Sources: Yu Deukgong’s “Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals” 二十一都懷古詩 (1792) – part 4 of 6

See Introductionpart 1part 2 and part 3.

新羅  Silla

In the Beishi (北史) it is written, “The ancestors of Silla were originally the people of Jinhan (辰韓). The territory was southeast of Goguryeo and during the Han (漢) it was part of Lelang (樂浪). The king was originally from Baekje. He escaped by sea and came to Silla where he eventually became king.”

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “The surname of the founder of Silla was Bak (朴) and his first name was Hyeokgeose (赫居世). He ascended to the throne on the Byeongjin day (丙辰) in the 4th month of the 1st Wufeng (五鳳 오봉) year of Emperor Xuan-di (宣帝 91–49 BC), and was called Geoseogan (居西干). At the time he was aged thirty-three. Before then the remaining people of Joseon resided in the valleys divided into six villages which were known as the six bu (六部) of Jinhan. [One day] the village head of Goheo (高墟村長), So Beol-gong (蘇伐公), was in the forest beside Najeong (蘿井) at the foot of Mount Yang (陽山), when he saw through the trees a horse whinnying crouched down on its knees. Going to take a closer look, the horse suddenly vanished but left behind a large egg. Breaking open the egg he discovered inside a baby which he took into his care and raised. At the age of ten or so, the boy was already intelligent and precociously talented. The people of the six bu recognizing his divine and supernatural birth respectfully revered him and subsequently made him their ruler. Jinhan people call gourds (瓠 호) bak and because the large egg resembled a gourd, he took the surname Bak (朴). Geoseogan in Jinhan language means ‘king.'”

In the Munheon-pigo (文獻備考) it is written, “Silla was variously called Seoyabeol (徐耶伐), Sara (斯羅) and Saro (斯盧).

In the Donggyeong-japgi (Miscellaneous Records of the East Capital [aka Gyeongju] 東京雜記 it is written, “Gyeongju (慶州) was originally the former capital of Silla.”

辰韓六部澹秋烟  진한육부담추연  平平入上上平平(先)
徐菀繁華想可憐  서울번화상가련  平 平平上上平
萬萬波波加號笛  만만파파가호적  去去平平平去入
橫吹三姓一千年  횡취삼성일천년  平平平去入平平

jin han yuk bu dam chu yeon
seo ul beon hwa sang ga ryeon
man man pa pa ga ho jeok
heong chwi sam seong il cheon nyeon

Autumn mists drift across the six bu of Jinhan.
It is sad [now] to think of the prosperity of Seoul [Silla’s capital.]
They called it the Flute of Multitudinous Waves, manman-papa;
For a thousand years it was blown by the three families.

the six bu of Jinhan (辰韓六部): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “The first is Yangsan Village (楊山村) by Al-cheon River (閼川), the second is Goheo Village (高墟村) by Mount Dol (突山), the third is Jinji Village (珍支村) by Mount Ja (觜山), the fourth is Daesu Village (大樹村) by Mount Mu (茂山), the fifth is Gari Village (加利村) by Mount Geum (金山) and the sixth is Goya Village (高耶村) by Mount Myeonghwal (明活山).” These were the six bu of Jinhan.

Seoul (徐菀 서울): according to the Munheon-pigo (文獻備考), “The name of Silla was [also] Seoyabeol (徐耶伐) and so later generations called the capital Seobeol (徐伐) which changed to Seoul.”

Manman-papa (萬萬派派): according to the Donggyeong-japgi (東京雜記), “During the reign of King Sinmun (r. 681–692 神文王) in the middle of the East Sea (東海) was a mountain which shifted with the waves. Thinking it strange, the king took a boat to the mountain where, at the top, he discovered a stork of bamboo growing [there]. Upon crafting the bamboo into a flute and playing it, he found that enemy armies would retreat, diseases would recover, rain would fall at times of drought and during the rainy season the weather would become clear. It could both quieten the wind and calm the waves, and so it was named Manpa-sik-jeok (the Flute that Calms (息) Ten-Thousand Waves 萬波息笛). It was regarded as a treasure and passed down for generations. During the reign of King Hyoso (孝昭王) its name was augmented to Manman-papa (Multitudinous Waves).”

the three families (三姓): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “The surname of the founder of Silla was Bak (朴). The surname of Talhae-isageum was Seok (昔) and that of Michu-isageum was Kim (金).” According to the Jibong-yuseol (Topical Discourses of Jibong 芝峯類說 [written by Jibong I Su-gwang (1563-1628)]), “Silla enjoyed nearly a thousand years of prosperity. Around the time it unified the three Han, life was peaceful and every year was a good harvest; this was known as the Silla age of sages (/golden era 聖代).

幾處靑山幾佛幢  기처청산기불당  上去平平上入平(江)
荒池鴈鴨不成雙  황지안압불성쌍  平平去入入平平
春風谷口松花屋  춘풍곡구송화옥  平平入上平平入
時聽寥寥短尾狵  시청요요단미방  平平平平上上平

gi cheo cheong san gi bul dang
hwang ji an ap bul seong ssang
chun pung gok gu song hwa ok
si cheong yo yo dan mi bang

Amongst the many green peaks are many Buddhist temples.
The wild geese and ducks of the desolate [An’ap-ji] pond are unable to find mates.
A spring wind blows across the valley entrance by Pine Flower Hermitage.
At times one can hear the lonely bark of a short tailed
sapsal dog [삽살개.]

wild geese and ducks of the desolate pond (荒池鴈鴨 황지안압): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “The An’ap-ji pond (Goose-Duck Pond 鴈鴨池) is north of Cheonju Temple (天柱寺) in Gyeongju-bu (慶州府). King Munmu (r.661-81) of Silla dug the pond and piled stones to form a mountain resembling the twelve peaks of Mount Wu (巫山). He planted flowers and kept rare birds [there]. To the west is the former site of Imhae-jeon hall (臨海殿).”

Pine Flower Hermitage (松花屋): according to the Donggyeong-jabgi (東京雜記), “When Kim Yu-sin’s (金庾信) wife (or daughter? 宗女), Madam Jaemae (財買夫人) died she was buried in the valley above Cheong-yeon (靑淵) and so it was named Jaemae-gok gorge (財買谷). In spring each year, the men and women from the same family gather at the stream to the south of Jaemae-gok gorge and hold a banquet. At that time all different types of flowers are in bloom and the valley is filled with pine flowers. At the mouth of the valley a hermitage was built called Songhwa-bang (Pine Flower Room 松花房).

a short tailed sapsal (短尾狵 단미방): according to the Donggyeong-jabgi (東京雜記), “Northern Gyeonju is desolate (虛) and so most of the dogs there have short tails and are known as ‘eastern capital [ie Gyeongju] dogs’ (東京狗 동경구).”

料峭風中過上元 요초풍중과상원 去 平平去去平(元)
忉忉怛怛踏歌喧 도도달달답가훤 入入 入平平
年年糯飯無人祭 연년나반무인제 平平 去平平去
一陳寒鴉噪別村 일진한아조별촌 入平平平 入平

yo cho pung jung gwa sang won
do do dal dal dap ga hwon
yeon nyeon na ban mu in je
il jin han a jo byeol chon

The first two weeks of the [lunar] new year are spent amongst a chill wind.
Tapping the rhythm with their feet, they sing; anxious and melancholy.
There is no one to perform the yearly rites of offering glutinous rice.
A flock of cold crows squawk [far off] in another village.

