How do Koreans see the Goryeo dynasty

The Late Three Kingdoms Period and the Rise of Goryeo (892-1135)

5.1. The rebellions of the aristocrats

After the unification and consolidation of the centralized system of rule, Silla experienced a peaceful era until the middle of the 8th century. But under King Hyegong (r. 765-780), there were again signs of unrest in the country through high-ranking aristocrats. The first major case was the Daegong rebellion in 768. It was an aristocratic rebellion lasting about three years, with 96 aristocrats with the highest official rank Gakgan were involved. Kim Yangsang, one of the central figures of the uprising and later King Seondeok, murdered King Hyegong in 780 and took over his power. This was the first time that the dynastic line of King Muyol was interrupted. This meant the abolition of consanguinity-based inheritance and the revival of the old aristocratic line that had been pushed back since the unification of Silla. But this led to constant fierce power struggles among the aristocrats, who made alliances in various groups and fought each other in order to come to power by force. The king found it difficult to create stability and was soon overthrown, so that in the period from 780 to 935 a total of 19 kings and one queen ruled over Silla. The Kim Heonchang rebellion in 822 is also known. He led a rebellion in Ungju (today's Gongju) and announced the establishment of a new kingdom called Jangan. The kingdom developed to the point where it ruled over the entire area of ​​what is now Jeolla-do Province, before it was eventually suppressed by government forces. After this rebellion, peace returned for a short time under King Heondeok (809-826) and Heungdeok (r. 826-836). After King Heungdeok's death, there were repeated turbulent power struggles for the succession to the throne. After King Munseong's (r. 839-857) rule, the central power regained more or less stability. But at the same time the state could no longer keep the rural areas under control and a powerful upper class emerged. The political stability of the central government was certainly partly the backlash of the leading aristocratic class, who banded together to counter the increase in influence of the local rulers.


5.2. The upswing of the lower or local classes

The power conflicts among the aristocrats in the capital region and the resulting political chaos offered the 6th-tier aristocrats and below the opportunity to build and stabilize their power. Below the 6th rank there were several intellectuals, many of whom also went to Tang to study. Their contact with Tang's civilization and the Confucian teachings led to the conclusion that for the kingdom's prosperity and stability the abolition of the bone rank system and instead a performance-based bureaucracy must be introduced. They were also in favor of reforming the tax system to improve the quality of life for farmers. Although these intellectuals were not directly involved in the numerous rebellions, their influence on the local rulers was great and in some cases they also acted as key advisers to the war leaders in the turbulent power struggles during the Late Three Kingdoms period. In the meantime, a powerful elite class has established itself outside the capital, with both financial and military means at its disposal. The so-called belonged to the shift Hojok, Large landowners from inland areas who Gunjin, Guide to the strategically important port and the traders who were able to amass a huge fortune, especially through international trade. A good example of a successful one Gunjin was Jang Bogo, who gained power over sea trade in the South Korean Sea and the Yellow Sea between China and Korea. Songak (now Gaeseong), Jinju, and Naju were some of the liveliest places in terms of international trade. To the Hojok included military officers and aristocrats of low rank who lost their influence in the course of the power conflicts in the capital region and fled to the countryside. They secured their power base by joining forces with discontented peasants who were exploited by the central government and suffered from poverty. You built your own castles and armed yourself. The Hojok However, could not keep up with the traders, who had much more foreign knowledge and power through their trade and better mobility.


