Taejo of Goryeo (31 January 877[citation needed] – 4 July 943), personal name Wang Kŏn (Korean왕건; Hanja王建), also known as Taejo Wang Kŏn (Korean태조 왕건; Hanja太祖 王建; lit.'Great Progenitor Wang Kŏn'), was the founder of the Korean Goryeo dynasty. Taejo ruled from 918 to 943, achieving unification of the Later Three Kingdoms in 936.[1]

Taejo of Goryeo
고려 태조
高麗 太祖
King of Goryeo
Reign25 July 918–4 July 943
Pojeong Hall, Cheorwon Gate, Taebong
PredecessorDynasty established
SuccessorHyejong of Goryeo
BornWang Kŏn
31 January 877
Yonggeon's manor, Songak County, Hansan-ju, Kingdom of Silla
Died4 July 943 (0943-07-05) (aged 66)
Sindeok Hall, Gaegyeong, Kingdom of Goryeo
Queen ConsortQueen Sinhye
Queen Janghwa
Queen Sinmyeong
Queen Sinjeong
Queen Sinseong
Queen Jeongdeok
ConsortGrand Lady Heonmok
Lady Jeongmok
Lady Dongyangwon
Lady Sukmok
Lady Cheonanbuwon
Lady Heungbokwon
Lady Daeryangwon
Lady Hudaeryangwon
Lady Daemyeongjuwon
Lady Gwangjuwon
Lady Sogwangjuwon
Lady Dongsanwon
Lady Yehwa
Lady Daeseowon
Lady Soseowon
Lady Seojeonwon
Lady Sinjuwon
Lady Wolhwawon
Lady Sohwangjuwon
Lady Seongmu
Lady Uiseongbuwon
Lady Wolgyeongwon
Lady Mongryangwon
Lady Haeryangwon
Era name and dates
Cheonsu (천수, 天授): 918–933
Posthumous name
  • Great King Eungun Wonmyeong Gwangnyeol Daejeong Yedeok Janghyo Wimok Sinseong
    (응운원명광렬대정예덕장효위목신성대왕, 應運元明光烈大定睿德章孝神聖大王; original)
  • Great King Yongyeol Inyong Janghyo Daejeong Gwangyeol Wonmyeong Sinseong
    (용열인용장효대정광열원명신성대왕, 勇烈仁勇章孝大定光烈元明神聖大王; final)
Temple name
Taejo (태조, 太祖)
FatherWang Ryung
MotherLady Han
Korean name
Revised RomanizationTaejo
Birth name
Revised RomanizationWang Geon
McCune–ReischauerWang Kŏn
Courtesy name
Revised RomanizationYakcheon
Posthumous name
Revised RomanizationSinseong Daewang
McCune–ReischauerSinsŏng Taewang

Background edit

Wang Kŏn was born in 877 to a powerful maritime merchant family of Goguryeo descent based in Songak (modern Kaesong) as the eldest son of Wang Ryung. According to the Pyeonnyeon tongnok (편년통록; 編年通錄), quoted in the Goryeosa, Wang Kon's grandfather Chakchegon was the son of Emperor Suzong of Tang.[2] According to the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture and the Doosan Encyclopedia, this is hagiographical.[2][3] The Pyeonnyeon tongnok (c. late 12th century) said: While on a sea voyage to meet his father, Emperor Suzong of the Tang dynasty, 16-year-old Chakchegon encountered a dragon king, slayed a shape-shifting fox, and married a dragon woman; the dragon woman later transformed into a dragon and went away.[4] According to the Seongwollok (성원록; 聖源錄), quoted in the Goryeosa, the "dragon woman" was a daughter of Tu Ŭn-chŏm from Pyongju (modern-day Pyongsan County).[2][5] The story that Wang Kon was descended from either Suzong or Xuanzong was dismissed by the Joseon compilers of the Goryeosa.[6] Modern historians believe that Wang Kon's ancestors were influential Goguryeoic hojoks (lords) that conducted maritime trade with China for generations.[7] According to the Gaoli tujing (c. early 12th century) written by the Song dynasty envoy Xu Jing, Wang Kon's ancestors were Goguryeo nobility.[8] According to Jang Deokho, his ancestors were Goguryeo refugees who settled around Songak, accumulating great wealth through maritime trade and gaining control of the region, including the Ryesong River.[9] During the Later Silla period, the northern regions, including Songak, were the strongholds of Goguryeo refugees,[10][11] and Wang Kon's hometown of Songak would become the original capital of Later Goguryeo in 901.[12]