anxious and melancholy (忉忉怛怛 도도달달): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Seochul-ji pond (書出池) is to the east of Mount Geum’o (金鰲山) in Gyeonju-bu. On the 15th day in the 1st month of the 10th year of King Soji’s reign (r.479-500), the king visited Cheoncheon-sa temple (天泉寺). A strange event occurred between a crow (烏) and mouse/rat, so the king ordered one of his mounted warriors to chase the crow. Upon the knight arriving at Pi-chon village (避村), [he saw] two pigs fighting one another. Lingering to watch this, he lost track of the crow. Then an old person came out from the pond [there] and offered up [to the knight] a written letter which read on the outside envelope, ‘If opened two people will die, if not opened one person will die.’ The knight galloped back to the king and delivered the letter. The king said, ‘It is better to not open the letter and for one person to die than for two people to die.’ But one of the official ilgwan (日官) soothsayers replied, ‘Two people refers to commoners, but one person refers to the king.’ Agreeing with this, the king opened the letter and found written, ‘Shoot the geomun’go box.’ The king entered the castle and fired an arrow at the geomun’go. [At this time] in the women’s quarters of the palace (內殿) the slave responsible for burning incense (焚修) was having an adulterous relationship with one of the chief palace ladies (could even refer to the queen 宮主 n.66) and plotting treason. The lady and slave were executed whilst the pond was named Seochul-ji (Letter Emerging Pond 書出池).” It further says, “The people of Silla considered that for the king to avoid the calamity (禍) of the geomun’go box, if not for the efforts of the crow, mouse, dragon, horse and pig, the king’s body would have been endangered. Finally the sangja (上子), sangjin (上辰), sang’o (上午) and sanhae (上亥) days of the 1st month (正月) were made days of abstinence when people would avoid all work and not move. In the vernacular, the word dodal (忉怛) refers to something sad and taboo. Also, the 16th day is observed as O’gi-il (Crow Abstinence Day 烏忌日) when glutinous rice (찰밥) is sacrificed to the crows. This national custom continues still today.” According to the Jeompiljae-jip (Collected Works of Jeompiljae [Kim Jong-jik (1431-92)] 佔畢齋集), “The Dodal song (忉怛歌 n.67) goes as follows, ‘Anxious and melancholy, the king was almost unable to preserve [himself]. Inside the tassled silk curtain [n.68], the geomun’go collapsed, the pretty queen [n.69] was unable to grow old with her husband.'”

金鰲山色晩蒼蒼  금오산색만창창  平平平入上平平(陽)
渲染鷄林一半霜  선염계림일반상  去上平平入去平
萬疊伽倻人去後  만첩가야인거후  去入平平平去上
至今紅葉上書莊  지금홍엽상서장  去平平入去平平

geum o san saek man chang chang
seon yeom gye rim il ban sang
man cheop ga ya in geo hu
ji geum hong yeop sang seo jang

In evening Golden Turtle Mountain turns a deep green.
Chicken Forest is half dyed in the gradations of frost.
After [Choe Chi-won] left for the deep [valleys of] Mount Gaya,
The leaves are now red at Letter Writing Villa.

Golden Turtle Mountain (金鰲山 금오산): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mount Geum’o (Golden Turtle) is also known as South Mountain (南山) and is six li south of Gyeongju-bu (慶州府). In a poem the Tang poet Gu Yun (顧雲 고운 n.70) sent to Choe Chi-won (崔致遠 b.857) he wrote, ‘I have heard that above the sea are three golden turtles and on their heads are the tallest of mountains. At the top of the mountains are the Pearl Palace (珠宮 주궁), the Clam Palace (貝闕 패궐) and the Golden Hall (黃金殿). Beneath the palaces are waves stretching out infinitely.'”

Chicken Forest (鷄林 계림 Gyerim): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “In the 3rd spring month of the 9th year of Talhae-isageum’s reign, the king heard the voice of a cockerel calling in Si-rim forest (始林) to the west of the Golden Palace (金城) and so ordered Duke Ho (瓠公) to investigate. [The duke] found a white chicken crowing beneath a branch on which a small golden box was balanced. Returning and reporting what he saw, the king ordered men to bring the box and open it, whereupon they found inside a baby boy of extraordinary and wonderful appearance. The king rejoiced saying, ‘This is surely heaven sending me a son!’ He took the baby in and raised it. Growing up the boy was intelligent and possessed much wisdom and so was named Al-ji (閼智). As he came out of a golden box, he was given the surname Kim (金). Si-rim forest was renamed Gye-rim (Chicken Forest), which also became the name of the country (Silla).”

Gaya (伽倻): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mount Gaya is 30 li to the north of Hapcheon-gun (陜川郡). It is also called Mount Udu (牛頭山).”

Letter Writing Villa (上書莊): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Choi Chi-won’s pen names were Go-un (孤雲) and Hae-un (海雲). He was from Saryang-bu (沙梁部). At the age of twelve, he accompanied an envoy by boat to Tang. In the 1st Qianfu year (乾符 건부, 874) he passed the examination held under (/for becoming?) the Ritual Department Libushilang-peizan (禮部侍郞 裵瓚 예부시랑 배찬), and became lieutenant of Lishui-xian county (凓水縣尉). Passing the kaoshi examination (考試) he was made chengwurang-shiyushi- neigongfeng (乘務郞 侍御史 內供奉 승무랑 시어사 내공봉) and then had the purple and gold fish robes (紫金魚袋) conferred upon him. During the Huang Chao (874-84) (黃巢 황소) rebellion Gao Pian (高騈 고변 d.887, ‘former Prince of Bohai’ n.71) was made Grand Marshall of Everywhere (諸道行營兵馬都統 zhudao-xingying-bingma-doutong) and when suppressing Huang Chao, made Chiwon a congshi (從事) officer. In the 1st Guangqi (光啓 광계) year (885), Choi Chiwon was called back by royal edict [to Silla] and became both a sidok (侍讀) and hallim-haksa scholar-official (翰林學士). Leaving the capital, he became magistrate of Tae-san (太山太守 present day Tae’in 泰仁 n.72). From the time he went west to serve the Tang until he returned to his former country [Silla] in the east, he met with all manner of difficulties and so did not intend again to pursue officialdom. Together with his family he retired to Haein-sa temple (海印寺 n.73) and lived out the rest of his life free and relaxed.” According to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Sangseo-jan (Letter Writing Villa 上書莊) is to the north of Mount Geum’o. When Taejo of Goryeo [aka Wang Geon (877-943)] rose to power, knowing that he would be ordered (back to office) Choe Chiwon wrote a letter to the king (上書), ‘Gyerim is a yellow leaf but Gong-nyeong (鵠嶺 곡령 = Song’ak 松嶽 = Goryeo, see poem 43) is a green pine.’ Later generations named the place where he resided Letter Writing [to the king] Villa.” 

城南城北蔚藍峯  성남성북울람봉  平平平入入平平(冬)
落日昌林寺裏鐘  낙일창림사리종  入入平平去上平
閒補東京書畵傳  한보동경서화전  平上上平平去去
金生碑版率居松  김생비판솔거송  平平平上入平平

seong nam seong buk ul ram bong
nak il chang rim sa ri jong
han bo dong gyeong seo hwa jeon
gim saeng bi pan sol geo song

Mountain peaks lush with vegetation [rise] both to the south and north of the fortress.
At sunset the bell sounds at Changnim-sa temple.
The books and paintings of the Eastern Capital [Gyeongju] are leisurely restored [and so] passed down.
[They remind us of] Kim Saeng’s stone monument and Sol Geo’s pine trees.

Kim Saeng (金生 711-91): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “From an early age, Kim Saeng was skillful at calligraphy. Throughout his life he never studied any other art. Even past the age of 80, far from laying down his brush, he was a godly master in all three styles yeseo (隸書), haengseo (行書) and choseo (草/艸書). During the Chongning (崇寧 숭녕) reign period [of Song emperor Huizong (徽宗)] (1102-06), chunghaksa scholar (中學士) Hong Gwan (洪灌 d.1126 calligrapher, n.75) accompanied an official mission (奉仕 봉사) to Song and, whilst staying in Bianjing (汴京 변징, modern Kaifeng), hanlin-daizhao (翰林待詔 한림대조) Yang Qiu (楊球) and Li Ge (李革 n.76) visited with a letter from the emperor (勅書) and [whilst there they] painted a picture scroll. Hong Gwan showed them a sheet of Kim Saeng’s haeng-cho (行艸) [calligraphy] at which the two were greatly surprised and said, ‘Today we have unexpectedly seen the calligraphy of You Jun (右軍 303–61 n.77)!’ Hong Gwan replied, ‘This is the calligraphy of none other than Kim Saeng of Silla!’ But the two would not believe him.” In the epilogue (跋文) of the commemorative stone at Changnim-sa temple (昌林寺), Zhao Zi-ang (趙子昻, 1254-1322) wrote, ‘[Calligraphy as fine as] You (右) was written by a Silla monk of Tang, Kim Saeng. The character strokes on the commemorative stone of Changnim-sa Temple in his country [Silla] have depth and form (典型) such that even a famous calligraphic engraver of Tang would not be able to greatly surpass it. Did not the ancients say, ‘Talented people may be born in any land’? I believe it to be so.” According to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Changnim-sa temple (昌林寺) was located on Mount Geum’o but today is ruined. There is an old stone (碑) there but it has no writing.”