5.3. The establishment of the Late Three Kingdoms

Towards the end of the 9th century, Silla had fallen into sheer chaos. Repeated crop failures and outbreaks of infectious diseases depressed farmers' lives. In addition, there was still unrest in the country due to the political power struggles. The extravagant lifestyle of King Heongang (r. 875-886) and Queen Jinseong (r. 887-897) also drove the financial crisis forward, so that the government was increasingly dependent on tax revenues. The exploitation of the peasant class led to the fact that the peasants left their homeland and became vagabonds, day laborers or even thieves. Many farmers also voluntarily served a hojok, as this reduced their burden. In any case, over time there was more and more dissatisfaction in the whole country and people banded together, so that there were riots all over the Sillas area. The first major rebellion broke out in Sabeolju (now Sangju) in 889 and was soon followed by further peasant uprisings in Jukju (now Juksan), Wonju and Jeonju. In 896 a peasant army called Jeokgojeok along the southwest coast and penetrated into the suburbs of the capital Gyeongju, before it was ultimately defeated due to a lack of combat experience. Despite the numerous supporters, the armies were initially unable to establish their own empire due to a lack of resources. But gradually two rebels succeeded in winning intellectuals and strategic thinkers on their side. These were Gyeon Hwon (867-936) and Gung Ye (857-918). Gyeon Hwon was born in Mungyeong in what is now Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, the son of one Hojok-Family born. He made a name for himself as the leader of the Silla Army in the Jeolla region and in 889 led a peasant army that successfully occupied Mujinju. In 892 Gyeon Hwon declared himself king. He teamed up with a Confucian scholar of the sixth head rank and planned the establishment of an independent kingdom. They used the widespread anti-Silla mood in the former Baekjes domain and soon found numerous supporters for a new empire that was to take revenge on Silla for taking Baekjes. Gyeon Hwon occupied Jeonju and made it the capital of the new kingdom, which was named Hubaekje ("Late Baekje"). The new empire expanded further north, so that the territory roughly encompassed the former area of ​​Baekjes. The local elite class Hojok supported Gyeon Hwon on a large scale and was instrumental in Hubaekje's success. In 926, Hubaekje finally attacked Gyeongju, killing King Gyeongae of Silla. Gyeonwon and his followers looted the royal palace and also took the king's younger brother, several ministers and technicians hostage. Only the increasing threat from Gung Ye and Wang Geon prevented the complete takeover of Silla by Gyeon Hwon. Around the same time that Gyeon Hwon founded Hubaekje, Gung Ye was also preparing to found his own kingdom. Gung Ye was a lieutenant under Yang Gil, the leader of a rebellion force in the northeastern region of Sillas. Gung Ye was the son of King Heonan and belonged to that part of the royal family that was enormously weakened in the course of the power struggles for the throne. He originally became a Buddhist monk, but took part in the Jukju uprising in 891. Gung Ye developed under Yang Gil to a successful troop leader and achieved numerous victories, so that over time he occupied most of the province of Gangwon-do and partly also of Hwanghae-do. In this area, Gung Ye finally founded the Kingdom of Hugoguryeo ("Late Goguryeo") in 901. In 904 Gung Ye renamed the empire Majin and the capital was also moved from Songak (now Gaeseong) to Cheorwon. From 911 the empire was then called Taebong. The reason for the relocation of the center was believed to be the growing influence of Wang Geon, Songak's most famous descendant. The renaming of the empire was based on Gung Ye's goal, not to just want to be regarded as the close-up empire of Goguryeos. His plan was to create an even more powerful empire by trying to take Silla and Hubaekje as well. In its heyday, Taebong bordered both Silla and Hubaekje, stretching from the Daedonggang River in the south to Sangju and Gongju in the south. In addition to Balhae, the Korean peninsula was thus divided into the three kingdoms of Silla, Hubaekje and Hugoguryeo towards the end of the 9th and beginning of the 10th century. The era is therefore also called the time of the three late kingdoms (Husamguk sidae) designated.


5.4. The Origin of Goryeo and the Unification of the Three Late Kingdoms

Gung Ye, the successful king of Hugoguryeo, profited from the general anti-Silla mood in the area of ​​the former Goguryeo and expanded his sphere of influence so that he soon rose to become the most powerful of all three kingdoms. However, the successive successes of Lieutenant Wang Geon and his army against Gyeon Hwon made Gung Ye increasingly jealous, and his leadership became uncontrolled and vicious as a result. His tyranny led to the disempowerment of Gung Yes by a group of Hugoguryeo's generals who were now much more on the side of Wang Geon. In 918 Wang Geon took over the throne and renamed the empire Goryeo. The capital was relocated from Cheolwon to his home town of Songak (now Gaeseong), as his support was greater there and he was able to further expand his own power. Wang Geon was a warrior of the Hojok-Layer from Songak and originally came from a powerful and wealthy family of traders who made a fortune trading tang. Wang Geon thus had influential financial and military resources, a good understanding of the international situation and also numerous merchant ships. Above all, his maritime domination through the close connections with traders from different regions helped Wang Geon with the decisive two military successes over Hubaekje's most important ports in Geumseong (today's Naju) and Jindo. This led to the appointment of Wang Geon as Prime Minister of the so-called Gwangpyeongseong (Chancellery for the Supervision of State Affairs) by King Gung Ye. After taking the throne, Wang Geon sought the unification of the Late Three Kingdoms. He approached Silla through a peaceful policy. He tried to secure the legitimacy of Goryeo by adopting Silla's traditions and at the same time isolating Hubaekje. This was also the reason why Wang Geon took advantage of the attack and murder of the Silla king by Hubaekje in 927 and was able to enter into a fight against Hubaekje as the defender of Silla. When Wang Geon arrived in Gyeongju after the victorious fight against Hubaekje, he was received with full enthusiasm and support. As a result of this Silla-friendly policy, Silla's last king Gyeongsun (r. 927-935) also voluntarily transferred the sovereignty of the empire to Goryeo in 935. In the meantime, Wang Geon pursued an uncompromising military strategy towards Hubaekje. The power struggle between the two empires continued for many years. The Battle of Gochang (now Andong) in 930 was one of the decisive successes for Wang Geon, who was able to expand Goryeo's influence in the area of ​​the Nakdonggang River. Another decisive battle took place in Unju (now Hongseong) in 934, where Goryeo also emerged victorious. A major reason for Goryoe's military success against Hubaekje were Hubaekje's internal disputes. Gyeon Hwon, founder of Hubaekje, appointed his fourth son Geumgang to succeed him. Gyeon Hwon was then arrested by his first son Singeom and imprisoned in a monastery. He managed to escape to Goryeo, where he prepared a revenge attack. Eventually, Hubaekje was attacked and destroyed by Goryeo's army, led by the empire's own founder. Thus, in 936, Wang Geon was ready to unite the three kingdoms of Goryeo, Silla and Hubaekje. The period of the unification of the Three Kingdoms by Wang Geon was also marked in foreign policy terms by the great political turmoil in China. In 907 the Kitans Tang, who had become powerful in the north, brought down Tang and later in 926 they also defeated Balhae. This came as a shock to Goryeo, whom Balhae saw as an ally. After the downfall, numerous aristocrats from the former Goguryeo area fled to Goryeo from Balhae and were warmly welcomed as members of Goryeo. Some of them also occupied important government posts and Balhae's traditions were maintained. The founding of Goryeo is a significant event in Korean history as, in addition to the reunification of the Late Three Kingdoms, it also represented a major step towards a comprehensive unification of the Korean people.


