Later Silla

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신라 or 후신라 (新羅)



Unified Silla (in blue) during North–South States Period
Capital Gyeongju (Seorabeol)
Languages Old Korean
Religion Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Korean shamanism
Government Monarchy
 •  661–681 Munmu
 •  681–692 Sinmun
 •  887–897 Jinseong
 •  927–935 Gyeongsun (last)
Historical era Ancient
 •  Establishment 668
 •  Silla–Tang War 670–676
 •  Political turmoil Late 8th century
 •  Start of Later Three Kingdoms period 892–936
 •  Breakaway of Hubaekje 892
 •  Breakaway of Taebong 901
 •  Handover to the Goryeo Dynasty 935
Today part of  South Korea
 North Korea
Later Silla
Bifyu 9.jpg
Anapji pavilion
Korean name
Hangul 후신라
Hanja 後新羅
Revised Romanization Hu-silla
McCune–Reischauer Hu-silla

Later Silla (668–935, Hangul후신라; hanja後新羅; RRHushila, Korean pronunciation: [huːɕʰila]) or Unified Silla is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, after it conquered Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668, unifying the southern and middle portion of the Korean peninsula. Its last king, King Gyeongsun, ruled over a state in name only and submitted to the emerging Goryeo in 935, bringing the dynasty to an end. Throughout its existence, Later Silla was plagued by intrigue and political turmoil, mainly by the rebel groups in conquered Baekje and Goguryeo. During its heyday, the country contested with Balhae, a Goguryeo–Mohe kingdom, to the north for supremacy in the region.

Later Silla carried on the maritime prowess of Baekje, which acted like the Phoenicia of medieval East Asia,[1] and during the 8th and 9th centuries dominated the seas of East Asia and the trade between China, Korea and Japan, most notably during the time of Jang Bogo; in addition, Silla people made overseas communities in China on the Shandong Peninsula and the mouth of the Yangtze River.[2][3][4][5]

Although traditionally considered the first unified Korean state, modern Korean historians argue that later Goryeo was in fact the first truly unified state of the Korean nation.


Modern Korean historians began to criticize the traditional view of Unified Silla as the unification of Korea. According to this perspective, Goryeo is considered the first unification of Korea, since Balhae still existed after the establishment of "Unified Silla", despite occupying territory north of the Korean peninsula.[6][7]


Main article: Silla

In 660, King Munmu of Silla ordered his armies to attack Baekje. General Kim Yu-shin, aided by Tang forces, defeated General Gyebaek and conquered Baekje. In 661, he moved on Goguryeo but was repelled. King Munmu was the first ruler ever to look upon the south of the Korean Peninsula as a single political entity after the fall of Gojoseon. As such, the post-668 Silla kingdom is often referred to as Unified Silla. Unified Silla lasted for 267 years until, under King Gyeongsun, it fell to Goryeo in 935.



Vairocana Buddha

Unified Silla and the Tang maintained close ties. This was evidenced by the continual importation of Chinese culture. Many Korean monks went to China to learn about Buddhism. The monk Hyech'o went to India to study Buddhism and wrote an account of his travels.[8] Different new sects of Buddhism were introduced by these traveling monks who had studied abroad such as Son and Pure Land Buddhism.[8]


A national Confucian college was established in 682 and around 750 it was renamed the National Confucian University.[8] The university was restricted to the elite aristocracy.

Woodblock printing[edit]

Woodblock printing was used to disseminate Buddhist sutras and Confucian works. During a refurbishment of the Pagoda That Casts No Shadows, an ancient print of a Buddhist sutra was discovered. The print is dated to 751 CE and is the oldest discovered printed material in the world.[8]


At first, Silla decreased agriculture output tax to one-tenth before unification and assigned tributary payment per town with special products.

Unified Silla conducted a census of all towns' size and population, as well as horses, cows and special products and recorded the data in Minjeongmunseo (민정문서). The reporting was done by the leader of each town.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kitagawa, Joseph. The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture. Routledge. p. 348. ISBN 9781136875908. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  2. ^ Gernet, Jacques. A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge University Press. p. 291. ISBN 9780521497817. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  3. ^ Reischauer, Edwin Oldfather. Ennins Travels in Tang China. John Wiley & Sons Canada, Limited. pp. 276–283. ISBN 9780471070535. Retrieved 21 July 2016.  "From what Ennin tells us, it seems that commerce between East China, Korea and Japan was, for the most part, in the hands of men from Silla. Here in the relatively dangerous waters on the eastern fringes of the world, they performed the same functions as did the traders of the placid Mediterranean on the western fringes. This is a historical fact of considerable significance but one which has received virtually no attention in the standard historical compilations of that period or in the modern books based on these sources. . . . While there were limits to the influence of the Koreans along the eastern coast of China, there can be no doubt of their dominance over the waters off these shores. . . . The days of Korean maritime dominance in the Far East actually were numbered, but in Ennin's time the men of Silla were still the masters of the seas in their part of the world."
  4. ^ Kim, Djun Kil. The History of Korea, 2nd Edition. ABC-CLIO. p. 3. ISBN 9781610695824. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  5. ^ Seth, Michael J. A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic Period Through the Nineteenth Century. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 65. ISBN 9780742540057. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  6. ^ Ch'oe, Yŏng-ho (1980), "An Outline History of Korean Historiography", Korean Studies 4: 23–25, doi:10.1353/ks.1980.0003 
  7. ^ Armstrong, Charles K. (1995), "Centering the Periphery: Manchurian Exile(s) and the North Korean State", Korean Studies (University of Hawaii Press) 19: 1–16, doi:10.1353/ks.1995.0017 
  8. ^ a b c d Stearns, Peter N., ed. (2001). The Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically Arranged (6th ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 155–6. ISBN 0-395-65237-5. Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  9. ^ Korean history for high school p.141, issued by The National History Compilation Committee of the Republic of Korea.