According to a document created during the reign of King Uijong of Goryeo, the Sillan monk Doseon prophesied that Wang Geon would rise to power and become king after visiting Wang Geon's father.[13]

Rise to power edit

Wang Kon began his career in the turbulent Later Three Kingdoms. In the later years of Silla, many local leaders and bandits rebelled against the rule of Queen Jinseong, who did not have strong enough leadership or policies to improve the condition of the people. Among those rebels, Kung Ye of the northwestern region and Kyŏn Hwŏn of the southwest gained more power. They defeated and absorbed many of the other rebel groups as their troops marched against local Silla officials and bandits. In 895, Kung Ye led his forces into the far northwestern part of Silla, where Songdo was located. Taejo's father, Wang Ryung, along with many local clans, quickly surrendered to Kung Ye. Wang Kon followed his father into service under Kung Ye, the future leader of Taebong, and he began his service under Kung Ye's command.

Wang Kon's ability as a military commander was soon recognized by Kung Ye, who promoted him to general and even regarded him as his brother. In 900, he led a successful campaign against local clans and the army of Later Baekje in the Chungju area, gaining more fame and recognition from the king. In 903, he led a famous naval campaign against the southwestern coastline of Later Baekje at Keumsung, later Naju, while Kyon Hwon was at war against Silla. He led several more military campaigns, and also helped conquered people who lived in poverty under Silla rule. The public favored him due to his leadership and generosity.

In 913, he was appointed as prime minister of the newly renamed Taebong. Its king, Kung Ye, whose leadership helped found the kingdom but who began to refer to himself as the Buddha, began to persecute people who expressed their opposition against his religious arguments. He executed many monks, then later even his own wife and two sons, and the public began to turn away from him. His costly rituals and harsh rule caused even more opposition.

Rise to the throne and founding of Goryeo edit

In the night of July 24, 918, four top-ranked generals of Taebong—Hong Yu (홍유; 洪儒), Pae Hyŏn-gyŏng (배현경; 裵玄慶), Sin Sung-gyŏm and Pok Chigyŏm (복지겸; 卜智謙)—met secretly and agreed to overthrow Kung Ye's rule and crown Wang Kon as their new king. Wang Kon first opposed the idea but later agreed to their plan. Kung Ye was overthrown in a coup and killed near the capital, Cheorwon. On the sunrise of the next day, the generals installed Wang Kon as the new king.[14] Taejo renamed the kingdom Goryeo, thus beginning the Goryeo Dynasty. The next year he moved the capital back to his hometown, Gaegyeong.

He promoted Buddhism as Goryeo's national religion, and laid claim to the northern parts of the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria, which he considered his rightful legacy as the successor of Goguryeo.[15] According to the Goryeosa, in 918, the ancient capital of Pyongyang had been in ruins for a long time and foreign barbarians were using the surrounding lands as hunting grounds and occasionally raiding the borders of Goryeo; therefore, in his first year as king, Wang Kon ordered his subjects to repopulate the ancient capital,[16] and soon sent his cousin Wang Sing-nyŏm to defend it. Afterward, he decreed Pyongyang as the Western Capital.[17] He also sought alliances and cooperation with local clans rather than trying to conquer and bring them under his direct control.