Sol Geo (率居): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Sol Geo was good at painting and early on he painted on the wall of Hwangnyong-sa temple (黃龍寺 n.79) the body, trunk, scales (鱗) and wrinkles of an old pine tree. Every now and then crows and kites spying the pine would try to fly and land on it but would fall down the wall. After a long time the colour began to fade and so the monks of the temple restored it with dancheong (丹靑) paint, but after that the crows and kites no longer came. The pictures of Avalokiteśvara (觀音) at Bunhwan-sa temple (芬皇寺 n.80) in Gyeonju and the portrait of Vimalakīrti (維摩像 유마상) at Dansok-sa (斷俗寺 n.81) in Jinju (晉州) are also by his brush.”

三月初旬去踏靑  삼월초순거답청  平入平平去入平(靑)
蚊川花柳鎖冥冥  문천화류쇄명명  平平平上上平平
流觴曲水傷心事  유상곡수상심사  平平入上平平去
休上春風鮑石亭  휴상춘풍포석정  平上平平上入平

sam wol cho sun geo dap cheong
mun cheon hwa ryu swae myeong myeong
yu sang gok su sang sim sa
hyu sang chun pung po seok jeong

In spring [the first ten days of the third lunar month], [King Gyeong-ae, penultimate king of Silla (r. 924–927)] was out enjoying the new foliage.
By Mosquito Stream, the flowers and willows are darkly locked together.
Whilst playing a game of floating wine cups, they met with sorrow.
Do not ascend to Abalone Stone Platform when the spring wind blows!

Mosquito Stream (蚊川): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mun-cheon stream (蚊川) is 5 li to the south of Gyeongju-bu, it is downstream of Sadeung-cheon stream (史等川). There is a poem by Kim Geuk-gi (金克己 1148-1209) of Goryeo that speaks of the Mun-cheon stream Bulgye festival game [composing poems before a wine cup floats past you] (蚊川祓禊 n.83).”

Abalone Stone Platform (鮑石亭 포석정): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Poseok-jeong is seven li south of Gyeongju-bu at the base of the western side of Mount Geum’o. The rocks have been arranged in the shape of an abalone (鮑) after which it is named. It is clearly the remains of where wine cups were floated along the winding water (流觴曲水).” According to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Gyeon Hwon (甄萱 867-936) suddenly invaded the Silla capital at which time the king and queen and ladies in waiting (嬪御) were out at Poseok-jeong enjoying wine. Having been invaded, they were in a fix and were not sure what to do. All the lords, retainers, palace women and officers were captured and died [King Gyeong’ae committed suicide].”

溟州  Myeongju

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “When King Seondeok (r.780–785) of Silla died he had no son and so a group of his vassals discussed together and decided to make an indirect descendant (族子) of Seondeok, Ju-won (周元), their king. Ju-won was living 20 li to the north of the capital, but just at that time heavy rain fell and swelled the Al-cheon river (閼川) preventing him from crossing. Someone then said, ‘Perhaps heaven is trying to stop Ju-won becoming king. Daesangdeung (大上等) Gyeong-sin (aka King Wonseong 敬信) was the younger brother of the former king and he has the countenance of a ruler.’ Upon deciding to enthrone him the rain stopped and so all the subjects of the kingdom shouted out manse!

In the Yeoji-ji (輿地志) it is written, “Fearing disaster, Ju-won withdrew to Myeoungju and was not invited to the court. Two years later he was enfeoffed as king of Myeongju-gun (溟州郡) which was divided into the fiefdoms (食邑) of Myeongju, Ingnyeong (翼嶺 익령, [modern day Yangyang]), Samcheok (三陟), Geun’eur’eo (斤乙於) [modern day Pyeonghae] and Uljin (蔚珍).”

In the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考) it is written, “Myeongju is present day Gangneung-bu (江陵府).”

雞林眞骨大王親  계림진골대왕친  平平平入去平平(眞)
九雉分供左海濱  구치분공좌해빈  上上平平上上平
最憶如花池上女  최억여화지상녀  去入平平平去上
魚書遠寄倦遊人  어서원기권유인  平平上去去平平

gye rim jin gol dae wang chin
gu chi bun gong jwa hae bin
choe eok yeo hwa ji wang nyeo
eo seo won gi gwon yu in

[Kim Juwon] was a True Bone rank (眞骨) of Gyerim and a close relative to the king (Seondeok who died without issue.)
Royal food provision was divided and given to [Kim Juwon] beside the left [i.e. eastern] sea.
[Myeongju] makes one think most of the girl by the lilly pond
Who sent a letter faraway by fish to the man she had promised herself to.

True Bone (眞骨): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Sadaham (斯多含) was of True Bone lineage. Seol Gye-du (薛罽頭 d.645 note84) said, ‘When appointments are made in Silla, they take into consideration their golpum bone rank status (骨品).'” Ling Hu-cheng (令狐澄 영호징) wrote in the Xinluoguo-ji (History of Silla 新羅國記), “In that country (신라), the king is First Bone rank (第一骨) and the rest of the aristocracy is Second Bone rank (第二骨).”

“royal food provision” guchi (九雉): according to the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考), “According to the Silla system, each day the king would eat three mal (斗 두) of rice and nine male pheasants (九雉).”

send a letter far away by fish (漁書遠寄 어서원기): according to the ‘Ak-ji’ chapter of the Goryeo-sa (Records of Music in the History of Goryeo 高麗史樂志), “In the Goguryeo folk music section (高句麗 俗樂部) is the song Myeongju-gok (Myeongju Melody 溟州曲). It is said that a young scholar (書生) was travelling for study when he arrived in Myeongju and saw the daughter of a well-to-do house who had a beautiful body and complexion. She also knew how to write. The young scholar kept writing her poems to try and seduce her, to which the girl replied, ‘A lady (婦女子) cannot pursue a stranger. Wait until you have passed the exam and if my parents order [our marriage] then something will happen.’ The young scholar soon returned to the capital and prepared for the gwago civil service examination. At the girls’ house [meanwhile] they started to welcome a future son-in-law. The girl raised fish in a pond and when they heard the sound of coughing they knew that food was coming. Feeding the fish, the girl said, ‘I have raised you for a long time, so you should understand my intentions (意).’ She threw in a silk letter (帛書) and a large fish jumped out and swallowed it before leisurely swimming away. Whilst in the capital, one day the young student bought a fish to feed his parents and when he cut open its stomach, he discovered inside a silk letter. Surprised and considering it wondrous, he immediately took the silk letter and a letter written by his father, and went straight to the girl’s house but found the intended future son-in-law had already arrived. He showed the letters to the girl’s family and sung this [Myeongju-gok] song. Thinking it wondrous, the girl’s parents said, ‘This has the feeling of sincere devotion (精誠) and is not something that can be done through [mere] human effort.’ Sending away the other man, they welcomed the young scholar as their son-in-law.”

According to the Ganggye-ji (Record of Borderlands 疆界志 n.86), “The younger brother of the Silla king, Muwol-lang (無月郞 무월랑 n.87), had two sons. The eldest was Ju-won (周元 n.88) and the second Gyeong-sin (敬信). Their mother was born in Myeongju and because she originally lived beneath Yeonhwa-bong peak (Lotus Peak 蓮花峯 연화봉) she was known as Madam Yeonhwa (n.89). When Ju-won became ruler of Myeongju, his mother lived under his support. The Myeongju-gok (n.90) is about Madam Yeonhwa and the young scholar is Muwol-lang. Also, because Myeongju was established during the Silla period, it is not a Goguryeo period name and so naturally Myeongju-gok is classified as a Silla song (新羅樂).”

Continue to part 5..

Was Goguryeo 高句麗 (Gāogōulí) Korean or Chinese? – tentative thoughts


Goguryeo was neither Korean nor Chinese but maintained its own dual south continental, northern peninsula identity which subsequently became divided together with its territory following the kingdom’s collapse.

  • The former territory of Goguryeo straddles the modern mainland Chinese and North Korean border.
  • The modern dispute over Goguryeo’s heritage is therefore nearly 100% subjective though Korea has the longer historiographic tradition.
  • The dispute is not academic or scholarly but politically motivated on both sides as both mainland China and the two Koreas are equally concerned about very real irredentist claims based on modern racial-nationalist claims to the ethnic heritage over the ancient kingdoms of the region (namely Old Joseon, Lelang Commandery, Goguryeo and Balhae).
    • In this context, Beijing’s assertion over Goguryeo is as much a reaction to Korean claims over the subsequent Balhae kingdom which was, more so than Goguryeo, overwhelmingly a (Manchurian) continental entity.

