Gim Al-ji (김알지, 金閼智; 65–?) was a historical figure in Korean history. His descendants formed the Gim royal clan of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

Gim Al-ji
Revised RomanizationGim Alji
McCune–ReischauerKim Alji

His legendary birth is said to have occurred during the reign of Silla's fourth ruler, King Talhae of Silla. Though Gim Al-ji did not rule as King of Silla, his descendants did. Today, 1.7 million South Koreans are in the Gyeongju Gim clan, who trace their genealogy to Gim Al-ji.

Birth legendEdit

Painting depicting the discovery of Gim Al-ji

The Samguk Yusa and Samguk Sagi both contain nearly the same story about Gim Al-ji's birth.

In the year 65 (9th year of Talhae's reign), King Talhae heard a rooster crowing in Sirim, west of Geumseong (Gyeongju, the Silla capital at the time). He sent his minister, Hogong, who was from Japan, to investigate, whereupon Hogong found a golden box hanging on a branch.[1] Light was emanating from the box, and a white rooster was crowing under it.

Hearing this report, the king ordered the box brought to him. When the king opened the box, there was an infant inside. The king was very pleased and adopted him. Because he was born from a golden box and was very clever, the king named him "Gim (金, meaning gold) Al-ji (meaning 'gold' in native Korean, with the hanja 閼智 supposed to be read phonetically)". The forest where the box was found was named Gyerim (rooster forest), which also was used as the name of Silla.[2]

This legend is similar to the birth legend of the founder of Silla, Bak Hyeokgeose of Silla (who is said to have called himself Al-ji Geoseogan).[citation needed]

Modern interpreters have suggested that the Gim Al-ji may have been the chief of a "gold" (al) clan of northern Korea/Manchuria.[citation needed]


The circumstances and time of his death are currently unknown and cannot be precisely located within any records, but it is known that his descendants continued to serve as powerful officials within the Silla court until the time came when they took power.

Royal Gim clanEdit

Gim's son was Sehan (세한(勢漢)), and subsequent generations are recorded as: Ado (아도(阿都)) - Suryu (수류(首留)) - Ukbo (욱보(郁甫)) - Gudo (구도(俱道)). Gudo's son (Gim Al-ji's seventh generation descendant) was the first Silla king of the Gim line, Michu of Silla.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 三國史記 卷第一 新羅本紀第一 始祖赫居世, 瓠公者 未詳其族姓 本倭人
  2. ^ 三國史記 1-1 脫解 尼師今 : 九年 春三月 王夜聞 金城西始林樹間 有鷄鳴聲 遲明遣瓠公視之 有金色小櫝 掛樹枝 白雞鳴於其下 瓠公還告 王使人取櫝開之 有小男兒在其中 姿容奇偉 上喜謂左右曰 此豈非天遺我以令胤乎 乃收養之 及長聰明多智略 乃名閼智 以其出於金櫝 姓金氏 改始林名雞林 因以爲國號 In the spring of nine years, in March, the king heard a chicken crow in the forest of Sirim(始林) west of capital at night. sent Hogong to take a look, and a small golden chestnut was hanging on a branch, and a white chicken was crying underneath it. brought a box and opened it, and there was a small boy in it, and his figure and appearance were strange and big. The king was delighted and said "Heaven has given me a precious son" and raised. As he grew up, he was intelligent and resourceful. The family name was Kim(金) because it came from cashbox (金櫃), and the name was changed to Gyerim (鷄林) and it was named after changing the name of Sirim (始林).