THREE KINGDOMS PERIOD (57 B.C.-A.D. 668)
The earliest recognized historical period in Korea is the Three Kingdoms Period (57 B.C.-A.D. 668). Korea was strongly influenced by China at this time, and Chinese in fact occupied much of the Korean peninsula until around A.D. 400. Confucianism, Chinese writing, and other aspects of Chinese culture were introduced from China during this period.
The Three Kingdoms refers to the early Silla culture (traditionally founded 57 B.C., but significant beginning c. A.D. 350 to A.D. 668), the Paekche culture (traditionally founded 18 B.C., but significant beginning c. A.D. 250 to A.D. 660) and the Kokuryo (Koguryo) culture (37 B.C.-A.D. 668). Beginning about the A.D. fifth century, the original tribes in the south — the Mahan, the Chinchan, and the Pynhan — coalesced into two competing kingdoms — the Silla and Paekche. The Koguryo stayed in the colder north and established an empire there.
With the rise of the power and expansion of the Han empire in China (206 B.C.–A.D. 220), Old Chosun declined. A new iron culture gradually emerged on the Korean Peninsula, and in the first three centuries A.D. a large number of walled-town states developed in southern Korea. Among them, the state of Paekche was the most important as it conquered its southern neighboring states and expanded northward to the area around present-day Seoul. To the north, near the Amokgang (Yalu), the state of Koguryo had emerged by the first century A.D. and expanded in all directions up through 313 A.D. A third state — Silla — developed in the central part of the peninsula. These three states give name to the Three Kingdoms Period (first– seventh centuries A.D.). Eventually Silla, allied with China, defeated both Paekche and Koguryo to unify the peninsula by 668. By 671 Silla had seized Chinese-held territories in the south and pushed the remnants of Koguryo farther northward; Chinese commandaries (which dated back at least to the second century B.C.) had been driven off the peninsula by 676, thereby guaranteeing that the Korean people would develop independently, largely without outside influences. [Source: Library of Congress, May 2005]
Cultural Advances and Changes During the Three Kingdoms Period
During the Three Kingdoms Period, Confucian statecraft and Buddhism were introduced to the Korean Peninsula and served as unifying factors. Buddhism was introduced to Korea from China in A.D. 372 and spread into Japan from Korea in the sixth century A.D. The religion originated in India and made its may to China before reaching Korea. Buddhism had a profound influence on culture during the Three Kingdoms Period. Various rulers saw Buddhism as a valuable political device for unity in the doctrine of a unified body of believers devoted to Buddha but serving one king. One of the most beloved figures from this period was King Munyung (A.D. 461-523).
During the Three Kingdoms period Korea came under the long-term sway of Chinese civilization and had been introduced to Chinese statecraft, Buddhist and Confucian philosophy, Confucian practices of educating the young, and the Chinese written language. (Koreans adapted Chinese characters to their own language through a system known as idu.) Artists from Koguryo and Paekche also perfected a mural art found in the walls of tombs, and took it to Japan, where it deeply influenced Japan's temple and burial art. Indeed, many Korean historians believe that wall murals in Japanese royal tombs suggest that the imperial house lineage may have Korean origins. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993]
The militaristic Koguryo was made up of fierce horsemen from Manchuria. The Silla evolved out of a loose federation of tribes into a powerful dynasty centered in present-day Kjongju. The Paekche dynasty was dominated the agricultural regions of western and southwestern Korea. Japanese culture was influenced by the Paekche dynasty who passed on ceramic techniques and decoration, architectural design, sculpture, handicrafts and tomb construction to Japan. The most well known event from the Three Kingdom Period involved 3000 women of the Paekche court who leapt to their death to avoid dishonorable death at the hands of enemies from another kingdom.
Before the Three Kingdoms
The territory south of the Han River is relatively distant from the Asian continent; hence, the people living there were initially able to develop independently, without much involvement with events on the continent. The early settlers of this region gradually organized themselves into some seventy clan states that were in turn grouped into three tribal confederations known as Chinhan, Mahan, and Pynhan. Chinhan was situated in the middle part of the peninsula, Mahan in the southwest, and Pynhan in the southeast. Their economies were predominantly agricultural, and their level of development was such that they built reservoirs and irrigation facilities. These tribal states began to be affected by what was happening in the region north of the Han River around the first century B.C. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada and William Shaw, Library of Congress, 1990*]
About the middle of the third century A.D., the Chinese threat began to serve as a unifying political force among the loose confederations of tribes in the southern part of the peninsula. Adopting the Chinese political system as a model, the tribes eventually merged into two kingdoms, thereby increasing their chances of survival against Chinese expansionism. The two kingdoms eventually came to play an important role in Korean history.
Geographic features of the southern parts of the land, in particular the configuration of mountain ranges, caused two kingdoms to emerge rather than one. In the central part of Korea, the main mountain range, the T'aebaek Range, runs north to south along the edge of the Sea of Japan, which lies off the east coast of the peninsula. Approximately three-fourths of the way down the peninsula, however, at roughly the thirty-seventh parallel, the mountain range veers southwest, dividing the peninsula almost in the middle. This extension, the Sobaek Range, proved politically significant; the tribes west of it were not shielded by any natural barriers against the Chinese-occupied portion of the peninsula, whereas those to the southeast were protected. Moreover, the presence of the mountains prevented the tribes in the two regions from establishing close contacts.
Lolang, Chinhan, Mahan, Pynhan, Puy and Paekche
From approximately 108 B.C. until 313, Lolang was a great center of Chinese statecraft, art, industry (including the mining of iron ore), and commerce. Lolang's influence was widespread; it attracted immigrants from China and exacted tribute from several states south of the Han River that patterned their civilization and government after Lolang. In the first three centuries A.D., a large number of walled-town states in southern Korea grouped into three federations known as Chinhan, Mahan, and Pynhan; during this period, rice agriculture had developed in the rich alluvial valleys and plains to such an extent that reservoirs had been built for irrigation. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993]
Chinhan was situated in the middle part of the southern peninsula, Mahan in the southwest, and Pynhan in the southeast. The state of Paekche, which soon came to exercise great influence on Korean history, emerged first in the Mahan area; it is not certain when this happened, but Paekche certainly existed by 246 since Lolang mounted a large attack on it in that year. Paekche, a centralized, aristocratic state that melded Chinese and indigenous influence, was a growing power: within a hundred years Paekche had demolished Mahan and continued to expand northward into the area of present-day South Korea around Seoul. Contemporary historians believe that the common Korean custom of patrilineal royal succession began with King K n Ch'ogo (r. 346-75) of Paekche. His grandson, Ch'imnyu, inaugurated another long tradition by adopting Buddhism as the state religion in 384.