The contemporary ethnic identity of Goguryeo was neither Korean (which didn’t exist at the time) nor Han  Chinese.

  • However, it is possible and probably desirable for Goguryeo to simultaneously be regarded a part of both Korean and Chinese history but with the crucial qualification that ‘Chinese’ not denote the ethnic Han 漢 Chinese, but the multiethnic modern Chinese state which, despite the current political dominance of the modern ethnic Han majority, inherited the former territory of the Manchu Qing dynasty.  And here it should be appreciated that the Qing dynasty had been a multiethnic empire founded by Jurchen-Manchu whose very distant ancestors (whether remembered or not) likely included much of the continental population of Goguryeo.
  • If Goguryeo heritage cannot be treated as a part of multiethnic Chinese history, then the natural conclusion is the assertion of Korean irredentist claims.  Under such circumstances, the remaining tombs and fortress sites are vulnerable to neglect and continued deterioration.  As long as Manchuria is a part of the present day mainland Chinese state, Goguryeo’s continental heritage should be administered by China.

In the end, the only real arguments worth having are over the international pronunciation of the name as Goguryeo or Gāogōulí and access to joint archaeological investigation.

  • In the case of the international name, the Korean pronunciation should probably remain in acknowledgement of the longer historiographic tradition.

Territorial heritage:

In terms of its territorial heritage Goguryeo may be associated with both modern (multiethnic) China and the two Koreas today (especially North Korea).

  • Goguryeo emerged in the south of continental Manchuria with its early power base in the region of modern Jilin province of present day mainland China. Over its very long history, this power base gradually moved southwards into modern North Korean territory eventually to the location of Pyeongyang, the modern capital of North Korea. However, even in the later period, a major part of its history (Sui and Tang invasion wars) was played out in southern Manchuria, modern Liaoning province.
  • Whilst royal tombs were later constructed around modern Pyongyang and South Pyeong’an province (west of Pyongyang), Goguryeo’s spiritual homeland remained the region of Jolbon, modern Jilin, where the shrine to the mythical progenitor, King Dongmyeong (aka Jumong) was maintained.

Ethnic heritage:

Ethnic identity is a strongly subjective notion determined by self-identification with a group (influenced today by modern notions of political nationalism and racialist indoctrination) and traceable ancestry.

  • Goguryeo ethnic identity would have been forged from a multiethnic diversity primarily consisting of the southern Manchurian groups including a superstrate of the, semi-naturalized, descendants of former ethnic Han (漢) ‘Chinese’ who subjugated the region in 108BCE.
  • Goguryeo both expanded to the northeast and subsequently southwards into the peninsula.  During the latter process it would have absorbed the indigenous peoples of the northern Korean peninsula: many of these assimilated to the new Goguryeo ethnic identity; others, e.g. the peninsula ‘Malgal’ (靺鞨 – as they are anachronistically named in the Samguk-sagi), apparently maintained their own identity whilst accepting political suzerainty, perhaps in a manner similar to the much later banner system of the Manchu Qing dynasty (used to incorporate ethnic Mongols).  Other peninsula peoples meanwhile came under the dominance of Baekje and Silla and actively resisted Goguryeo expansion managing to maintain their complete independence.

Ancestry is a retrospective concept: no people attempt to trace their lineage into the future beyond the ideal of sustaining their current ethnic group.

  • Goguryeo people could only self-identify with their present and past: there was no concept of “Korea” or even the “Three Kingdoms” at this stage so it would not have been possible to self-identify as ‘Korean’.  Equally there was no larger Manchurian identity and Goguryeo was constantly at war with most neighbouring states including the various northern ‘Chinese’ dynasties (with the exception of Northern Wei which was an ethnic Xianbei entity and with which Goguryeo general maintained better relations).
  • In terms of ancestral lineage today, given the territorial division it can be surmised that the number of extremely distant Goguryeo descendants living in the territory of modern China would be at least as large, if not greater, than the number living now on the Korean peninsula.  The descendants of Goguryeo would have largely reassimilated as either Balhae-Jurchen (ethnic Tungus-Manchu) or as Unified Silla-Goryeo (Koreans).

Cultural heritage:

In terms of religious, artistic and technological innovation, Goguryeo had next to no known influence on dynastic mainland China, unknown though likely significant influence on the Manchurian region and some similar influence on the Korean peninsula, at least within its former territory.  Beyond the Jumong myth being maintained as northern folklore (to the extent that Yi Gyubo felt compelled to write it down) it is not clear what else was clearly inherited from Goguryeo as many traditions were superseded by those of Silla.

Historiographic heritage:

History is created by those who remember and write it down and perpetuated by those who read it.  Oral history is similarly dependent on transmission and continued relevance to the audience (but subject to distortion quickly becoming folklore).  People create and transmit history; they may dictate the narrative and conceal or censor available facts but nobody can physically own the past.

At a point when the peoples of the Korean peninsula had created a politically unified ‘Korean’ entity, namely the Goryeo dynasty (936-1392), Goguryeo’s history was remembered, re-compiled and incorporated into the notion of a peninsula focused Three Kingdoms historical period (also referred to at the time as Samhan).

  • During the Three Kingdoms period there was no concept of a “Three Kingdoms” identity; nor throughout Unified Silla and Balhae.  It was created retrospectively during the Goryeo dynasty and thus, crucially, Koreans preserved the historiographic heritage of Goguryeo.  Neither Tang nor Silla wrote dynastic histories of Goguryeo but records were at least preserved during the Unified Silla such that they could be compiled early in the Goryeo dynasty (first as the now lost Gu-samguk-sa ‘Old History of the Three Kingdoms’ and later as the Samguk-sagi).  Balhae may have compiled its own dynastic history of Goguryeo but nearly all Balhae records have been lost.
  • In terms of historiography, Goguryeo has always been treated by Koreans as a part of their heritage.  This has not been the case in traditional Chinese historiography.
  • Official dynastic histories and modern government sponsored history writing have the primary aims of legitimizing territorial claims and assimilating ethnic minorities.  Unified Silla apparently failed to successfully assimilate or integrate its expanded territory and suffered the consequences of revivalist movements; Goguryeo was subsequently included in Goryeo’s official history helping to legitimize its claims over the full peninsula territory.
  • Following Goguryeo’s collapse, its former continental territory was not immediately occupied by any ethnic Han Chinese dynasty and so its history was not formally compiled.  This state of affairs did not change until the founding of the modern Chinese Communist Party and they immediately set to work on researching their borders; the current Chinese claims are the natural outcome of this official revisionist history project, in essence no different from the purpose of compiling dynastic histories (that is, to legitimize territorial claims and assimilate ethnic minorities).

Linguistic heritage:

Ethnic identity is closely associated with both linguistic and political boundaries but linguistic range does not always match the speed of dynastic and modern political re-configurations.

  • There were likely many languages spoken as a linguistic spectrum across the territory of Goguryeo, increasingly so as it expanded.  Undoubtedly, this predominantly included Tungusic languages ancestral to Jurchen-Manchu.
  • Goguryeo was already writing Classical Chinese inherited at the latest from the previous Han commanderies (Lelang and Xiantu) and propagated through Buddhist evangelism such that the language of the ruling class would have soon become at least partially Sinicized in a manner similar to modern Sino-Korean and Sino-Japanese, that is to say: whatever language the Goguryeo language was, it would have been Sino-Goguryeo.
  • The Koreanic ancestor to the modern (Sino-)Korean language was certainly the dominant language of Silla when it overthrew Baekje and Goguryeo.  It is not known to what degree Koreanic languages were spoken outside of Silla’s traditional southeastern peninsula territory; they may have been widespread on the peninsula but were very unlikely to have been spoken on the Manchurian continent and so would not have been the dynastic or continental language of Goguryeo.

Sources: Yu Deukgong’s “Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals” 二十一都懷古詩 (1792) – part 3 of 6

See Introductionpart 1 and part 2.

百濟  Baekje

In the Nanshi (History of the Southern Dynasties 南史) it is written, “Mahan was composed of fifty-four states (國) of which Baekje was one. Later on it gradually became stronger and absorbed the other smaller countries.”

In the Beishi (History of the Northern Dynasties 北史) it is written, “Baekje was a part of Mahan. The country was named Baekje (百 hundred + 濟 to cross) as it was established when a hundred families crossed the river [into the territory]. Its capital fortress was Geobal Fortress (居拔城), also known as Goma Fortress (固麻城).”

