Later Three Kingdoms

The Later Three Kingdoms of Korea (892–936) consisted of Silla, Hubaekje ("Later Baekje") and Hugoguryeo ("Later Goguryeo", it was replaced by Goryeo). The latter two claimed heirs to the earlier Three Kingdoms of Korea, which had been united by Silla. This period arose out of national unrest during the reign of Queen Jinseong of Silla, and usually refers to the era between the founding of Hubaekje by Gyeon Hwon to the time Goryeo unified the peninsula.[1]

Later Three Kingdoms
History of Korea-Later three Kingdoms Period-915 CE.gif
Korean name
Revised RomanizationHusamguk Sidae
McCune–ReischauerHusamguk Sidae

In fact, this period corresponds to the end of the Silla Dynasty, and since Balhae was still in the north until 926, it is considered that Korea is still in the era of the North and South.

At the end of the year, the rule of Silla weakened, and local peers emerged as a national uprising caused by excessive taxation in the midst of the horse-bearing power in each region. The representative figures are Gyeon Hwon, Gungye and Yanggil, who set up the revival of Baekje and Gongye the revival of Goguryeo.

In the end, Silla was divided again and the so-called post-samguk era started. Later on, as the king of Goguryeo defeated Gungye, and Wang Geon emerged, the future three kingdoms' colonization of Korea was centered on Goryeo.


In the 9th and 10th century, Silla was shaken by problems arising from its reliance on the "bone rank system", a rigid class system under which only those from an aristocratic background could be appointed to high office. The system was being abused as a means for the ruling royal family to dominate politically and this caused much unrest in the latter days of Silla. The local gentry called hojok (hangul:호족, hanja: 豪族), i.e. prominent local clan, strengthened their power during this chaotic period by assembling armies of their own and independently centralizing their forces.[2] Dissention deepened within the nobility after the death of King Hyegong as contention over the royal succession intensified and power struggles were constant among the hojok. Not only was the political atmosphere in a shambles, the financial state of Silla was dire. Taxation was difficult without the nobles' cooperation. As a result, the tax burden fell heavily on the peasants and farmers, who consequently revolted in 889, the third year of Queen Jinseong's reign. Numerous revolts and uprisings occurred during the following 100 years, breaking Silla down.[1]

As Silla era enters to the end, the division of the aristocratic society deepened and a series of political reforms aimed at strengthening its regime failed. In the midst of such a fierce struggle, the central nobility's struggle for the throne took place, resulting in 20 political changes from 768 (the 4th year of King Hyegong's reign) to 887 (the 1st year of King Jinseong's reign).

Outside, conflicts between the ruling class and those of the military, such as those of those with complaints, have intensified, resulting in political chaos, which has gradually weakened control. Especially after the failure of King Heungdeok's political reforms, the central government's control over the provinces was further weakened by the fierce battle for the throne.[3]

In rural areas, the power of the nobility and provinces, separated from the central government, grew into a central power, with such a background as Buddhist temples, foreign trade, military forces, and local government. In addition, the social foundation of the goldongbong, which had been used to support the Silla society, was reduced, significantly weakening the status of the Jingol nobles. In addition, the great territory management of the Jingol nobles was expanded, and with the fall of the self-employed and the small farming class, famine led to the people wandering around and the people were agitated.[4]

As a result, the central government has failed to collect taxes from various local leaders, leading to the national finances being in need. Due to these factors, the Silla community was divided and no longer had the power to support the nation. Rebels began in various parts of the country as Silla's control over the peninsula collapsed and the decentralization phenomenon was widespread. Originally, local people have been inclined to look promising for a long time because of the heavy tax burden and the harsh enforcement of the tax. However, by the end of the century, they had to suffer from a burden from the year of the state as well as the contradictions of the receiving system, which became more acute due to the possession of large houses of nobles and decadent pleasures. The oppressed local people went from place to place or were protected by the nobles of the powerful, and their soldiers and slaves were disturbed. This condition finally exploded in 889 with the tax urging of Queen Jinseong, who laid the foundation for a nationwide civil war. This collapse in the ruling camp and the burden of taxation on the lower floors led Silla to the path of the self-moteness, which led to the formation of a third kingdom.[3]

