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Samguk Yusa by Ilyón, Translated by Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz. Yonsei
University Press. Seoul, 1972. p.220-223.
"Puryerang was a renowned Hwarang who was made a Kuksón on the seventh of September, 692 by King Hyoso. Puryerang (son of Taehyón-Salch'an) was the King's favorite Hwarang and he placed a thousand youths under Puryerrang's command. Among these youths An Sang became his lieutenant and intimate follower. In March 693 Puryerang led his youngest followers on a trip to Kúmnan (T'ongch'ón in Kangwon Province). But when they arrived at a point north of Puk-myóng (near Wonsan Bay) they were attacked by a band of armed thieves (Magal troops) and Puryerang was taken captive. There were so many of them that the Silla youths were overwhelmed and had to flee for their lives. But An Sang stayed and followed his master into the enemy camp. This happened on March 11.
The King was dismayed. He said to his courtiers, "Since my royal father handed down the sacred flute to me, I have kept it safe in the High Heaven Vault together with the Hyón-gúm (a harp with six silk strings), which protects us from all evil with their holy might. Why has my favorite Hwarang fallen into the hands of thieves?" While the King thus lamented, a sea of clouds appeared in the sky and shrouded the High Heaven Vault. More troubled still, the King ordered his servants to examine it to see if anything was missing. And sure enough the two treasures - the harp and the flute - had disappeared. The King's grief knew no bounds. "One misfortune rides on the neck of another," he exclaimed. "First I lose my favorite Hwarang, and now I have lost the harp and flute, the most sacred possessions of my royal heritage and the dearest treasure of the nation. Ah, the sad day!" In rage he imprisoned the five vault-keepers.
Meanwhile, Puryerang's father and mother worshipped in the Golden Hall of Paengnyul-sa every night until the fifteenth of May, Praying for the safe return of their son. On that night they found the harp and flute on the table of the incense burner - and Puryerang, attended by An Sang, standing behind the Buddha image. The old parents fell upon the neck of their beloved son weeping for joy, and asked him how he had returned. "My honored parents," he said, "When the enemy carried me away, the made me a cowherd, and I was set to care for the cattle grazing in a meadow called Taemaya. There a kind looking monk holding a harp in one hand and a flute in the other appeared and said; "My good lad, don't you feel homesick?"
"Partly overawed by his noble face and partly overcome with grateful emotion at his gentle words, I fell to my knees and answered, "Honorable monk, carry me back to Kyóngju. I long to see my King and my parents in my native land, a thousand li far away to the south."
"Come with me, my lad," he interposed. and took me by the hand and led me to the seacoast, where I met An Sang once again. Here the monk broke the flute in two and handed each of us a piece, "Ride on them," he said, while he rode the harp. We flew high above the clouds and in a twinkling we landed here."
When all this was reported to the King he rejoiced exceedingly and sent out courtiers to receive Puryerang like a prince of the blood. So Puryerang repaired to the palace, taking the harp and flute with him.
The King praised the Hwarang's valor and good fortune and then graciously rewarded the flying monk with gold dishes, fine robes, hempen cloth and farmland. Moreover, the King granted a general amnesty to all prisoners, promoted each official by three ranks, exempted the people from taxes in kind for three years, and transferred the abbot of the temple to a higher ranking monastery named Pongsóng-sa.
Puryerang was made Tae-Kakkan (Prime Minister), his father Taehyón Ach'an was made Tae-tae Kakkan (Supreme Elder Statesman) and his mother, Lady Yongbo, became Princess of Kyongjong in Saryang-pu, while An Sang was made Chief Priest of the state. The five vault keepers were all pardoned and promoted to the fifth grade in rank.
At the same time Kim Yusin was appointed T'ae-Tae-Kakkan (Elder Statesman) as an honorary title.
During the reign of King Songdok (702-732) Kim Taemun wrote the Hwarang Segi, saying that there were more than 200 Hwarang by the third generation.
Samguk Yusa 5:222-223. Translation: Lee, Peter H.: A Source Book of Korean Civilization p.207-208.
"On the first day of the fourth month of the nineteenth year of King Kyóngdók, kyóngja (20 April 760), two suns appeared in the sky and remained for ten days. The astrologer recommended, "Please invite a monk destined by karma to compose a song on the merit of scattering flowers." Thereupon an altar was erected at Chowón Hall, and the king went to Ch'óngyang Tower to await the coming of a monk. Just then Master Wólmyóng came walking southward on the levee path. The king had a messenger bring the monk to him, and asked him to compose a song and prepare the platform. The master replied, "As a member of the Hwarang, I know vernacular songs, but not sanskrit verses." The king said, "Since you are the chosen one, compose the song in the vernacular."
Thereupon the master composed the "Song of Tusita Heaven".
O Flowers strewn today
With a song. Since you attend
My honest mind's command,
You serve Maitreya!
The transcription reads, "On the Dragon Tower I sing a song of scattering flowers
and send a pedal to the blue cloud. In place of my sincere wish, go and welcome the Great
Sage in the Tusita Heaven."
People wrongly call it the "Song of Scattering Flowers" instead of the "Song of Tusita Heaven." The text of the real "Song of Scattering Flowers" is prolix and has been omitted. The calamity in the sky soon vanished. The king granted the master a package of fine tea and a rosary of one hundred and eight crystal beads. Suddenly a handsome youth appeared from a small gate to the west of the palace, bearing the tea and the rosary. The master thought him a page of the queen; the king thought him a follower of Wólmyóng; in fact both were wrong.
When the king sent a servant to follow the youth, he vanished into a stupa in the inner cloister, and the tea and rosary were found in front of the southern mural portraying Maitreya. The master's virtue and sincerity and reached the attention of the Buddha, and thus the whole country knew his name. Out of respect, the king further granted him a hundred rolls of silk in praise of his attainments."
When Taeyóng-Rang presented the king (King Kyóngdók 742-765) with a white fox he was appointed to the number one position in the southern part of the country.
Own translation: Samguk Sagi (sang), translated into Korean by Yi, Pyong-do, Samguk Sagi: Wonmun-P'ton, Kug'ok-p'yon, Seoul: Uryu Munhwasa, 1980, p.181.
Samguk Sagi vol.10. Translation: Ai Li Chong: Samguk Sagi (sang), translated into
Korean by Yi, Pyong-do, Samguk Sagi: Wonmun-P'ton, Kug'ok-p'yon, Seoul: Uryu Munhwasa,
During the third month of the 14th year of King Hóndók (809-826) a general named Hón Chang rebelled against the king because his father failed to be king. He threatened the leaders of four different states to follow his orders and considered them as his levies.
Knowing Hón Chang's plot, the primeminister gathered his troops for defense on the eighteenth day.
He then ordered eight guards to defend the eight directions of the king's capital, then departed on a mission. Several generals were sent out to attack the rebels. The two Hwarang Myónggi and Anlak were invited to join. Myónggi and his Hwarang followers went to Hwang-San while Anlak departed for the town of Simi. The troops surrounded the city where the rebels were staying and Hón Chang, the leader of the rebels killed himself because he didn't want to surrender. His followers also killed themselves and the city collapsed. The king awarded the generals for their success.
Lee, Peter H.: Studies in the
Saenaennorae: Old Korean Poetry, Instituto Italiano Per Il Medio Ed Estremo Oriente. Roma
1959. p.71 and 116-117.
Ode to Knight Kilbo (742-765) is an eulogy by Master Ch'ungdam.
Unlike the other poems, this has no introductory note by the compiler. Therefore there are no data of the Hwarang but the hyangga poem was very popular among the people of Silla for its beautiful words and deep meaning. It is known for its intense emotion and noble spirit. King Kyongdok of Silla praised it highly.
The moon that pushes her way
Through the thickets of clouds,
Is she not pursuing
The white clouds?
Knight Kilbo once stood by the water,
Reflecting his face in the blue.
Henceforth I shall seek and gather
In pebbles the depth of his mind.
Knight, you are the towering pine,
That scorns frost, ignores snow.