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “The founder of Baekje, King Onjo (溫祚王 r.18 BC–AD 28) established the capital Wirye Fortress (慰禮城) in Hanam (河南). Ten vassals supported the king and so the country’s name was made as Sipje (十濟, 十 ten + 濟 to help). It was the 3rd Hongjia (鴻嘉 홍가) year of Han emperor Cheng (成帝). Later on, commoners gladly came to submit to the king and so the country was renamed Baekje (百濟). Together with Goguryeo, the line of descent traced back to Buyeo, so Buyeo was used as the surname. In the 13th year of King Onjo’s reign, he built a wooden fence at the bottom of Mount Han (漢山) and in the 14th year, moved the capital [there]. In the 5th year of King Gaeru (蓋婁王 r.128–166), the Bukhan-san Fortress (北漢山城) was built and in the 26th year of King Geunchogo (近肖古王 r.346-375), the capital was moved to Mount Han. In the first year of King Munju (文周王 r.475-477), the capital was moved to Ungjin (熊津). Then in the 6th year of King Seong (聖王 r.523–554), the capital was moved to Sabi (泗沘) and the country named South Buyeo (南夫餘).”

In the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考) it is written, “Soburi-gun (所夫里郡) in Baekje was also called Sabi. It is present day Buyeo-hyeon (夫餘縣).”

歌樓舞殿向江開  가루무전향강개  平平上去去平平(灰)
半月城頭月影來  반월성두월영래  去入平平入上平
紅㲮𣰆寒眠不得  홍탑등한면부득  平入平平平入入
君王愛在自溫臺  군왕애재자온대  平平去上去平平 

ga ru mu jeon hyang gang gae
ban wol seong du wol yeong rae
hong tap deung han myeon bu deuk
gun wang ae jae ja on dae

A singing pagoda and dancing palace opens towards the river.
The top of Banwol Fortress [refers to Baekje’s last capital Sabi] is silhouetted against the moon.
The red carpet [mattress] is cold and [the king] cannot sleep.
The [last] king [of Baekje, Uija] loved to be on the Jaondae [rock].

Banwol Fortress (半月城): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Banwol Fortress in Buyeo-hyeon (夫餘縣) was built of stone and 13,006 cheok (尺 1=30cm 3.9km) in circumference. It is the capital of former Baekje. Built hugging the side of Mount Buso (扶蘇山), both ends reach to Baekma River (White Horse River 白馬江) and so it forms the shape of a half moon.”

the Jaondae “self-heating” rock (自溫臺): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Jaondae is five li to the west of Buyeo-hyeon. The rock is in the water downstream to the west of Nakhwa-am (Falling Flower Rock (落花巖). It is large enough for more than ten people to sit on it. It has been passed down that, ‘When the Baekje king relaxed (遊) on the rock, it became warm by itself.'”

落日扶蘇數點峯  낙일부소수점봉  入入平平去上平(冬)
天寒白馬怒濤洶  천한백마노도흉  平平入上去平平
奈何不用成忠策  내하불용성충책  去平入去平平入
却恃江中護國龍  각시강중호국룡  入上平平去入平

nak il bu so su jeom bong
cheon han baek ma no do hyung
nae ha bu yong seong chung chaek
gak si gang jung ho guk ryong

Sun sets [behind] the peaks of Mount Buso [the location of the final royal Baekje fortress].
[Beneath] the cold sky, the White Horse River angrily froths.
How could he fail to hark on loyal vassal Seongchung’s advice?
Yet he believed the dragon in the river would [be enough to] protect his kingdom!

Buso (扶蘇): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mount Buso is three li (1.2km) to the north of Buyeo-hyeon. The easternmost peak is called Yeongwol-dae (Moon Welcoming Platform 迎月臺) and the westernmost peak Songwol-dae (Seeing off the Moon Platform 送月臺).”

loyal vassal Seongchung (成忠): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “In the 16th year of King Uija (義慈王 r.641–660), jwa’pyeong (佐平) Seongchung (d.656) offered up a memorial to the king saying, ‘Having studied the propriety of times, war is certain now to arise. If an invading army comes, do not allow them to cross the Chim-hyeon pass (沈峴) by land or to enter Gibeol-po harbour (岐伐浦) by water. Only through [facing] danger will defence be possible.’ However, the king did not respond. Only when the Tang army bore down upon the fortress did the king lament, ‘I regret I did not listen to Seongchung’s counsel!'”

the dragon would protect the kingdom (護國龍): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Beneath Mount Buso is a rock which straddles the river and has dragon claw marks in it. It is commonly told that, ‘When Su Dingfang (蘇定方 591–667) invaded Baekje, upon arriving at the river he attempted to cross but powerful wind and rain prevented him; using a white horse as bait, he caught a dragon [from the river] which caused the storm to briefly subside allowing his soldiers to cross. On account of this the river is named Baekma-gang (White Horse River 白馬江), and the stone is called Joryong-dae (Fishing Dragon Platform 釣龍臺).'”

雨冷風凄去國愁  우냉풍처거국수  上上平平去入平(尤)
巖花落盡水悠悠  암화낙진수유유  平平入上上平平
泉臺寂寞誰相伴  천대적막수상반  平平入入平平上
同是江南歸命侯  동시강남귀명후  平上平平平去平

u naeng pung cheo geo guk su
am hwa nak jin su yu yu
cheon dae jeok mak su sang ban
dong si gang nam gwi myeong hu

In cold rain and chill wind, it is sad to leave your country.
Flowers [palace women] fell from the rock and expired; the water [now] flows gently by.
The Otherworld is lonely and dreary, who may accompany him [the last Baekje king, Uija] there?
He’ll be together with Sun Hao [Marquess Guiming] on the south bank.

flowers from the rock (巖花): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Nakhwa-am (Falling Flower Rock (落花巖) is one li north of Buyeo-hyeon. It is commonly told that, ‘When King Uija was defeated by the Tang army, the palace ladies climbed to the top of the rock and jumped into the river and that is how it got its name.'”

Marquess Guiming (歸命侯): according to the Tangshu (唐書), “In the 5th Xianqing year (顯慶 현경, 660) Great General of the Left Defence (左衛大將軍), Su Dingfang, was made Field Marshall of Shenqiu-dao (神邱道行軍總管) and ordered to attack Baekje. Crossing the sea from Mount Seong (城山), Baekje was defending the entrance to Ung-jin harbour (熊津) and so Su Dingfang immediately attacked and destroyed their defenses. Riding on the tide, they advanced and forced the surrender of the fortress. King Uija was captured and sent back to the [Tang] capital (京師) whilst governor-generals (都督) were placed in the five gun (郡) of Ungjin (熊津), Mahan (馬韓), Dongmyeong (東明), Geum’yeon (金漣) and Deok’an (德安). King Uija died of anguish and was given the (Tang?) rank of weiweiqing (‘Minister of the Guards’ 衛尉卿 위위경). His former vassals were permitted to conduct his funeral but ordered by imperial edict to hold the funeral to the left of Sun Hao (孫皓 손호, aka Marquess Guiming, 242–84 n.56) and Chen Shubao’s (陳叔寶, 553–604 n.57) graves [two former corrupt rulers of Wu (吳) and Chen (陳) who had been defeated and taken back to the victor’s capital where they died].

浴槃零落涴曣脂  욕반영낙완연지  入平平入 平(支)
石室藏書事可疑  석실장서사가의  入入平平去上平
時見荒原秋草裏  시견황원추초리  平去平平平上上
行人駐馬讀唐碑  행인주마독당비  平平去上入平平

yok ban yeong nak wan yeon ji
seok sil jang seo sa ga wi
si gyeon hwang won chu cho ri
haeng in ju ma dok dang bi

The wash basin is old and worn [but] yeonji make-up stains [remain.]
They say that books were stored in the Stone Room, but this seems doubtful.
At times visible in the autumn grasses of the desolate fields,
Passersby stop their horses and read the Tang stele.

the wash basin (浴槃): according to the Buyeohyeon-ji (Record of Buyeo-hyeon 夫餘縣志), “In the garden of the county office (縣廳) is a stone basin. When public business is conducted at night a pine torch is sometimes lit above it so it has become blackened with soot and cracked; but still a carved lotus flower pattern is faintly [visible]. It is said that this was the wash basin used by the palace ladies of Baekje.”

books stored in the stone room (石室藏書): according to the Buyeohyeon-ji (夫餘縣志), “To the east of Pungjeon-yeok horse station (豊田驛) in Buyeo-hyeon, is a high stone wall which, where it has been broken, has the form of a door; it is called Cheag’am (Book Rock 冊巖). It is commonly said that, ‘In Baekje times this is where books were stored.’ In past times somebody tried to open it and look inside but in spite of it being a clear day thunder rolled and, becoming frightened, they desisted.”