The War of the Later Three Kingdoms edit

In 927, Kyon Hwon of Later Baekje led his forces into Silla's capital, Gyeongju, capturing and executing its king, King Gyeongae. Then he established King Gyeongsun as his puppet monarch before he turned his army toward Goryeo. Hearing of the news, Taejo planned a strike with 5,000 cavalrymen to attack Kyon's troops on the way back home at Gongsan near Daegu in the Battle of Gongsan.[18] He met the Later Baekje army and suffered a disastrous defeat, losing most of his army including his generals Kim Nak and Sin Sung-gyom, the very same man who crowned Wang as a king. According to the legend, Taejo and Sin Sung-gyom exchanged their armor so that the king would be able to escape the battlefield. While Wang Geon escaped the battlefield, Sin and the remaining army fought bravely against the Later Baekje army. But eventually his army was routed and in the woods Sin was shot with arrows and was killed by the enemy.[19] Taejo escaped from this mountain and fled alone to Apsan Mountain (ko), and he spent a few days hiding in a large cave at the peak of Apsan.[20] While Taejo retreated from the battle and fled to Apsan Mountain, he left many place names related to him in Daegu.[21] However, Goryeo quickly recovered from defeat and successfully defended Later Baekje's attack on its front.

In 935, the last king of Silla, King Gyeongsun, felt there was no way to revive his kingdom and surrendered his entire land to Taejo. Taejo gladly accepted his surrender and gave him the title of prince, and accepted his daughter as one of his wives (Wang had six queens, and many more wives as he married daughters of every single local leader). It caused much disgust to Kyon Hwon. Kyon's father, Ajagae, who held his own claim to the Sangju region, also defected and surrendered to Goryeo and was received as the father of a king.

In the same year, Kyon Hwon's oldest son, Kyŏn Sin-gŏm, led a coup with his brothers Yang-gŏm and Yong-gŏm, against their father, who favored their half-brother, Kŭm-gang, as his successor to the throne. Kyon Hwon was sent into exile and imprisoned in the temple of Geumsansa, but escaped to Goryeo and was treated like Taejo's father, who died just before his surrender.

Goryeo victory and unification edit

In 936, Wang led his final campaign against Sin-gom of Later Baekje. Sin-gom fought against Taejo, but facing much disadvantage and inner conflict, he surrendered to Taejo. Wang finally conquered Later Baekje, and unified the nation for the second time since Unified Silla; he ruled until 943, and died from disease.

Taejo sought to bring even his enemies into his ruling coalition. He gave titles and land to rulers and nobles from the various countries he had defeated: Later Baekje, Silla, and also Balhae, which disintegrated around the same time. Thus he sought to secure stability and unity for his kingdom which had been lacking in the later years of Silla.

After the destruction of Balhae by the Khitans in 926, Balhae's last crown prince and much of its ruling class sought refuge in Goryeo, where they were warmly welcomed and included into the ruling family by Taejo, thus uniting the two successor nations of Goguryeo.[22] Taejo felt a strong familial kinship with Balhae, calling it his "Relative Country" and "Married Country",[23][24] and protected Balhae refugees, many of whom were also of Goguryeo origin.[15][23] This was in strong contrast to Later Silla, which had endured a hostile relationship with Balhae.[25]

Taejo displayed strong animosity toward the Khitans who had destroyed Balhae. The Liao dynasty sent 30 envoys with 50 camels as a gift in 942, but he exiled the envoys and starved the camels under a bridge in retribution for Balhae, despite the major diplomatic repercussions.[26] Taejo proposed to Gaozu of Later Jìn that they attack the Khitans as revenge for the destruction of Balhae, according to the Zizhi Tongjian.[23][27] Furthermore, in his Ten Mandates to his descendants, he stated that the Khitans are no different from beasts and should be guarded against.[26]

Legacy edit

Life-sized bronze statue of Taejo, constructed in 951, discovered in 1992 at Kaesong[28][29]

