Hyeokgeose of Silla

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Hyeokgeose
Emperor of Korea
Tenure 57 BC - 4 AD
None
Namhae
Lady Alyeong
Issue Namhae of Silla
Full name
Bak Hyeokgeose
Era name and dates
Three Kingdoms: 57 BC - 668 AD
Dynasty Silla Dynasty
Born 69 BC
Died 4 AD (age 73)
Burial Sareung
Hyeokgeose of Silla
Hangul 박혁거세 거서간
Hanja 西
Revised Romanization Bak Hyeokgeose Geoseogan
McCune–Reischauer Pak Hyŏkkŏse Kŏsŏgan
Monarchs of Korea
Silla
(Pre-unification)
  1. Hyeokgeose 57 BCE – 4 CE
  2. Namhae 4–24
  3. Yuri 24–57
  4. Talhae 57–80
  5. Pasa 80–112
  6. Jima 112–134
  7. Ilseong 134–154
  8. Adalla 154–184
  9. Beolhyu 184–196
  10. Naehae 196–230
  11. Jobun 230–247
  12. Cheomhae 247–261
  13. Michu 262–284
  14. Yurye 284–298
  15. Girim 298–310
  16. Heulhae 310–356
  17. Naemul 356–402
  18. Silseong 402–417
  19. Nulji 417–458
  20. Jabi 458–479
  21. Soji 479–500
  22. Jijeung 500–514
  23. Beopheung 514–540
  24. Jinheung 540–576
  25. Jinji 576–579
  26. Jinpyeong 579–632
  27. Seondeok 632–647
  28. Jindeok 647–654
  29. Muyeol 654–661

Hyeokgeose of Silla (69 BC - 4 AD, r. 57 BC–4 AD), commonly called Bak (Park, Pak) Hyeokgeose, was the founding monarch of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.[1] He was the progenitor of all Bak (Park) clans in Korea.

Name[edit]

His title Geoseogan (거서간, 居西干) or Geoseulhan (거슬한, 居瑟邯), means "king" in the language of the Jinhan confederacy, the group of chiefdoms in the southeast of the Korean Peninsula.

His surname was Bak (Park, Pak), which comes from the Korean word for "calabash," as legend says that he was born from an egg shaped like a gourd. He is thus known as the originator of the Korean family name Park (박, 朴).

"Hyeokgeose" was not a personal name, but the hanja for his honorific name, pronounced "Bulgeunae" (弗矩内 불그내) in archaic Korean, meaning "bright world." 赫 hyeok, a Chinese character that means "bright, radiant, glowing" (from doubling the character for 赤 jeok "red"), is used to transcribe the Korean adjective stem 븕 bylg- > 붉 bulg- "red" (< ancient Korean word for "red; brightly colored; bright"). 居 geo, a Chinese character that means "live, dwell, reside, sit," is used to transcribe the Korean prenominal adjective inflection ㄴ -n ~ 은 -eun "~ that is (bright/red), ~ which is (bright/red)." 世 se, a Chinese character that means "generation; world; era," is used to transcribe an ancient word related to the obsolescent Korean word 뉘 nuy ~ 누리 nuri "world."[2]

Founding legend[edit]

The Samguk Sagi and Samguk Yusa describe the founding of Silla by Hyeokgeose.

Refugees of Gojoseon lived in the valleys of present-day Gyeongsang-do, South Korea, in six villages called Yangsan (양산촌, 楊山村), Goheo (고허촌, 高墟村), Jinji (진지촌, 珍支村), Daesu (대수촌, 大樹村), Gari (가리촌, 加利村), and Goya (고야촌, 高耶村).[3]

In 69 BC, the heads of the six chiefdoms gathered to discuss forming a kingdom and selecting a king. In the forest, at a well called Najeong at Yangsan, a strange light shone from the sky, and a white horse was bowed down. Chief Sobeolgong of Goheo discovered a large egg there. A boy came out of the egg, and when bathed, his body radiated light and birds and beasts danced.

Sobeolgong raised him, and the six chieftains revered him. The chieftains made him king when he became 13 years old. The state was named Seonabeol.

Upon becoming king, he married Lady Alyeong (알영, 閼英), who is said to have been born from the ribs of a dragon.

Historical context[edit]

This legend reflects developments in the city-state stage, the six chieftains representing a loose group of Gojoseon refugees. The story implies the ascendency of the Bak clan over the native peoples, and may indicate horse and sun worship.

The founding date is widely questioned today, as the Samguk Sagi was written from the viewpoint of Silla, claiming Silla's superiority and antiquity over Goguryeo and Baekje. Silla in this traditional thinking is thought to have been founded first, followed by Goguryeo, and then Baekje.[citation needed] Archaeological evidence, however, paints a different picture, and it is suspected that Goguryeo is the oldest of the three kingdoms, with Silla developing either concurrently with Baekje or after it.

Reign[edit]

According to the Samguk Sagi, Hyeokgeose and his queen traveled the realm in 41 BC, helping the people improve their harvests. The people praised them as the Two Saints or Two Holy Ones (이성, 二聖).

In 37 BC Hyeokgeose built Geumseong (금성, 金城) in the capital city (present-day Gyeongju), and in 32 BC he built a royal palace inside.

The Chinese Lelang commandery invaded in 28 BC but seeing that the people enjoyed piles of grain and did not lock their doors at night, called Silla a moral nation and retreated.

In 20 BC, the king of the Mahan confederacy demanded a tribute. Silla sent Hogong, who was a minister of Silla. The king was angry that Silla sent Hogong and not a tribute. Hogong criticized the king's impoliteness with fortitude. The king was angry at him and tried to kill him, but nearby subordinates stopped the king, and he was permitted to return to Silla.

In 20 BC, Hyeokgeose also sent an emissary upon the death of the Mahan king in 19 BC. In 5 BC, East Okjeo (a small state to the north, later conquered by Goguryeo) sent an emissary, and Hyeokgeose presented him with 20 horses.

Death and succession[edit]

Hyeokgeose ruled for around 60 years, and set the foundation for a kingdom that would unify much of the Korean Peninsula in 668.[4]

Hyeokgeose maintained control over his kingdom and was one of the few Park rulers to hold complete power over Silla. He died at age 73, and was buried in Sareung, north of Dameomsa (south of Namcheon). Hyeokgeose was succeeded by his eldest son Namhae.

Legacy[edit]

Though not much is known about Hyeokgeose, his many legacies and reminders survive to this day. One of them being his numerous descendants, the Park clans of Korea, who are numbered as the third largest group of people with a common last name. Another legacy was the kingdom that he established. Despite the fact that his descendants eventually lost power over Silla, the fact that he founded it remained under high respects and great consideration.

References[edit]