1. The Rise and Development of the
1. The Rise and Development of the Three Kingdoms
(1) The Rise of the Three Kingdoms and Ancient Kingdoms
The patriarchal states which arose in various areas of the Korean peninsula
and surrounding areas were gradually unified into the Three Kingdoms and
continued to develop. Koguryo developed in Manchuria and the northern part of
the Korean peninsula, and Paekche and Shilla arose along the Han River basin and
the plains of Kyongju.
According to the records of the Samguk sagi (History
of the Three Kingdoms), Koguryo was established by King Chumong (Tongmyong
Songwang), Paekche by King Onjo, and Shilla by King Pak Hyokkose
The Three Kingdoms strengthened their monarchies, united
patriarchal powers, expanded their territories and centralized their power.
Thus, with the particular features of strong royal authority and a centralized
governing structure they developed as ancient kingdoms.
Silla Kingdom (B.C.57~A.D.935)
Kingdom was founded in 57 B.C.,
Silla was located in the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula. In its early
days, Silla was the weakest of three kingdoms in existence, but later became
powerful enough to unify them under its rule in 676. After unification, Silla
traded vigorously with foreign countries. General Jangbogo established
Cheonghaejin on Wando Island and swept the pirates from the seas and led the
overseas trade of East Asia Sea.
Goguryeo ( Koguryo )
The Goguryeo Kingdom was founded in 37 B.C., and by the first century, it had
firmly established itself as a powerful state. Goguryeo covered large parts of present-day Manchuria. The country was
not only the most powerful and most aggressive kingdom of three kingdoms in
existence (Baekje and Silla being the other two) but also the most powerful in
Northeast Asia in the 5th century. King Gwanggaeto the Great (375-413), in
particular, conquered the largest territory in the entire history of Korea.
Baekje ( Paekche ) Kingdom (B.C.18~A.D.660)
The Baekje Kingdom was founded in 18 B.C.,
Baekje was located in the southwestern part of the Korean peninsula and was one
of the most advanced nations at that time. Baekje had the closest communication
with neighboring Japan and exerted great influence on various fields of Japanese
culture, sending many craftsmen, artisans, tailors, tile makers, and scholars to
(2) Development of Koguryo and Paekche
Koguryo was the first nation to develop as an ancient kingdom. After the
downfall of Kojoson, Chinese influences permeated inward for a time, but Koguryo
grew independently while fighting against Chinese domination.
In the latter
half of the 1st century under King T'aejo's reign, Koguryo strengthened its base
as an ancient kingdom and in the early 4th century during the reign of King
Mich'on, it occupied Nangnang county and recovered almost all of the former
territory of Kojoson.
On the other hand, along the Han River basins, many
immigrants settled from the north at the time of Kojoson's downfall. These were
chiefly the people of Puyo and Koguryo. The kingdom of Paekche was established
with the immigrants as its center. Paekche, which first began as the small
nation of Mahan, gradually gained power.
In the mid-3rd century during the
reign of King Koi, Paekche concentrated its strength in the greater part of the
Han River basin in order to solidify its base as an ancient kingdom, and in the
mid-4th century during the reign of Kunch'ogo, it progressed into its Golden
Age. King Kunch'ogo conquered the remaining land of Mahan to the south,
completely unified the Honam district (now Cholla-do) and by rising victorious
over battles with Koguryo, ruled over the Hwanghae Province to the north. During
this period, Paekche also made inroads into Japan and parts of China including
Shandong and Liaoxi.
In the mid-4th century, Koguryo suffered a great loss as
a result of invasions by Former Yan and Paekche but in the latter half of the
4th century, during the reign of King Sosurim, Koguryo accepted Buddhism,
established a school called T'aehak, and through the promulgation of various
laws, readjusted its national structure. During the consecutive reigns of King
Kwanggaet'o and King Changsu, Koguryo greatly expanded its territory and held
hegemony in north-eastern Asia.
A 627 cm stele to King Kwanggaet'o in Tonggou,
China, constructed in A.D. 414.
Under the reign of King Kwanggaet'o, Koguryo occupied Manchurian territory
to the east of Liaohe, attacked Paekche to occupy the north of the Han River and
expelled foreign foes who were trying to invade Shilla. In the 5th century
during the reign of King Changsu, Koguryo moved its capital from Kungnae-song to
P'yong'yang and became a powerful country which ruled over the middle section of
the south Han River basin by attacking Paekche.
Paekche, in the 5th century,
confronted the southward advancement of Koguryo, lost the territory along the
Han River basin and moved its capital to Ungjin (Kongju). With its power
weakened, Paekche, in the 6th century under the reign of King Song, again moved
its capital, this time to Sabisong (Puyo), and began readjusting its
institutions in order to revive itself. King Song actively promoted cultural
exchanges with the Southern Dynasties of China and introduced Buddhism to Japan.
During this period, Paekche joined Shilla to help control the Han River, only to
lose it again to Shilla.
(3) Development of Shilla and Changes in Kaya
A monument erected in honor of King Chinhung's
expansion of Shilla's territory.
Located on Mt.
Saroguk, which arose in the area of Kyongju, developed into the kingdom of
Shilla. From the 1st century, Shilla, under King Naemul, developed by combining
the entities around it and by the latter 4th century, built the base for the
ancient kingdom. Ever since King Naemul's era, successors to the throne were all
members of the Kim family. The power of the king was further strengthened as he
was referred to as "Maripkan", the Great Chief, instead of "Isagum", meaning
At that time, Shilla, with the aid of King Kwanggaet'o of Koguryo,
drove out Japanese invaders from its land. Afterwards, Shilla was under the
influence of Koguryo for a time, but by concluding a treaty of alliance with
Paekche, overcame the influence of Koguryo. On the other hand, in the lower
delta of the Naktong River, a confederation of six Kaya states appeared with
Kumgwan Kaya in Kimhae and Tae Kaya in Koryong as the centers. The power of Kaya
was so strong that at one time it threatened Shilla and advanced toward Japan,
but it was annexed by Shilla without having developed into an ancient
.. Shilla, which developed slowest among the Three Kingdoms, had
made great progress by the 6th century. King Chijung changed the name of his
country to Shilla and adopted the title of King instead of Maripkan. Under the
reign of King Pophung, Shilla officially recognized Buddhism and promulgated
laws and regulations. King Chinhung occupied the Han and Naktong River basins
and even made inroads into the Hamhung Plains.