Later BaekjeEdit


As Silla started to crumble, Gyeon Hwon, a former general of Silla, led rebel troops to seize the provincial capital of Mujinju (hangul:무진주, hanja:武珍州) in 892. He then conquered the Honam region and in 900, Gyeon Hwon declared himself king of Later Baekje, a country to revive Baekje's glory. He established his capital at Wansanju (hangul:완산주, hanja:完山州), and continued to expand the kingdom.[1][5]

It was founded by Gyeon Hwon in 892 and was established by King Taejo Wang Geon of Goryeo in 936, and was established by King Taejo of Goryeo for 2 to 45 years. Silla fell into confusion at the time of the reign of King Hadae due to the luxury of the nobles, corruption and the succession of the throne. Furthermore, the failure of Queen JinSeong and the continued famine have made life more difficult for the people. Nevertheless, as Silla's central government pressed for taxation, a nationwide rebellion broke out. In this atmosphere, Gyeon Hwon led the group to occupy Mujin-ju and declared to the people that he would solve the grudge of King Uija in 1989. After Gungye founded the kingdom, Goguryeo and Silla formed a third kingdom to compete for supremacy[6]

National leaderEdit

Gyeon hwon,[7] As he grew older, he had better body hair than any other soldiers, and went to Gyeongju to become a champion on the southwestern coast. At that time, the authority of the Silla king's chamber was reduced, and the region was occupied by the Hojo people, forming an anti-impercent force. In particular, when Queen Jinsin was crowned, political discipline was undermined by the tyranny of some of the gods who were favored by the king, and the famine caused the hopes of the people and the uprising of the early stage. The attack on the southwestern Juhyeon (interstate) of Gyeongju was met by many people. Finally, in 892 (the sixth year of King Jinsin's reign), he conquered Mujin-ju and ascended to the throne by himself. In 900 A.D., he went to Wansan-ju, where he established a capital and called it King Hubakje, and he appointed all government offices and government offices. The following year, they attacked the Daeyeon Fortress, but failed to capture it. In his anger over Wang Geon's invasion of Naju in 910 (the 14th year of King Hyeonseong's reign), he surrounded and attacked 3,000 men, but failed to win. After Wang Geon defeated Gungye and founded Goryeo, he dispatched Ilgil Chan to celebrate Wang Geon's accession to the throne. But in fact, Goryeo and Hubaekje were fighting for power at this time. It took the army to the site of Jinyeongseong in 922 (King Gyeongmyeong 4) with 10,000 people. In response, King Gyeongmyeong of Silla dispatched Kim Yool to Goryeo to ask for help. In 924 (Dear King 1), Gan Hwon sent his son Sumigang to attack the castle, but the soldiers of Seongjeong could not protect it.[8][9]

Development and expansionEdit

Gyeon Hwon rose against Silla. First, he established the reign of King Seokcheon and Dochan of Silla, and then gradually moved north to Junju. In particular, until former times, Gyeon Hwon had claimed to be merely a local official of Silla, but he established his own regime by officially naming the king of Baekje after the relocation of Jeonju. Although it is not clear whether the government or government offices were reorganized, it seems that the government has managed the Shilla administration as it was. This is in stark contrast to the fact that Taebong, which was founded by Gungye, had its own government and government

Gyeon Hwon focused on expanding the local paper after the relocation of Jeonju in 900 A.D. Gan Hwon's local paper boat was largely divided into three regions, with different aspects. First of all, the southwestern coastal area of the southwestern coast, which is the basis of the early power of Gan Hwon and the sea route of China, was initially disconnected from the control of the Gyeon Hwon regime and was related to Wang Geon of the Gungye regime. Thus, until the establishment of Goryeo in 918, he focused mainly on the pursuit of Naju and the southwestern tidal wave.[10]

Cultural heritageEdit

Gumsansa which is All the records before the Japanese Invasion of Korea were destroyed and private documents were created, citing the Samguk Yusa and the Three Kingdoms Magi, and the construction of Geumsansa Temple was made in 599 (King of Baekje, King 1) So far, Jinpo (王 表) has been reconstructed over four years from the year 762 (the 21st year of King Gyeongdeok of Silla) to the year 766 (the second year of King Hyegong of Silla)[11]