Tang stele (唐碑): according to the Buyeohyeon-ji (夫餘縣志), “Two li to the south of Buyeo-hyeon is a stone pagoda which has carved on it, ‘Stone [commemorating] the subjugation of Baekje by the Great Tang, erected on the 15th day of the 8th month in the 5th year of Xianqing (顯慶 현경), Gengshen (庚申 경신), Guiwei (癸未 계미). It was made by Jian-shi of Ling-zhou (陵州長史) Bingcao-panshu (‘Minister of War’ 兵曹判書) He Suiliang (賀遂亮 하수량) and written by Quan Huaisu (權懷素 권회소) of Luo-zhou (落州) in Henan (河南).’ It records the exploits of Su Dingfang. The calligraphy is pianli-ti style (駢儷體 변려체) and, being written well, is naturally the best example of calligraphy on old stones found in Korea. There is another commemorative stone three li (1.2km) north of Buyeo-hyeon that records the exploits of Liu RenYuan (劉仁願 유인원 n.59) but the middle section has broken off and many of the characters are worn.”

彌鄒忽  Michuhol [modern day Incheon]

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “When Jumong escaped from North Buyeo (北夫餘) and came to Jolbon Buyeo (卒本夫餘), the Buyeo king married his daughter to Jumong. Upon the death of the Buyeo king, Jumong ascended to the throne and had two sons named Biryu (沸流) and Onjo (溫祚). Jumong’s son previously born in North Buyeo arrived and was made crown prince. Fearing that they would not be accepted by the crown prince, Biryu and Onjo, together with ten vassals including Ogan (烏干) and Maryeo (馬黎), moved south and were followed by many subjects. Arriving at Mount Han (漢山) they climbed up Bu’a-ak peak (負兒岳, present day Insu-bong peak on Bukhan-san said to have resembled a parent carrying a child on their back and thus named as such, n60) and looked out over land [that appeared] suitable for living, but Biryu wanted to live by the sea, whereupon his ten retainers said, ‘Only here, in Hanam (河南) is the north bordered by the Han-su river (漢水), the east protected by high mountains, the south overlooking fertile land and the west ending in the ocean. What better place could there be to establish your capital?’ But Biryu did not listen and divided their followers; Biryu went on to Michuhol whilst Onjo established his capital at Wirye Fortress (慰禮城) in Hanam. In Michuhol the land was damp and the water salty. Unable to live there Biryu returned to Wirye Fortress, and finding it stable and the people peaceful he became regretful before dying.”

In the Yeoji-ji (Geographical Records 輿地志) it is written, “Ten li (4km) to the south of current day Incheon-bu (仁川府) there is a large grave at the top of Haepyeong (海坪). The perimeter wall remains intact; the stone grave statues (石人, 망두석) lying face down are especially big. It is said that this is the grave of the king of Michu.”

浿上悲歌別弟兄  패상비가별제형  去去平平入去平(庚)
登山臨水汨南征  등산임수골남정  平平平上上平平
三韓地劣姜肱被  삼한지열강굉피  平平去入平平上
休築崢嶸恚忿城  휴축쟁영에분성  平入去平 去平

pae sang bi ga byeol je hyeong
deung san im su gol nam jeong
sam han ji yeol gang goeng pi
hyu chuk jaeng yeong e bun seong

Above the waters of Pae the brothers parted with a sad song.
Climbing the mountain and looking down upon the water [Biryu] became infatuated with the southern road.
The land of the Three Han could not match the bed clothes of Jianggong (姜肱 강굉) [refers to Jianggong of the Eastern Han (東漢), who loved his two younger brothers Zhonghai (仲海) and Jijiang (季江) and would sleep under the same blanket, n61.]
So Biryu should not have [attempted] to build his towering Resentment Fortress.

Resentment Fortress (恚忿城 에분성): according to the Yeoji-ji (輿地志), “To the south of current day Incheon-bu is a mountain named South Mountain (南山) It is also know as Mount Munhak (文鶴山) and there is a fortress built on it. It is said that this is the place of Biryu’s capital and because he died of resentment, it was called Ebun-seong (Resentment Fortress).”

Continue to part 4..

Sources: Samguk-sagi biographies – Sona 素那

The account of Sona is the 24th of fifty biographies included in Kim Busik’s Samguk-sagi (三國史記).

Sona  素那  소나

Sona, also called Kim Cheon (金川), was from Sasan (蛇山 ‘Snake Mountain’) in Baekseong county (白城郡 ‘White Fortress’) [of Silla]. His father was Simna (沈那), also called Hwangcheon (煌川), whose physical strength (膂) surpassed [all] others but whose body was [at once] light and agile. Sasan straddled the border with Baekje and so they continuously attacked one another without a quiet month (虛月). Whenever Simna went out to battle there were no strong [enemy] camps that could face him.

During the Inpyeong era (仁平, the second reign era of Queen Seondeok, 634-48) [Silla] sent out troops from Baekseong to go and attack (往抄?) a Baekje border town (邑). [In response] Baekje sent out elite soldiers and they fought furiously (急). Our [Silla] troops were thrown into disorder and retreated. [But] Simna stood alone gripping his sword. With angry eyes and wild shouting he hacked down several tens of men [such] that the [Baekje] bandits did not dare to face [him] (當). Eventually the [Baekje commanders] pulled back their soldiers and fled. [From a distance] the Baekje men pointed at Simna saying, “The flying general (飛將) of Silla!”  And they said to one another, “[As long as] Simna is alive, do not go near Baekseong!”

Sona had the [same] heroic (雄豪) character (風) as his father. After the downfall of Baekje, Prince Yu (儒公), the governor of Hanju province (漢州), requested to the king to transfer Sona to Adal Fortress (阿達城) to strengthen the defence of the northern border (北鄙).

In the second year of Sangwon (上元), Eulhae (乙亥 675), spring, the geupchan (級飡 ninth degree rank) chief magistrate (太守) of Adal Fortress, [named] Hanseon (漢宣), had the commoners all go out on a certain day to plant hemp[!] and [they] were unable to ignore this command. A Malgal (靺鞨) spy learnt of this (認) and returned to report it to his chief (酋長). When the day arrived, all of the commoners went out of the fortress into the fields. [But] the Malgal had secretly [led] soldiers and suddenly entered the fortress, plundering it whole. The old and young were in a difficult situation and did not know what would become of themselves. [Whereupon] Sona brandishing his sword confronted the [Malgal] bandits and loudly cried out, “Know ye that Silla has Sona the son of Simna! I have absolutely no fear of death with [any] plan of living. Will those who want to fight come forward!?”

Enraged he charged into the bandits [but] they did not dare to approach him and only shot arrows. Sona shot back [such that the] flying arrows were like a swarm of bees. [They continued like this] from the Jin hour (辰時 7-9am) until the Yu hour (酉時 5-7pm) [until] Sona’s body [was pierced with so many] arrows he looked like a hedgehog and finally he collapsed and died.

Sona’s wife was the daughter of the respected household (良家) of Garimgun (加林郡). When at first the enemy country (敵國) had been close to Adal Fortress, [Sona] had gone alone making his wife stay at home. When the county folk heard of Sona’s death they [tried to] console her. His wife cried but said to them, “My husband always said, ‘A great man must die in battle (兵死). How can one lie in bed and die housebound (死家人之手 lit. ‘die [with?/by?] the hands of a house person’)?!’ Throughout his life his words were such. Now he has died according to this will.”

[Upon] hearing this the great king shed tears [until] the collar [of his robe] was wet and said, “Father and son were valiant in their service to the kingdom. [This is] loyalty and virtue across generations!”

[He posthumously] awarded [Sona] the rank of japchan (迊飡 third rank).

Sources: Samguk-sagi biographies – Haeron 奚論

The account of Haeron is the 23rd of fifty biographies included in Kim Busik’s Samguk-sagi (三國史記).