"The Ode to Knight Kilbo - Ch'an Kilborang Ka was written by Ch'ungdam. In this
poem the poet does not merely state his admiration for the Knight, nor force us to share
his emotion. Instead the poet has organized the poem in a form that appeals to our
imagination and encourages us to share the poet's conviction. In the internal organization
of the poem, the first stanza ends with the third line; and the second part begins
unusually with the fourth line in the first stanza and continues to the end of the second
stanza. The first part, however, is ambiguous. Should we take it to be a mere introduction
which is intended to set the reader's mood? If so, this is rather an unusual introduction;
it does not introduce the main theme which is developed in the following stanzas. Perhaps
it refers to the Knight or to the poet himself. The Knight is the moon, remote and afar,
and his swiftness of mind is represented by the moon's movement through the clouds. Or is
the moon the poet himself running after the white clouds which represent the Knight? In
either case, this ambiguity does not weaken the poem, but fits in with other elements of
Where should we look, however, to find the noble mind of the Knight? The place is, according to the poet, by the water. Kilbo once stood here, and by this act he left his stamp in the pebbles. The greatness and nobleness of his mind is reflected in the pebbles, even in the smallest stones, and the pebbles are pieces of his mind. The poet says that he hopes to trace his friend's mind and memory in them. But it is the last stanza which reveals us the poet's intense admiration for his friend. This is achieved by a single metaphor, the pine, and all the qualities of the pine are attributed to the Knight. Kilbo is "the towering pine" that soars above all other things, beyond the change of the seasons. The pine, which is a generally accepted symbol for permanence and integrity, had to be chosen precisely for this reason. It withstands snow and frost, and all the hardships in life. But not only this; it "scorns frost". It scorns those who are prey to the mutability of life. It scorns, above all, egotists, opportunists, and traitors. The Knight is the pine; he ignores the course of fortune and death. This is the reason why he is called "Knight of Knights" as the original text implies, and this is the reason why we seek his mind even in the pebbles".
Samguk Yusa. Translation: Tae-hung Ha and Mintz, Samguk Yusa, Legends and History of
the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, Yonsei University Press, Seoul, 1972. p.123-126.
King Kyóngmun was one of the Hwarang who went on to become King.
"The forty-eight sovereign (of Silla) was King Kyóngmun, whose childhood name was Ungnyóm. He was admitted into the Hwarang at the age of eighteen. When he was twenty King Hónan, the reigning monarch (857-861), invited him to a banquet.
"Young man," said the King, "You have visited many places of interest in Silla in the course of your physical and mental training, have you seen any extraordinary events during your wide travels?"
"Your Majesty," the youth replied, "I was more interested in men than in scenic beauty. I saw three men of noble deeds."
"Noble deeds!" exclaimed the King. "Tell me your story."
"The first was a man who gave his seat to another for the sake of propriety, even though he was qualified to take the highest place; the second was a man who wore cotton garments out of frugality, even though he was rich; and the third was a man who would make no display of his dignity even though he was noble and powerful by birth."
At this the King was moved to tears. "I am glad," he said, "To find in your person a fine gentleman of high virtue. I have two daughters. Choose whichever you wish for your wife."
"Oh King," the youth replied, "I am not worthy of such an honor." He then withdrew from the palace, and on reaching home told his parents what the King had said.
"That is good luck," they said. "The elder princess is not very pretty, but her sister is a well known beauty. Why not choose the younger princess?"
When the monk of Húngnyun Temple who was the head of Ungnyóm's Hwarang group heard the news he hasten to call on the young man and offer his advice. "I hear that the King has offered you one of his daughters in marriage, Whichever you choose. Is this true?" the monk asked.
"Which one will you choose?"
"My parents told me to take the younger one."
"If you marry the younger princess I will die in your presence, but if you marry the elder one I can assure you of three good things. Beauty is not everything. Take care."
"Then I will choose the elder princess."
A short time later the King chose a propitious day and sent a messenger to Ungnyóm to ask which of the princesses he had chosen. He chose the elder, as he had told the monk he would. A date was set and the wedding took place as planned.
Only three months later the King became seriously ill. Feeling that death was near, he called the court officials into a royal conference and said to them, "I have no male issue. When I am gone, my heir and successor should be Ungnyóm, the husband of my elder daughter."
The King died the next day, and by the royal will the lucky Hwarang was raised to the throne. One of his first visitors after his coronation was the monk whose good advice he had followed.
"May our King live ten thousand years!" said the monk in formal greeting. "Accept my congratulations on your success in three good things: By your marriage to the elder daughter you have pleased her parents; as a result you have inherited the jeweled throne; and now you are king, you can easily take the younger princess for your favorite among the palace women.
"You have made me very happy," the King replied. "I hereby promote you to the official position of Taedók (Great Virtue, a title of position in the Buddhist hierarchy) and in addition make you a gift of one hundred and thirty yang of gold.
During this King's reign (Kim Ùngnyom from the above story)
four Hwarang - Yowonnang (Kuksón), Yehúnnang, Kyewon and Sukjongnang - visited Kúmnan,
a place of scenic beauty, where they composed three patriotic songs. Moreover they sent a
Simp'il-saji (13th grade official) with blank music paper to Taegu-Hwasang, asking this
famous monk to compose three further songs, which he did. When these songs were presented
to the throne the good King praised the Hwarang's loyalty and gave them rich rewards.
Unfortunately these songs have not survived".
The story of the Hwarang Hyojong-Rang is interesting as one of the stories of Hwarang which appear both in Samguk-Sagi and Samguk-Yusa. There are several differences between the two stories but the basic elements are the same. The first translation is from Samguk Sagi (compiled by a Confucian general) and the second is from Samguk Yusa (complied by a monk). They are both inspiring stories of filial piety (hyo).
Samguk Sagi vol. 12 and 48. Own translation: Samguk Sagi (ha), translated into Korean
by Yi, Pyong-do, Samguk Sagi: Wonmun-P'ton, Kug'ok-p'yon, Seoul: Uryu Munhwasa, 1980,
"The Filial Woman who Knew Kindness" was the daughter of the commoner Yónkwón from Hanbu. She was by nature extremely filial to her parents and when she, at a very young age, lost her father, she lived alone with her mother, always supporting her faithfully. By the time she became 32 years old, she still had not married and from early in the morning she took care of her mother and kept close to her.
But her faithful support did not bring her food, some times she had to work as a maid for money and some times she even had to beg for food. She continued her faithful support for a long time but exhaustion finally overpowered her and she could not continue.
She went to a rich man's house and volunteered to sell her body and thus became a female waiter, for this she received more than 10 sók of rice.
Early in the morning she left her mother to work in the house and not until it became dark did she return with some rice to support her mother faithfully again. This continued for 3-4 days.
The mother then told the daughter "Before, when the rice was coarse it tasted good but now that the rice is good it does not taste as before and my heart feels like a knife is stabbing it, why is that?"
When the daughter told the truth the mother said while she cried loudly, "Because of me you have become a waiter (slave), it is better for me to die fast". Also the daughter cried and the sad scene made a deep impression on the people who passed them in the street.
At this time the Hwarang Hyojongnang also had gone out and when he saw the sad scene, he returned to his parents and asked the house to give 100 sók of grain and various kinds of cloths. Also, he paid back the "body money" to the master who had bought her and made her a good subject. The RangDo (the followers of the Hwarang), several thousand of them, each gave one sók of grain.
The great King (Chónggang Wang, 886-887) heard this and also bestowed 500 sók of grain and a house on the filial woman. He also exempted her from taxation and the normally required levies of service. Since there now was a lot of grain in the house he worried that thieves might steal it. So he ordered the government office of relationships to send soldiers to guard the house as their turn of duty.
The village had its name changed to Hyoyangpang (Promoting Filial Piety District) as a good example to others. During the time of Hyojong-Nang, the third prime-minister Sóbal had a son whose childhood name was Hwadal. The king said, "Eventhough you are young you have shown that you are mature". Then the king made the filial woman the daughter of his own older brother, and then married her to Hwadal".
Samguk Yusa. Translation: Tae-hung Ha and Mintz, Samguk Yusa, Legends and History of
the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, Yonsei University Press, Seoul, 1972. p.384-385.
"Hyojongnang, a noble Hwarang, gave a banquet in the Posók-jong at the foot of Namsan near Kyóngju, and all his followers and friends gathered early except two, who arrived very late. When the noble Hwarang asked them why they had not arrived on time, they told the following story:
"In the eastern village near Punhwang-sa temple we saw a girl who seemed to be about twenty years old holding her blind mother in her arms, crying loudly."
