babylon article), Culture generation is crucial for any scientific civilization, and Korea is no exception. However, if you are looking for a unique experience playing such a straightforward civilization like Korea, try to aim for a Dark Age in Medieval Era to have access to Monasticism. With an outrageous early Science, an extra 75% Science is a lucrative deal, even at the cost of 25% Culture. This card is a Dark Age policy card, available only in the Classical and Medieval Era. Nonetheless, you need time to build Holy Sites to benefit from it, and the Era Score from building the Seowon in Ancient Era makes the most viable time to be in a Dark Age is Medieval. Even if you cannot enter a Dark Age in Medieval Era, the Faith from Holy Sites you build can still be used to patron Great People later on.
Undoubtedly, the biggest and most exploitable weakness of this District is how vulnerable it is to espionage. The fact that you will have a Seowon in every single city means there are always more points of entry for Steal Tech Boost missions than you can ever protect. Also, since the Seowon has to be built in isolation, protecting it means all other Districts will end up being easy preys: your Governors will be removed, your Industrial Zones will be pillaged and your Commercial Hubs will be constantly robbed. For this reason, any Spy that you can unlock should be used for defensive purposes. Korea is pretty much a one-trick pony, it is very well-known that if this civilization is in the game, it will go for a scientific victory. Therefore, it is better to use your agents to defend your obvious weak points that every scientific civilization has, rather than using them offensively. Any Spy Promotion that helps with counterespionage is great for Korea: Polygraph, Quartermaster, Surveillance, or the Cryptography policy card as well.
In Gathering Storm, the power level of the Seowon is a bit hampered even though there is no direct nerf to this district. The regular Campus is now the easiest district to give a high starting adjacency bonus, due to major bonuses next to Reefs and Geothermal Fissures and many curvy mountain ranges on the map (thanks to new map generations). On certain map types (most notably, Primordial, where Mountains and Geothermal Fissures appear in huge numbers), the Seowon even loses sometimes when compared to its counterpart, since its Science is capped at 4 and can only scale downward. Even then, however, it is still only half as expensive as the Campus, which is a powerful option to have in and of itself, not to mention the boosts that it gives to basic improvements thanks to Korea's civilization ability.
There is not much to say about this ability, as it is only an extension of the Seowon and it is quite underwhelming, to say the least. The Seowon should be placed in the second ring of the city: placing it next to the City Center lowers its adjacency bonus, placing it in the third ring requires another city of yours next to it to be able to work all the tiles surrounding it. If you have to choose a preference, prioritize hilly areas to put down Seowons instead of spots surrounded by flat lands. The extra Food from Farms is quite trivial and won't get you anywhere far, you can't reliably reach 15 Population to satisfy the Rationalism policy card's condition just based on it. The extra Science from Mines, even though unaffected by policy cards, can still be boosted by Seondeok's ability, and wonders that Korea loves building anyway like Kilwa Kisiwani, Oxford University or Amundsen-Scott Research Station.
The more cities you have, the more Seowons you can build, and the higher your Science will go. When taking into consideration the fact that Seowons take up a lot of space to maximize its power and this ability's efficacy, claiming land is of utmost importance as Korea. If Korea gets forward-settled in the early game, they can't fight back easily. Strong Science output requires time to establish a lead, and the early game is when Korea has to focus on building up its infrastructure, waging wars in the early eras just because you get forward-settled is incredibly tough when playing Korea. Try to avoid this situation as much as possible. With your first few Settlers, you may want to take your time and move them decently far away from your Capital if it is safe to do so (you can gather this piece of information from the game setup: how many players/city-states versus the size of the map), and later try to populate more cities in between the Capital and the peripheral ones. Avoid impassable and unremovable features (like Mountains or Geothermal Fissures), since they take up space where your Farms and Mines could have gone to without benefiting your Seowons.
Seondeok's leader ability gives +3% Culture and +3% Science to all cities with an established Governor for each promotion that governor has. This further boosts the amounts of Science Korea will be producing from the Seowons. The Culture boost also supports a Science-focused game as you will be focusing on building and improving Seowons and might overlook Theater Squares. Pingala (especially if you are playing with Gathering Storm) is an exceptional starting Governor for Korea. With just the starting title alone, Pingala can give a whopping 18% of bonus Science and Culture to the city he is in, most likely at this time your Capital. Since Hwarang no longer gives Science and Culture according to the presence of Governors in cities but to the number of titles after the nerf, there is no point in appointing as many Governors as you can. As the matter of fact, it is often better to focus your titles on the Governors you need, since Governors like Moksha or Victor may be rather useless to Korea in the majority of your games. Also, since this bonus is percentage based, it is unquestionable that the larger the city is, the more Science and Culture it can get out of this ability. By focusing your titles on a few Governors also, you can garrison your Spies more effectively against Neutralizing Governors missions.
