Korea: The Three Kingdoms Period In Korean history, during the period (from the first century BCE to 668 CE) the country was divided into the kingdoms of Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje. These kingdoms arose from different tribes south of the Han river. The tribes were known as “The Three Hans” – Mahan, Chinhan and Pyeonhan. North of the river, the Puyo were dominant. As the Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje kingdoms grew, Goguryeo defeated Puyo and Silla absorbed the Gaya kingdom, leaving three major kingdoms.
The period begins with the founding of the Silla kingdom in 57 BC and ends with the defeat of both the Baekje & Goguryeo kingdoms in 663 AD & 668 AD, creating the Unified Silla kingdom.
Samhan: The Three Han After the fall of the Gojoseon, (the ancient Joseon kingdom) three separate tribes ruled Korea south of the Han river. Mahan became the Baekje kingdom. Chinhan became the Silla kingdom. The Pyeonhan became the Gaya kingdom, later absorbed by Silla. The name, Han , became a part of the modern name of Korea, Daehanminguk ( 대한민국 ). Mahan is thought to be the oldest and most powerful. They defeated the Chinese in North Korea, leading to the Three Kingdom period. Ancient painting from Han tomb
Goguryeo The Goguryeo kingdom was founded in 37 BC by a prince named Jumong. It was located in Southern Manchuria (China) and North Korea. Jumong is said to be the son of the king of Buyeo and a river goddess named Habaek. Goguryeo was a very large and powerful kingdom. It’s most famous king was Gwanggaeto the Great. He won many wars and was the first to unite Korea under a single king, though that only lasted for 50 years. Mural from a Goguryeo tomb
Silla The Silla kingdom was founded in 57 BC by King Bak Hyeokgeose. Legends say that he was hatched from an egg laid by a white horse. He is also the ancestor of the Bak ( 박 ) clan, which has become one of the most common family names in Korea. The Silla capital at Gyeongju was very rich and powerful. The remains of this city can still be seen today. Silla eventually defeated the other kingdoms and united Korea under a single king. Buddah statue, Seokgram grotto (Gyeongju)
Baekje The Baekje kingdom was founded by the son of Jungmo, King Onjo , the founder of Goguryeo, in the area of Seoul. The kingdom also was in Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces. They had relationships with both China and Japan, and are said to have influenced Japanese art and culture. The Baekje were defeated by the Silla and Tang kingdom of China. King & Queen of Baekje
Gwanggaeto the Great King Gwanggaeto, of Goguryeo, is one of only two kings to be given the title “Great”. Many people feel that he is the only king to truly unite all of Korea. He won many battles against Chinese forces in Manchuria and against Baekje forces backed by the Japanese. King Gwanggaeto also helped the Silla kingdom defeat the Baekje/Japanese forces when the Silla kingdom asked for help. Today, he is thought of as one of the greatest heroes of Korea. King Gwanggaeto’s stele is the largest in the world, and describes many of his heroic deeds.