Meanwhile, in the first century A.D. two powerful states emerged north of the peninsula: Puy in the Sungari River Basin in Manchuria and Koguryo, Puy's frequent enemy to its south, near the Yalu River. Koguryo, which like Paekche also exercised a lasting influence on Korean history, developed in confrontation with the Chinese. Puy was weaker and sought alliances with China to counter Koguryo, but eventually succumbed to it around 312. Koguryo expanded in all directions, in particular toward the Liao River in the west and toward the Taedong River in the south. In 313 Koguryo occupied the territory of the Lolang Commandery and came into conflict with Paekche.
Geography and the Three Kingdoms
Peninsular geography shaped the political space of Paekche, Koguryo, and Silla. In the central part of Korea, the main mountain range, the T'aebaek, runs north to south along the edge of the Sea of Japan. Approximately three-fourths of the way down the peninsula, however, roughly at the thirty-seventh parallel, the mountain range veers to the southwest, dividing the peninsula almost in the middle. This southwest extension, the Sobaek Range, shielded peoples to the east of it from the Chinese-occupied portion of the peninsula, but placed no serious barrier in the way of expansion into or out of the southwestern portion of the peninsula — Paekche's historical territory. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993]
Koguryo ranged over a wild region of northeastern Korea and eastern Manchuria that was subjected to extremes of temperature and structured by towering mountain ranges, broad plains, and life-giving rivers; the highest peak, known as Paektu-san (White Head Mountain), is on the contemporary Sino-Korean border and has a beautiful, crystal-pure lake at its summit. Kim Il Sung and his guerrilla band utilized associations with this mountain as part of the founding myth of North Korea, and Kim Jong Il was said to have been born on the slopes of the mountain in 1942. Not surprisingly, North Korea claimed the Koguryo legacy as the main element in Korean history.
Silla evolved from a walled town called Saro. Silla historians are said to have traced its origins to 57 B.C., but contemporary historians regard King Naemul (r. 356-402) as the ruler who first consolidated a large confederated kingdom and established a hereditary kingship. His domain was east of the Naktong River in present-day North Kyngsang Province, South Korea. A small number of states located along the south central tip of the peninsula facing the Korea Strait did not join either Silla or Paekche, but instead formed a Gaya League that maintained close ties with states in Japan. Gaya's possible linkage to Japan remains an issue of debate among historians in Korea, Japan, and elsewhere.
Evolution of the Three Kingdoms
The tribal states in the southwest were the first to unite, calling their centralized kingdom Paekche. This process occurred in the mid-third century A.D., after the Chinese army of the Wei Dynasty (A.D. 220-65), which controlled Lolang, threatened the tribes in A.D. 245. The Silla Kingdom evolved in the southeast. Silla historians traced the kingdom's origin to 57 B.C., but contemporary historians regard King Naemul (A.D. 356-402) as having been the earliest ruler. Some of the tribal states in the area of the lower Naktong River, along the south central coast of the peninsula, did not join either of these kingdoms. Under the name Gaya, they formed a league of walled city-states that conducted extensive coastal trade and also maintained close ties with the tribal states in western Japan. Sandwiched between the more powerful Silla and Paekche, Gaya eventually was absorbed by its neighbors during the sixth century.
The northern kingdom of Koguryo emerged from among the indigenous people along the banks of the Yalu River. The Han Chinese seized the area in 108 B.C., but from the beginning Chinese rulers confronted many uprisings against their rule. Starting from a point along the Hun River (a tributary of the Yalu), the rebels expanded their activities to the north, south, and southeast, increasingly menacing Chinese authority. By A.D. 53 Koguryo had coalesced into an independent centralized kingdom; the subsequent fall of the Han Dynasty and ensuing political divisions in China enabled Koguryo to consolidate and extend its power. Despite repeated attacks by Chinese and other opposition forces, by 391 the kingdom's rulers had achieved undisputed control of all of Manchuria east of the Liao River as well as of the northern and central regions of the Korean Peninsula.
Although Koguryo had been strong enough to repulse the forces of the Sui Dynasty, combined attacks by Silla and the Tang Dynasty of China (618-907) proved too formidable. Koguryo's ally in the southwest, Paekche, fell before Tang and Silla in 660; the victorious allies continued their assault on Koguryo for the next eight years and eventually vanquished the weary kingdom, which had been suffering from a series of famines and internal strife.
Silla thus unified Korea in 668, but the kingdom's reliance on China's Tang Dynasty had its price. Eventually Silla had to forcibly resist the imposition of Chinese rule over the entire peninsula, which Silla's rulers did, but their strength did not extend beyond the Taedong River. Much of the former Koguryo territory was given up to the Chinese and to other tribal states. It remained for later dynasties to push the border northward to the Yalu and Tumen rivers.
Links Between Korea, Japan and China During the Three Kingdoms Period
According to “Topics in Japanese Cultural History”: “During the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, the Korean peninsula was home to three large kingdoms: Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla. At its southern tip was a relatively small state known as the Gaya League or Gaya Confederation. Throughout the period before 645, and continuing thereafter as well, there was extensive travel and exchange of people, goods, and technologies between the Korean peninsula and the Japanese islands. It is best to regard these two land areas as one geographical region that included numerous political and cultural entities, which sometimes competed and sometimes cooperated with each other. Many of the uji and be in the Japanese islands had direct links of kinship, military alliance, and/or trade with one or more of the states of the Korean peninsula, especially the Gaya Confederation and Paekche. Figuring out the details of these connections is an immensely difficult task because most of the evidence is archaeological and fragmentary. [Source: “Topics in Japanese Cultural History” by Gregory Smits, Penn State University figal-sensei.org ~]
Japan Kofun Period phases as the correspond to Korean and Chinese dynasties (Kofun phase, Korean Dynasty, Chinese Dynasty): 1) Early Kofun (end 3rd century -4th century): A) Korean: Silla (57 B.C. - A.D. 935), Gaya (A.D. 42-562), Paekche (18 B.C. - A.D. 663), Koguryo (37 B.C. - A.D. 668); B) Chinese: Lolang (108 B.C."A.D. 313); Eastern Chin (317-420); 2) Middle Kofun (end 4th century-5th century): A) Chinese: Six Dynasties (420-589); 3) Late Kofun and Asuka (552-646): B) Chinese: Sui Dynasty (581-618); T'ang Dynasty (618-ca. 907).