5.5. The restoration of political and social order

After King Taejo (honorary title of Wang Geon) had succeeded in uniting the kingdoms and also taking in the refugees from Balhae, he persecuted the local elite Hojok an internal integration policy. At the same time, Goryeo carried out an irredentist policy against the Khitans in order to regain former territories of Goguryeo and Balhae. This has been referred to as the policy of northern expansion. Pyeongyang, the former capital of Goguryeo, became the "western capital" (Seogyeong) and served as a base for the development of the north. Since the power of the local elites was too great before the unification and the central government was weakened, an attempt was made to divide up the administrative administration by developing a second government center next to the capital Gaeseong. Thanks to the consequent northern policy, the Goryeo national territory reached the Cheongcheon River at the end of Wang Geon's reign. In the course of this expansion one came on course of confrontation with the Khitans, although the latter sought a peaceful solution. Internally, it was a great challenge for the government to be more or less independent Hojok- to involve the layers that controlled the local communities. Taejo's priorities were to win over influential individuals in this class. This was done through a radical marriage policy, with Taejo himself marrying a total of 29 wives, all of them more powerful Hojok-Families originated. Thus became powerful Hojok automatically incorporated into Goryeo's central state system. Taejo also gave several Hojok families the royal surname Wang or other noble surnames in order to gain their support. As a reward, they were also given land and given a bureaucratic rank in the hierarchical structure. The peasant taxes were also reduced to about a tenth to avoid possible dissatisfaction and uprisings among the peasant class. Thus the king succeeded in restoring social order in the country without encountering great resistance. To further stabilize the empire, Taejo wrote a series of books for government officials with rules for the successful management of the empire. These include Jeonggye ("Political Precautions"), Gyebaekyoseo ("Bureaucratic Guidelines") and, above all, the "Huinyo Sipjo" ("Ten Rules"), which was basically based on Confucian, Buddhist and geomantic ideas. The will contained the following ten points: 1. Maintenance of the Buddhist monasteries; 2. Following Doseon's Geomantics; 3. In principle, the first son should become heir to the throne; 4. Follow the Chinese culture only to a limited extent, as the cultures of the Goryoes are different. In no way follow the barbaric khitans; 5. Respect for the western capital Pyeongyang; 6. Faithful observance of Buddhist ceremonies; 7. Ensure the respect of the subjects and the people; 8. Easing the burden of the peasant class; 9. No appointment of persons from the area south of the Geumgang River and the Charyeong Mountains to official posts; 10. Read old books and learn from them.


