Geunchogo of Baekje
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|Geunchogo of Baekje|
|Monarchs of Korea
Geunchogo was the second son of the 11th king Biryu and became king upon the death of the 12th king Gye. His reign seems to have marked the permanent ascendancy of the descendants of the 5th king Chogo (reflected in Geunchogo's name) over those of the 8th king Goi, and ended the alternating kingship of the two lines.
Strengthening royal power
Upon ascending the throne, he set out to solidify the royal power within the Baekje state. He reduced the power of the aristocracy and set up a system of local government with regional heads appointed by the court. He married a wife from the Jin clan, setting a precedent for his successors, and he moved the capital to Hansan, today's southeast Seoul.
Under Geunchogo, the kingdom reached its greatest geographic extent and political power. The remaining tribes of Mahan were annexed in 369, completing Baekje's control over all of present-day Jeolla-do. Gaya confederacy states west of the Nakdong River were also made Baekje dependencies.
In 369, Baekje was invaded by Goguryeo, but counterattacked in force at the battle of Chiyang. In 371, the Baekje army of 30,000, led by Crown Prince Geungusu, took the fortress of Pyongyang and killed Gogugwon of Goguryeo.
At the end of these conquests, Baekje ringed the Yellow Sea, and controlled much of the Korean peninsula, including all of Gyeonggi, Chungcheong, and Jeolla and parts of Gangwon and Hwanghae provinces.
In 366, Geunchogo allied with Silla, which bordered Baekje on the east, maintaining a rough balance of power among the Three Kingdoms.
Geunchogo also imported Chinese culture and learning from the Eastern Jin Dynasty. According to both Korean and Chinese sources, the first diplomatic contact between Baekje and China took place in 372, when Geunchogo sent a mission to the court of Jin. In the same year, the Jin court sent a mission granting him the title of the "General Stabilizing the East and the Administrator-General of Lelang" (진동장군 영낙랑태수, 鎭東將軍領樂浪太守).
During his reign, Baekje activated and led the commercial trading among China, Korean Peninsula and Japan; known as the triangle trade. Traditionally the commerce was mostly dominated by Chinese emperors; however, after China lost control of Lelang, northern China came under the rule of Foreign People including Xiongnu, Xianbei and Qiang, all of who were inexperienced at sea. Baekje established commanderies in the Liaoxi regions of China and advanced into Kyūshū of Japan, and rose as the new trading center of East Asia.
Baekje also exported culture to Baekje's allies in the Wa kingdom of Yamato period Japan. The evidence of friendly relationship of Baekje with Japan is the Seven-Branched Sword which Geunchogo gave to the Yamato ruler. Geunchogo also sent scholars Wang In and Ajiki to Japan to spread knowledge of Baekje culture, Confucianism, and Chinese characters.
Geunchogo also encouraged culture; as Baekje forces occupied former Daebang, many Chinese scholars were invited and came to Geunchogo's court. With advanced Chinese cultures adopted from those people and also imported culture from Eastern Jin through trade, Baekje people enjoyed higher quality of life.
Also during his reign, a "history of Baekje" called Seogi (서기, 書記) was compiled by the scholar Go Heung (고흥, 高興). Its primary purpose was not only to record history, but also to justify his and his family's rule and to display the power of Baekje. However, it has not survived.
“King Geunchogo" (also broadcast as "King of Legend") is a historically inspired drama series based on his life. Korean actor Kam Woo Sung portrays King Geunchogo. The series was broadcast originally in 2010 to 2011 with over 60 episodes.