Wideok of Baekje
|Wideok of Baekje|
|Monarchs of Korea
During Seong's reign, Baekje had led an alliance with the neighboring Silla and the Gaya confederacy to attack the powerful northern kingdom of Goguryeo. In 551, Baekje successfully reclaimed from Goguryeo the present-day Seoul region, which was Baekje's capital from its founding until 475. However, Silla betrayed the alliance and, under a secret agreement with Goguryeo, claimed the territory for itself.
As crown prince, Wideok organized the reprisal attack on Silla, despite opposition by the aristocracy. He participated in the Battle of Gwansan fortress, in which his father and nearly 30,000 men died fighting the Silla army. That disastrous campaign led to the aristocracy of Baekje taking some power away from the kings.
Baekje under Wideok was inimical with both Silla and Goguryeo, launching various battles and border incursions against the rival kingdoms.
To avoid isolation, and to strengthen the royal position against the power of the aristocracy, he maintained friendly relations with the Chinese dynasties of Chen, Northern Qi and Sui. Although ties had been largely broken following the cataclysmic events of the 550s, he sent missions to the Chen court in 567, 577, 584, and 586 (it fell to Sui shortly thereafter). In 567, he sent Baekje's first mission to Northern Qi; this may have been facilitated by an improved relationship with Goguryeo. In 570, the Northern Qi granted him titles including "Duke of Daifang commandery", and he sent another tribute mission in 572. After Northern Qi was conquered by Northern Zhou in 577, Baekje also sent a congratulatory mission including musicians to the Zhou court. The following year a second and final embassy was sent to Northern Zhou, which was conquered by Sui in 581.
Wideok sent an immediate congratulatory mission to the Sui court in 581, and another in 582. In 589 Sui conquered Chen and united China. In the same year, a Sui warship happened to run aground on Jeju Island, which was ruled by the Baekje dependency of Tamna. Wideok provided the crew with an official escort (bearing tribute and congratulations) to the Chinese court. In 598 he sent an embassy offering to assist in the Sui expedition against Goguryeo that year. The expedition, however, had already been completed. Yeongyang of Goguryeo launched punitive attacks on Baekje's northern border when he learned of this.
In 1995, a stone relic box was found in a Baekje-era Buddhist temple in Buyeo County, Chungcheongnam-do. Inscriptions on its face say it was made in 567 under Wideok's order. In 1996, the South Korean government designated the box as South Korean national treasure No. 288. It is held by the Buyeo National Museum.