5.6. The reform policy of Taejo's successors in the early phase of the Goryeo period

King Taejo died after a 26-year reign and his office was taken over by King Hyejong (r. 943-945), son of the second Queen Janghwa.However, Hyejong died three years after his accession to the throne and was replaced by his half-brother Jeongjong (r. 945-949), who was the son of the third Queen Sinmyeong. King Jeongjong did not live long either and after his death his younger brother Gwangjong (r. 949-975) ascended the throne. A power conflict at this stage was inevitable, as in principle every son of Taejo's 29 wives was entitled to the throne. Although Taejo originally took the numerous wives in as a measure to restore social order, this now led to serious destabilization in Goryeo due to the problematic succession to the throne. The aim of King Gwangjong, who ascended to the throne at the age of 25 and ruled Goryeo for 26 years, was therefore primarily to strengthen the royal power and at the same time to suppress the influence of the Hojok-Layer. One of his major political reforms was the liberation of the Nobi (Slavery class) by the "law for the review of the slave status" promulgated in the year 956 (Nobi angeombeop). The law gave former freeborn citizens (Yangin) that too Nobi had returned to their former status. This led to the weakening of the Hojok layer, which became numerous over the last few years of the Silla Empire Yangin enslaved. It also tried to bring out additional independent farmers and taxpayers who were beneficial to the state's economy. Another important reform during King Gwangjong's reign was the introduction of a civil service examination system (Gwageo) in the year 958. The examination system itself was based on the system of Sillas Dokseo sampumgwa. It was no longer just the knowledge of the Confucian classics that was tested, but also knowledge in the field of literature and art. In addition, from this time on, government officials were elected and classified according to their specialty, which marked the beginning of a clear separation between the military and the state administration YangbanSystem. The new system also allowed people of simple origins to fill certain positions as long as they did well in the exam. In order to define the hierarchical structures among the civil servants more clearly, one had to wear the appropriate clothing with one of the four colors purple, red, blue and green, depending on the rank. King Gwangjong also tried to put the country's Buddhist structure in order, which was divided due to the various rival schools and sects. He created the two directions Hwaeom and Watch and called certain monks together to form a unified concept. King Gwangjong's political reforms laid the foundation for the economic reforms of his successor Gyeongjong (r. 975-981). The land reform called Jeonsigwa was at the heart of the reforms. With the new law, the central government supported the bureaucratic class economic security by giving them their own land according to the post. Under the sixth King Seongjeong (r. 981-997) the political system of Goryeos finally established itself. He had succeeded in creating an era of highly developed Confucian rule by replacing both the founders of the Goryeo dynasty and the radical reform-minded bureaucratic class under Gwangjong with people who passed the state entrance examination. Due to the influence of his Confucian advisor Choe Seungno from the 6th head rank, efforts were great to make Confucianism a political ideology. At the same time, Buddhism was accepted as a self-enlightenment religion, but due to high government spending, the holding of Buddhist rituals and ceremonies was abolished. The administrative system of Goryeo was greatly reformed by King Seongjong and is one of his most important achievements during his time.


5.7. The central government structure and the local administrative system

The central government structure was originally a mixture of the Taebong (Hugoguryeo) and Silla systems. During the reign of King Seongjong, several reforms were undertaken, which were continued and completed under King Munjong (r. 1046-1083). Goryeo's administrative system was mainly based on Tangs 3-Seong 6-Bu (three chancellery offices and six ministries) and consisted of the three organs Jungseoseong, Munhaseong and Sangseoseong, with the first two organs too Jungseo Munhaseong (Chancellery for State Affairs) merged and represented the legislature. The executive power was from Sangseoseong (Secretariat for State Affairs) and was made up of the six departments for personnel (Ibu), Military (Byeongbu), Taxation (Hobu), Justice (Hyeongbu), State ceremonies (Yebu) and construction (Gongbu) together. The head of the whole structure was the Prime Minister, Munha sijung called, who oversaw the entire function of the government. Members of the Jungseo Munhaseong were divided into Jaesinwho held the higher rank than 2 and the Nangsawho were ranked 3 or lower. While Jaesin were responsible for specific decisions regarding state policy, it was the task of the Nangsa propose or assess political measures. Another administrative apparatus was the inspector's office (Eosadae), which was responsible for controlling public opinion. Members of the Eosades had together with the Nangsa the right to consent or disapprove of recruitment, enactment and repeal, or royal edicts. There was also the Central Council called Jungchuweon. He controlled the execution of royal edicts and was also responsible for defense services. The Jungseo Munhaseong and the Jungchuweon represented the most influential part of the government administration and decided together in a meeting called Jaechu hoeui about the most important state affairs. There were many other state organs, each with their own function and task. You can tell from this how much the offices were specialized in the Goryeo period and the areas of responsibility were divided up in more detail. The reform of the local administrative system was also initiated under King Seongjong and successfully completed in 1018 under King Hyeongjong. As a result of the reforms, the country was divided into five do (Provinces), Gyeonggi Region and Yanggye Region. There were three within each province Gyeong (larger cities), five Dohobu (Military bases), eight Mok (Administrative centers) as well as numerous Gun (Districts), Hyeon (Counties) and Jin (Garrisons). The provinces were made up of so-called Ankhalsa managed, governors who were sent by the central government. Judges were sent to the local administrative areas (Suryeong) with the exception of the Dohobuadministered by military commanders. Suryeong however, were only in the larger ones Gun and Hyeong sent and were then responsible for a larger room. This meant that the central government was only able to regain control of the local areas to a limited extent. In the rural areas, local officials (Hyangni) the tax receipts, all duties and conscription to the army. The Hyangni came from the former local elite class Hojok and particularly powerful Hyangni called Hojang (Village chief). However, in order to limit the influence of the leaders in the rural regions, the government endeavored by appointing general inspectors (Sasimgwan) sent to the regions. Besides, the children became the mighty Hyangni forced to live separately from parents in the capital. This hostage-taking policy was called Giin. The Yanggye region was divided into Bukgye (northern region) and Donggye (eastern region), with Bukgye representing the current Pyeongan-do province and Donggye the coastal region of the present-day Gangwon-do and Hamgyeongnam-do provinces. Since these were border areas and the threat of invasion was accordingly high, they were named by military commanders Byeongmasa controlled. The subunits of the local regions were divided into Hyang, So and Bugok. These were distributed over the main administrative districts (Juhyeon) administered by the central government. The administrative unit under the Gun and Hyeon was Chon (Village). A Chon consisted of several smaller villages and was intended to group the smallest places together to make them easier to manage. Each Chon had one Chonjang (Village chief) or an office for administrative management called Chonjeong. They controlled the population movement and supported other work of the central government and local leaders. The influence of the Chonjang however, it was limited and weaker than in the Silla era.