The unification of the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 was very important in Korean history; the unification of 668 CE by Silla was only a unification of approximately half of the peoples of the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity (who at the time largely considered themselves one people divided among many states), since the northern part was ruled by Balhae, which asserted itself as a reincarnation of Goguryeo. However, Wang Kon's unification in 936 was a more complete unification (in which only a single state emerged among the people, as opposed to the 7th century, when two, Unified Silla and Balhae, emerged); the people of the Korean Peninsula thereafter remained under a single, unified state until 1948, when Korea was divided into north and south by Soviets and U.S. forces.

The modern name of "Korea" is derived from the name "Goryeo," which itself is derived from "Goguryeo," to whose heritage (and by extension, territory) Wang Kon and his new kingdom laid claim.[15] As the first ruler to more fully unite the people of the Korean Peninsula under a single state, many modern-day Koreans look to his example for applicability to the current state of division on the Korean Peninsula.

Tomb of Wang Kon

During the early Goryeo dynasty, the title of taeja (Hanja: 太子) was only a peerage title for sons of the king; a separate title existed for the heir apparent called the jeongyun (Hanja: 正尹).

Family edit

  1. Queen Sinhye of the Chŏngju Yu clan – No issue.
  2. Queen Janghwa of the Naju O clan
    1. Crown Prince Wang Mu (912 – 23 October 945)
  3. Queen Sinmyeongsunseong of the Chungju Yu clan
    1. Wang Tae
    2. Wang Yo (923 – 13 April 949)
    3. Wang So (925 – 4 July 975)
    4. Wang Jeong, King Munwon the Great
    5. Jeungteong
    6. Princess Nakrang
    7. Princess Heungbang
  4. Queen Sinjeong of the Hwangju Hwangbo clan (900 – 19 August 983)
    1. Wang Uk (d. 969)
    2. Queen Daemok
  5. Queen Sinseong of the Gyeongju Kim clan
    1. Wang Uk (d. 996)
  6. Queen Jeongdeok of the Chŏngju Yu clan
    1. Prince Wangwi
    2. Prince Inae
    3. Prince Wonjang
    4. Prince Joyi
    5. Queen Munhye
    6. Queen Seonui
    7. Princess Wang (개성 왕씨)
  7. Grand Lady Heonmok of the Pyong clan
    1. Prince Sumyeong
  8. Lady Jeongmok of the Wang clan
    1. Grand Royal Consort Sunan
  9. Lady Dongyangwon of the Pyongsan Yu clan
    1. Wang Ui, Prince Hyomok
    2. Wang Won, Prince Hyoeun
  10. Lady Sukmok of the Im clan
    1. Prince Wonnyeong (d. 976)
  11. Lady Cheonanbuwon of the Im clan
    1. Wang Imju, Prince Hyoseong (d. 976)
    2. Prince Hyoji
  12. Lady Heungbokwon of the Hongju Hong clan
    1. Wang Jik
    2. Princess Wang (공주 왕씨)
  13. Lady Daeryangwon of the Yi clan
    1. Princess Wang (공주 왕씨)
  14. Lady Hudaeryangwon of the Yi clan
  15. Lady Daemyeongjuwon of the Wang clan – No issue.
  16. Lady Gwangjuwon of the Wang clan – No issue.
  17. Lady Sogwangjuwon of the Wang clan
    1. Prince Gwangjuwon (d. 945)
  18. Lady Dongsanwon of the Suncheon Pak clan – No issue.
  19. Lady Yehwa of the Haeju Wang clan – No issue.
  20. Lady Daeseowon of the Dongju Kim clan – No issue.
  21. Lady Soseowon of the Dongju Kim clan – No issue.
  22. Lady Seojeonwon – No issue.
  23. Lady Sinjuwon of the Kang clan – No issue.
  24. Lady Wolhwawon – No issue.
  25. Lady Sohwangjuwon – No issue.
  26. Lady Seongmu of the Pyongsan Pak clan
    1. Prince Hyoje
    2. Prince Hyomyeong
    3. Prince Beopdeung
    4. Prince Jari
    5. Princess Wang (공주 왕씨)
  27. Lady Uiseongbuwon of the Uiseong Hong clan
    1. Grand Prince Uiseongbuwon
  28. Lady Wolgyeongwon of the Pyongsan Pak clan – No issue.
  29. Lady Mongryangwon of the Pyongsan Pak clan – No issue.
  30. Lady Haeryangwon – No issue.

