Enjoy Baekje, the birthplace of Hallyu.
Of all the three kingdoms, Baekje lacks the most historical records regarding its architecture. According to historical records, Baekje’s food and attire were similar to those of Goguryeo, the weather was mostly mild, and most residential areas were located in the mid-slope areas of mountains. Moreover, according to the Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, it is estimated that Baekje adopted the Ondol structure in its later years. The architecture of homes habituated by Mahan residents is also featured in the Hanjun of the Romance of Three Kingdoms. It describes the houses as earth houses that had leaves for roofs, and the doors were located on top of the building forming a tomb-like feature. It’s assumed that commoners of Mahan lived in houses that resembled underground huts and had leaves or reeds as their roofs.
However, the upper class lived in houses that had tiled roofs as evident from the well-polished cornerstones used for large structures and old roof tiles that were excavated from historic sites of those times. During the Baekje period, people built houses that had pillars and tiles on the roof. Following the bone rank system, everyone had houses that corresponded to their ranks and tiled roofs were also used for houses of commoners. Most houses were tiled-roof houses or brick houses, and they featured chimneys and drains. Moreover, gardening was a prominent feature of the Baekje lifestyle.02Attire
Baekje people wore jeogoris (upper garment) that reached the waist, pants or skirts, and robes when occasions called. A unique feature of Baekje’s attire is the line that went around pant hems, and like suit pants, people did not tie the ankle bands. In regards to their hairstyle, married women split their hair into two and wore an up-do on their crowns, and unmarried women braided their hair and let it droop, or split the braids into two with one made into a bun and the other drooping down. People of Mahan generally had long hair and often wore white clothes. Also, records state that Baekje was skilled in weaving wide and delicate hemp cloth, demonstrating that the southern tribal states also had advanced weaving technology.03Food
The main diet of Baekje people comprised of grains, vegetables, rice cakes, and tea, but rice was not a common grain easily accessed by regular people. Rice was a valuable grain that only the ruling class ate, and regular citizens mostly ate barley, millet, bean, sorghum and such. Such grains were mixed to cook multi-grain rice, and this is evident from the traditional caldron and steamers that can be easily seen in museums. Earthenware caldrons and steamers made of mud were also used, but metal caldrons were widely distributed and considered an essential property. Side dishes included soy sauce, soybean paste, and salted seafood. The wide use of salt at the time made such sauce-based dishes possible. Of course there was kimchi, the most basic foundation of Korean cuisine even to this day. However, chili pepper was introduced to Korea only after the Japanese Invasion of Korea, so back in those days, Kimchi was mostly vegetables picked in salt or fermented seafood. Records say that Baekje’s kimchi was introduced to Japan and became pickled radish, showing a small glimpse of what kimchi was like during the Three Kingdoms Period.
Baekje saw an early development in agriculture, and rice farming was especially prominent. Metalwork was also developed early on to generate farming equipment and this is projected to have initiated significant advancement in Baekje’s agriculture. Weaving, dying and such handicraft work was also prominent in Baekje, and the advanced metalworking industry generated farming equipment, weaponry, golden crowns, gold and silver ornaments, Buddha statues and such.
Baekje’s cultural assets include several golden crowns, gold and silver ornaments, and Buddha statues, and this is due to Baekje’s metalworking industry that was more advanced compared to the other two kingdoms. Prominent qualities of Baekje’s artistry is gentility, softness, and elegance. Baekje’s most renown structures that still exist today are the stone pagodas—most famously the Jungnimsa Five Story Stone Pagoda and Mireuksaji Stone Pagoda—and the earthenware have distinctly smooth curves and elaborate patterns that cannot be found in those of Goguryeo and Silla. Baekje’s drawings include the Yeonhwamun and Unmun in the Royal Tombs in Neungsan-ri, the Sasindo mural and the Sinsudo in the Royal Tombs in Songsan-ri. Among the three kingdoms, Baekje had the most advanced Buddhist art. Baekje’s music is featured in records of 5th and-6th century Southern Song and Northern Wei of China, and the Chronicles of Japan state that a Baekje musician traveled to Japan to teach music. Some prominent musical instruments in Baekje were the go, gak, gonghu, and gong. Also, it is widely known that Mimaji of Baekje went to Japan in the early 7th century to teach the music he’d learned from Eastern Wu of China.
By the 3rd century at the latest, Baekje had already constructed a massive plated fortress with a circuit of 3.5km, demonstrating how advanced their construction technology was. However, in the case of mountain fortresses, there are only a few examples of such plated fortresses built in perfect order, and instead, most fortresses are constructed by shaving or piling earth. It’s assumed that the people of Baekje preferred earthen fortifications and woodwork over stonework not only due to the technology but also because of the economic feasibility of construction. Building a castle requires immense funds and manpower, and thus for castles that are significant or located in the capital area, they are built in a large elaborate scale, but for mountain fortresses, it can be assumed that they could only build in a scale that corresponds to the manpower available to defend the castle. By the Ungjin and Sabi Period after the Hanseong Period, Baekje sees an advancement of construction technology, but the Kingdom has mostly maintained their tradition in the technology used to construct fortresses.
Moreover, a high percentage of Baekje’s fortresses are constructed with earth, and while the exact percentage is not found, it is estimated to be around 50:50. However, Baekje’s stone fortresses often feature natural stones or lightly processed stones. Because such materials are not durable, stone fortresses are easy to crumble and only an extreme few remain in their original form.