|Revised Romanization||Gim Busik|
Kim Bu-sik (1075–1151) ) was a statesman, general, Confucian scholar and writer during Korea's Goryeo period. A scion of the Silla royalty and a member of the Kyeongju Kim clan, he was the supreme chancellor in 1136-1142 and was in charge of suppression of the Myo Cheong rebellion. Kim is best known for supervising the compilation of the Samguk Sagi, the oldest extant written Korean history.
Family background and early life
Kyeongju Kim clan were direct descendants of the last Silla king, Kim Pu. The clan seat (pongwan) name derives from Kim’s great grandfather, a member of the royal Kim clan, who became the administrator in charge of the former Silla capital (renamed Gyeongju at the beginning of the Goryeo period). The first Goryeo king Taejo married into the Kyeongju Kim, and the clan played a leading role in early Goryeo politics. Three of its members were the officials of the first and second rank during 981-1069.
Kim’s father Kim Kun was an official (reached the junior 3rd rank) and a famous poet. When he was a member of an embassy to the Song court, he and the fellow envoy Pak Illyang published a collection of poems that made a deep impression on Song scholars. "The allusions in the poems were so intricate that the most renowned court scholars had to study them in detail before being able to understand them."
The oldest son Kim Bu-pil (? -?) reached the senior 5th rank in 1102, but these were the three younger sons, Kim Bu-il (1071–1132), Kim Bu-sik, and Kim Bu-cheol, also known as Kim Puǔi, (1079-1136) that played an important role in politics and culture of Goryeo. Kim Kun died when Kim Bu-sik was about thirteen, and his widow raised and supervised the education of her younger sons. Later King Yejong rewarded her with a yearly allowance, noting in particular her merit in assisting each of her sons to pass the state examination.
Early career, 1096-1122
Kim himself passed the civil service examination in 1096 on the Book of Documents and was appointed as an official in the Anseo prefecture. Subsequently he was selected for a position at the Hallimwon (Academy of Letters), that was also responsible for drafting foreign correspondence. The Kim brothers steadily raised through the ranks of the civil service. In 1115 Kim Bu-sik was appointed to the Office of Remonstrance. Despite their relatively junior ranks, both Kim Bu-sik (senior 6th rank) and Kim Bu-il (junior 5th rank) participated in the meetings of the Privy Council (Chae Chu).
The increasing literary and scholarly reputation of the Kim brothers made them popular lectures on the Confucian classics. In 1116, King Yejong instituted the royal lecture (kyeongyeon) by designating a lecture hall and making a number of appointments to the position of a royal lecturer. Under him and his successor Injong the lectures were held regularly. Such a lecture was a Confucian ritual in which the ruler paid homage to Confucian teachings. Many of the royal lecturers belonged to the Han An-in faction that opposed Yi Cha-gyeom. Both Kim Bu-cheol and Kim Bu-sik delivered royal lectures, expounding the teachings of Confucius and Mencius. Kim Bu-sik lectured on the Book of History and the Book of Changes.
These lectures became a scene of rivalry between Kim Bu-sik and Yun Oni, son of the famous general Yun Gwan. Yun was an influential Confucian scholar and a future supporter of the Pyongyang faction and Myo Cheong. His attacks on Kim may have roots in Yun Gwan's fall and disgrace (1108-1109) that was at least partially precipitated by the court machinations, or in an incident when Kim Bu-sik rewrote a memorial plaque written by the general. During Kim’s lessons on various historical topics Yun Oni posed difficult questions, apparently trying to embarrass him and discredit his scholarship. After 1121 Kim Bu-sik was appointed as Royal Diarist, or ji, to the court of Yejong. By 1122 Kim Bu-sik became an executive at the Ministry of Rites (Yebu Sirang), typically an appointment of the 3rd junior rank.
Role in the foreign policy, 1114-1122
The years 1114-1128 saw a major change in the balance of power in North-East Asia. Around the year 1100 the dominant regional power was the Khitan state of Liao. Emperors of Liao and of Song China were officially considered equals. However, Song had to pay an annual tribute (that was not named as such) of 200,000 taels of silver and 300,000 bolts of silk, that was equivalent to several percent of the Song government revenues. Goryeo was a vassal state of Liao, even if the tribute was not paid since 1054. Jurchen tribes were vassals of Liao, that exercised a variable degree of control over their tribal groupings. Jurchen had complicated relationships with Goryeo. These ranged from a tributary status and mercenary service to cross-border warfare and informal alliances, particularly during the reign of King Yejong.