Gumsansa is the place where gyeon hwon was prisoned by his son,Sin gum[12]


Gyeon Hwon, who was expanding his territory with strong military strength, was suddenly kicked out by his son sin geum. An internal conflict broke out over the succession of the throne. As he worked with local peers to promote the marriage policy, Gyeon hwon had several wives. Soon after entering Mujinju, she married the daughter of a group of people from Mujin-ju, and later received the daughter of the Ho-jong in the state of Wansan, which was designated as the capital. Naturally, there were many princes. As a result, there was a dispute over the throne after Gyeon Hwon. Gyeon Hwon had favored his fourth son, Geumgang, and tried to make him his successor, but the three brothers on the Geumgang River were unhappy. In particular, Shin, the oldest son, was the most dissatisfied. The three brothers, Shin, Yang, Yong-gae and the fourth Geumgang, had different mothers. Finally, a new sword broke loose. Sinbeon dethroned his father Gaon Hwon and locked him in Geumsansa Temple. And they killed the Augang River. The second king of Hobaekje was named after the king.[13]

Gyeon Hwon was imprisoned in Geumsansa Temple for three months. Meanwhile, he sneaked out and surrendered to Goryeo. When Wang Geon, who had been an enemy until recently, asked for help, he happily accepted Gaon Hwon, called him Father, and treated him with great devotion. In Goryeo, more than 100,000 soldiers are organized to attack Baekbaeje. When Gyeon Hwon helped Wang Geon to attack the country he had set up, Hubakje's new sword was confronted by his father. The Hubaekje and the Goryeo army fought back, but the HubaijI were defeated by the powerful Goryeo army and retreated. The troops of Goryeo advanced to the level of sulfuric acid (Nonsan), and the new sword surrendered. Finally, the Hubaekje was destroyed (936), which ended the era of the Three Kingdoms.[13]

Battle of IllicheonEdit

In 936 (Taejo 19), there was a large-scale battle between Goryeo and Hubakje in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province. Back then, the situation of Hobaekje was under the rule of shingum.while his father Gyeon hwon surrenderd to Taejo. In June 936, Gyeon Hwon asked Taejo to attack Hubakje, his own country which was ruled by his son, who exiled him. and King Taejo first sent him to King Mu and General Park Soul-hee. The Cheonan was the base where the late Baekhwa Army crossed Chupungnyeong and entered the area of Gungcheon and Chilgok via Gimcheon and Seonsan.[14]

In September, Taejo himself led the 3rd Army and joined the army to advance to Ilseon County 02. At this time, two armies camped with Ilicheon between them. The Korean Army had the largest number of fighting troops among the three kingdoms, with a total of 87,500 including 40,000 horses, 23,000 infantry, 9,800 cavalry, and 14,700 soldiers from various provinces. Taejo forced Gong Jin to hit the center of Hu Baek-je right after his victory, and the third division advanced to attack him, and the latter lost the post. The Hubaekjae forces were devastated by internal strife as the leadership collapsed. 3,200 people were captured and 5,700 killed, including General Swang and Gendal.[14]

Battle of Ilicheon was a fierce battle that led to the last fate of Goryeo and Hubaekje. In this battle, Hobaekje was defeated and destroyed, leading Wang Geon to unify his kingdom.[14]

Later Goguryeo (HuGoguryeo)Edit


It was founded in 901 by Gungye and remained for 18 years until it was destroyed by Wang Geon in 918. During the reign of King Jinsung, Silla's national power declined rapidly and its control was weakened. When the finances were weakened, taxes were pressed, leading to a rebellion.[15] At this time, Gungye set up a new kingdom of later Goguryeo in the name of Goguryeo's revival, and later changed the name to Taebong. Taebong was later destroyed by Wang Geon and subsequently established as Goryeo.[15][16] In modern times, Taebong is sometimes referred to as the Later Goguryeo