Charles T. Keally wrote: “ During the Early Kofun Period, China was badly divided and apparently of no significance to the developments in Japan. To a large extent this remained true also during the Middle Kofun Period and the early part of the Late Kofun Period. But the 5th-century Chinese records that do exist tell of regular visits by emissaries from the "mysterious" five kings of Wa. Then, with the reunification of China under the Sui Dynasty in the late 6th century, and particularly with the florescence of culture during the T'ang Dynasty from the 7th century, Chinese influence on developments in Japan became quite strong.
“The Korean kingdoms, on the other hand, were significant in the developments in Japan throughout most of the Kofun Period. These kingdoms fought with Wa (Japan) alone and in varying alliances with each other or with China. And they fought among themselves in varying alliances with each other and with Wa and/or China. Their territories were always in flux. The three major kingdoms — Koguryo in the north, Paekche in the southwest, and Silla in the southeast — evolved out of the preceding "Three Han" cultures, mostly in the 2nd to 4th centuries, around the beginning of the Kofun Period in Japan. The kingdom of Gaya, in the south between Paekche and Silla, certainly existed, but what exactly this entity was is still controversial. The unification of Korea under Silla in 676 followed the conquest of Paekche in 663 and Koguryo in 668, near the close of the Kofun Period in Japan.
Aileen Kawagoe wrote: “Many archaeological artefacts of Korean origin were items received as tribute, but experts believe that much more flowed into Japan as articles of trade or loot. Immigrant technicians and craftsmen may have arrived along with the tributes, but it is thought that many of them were prisoners of war or immigrants who may not have migrated voluntarily. The Shinsenshojiroku compiled in 815 recorded that a total of 154 out of 1,182 noble families in the Kinai region of Honshu island were recorded as of Korean ancestry. The register specifically mentions that 104 families are from Paekche, 41 from Kokuryo, 6 from Silla and 3 from Gaya. The families likely formed a migration wave that is thought to have taken place between the years AD 356-645. During the 4th century, the transformations to the upper layers of Japanese society , are thought to have been influenced by Koguryo forms of Chinese learning and control (Buddhism, Confucianism, and Chinese penal and administrative law)." |||
Language, Literature and Historical Sources in the Three Kingdoms Period
The Three Kingdoms (57 B.C. - A.D. 668) utilized Chinese as their official literary language. According to Britannica.com: “This state-sanctioned use of Chinese, along with the adoption of Confucianism and Buddhism, meant a significant transition in the history of Korean literature. Such books as the Yugi (“Extant Records”), Shinjip (“New Compilation”), Sogi (“Documentary Records”), and Kuksa (“National History”), all collections of historical records, were compiled in Chinese. They represented an attempt to consolidate the political structures of these kingdoms. [Source: Du-Hwan Kwon, Byong-Wuk Chong, Peter H. Lee,Britannica.com]
“The carving of monumental inscriptions, such as those at the grave of King Kwanggaet’o (who reigned in Koguryo in 391–412) and those that record the travels of King Chinhung (who reigned in Silla in 540–576), served a similar purpose. Together they helped to usher Korean literature, which had previously relied on oral transmission, into an age of both oral and written literature. Confucianism and Buddhism contributed to the thematic depth of Korean literature. A cavalier quatrain sent by the Koguryo military commander Ulchi Mundok to an enemy and a panegyric by Queen Chindok of Silla are among representative works of poetry from this period.
“Records indicate the existence of such Koguryo songs as “"Naewonsong ka"” (“Song of Naewon Fortress”), “"Yonyang ka"” (“Song of Yonyang”), and “"Myongju ka"” (“Song of Myongju”) during the Three Kingdoms period, though only their titles have survived. Other songs, such as “"Tosol ka"” (“Dedication”), which is known to date from the third decade of the 1st century ce, were composed and sung in Silla. Songs about nature, such as “"Sonunsan"” (“Sonun Mountain”), “"Mudungsan"” (“Mudung Mountain”), “"Pangdungsan"” (“Pangdung Mountain”), and “"Chirisan"” (“Chiri Mountain”), were popular in Paekche. Most important, hyangch’al, a writing system that used Chinese characters to represent spoken Korean, originated in Silla, where hyangga (“native songs”; see above Poetry) also first appeared. Such developments reflect the fact that Silla led the other two kingdoms both artistically and politically (the latter demonstrated by Silla’s spearheading the subsequent unification of Korea). In Koguryo and Paekche there may have been songs and a system of transcription corresponding to the hyangga and hyangch’al of Silla, but they have proved difficult to trace.”
Introduction of Buddhism into the Three Kingdoms
According to the Encyclopedia of Buddhism, “When Buddhism came to Korea in the latter half of the fourth century, the peninsula was divided into three kingdoms, each ruled by an ancient tribal confederation trying to expand its territory at the expense of the others. The religious beliefs and practices of the people were predominantly animistic; they believed in deities that resided in nature, and they worshipped the ancestral spirits of tribal leaders. With the establishment of monarchies, however, Korean society moved beyond its tribal stage and was ready to entertain a new religion with a universalistic ethos. [Source: Encyclopedia of Buddhism, The Gale Group Inc., 2004]
“Among the three kingdoms, Koguryŏ (37 B.C.– A.D. 618) in the north was the earliest to form a centralized state and was by far the most powerful. Although some evidence suggests that Buddhism had been known earlier, it was in A.D. 372 , during the reign of King Sosurim (r. 371–384), that Buddhism was officially introduced into Koguryŏ. Sosurim maintained a tributary relationship with the Former Qin (351–394) in northern China, and its king, Fujian (r. 357–385), an ardent supporter of Buddhism, sent a monk-envoy named Sundo (d.u.), with Buddhist images and scriptures, to Koguryŏ. Significantly, in that same year Sosurim also established the T'aehak, an academy for Confucian learning. The following year he promulgated legal codes, laying the foundation for a centralized bureaucratic state.
“Around the time Buddhism came to Koguryŏ, the Paekche kingdom (18 B.C.– A.D. 660), which occupied the southwestern part of the peninsula, was introduced to Buddhism by the Eastern Jin in southern China, with which Paekche had a close diplomatic relationship. As with Koguryŏ, the new religion came to Paekche at the time the kingdom, in particular King Ku˘n Ch'ogo (346–375), was consolidating royal control over tribal powers.