Since the number of total Governor titles is bound to the Civic tree, the only notable other way to get these titles is by building the Casa de Contratación, which grants you 3 extra Governor titles, equal to 9% more Science and Culture. Other notable ways to earn Governor titles besides unlocking civics include:
- Recruiting Great Merchants Irene of Athens and Adam Smith.
- Building the Government Plaza and its buildings.
- Randomly visiting a Tribal Village after turn 30.
The Hwacha is an average unique unit, neither weak and forgettable nor outstanding enough to build entire strategies around. It has the same Ranged Strength as and lower Combat Strength, Production, and Gold maintenance costs than the Field Cannon, and is available an entire era earlier. It also, like a siege unit, cannot attack after moving unless its maximum Movement is at least 1 above normal. (For more details on how the move-and-shoot rule works, head here.) Placing it near a Great General is the easiest way to satisfy this condition, but the Koreans' lack of incentives to build Encampments make them unlikely to earn Great General, so they will most likely be limited to using the Hwacha as a defensive unit. The Logistics policy card is recommended if you want to use the Hwacha more effectively, since it allows Hwacha to be on the offense against civilizations whose borders adjoin Korea's and more mobile on defense.
The earlier availability of the Hwacha, however, can work to Korea's advantage. The Koreans' bonuses to Science output allow for unparalleled technological advancement, so if they have strong Production potential in their cities and/or a lot of extra Gold, they can potentially surprise their neighbors with a legion of Hwachas at their doorstep. Both players who play as and against Korea tend to overlook how early the Hwacha can be unlocked, so a surprise war with this unit can yield a good result.
Korea is often considered to be a newbie friendly civilization, as their bonus revolves heavily around a centerpiece, the Seowon, and the Seowon is so easy to be used correctly, even by new players. Obviously, Korea is one of the few pure Science civilizations in the game, but following this traditional route may lead to an expectedly dull and passive gameplay, which is often associated with Korea's playstyle. The outrageous Science lead you have on everyone else in the game will redound to always having access to more advanced units, meaning the wars you instigate are much likely to be in your favor. A Domination Victory can easily be assured, especially if you hate a passive gameplay and an endless series of "Next Turn" clicks.
The thing about Science generation is that it takes quite a while to establish a lead, and this lead will get wider and wider with time. This means the sooner you address Korea, the less significant of a lead they will have over you. The Ancient Era is for sure the weakest point of Korea, as they have not had enough time to get a Science lead, and they need this time to build up their infrastructure, not to mention they have no defensive mechanism against invasion. Even if you cannot take their cities, just forcing them to build units to defend themselves is a win in itself. Another way to do this is to forward-settle them. Korea has to be able to claim land early on, otherwise, they will not have enough cities to generate a lot of Science. Also, Seowons have to go on Hills, so you can spot out hilly areas where you are sure Korea would love to have a city there. If you spawn far away from Korea and there is nothing you can do to slow their advance, remember they are most likely to attempt for a Science Victory, and are miles ahead of anyone on the tech tree. At this time, your most precious weapon will be espionage. Spies are the bane of Korea. Just the fact that their Seowon cannot be next to any other Districts means their counterespionage will be lacking and inefficient. If they try to guard their Seowons with Spies, send your agents over to pillage their Industrial Zones and bankrupt them with Siphon Funds missions. When you have high enough Diplomatic Visibility, you should be able to see where they assign which Governor, and try to remove Pingala and Magnus as soon as you can. When promoting your Spies, the most important promotion that at least one of your Spies should have is Rocket Scientist, to stop them from completing Space missions. If you are so unlucky that none of your Spies has this promotion, there are also a lot of Diplomatic Policy Cards that boosts the power of your Spies who are on an offensive mission. For this particular reason, Catherine de Medici (Black Queen) is a nightmare for Korea to play against, because not only she has more Spies than normal, her Spies are a lot better right from the get-go. Also, the Intelligence Agency, which is arguably already the premier choice of tier 2 government building, is most likely a must when playing against Korea.
The Korean peninsula’s fate has long been one of struggle. Myriad dynasties rise, fall, and rise again on a landmass roughly the size of Great Britain. The influence of foreign empires, both supportive and belligerent, provide a constant uncertainty looming over the horizon.