We asked the villagers what was going on, and they explained that the girl was so poor that she had begged from door to door for years to support her mother. Then there was a bad harvest and she could no longer get any income from begging, so she sold her labor to a rich man's house and entrusted her master with thirty large bags of rice from her wages.
She worked hard in that house every day, and at twilight she brought home a bowl of rice which she cooked for her mother and herself. She slept with her mother and at daybreak she rose quietly and went back to work in the rich man's house. She supported her mother in this way for several years.
One day her mother said to her, "I had peace of mind when I ate coarse food, but my heart is troubled these days, as if the good food hurt my stomach. Can you tell me why?"
The good daughter told the truth, whereupon her mother burst out crying and the daughter cried too, lamenting between sobs that she had fed her mother's mouth but had failed to comfort her mind. We stayed to observe this pitiful sight, which is why we are late for your banquet."
The Hwarang admired the daughters filial piety and took pity on the small family, so he sent them a hundred bushels of grain and some fine clothes, while his followers collected a thousand large bags of rice to help the needy family.
When this story reached the throne, Queen Chinsóng (888-898) rewarded the dutiful daughter with an additional five hundred large bags of rice, and gave her a fine house to live in with her mother. She also sent soldiers to guard the house. The Queen also ordered the building of a pavilion in the girl's honor at the entrance to her village, and named it Hyoyang-ni (Filial Sustenance Village) to commemorate her good conduct. Later the girl donated her house to a temple called Yangjon-sa (Temple of the Two Buddhas)".
Samguk Yusa.Translation: Tae-hung Ha and Mintz, Samguk Yusa, Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, Yonsei University Press, Seoul, 1972. p.134-135.
At the end of the Silla dynasty Silla was falling apart. The last king wanted to surrender the country to Wang Kón - the first King of Koryó. But the Crown Prince wanted to fight on so he left the court and there he rallied the loyal sons of the Hwarang to fight Wang Kón.
By October 935 the troops had lost the martial Hwarang spirit.
In the monograph on music in the Samguk Sagi there is a note that the followers of Wól-lang (Wóllang-do) was responsible for a composition. Wóllang might be a short form of Sórwón-nang, the first Kuksón.
Richard Rutt, p.23.
The "Four Knights", also called the four immortals of Silla were the wisest of the Hwarang: Namsókhaeng (or Namnang), Sullang, Yóngnang, and An Sang. Among the scenic spots they visited, the most famous was Samilp'o, celebrated in many Korean poems. Tradition has it that once the four knights came there to admire the beauty of the Diamond Mountains and did not return for three days, hence the name. There was a small peak to the south, on top of which was a stone niche, and on the north precipice on this peak were six Chinese logographs in red ink which read "We are going toward the South". Lake Yóngnang, Tanhyól, Samilp'o, Ch'ongsók-chóng along the west coast of Korea and Arangp'o on the west are supposed to have been frequently visited by the immortals.
Peter H. Lee: The Lives of Eminent Korean Monks, the Haedong Konsun Chon, p.68
Muyedobo T'ongji, vol.3. Translated by Chong, Ai Li.
Muyedobo T'ongji was compiled in 1789 and is thus very late as a Silla period source. I have not been able to find the story about Hwang Ch'ang in any other source.
"Native Sword (Pon'gukkóm) or "New Sword" (Shin'góm), to be carried on
the waist like "Sharp Sword" (Yodo). Travelers says that the sword was invented
and practiced by a Silla Hwarang, Hwang Ch'ang. Legend says, that he went to Paekche when
he was seven years old and preformed a sword dance there, attracting a multitude of
spectators. Hearing the rumor, the king of Paekche called him on the floor. Availing
himself of this opportunity, he stabbed the king. He was caught and killed by angry
Paekche people. Hearing the news, Silla people mourned his death and started sword dancing
by themselves with a mask modelled after his image. This dance have been passed on until
today (AD 1789).
Hwang Ch'ang was one of the famous Silla Hwarang. (Muyedobo T'ongji's note: The King and officials of Silla were perplexed by the problem of finding the talented people. They then chose goodlooking men, made them put on make-up and called them Hwarang followers. A whole group gathered and therefore the wise men could select the good ones among them and put them in positions of service.) Like the legend of Sullang and Yongnang (Muyedobo T'ongji's note: According to the legend the four Silla Hwarang Sullang, Namnang, Yongnang and Ansang visited the Ch'ongsók-chóng area) Hwang Ch'ang Rang and several thousand Hwarang Followers (Hwarang do) had exerted themselves with loyalty and trust.
Moreover, Silla's neighboring country, Japan (Wa), must have received their "sword
dance equipment" (sword techniques/"samurai swords") from Hwang
Ch'ang Rang and yet this cannot be examined today. Since Hwang Ch'ang Rang was the founder
of Native Sword, Mao Yuan-yi of China presumed that the method of using the sword
(Kómbop) was acquired from Choson - after it was compared with several books from the
western regions. Then, in that case Choson is stealing her own techniques back, but if one
compare with the versions in the official history books of Japan, then Choson is stealing
Chinese techniques. No matter who is stealing and who has been handing down techniques,
now several hundred years have passed since Mao Yuan-yi lived and therefore, who gave
techniques to the others and who received the knowledge is not really known.
Why didn't our own people hand down and train the techniques by themselves but instead wait for Mao Yuen-yi's book Wubeizhi (On Military Preparedness) and first then again start to pass it down in order to practice it? Now it cannot be known.
As said in the beginning, this was Mao's presumption and today we have included this little discussion here in the section on Native Sword."
Then follows 12 pages of "notes" where battle stances, techniques etc. are explained with illustrations. In "general note" and "general illustration" the connecting movements of stances in battle are detailed in three pages of diagrams and illustrations. John Della Pia, M.A. has a translation of the techniques with pictures.
"In the initial period of the Choson dynasty, full attention was paid to military
preparedness and training. However, the military alert was slackened in favor of civil
affairs as threats or war from outside gradually diminished. However, after the Japanese
invasion in 1592 and the Manchurian invasion in 1636, Korean kings were mindful of
military preparedness even in times of peace.
The Muyedobo T'ongji (Illustrated Survey of the Martial Arts) was compiled by order of King Chongjo (1776-1800). In 1789 the king ordered the survey of esoteric books of olden times and to experiment with the findings through actual performance and demonstration by officers and soldiers so as to rectify any ensuing discrepancies.
When the book was finalized it contained 24 skills, such as: crescent sword, paired sword, spearheaded cudgel, fist-fighting techniques, japanese sword, long spear, equestrian skills etc.
The bibliography of Muyedobo T'ongji lists a total of 145 titles of books from Korea, China and Japan. The list includes about 15 titles of military manuals, scripts, histories, bibliographies, various writings, dictionaries, medical books, agricultural books and novels."
Kim Wee-hyun: Muyedobo T'ongji: Illustrated Survey of the Martial Arts, in: Korea Journal Vol.26, no.8, August 1986. p.42-54.
Samguk Sagi (ha), translated into Korean by Yi, Pyong-do, Samguk Sagi: Wonmun-P'ton, Kug'ok-p'yon, Seoul: Uryu Munhwasa, 1980, p.271.
The two Hwarang Kisillang and Ch'wisórang are mentioned together in a short but very difficult passage in the Samguk Sagi.
The honorific title of Kalmun Wang is mentioned in the text. This title were in use until King Muyól (654-661) so it is clear that the story takes place before then. The title of Kalmun Wang was bestoved upon younger brothers of the king in recognition of their specially privileged position. (Lee, Ki-baik: A new History of Korea, Harvard University Press. London, England 1984).
Peter H. Lee: Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, vol 1, p.101-102.
The famous scholar Ch'oe Ch'i-won (857-?) wrote the preface to the Nallang Pi (Inscription on the tomb of Knight Nan) about
"A wonderful and mysterious way in the country, called P'ungnyu (...)".
Since Ch'oe Ch'i-won was born in 857 AD, it's safe to assume that Knight Nan lived during the last part of the Silla preiod, but nothing else is known about the Knight.
I recently found a list of names of Hwarang knights in a Korean dictionary. So far I haven't been able to find two of the names (Kwanp'um and Poch'ón), so unfortunately I cannot tell their stories yet.