“The kingdom of Silla (57 B.C.– A.D. 935), which held the southeastern corner of the peninsula, was the last of three kingdoms to be introduced to Buddhism. When Buddhism first came to Silla during the reign of King Nulchi (417–447), it met strong resistance from ruling aristocratic families that were deeply rooted in tribal religious practices. The martyrdom of Ich'adon, a loyal minister, provoked King Pŏphŭng (r. 514–540) to finally recognize the new religion in A.D. 527 Pŏphŭng had promulgated legal codes for the kingdom in 520, and he prohibited killing throughout the land two years after recognizing Buddhism.
“Buddhism introduced a number of new religious practices and ideas to Korea: Buddhist monks were clearly set apart from the rest of the society; images of buddhas and bodhisattvas offered a clear focus for devotion; and Buddhist scriptures contained soaring philosophical ideas with an expansive cosmology and advanced moral teaching. In addition, a host of new cultural phenomena accompanied Buddhism, including architecture, craftsmanship, a writing system, calendrics, and medicine. Buddhist monks were not simply religious figures, they were magicians, doctors, writers, calligraphers, architects, painters, and even diplomats and political advisers. Although many years passed before Korean Buddhists had a solid understanding of the philosophical subtleties of Buddhist teachings, its material culture alone was sufficient to win the hearts of the kings and nobles, as well as the common people.”
The Paekche (Baekje) kingdom ruled a large part of Korea from 18 B.C. to A.D. 660. It was based in the southwest part of the Korean peninsula. Tribal states there were the first to unite, calling their centralized kingdom Paekche. This process occurred in the mid-third century A.D., after the Chinese army of the Wei Dynasty (A.D. 220-65), which controlled Lolang, threatened the tribes in A.D. 245.
Paekche was founded by Onjo, the third son of Koguryo's founder Jumong and So Seo-no, at Wiryeseong (present-day southern Seoul). Paekche, like Koguryo, claimed to succeed Buyeo, a state established in present-day Manchuria around the time of Gojoseon's fall. Paekche alternately battled and allied with Koguryo and Silla as the three kingdoms expanded control over the peninsula. At its peak in the 4th century, Paekche controlled most of the western Korean peninsula, as far north as Pyongyang, and may have even held territories in China. Paekche was a significant maritime power. It had extensive political and trade relations with China and Japan and played an important role spreading Buddhism in East Asia and to Japan. [Source: Wikipedia]
West plain and southwest coastal area of Korea was the birthplace of the Paekche dynasty. This area today encompasses Korea's three southwestern provinces and has a character all its own. Some parts of this region contain rugged mountainous, but most of it is dominated by flat coastal plains, and broad stretches of rice paddies and agricultural fields.
Kongju (northwest of Mt. Kyeryongsan) was the capital of the 5th century Paekche kingdom. It still retains many relics from this period as well as from the Shilla kingdom which followed. The National Museum in Kongju features the treasures found in the 6th century tomb of King Muryong such as gold crowns and bronze mirrors. There is also a replica of the blue- and brown-tile chamber from the king's tomb.
Puyo was the last capital of the Paekche Kingdom. Pusaosansong Fortress in the center of town is where the Paekche forces made their last stand against the usurping Shilla dynasty. An old Paekche fortress on a the hill above Nakwaam Rock is where, according to legend, 3000 women of the Paekche court leapt to their death to avoid dishonorable death at the hands of enemies from another kingdom. The Paekche Cultural Festival is held in October in alternating years in Kongju and Puyo to commemorate the Paekche kingdom,
History of Paekche
With the rise of the power and expansion of the Han empire in China (206 B.C.–A.D. 220), Old Chosun declined. A new iron culture gradually emerged on the Korean Peninsula, and in the first three centuries A.D. a large number of walled-town states developed in southern Korea. Among them, the state of Paekche was the most important as it conquered its southern neighboring states and expanded northward to the area around present-day Seoul.
During the reign of King Goi (A.D. 234–286), Paekche became a full-fledged kingdom, as it continued consolidating the Mahan confederacy. In 249, according to the ancient Japanese text Nihonshoki, Paekche's expansion reached the Gaya confederacy to its east, around the Nakdong River valley. Paekche is first described in Chinese records as a kingdom in 345. The first diplomatic missions from Paekche reached Japan around 367 (According to the Nihon Shoki : 247). [Source: Wikipedia]
King Geunchogo (346–375) expanded Paekche's territory to the north through war against Koguryo, while annexing the remaining Mahan societies in the south. During Geunchogo's reign, the territories of Paekche included most of the western Korean Peninsula. In 371, Paekche defeated Koguryo at Pyongyang. Paekche continued substantial trade with Koguryo, and actively adopted Chinese culture and technology. Buddhism became the official state religion in 384.
In the 5th century, Paekche retreated under the southward military threat of Koguryo, and in 475, the Seoul region fell to Koguryo. Paekche's capital was located at Ungjin (present-day Kongju, Gongju) from 475 to 538. Isolated in mountainous terrain, the new capital was secure against the north but also disconnected from the outside world. It was closer to Silla than Wiryeseong had been, however, and a military alliance was forged between Silla and Paekche against Koguryo.
In 538, King Seong moved the capital to Sabi (present-day Puyo, Buyeo County), and rebuilt his kingdom into a strong state. The Sabi Period saw a flowering of Paekche culture in conjunction with a growth of Buddhism. Under pressure from Koguryo to the north and Silla to the east, Seong sought to strengthen Paekche's relationship with China. The location of Sabi, on the navigable Geum River, made contact with China much easier, and both trade and diplomacy flourished during his reign and continuing on into the 7th century.
In the 7th century, with the growing influence of Silla in the southern and central Korean peninsula, Paekche began its decline. In 660, the coalition troops of Silla and Tang of China attacked Paekche, which was then allied with Koguryo. A heavily outmanned army led by General Gyebaek was defeated in the Battle of Hwangsanbeol near Nonsan. The capital Sabi fell almost immediately thereafter, resulting in the annexation of Paekche by Silla. King Uija and his son Buyeo Yung were sent into exile in China while at least some of the ruling class fled to Japan.