Haeron  奚論  해론

Haeron was a [Silla] man from Moryang (牟梁). His father was Chandeok (讚德) who possessed a courageous spirit and outstanding fidelity and at one time had been renowned. In the 27th Geonbok (建福) year, Eulchuk (乙丑 605), King Jinpyeong   the Great (眞平大王) had selected [Chandeok] to be the hyeollyeong county sheriff (縣令) of Gagam fortress (椵岑城). In the 10th month of the following year, Byeong’in (丙寅 606), winter, Baekje mobilized a great host of soldiers and attacked Gagam Fortress for more than a hundred days. King Jinpyeong ordered [his] generals to rescue them with troops from Sangju (上州 lit. ‘upper province’), Haju (下州 lit. ‘lower province’) and Sinju (新州 lit. ‘new province’). Eventually they went and fought with Baekje [but] were unable to defeat them and withdrew. Chandeok was [both] furious and sorrowful and said to his commanders and men (士卒), “The commanders of three provinces [upon] seeing the enemy’s strength, did not advance. The fortress is in peril [yet] they did not come to [our] assistance. They have no sense of virtue (義). Rather than live without virtue, it is better to have virtue and die.”

At this [spirits] were greatly roused; they fought and defended [the fortress]. Even when they ran out of food and water, they ate dead bodies and drank urine. They fought hard and did not give in (怠). [But] by lunar New Year [of the following year] in spring the men were exhausted and the fortress was on the verge of collapse. [Realising] it was no longer possible to restore [their] spirits (勢), [Chandeok] looked up at the sky and loudly shouted, “Our king entrusted me with a single fortress but I was unable to maintain it and have been defeated by the enemy. I wish to die and become a great demon (大厲) that will eat up the Baekje people and restore this fortress.”

At last, rolling up his sleeves and staring wildly, he charged into a pagoda tree (槐樹) and died. With that the fortress capitulated and all the soldiers surrendered.

At the age of twenty or so, owing to the meritorious achievements (功) of his father, Haeron became a daenama (大奈麻 10th degree rank). In the 41st Geonbok year, Muin (戊寅 618), the king made Haeron a dangju commander (幢主) of Geumsan (金山). Together with the governor (都督) of Hansan province (漢山州) they raised an army (師) and attacking Gagam Fortress, [re]took it. [Upon] hearing this, Baekje soldiers came. Haeron and the others met with them [in battle]. [When] the soldiers had already clashed, Haeron said to his generals, “In the past my father died here. Now I am also fighting here against Baekje men [and so] it is the day I die.”

Taking a short weapon he charged into the enemy. He killed a number of men and died. [When] the king heard of this, he shed tears. He gave aid to [Haeron’s] family all the more generously. At the time people could not help but be sad and composed a long song (長歌) to mourn them.

Sources: Samguk-sagi biographies – Bi’nyeongja 丕寧子

The account of Bi’nyeongja is the 32nd of fifty biographies included in Kim Busik’s Samguk-sagi (三國史記).

Bi’nyeongja  丕寧子  비녕자

Bi’nyeongja, [his] home domain, clan and surname are all unknown. During the first year of King Jindeok’s (眞德王) reign, the Jeongmi year (丁未 647), a large number of warriors came and attacked fortresses including Musan (茂山), Gammul (甘勿) and Dongjam (桐岑). Kim Yusin (金庾信) led ten thousand foot and mounted [soldiers] and blocked them. The Baekje soldiers were extremely fierce (lit. “sharp”) and [although Silla] fought hard they could not overcome them; their spirits shrunk and strength tired. Kim Yusin, knowing that Bi’nyeongja had the will to strongly fight and deeply penetrate [the enemy], called him over and said, “Only in the cold winter can it be known that pine trees (松柏) do not wither. Today events are perilous (急), if not you who [else] can effectively project their fighting spirit to encourage people’s hearts?!”

With this they drank wine together to show their humble reverence. Bowing twice Bi’nyeongja said, “Though in the midst of countless people, you have entrusted me with this task, it can be said you know me [well]! I must repay you with death.”

Emerging [Bi’nyeongja] said to his slave Hapjeol (合節), “I, today for the higher purpose of the country and the lesser sake of having been understood [by Kim Yusin] will die. My son, Geojin (擧眞), although young in years possesses noble intentions (壯志) and [so] will certainly wish to die with me. [But] if father and son were both to die at once, then who would the family rely on for their future? You, together with Geojin, must collect my bones and return home to console a mother’s heart.”

Finishing his speech, he whipped his horse and leveled his spear and charged into the enemy camp. He killed a number of people before dying [himself]. Watching from afar, Geojin wanted to go [after him, but] Hapjeol said, “Your father has said I must return home together with the young master (阿郞) to console [your] mother; if you now disobey your father’s command and abandon your mother’s love, how could this be called filial piety?”

[Hapjeol] took hold of the horse’s reigns and would not let go. Geojin said, “Having watched my father die but caring for my own continued existence, would this be called a filial son?!”

Whereupon he cut [Hapjeol’s] arm [off?!] with his sword. Galloping into the midst of the enemy, he died fighting. Hapjeol said, “[Aaaaaaaaghh my arm!] My own sky has collapsed! If I don’t die what would become of me?”

[He] crossed blades [with the enemy] and died. The soldiers and warriors, upon seeing the deaths of the three men, were deeply moved and [began] fighting on the advance. Wherever they turned, they overpowered the [enemy] blades and forced the collapse of the enemy’s camp. They utterly defeated the enemy soldiers and decapitated more than three thousand heads. Yusin collected the three corpses; taking off his own robes he covered them and cried with incredible sadness. Hearing of this the great king [too] shed tears. With full ceremony they were buried on Mount Banji (反知山) and rewards to the wife and [remaining] children and nine generations (九族, four lineal generations above and four below) were bestowed all the more generously.

Sources: Samguk-sagi 三國史記 (1145) – contents

Below is a translated contents of the Samguk-sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms) compiled by Kim Bu-sik (金富軾 1075-1151).

NB: ‘Upper,’ ‘middle’ and ‘lower’ are equivalent to first, second and third parts, or with just ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ parts one and two.

Samguk-sagi 三國史記

Book 1 – Basic annals of Silla 1 卷第一 新羅本紀 第一

Founder Hyeokgeose-geoseogan 始祖 赫居世居西干 시조 혁거세거거산
Namhae-chacha’ung 南解次次雄 남해차차웅
Yuri-isageum 儒理尼師今 유리이사금
Talhae-isageum 脫解尼師今 탈해이사금
Pisa-isageum 婆娑尼師今 피사이사금
Jima-isageum 祗摩尼師今 지마이사금
Ilseong-isageum 逸聖尼師今 일성이사금

Book 2 – Basic annals of Silla 2

Adalla-isageum 阿達羅尼師今 아달라이사금
Beolhyu-isageum 伐休尼師今 벌휴이사금
Naehae-isageum 奈解尼師今 내해이사금
Jobun-isageum 助賁尼師今 조분이사금
Cheomhae-isageum 沾解尼師今 첨해이사금
Michu-isageum 味鄒尼師今 미추이사금
Yurye-isageum 儒禮尼師今 유례이사금
Girim-isageum 基臨尼斯今 기림이사금
Heulhae-isageum 訖解尼師今 흘해이사금 

Book 3 – Basic annals of Silla 3

Naemul-isageum 奈勿尼師今 내물이사금
Silseong-isageum 實聖尼師今 실성이사금
Nulji-maripgan 訥祗痲立干 눌지마립간
Jabi-maripgan 慈悲麻立干 자비마립간
Soji-maripgan 炤知麻立干 소지마립간

Book 4 – Basic annals of Silla 4

Jijeung-maripgan 智證麻立干 지증마립간
Beopheung-wang 法興王 법흥왕
Jinheung-wang 眞興王 진흥왕
Jinji-wang 眞智王 진지왕
Jinpyeong-wang 眞平王 진평왕

Book 5 – Basic annals of Silla 5

Seondeok-wang 善德王 선덕왕
Jindeok-wang 眞德王 진덕왕
Taejong Muyeol-wang 太宗武烈王 태종무열왕 

Book 6 – Basic annals of Silla 6

Munmu-wang – upper 文武王·上 문무왕·상

Book 7 – Basic annals of Silla 7

Munmu-wang – lower 文武王·下 문무왕·하 

Book 8 – Basic annals of Silla 8

Sinmun-wang 神文王 신문왕
Hyoso-wang 孝昭王 효소왕
Seongdeokwang 聖德王 성덕왕

Book 9 – Basic annals of Silla 9

Hyoseong-wang 孝成王 효성왕
Gyeongdeok-wang 景德王 경덕왕
Hyegong-wang 惠恭王 혜공왕
Seondeok-wang 宣德王 선덕왕