All Hwarang names and drawings in this section are from Hwarang munhwa-úi sin yóngu, Mundóksa, Sóul, 1996, p.560 and Werner Sasse: "Prehistoric Rock Art in Korea: Pan'gudae", Korea Journal vol.36, no.2, Summer 1996. Own text and photos. Mr. Byun Kwang-hyon has more information and pictures at his very interesting homepage.
In the southern part of the Korean peninsula between Kyongju and Ulsan, about 20 minutes by bus or taxi from the small town of Ónyang, are several prehistoric "rock art panels". In the area known as Ch'ónchón-ri, a 9.5 x 2.7 meter large rock is lying at the edge of the T'aehwa river. A few hundred meters away are a set of dinosaur footprints and about 1 km downstream is the Pan'gudae rock. A large panel with about 200 Neolithic to early Bronze Age rock carvings.
But to the Hwarang research, the Ch'ónchón rock is far more interesting. In addition to Neolithic or early Bronze Age carvings, scenes with human beings and ships, and most importantly, names and short inscriptions in Chinese characters are carved in thin lines in the rock.
Click to see an enlargement of the left side of the rock,
Use your "Back" button to return to this page.
Click to see an enlargement of the right side of the rock, Use your "Back" button to return to this page.
Among the inscriptions on the rock, over the years at least 25 Hwarang have written
their names. A few of them (Sullang and Yóngnang) may be the same persons as mentioned earlier but it is impossible to tell if it really
are the same persons.
The following Hwarang names have been discovered so far. You can follow the links to see a photo of the inscription.
Ch'ungyangrang, Mun "X" rang, Kwanlang, San-rang/Sónlang, Sullang, Sóngmirang, Ch'illúngrang, Sóngim-nang, Kim "X" rang, Ch'ónrang, Chebong-rang, Cherang, Popminnang, Ch'illang, Morang, Sanglang, Chóngkwanlang, Adorang, Imwónlang, Aho-hwarang, Kumlang, Ósarang, Anrang, "X" Rang, Yónglang
As we have seen, the Hwarang did not always use the "rang" character (Kim
Yusin, Paegun, Myónggi and many others) so many more names of the rock could be either
Hwarang or Rangdo - (members of the Hwarang groups).
One could also speculate if some of the drawings on the rock are of Hwarang processions.
A precise dating the Hwarang inscriptions might not be possible, however it should be possible to date the human drawings somewhat by looking at the clothes..
Apart from the historical sources, the Ch'ónchón rock is the only concrete evidence that the Hwarang orgainzation ever existed to have survived. The history book Koryó-sa Chóllyo tells us that "all remains of the Hwarang was destroyed" but obviously the Ch'ónchón-ri inscriptions survived. Possible because the rock is relatively far away from Kyongju.
Werner Sasse demonstrates in "Prehistoric Rock Art in Korea: Pan'gudae", Korea Journal vol.36, no.2, Summer 1996 that the distribution of drawings on the rock can be divided into separate groups which are distributed over the surface of the rock.
1. Neolithic and/or Bronze Age
a) Thick lines forming geometrical patterns. These are distributed fairly even over the whole of the panel.
b) Animals in silhouette style, mainly concentrated at the left of the panel.
2. Early Silla and/or Silla Dynasty
a) Animals, scenes with human beings and ships in thin sketchy lines
b) Names and short inscriptions in Chinese characters, also in thin sketchy lines.
Both 2a and 2b are confined to the lower half of the panel. They are both later than 1a and 1b but not necessarily from the same period. Some drawings have been erased by inscriptions.
Finally, the largest incription on the rock (several
hundred characters) is about four Hwarang who traveled to beautiful places in Silla. The
text is written in Chinese characters but in classical Korean language so I have not been
able to translate the text. Any assistance is more than welcome!
One interesting aspect of the inscription is that it is dated AD 525, during the rein of King Póphúng. The sources tells us the Wonhwa was first presented at court in AD 576, during the rein of King Chinhúng. It's possible to read the date as AD 639 - or one could speculate that the Hwarang organization is much older that previously thought.
Next update of this page will hopefully include a translation of this large Hwarang inscription.
Won-hyo (617-686 A.D.) was a Hwarang and trained with the elite young men of the kingdom.
Introduction to Korean Studies, p.468.
Kim Yusin's son Wónsul was a Hwarang. He was Adjutant General in a battle and wanted to die fighting but was held back.
Introduction to Korean Studies p.429.
Kim Yusin spoke to General Bi Yeng Ja: "Our situation is critical, who other than you could raise the spirit of the troops?"
Tongnyang-P'aljin, an incarnation of Kwanúm, organized a Hwarang order of one thousand men and divided them into two groups, one for physical labor and one for mental culture.
Samguk Yusa by Tae-hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz, p.343.
Samguk Sagi. Translation: Tae-hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz, Samguk Yusa, Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, Yonsei University Press, Seoul, 1972. p.69-71.
Some scholars speculate that it was an old tradition that the Hwarang could control the spirits. In Samguk Yusa there is the following story about Pihyóng-nang.
"The 25th ruler of Silla was Chinji (576-579). During his short reign he was hated by the people for his misgovernment and sexual indulgence. For these reasons he finally lost his crown.
While he was on the throne there lived a country woman who was so beautiful that people called her To-hwarang or To-hwanyó, meaning Peach Girl. The King heard of her extraordinary beauty and had her brought into his inner palace.
"Tohwarang," he said, "you are my peach. I love you and I must enjoy you tonight." And he attempted to take her in his arms.
"Let me go!" she cried, "I am a married woman and I cannot accept your love. My body belongs to my husband and him only. Even a king or an emperor shall not take away my woman's treasure."
"What a bold wench!" the King said angrily. "Don't you know I am the absolute monarch and everything in my kingdom belongs to me? I can take any pretty woman I want for my concubine. If you do not obey my command, I will kill you. Do you dare to say no even now?"
But Tohwarang was resolute. "I would rather die than be your mistress."
The King laughed. "If your husband were to die, would you come to me?"
She was crying now. "Yes, then it would be possible."
The King sighed and said: "Go home in peace, but do not forget me, for I will keep your beauty in my heart forever."
Tohwarang sobbed: "May you live ten thousand years, O King!" and left the palace.
In the same year, the king was deposed from the throne and died soon afterwards, three years later Tohwarang's husband died too. Ten days later the king appeared to her at midnight, looking just as he had in life. "You gave me a promise long ago," he said, "and now your husband is no more. Will you come to me and be my lover?"
"Yes, but I must ask my parents what I should do."
Tohwarang's parents told her that the command of a king must be obeyed. So she arrayed herself as a bride and entered her bed-chamber to meet her royal lover. She did not emerge for seven days and nights, during which time the scent of incense emanated from the room and five-colored clouds hovered constantly over the roof of the house. Then she emerged alone, her royal lover having vanished, and eventually it was found that she was pregnant.
When the hour of her confinement drew near heaven and earth shook with thunder. The child was a boy, whom she named Pihyongnang.
When King Chinp'yóng, Chinji's successor (579-632), heard this story, he had Tohwarang and her child brought to the palace to live, and when the boy was fifteen he was made a Hwarang.
At night the boy often wandered alone at night, far away from the palace. The king wondered and becoming curious, one night assigned fifty brave soldiers to keep watch over him. Early next morning the captain of the soldiers reported to the king as follows:
"Your Majesty, we say Pihyóng fly over the Moon Castle and land on the bank of Hwangch'ón Stream (west of Kyóngju). There he disported himself with a large crowd of spirits from heaven and goblins from earth until the ringing of the temple bell at dawn. Then he dismissed his ghostly crew and turned his flying footsteps toward the palace."
Pihyóng was immediately called before the throne.
The king enquired, "Is it true that you consort with ghosts and goblins?"
"Yes, sire, it is true."
"Then I command you to build a bridge across the stream north of the Sinwon-sa Temple."
"I obey, sire."
He gathered all his ghosts and goblins together and conveyed the royal order. Then he employed their labor and skill, and by morning a stone bridge across the stream had been completed. The King was pleased, and called it Kwi-gyo, the Bridge of Ghosts. Thinking to make further use of Pihyóng's supernatural acquaintances, he then asked: "Do you know any ghost who could return to life and assist the throne in administration?"
