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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Silla Superiority Complex, Part XI: Royal Tomb of Silla Baedong-Samneung, Gyeongju, Northern Gyeongsang

The Royal Tomb of Silla Baedong-Samneung (Hanja: 新羅拜洞三陵) means "three royal tombs," and has strong ties to history. Located at Baedong san 73-1 beonji, Gyeongju, Northern Gyeongsang Province, the three royal tombs house three kings of the Silla Kingdom from the Royal House of Gyeongju Park, originated from the founder of Silla Kingdom - King Hyeokgeose-Geoseogan: King Adalla-Isageum (8th King of the Dynasty), King Sindeok (53rd) and King Gyeongmyeong (54th). 

About King Adalla-Isageum
King Adalla of Silla (Hangul/Hanja: 아달라이사금/阿達羅尼師今; died 184, r. 154–184) was the eighth ruler of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. He is commonly called Adalla-Isageum where 'isageum' being the royal title in early Silla. As a descendent of Silla's founder Hyeokgeose, his surname was Park.

He was the eldest son of King Ilseong-Isageum, his mother being of the Park clan. He married the daughter of King Jima-Isageum, making this a marriage of 8th degree consanguinity. He was the last of the Park clan to rule over early Silla. Descendants of Park Hyeokgeose would rule again near the end of Unified Silla.

Judging from the reports in the Samguk Sagi, Adalla's reign was a time of considerable expansion. Because Silla was still a small state, however, some scholars doubt the chronology, or attribute the territorial battles with the Royal House of Wolseong Seok, who replaced the Park clan as Silla royalty after Adalla's reign.

He is said to have opened the road over Haneuljae (in present-day Mungyeong) in 157, and also the pass of Jungnyeong (in present-day Yeongju) in 159, extending Silla north of the Sobaek Range. Tensions increased with the rival Korean kingdom Baekje for harboring a Silla traitor. The Samguk Sagi reports 20,000 soldiers and 8,000 cavalry of Silla battled Baekje in 167. During his reign, Adalla maintained peaceful relations with the Wa of Japan, who sent an envoy in 158. Himiko sent another envoy in 173.

There is no record of his activities during the last decade of his reign. He died without a male heir, and was succeeded by King Beolhyu-Isageum of the Royal House of Wolseong Seok. Adalla's tomb is believed to lie next to those of two later kings of Park Hyeokgeose's line, in the Samneung complex near Namsan in central Gyeongju.

King Adalla-Isageum, who cared deeply for his people, mobilized his soldiers to rescue his subjects that were abducted by the invaders of Baekje. After a while, Baekje asked for peace treaty and King Adalla released the prisoners he took during the engagement. A kingdom in Japan sent an envoy to ask for friendly relations with the Silla. King Adalla-Isageum’s tomb is 58m in circumference at the base, 5.4m in height and 18m in diameter. 

About King Sindeok
King Sindeok (Hangul/Hanja: 신덕왕/神德王), whose born as Park Gyeong-hwi (Hangul/Hanja: 박경휘/朴景暉; died 917) (r. 912–917) was the 53rd ruler of the Korean kingdom of Silla. He was born to the Park clan, and was the son of Daeachan Park Ye-gyeom. He was chosen to succeed the childless King Hyogong of Royal House of Gyeongju Kim, because he was a descendant of King Adalla-Isageum (d. 184, the last Park to sit on the pre-unification Silla throne) and was also a son-in-law of King Heon-gang. Reigning during the Later Three Kingdoms period, Sindeok was faced with constant attacks by the new kingdoms of Taebong/HuGoguryeo and HuBaekje in the west.

As King Hyogong died without any heirs, the people of the kingdom crowned his son-in-law as their next king – King Sindeok. During his reign, King Sindeok devoted himself to protecting his kingdom from invasions by Gyeon Hwon and Gung Ye. The royal tomb is 61m in circumference at the base, 5.8m in height and 18m in diameter. It was robbed twice, inviting investigations in 1953 and 1963. The investigations revealed the tomb to be a chamber made of stone.

About King Gyeongmyeong
King Gyeongmyeong (경명왕/景明王), whose born as Park Seung-yeong (Hangul/Hanja: 박승영/朴昇英; died 924) (r. 917–924) was the 54th ruler of the Korean kingdom of Silla. He was the eldest son of King Sindeok and Princess Uiseong. He ruled during the Later Three Kingdoms period, when much of his country's former domain was divided between Hubaekje and Taebong.

In 918, Wang Geon overthrew Gung Ye, who had been the ruler of Taebong a.k.a Hu Goguryeo and established Goryeo by using his regnal name of King Taejo. Gyeongmyeong joined forces with him in 920, and their allied armies were able to repel a HuBaekje assault on Daeya Fortress. However, after this many border commanders chose to desert Silla in favor of Later Goguryeo, so Gyeongmyeong was left no better off than before. King Gyeongmyeong sought to get aid from Tang China, and sent missions bearing tribute, but was unsuccessful. The tomb is 50m in circumference at the base, 4.5m in height and 16m in diameter.