King Gyeongdeok of Silla (Hanja: 景德王; Died: 765; Reigned: 742-765), whose born as Kim Heon-young (김헌영/金憲英) was 35th King of Silla Dynasty. He is perhaps best known today for his efforts to encourage Buddhism, promoting both commercial trade and cultural exchange with Tang China and initiating many administrative reforms.
King Gyeongdeok was a blood brother of King Hyoseong and son of King Seongdeok the Great. After ascending to the throne, he reformed various national systems in the Chinese style and completed local systems. Moreover, he built Gulbulsa Temple and Bulguksa Temple, and created Daejong (Grand Bell) in Hwangryongsa Temple and the Divine Bell of King Seongdeok the Great.
The Bulguksa Temple was built by his orders in 751. He also built Seokguram Grotto, which also included Buddhist art. The grotto has features relevant to the pre-existing shamanistic religion as well. Lastly, he commissioned the Divine Bell of King Seongdeok the Great, named for his father. This bell was finished after his own death during the reign of his son, King Hyegong. It is considered one of the finest examples of Buddhist art.
On the King Gyeongdeok chapter of Samguk Sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), it is said that King Gyeongdeok was buried west of Mojisa Temple; and according to the Wangryeok (King’s history) chapter of Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), “At first, he (King Gyeongdeok) was buried at the peak to the west of Gyeongjisa Temple, and the tomb was made by trimming stones, but it was exhumed and buried in the middle of Yangjanggol.”
The Royal Tomb of King Gyeongdeok in Buji-ri san 8-beonji, Naenam-myeon, Gyeongju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province was built with flatly trimmed soil from the inclines of a hillock, and the soil was piled up in a circular shape. The foundation stones are at the bottom, and flat stones and pillar stones were erected in turn, after which the 12 oriental zodiac images that hold weapons and wear warriors’ clothes are carved in relief one by one on every two partitions of the pillar stones.
In front of the tomb is a stone table used for ceremonial rituals. There is a stone fence made of 40 stone pillars surrounding the whole tomb structure. Although there is a stone monument decorated with the "panel design," in front of the tomb, no other stoneworks, such as statues of lions, scholars and generals, were found. As the encircling stones and the carvings of the 12 zodiac animals show the features of the later style, Some historians are doubtful about that it is the King Gyeongdeok's tomb.