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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Silla Superiority Complex, Part XXXIV: Royal Tomb of King Min-ae, Gyeongju, Northern Gyeongsang - "What goes around comes around, Your Majesty."


King Min-ae of Silla (Hanja: 閔哀王; Born: 817 - Assassinated: 839; Reigned: 838–839) whose born as Kim Myeong (김명/金明) was the 44th ruler of the Korean kingdom of Silla. He was a great-grandson of King Wonseong, and the son of Daeachan Kim Chung-gong (later as Posthumous King Seon-gang the Great [선강대왕/宣康大王]). His mother was Lady Gwibo of Park Clan. He married the daughter of Gakgan Kim Yeong-gong.

Being of true bone rank, Min-ae rose to the rank of sangdaedeung. He then schemed with Kim Rihong and others to overthrow King Huigang. They threatened the King and drove him to kill himself. However, in the following year, Kim Woo-jing (later King Sinmu of Silla) allied himself with Kim Yang, who sent his forces into the capital (Gyeongju) to topple and slay the king. Min-ae died at the soldiers' hands in the twelfth lunar month, early in 839.

The Royal Tomb of King Min-ae in Mangseong-ri san 40-beonji, Naenam-myeon, Gyeongju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province, with the height of 3.8m and the width of 12.5m, had been robbed twice before Gwangbokjeol (1945). It was almost to being robbed again in 1981 but escaped from it because the residents knew about it before it happened. 

The attempt of the grave robbery led the National Museum of Gyeongju to examine the inner and the around of the tomb in 1984 and improve its condition. The inspection discovered the twelve holes that place on the outward bottom of the tomb at a certain interval. The holes were for the images of the twelve zodiac animal deities at the human body which were believed to guard the ground. There were only four images left and they are the mouse, the cow, the rooster, and the pig. The rest of them are assumed to be destroyed and disappeared when the outward stay was constructed. 

Another discovery from the inspection is a pottery of bones with the letter saying a name of Chinese era on the lid, which amounts to the year 815. As pottery of bones was buried after the tomb was constructed, it is assumed that the tomb was built before 815. Therefore, it is difficult to claim that this tomb is for King Min-ae, who died in 839.