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BAEKJECULTURALFESTIVAL

History

According to the Chronicles of the Three States, Baekje is recorded to have been established by Onjo, the second son of the progenitor of Goguyreo King Jumong, in BC 18 when he led a group down to the Han River area. Such records establish that the ruling class of Baekje relocated to the Korean peninsula from the northern areas, and that Baekje and Goguryeo had close ties from the time of establishment. Baekje’s history can be divided into its different capitals –the Hanseong Period (18 BC-475 AD), Ungjin Period (475-538), Sabi Period (538-660).

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Hanseong Period (18 BC – 475 AD)

The Hanseong Period refers to when Baekje’s capital was located in Hanam Wiryeseong. During King Goi’s reign, Baekje established a centralized system based on alliances to form the foundations of an ancient kingdom. King Goi secured a patrilineal succession system, expanded the support foundation for his sovereign power, and also strengthened his reign of rural regions. Based on the kingdom’s strengthened foundation, Baekje actively undertook international activities and secured an international reputation.

However, as Baekje began receiving attacks from Gogureyo after King Ahwa’s reign (455-474), the forces saw significant damages, and foreign forces began further interfering with Baekje’s sovereign power, creating major internal and external obstacles. In particular, the Kingdom’s capital was taken by Goguryeo forces, and as the King died in war, the Ungjin Period began.

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Ungjin Period (475-538)

This refers to the time period when Baekje’s capital was located in current-day Gongju. Before Hanseong was sieged by Goguryeo forces during the Hanseong Period, Munju went to Silla himself to request reinforcement, but by the time he returned with 10,000 men, King Garoe had already passed away and Hanseong had fallen. With the help of Baekje’s cabinet, he ascended to the throne, relocated the capital to Ungjin, and began efforts to rebuild the nation. The political climate during the early days was extremely unstable, and the kingdom was at risk of being isolated from the outside world. To overcome such obstacles, King Dongsung married the daughter of Silla’s royal family to strengthen the alliance with Silla, and reopened transportation routes with Namje to avoid isolation. King Muryeong, who succeeded King Dongsung to the throne, succeeded in repressing the Baekga Revolt and defeated Goguryeo’s military forces, securing Baekje’s place in the international sphere. King Muryeong worked to stabilize the lives of average farmers, and entered the Honam and Gaya area to build the framework of a strong state. In particular, the luxurious and rich burial goods found in the Tomb of King Muryeong demonstrate the heightened sovereign and state power of King Muryeong’s reign.

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Sabi Period (538 – 660)

This period refers to when Baekje relocated its capital to Buyeo until the Kingdom’s fall. The capital was relocated to Buyeo for the purpose of reviving Baekje and strengthening sovereign power. King Seong who enforced this relocation to Sabi took various measures to strengthen sovereign power. The state name was changed to South Buyeo to emphasize the tradition of the Buyeo tribe, and Baekje began adopting Chinese culture and passing it down to Japan. Internally, the King reorganized the centralized system and strengthened his rule over rural areas. Such a system adjustment revived the dignity and strength of his sovereign power, and established a political system that revolved around the King. King Seong allied with Silla and Gaya forces to recover the Han River area from Goguryeo, but Silla’s covert collusion with Goguryeo led to Baekje losing the lower reaches of the Han River. Enraged, King Seong attacked Silla in retaliation, but Baekje suffered a crushing defeat. This battle is the famous Gwansanseong Battle.

386-6, Baekjemun-ro, Gyuam-myeon, Buyeo-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, Republic of Korea

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