Rock of Falling Flowers: Where 3,000 Maidens Jumped to Their Death
Rock of Falling Flowers — a rock cliff towering above Baengmagang River in the northern end of Busosan Mountain in Nakhwa-am, 70 kilometers west of Taejong — is where according to legend 3,000 court ladies leapt to their deaths into the Baengma River during the Shilla and Tang invasion of Paekche in A.D. 638 The royal court women killed themselves when Paekje was defeated during the invasion of Sabiseong Fortress (now Busosanseong Fortress in Buyeo). The name of this rock, Nakhwaam, literally means "the cliff of falling flowers", symbolizes the fidelity and loyalty of Paekche women.
According to the National Folk Museum of Korea the legend of Nakhwaam takes place during the reign of King Uija. When Baekje’s capital Buyeo had fallen to Silla and Tang China’s allied forces, King Uija and his concubines and court ladies fled the fortress, reaching the rock Nakhwaam. The women threw themselves off the rock, saying, “We would rather take our own lives than die in the hands of others.” [Source: National Folk Museum of Korea]
The legend of Nakhwaam, although based on a historical event, is transmitted in a wide range of variations, including tales like “Three Thousand Court Ladies Throw Themselves into Baengma River, ” many of which include motifs about King Uija’s political mistakes, including the expulsion of loyal subjects, which lead to the fall of Baekje and the sacrifice of the women. It is notable that this variation features three thousand court ladies, a detail not mentioned in Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), in which the legend of Nakhwaam is recorded, which is assumed to be an exaggeration based on King Uija’s debauchery toward the end of his reign.
Jack Large wrote: “It is a legend of such monstrous extreme that it seems all the more plausible as fact...It is true enough that in this place, Sabi, the last Buyeo Baekche King was cornered in his hilltop redoubt and made his stand against the alliance of his Silla imperial rulers and Han Chinese that besieged him. Tucked in a long, looping curve of the Baengma River scant kilometers upstream from its mouth on the West Sea, it is a placid and picturesque spot. Today, few spots are more peaceful, yet its legend, seared into the minds of most Koreans, is one of intolerable pain. It's all the more so because, like so many episodes from Korean history, the pain has been as often inflicted by other Koreans, acting in concert with the more robust neighbors just across the East and West Seas.” [Source: The Legend of the Falling Flowers, Jack Large, Cowbird]
The cliff that plunges several hundred feet to the riverbank. The women may have worn the traditional formal Korean woman's costume, the hanbok. “The Buyeo legend populates the royal court with no fewer than 3,000 maidens thus attired, whose duties were to keep the palace environment pristine, and the royal personages in the pink. During the siege, when it became clear that the assault by an overwhelming force of attackers was to end in inevitable success, the peaceful redoubt would become the site of another of those unspeakable atrocities warfare traditionally directs against the women of the vanquished enemy at the sword points of the victors. To the royal retinue, being of a firm and unyielding character, as expected of the ladies at court, there appeared but a single way out, and they took it.
“Three thousand young women, one by one, stepped onto the edge of the cliff, picked up the front of her billowing” hanbok “and threw it back to cover her face and , and thus shielding her head and eyes, stepped or leapt from the edge, plunging to her death at the waterside. Viewed from a Chinese warship from several hundred meters distance along a 120 degree arc of visibility on the river, it might indeed resemble the casual floating down of gaily-colored blooms”.
Baekje Historic Areas
Baekje (Paekche) Historic Areas was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. According to UNESCO: Located in the mountainous mid-western region of the Republic of Korea, the remains of three capital cities collectively represent the later period of the Baekje Kingdom as it reached its peak in terms of cultural development involving frequent communication with neighbouring regions. Together, these sites represent the later period of the Baekje Kingdom – one of the three earliest kingdoms on the Korean peninsula (18 BCE to 660 CE) - during which time they were at the crossroads of considerable technological, religious (Buddhist), cultural and artistic exchanges between the ancient East Asian kingdoms in Korea, China and Japan. [Source: UNESCO]
The Baekje Historic Areas serial property comprises eight archaeological sites dating from 475-660 CE including the Gongsanseong fortress and royal tombs at Songsan-ri related to the Ungjin capital Gongju; the Archaeological Site with administrative buildings in Gwanbuk-ri and Busosanseong Fortress, Jeongnimsa Temple Site, royal tombs in Neungsan-ri and Naseong city wall related to the Sabi capital Buyeo; the Archaeological Site at royal palace in Wanggung-ri and the Mireuksa Temple Site in Iksan related to the secondary Sabi capital.
The archaeological sites and architecture of the Baekje Historic Areas exhibit the interchange between the ancient East Asian kingdoms in Korea, China and Japan in the development of construction techniques and the spread of Buddhism. The setting of the capital cities, Buddhist temples and tombs, architectural features and stone pagodas of the Baekje Historic Areas contribute in forming exceptional testimony to the unique culture, religion and artistry of the kingdom of Baekje.
Paekche is regarded by most scholars as the most refined of the Three Kingdoms. Aileen Kawagoe wrote: Of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, Paekche was known for its culture of possessing the greatest artistic refinement and sophistication. Jar-coffins were still used in some areas in the south, some concentrated in square or keyhole-shaped mounds usually thought to be unique to Kofun Japan. There were horizontal chamber tombs as well as stepped pyramid chamber tombs, some where gold earrings and gold crown ornaments with the same sort of giltwork found in Japanese burial mounds have been found. [Source: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com |||]
According some historians and linguists, Paekche was predominantly Japonic-speaking until it was conquered by proto-Koreans from further north. There are many Japonic topographical names in Paekche areas. Paekche artists adopted many Chinese influences and synthesized them into a unique artistic tradition. Buddhist themes are extremely strong in Paekche artwork. The beatific Paekche smile is found on many Buddhist sculptures. Taoist influences are also widespread.
The tomb of King Muryeong (501–523) is modeled after a Chinese brick tombs and contains many funerary objects of the Paekche tradition, such as the gold crown ornaments, gold belts, and gold earrings. Delicate lotus designs of the roof-tiles, intricate brick patterns, curves of the pottery style, and flowing and elegant epitaph writing characterize Paekche culture. A splendid gilt-bronze incense burner excavated from an ancient Buddhist temple site at Neungsan-ri, Buyeo County, exemplifies Paekche art.
