Bonguk geom

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Bonguk geom
Hangul 본국검
Revised Romanization Bonguk geom
McCune–Reischauer Bonkuk kŏm

Bonguk geom (Korean 본국검 "national sword", also singeom 신검 "Silla sword") in Joseon era Korean martial arts (17th to 18th centuries) referred to a sword and style of swordsmanship.

The term is introduced in the Muyesinbo of 1759 and the system is supposedly due to Crown Prince Sado. It contrasts with Jedok geom or "admiral sword", a system supposedly introduced by the Chinese admiral Li Rusong during the 16th-century Imjin War (the "national sword" system is conspicuously absent from the older Muyejebo manual of 1610). The Muyesinbo stresses the antiquity of this "national" Korean system by including the narrative of a Silla "Flower Youth" called Hwangchang, who killed Baekje's king while performing a sword dance, geommu, at the court.

The historical swords of the Silla period would have been double-edged swords comparable to those of Eastern Han (see also Hwandudaedo). But the Bonguk geom as presented in the 18th century manual is ahistorically based on a single-edged sword of the type common during that era.

In contemporary schools of Korean swordsmanship the term bonguk geom is used to emphasize their "national" Korean character, without necessarily bearing a direct relation to the 18th-century system.


  • B.K. Choi, Sippalgi: Traditional Korean Martial Arts, Ehwa University Press 2008