Popular culture edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "왕건(王建)". 문화콘텐츠닷컴 (in Korean). Korea Creative Content Agency. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c 문수진 (1997). 의조경강대왕(懿祖景康大王). Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean). Academy of Korean Studies. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  3. ^ 원덕대왕[元德大王,?~?]. Doopedia (in Korean). Doosan Corporation. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  4. ^ 장덕순 (1995). 고려국조신화(高麗國祖神話). Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean). Academy of Korean Studies. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  5. ^ 이한순. 평산군(平山郡). Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean). Academy of Korean Studies. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  6. ^ Rogers, Michael C. "P'yŏnnyŏn T'ongnok: The Foundation Legend of the Koryŏ State." Journal of Korean Studies, vol. 4, 1982, p. 3-72. Project MUSE, https://doi.org/10.1353/jks.1982.0005. QUOTE: "Very different was the reaction of the scholars of the early Yi who compiled the Koryŏ-sa. They contemptuously dismiss the story, commenting that whether applied to Su-tsung or to Hsüan-tsung it was no more than a specious product of Sŏn records, hence unworthy of credence. (p. 43-44)
  7. ^ 의조경강대왕 (懿祖景康大王). Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean).
  8. ^ 박, 종기 (2015-08-24). 고려사의 재발견: 한반도 역사상 가장 개방적이고 역동적인 500년 고려 역사를 만나다 (in Korean). 휴머니스트. ISBN 9788958629023. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  9. ^ 장덕호 (1 March 2015). 한반도 중심에 터 닦으니 화합·통합의 새시대 '활짝'. 중부일보 (in Korean). Retrieved 16 September 2022. 왕건의 가문은 고구려의 유민으로서 대대로 개성지방을 중심으로 해상무역을 통해 막대한 부(富)를 이룩했고, 축적된 부를 기반으로 송악일대를 장악했을 뿐 아니라, 예성강 일대에서 강화도에 이르는 지역에 튼튼한 세력기반을 구축하고 있었다.
  10. ^ 이상각 (2014). 고려사 - 열정과 자존의 오백년 (in Korean). 들녘. ISBN 9791159250248. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  11. ^ "(2) 건국―호족들과의 제휴". 우리역사넷 (in Korean). National Institute of Korean History. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  12. ^ 성기환 (2008). 생각하는 한국사 2: 고려시대부터 조선·일제강점까지 (in Korean). 버들미디어. ISBN 9788986982923. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  13. ^ Vermeersch, Sam (June 2013). "Yi Seong-gye and the Fate of the Goryeo Buddhist System" (PDF). Korea Journal. 53 (2): 131. Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  14. ^ Kang, Hi-Woong (1964). "The Eclipse of the Silla Aristocracy". The development of the Korean ruling class from late Silla to early Koryo (PhD thesis). University of Washington. ProQuest 302110231. Retrieved 18 July 2023.
  15. ^ a b c Rossabi, Morris (1983-05-20). China Among Equals: The Middle Kingdom and Its Neighbors, 10th-14th Centuries. University of California Press. p. 323. ISBN 9780520045620. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  16. ^ "丙申谕群臣曰:“平壤古都荒废虽久,基址尙存,而荆棘滋茂,蕃人游猎於其间,因而侵掠边邑,为害 大矣。 宜徙民实之以固藩屏为百世之利"(高丽史)
  17. ^ "서경". 우리역사넷 (in Korean). National Institute of Korean History. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  18. ^ Ilyon: Samguk Yusa: Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, translated by Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz. Book Two, page 128. Silk Pagoda (2006). ISBN 1-59654-348-5