Basic tenets of Goryeo’s political theory were expressed in the Ten Injunctions of Taejo. This document advised a cautious following of the Chinese practices, and expressed abhorrence of Khitan, and by extension, other nomadic `barbarians’. The status of Goryeo rulers can be roughly summarized as naeje oewang (emperor at home and king abroad). They were titled kings, were vassals of Khitan Liao dynasty, and were careful to keep these convention in the correspondence with the suzerains. On the other hand, many aspects of the government were fashioned after following the imperial conventions. A majority view of the scholars-officials, including the Kim brothers, was that Goryeo was a realm in itself and thus “a possible center of the world”. During this period Kim Bu-sik drafted a significant portion of the diplomatic correspondence with both Liao and Song.
Throughout their careers Kim brothers demonstrated a pragmatic approach both domestically and internationally. At the beginning of the century the Liao Dynasty appeared strong and Kim Bu-il congratulated Emperor Tianzuo of Liao as a ruler who “developed and enlarged [his] territory and made both Chinese and barbarians follow [him] peacefully." In a letter to the Song court Kim Bu-sik derived the Goryeo legitimacy as successors of Jizi (Giji, a semi-legendary sage who is said to have ruled Gojoseon in the 11th century BCE), who was enfeoffed by the Chinese Son of Heaven. After a long and mutually complementary discourse Bu-sik "concluded by stating that it was the barbarians who stood between Goryeo and the Song, literally and figuratively." This letter was written just before Kim Bu-sik finally ensured the recognition by Goryeo of the Jin dynasty ruler as the Son of Heaven in 1126.
Jurchen leader Wanyan Aguda started a successful rebellion against Liao in 1114. While majority of the Goryeo officials were anti-Jurchen, both Yi Cha-gyeom and Kim Bu-sik aimed to keep Goryeo out of the fray and benefit from the changing geopolitical situation. For example, the first Liao request for help was debated (8th month of the 10th year of Yejong’s reign, July 1115) at the extended meeting of the Privy Council that included also the top military commanders. The majority of officials supported sending the troops. The opposition was voiced by a relatively junior associate of Yi Cha-gyeom and by Kim Bu-il and Kim Bu-sik, who argued that `sending troops for another country could be the cause of trouble and would undoubtedly be dangerous for the future’. They succeeded in stalling the motion. At approximately the same time Kim Bu-sik acknowledged the increasing strength of the Jurchen in the official letters to the Liao court, but swear that Goryeo is loyal to Liao; if not, “may the gods destroy it”.
Wanyan Aguda scored a number of victories over Liao; and proclaimed the establishment of the Jin dynasty with himself as its first emperor in 1115. In 1116-1117 Kim Bu-sik was part of the embassy to the Song court. Goryeo consistently refused a military help to Liao and in the wake of the Jurchen advances recaptured the Uiju (Poju) area and once again established the Yalu River as its border. While the majority of the Yenjong’s officials believed in the eventual Liao downfall, a crisis in the relationship with the Jurchen was precipitated by the request of Taizu of Jin to be recognized as the ‘elder brother’ of the Goryeo king in 1117. Majority of the officials opposed this request and even considered beheading the envoy. The factions of Yi Cha-gyeom and Kim Bu-sik factions stalled the rush moves, but the formal submission of Goryeo to Jin was made only during the reign of Injong.
In fact, Kim Bu-cheol (voicing a position of Kim Bu-sik who was at the time in China) submitted a memorandum proposing to accede to the demands of Emperor Taizu of Jin, giving the following rational: “Now even the great Song calls itself the younger brother of the Khitan and they have gotten along peacefully for generations. And although there is nothing under heaven that can measure up to the dignity of the Son of Heaven [of Goryeo], submitting to and obeying the barbarians like this is the proper policy, one that the sages called ‘the temporarily putting aside of one’s principles as circumstances demand it’ and ‘the protection of the whole country.’" Later Kim Bu-sik himself provided an example of temporizing in the correspondence with the Jin, arguing why Goryeo cannot be its vassal.
Reign of Injong (1122-1146)
In 1123, along with two other historians, was charged with preparing Yejong's Annals (Sillok).
In 1142, Injong ordered the compilation of the Samguk Sagi, a chronicle of events in the Three Kingdoms and Unified Silla. Using Chinese histories (particularly Shiji by Sima Qian), Kim Bu-sik at the head of the fourteen-author team compiled the oldest extant source on Korean history. It was submitted to Injong in late 1145 or early 1146.
Samguk Sagi(“The History of the Three Kingdoms of Korea”) is the oldest extant work of Korean history and often the only written source of information about the Three kingdoms and Unified Silla periods
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