Samguk yusa

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Samguk yusa (Korean pronunciation: [sʰam.ɡuk̚]) or Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms is a collection of legends, folktales and historical accounts relating to the Three Kingdoms of Korea (Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla), as well as to other periods and states before, during and after the Three Kingdoms period. It is the earliest extant record of the Dangun legend, which records the founding of Gojoseon as the first Korean nation. The Samguk yusa is National Treasure No. 306.[1]

Samguk yusa
Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms in museum.jpg
Korean name
Revised RomanizationSamguk yusa
McCune–ReischauerSamguk yusa

Authorship and datingEdit

The text was written in Classical Chinese, which was used by literate Koreans at the time of its composition. The earliest version of the text is believed to have been compiled in the 1280s, and the earliest extant publication of the text is from 1512 CE.[2]

20th-century Korean scholars such as Choe Nam-seon established the Buddhist monk Iryeon (1206–1289) as the main compiler of the text, on the basis that his name (and full official title) was indicated in the fifth fascicle. This view is widely accepted among modern scholars.[3] The compilation is believed to have been expanded by Iryeon's disciple Muguk (1250-1322) and several others prior to the definitive 1512 recension.[4]

Ha Chongnyong and Yi Kunjik produced a critical edition of Samguk yusa in 1997. According to Ha Chongnyong, Iryeon wrote only the fifth fascicle, since his name is mentioned only in that section of the text.[4]

The 1512 edition of the text mentions a dynastic chronology at the beginning, which has several discrepancies with the information that appears later in the text. According to Robert Buswell, Jr. and Donald S. Lopez, Jr., this chronology may have been a fourteenth-century addition to Iryeon's compilation.[5]

Historical reliabilityEdit

Many of the founding legends of the various kingdoms in Korean history are recorded in Samguk yusa. The text covers legends from many Korean kingdoms, including Gojoseon, Wiman Joseon, Buyeo, Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla, and Gaya.

Unlike the more factually-oriented Samguk sagi, the Samguk yusa focuses on various folktales, legends and biographies from early Korean history. Given its mythical narratives, Samguk yusa's reliability is questionable.[4]


  • Ilyeon (2006) Overlooked Historical Records of the Three Korean Kingdoms, translated by Kim Dal-Yong. Jimoondang: Seoul, Korea. ISBN 89-88095-94-4
  • Ilyon (1972; 2006) Samguk Yusa: Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, translated by Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz. Yonsei University Press: Seoul, Korea. ISBN 1-59654-348-5
  • 일연 (1996) 삼국유사. Somun munhwasa: Seoul. ISBN 89-7004-002-1.
  • 일연 (2002) 삼국유사. translated by Kim Won-jung. Eulyu munhwasa: Seoul. ISBN 89-324-6083-3.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "삼국유사". (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  2. ^ Daniel R. Woolf; Sarah Foot; Chase F. Robinson (25 October 2012). The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 2: 400-1400. Oxford University Press. pp. 136–. ISBN 978-0-19-923642-8.
  3. ^ Sarah Foot; Chase F. Robinson (25 October 2012). The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 2: 400-1400. OUP Oxford. pp. 125–126. ISBN 978-0-19-163693-6.
  4. ^ a b c John Duncan; Gi-Wook Shin (28 December 2006). The Journal of Korean Studies Vol 11, Number 1 (Fall 2006). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 165–185. ISBN 978-1-4422-3484-0.
  5. ^ Robert E. Buswell, Jr.; Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (24 November 2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. p. 754. ISBN 978-1-4008-4805-8.

External linksEdit