Paekche Influence on Japan
Aileen Kawagoe wrote: “Historians suggest that the greatest influx of immigrants came to Yamato Japan by boat from Paekche Korea from the latter half of the 4th century onwards, and proceeded to bear many influences upon the ruling elite of Kofun Japan. Kofun Japanese burials of elite showed burials in Korean-style gold crowns and shoes, corridor-type painted chambers, burial with warrior and horse trappings, Korean stoneware pottery. A seven-branched iron sword was according to Nihongi given by Paekche to Yamato Japan in AD 372. The sword preserved in the Isonokami shrine is thought to be this sword. The sword is evidence of Paekche iron-manufacture and its incised inscription is the subject of controversy about the nature of relations between Paekche and “Wa” (as Japan was known at the time). Japanese say the inscriptions indicate that Paekche was a vassal of Japan, while the Koreans say the opposite is true. The Nihongi also records that a a mirror described as a “seven-little-one-mirror” was sent together with the sword. A mirror decorated with human figures preserved in Suda Hachiman shrine in WaGayama is thought to be this mirror, although the dates of the mirror are variously dated to AD 383, 443 or 503. |||
“In the face of Koguryo's rising strength during the last decade of the 4th century, Paekche had turned desperately to Yamato for support, sending its crown prince to Yamato as hostage in 397. From 391 to 399 Japanese armies supported Paekche during the attack by the combined forces of Silla and Koguryo. Paekche helped the Japanese establish diplomatic contact with the southern Chinese courts in the 5th century. Relations between Paekche and Japan were described as peaceful and cooperative, according to Nihonshoki. During Emperor Ojin's reign, Geunchogo of Paekche granted a large number of gifts and scholar to the Japanese emperor. |||
“After Koguryo invaded and defeated Paekche in 475 and killing its king, Emperor Yuryaku sent a mission in 478 to the southern Chinese Sung court seeking support for his intention to mount a military campaign to “crush this Koguryo foe” and to be put in charge of Paekche. (HIs father Ingyo had earlier attempted to do the same by having “mobilized a million archers in preparing to launch a great campaign against Koguryo” but had died before he could implement his plans.) |||
“King Yuryaku, upon hearing the death of Paekche king in the summer of 479, proceeded to place a Paekche prince on the Paekche throne (apparently the son or grandson of the queen mother who had been sent to Yamato as a hostage in 461). Unfortunately, before Yuryaku could mount his military campaign, he became ill in 479 and died shortly afterward. Upon the deathbed of Yuryaku, the Yamato court became divided over the issue of succession, so derailing Yamato's further expansion into Korea during this period.
Close Relations Between Japan and Paekche
Kawagoe wrote: In 512, the Paekche King Muryong sent an envoy with tribute to the Yamato court. The envoy also bore a message requesting Yamato to cede four districts of Mimana (i.e. Gaya) to Paekche. Paekche-Koguryo's relations were strained at the time and Paekche was also worried about Silla's aggressiveness. In 548 Koguryo's armies crossed its northern borders, Paekche must have been in dire straits four years later when it requested military assistance from Japan saying that it was besieged by Silla to the east and Koguryo to the north. Shortly afterward, Japan received from Paekche's Buddhist gifts, being the official introduction of Buddhism to Japan. [Source: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com |||]
“Historians infer from the Buddhist gifts must have been tied to the requests for military assistance, based on King Kinmei's two statements: that troops were sent to help Paekche in return for his wanting to obtain books on divination, calendars and drugs of varous kinds. In 554, King Kinmei's response was to dispatch one thousand men, one hundred horses and forty ships. One month later, King Paekche reciprocated with Korean replacements for specialists in Confuciansim, divination, calendars, herbs, music and Buddhism. |||
“From King Muryong's tomb, two silver bracelets found beside the queen were dated to AD 520 were inscribed with the name of the silversmith … the name “ri” of the maker's name is a Paekche name which uses the same character as that in the name of the Korean craftsman who made the Sakyamuni triad in the Horyu-ji Temple at Nara in Japan. Paekche craftsmen are thought to have been been actively contributing their skills to Japan during the Kofun era. |||
“Some open-work crowns and shoes that were burial goods excavated from Juzen no mori Kofun in Fukui prefecture were found to have motifs similar to those from the Popcheonri and other mounded tombs in Paekche. Experts thus believe that the people of Wa around turn of the 6th century adopted the Paekche styles of gilt-bronze ornamentation. |||
“Why were relations with Paekche so close? It has been noted that members of the Yamato imperial family came from Paekche, that the Nihongi records that Emperor Kanmu's (781-806) mother was an offspring of the Paekche King Mu-nyung (501-23). The record also states that Kanmu's mother was a descendant of Chu-mong (the founder of Koguryeo). |||
Buddhism and Paekche Influence on Japan
Many of Japan's earliest Buddhist sites are thought to have been designed and influenced by Korean Buddhist advisors. Horyuji Temple, near the city of Nara in central Japan, is an example. Paekche was conquered by Silla and Koguryo in 668 and much of its cultural legacy was destroyed, but there are still important Buddhist artworks to be found in its royal tombs and the stone remnants of its temples. [Source: “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Greenwood Press, 2000]
Kawagoe wrote: During the reign of King Song, Paekche doctors, astrological and calendrical experts, monks and artisans were sent to Japan to found Buddhist temples, which in layout resemble those of Paekche’s. Because the Horyu-ji's pagoda is the oldest wooden building in the world, Paekche and Asuka period architecture can only be understood by viewing the temple sites and the wooden buildings in Japan that may have been built by Paekche technicians. [Source: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com |||]
“The bracket system of the 7th century five-story wooden pagoda at the Horyu-ji temple in Nara has been compared with Paekche work. Its silhouette shows great similarity to that of the Chongnim-sa pagoda in Puyo, suggesting that it was the work of Paekche craftsmen. The Kudara Kannon statue in the Horyu-ji shows Paekche features. Paekche features include the gently smiling face, the flowing lines of drapery, the flaming mandala, the openwork crown and the double-veined lotus petals at the base. The openwork flowers and coiled vines on the crown are similar to those seen on items from King Muryong's tomb. It is thought that the Kudara Kannon is the work of a craftsman of Paekche origin although there are no extant Paekche wooden sculptures in Korea today for comparison. |||
“It is known that Buddhism experienced great growth in Paekche under King Song (523-54) who carried on diplomatic relations with Japan. The rare 7th century triad stone sculpture of Buddha at Sosan carved out of a cliff face suggests influences that spread to Japan. The figure on the left of the triad, is a standing Bodhisattva holding a jewel in both hands is a popular type with Paekche sculptors, that was probably taken to Japan by Paekche artists when they introduce Buddhism to Japan in 552, as the same depiction of the bodhisattva holding a jewel in both hands also became popular in Japan in the 7th century. |||
“A low-fired grey cylindrical pottery found at Mongchon fortress is thought to be similar to the cylindrical haniwa of early Kofun-period Japan that were placed on top of the tomb mound. Like Japanese 5th century haniwa the Paekche Mongchon pottery stand had horizontal ridges, circular holes and flaring mouth, suggesting a relationship between the two cultures. |||
Transmission of Early Buddhist Art From Korea and Japan
On an exhibition called "Transmitting the Forms of Divinity: Early Buddhist Art From Korea and Japan" at the Japan Society Gallery in New York in 2003, Souren Melikian wrote in the International Herald Tribune: “Around 538, one of the three kingdoms of the Korean peninsula, Paekche, dispatched an embassy to the Japanese court with gifts that included Buddhist texts and an image of the Buddha. Embassies arrived again in Japan in 577 and 588. With them came monks, a nun, temple architects and a sculptor of Buddhist images. Japan — Jonathan Best writes in one of the essays that make the book accompanying the show (distributed by Harry N. Abrams) a must in any library — was won over. The military had something to do with it — in 587 the pro-Buddhist clan at the Japanese court decided to resort to force to make the good cause prevail. By the middle of the seventh century, the triumph of Buddhism was complete. What art demonstrates is how profound Korean influence was over Japan and how the intensity of a faith at times sparked an extraordinarily rapid evolution. [Source: Souren Melikian, International Herald Tribune, April 12, 2003]
“An abyss separates the Buddhist icons of Korea carved or cast in bronze in the Paekche Kingdom during the second half of the sixth century from those that may be dated to the mid-seventh. The earliest sculpture, a seated Buddha carved in soapstone, lent by the Puyo National Museum, illustrates a kind of sweet fairy-tale strain. A contented smile illuminates the chubby face, conveying a naive chirpiness. Another figure excavated on the mid-sixth-century site of the Wono-ri temple exudes a similar bonhomie. While it shares iconographic conventions with China under the Wei dynasty, the cheerful earthenware bodhisattva is far removed in spirit from the sophistication of Wei art.