  19. ^ "섬진강과 보성강의 수려한 물길이, 서로 도와 빚은 풍광" [The beautiful waterways of the Seomjin and Boseong rivers help each other create scenery]. Pressian. 24 May 2023. Retrieved 2 June 2023.
  20. ^ "Introduction to Jarak-gil". Daegu Metropolitan City Namgu Cultural Tourism. Retrieved 2 June 2023.
  21. ^ "[굿모닝 내셔널]대구 곳곳 남아 있는 '왕건 탈출로'...지금은" [[Good Morning National] 'Wang Geon Escape Route' that remains throughout Daegu...Now]. JoongAng Ilbo. 2 December 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2023.
  22. ^ Lee, Ki-Baik (1984). A New History of Korea. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0674615762. "When Parhae perished at the hands of the Khitan around this same time, much of its ruling class, who were of Koguryŏ descent, fled to Koryŏ. Wang Kŏn warmly welcomed them and generously gave them land. Along with bestowing the name Wang Kye ("Successor of the Royal Wang") on the Parhae crown prince, Tae Kwang-hyŏn, Wang Kŏn entered his name in the royal household register, thus clearly conveying the idea that they belonged to the same lineage, and also had rituals performed in honor of his progenitor. Thus Koryŏ achieved a true national unification that embraced not only the Later Three Kingdoms but even survivors of Koguryŏ lineage from the Parhae kingdom."
  23. ^ a b c 박종기 (2015). 고려사의 재발견: 한반도 역사상 가장 개방적이고 역동적인 500년 고려 역사를 만나다 (in Korean). 휴머니스트. ISBN 9788958629023. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  24. ^ 박용운. "'고구려'와 '고려'는 같은 나라였다". 조선닷컴. The Chosun Ilbo. Archived from the original on 2017-06-22. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Parhae | historical state, China and Korea". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  26. ^ a b 이기환 (22 June 2015). "[여적]태조 왕건이 낙타를 굶겨죽인 까닭". Kyunghyang Shinmun (in Korean). Kyunghyang Shinmun. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  27. ^ "왕건의 할아버지는 사생아였다?". M매거진 (in Korean). 매경닷컴. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  28. ^ "왕건상". 우리역사넷 (in Korean). National Institute of Korean History. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  29. ^ 노명호. "왕건동상(王建銅像)". Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean). Academy of Korean Studies. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  30. ^ [KBS DRAMA CLASSIC] 태조왕건 FULL VOD 1회 | KBS방송 [[KBS DRAMA CLASSIC] Taejo Wang Geon FULL VOD Episode 1 | KBS Broadcasting] (in Korean). KBS Drama Classic (published 1 April 2000). 4 March 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  31. ^ 왕건 대신 왕의 옷을 입고 죽은 신숭겸의 정체는?!|천일야사 73회 다시보기 [What is the identity of Shin Sung-gyeom who died wearing the king's clothes instead of Wang Geon?!|Replay Episode 73 of Thousand Days Unofficial History] (in Korean). KBS Drama Classic. 14 May 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2023.
  32. ^ "안컴퍼니, 메타버스 창작뮤지컬 '태조 왕건' 오는 28일 개막" [Ahn Company, Metaverse creative musical 'Taejo Wang Geon' opens on the 28th]. Break News. 15 November 2022. Retrieved 2 June 2023.

External links edit

Taejo of Goryeo
Born: 31 January 877 Died: 4 July 943
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Goryeo
Succeeded by
Political offices
New office Prime Minister of Taebong
Office abolished