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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Silla Superiority Complex, Part XXIV: Alyeongjeong Pavilion, Gyeongju, Northern Gyeongsang - The Origins of King Park Hyeokgeose-Geoseogan's Queen Consort

Alyeongjeong Pavilion (Hanja: 閼英井) is a well inside Sungdeokjeon Hall (숭덕전/崇德殿), located at Sidong 77-beonji, Gyeongju, Northern Gyeongsang Province. This pavilion is believed to be the place of birth of Lady Alyeong (알영부인/閼英夫人; Born: 59 BCE ~ Year of Death: Unknown), Queen Consort of King Hyeokgeose-Geoseogan, the founder of Silla Kingdom.

After the collapse of Gojoseon, its displaced people moved to and settled in Gyeongju, forming 6 village hamlets. One day, the heads of these 6 village hamlets decided to found a nation. Around this time, a white horse was seen kneeling and crying beside Najeong (a legendary well) in Yangsan (Namsan), Gyeongju. Taking a closer look, the people found an egg there. When they cracked the egg, a boy emerged from it. When they bathed the boy, his body emanated a gleaming luster, with birds and animals dancing, the earth and the sky trembling, and the sun and the moon growing brighter. This is how he came to be named Park Hyeokgeose. 

When Park Hyeokgeose was born, the elders decided that a suitable wife needed to be found. On that day, beside a well in Alyeong in Saryang village, there appeared a strange creature that was a cross between a chicken and a dragon (Korean: gyeryong). From it's left side of armpit, a girl was born. She was a beautiful child, but she had the beak of a chicken. When she was taken to be bathed, however, the beak fell off. The child took her name from the Alyeong well next to which she was born.

People built a palace in the western brink of Yangsan (Namsan), and raised these two consecrated babies. In 57 BC, Park Hyeokgeose was coronated as the king and Alyeong as the queen, marking the founding of the country named Seorabeol.

Silla (Seorabeol) founded in 57 BC expanded its power in the southeast region of the Korean peninsula, conquered Baekje and Goguryeo one by one by forging an alliance with the Tang Dynasty of China, to form the first unified country on the Korean peninsula in 676, though its territory was confined only to the south of the Daedong River and the Bay of Wonsan. Silla accepted the cultures of Baekje and Goguryeo, thus establishing the foundation on which our people’s culture was developed and ushering in the golden epoch of refined culture. However, in 935, Silla’s 992 year long history came to an end after King Gyeongsun abdicated the throne to the founder of Goryeo Dynasty, King Taejo Wanggeon; as it was torn apart by powerful families who became exceedingly dominant in local provinces.