“Some of that early charm lingered into the seventh century. The gilt bronze Infant Buddha from the Gyeongju National Museum has a broad smile on his rounded face that belies the solemnity of the teaching gesture. The simplicity of this phase contrasts with the art of mid-seventh-century Korea. A standing Avalokiteshvara bodhisattva, which came to light at Sonsan, belongs to an art at the apex of its first blossoming. The elongated figure seems to be swaying. The lips are closed, the eyes imperceptibly open to allow a glance not aimed at the visible world to filter through.
“Astonishing diversity was by now achieved by the Korean bronze makers. Serene elation emanates from the gilt bronze Buddha discovered in Hoengsong and lent by the National Museum in Seoul. The merest touch of gentle amusement may be read into his eyes as if aimed at the futility of human concerns. Perhaps the serenity of Buddhism occasionally triggered fits of rage among opponents from rival creeds. On a stele carved in 673, all the faces have been hammered away. Korean specialists say there is no known example of iconoclasm in the Korean history of Buddhism. Art, it would appear, thus bears witness to events that left no trace in written records.
“The Koreans migrating to Japan in large numbers transmitted the message and the art. One of the most admirable revelations in the show, displayed for the first time outside Japan, is the bodhisattva preserved in a shrine of the age-old Japanese Shinto cult at Sekiyama Jinja. How the object, which clearly suffered from a fire, came into that non-Buddhist shrine is not known. The art historian Yasuo Inamoto writes that the seventh-century bronze was made in Korea and brought to Japan, or, alternatively, made in Japan by one of the many Korean immigrants. The harmony of the body slightly tilted, the smile of blissful illumination, make it one of the great masterpieces of early Far Eastern art.
Similar questions arise several times in connection with seventh-century Buddhist figures preserved in Japan. A bodhisattva in "pensive posture" from Kanshoin is evidently the work of a Korean artist, but whether the execution took place in Korea or Japan is impossible to say.
Development of Japanese Buddhist Art From Korean Buddhist Art
Souren Melikian wrote in the International Herald Tribune: “Remarkably, the huge role played by Korean masters did not inhibit their Japanese disciples. Almost from the beginning, Japanese sculpture developed specific features even while remaining close to Korean sources. A seventh-century triad from the Yakushiji in Uchiuramachi displays characteristics — a lack of proportion, an excessive rigidity — typical of a "primitive" phase. Nevertheless, it has a precision in the rendition of the Buddha's features and a sharpness that was to remain constant in Japanese aesthetics. [Source: Souren Melikian, International Herald Tribune, April 12, 2003]
“An extraordinary Buddha Shakyamuni from a triad lent by the Horyuji temple at Nara confirms that this sharpness appeared early on. The Buddha is inscribed with a date equivalent to 628. The flames that rise rhythmically around the large halo are engraved with flawless precision. There is a rigor about the cast bronze group that is eminently Japanese.
“As Korea and Japan settled into the Buddhist way of life, something changed in the art of both nations. In Korea a new feeling became perceptible by the late seventh century. A kind of classicism within its own terms of reference is manifest in the balance, the symmetry and general harmony of the openwork triad cast and chiseled about 680. from the Gyeongju National Museum. The calm repose about the faces, the impeccable flow of the folds of the Buddha's drapes, strengthen the impression of a "classical" moment in the art. This classicism reached a climax with a seated Buddha from the National Museum in Seoul, steeped in irenic meditation, eyes closed. It is unforgettable.
“A similar point was attained a little later in Japan, with a sharper edge. The standing Buddha from the Shinnoin temple in Wakayama Prefecture illustrates the earlier stage of this classical development some time in the late seventh century, and the seated Buddha of Healing from the Nara National Museum signals its culmination in the eighth century. Formal perfection is not quite all there in the standing figure but it is consummate in the seated Buddha — too consummate perhaps. Formalism was about to take over.
“The Japanese masterpiece of the later period is not a Buddha, but the ninth-century wooden guardian of heaven, from Nara, seen in the guise of a warrior in Tang-style armor. Overwhelming in its power, it does not belong in the realm of ecstatic illumination. That unique moment in the history of Japanese and Korean Buddhism was over.”
Silla in the Three Kingdoms Period
The Silla Dynasty evolved in southeast Korea out of a loose federation of tribes into a powerful dynasty centered in present-day Kjongju. Silla historians traced the kingdom's origin to 57 B.C., but contemporary historians regard King Naemul (ruled A.D. 356-402) as having been the earliest ruler. King Naemul first consolidated a large confederated kingdom and established a hereditary kingship. His domain was east of the Naktong River in present-day North Kyngsang Province, South Korea.