5.8. The military system

The defense of their territories and a new military organization were of great importance in the early stages of the Goryeo period. A major reason for this was that Goryeo's unification of the Late Three Kingdoms was achieved by violent means. In addition, a strong army was essential for the continuing expansion policy in the north. The hostile khitans in particular posed a great threat. Goryeo's military system stipulated that all healthy men between the ages of 16 and 60 can be called up (Bubyeongje). The core of the military was made up mainly of men Yangin-Class. King Seongjong organized two armies (gun) and six units (wi), each with their own area of ​​responsibility. The two armies (geunjang) called Eungyanggun and Yonghogun and they served the royal protection. The six units were called Jwauwi, Sinhowi, Heungwiwi, Geumowi, Cheonuwi and Gammunwi. While the first three units were responsible for the defense of the capital and border regions, the served Geumowi than the police and the Cheonuwi as a troupe on ceremonial occasions. The Gammunwi like the two armies used for defense in the vicinity of the royal palace. In total, the army and the units consisted of around 45,000 soldiers. There were three groups among the professional soldiers: Gyeonggun, Boseung and Jeongyonggun. The latter two were convened from the provinces. The Gyeonggun received from the state land (Guninjeon), which could also be inherited within the family. This ensured that the profession was hereditary. All other soldiers had two housekeepers named Yangho available, who thoroughly looked after the soldiers. The peasant army was also formed in the northern Yanggye region Jujingun. The armies of the other prefectures and counties were called Juhyeongun. Here, too, it was a peasant army, in which peasants acted as soldiers in times of war. The armies in the central areas, Yeong called, each consisted of 1000 men who were led by generals (Janggun) were listed. The chief general bore the title Sangjanggun and under it stood the second general Daejanggun. These high-ranking officers had a seat on the Military Council (Jungbang), in which important military matters were discussed and determined.


5.9. The education system and the civil service examination

Immediately after his accession to the throne, King Taejo began promoting educational institutions in the country. Several schools have been established in the metropolitan areas of Gaegyeong and Seogyeong (Pyeongyang). The state academy was finally founded in 992 under King Seonjong Gukjagam. Another central educational facility Biseoseong and the national library Suseowon were also built in the same year. This was added under the reign of King Sukjong Gukjagam by a printing department (Seojeokpo) to publish more books. King Yejong (r. 1106-1122) expanded that Gukjagamby creating seven subject areas to promote subject-specific knowledge. He also founded a library within the Royal Palace (Bomungak) and a research institute (Cheongyeongak) to give scholars more opportunities for further training. As part of this, numerous scholarships were also awarded. The creation of Kim Busiks "Samguk Sagi“During the reign of King Injong (r. 1122-1146) also owes in large part to the promotion of the education system during this phase. King Injong divided that Gukjagam again and founded six academies (Gyeongsa yukhak) with different focuses: Gukjahak, Taehak, Samunhak, Yulhak, Seohak and Sanhak. Gukjahak, Taehak and Samunhak were the humanities that could only be studied by the upper class. The remaining three subjects were practical science, which both lower officials and the common people studied. Under King Gwangjong (r. 949-975) the examination system for the recruitment of civil servants was introduced for the first time. There were three types of exams: Jesureop (Literature review), Myeonggyeongeop (Confucian Knowledge Exam) and Jabeop (Examination of practical knowledge in the field of law, mathematics, medicine, fortune-telling and geomantics). Above all, the literature review was valued as very important and accordingly had the greatest influence on the recruitment of civil servants. The Jabeop exam was primarily intended for the selection of professionals in the fields of practical science. Although this examination system theoretically created opportunities for the lower social classes to fill higher positions, in reality it looked like that only men from the upper classes could take the exams at all. Family origins also continued to play a major role in filling higher state posts. Through the so-called EumseoSystem, officials of the fifth rank or higher could also fill an official position with their family member. Here, too, the close connection between the Goryeo dynasty and the aristocratic tradition is noticeable.


