• History

    Excess, Invasion and the Tripitaka – The Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392)

    Early Goryeo – 918-1000 At the end of the Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935 A.D.), there was a lot of political turmoil and chaos. As a result of this political instability, the Silla Dynasty was highly weakened and vulnerable. Specifically, the loss of control over local lords at the end of the 9th century led the nation into civil war. Under the rebellious leadership of Gung Ye (869 – 918 A.D.) and Gyeon Hwon (867 – 936 A.D.), they formed two independent states. Gyeon Hwon formed Hubaekje (meaning Later Baekje), while Gung Ye established Hugoguryeo (meaning Later Goguryeo). It was under these tumultuous conditions that Wang Geon, a subject of Gung…

  • History

    The Zenith – The Unified Silla Dynasty (668 – 935 A.D.)

    During the Unified Silla Dynasty (668 – 935 A.D.), Korean Buddhism would reach its zenith. A lot of the historic tangible cultural assets like National Treasures, Korean Treasures, and Historic Sites are datable to this time in Korean history. The Silla Kingdom, during the Three Kingdoms Period in Korean history, allied itself with Tang China in the mid-7th century. And in 660 A.D., in the sixth year of King Muyeol of Silla’s reign (r. 654-661 A.D.), the allied forces defeated the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.). Then, in 668 A.D., now under the new kingship of the famous King Munmu of Silla (r. 661-681 A.D.), as well as…

  • History

    The Conquered – The Gaya Confederacy (42 – 562 A.D.)

    The Gaya Confederacy existed from 42 A.D. to 562 A.D. It was situated in the south-eastern corner of the Korean peninsula near the Nakdong River basin around present day Busan and the Gyeongsangnam-do area. The Gaya Confederacy was centred around Geungwan Gaya (present day Gimhae). It was a small confederacy of city-states that grew out of the Byeonhan Confederacy, which consisted of twelve states. In total, there were six loosely organized city-states in the Gaya Confederacy. The Gaya Confederacy gained its independence from the Byeonhan Confederacy sometime during the late 3rd century. And while there are very few written records that can point to a definitive transitional period in Gaya…

  • History

    The Emergence of a Dynasty – The Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.)

    The Silla Kingdom, which was located in the east to southeastern portion of the Korean peninsula, was one of the longest sustained dynasties in all of Asian history. The kingdom spanned an astonishing 992 years in length from 57 B.C. to 935 A.D. The Silla Kingdom was founded by King Hyeokgeose of Silla (r. 57 B.C. – 4 A.D.) in 57 B.C.E. around present-day Gyeongju. It started as Saro-guk, which was a city-state within a twelve member confederacy known as Jinhan. By the 2nd century, Silla existed as a distinct state within the region. And by the 3rd century, the Silla Kingdom expanded its influence over the neighbouring city-states; however,…

  • History

    The Exporter of Buddhism – The Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.)

    The Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.) was a strong kingdom that existed for well over six hundred years. The Baekje Kingdom controlled a vast area of land at the height of its power. The Baekje Kingdom mostly controlled the western portion of the Korean peninsula from north of Pyongyang, North Korea down to the southern-most portions of modern day Jeollanam-do. It was founded by King Onjo (r. 18 B.C. – 28 A.D.) at Wiryeseong (present-day southern Seoul). Also, the Baekje Kingdom became a significant maritime power with political and trade relations with both Japan and parts of China. A full twelve years after Buddhism arrived on the Korean…

  • History

    Origins – The Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.)

    The ancient Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.) was once located in present day southern Manchuria, the Russian Maritime Provinces, and the northern part of the Korean peninsula. Just before Buddhism was introduced to the Goguryeo Kingdom, and during the reign of King Gogugwon of Goguryeo (r. 331 – 371 A.D.), it was devastated by several natural disasters. In 365 A.D., there was a large earthquake. And in 368 A.D., there was a severe drought, which resulted in a massive famine, and reported cannibalism, in 369 A.D. It was under these circumstances that people lost faith in the indigenous religion of Korean shamanism. Also, the Goguryeo Kingdom had been…

  • History

    In the Beginning…Korean Shamanism and the Introduction of Buddhism

    Predating any and all forms of Buddhism in Korea was that of Korean shamanism. In fact, shamanism in Korea dates back to around 1,000 B.C. And ever since then, shamanism has been a part of Korean culture. Korean shamanism believed, and still believes, that human problems can be solved through an interaction between humans and spirits. These spirits are said to have power to change a person’s fortune, either good or bad. There is a rather large, and unorganized, pantheon of shaman spirits like the prominent Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) and Samshin Halmoni. During the Three Kingdoms Period of Korea, and before Buddhism entered the Korean peninsula, the indigenous religion of…