The earliest known Korean state was Gojoseon, a prosperous kingdom rich with natural resources and bountiful agriculture. Gojoseon was founded by the (likely apocryphal) Dangun Wangeom in 2333 BCE. According to legend, Dangun was the child of the god Hwangung and a very tenacious she-bear who had persisted against all odds in a trial of hardship and survival. Gojoseon would eventually collapse into a collection of warring states in 108 BCE.
The rise of a truly Korean identity began with the Three Kingdoms in 1st Century BCE. The largest was Goguryeo, to the mountainous north. Silla held the southeast lands bordering the east coast, while Baekje claimed the southwest lands bordering the Yellow Sea. There were other smaller states, such as Buyeo or Gaya, but the three kingdoms were the ones able to consolidate their power. By the 6th Century Silla had conquered many of the smaller states, Goguryeo developed a martial reputation (pressing its famed cavalry against its neighbors’ borders), while Baekje prioritized farming and good trade relationships with both China and Japan.
Silla’s appetite for conquest eventually spread to its neighbors. Though the smallest kingdom, Silla’s shifting alliances helped them avoid the fate of a kingdom such as Gaya, playing Goguryeo and Baekje against one another. Ultimately, Queen Seondeok’s alliance with the Tang Dynasty of China (detailed elsewhere) sealed the fate of the Three Kingdoms. By the late 7th Century, Silla alone ruled the Korean peninsula, ceding northernmost lands to the Tang Dynasty. Although Confucianism spread under Silla’s rule, Buddhism truly flourished, with many temples and monasteries built during their reign.
Unfortunately for Silla, their traditional “bone-rank system” was their downfall. Somewhat analogous to the concept of “royal blood,” bone-rank was a caste system determining a person’s societal rank based upon the status of their parents. Though a person could not climb above their birth rank, they could find themselves demoted—a frustration that ultimately led to civil war and the kingdom’s decline.
The emerging kingdom of Goryeo (the source of the name “Korea”) took advantage of Silla’s descent, ruling Korea from 818 CE until 1392 CE. Technology saw an exponential rise in Goryeo’s time. Metal movable-type printing existed in Korea almost 200 years before Guttenberg’s printing press, making printed texts accessible to the Korean populace. Despite Goryeo’s rapid advancements, there was constant political turmoil—and worse, the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty’s invasions in the 13th Century. Over the course of three decades, the Koreans endured six Mongolian invasions. The Goryeo dynasty eventually made peace, but in doing so became a client state to Mongol Yuan China.
By the mid-14th Century, the Mongol Empire was in a state of disarray. Goryeo regained its independence, mostly, with the exception of northern territory held by remnants of the Yuan Dynasty. When word arrived in 1388 that the Chinese Ming Dynasty planned to take this land for itself, Goryeo General Choi Young ordered General Yi Seong-gye to conquer it preemptively, despite Yi’s objections. General Yi famously marched his army to Wihwa Island, then promptly turned back to overthrow General Choi and the king.
Yi Seong-gye renamed himself Taejo, declared himself king, and created the Joseon Dynasty in 1392. Korea’s political fortunes waxed and waned over the centuries, but its scholarly advances continued unabated (such as “Hangul,” a Korean phonetic alphabet, and improvements upon movable type). Confucianism succeeded Buddhism, the Manchu threat succeeded the Jurchen threat, and Silhak (“Practical Learning”) educational reforms succeeded the increasingly esoteric pedagogy of Neo-Confucians.
Despite periods of unrest, internal power struggles, and foreign invasion, Korea maintained a state of relative stability until the late 19th Century, when Japan invaded Korean territory to fight wars with China and Russia. Japan’s temporary occupation became an extended occupation, and finally an annexation of the peninsula. Much to Korea’s dismay, they remained a Japanese colony from 1910 until the end of World War II. In the war’s aftermath, the country split into (Communist) North and (capitalist) South Korea in 1948. The two newly formed countries fought a war in 1950 that saw China and Russia allied with the North, and a United Nations Coalition allied with the South. After a terrible three years, North and South Korea agreed to an armistice (but not peace) in 1953. As of 2017, the two countries have remained in state of deferred war for over half a century.
- Main article: Korean cities (Civ6)
|Males||Females||Modern males||Modern females|
- The Korean civilization's symbol is the taegeuk with four trigrams, which appear on the South Korean flag.
- The Korean civilization ability references the period during which Korea was divided into the kingdoms of Baekje, Silla, and Goguryeo (later Goryeo).
- Before the Korean civilization was released, the Korean city of Seoul was a city-state. After Korea's release, Seoul became one of the Korean cities, and it was replaced, first by Babylon and later by Anshan.
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