National leaderEdit

Gung Ye was a Buddhist monk who joined the political uprisings and became a prominent general of rebel troops. He is believed to come from a royal or noble background.[17] Some historians theorize that he was descended from Go Anseung, a member of the Goguryeo royal family, who was given the "Kim" royal surname of Silla.[18] Gung Ye conquered many territories including Myeongju (Korean명주; Hanja溟州), and with the support of many regional leaders, including general Wang Geon, founded Later Goguryeo in the northern regions in 901. The northern regions, including Songak (modern Kaesong), were the strongholds of Goguryeo refugees,[19][20] and Wang Geon's hometown of Songak was established as the capital.[21] In 904, the name of the kingdom was changed to Majin; in 905, the capital was moved to Cheorwon; and in 911, the name was changed to Taebong.[1][22]

Development and expansionEdit

In the late eighth century, the power struggle between the central nobility grew fierce as national discipline became slack in Silla. As control over the provinces weakened, the countryside grew into a powerful group with military power, economic power, and new ideas. The nobles, who had secured economic and military power, fought for the throne. Local forces continued to grow in this confusion.[23] And some nobles who felt problems with the hierarchy began to join forces with local forces. Gungye was one of the local forces that grew up in the late Silla Dynasty.[15]

Silla's power was weakened by these local forces as it entered the 10th century, resulting in new countries appearing. Gungye became a subordinate of Yanggil in 892 and gained his trust and attacked various parts of Gangwon Province. For many years, he increased his power and occupied the Imjin River area, and laid his own foundation. In 898, he entered Songak County and founded the foundation of self-reliance.[22]

Around this time, Wang Geon came under Gongye's command. He was given the official title of Cheorwon Taesu, took his land against Yanggil of Bukhwon, and named himself a king in 901 years, calling the name " Goryeo. " It moved its capital to Cheorwon in 905 and changed its national name to Taebong in 911. With Cheorwon at the center, Gungye occupied most of the Gangwon, Gyeonggi and Yellow Sea and parts of the Chungcheong provinces, creating a greater power than the Hubaekje and Silla. Taebong continued to invade the northern part of Silla. At the same time, it took Naju by forcing Wang Geon to lead the army and invade Hubaekje from the West Sea.[24][25]

Cultural heritageEdit

Gungye was originally a Buddhist monk, and even after taking power, he lived in Buddhist style. Seokdeungnong (석등롱, 石燈籠, Stone lantern) that he left behind or the event that hosted the Palgwanhoe (팔관회, 八關會) also affected Goryeo. As most of the area is currently located near the DMZ in Cheorwon County, it is difficult to investigate due to the special situation of division.[26][27]

Wang Geon's coupEdit

The influence of the nobles was reduced by Gongye's checks and popular policy. In 918, four of Gongye's aides discussed and appointed Wang Geon as the king and launched a coup. While fleeing to Gangneung, he met Wang Geon-geon's attack army and lost and killed himself. Goryeosa says he was beaten to death. Legend has it that he lost the battle and killed himself. In other places, Gungye reportedly tried to strengthen the royal authority against the nobles, but was expelled for failure.[17]


In 672, Silla unified the three kingdoms by winning the war against the Tang Dynasty. It became the first country to unify its territory on the Korean Peninsula. After accepting the people of Goguryeo and Baekje and winning the war against the Tang Dynasty, they achieved true unification of the three kingdoms. Later, he worked hard to bring Baekje and Goguryeo's people into Silla by organizing internal policies, and during the mid- Silla Dynasty, he gained a powerful national power. However, as he entered the latter phase of the Silla Dynasty, his national power began to weaken due to many social chaos.[28]

Among the Buddhist sects, Zen Buddhism and theory of divination based on topography are popular.Edit

In the early days of Silla, among the Buddhist sects, the trend changed from 'Non-Zen Buddhism' to 'Zen'. Zen claimed a Buddhist revelation. And "Zen" focused on building character, leaving a complicated doctrine. It was on the opposite side of non-Zen Buddhism. When Seondeok was queen, Zen first came to Silla. I didn't get much understanding at first. However, it started to spread gradually from the time of King 'Heondeok. It can be said that Zen provided the local people with an ideological basis for independence. Eventually, it led to the collapse of Silla.[29]