Book 10 – Basic annals of Silla 10

Wonseong-wang 元聖王 원성왕
Soseong-wang 昭聖王 소성왕
Aejang-wang 哀莊王 애장왕
Heondeok-wang 憲德王 헌덕왕
Heungdeok-wang 興德王 흥덕왕
Hwigang-wang 僖康王 희강왕
Min’ae-wang 閔哀王 민애왕
Sinmu-wang 神武王 신무왕

Book 11 – Basic annals of Silla 11

Munseong-wang 文聖王 문성왕
Heon’an-wang 憲安王 헌안왕
Gyeongmun-wang 景文王 경문왕
Heon’gang-wang 憲康王 헌강왕
Heungdeok-wang 興德王 흥덕왕
Jeonggang-wang 定康王 정강왕
Jinseong-wang 眞聖王 진성왕

Book 12 – Basic annals of Silla 12

Hyogong-wang 孝恭王 효공왕
Sindeok-wang 神德王 신덕왕
Gyeongmyeong-wang 景明王 경명왕
Gyeong’ae-wang 景哀王 경애왕
Gyeongsun-wang 敬順王 경순왕

Book 13 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 1 高句麗本紀 第一

Founder Deongmyeong-seongwang 始祖 東明聖王 동명성왕
Yuri-myeongwang 瑠璃明王

Book 14 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 2

Daemusin-wang 大武神王 대무신왕
Minjung-wang 閔中王 민중왕
Mobon-wang 慕本王 모본왕 

Book 15 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 3

Taejo Daewang 太祖大王 태조대왕
Chadae-wang 次大王 차대왕 

Book 16 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 4

Sindae-wang 新大王 신대왕
Gogukcheon-wang 故國川王 고국천왕
Sansang-wang 山上王 산상왕 

Book 17 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 5

Dongcheon-wang 東川王 동천왕
Jungcheon-wang 中川王 중천왕
Seocheon-wang 西川王 서천왕
Bongsang-wang 烽上王 봉상왕
Micheon-wang 美川王 미천왕

Book 18 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 6

Goguk’won-wang 故國原王 고국원왕
Sosurim-wang 小獸林王 소수림왕
Goguk’yang-wang 故國壤王 고국양왕
Gwanggaeto-wang 廣開土王 광개토왕
Jangsu-wang 長壽王 장수왕

Book 19 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 7

Munja-myeongwang 文咨明王 문자명왕
Anjang-wang 安藏王 안장왕
Anwon-wang 安原王 안원왕
Yang’won-wang 陽原王 양원왕
Pyeong’won-wang 平原王 평원왕

Book 20 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 8

Yeong’yang-wang 嬰陽王 영양왕
Yeongnyu-wang 榮留王 영류왕 

Book 21 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 9

Bojang-wang – upper 寶藏王·上 보장왕·상

Book 22 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 10

Bojang-wang – lower 寶藏王·下 보장왕·하

Book 23 – Basic annals of Baekje 1 百濟本紀 第一

Founder Onjo-wang 始祖 溫祚王 시조 온조왕
Daru-wang 多婁王 다루왕
Giru-wang 己婁王 기루왕
Gaeru-wang 蓋婁王 개루왕
Chogo-wang 肖古王 초고왕

Book 24 – Basic annals of Baekje 2

Gusu-wang 仇首王 구수왕
Go’i-wang 古爾王 고이왕
Chaekgye-wang 責稽王 책계왕
Bunseo-wang 汾西王 분서왕
Biryu-wang 比流王 비류왕
Gye-wang 契王 계왕
Geunchogo-wang 近肖古王 근초고왕
Geungusu-wang 近仇首王 근구수왕
Chimnyu-wang 枕流王 침류왕

Book 25 – Basic annals of Baekje 3

Jinsa-wang 辰斯王 진사왕
Asin-wang 阿莘王 아신왕
Jeonji-wang 腆支王 전지왕
Gu’isin-wang 久爾辛王 구이신왕
Biyu-wang 毘有王 비유왕
Gaero-wang 蓋鹵王 개로왕 

Book 26 – Basic annals of Baekje 4

Munju-wang 文周王 문주왕
Samgeun-wang 三斤王 삼근왕
Deongseong-wang 東城王 동성왕
Muryeong-wang 武寧王 무령왕
Seong-wang 聖王 성왕

Book 27 – Basic annals of Baekje 5

Wideok-wang 威德王 위덕왕
Hye-wang 惠王 혜왕
Beop-wang 法王 법왕
Mu-wang 武王 무왕

Book 28 – Basic annals of Baekje 6

Uija-wang 義慈王 의자왕

Book 29 – Chronological tables – upper 年表·上

Book 30 – Chronological tables – middle 年表·中

Book 31 – Chronological tables – lower 年表·下

Book 32 – Miscellaneous treaties 1 雜志 第一

Rites 祭祀 제사
Music 音樂 음악

Book 33 – Miscellaneous treaties 2

Colour of robes 服色 복색
Vehicles 車騎 거기
Utensils 器用 기용
Housing 屋舍 옥사 

Book 34 – Miscellaneous treaties 3

Geography 1 – Silla 地理 一 新羅 

Book 35 – Miscellaneous treaties 4

Geography 2 – Silla 地理 二 新羅

Book 36 – Miscellaneous treaties 5

Geography 3 – Silla 地理 三 新羅

Book 37 – Miscellaneous treaties 6

Geography 4 – Goguryeo and Baekje 地理 四 高句麗 – 地理 四 百濟

Book 38 – Miscellaneous treaties 7

Official positions and ranks – upper 職官·上 직관·상

Book 39 – Miscellaneous treaties 8

Official positions and ranks – middle 職官·中 직관·중

Book 40 – Miscellaneous treaties 9

Official positions and ranks – lower 職官·下 직관·하

Book 41 – Biographies 1 列傳 第一

Kim Yusin – upper 金庾信·上 김유신·상

Book 42 – Biographies 2

Kim Yusin – middle 金庾信·中 김유신·중

Book 43 – Biographies 3

Kim Yusin – lower 金庾信·下 김유신·하

Book 44 – Biographies 4

Eulji Mundeok 乙支文德 을지문덕
Geochilbu 居柒夫 거칠부
Geodo 居道 거도
Isabu 異斯夫 이사부
Kim Inmun 金仁問 김인문
Kim Yang 金陽 김양
Heukchi Sangji 黑齒常之 흑치상지
Jang Bogo [and Jeongnyeon] 張保皐 [鄭年] 장보고[와 정년]
Sadaham 斯多含 사다함

Book 45 – Biographies 5

Eulpaso 乙巴素 을파소
Kim Hujik 金后稷 김후직
Nokjin 祿眞 녹진
Mir’u [and] Nyuyu 密友 紐由 밀우[와] 뉴유
Myeongnim-dapbu 明臨答夫 명림답부
Seok Uro 昔于老 석우로
Bak Jesang 朴堤上 박제상
Gwisan 貴山 귀산
Ondal 溫達 온달

Book 46 – Biographies 6

Gangsu 强首 강수
Choe Chiwon 崔致遠 최치원
Seolchong 薛聰 설총 

Book 47 – Biographies 7

Haeron 奚論 해론
Sona 素那 소나
Chwido 驟徒 취도
Nulchoe 訥催 눌최
Seol Gyedu 薛罽頭 설계두
Kim Yeong-yun 金令胤 김영윤
Gwanchang 官昌 관창
Kim Heum-un 金歆運 김흠운
Yeolgi 裂起 열기
Bi’nyeongja 丕寧子 비녕자
Jukjuk 竹竹 죽죽
Pilbu 匹夫 필부
Gyebaek 階伯 계백 

Book 48 – Biographies 8

Sangdeok 尙德 상덕
Seonggak 聖覺 성각
Silhye 實兮 실혜
Mulgyeja 勿稽子 물계자
Baekgyeol-seonsaeng 百結先生 백결선생
Geomgun 劍君 검순
Kim Saeng 金生 김생
Solgeo 率居 솔거
Filial daughter Ji’eun 孝女知恩 효녀지은
Miss Seol 薛氏女 설씨녀
Do-mi 都彌 도미

Book 49 – Biographies 9

Chang Jori 倉租利 창조리
Gaesomun 蓋蘇文 개소문

Book 50 – Biographies 10

Gung’ye 弓裔 궁예
Gyeonhwon 甄萱 원훤