"Yes," Pihyóng replied, "Kildal is a fine statesman."
"Bring him to me."
The following morning Pihyóng presented Kildal before the throne. The King made him a courtier, and found him loyal and straight as a bamboo. He commanded Yim Chong, the grand vizier, to adopt Kildal as his son, since he had no son of his own. Yim Chong compiled, and later ordered Kildal to erect a pavilion south of Húngnyun-sa temple and to stand guard there day and night. The temple entrance became known as Kildal-moon (Kildal Gate). But one day Kildal changed himself into a fox and ran away. (Foxes are closely associated with ghosts and spirits in East Asian folklore, somewhat as cats are in the West). Pihyóng then sent the other ghosts and goblins to catch Kildal and kill him instantly. After this all the bad ghosts and goblins feared Pihyóng and came to him no more.
The people of Silla praised Pihyóng in a song which goes as follows:
Here stands the house of Pihyóng,
Strong son of the love-spirit of our great king.
All dancing devils, do not come but go away;
Fear the ghost-general and do not stay.
It became a custom to paste up this song on the gates of commoners' houses as a protection against evil spirits".
- Note that Pihyóng-nang was made a Hwarang before the king discovered that he could consort with ghosts and goblins.
"In the nation's customs, the young always learned how to read from Buddhist monks. And among the young, one who had good appearance was called the Immortal Lad (sóllang) and was held in reverence by both monks and laymen. Those assembled around him sometimes reached hundreds or thousands. These customs started from Silla times. When Min Yón (1269-1308) was ten, he went to a Buddhist temple to study. He was by nature intelligent, and when he read books, he immediately understood their meaning. His eyebrows were like those in a painting; his appearance was graceful. Those who saw him all adored him. When King Ch'ungnyól (1274-1308) heard of him, the king summoned the boy to court, making him Kuksón. When he passed the state examinations, he was appointed to the Eastern Palace of the crown prince."
Min Yón eventually rose to be a commissioner of the Security Council and the Grand Academician of the Chinhyón Hall in Koryó.
Lee, Peter H. (Ed.): Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, Vol 1, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993. p.431.
"Ho Chongdan was a man from Song China who emigrated to Koryó and destroyed the remains of the Hwarang while touring the country". (Koryó-sa Chóllyo 1, Songjong 12), Introduction to Korean Studies p.467
King Songjong ruled from 981-997, Later Koryó references are practically always to Kuksón, not Hwarang.
"Koryó-sa Chóllyo is a chronological history of Koryó compiled during the Yi Dynasty (1452). The historical records contained in the Koryó-sa Chóllyo are not so descriptive as those in the Koryó-sa, and yet the former covers events that the former fails to record. All in all, the Koryó-sa Chóllyo provides important basic historical material for the study of the history of Koryó, and supplements the Koryó-sa."
Kim, Tai-jin (ed.), A Bibliographical Guide to Traditional Korean Sources, Asiatic Research Center, Korea University, Seoul, 1976. p.113-118.
"The "Tongguk T'onggam" by Só Kójóng, completed in 1484. In this book, under the 37th year of King Chinhung of Silla, we find an abridged version of the passage already quoted from the Samguk Sagi. It contains most of the part before the quotation from Kim Taemun, with a few minor changes in the characters, but stops short before the mention of statesmen and generals.
However under the accession year of the same King Chinhung we find the note that "Silla chose handsome boys of good character and called them pungwólchu, seeking good men to join the groups, to encourage filial and fraternal piety, loyalty and sincerity." And under the 27th year a record of one Paegun becoming a Hwarang at the age of 14, otherwise known only from the "Samguk Sajóryo", compiled about the same time from materials dating from a generation earlier then the "Tongguk T'onggam".
Richard Rutt, The Flower Boys of Silla, (in: Transactions of the Korean Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol 38, October 1961) p.29.
"The Tongguk T'onggam was compiled in fifty-seven volumes by Só Kójóng (1420-1488) and his contemporary scholars by order of King Sóngjóng of the Yi Dynasty. The Tongguk T'onggam marks the first attempt at chronological coverage of Korean history. The Samguk Sagi and the Koryó-sa were arranged by category rather than chronologically and thus both suffer from the consequent complexity. Inasmuch as Tongguk T'onggam was chronologically recompiled from Samguk Sagi, Koryó-sa, Tongguk Saryak etc it is not an original source, and yet there are some indications that some of the material it contains was derived from historical works not available to us today.
As soon as the Tongguk T'onggam was put out, it reached the general reading public, and throughout the Yi Dynasty it was used by all scholars as the sole reference for their study and discussion of Korean history up to the Koryó period, until historians began direct studies of the older sources employing modern methods."
Kim, Tai-jin (ed.), A Bibliographical Guide to Traditional Korean Sources, Asiatic Research Center, Korea University, Seoul, 1976. p.156-160.
"The "Taedong Unbu Kunok" is an encyclopedic dictionary of Korean matters compiled by Kwón Munhae in 1588. It says again that Paegun became a Kuksón at the age of fourteen but in the reign of King Chinp'yóng (579-632).
Another reference is added, to Min Chongyu (1245-1324), the distinguished statesman of Koryó who as an infant prodigy of learning was taken into the court and favor of the King. He is therefore compared to the young Hwarang.
The same book contains articles on Wónhwa, Hwarang, and Kuksón. The first two consist of short quotations from the Samguk Sagi. The third notes that Kuksón is the same as Hwarang."
Richard Rutt, The Flower Boys of Silla, (in: Transactions of the Korean Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol 38, October 1961) p.29.
The Taedong Unbu Kunok is a rhyming dictionary, put out primarily to meet a poet's need to find rhyming words in composing poems.
It contains chiefly old records and sources related to the ancient history of Korea and excluded materials on poetry and rhyme unless they were related to history. The author made bibliographical references, divided into Chinese works and Korean works. Some of the books referred to in the Taedong Unbu Kunok were subsequently lost during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592.
Kim, Tai-jin (ed.), A Bibliographical Guide to Traditional Korean Sources, Asiatic Research Center, Korea University, Seoul, 1976. p.226-229.
The Hunmong Chahoe from 1527, a list of Chinese characters for teaching to children - and later books, wrote that the words Hwarang, Hwarangi and Hwaraengi at that time meant a male shaman or a shaman's husband, especially when he plays, sings or dances to accompany his wife. During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945) Hwarang still had this meaning in the southeastern Korea whereas totally different words were used in more northerly parts of Korea where the tradition of Silla was weakest or non-existent.
Richard Rutt, The Flower Boys of Silla, (in: Transactions of the Korean Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol 38, October 1961) p.8-9.
The reason is, of course, simply that the shaman (who were considered extremely low of the social ladder) "borrowed" the name of the Hwarang who still were famous in the old "Silla areas".
"The Hunmong Chahoe consists of four lines of four characters each, with a detailed note to each character. In the first two volumes, characters signify things are arranged by the categories of astronomy, geography, flowers, humane beings, palaces, government offices etc. In the last volume, characters with abstract meanings are arranged. It contains all in all 3.353 characters."
Kim, Tai-jin (ed.), A Bibliographical Guide to Traditional Korean Sources, Asiatic Research Center, Korea University, Seoul, 1976. p.189-192.
The Chibong Yusól, a collection of notes and stories first published in 1614, also clearly shows us the above conclusion in its entry under Hwarang:
"In the Silla period they choose good looking boys and made them put on make-up and a crowd of people gathered around them, watched them do their duty and called them Hwarang, "RangDo" (Knight Followers) and also "Kuksón" (National Immortal) like Yóngnang, Sullang and Namnang.
Hwarang is commonly used today by shaman, it has lost it's meaning!"
Chibong Yusól (18:242). Translation: Ai Li Chong, quoted from Ko ó Sachon, Tam, Kwan-u, Donga Ch'ulp'ansa, Seoul, p.492.
Yóngnang, Sullang and Namnang are names of three of the "Four Wisest of the Hwarang" (see story here).
"Chibong Yusól was compiled in the middle of the Yi Dynasty. The work is an encyclopedic collection of essays, and the first of its kind to appear in Korea.