Some of the tribal states in the area of the lower Naktong River, along the south central coast of the peninsula, did not join either of these kingdoms. Under the name Gaya, they formed a league of walled city-states that conducted extensive coastal trade and also maintained close ties with the tribal states in western Japan. Sandwiched between the more powerful Silla and Paekche, Gaya eventually was absorbed by its neighbors during the sixth century.
The first 215 years of the Silla Dynasty were marked by the establishment of new political, legal, and education institutions of considerable vigor. Domestic and foreign trade (with Tang China and Japan) prospered. Scholarship in Confucian learning, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine also flourished. Buddhism, introduced to the peninsula in A.D. 372, reached its zenith. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada and William Shaw, Library of Congress, 1990]
Centralized government probably emerged in Silla in the last half of the fifth century, when the capital became both an administrative and a marketing center. In the early sixth century, Silla's leaders introduced plowing by oxen and built extensive irrigation facilities. Increased agricultural output presumably ensued, allowing further political and cultural development that included an administrative code in 520, a class system of hereditary "bone-ranks" for choosing elites, and the adoption of Buddhism as the state religion around 535. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993]
Silla developed in the central part of the Korean peninsula. Eventually Silla, allied with China, defeated both Paekche and Koguryo to unify the peninsula by 668. Buddhism was introduced to Korea from China in A.D. 372 and spread into Japan from Korea in the sixth century A.D. The religion originated in India and made its may to China before reaching Korea. Buddhism had a profound influence on culture during the Three Kingdoms Period.
Fighting and Alliances Between Paekche, Silla and Koguryo at the End of the Three Kingdoms Period
Militarily weaker than Koguryo, Silla sought to fend the former off through an alliance with Paekche. By the beginning of the fifth century, however, Koguryo had achieved undisputed control of all of Manchuria east of the Liao River as well as the northern and central regions of the Korean Peninsula. At this time, Koguryo had a famous leader appropriately named King Kwanggaet'o (r. 391-412), a name that translates as "broad expander of territory." Reigning from the age of eighteen, he conquered sixty-five walled towns and 1,400 villages, in addition to assisting Silla when the Wa forces attacked. As Koguryo's domain increased, it confronted China's Sui Dynasty (581-617) in the west and Silla and Paekche to the south. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993]
Silla attacked Koguryo in 551 in concert with King Sng (r. 523-54) of Paekche. After conquering the upper reaches of the Han River, Silla turned on the Paekche forces and drove them out of the lower Han area. While a tattered Paekche kingdom nursed its wounds in the southwest, Silla allied with Chinese forces of the Sui and the successor Tang Dynasty (618-907) in combined attacks against Koguryo. The Sui emperor Yang Di launched an invasion of Koguryo in 612, marshaling more than 1 million soldiers only to be lured by the revered Koguryo commander lchi Mundk into a trap, where Sui forces virtually were destroyed. Perhaps as few as 3,000 Sui soldiers survived; the massacre contributed to the fall of the dynasty in 617. Newly risen Tang emperor Tai Zong launched another huge invasion in 645, but Koguryo forces won another striking victory in the siege of the An Si Fortress in western Koguryo, forcing Tai Zong's forces to withdraw.
Koreans have always viewed these victories as sterling examples of resistance to foreign aggression. Had Koguryo not beaten back the invaders, all the states of the peninsula might have fallen under extended Chinese domination. Thus commanders like lchi Mundk later became models for emulation, especially during the Korean War (1950-53).
Paekche could not hold out under combined Silla and Tang attack, however. The latter landed an invasion fleet in 660, and Paekche quickly fell under their assaults. Tang pressure also had weakened Koguryo, and after eight years of battle it gave way because of pressure from both external attack and internal strife exacerbated by several famines. Koguryo forces retreated to the north, enabling Silla forces to advance and consolidate their control up to the Taedong River, which flows through Pyongyang.
Silla emerged victorious in 668. It is from this date that South Korean historians speak of a unified Korea. The period of the Three Kingdoms thus ended, but not before the kingdoms had come under the long-term sway of Chinese civilization and had been introduced to Chinese statecraft, Buddhist and Confucian philosophy, Confucian practices of educating the young, and the Chinese written language. (Koreans adapted Chinese characters to their own language through a system known as idu.) The Three Kingdoms also introduced Buddhism, the various rulers seeing a valuable political device for unity in the doctrine of a unified body of believers devoted to Buddha but serving one king. Artists from Koguryo and Paekche also perfected a mural art found in the walls of tombs, and took it to Japan, where it deeply influenced Japan's temple and burial art. Indeed, many Korean historians believe that wall murals in Japanese royal tombs suggest that the imperial house lineage may have Korean origins.
Migrations of Koreans to Japan in the Late 7th Century
Kawagoe wrote: During the 660s, large numbers of Korean immigrants entered Japan following the Tang invasions of Korea … we know this both from Nihon shoki references as well as from the Korean styles and methods indicated in architecture, art and artefacts of the time. The immigrants came in two waves, one in 663 from Paekche and another in 668 from Koguryo. [Source: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com |||]
“From the Nihon shoki report, in the 663 migration wave, four hundred Paekche commoners were settled in the province of Omi, probably where new land was opened up for cultivating rice. According to the same report, one high-ranking Paekche refugee was granted court rank in Japan. Shortly after, two former Paekche ministers of state arrived in Japan with more than seven hundred Paekche men and women who were subsequently settled in the Kamo District of Omi Province. In the second wave of migration, 56 persons from Koguryo were settled in the province of Hitachi and 1,799 more Koguryo migrants were placed in Suruga as well as elsewhere in the east. |||
“Many of the immigrants were members of the elite, and among the Korean migrants flooding Japan were artisans, builders, administrators and various specialists whose special knowledge and services were used to strengthen the state, increase revenues and implement controls. In the year 671 as many as seventy Paekche officials were awarded Japanese court rank. The various fields in which these immigrants specialized e.g., military science, medicine, yin-yang philosophy, Confucian classics and the high ranks conferred upon them showed the Japanese court intended to make extensive use of Korean experts in what was probably an accelerated program of modernization of the country. Out of Paekche to Japan also came calendar makers, priests and diviners, temple builders, bronze casters and roof tile makers, specialists on continental music and dance and Chinese court ceremonies." |||
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.
Text Sources: South Korean government websites, Korea Tourism Organization, Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.
Updated in July 2021