5.10. Agricultural

Agriculture was also the main source of income for the state during the Goryeo period. The peasants were recognized as owning their own land and named it Minjeon. However, the farmers had to give the state 10 percent as property taxes, since the land was designated as state property (Gongjeon). In addition to the state land, there was also private property that in most cases belonged to higher officials and was inherited by their families. In the first year of King Gyeongjong (r. 976-981) a land reform (Jeonsigwa), which was only finally completed under King Munjong's (r. 1046-1083) reign in 1076. The system distributed farmland and forest property to the officials, which returned to the state when the official died. This limited the economic power of the aristocrats. However, there was privileged land called for higher-ranking officials Gongeumjeonwhich could be passed on. There were also those Naejangjeonthat were distributed to members of the royal family who Oeyeokjeon for the community officials and the Guninjeon for the professional soldiers who Gonghaejeon for the extra administrative costs and the Saweonjeon for the Buddhist monasteries. While the higher social classes increased their wealth through tax collections, the farmers became poorer and poorer due to the high taxes and the additional compulsory labor. Many farmers tried to flee because of the miserable conditions and often ended up as slaves. The government responded to this serious situation with various social services. These included, among other things, extra granaries such as Uichang and Sangpyeongchang, the public sick bay Hyeminguk for the supply of medicines, the emergency wards Dongsei daebiwon and various foundations and funds called Bo for students, monks and also the poorer classes.


5.11. The crafts and the trade

The crafts during the Goryeo era were made by people from various social groups. There were certain state settlements called Sowhere artisans without free status created products for the state. The state registered all the craftsmen in order to maintain control over the necessary products. The most important items included weapons, utensils (mostly made of porcelain), furniture, gold and silver goods, clothing and silk. Monks and farmers also produced their own products. The most important items included paper, ink, brushes, laughing goods, books, spices, instruments, cooking utensils, agricultural tools, Buddhist decorations and much more.During the early stages of the Goryeo dynasty, trade was mainly inland. In big cities like Gaegyeong, Seogyeong (today's Pyeongyang) and Donggyeong (today's Gyeongju) large markets arose where all kinds of items could be purchased. Markets also formed in the rural areas, albeit on a much smaller scale and with less choice of products. Over time, foreign traders also reached the coasts of Goryeo, and trade relationships began to be established with empires such as the Chinese Song and Liao dynasties, Japan and even Arab countries. Above all, Byeongnando at the mouth of the Yeseonggang River became an international trading port and ensured the spread of the name “Korea” to the outside world. Goryeo especially cultivated the trade relationship with the Chinese Song Dynasty (960-1279). By establishing a peaceful relationship, they tried to absorb Chinese culture at the same time. The lively exchange between the merchants had such an effect that messengers were sent to each other or monks and students communicated between the two kingdoms for study purposes. The most important import goods from Sung included books, maps, cultural goods, medicines and silk. Goryeo, on the other hand, exported paper, ink, ginseng, gold and silver goods, and copper. The continued spread of trade led to the introduction of a monetary system. Various coins such as Geonwon jungbo, Samhan tongbo, Haedong tongbo and Haedong jungbo, especially under the reign of King Sukjong (r. 1095-1105). However, the coins were only used within the aristocratic class. Hemp clothing and grain were the most common means of payment among the common people.


5.12. The fight against the Khitans (1)

The early phase of the Goryeo period coincided with the enormous strengthening of the northern tribes such as the Khitans (Promongol people in the area of ​​Manchuria), the Jurchen (Tungus people in east Manchuria) and the Mongols. On the other hand, Goryeo tried to recapture the former areas of Goguryeos through an aggressive northern policy. Above all, the relationship with the khitans, who previously founded their own kingdom Liao along the Liao River and forced Balhae to perish, was marked by violent conflicts. After the defeat of Balhae, the Khitans and Goryeo agreed on a common border in 926. As a result, the khitans even tried to maintain friendly relations with Goryeo and in 942 sent several messengers along with 50 camels as gifts to Goryeo. The then King Taejo, however, rejected this gesture and banished the ambassadors to an island. The camels were tied to a bridge and sentenced to starvation. Taejo's successors also continued the expansion policy in the north. During the reign of King Jeongjong (r. 945-949) preparations were made with the formation of an army called Gwanggun to go to war with the Khitans. In 991, the Khitans invaded the Goryeo Empire for the first time. They placed the fortress Naewon at the "lower reach" of the Apnokgang River and tried to cut the connection between Goryeos and Sung China. In 993, under the orders of Emperor Shengzong of the Liao Dynasty, a giant army marched into Goryeo. In the battle of the Cheongcheongang River, however, Goryeo's army managed to stop this invasion. Thanks to Seo Hui's skillful diplomatic efforts, the Khitan army then withdrew completely. Goryeo won the territory between the two rivers Cheongcheongang and Apnokgang and in return promised a friendly exchange between the two kingdoms. The fact that Liao was also involved in a battle with Sung China at the same time contributed to this advantageous arrangement for Goryeo. Thus the first invasion against the Khitans could be fought successfully.


