Development of Koryo dynasty and shattering the Silla illusion of grandure

Discussion in 'Korean Culture and History' started by miguksaram, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    This post is more for the Korean History buffs than anyone else, and since I am bored of the same ol' TKD sport vs TKD traditional threads, I thought I would throw some history at you.

    As many of you know the Silla dynasty plays a big roll in many of the Korean martial arts history. Around 676 AD Silla, finished its campaign to push back the T'ang armies, which subsequently helped Silla gain command of the other two kingdoms, Koguryo and Paekche. Of course T'ang basicly helped in order to bring Korea into the Chinese empire's control and it is quite significant that Silla was able to thwart this ambitious cause of the T'ang. We are now lead to believe that everything was peaches and cream in the newly unified Korea, but this is not actually true.

    First of all the kingdom was not truely unified as there was another kingdom, called Parhae which was located north of the Yalu and Tumen rivers, lead by King Tae Cho-young, a former general of the Koguryo army. While Silla tried to bring them into their control, they fought back feverishly which ended with Silla building a defensive wall and keeping them content with the territory they already had. Many could say that the Silla kingdom reflected that of the Roman empire where the rich were lavished with excessive comforts and the poor would be taxed into slavery. The changing of how political prowess was distributed caused many members of the aristocracy, who subsequently built up their own private armies, to undermine the throne and over throw the reigning kings. In fact 20 kings came and went in this short period of time. Another problem were the peasents who were began to rebel. The biggest rebellion came about around 889 in Sangju. This eventually lead to the splitting of the Silla kingdom into three seperate states again, Later Koguryo lead by Kyungye and Later Paekche led by Kyonhwon.

    Kyounhwon attacked the capital of Silla, killing the king the king, abducted officials, seized large treasures and arms and imprisoned many skilled craftsmen. It was Kyungye along with Wang Kon, Kyungye's commander, which stopped the progression. Kyungye, however, ruled his territory in terror and was eventually overthrown by his own generals who placed Wang Kon who gave his new state the shorter name of Koryo. Koryo and Later Paekche were evenly matched for some time, until specific battles were won by Koryo which lead to the eventual defeat of Paekche. It was not long after that Silla peacefully surrendered themselves to Wang Kon. The Parhae kingdom was slowly being overthrown by the Kintae tribes. They eventually fled their area and was welcomed into the new kingdom lead by Wang Kon. This ushered in the Koryo dynasty and the legend of Wang Kon who was named in Korean history books as King Tae'jon.

    So there is a bit of history to chew on for a while. :)
     
  2. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Thanks for the information. It doesn't always agree with what I read about korean History when I was there, nor of some of the current docudramas on recent Korean TV. Also the time lines.

    But it has long been the case that new information is uncovered. Fascinating really. For example 20 some years ago, neolithic cultures hadn't been imagined in Korea. Then the American soldier and his Korean wife discovered evidence of them. Decorated pottery users were known of for a long time, but were not really in the common knowledge. Yet surface collections are possible along the Han river in Seoul itself.

    It's always interesting to learn more of the history of Korea and other peoples in that area of the world. Thanks again for peaking my curiosity to some new things.
     
  3. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    Thank you. I found it interesting because, for the most part we hear about Silla unifying the three kingdoms and that is it. Next we hear how Silla dynasty changed to Koryo dynasty, but never the events that took place to shape the new dynasty. I am still reading about that particular era and have a couple of other books to compare it with as well.

    That is cool to hear about the new discoveries of neolitic cultures in Korea. It will be interesting to see what information will come from those discoveries. I was in Kyoung-ju about 4 years ago and you could see them doing some archaeological digs near the Cheonmachong. So Korea is slowly discovering new things about their history.
     
  4. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    Are there any readily reading material about this period in English? Perhaps a textbook that wouldn't be too hard to find on Alibris or Powell's?
     
  5. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    Yes, there are. I am currently reading Korea Old and New, A History by Eckert, Lee, Lew, Robinson and Wagner. There is also the Samguk Yusa, which is a mixture of facts, folktales and lore. Sources of Korean Tradition Vol 1 & 2 (Note: I have not read them yet, but do own them). A New History of Korea (again, own, but have not read yet). There are others out there as well. A good one that I really enjoyed was Under the Black Umbrella. Voices from Colonial Korea by Kang. Very insightful book about how Japanes occupation affected, and in some cases not affect, people of Korea, as told by the Koreans themselves.
     
  6. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    What I used to hear and read was that Silla conquered Paek Che, then made a deal with China. China attacked Koguryo from the north, Silla from the south. Where they met ended the war and fixed the boundries of China and Silla. Apparently a little known fact was that not only did a lot of the Paek Che court commit suicide rather than being captured, many did get away and went to Japan where they were assimilated. Of course, Japan would not want to talk about that.

    I haven't heard much about the discoveries since I left myself. There were some site said to have been found along the western part of the peninsula. I don't know if they panned out or not. I also remember that N. Korea soon 'discovered' sites of their own. I don't know if any of that was reliably confirmed or not. I actually visited the site north of Cp Casey and saw the neolithic dig there. Also some old sites along the Han river in Seoul, where the was both decorated pottery, and Paek Che pottery. Quite fascinating.
     
  7. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    Right I have heard about that as well. I have heard that there are some tombs that Japan will not explore simply because it will prove this sort of linkage between the two. Again, just heard, never verified if that part is true.

    I want to say that there was something on the Korean news not too long ago about some new discoveries made, but for the life of me I do not recall what it was. I will ask my wife if she remembers hearing about it. What was interesting to read was that the way they constructed the Koguryo tombs it made it very easy to pilfer which is why it is hard to find a lot of artifacts from that kingdom during their beginnings. Silla and Paekche had a more solid foundation which made it harder to break into once they were closed.
     
  8. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    Just a follow up, on the news story I mentioned in my last post. I talked to my wife and the report was about the discovery of ancient pottery. So I believe it was talking about the Neolithic items that you mentioned earlier.
     
  9. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    First, I have to correct a big mistake. In a moment when my brain completely disconnected, I said neolithic when I meant paleolithic. The artifacts discovered at the site near Cp Casey were knapped stone tools, cutters, choppers and chopping tools. I don't recall any pottery shards being found there, but that was a long time ago, and I could be wrong. If there were pottery shards there, it would make the site younger. BTW, googling korean neolithic or paleolithic may make interesting reading for you. As I recall, at least some of the artifacts found near Cp Casey were archulean. It was a shock to the serviceman whose wife found them.
     
  10. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    The news story I am referring to was very recent. So perhaps, they are discovering more items since the Cp Casey incident you are referring to. I will look up some more on Korea and neolithic period as you suggested. I am still currently wrapping my head around the transformation from Koryo dynasty to Choson dynasty and how the Mongols pretty much ruled most of Korea within this transition.
     

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