Volume 18, in which to above quote appears, contains: "Miscellaneous Affairs": Included are remarks on families with the same surname, names and pen names, old customs and manners, strange tales, and punishment."
Kim, Tai-jin (ed.), A Bibliographical Guide to Traditional Korean Sources, Asiatic Research Center, Korea University, Seoul, 1976. p.309-315).
"The Haedong Yóksa of the later eighteen century, compiled by Han Ch'iyón quotes the same piece of the Samguk Sagi as does the Tongguk T'onggam, prefixing it with the quotation given in the Sagi as from Ling-hu Ch'eng, but here ascribed to the Ta-chung I-shih which was the book in which Ling-hu himself had quoted the sentence."
Richard Rutt, The Flower Boys of Silla, (in: Transactions of the Korean Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol 38, October 1961) p.30.
("Ling-hu Ch'eng of T'ang, moreover, in the Hsing-lo kuo-chi (Record of Silla), states that "The Hwarang were chosen from the handsome sons of the nobles and their faces were made up, and they were dressed up. They were called Hwarang, and were respected and served by their countrymen.")
"The Haedong Yóksa is a chronological compilation of the entire period from ancient ages through the Koryó period by Han Chi-yun (1765-?). The author quoted from a wide variety of Chinese and other foreign literature in an attempt to describe history from an objective point of view."
Kim, Tai-jin (ed.), A Bibliographical Guide to Traditional Korean Sources, Asiatic Research Center, Korea University, Seoul, 1976. p.433-437.
"During the Yi Dynasty its scholars fell into factional political struggles. Other kinds of Confucian teaching and anything other than Neo-Confucianism were considered heretical, preventing scholarly and ideological research and development. The rivalry between "The Meritorious Group" and "The Righteous Group" in the New Confucian school at the end of the Koryo Dynasty turned into a continuous, complex, and intense factional struggle in both political parties and academic circles as the various principles of Neo-Confucianism developed. The Meritorious Group suppressed The Righteous Group and assassinated its members and considered the political realities of the time important. The Righteous Group linked their tradition to the spirit of the Hwarang and the loyalty of the six martyred ministers. The literati refrained from participating in the affairs of the new Choson dynasty and educated the young in mountain villages."
Introduction to Korean Studies p.476-477 and p.475.
"The uprising of the monk Myóngch'óng is interpreted as the last rise of the old
Silla Hwarang-culture" (with a reference to Korean Studies Today 1970 p.237, any
assistance in locating this text would be greatly appreciated).
"Kim Pusik was leading the military commando against the monk Myóngch'óng who had positioned himself and his followers at Pyóngyang. The monk had taken up the mysterious teachings of the Silla monk Tosón (827-894) and had, through his connection with the Sharmanistic folk religion, many followers among the people, but for a while he was also influential at court.
Out of geomantic reasons he wanted the capital moved to P'yóngyang. He tried to persuade the king to take the title of "Emperor" to show Korea's independence from Sung and Chin China as well as from Japan. In addition he wanted alliance with Sung China against Chin China.
Mende, Erling V.: China und die Staaten auf der koreanischen Halbinsel bis zum 12.Jh. Sinologica Coloniensia Band 11. Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH, Wiesbaden. p.26 Own translation.
Yi Chi-baek of Koryo attempted to revive the Hwarang and Kings Yejong (1468-1469 or Koryo: 1105-1122) and Uijong (Koryo: 1146-1170 (?)) expressed interest in them and as late as the early Choson dynasty when they were talked about among the people.
Introduction to Korean Studies p.467
See the following section on the P'algwanghóe for the probable quotes for these statements.
The P'algwan Yonhóe festivals (Assembly of the Eight Prohibitions Seat) were founded by King Chinhúng in the 33rd year of his reign (AD 551) after the former Koguryó monk Heiryang advised him to observe this festival. "Initially they were held to console the spirits of the soldiers who died in war. In 636, when monk Chajang (fl.636-650) went to China, a spirit told him that foreign enemies could not harm Silla if he constructed the nine-story pagoda in Silla and additionally Chajang held the assembly and gave amnesty to the prisoners. According to these records, in Silla as in China the meaning of the assembly described in the Buddhist sutras had been changed, and the assembly was aimed at this and other worldly happiness.
The Koryó assembly was one of the most important national events and the founder of
Koryó and his successors personally participated in the assembly.
The P'algwanghóe, or assembly of the eight prohibitions, was supposedly a continuation of the Silla P'algwan Yonhoe. We know this because when the founder of Koryó first held the assembly, various amusements (chaphui) were performed, some of them from Silla customs."
A Collection of Theses on Korean Studies p.242-243.
In the Buddhist sutras, the meaning, function, and practice of assembly were to
cultivate one's own mind, to remove hindrance of one's past karma, and to keep the eight
prohibitions. However, through the assimilation with Korean elements, its original
meaning, function, and practices changed in Koryó.
Over time the initial meaning of the Koryó assembly also changed in later Koryó. Initially the assembly was a religious service to propitiate heavenly goods and spirits, to serve mountains, great rivers, and the dragon god, to pray for happiness and to offer food to Buddha and to please the gods. After the reign of King Uijong (1146-1170), the assembly was supposedly held for ancestor worship and the king's longevity.
A Collection of Theses on Korean Studies, p.245.
The name P'algwanghóe, stems either from the eight prohibitions or the eight games who
were the main events. In the Silla period the festival were held annually but during the
Koryó dynasty they were held especially at times of national crisis - for instance during
Khitan and Mongol invasions.
It is thought that the eight prohibitions were: 1. do to kill living beings and also do not teach others to kill them, 2. do to steal, 3. do not cultivate impure sexual conducts, 4. do not lie, 5. do not drink liquor, 6. do not transgress the commandment of eating at the proper time, 7. do not sit on a high luxurious bed, 8. do not attend singing, dancing and theatrical amusements, do not wear adorned ornaments, and do not apply fragrant perfume to your body.
A Collection of Theses on Korean Studies, p.240.
Several of these prohibitions reminds us about the story of King Kyóngmun (Kim Ungnyóm, one of the Hwarang who went on to become King). He became king after choosing the Kings oldest daughter and saying: "I was more interested in men than in scenic beauty. I saw three men of noble deeds. The first was a man who gave his seat to another for the sake of propriety, even though he was qualified to take the highest place; the second was a man who wore cotton garments out of frugality, even though he was rich; and the third was a man who would make no display of his dignity even though he was noble and powerful by birth."
Wang Kón (the founder of the Koryó dynasty) left at the end of his reign the
document "Ten Injunctions" to his descendants to assure the success and
continuation of the dynasty. Article 6 of this important document (which exerted a
powerful influence throughout the reminder of the Koryó period) says: "I deem the
two festivals of Yóndúng and P'angwan of great spiritual value and importance. The first
is to worship Buddha. The second is to worship the spirit of heaven, the spirits of the
five sacred and other major mountains and rivers, and the dragon god. At some future time,
villainous courtiers may propose the abandonment or modification of these festivals. No
change should be allowed."
The festival continued to be observed throughout the Koryó dynasty, only finally disappearing in 1391 with the advent of the Yi-dynasty and their strictly confucian policies.
Lee, Peter H. (Ed.): Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, Vol 1, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993. p.258 and 264.
The festival was conducted in an amphitheater in early winter with many people
including the sovereigns and servants participating in dedicating sacrifices to gods and
nature, and to enjoy drinks, refreshments, songs and dances together.
At this festival the dancing of a group called the Sóllang was a distinct feature. They were especially handsome young men who were selected to oversee the observance of "native traditions".
Richard Rutt, The Flower Boys of Silla, (in: Transactions of the Korean Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol 38, October 1961) p.54
Remember from the "creation" of the Hwarang organization in Samguk Sagi, Yusa and "Lives of Eminent Korean Monks": "In the thirty-seventh year (576) the Wonhwa was first chosen as Sóllang. At first the King and his officials were perplexed by the problem of ..."
And from later in the Koryó period: "In the nation's customs, the young always learned how to read from Buddhist monks. And among the young, one who had good appearance was called the Immortal Lad (Sóllang) and was held in reverence by both monks and laymen. Those assembled around him sometimes reached hundreds or thousands. These customs started from Silla times. When Min Yón (1269-1308) was ten, he went to a Buddhist temple to study..."
