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Korean Myths and Tales :
Shilla's First King - Pak Hyokkose



After Ancient Chosun Kingdom(as you know, Tangun found this country) , many nations rose in the Korean peninsula. Of course, many small nations were absorbed by larger nations many times and then a few nations began to rule the peninsula. In BC 100 the three kingdoms of Koguryo, Paekjae and Shilla were founded, marking the end of the tribal era and the start of history in Korea. Following the tale of the formation of Ancient Chosun, here in CLICKASIA we want to talk about the tales of the foundation of these Three Kingdoms.

Founder of the Shilla Dynasty, Pak Hyokkose, the man born from an egg

In the current Kyungsang Province there used to exist six villages called Yookbu. The first village was called Alcheon Yangsancheon, the following Dolsan Gohurcheon, the next Musan Daesoocheon, Chiusan Jinjichon, Kumsangaricheon and the last Myunghwalsan Goyancheon. These villages belonged to separate clans whose ancestor was said to have descended from heaven...

These six villages (clans) were gathered in a land called Chinhan. The location of Chinhan is the current Northern Kyungsang Province.

The following occurred on the first day of the third month of the fifth year of the Former Han [BC 69] Dynasty of China. The chiefs of the six villages, together with their children, gathered by the shore of the Al River in order to hold a meeting. They said, "Because we have no ruler above to govern the people, the people are dissolute and do only what they wish. We should seek out a virtuous man to be our king, found a country, and lay out a capital."
Then the six chiefs climbed to a height and looked southward. Suddenly they saw an eerie lightning-like emanation by the Na Well under Mount Yang south of the Al River. In the middle of the mysterious rays a white horse kneeled and bowed. When they reached the spot, they found a red egg, the horse gave a long neigh and flew up to heaven when it saw the people approaching.

The people cracked the egg open and a beautiful infant boy came out. Everyone was amazed and filled with wonder. The infant boy was then bathed in the East Spring, and then he emitted light. Birds and beasts danced for joy, heaven and earth shook, and the sun and the moon became bright.

The named the child King Hyokkose, or he who reigns brightly or Bulgonae which means makes the world bright, and titled him kosurhan) kosulhan: also called 'kosokan. It later became the respectful(honorific) name of the king.

(Note 1).The people rejoiced and said, "Now that the Son of Heaven has come down to be among us, we must seek a virtuous queen to be his mate." That day a hen dragon appeared near the Aryong Well in Saryang district and produced from under her left rib an infant girl.
Her features were unusually lovely, but her only defect was that her lips were shaped like the beak of a chicken. Only when the girl was given a bath in the North River Wolsong in did the beak fall off and a beautiful set of lips appear. The river was then called Palchon because on this river her beak fell off.

The people erected a palace at the western foot of Mount South and reared the two wondrous infants together. Since the boy had been born from an egg in the shape of a gourd, pak in Korean, they gave him the surname Pak. The girl was named Alyong after the well where she was born.

When the two reached the age of thirteen in the 17th year of sonjae of the Han Dynasty[57 BC], Hyokkose became king. They named the country Sorabol, Sobol, Sara, or Saro.

After a sixty-one year reign, Hyokkose ascended to heaven, and after seven days his remains fell to earth. His queen Alyong is said to have followed him.
The people of Sorabol wished to bury the remains of the king in a tomb but a large snake appeared and followed and stopped them. So the remains of each were divided into five parts and buried. Because a great snake appeared it was named Five Tombs or Snake Tomb, it is the present North Tomb at Tamom Monastery.

Hidden meaning behind the legend

The legend of Pak Hyukkose is the legend of the foundation ancestor of the Shilla Dynasty. Much like the legends of ancestors or legends of foundations of other nations, the basic outline of the story is similar in that "A god from heaven has come down to be with us and has laid the foundation of the nation". However, through the legend of Pak Hyukksose we can point out a few things about the flow of history.

-Firtst,it reflects the process of how the tribal society unites to form one kingdom. In other words, it puts emphasis on the ruler who comes down from the heaven to rule over the six village chiefs who already had come from heaven.

-Second,a god from heaven has come down to rule upon us from a well and not from a mountaintop. We think this is because the people from Shilla thought the well to be a religious sacred place.

-Third, although he came from an egg, Pak Hyukkose's egg can be compared to a gourd. This is because it is believed the people from Shilla thought that the gourd was like the egg, the dish. plate of a spirit or a ghost.

*For anyone who wish to know more about this subject, please write to us through our E-mail address.





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