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The Kingdom of Shilla

By Ogedei - Posted on 23 November 2006


Whereas the kingdom of Goguryeo was heavily influenced by the Chinese since its conception, political influence upon the kingdom of Shilla was not as strong, as Shilla's heartland was in the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula. The site of the Shilla capital and the Shilla heartland was at the city of Gyeongju, now in Gyeongsangbuk-do. Traditionally theorized to have been founded in 57 BCE by Bak Hyeokgeose, the kingdom of Shilla included areas of present-day Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gyeongsangnam-do. Whatever the actual story behind Shilla's founding may be, it is known that the emergence of Shilla occurred within the area of modern Gyeongju when the villages of the Saro tribe joined together.

Due to conflicts with Goguryeo and the Japanese, however, Shilla's development was slowed from the start. However, this resilient kingdom eventually became powerful enough to resist foreign powers, annex neighboring lesser states, and even go as far as conquering the vast majority of the Korean peninsula while driving out the mighty Chinese Tang Dynasty.

Shilla is famous for its "Hwarang" (variously translated as Flower Men or Flower Knights) corps, which consisted of elite youths trained in both court arts and martial arts that were influenced by Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist philosophy.