And theory of divination based on topography is very popular. This was the mixture of knowledge of human geography and the theory of prophetic reference. The main contributor to this was the Buddhist monk, " Doseon, " who was active in the late 9th century. He argued that the terrain and geometry were closely related to the pathogenesis of the state or individual. Therefore, he argued that a site should be chosen to build a base or a house and a tomb. Then he argued that the country or individuals could enjoy happiness.[30] The capital of Gyeongju, which is already unified in Silla, has to be thrown away and moved to another place. The other place is Songak, which is located in Wanggan. These new ideas were very important to the powerful family preparing for a new era.[31]

Silla's bone-rank systemEdit

Silla's bone-rank system caused the following structural problems. The first is the problem of the operation of closed identity systems. In an atmosphere where anyone from the " Jingol " aristocracy could ascend the throne by talent, the bone-rank system could no longer maintain its realistic management ability. Second, the Silla ruling system based on the bone-rank system can be regarded as the central system of part 6. However, with the growth of the local community, the management of a system centered on Gyeongju was reaching the limit. Third, it is a variation of the family. A family of relatives is the basic unit of the Silla society. Silla's bone-rank status system, political and economic domination were also operated by family groups. However, by the time of the Silla Dynasty, the size and nature of the family were divided into smaller units. This means that it is no longer possible for a family of relatives to function as a basic unit of social organization. Fourth is the collapse of the Silla economic system. In the end, the confusion in the Silla kingdom revealed the structural contradictions of the bone-rank system and the limitations of its operating principles.[32]

Social and economic lifeEdit

The Silla society was based on the "bone-rank" system. Silla society was an aristocratic society that fixed political and social status. After the unification of three nations, Nobles with economic wealth and nobles with many slaves, livestock, and soldiers also appeared. After the unification, as the population increased and the living improved, the reclamation project was extensively promoted. Especially, at the time of the King of the Sinmun, the factory department was established and the handicrafts developed. A handiwork, lacquerware inlaid with mother-of pearl, bamboo ware were produced. They were exported to Japan and the Tang Dynasty. Therefore, construction trade was developed. Most of the exports to Tang are gold, silver, and ginseng. On the other hand, imports were various silk, clothes, stationery, books. Such economic development was noble.[28]

These statistics are surveyed for accurate tax collection from farmers and convenience of mobilization of work. At that time, the nobles made their lives at the expense of low status. Therefore, the political and social disruption of the end of Silla became more intense. The fundamental causes of the collapse of Silla society are as follows.[28]

This is because it has not solved the contradiction that fixed the status of social status. However, social stability was not possible because the rulers tried to correct social discipline by discriminating social order through power and identity discrimination. On the contrary, it brought the sociopath together. As a result, the Silla community, which lost its center, could not overcome the political crisis.[33]

Decline of SillaEdit

From the viewpoint of the power structure, the aristocratic nobles join forces with the royal family. And each of them has its own private military forces, so it can be said that it is the age of aristocratic coalition or division. However, if expand it nationwide, it can be grasped as the time when the local barbarian forces were rising. Kim yang sang, an advocate of this era, became the king of Seondeok after the death of King Hye - kyung. However, he failed to resolve the political and social contradictions of the revolutionary and died within five years of his reign. Kim Kyung-shin, who won the throne competition, was crowned. He became the King of Wonsong. He initiated political reform in 788. However, the reorganization of the power structure centered on the immediate family of the royal family caused dissatisfaction with the nobility.[33]

After that, the king 's uncle Kim un-seong was regent. And through the revision of the ordinance and the establishment of the system of ordination, he tried to strengthen the power structure that had begun to form in the future. In addition, Kim un-seong murdered the king, and such efforts were further promoted. As a result, dissatisfaction with aristocratic nobles alienated from the royal centered political system grew. So in 822, Kim Hun-chang led a revolt in the Unchon state. This rebellion was suppressed within a short period of time. However, it is important to note that the local tribal tendency of the 'powerful local family' was greatly promoted.[34]

