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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Silla Superiority Complex, Part XII: Royal Tomb of King Talhae-Isageum, Gyeongju, Northern Gyeongsang - First Power Transition in Silla


King Talhae (Born: 19 BCE - Died: 80 CE, Reigned: 57 CE - 80 CE) was the fourth king of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. He is commonly called Talhae-Isageum (脫解尼師今) or Tohae-Isageum (吐解尼師今), where isageum being the royal title in early Silla. Also known by his personal name as Seok Talhae (昔脫解) or Seok Tohae (昔吐解). He was a member of the Wolseong-Gyeongju Seok Clan (월성-경주 석씨/月城-慶州昔氏), one of the noble clans that shared the Silla throne during the early Common Era.

He was born in a small kingdom 1000 ri northeast of Wa (Japan). (The name of the kingdom is Dapana-guk/다파나국/多婆那國 "Dapana Country" according to Samguk Sagi, or Yongseong-guk/용성국/龍城國 "Dragon Castle/City Country," Jeongmyeong-guk/정명국/正明國 "Proper and Enlightened Country," Wanha-guk/완하국/琓夏國 "(A Kind of) Jade Summer Country," or Hwaha-guk/화하국/花厦國 "Flower Mansion Country" according to Samguk Yusa.) His father, King Hamdalpa, was a king of this kingdom; his mother was a queen or princess of another kingdom, called Yeo-guk/여국/女国 "Woman Country."

According to the Samguk Sagi, when he was born as an egg, his father considered it an ill omen and had it boxed and floated at sea. The egg floated past Geumgwan Gaya and landed at Ajinpo Harbor, east of Gyerim (near today's Gyeongju, South Korea), where he was raised by an old man as a fisherman. His family is said to have taken over a high official's house by claiming to be metalsmiths.  The seashore at which the box containing Talhae arrived is  referred to as the ‘Ajinpo of Jinhan’ in Samguk Sagi, and it is the place where the present monument is erected. 

He was probably an old man when he assumed the throne, having married the daughter (or younger sister) of Silla's King Namhae-Chachaung a.k.a Park Namhae in the year 8 CE. He was offered the throne as successor to the second king Namhae, but the older Yuri-Isageum a.k.a Park Yuri served as king first. Yuri in turn designated Talhae his successor.

In 64, the rival Korean kingdom Baekje attacked several times. Silla battled the Gaya confederacy in 77. According to legend, in 65 the infant Kim Alji, ancestor of the Gyeongju Kim family, was found by Hogong in a golden box in the royal Gyerim forest. Talhae named his kingdom Gyerim at this time (the name Silla was officially adopted much later).

A tomb believed to be Talhae's is located in Dongcheon-dong san 17-beonji, Gyeongju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province. The Gyeongju National Museum is constructed on the site where Talhae had a palace built.