5.13. The fight against the Khitans (2)

Immediately after the Khitans withdrew, Goryeo began building several fortresses along the Apnokgang. Troops were also sent to the border areas as a defense against further attacks. So the so-called six garrison towns arose east of the Apnokgang Gangdong yukju: Heunghwajin, Yongju, Tongju, Cheolju, Gwiju and Gwakju. This military expansion of Goryeo unsettled the khitans, so that they demanded the return of their land. Since Goryeo refused, there was a renewed invasion of the Khitans with 400,000 men in 1010, during which they were able to take Gaesong, the then capital of Goryeo. Gang Jo, who led the troops of Goryeo, underestimated the invasion of the Khitans, so that Goryeo suffered a severe setback. In 1011 the Khitans occupied Gaegyeong and the then King Hyeonjong (r. 1009-1031) was forced to flee to Naju. But despite the repeated attacks by the Khitans, Goryeo never gave in and fought against it. The last large-scale attack finally took place in 1018, with the Khitans invading with 100,000 men, led by Liao's General Xiao Baiya. The khitans suffered a devastating defeat in which Goryeo's soldiers led by Gang Gamchan and Gang Mincheom in Gwiju destroyed almost the entire army. Goryeo's success is known as the victory of Gwiju in 1019. Since both sides were weakened by their long-standing conflict and did not want to accept total ruin, they finally agreed on another peaceful negotiation. Goryeo, which successfully countered the greatest threat since the formation of the empire, began in 1033 with the construction of a fortress wall to protect the northern border. This wall called Cheolli jangseong was completed in 1044 and stretched for hundreds of kilometers from the mouth of the Apnokgang across the Korean peninsula to the east coast. Goryeo partially succeeded in achieving their original goal of retaking the former Goguryeo territories.


5.14. The fight against the Jurchen

Peace in the country did not last long after the fighting against the Khitans, as the relationship with the Jurchen deteriorated. The Jurchen represented a group of several independent tribes that lived in the area of ​​what was then Balhae. The relationship with Goryeo was originally good, as the founder of the people came from Goryeo and the Jurchen therefore regarded Goryeo as their homeland. There was brisk trade between the two sides. In addition, Goryeo tried to include the Jurchen in their empire and expand their empire through a clever assimilation policy. However, after the Jurchen reunited under the Wanyan tribe in northern Manchuria, the situation changed. Under the leadership of Wanyan Wuyashu they tried to expand their own empire and attacked Goryeo. The Jurchen cavalry posed a huge threat to Goryeo and the battles were lost. It was only through King Sukjong's (r. 1095-1105) army reforms that Goryeo managed to regain the upper hand. It was called a special force Byeolmuban educated. It consisted of a cavalry of aristocrats (Singigun), an infantry of peasants (Sinbogun) and a warrior division of monks (Hangmagun). In 1107 Goryeo launched a huge attack on the Jurchen under the leadership of Yun Gwan and O Yeonchong. During this attack, Goryeo succeeded in conquering the northern areas (today's Hamgyeong-do province) and establishing nine fortresses. Due to the pressure of the Jurchen counterattacks, however, Goryeo was soon forced to return the conquered territories. Although it was agreed not to launch any further attacks on each other, Goryeo got more and more problems as the Jurchen grew in power. Wuyashu's younger brother, Wanyan Aguda, united all the tribes of the Jurchen and founded the Jin Dynasty in 1115. The Jin Empire developed into an enormously strong state, which succeeded in defeating the Khitans in a war in 1125 and even taking Kaifeng, the capital of the Sung dynasty, two years later. The Sung Emperor fled south of the Yangtze River and established the Southern Sung Dynasty there. The Jin Dynasty now urged Goryeo to enter into a vassal contract with them. Yi Jagyeom, who had taken power in Goryeo in the meantime, saw it as helpful to submit to the Jurchen and accepted this demand despite the protests within the empire.