Lee, Peter H.: A Source Book of Korean Civilization p.431
A Koryó memorial to the throne by Yi Chibaek on territorial integrity during a period of Khitan attacks at the end of the tenth century says: "I propose that we bribe Hsiao Sun-ninh with gold, silver, and other treasures to discover his real intentions. And rather than rashly cutting off land and handing it over to appease an enemy, is it not better to renew practice of the Lantern Festival, the Assembly of Eight Prohibitions (P'angwan), and the Immortal Lad (Sóllang) to elicit spiritual protection, as was done under former kings? Is this not a better way to preserve the state and achieve peace than to resort to the strange practices of others? If we are to do this, we ought first to report to our deities. As to whether there be war or peace, Your Majesty alone should decide."
Lee, Peter H.: A Source Book of Korean Civilization p.430
The Koryó king Uijong wrote: "Uphold the way of the immortals. In Silla times, the way of the immortals was widely practiced so that the dragon and heavenly protectors of Buddhist law were pleased and the people were at peace. Therefore, from the time of the dynastic progenitor on, we have upheld these traditions. Recently, the Assembly of the Eight Prohibitions (P'angwan) in the two capitals has deteriorated from its former scale and quality, resulting in the gradual decline of the inherited traditions. From now on, in holding the Assembly of the Eight Prohibitions, first select from the civil and military services those of means and designate them Kuksón. By practicing old native traditions, keep the people and heaven both happy."
Lee, Peter H. (Ed.): Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, Vol 1, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993. p.430-431.
"In the assembly of the eight prohibitions, four children of noble families participated. It was known as the tradition of four Hwarang youths" (Koryo-sa 18:37a2-4).
A Collection of Theses on Korean Studies p.246.
"In the latter days of the Koryó dynasty the Sóllang who took part in the
P'algwanghoe were understood by the men of the time to be the direct descendants of the
In the Koryó dynasty, the name (Sóllang) was given to youths trained in Buddhist monasteries and under the reign of Ch'ungnyól (1275-1308) the title of Sóllang was in use for such lads at the palace. Also there was a revived military significance for the word at this period. But the references suggest that by this time there was an antiquarian element in ideas about the institution."
Richard Rutt, The Flower Boys of Silla, (in: Transactions of the Korean Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol 38, October 1961) p.54-55.
Sóllang is clearly just another name for Hwarang, maybe from sometime during the Koryó-dynasty, from where all the sources dates back. It is impossible though, to say clearly if it is the same organization or if the Koryo dynasty just used the reputation of the Hwarang to upheld the nations ancient traditions. Especially when read together with the story from Koryó-Sa Chollyó "Ho Chongdan was a man from Song China who emigrated to Koryó and destroyed the remains of the Hwarang while touring the country".
Also, when the Koryó king Uijong wrote: "Uphold the way of the immortals. In
Silla times, the way of the immortals was widely practiced (...) first select from the
civil and military services those of means and designate them Kuksón. By practicing old
native traditions, keep the people and heaven both happy."
"Select from the civil and military services those of means and designate them Kuksón" has probably nothing to do with the original Hwarang organization but was a way to "upheld the traditions and please the dragon and heavenly protectors of Buddhist law and keep the people at peace".
One of the problems with the intrepertation of the Hwarang organization are the many terms which the references uses. One reason is of course that we are talking about a period of more that 700 years where the main "purpose" of the Hwarang changed several times.
Here are some of the terms used in connection with the Hwarang
Hwarang - Flowering Knight or Flowering Youth
Wónhwa - Original flowers
Sóllang - Immortal Youth
Hwarang Do - "Followers of the Hwarang"/Flowering Youth Groups
RangDo - Followers of the Knights/Youths
Kuksón - National Immortal/National Heavenly Beeing
Maitreya - Buddha of the Future
Miruk sónhwa - Maitreya of the Immortal Flower
Yonghwa-Hyangdo - Band of the Dragon Flower Tree
The Hwaju - The royal officer who supervised the Hwarang
Miri - A Mediator is called Miri
P'alkwanghoe - Eight Part Festival
P'ungnyu and P'ungwólto, P'ungwól, Pungwólchu
"P'ungnyu and P'ungwólto are two phrases that are constantly used in connection with the Hwarang. Later texts refer to Hwarang sometimes simply as P'ungwólchu (P'ungwól is also a way of writing the same word pul and thus have the same meaning as P'ungnyu).
They are hard to translate and do not make good sence if taken according to the normal values of the Chinese characters used. In modern usage, Chinese and Korean, they have come to have a wanton and erotic connection, and also to mean "elegant" and "poetic". In contemporary Korean, P'ungnyugaek means a poet who delights in the beauties of nature and scenery. He is expected to delight also in the pleasures of the cup, after the example of the best poets of T'ang China. P'ungwólto, (today) means, litteraly, "the way of the wind and the moon", and suggests poetic romanticism."
Richard Rutt: The Flower Boys of Silla p.11-12.
So much for the modern use of the term but in order to understand the true meaning of the words, I think we have to go a few thousand years back in time and see how it was used in the time of the Hwarang:
"P'ungnyu (chinese: feng-liu) is a prize specimen in the cabinet of untranslatable
critical terms which enjoyed a vogue in medieval China. The term appears generally in the
preface or critical estimate of the ancient Chinese book "Hou Han Shu" (History
of the Tree Kingdoms, compiled by Ch'en Shou (233-297)) in the classical sense of
"moral influence", "customs and manners", or "vestiges of
From the Chinese Three Kingdoms period, it began to lose its political and moralistic connotations and became related to individual character. Under the Chin dynasty, it definitely became a fashionable term for that which demanded one's respect or attracted the attention
of one's contemporaries. Shorn of its original meaning, the term ultimately became associated with the famous Chinese gentlemen (ming-shih), emphasis falling this time on "freedom of spirit", "revolt against convention", or "free play of emotion"; hence it denoted an aesthetically praiseworthy, rather than a morally praiseworthy, quality. In the "Shih-shou hsin-yü" the term was used six times, always in the sense of "cultivated manners", "urbanity", "refinement", or "aestetic sensitivity". This quality was greatly admired by aristocratic famous gentlemen and even by the cultivated Buddhist monks who, like the Silla monks did with the Hwarang, kept company with the gentlemen.
P'ungwólchu and Pungwól are other ways of writing P'ungnyu and thus have the same meaning.
Peter H. Lee: The Lives of Eminent Korean Monks, the Haedong Kosun Chon, p.67-68.
So, "wind and moonlight music" is a much later invention and thus has nothing to do with Hwarang Do.
To further investigate the meaning, we can have a look at the charaters used in
writing Hwarang. Just like in the case of P'ungwólto it's important to see how the
characters were used during the Silla dynasty (and earlier) and not how its used today
since the old Chinese classics were of course the way the Silla people learned how to use
the chinese characters.
If one investigates the ancient texts one find that Rang/Lang have two meanings 1. a gentleman and 2. a term for court attendants. Both fits well to what we have found so far and again gives a better picture of their function than "boys".
During the Ch'in dynasty Lang was a generic term for court attendants, divided into 3 catagories: Inner Gentlemen (chung-lang), Outer Gentlemen (wai-lang), and Standby Gentlemen (san-lang). All were presumably officials awaiting appointment or reappointment; special functional differentiations are not clear for this period.
During the Han Dynasties Lang was again a generic term for court attendants from various sources including sons of eminent officials, men specially recommended by regional and local auyhorities, experienced officials awaiting reappointment, and from 124 B.C. graduates of the National University; all regular perticipants in court audiences and used as door guards, ushers, etc, but principally constituted a pool of qualified men available for appointments when vacancies occurred or special needs arose. Differentiated into 3 salary ranks: Inner Gentlemen = 600 bushels, Attendant Gentlemen = 400 bushels; and Gentlemen of the Interior = 300 bushels.
During the Yüan Dynasty Lang was used almost interchangeably with the title lang-chung, to designate regular official appointees in various agencies, in the developing Department of State Affairs, its subordinate Ministries, and their constituent Bureaus or Sections. Sometimes denoting Vice Minister of a Ministry, sometimes a Director of a Ministry Bureau or Section. By the Sui Dynasty these usages yielded to shih-lang (Vice Minister) and lang-chung (Director of a Bureau); but the term lang was perpetuated in the usage just described continuosly through Yüan times.