Later, in the period of King Heungdeok, reform politics regulating the social life of the Noble was carried out. There are many questions about its effectiveness. Moreover, after his death, a war of succession took place among the nearest royal families. Thus, two kings were sacrificed over three years. During this period, the local powerful family forces gradually grew. And they have the capacity to overwhelm the royal family in the future. The maritime powers like Jang Bogo were remarkable. 'Cheonhaejin' was established by Jang Bogo, who returned from the Tang Dynasty in 828. He cleared the pirate with a thousand troops, so he took over the sea. He also supervised the trade between Silla, Tang and Japan. So he reigned as the king of the sea. He entered the central political arena based on maritime forces. He exercised his mighty power and gave his daughter to King Mun sung. On the other hand, he failed to solidify his political base and caused rebellion, but he was assassinated.[33]

After that, in the time of King Kyungmun and Hunghang, efforts to regain the kingdom were constantly tried. However, it is too late to make up for the big picture. And when Queen Jinseong succeeded King Jung-kang, the situation became desperate. So the national finance faced a breakdown. In 889, the adjustment prompted taxation to the provincial governor to overcome the financial crisis, causing farmers' insurrection. In the end, the government failed to resolve the issue. This led to a long period of civil war.[3]

Destruction of SillaEdit

King Sindeok, King Gyeongmyeong, and King Myung-eup reigned for 15 years (912 to 927) in their third generations. During this time, Silla was unable to control local forces. During this confusing period, Gyeon Hwon's Hubaekje and Gungye's Later Goguryeo appeared. After killing Gungye, Wang Geon founded Goryeo.[35]

King Taejo of Goryeo, who had defeated Gongye of Goguryeo, presented an aggressive friendship policy toward Silla. His friendly policies toward Silla were useful in conversing the Silla people. In fact, King Taejo dispatched Goryeo troops to the Silla kingdom to help Silla and fight back with Later Baekje (HuBaekje) army when Hubaekje attacked Silla. As a result, King Gyeongsun's voluntary surrender was easily accepted to conquer Silla.[36]

Unification of the Later Three KingdomsEdit

Although Later Baekje started out as the front-runner in national strength thanks to its fertile plains and diplomatic ties with China, Later Goguryeo soon became the largest force in the new three kingdom era as it quickly expanded its territory to almost three quarters of the peninsula under Gung Ye and the general Wang Geon. As time passed, however, Gung Ye started to call himself the Maitreya Buddha and resort to despotism, causing him to be overthrown by Wang Geon in 918.[1][37] Wang Geon established a new dynasty called Goryeo and moved the capital to Song-ak (hangul:송악, hanja:松嶽) the following year, creating the new troika of Goryeo, Baekje and Silla.[38]

The three kingdoms were in a constant power struggle, although by this time Silla had weakened to a despondent state and did not pose much of a threat to the other two nations. Later Baekje led with an offensive approach but Wang Geon of Goryeo placed more importance on diplomatic ties, which endeared his kingdom to Silla.[1] The conflict between Later Baekje and Goryeo was constant near Silla territory, as both countries wanted to wield their power over the region. Later Baekje led by attacking Gyeongju, the capital of Silla, in 927 and crushing the Goryeo army.[39] Goryeo retaliated by winning the battle of Gochang in 930 and reclaiming the territory of Ungjin in 934.[1]

In 935, King Gyeongsun of a very weakened Silla surrendered to Goryeo. During this time, inner power struggles within Hubaekje weaken a country already fatigued from warfare. Gyeon Hwon named his youngest son Geumgang as heir, but his other sons (by a previous wife) joined forces and rebelled, placing Gyeon Hwon's eldest son Singeom on the throne and confining Gyeon Hwon to Geumsan Temple. Gyeon Hwon later escaped to Goryeo and joined forces with Wang Geon's army to attack the very country he founded. Later Baekje fell to Goryeo in 936 and the peninsula was reunified.[39]

See alsoEdit


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  • The Academy of Korean Studies, Korea through the Ages Vol. 1, The Editor Publishing Co., Seoul, 2005. ISBN 89-7105-544-8