5.15. The Yi Jagyeom and Myochong uprisings

Since the reign of King Injong (r. 1122-1146), the Goryeo Empire had to deal with more and more internal problems in addition to the foreign policy pressure from the Jin dynasty. The wealth and power were concentrated in a handful of aristocrats, so that the discontent of the bureaucratic class and the common people became greater. As a result, there was serious unrest in the country. The first major uprising came from Yi Jagyeom, an influential aristocrat of the Yi clan from Inju. Yi was able to couple three of his daughters with King Munjong (r. 1046-1083) and thereby achieved one of the highest ministerial posts. Yi managed to give King Yejong (r. 1105-1122) his eldest daughter as a wife. After his death, his only 14-year-old son Injong ascended the throne. To get closer to the throne, Yi paired up two more of his daughters with King Injong. In 1126, with the help of his troops, supported by Cheok Jungyeong, the most powerful soldier at the time, Yi managed to bring the king under house arrest. Many supporters of the king died in the coup and the royal palace was burned down. A year later, however, Yi Jagyeom was surprised by a counterattack by the king and his loyal supporters, including his former accomplice Cheok Jungyeong, and sent into exile. This also meant the end of the powerful Yi clan. Around the same time, some aristocratic circles, under the leadership of the monk Myocheong, came together to take advantage of the chaotic situation for their own purposes and to found a new empire based in Seogyeong (Pyeongyang). Based on a new idea of ​​the north expansion policy and with the help of geomancers, Myocheong tried, together with other officials from the Seogyeong region, to convince King Injong to move the government center to Seogyeong. In fact, the king decided to build a new palace called Daring near present-day Pyeongyang. However, a so-called Gaegyeong (Gaeseong) faction was formed, which fought against the idea of ​​relocation. It was mainly a group of high-ranking officials whose area of ​​influence was pronounced in the original capital region of Gaegyeong. Kim Busik, noble scholar and author of the "Samguk Sagi"Belonged to this group. As the resistance grew, Myocheong resisted it with force, which escalated into an uprising in Seogyeong in 1135. He put together an army and founded a new empire called Daewiguk. Within a year, however, the troops of the Gaegyeong faction were able to suppress the rebellion and thus Myocheong's plan to take power also failed. But the instability within Goryeo was soon to spark another rebellion. This time it was a coup of the military class during the reign of King Uijong (r. 1146-1169). This rebellion eventually led to military rule in the latter half of the Goryeo period, which lasted almost until the end of the era.


References and further literature


ECKERT, J. Carter et al.

1990a "The Age of Powerful Gentry Families": Korea. Old and New. A history. Seoul: Ilchokak.

1990b "The Hereditary Aristocratic Order of Koryŏ": Korea. Old and New. A history. Seoul: Ilchokak.


HAN Woo-keun

1970 “The Medieval Period”, transl. By Lee Kyung-sik: The History of Korea. Seoul: Owl-Yoo.


HAN Young Woo

2010a "The Later Three Kingdoms and the Establishment of Goryeo", transl. By Hahm Chaibong: A Review of Korean History. Vol. 1 Ancient / Goryeo Era. Paju: Kyongsaewon.

2010b "Politics and Society of Early Goryeo", transl. By Hahm Chaibong: A Review of Korean History. Vol. 1 Ancient / Goryeo Era. Paju: Kyongsaewon.

2010c "War with the Khitans and Relations with Song", transl. By Hahm Chaibong: A Review of Korean History. Vol. 1 Ancient / Goryeo Era. Paju: Kyongsaewon.



2010 "Tongilgukga Goryeo ui deungjang" [The Origin of the Goryeo Dynasty]: Waegukin eul uihan hanguksa [The Korean Story for Foreign Readers]. Seoul: humanist.


KIM Hiyoul

2004 "The Husamguk (Three Late Realms) and the Rise of Goryeo": Korean history. Introduction to Korean history from prehistory to modern times. St. Augustin: Asgard-Verlag.


LEE Ki-baik

1984a “The Age of Powerful Gentry Families”, transl. By Edward W. Wagner and Edward J. Shultz: A New History of Korea. Seoul: Ilchokak.

1984b "The Hereditary Aristocratic Order of Koryŏ", transl. By Edward W. Wagner and Edward J. Shultz: A New History of Korea. Seoul: Ilchokak.


LEW Young-ick

1998 "Political Development and Cultural Flowering During the Middle Ages: Koryo Dynasty and Early Chosón Dynasty (918 - approx. 1600)", transl. By Heike Lee: Brief history of Korea. Seoul: Korean Educational Development Institute.


NAHM, Andrew C.

1988 "The Kingdom of Koryŏ: Internal Development and External Pressures": Korea.   Tradition & Transformation. AHistory of Korean People. New Jersey: Hollym International.

1993 "The Society and Culture of Koryŏ": Introduction to Korean History and Culture. Seoul: Hollym.


PRATT, Keith and Richard RUTT

1999     Korea. A Historical and Cultural Dictionary. Richmond: Curzon.


SHIN Hyong-sik

2005 "The Emergence of a Unified State", transl. By Lee Jean Young: A Brief History of Korea. Seoul: Ewha Womans University Press.


SON Pow-key and KIM Chol-choon and HONG Yi-sup


1970 "Part III": The History of Korea. Seoul: Korean National Commission for UNESCO.