In the Sui and Ch'ing Dynasties lang was used extensively, with descriptive or laudatory prexifes, as prestige titles for civil officials, e.g., ch'eng-te lang (Gentleman for Fostering Virtue), ch'ao-feng lang (Gentleman for Court Service). In Sui, when one series of prestige titles was available for both civil and military personnel, lang corresponded to the upper degree of a rank-class, whereas wei corresponded to the lower degree of a rank-class; but from the T'ang Dynasty on, wei occurred in prestige titles for military officers and lang was used for civil officials.
Hucker, Charles O., A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1985, p.301.
It is also possible that the characters did not have the same value in old Korean as it had in Chinese. It may have been a way of writing some native Korean syllable but sofar no conclusive evidence has appeared. Later I hope to bring a link here for a longer discussion on the many terms used in connection with the Hwarang.
See for instance: Parker, E.H.: "On Race Struggles in Korea", (in:
Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan Vol 23, 1890) p.137-228 and Nelson, Sarah
Milledge: The Archaeology of Korea, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
It is often thought that the Hwarang organization grew out of indenious youth groups which are belived to have existed long time before the Wónhwa was created.
In the sections of the Chinese books Wei Ji and the Hou Han Shu pertaining to Korea, a custom which distantly echoes a feature of the American Indian Sundance is described: "The people were robust and brave, and the young men when exerting themselves to build a house, would take a rope and run it through the skin of the back, and trail a huge log by it, amid cheers for their sturdiness."
How early these youth organizations existed cannot be answered, but hence the claim that Hwarang Do is "more that 2000 years old".
Sanguk Yusa says about King Chinhúng, the twenty-fourth monarch of Silla:
"Endowed with grace, he respected the hwarang and made beautiful girls Wónhwa. His
purport was to select persons of character and teach them filial piety, brotherly love,
loyalty, and sincerity - the substance of governing the country."
Samguk Yusa. Translation: Peter H. Lee: Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, vol.I, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993. p.90-91.
He respected the Hwarang and made beautiful girls Wónhwa.
"Sadaham was fifteen years old when he became a Hwarang under King Chinhung,
when he did his followers (Rangdo) numbered more than a thousand, and he was personally
interested in all of them.
At that time, (AD 562), the King ordered Isabu to attack one of the northern kingdoms.
Samguk Yusa 4:39; 44:417-418.
And with the largest incription on the Ch'ónchón-ri Rock (several hundred characters) about four Hwarang who traveled to beautiful places in Silla (dated AD 525, during the rein of King Póphúng), one could speculate that the Hwarang organization is much older that previously thought.
I later hope to expand on this "chapter". As always, papers etc. on all aspects of the Hwarang organizations are very welcome.
I) The Wonhwa was taught:
So that they would become good wives and wise mothers. It would be a natural to think
that Hwarang followed the same basic idea, so that the purpose, for example, was to create
good citizens and wise ministers.
Further more, the Wonhwa had followers which they taught the same virtues, just like the Hwarang. The reason for creating Wonhwa was to find a way to "discover the talented and thus elevate them to positions of service."
II) What functions was a Hwarang supposed to fill? Here follows a list:
A) Lead others (Nang Do) in Hwarang groups.
B) Fight in first line in wars, to set an example for the regular army.
C) Enhance the fortunes of the kingdom
D) The three scholar occupations:
E) The six ways to serve the government
F) Be "able ministers and loyal subjects"
G) Be "good generals and brave soldiers"
H) Make sure that
III) But in what was a Hwarang trained? Here follows another list of things mentioned in the sources:
A) The five cardinal principles of human relations:
B) The six arts:
C) Social etiquette
D) Music and songs
E) Patriotic behaviour
F) Martial arts
G) Religion/Philosophy (P'ungnyu)
A Collection of Theses on Korean Studies, Korea Foundation, Seoul, 1995
An, Kye-hyón: Silla Buddhism and the Spirit of the Protection of the Fatherland, (in: Korea Journal, Vol 17 no.4, April 1977) p.27-29.
Aston, W.G.: Nihongi, Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697, Charles E. Tuttle company, Tokyo, 1972.
Ch'oe, T'ae-yóng: Legal Concepts in Traditional Society, (in: Introduction to Korean Studies. The National Academy of Sciences. Seoul.
Ch'oe, Yóng-ho: An Outline History of Korean Historiography, (in: Korean Studies, Vol 4 1980. University of Hawaii, Honolulu p.1-27.
Fairbank, Reischauer and Craig: East Asia, Tradition and Transformation, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 1978.
Ha, Tae-hung: Tales from the Three Kingdoms, Korean Cultural Series Vol X. Yonsei University Press. Seoul. Fourth Print: 1984.
Ha, Tae-hung: Folk Tales of Old Korea, Korean Cultural Series Vol VI. Yonsei University Press. Seoul. Sixth Print: 1974.
Hideo, Inoue: The Reception of Buddhism in Korea and its Impact on Indigenous Culture, (in: Introduction of Buddhism to Korea: new cultural patterns. Ed.by Lewis R. Lancaster and C. S. Yu) Asian Humanities Press, 1989. p.30-78.
Hucker, Charles O., A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1985.
Kim, Hyong-hyo: Confucian Thought in Korea, (in: Korea Journal September 1977) p.42-45.
Kim, Tai-jin, A Bibliographical Guide to Traditional Korean Sources, Asiatic Research Center, Korea University, Seoul, 1976.
Kim, Wee-hyun: Muyedobo T'ongji: Illustrated Survey of the Martial Arts, (in: Korea Journal, Vol 26, no. 8, August 1986) p.42-54.
Kim, Won-yong: Art and Archaeology of Ancient Korea, The Paekwang Publishing Co., Seoul, 1987. p.140.
Kyongju National Museum, Seoul, 1989.
Lancaster, Lewis: Maitreya in Korea, (in: Korea Journal, Vol 29, no. 11, November 1989) p.4-17.
Lee, Jin-soo: Yesterday's Korea Called Them "Flowers of Youth", (in: Koreana, Vol.4, No.3. 1990) p.7-16.
Lee, Ki-baik: A new History of Korea, Harvard University Press. London, 1984.
Lee, Ki-baik: Early Silla Buddhism and the Power of the Aristocracy. p. 161-185.
Lee, Peter H. (Ed.): Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, Vol 1, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993.
Lee, Peter H.: Studies in the Saenaennorae: Old Korean Poetry, Instituto Italiano Per Il Medio Ed Estremo Oriente. Roma 1959.
Lee, Peter H. (I, Hak-su): Korean Literature: Topics and Themes, The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1965.
Mende, Erling V.: China und die Staaten auf der koreanischen Halbinsel bis zum 12.Jh. Sinologica Coloniensia Band 11. Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH, Wiesbaden.
Nah, Hyun-sung: A Survey on Korea Athletics of the Pre-Modern Era, (in: Korea Journal, Vol 26, no. 8, August 1986) p.4-14.
Nelson, Sarah Milledge: The Archaeology of Korea, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Parker, E.H.: "On Race Struggles in Korea", (in: Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan Vol 23, 1890) p.137-228.
Reischauer, Edwin: Bibliography, (in: Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies Vol 2, 1937. First reprint 1967) p.45-47.
Rutt, Richard: The Flower Boys of Silla, (in: Transactions of the Korean Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol 38, October 1961) p.1-68.
Samguk Sagi by Kim Pusik, translated into korean by Yi, Pyong-do, Samguk Sagi: Wonmun-P'ton, Kug'ok-p'yon, Seoul: Uryu Munhwasa, 1980, 2 vols.
Samguk Yusa by Ilyón, Translated by Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz. Yonsei University Press. Seoul, 1972.
Sasse, Werner: "Prehistoric Rock Art in Korea: Pan'gudae", Korea Journal vol.36, no.2, Summer 1996.
The Lives of Eminent Korean Monks, the Haedong Kosun Chon, Translated with an introduction by Peter H. Lee, Harward University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts 1969.
Vos, Frits: Kim Yusin, Persönlichkeit und Mythos: Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Altkoreanischen Geschichte, Oriens Extremus 1 (1954) p.29-70 and 2 (1955) p.210-236.
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