Jinpyeong of Silla

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Monarchs of Korea
Silla (Pre-Unification)
  1. Hyeokgeose 57 B.C.E.-4 C.E.
  2. Namhae 4-24
  3. Yuri 24-57
  4. Talhae 57-80
  5. Pasa 80-112
  6. Jima 112-134
  7. Ilseong 134-154
  8. Adalla 154-184
  9. Beolhyu 184-196
  10. Naehae 196-230
  11. Jobun 230-247
  12. Cheomhae 247-261
  13. Michu 262-284
  14. Yurye 284-298
  15. Girim 298-310
  16. Heulhae 310-356
  17. Naemul 356-402
  18. Silseong 402-417
  19. Nulji 417-458
  20. Jabi 458-479
  21. Soji 479-500
  22. Jijeung 500-514
  23. Beopheung 514-540
  24. Jinheung 540-576
  25. Jinji 576-579
  26. Jinpyeong 579-632
  27. Seondeok 632-647
  28. Jindeok 647-654
  29. Muyeol 654-661

Jinpyeong of Silla (진평왕; 眞平王r. 579-632) was the twenty-sixth King of Silla (신라 新羅), one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. During his reign he strengthened the ties between Silla and the Chinese Tang dynasty, gaining the Chinese support which later allowed Silla to conquer the other two Kingdoms of Baekje and Goguryeo, and unite the Korean Peninsula. He encouraged the promulgation of Buddhist teachings. In 585, he sent a venerable monk, Jimiyon (智明), to study Buddhism under the Chen Dynasty (陳朝); and in 589, Wangwan (円光) was sent to the Sui dynasty to study Confucianism, but converted to a Buddhist monk after hearing Buddhist teachings. He became a monk Wangwan educated the Hwarang, an elite group of Silla. Silluk-sa Temple, located southeast of Seoul, was founded by Wonhyo during the reign of King Jinpyeong.

Jinpyeong succeeded his cousin, King Jinji ( 真智王. 舎輪王; Geomryun Kim; r. 576–579) and since he had no sons, was succeeded by his oldest daughter Queen Seondeok ( 선덕왕; 善德王; r. 632–647), Silla's twenty-seventh ruler. His second daughter, Chonmyoung, was the mother of Kim Chun Chu (김춘추 金春秋), who became King Muyeol of Silla (태종 무열왕; 太宗 武烈王), the twenty–ninth ruler of Silla. His third daughter, Seonhwa, may have married King Mu (무왕; 武王), the thirtieth King of Baekje.


Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of ancient Korea. According to tradition, Silla was founded by Hyokkose in 57 B.C.E.. By the second century C.E., a confederation of local tribes existed in the southeastern portion of the Korean peninsula. With the establishment of During the reign of King Naemul (the seventeenth ruler, 356-402), the Kim family established a hereditary monarchy, state laws and decrees, and the eastern half of the Kaya state on the eastern tip of the peninsula was annexed. During the reign of King Beopheung (Pophung, 법흥태왕, 法興太王, the 23rd monarch, r. 514-540), Silla emerged as a kingdom with a privileged aristocracy. Archaeological excavations have uncovered elaborate gold crowns and gold belts, indicating that the aristocracy was affluent. Silla sculpture and decorative arts were designed with simple, angular lines. Granite was a favorite material for both sculpture and architecture. Silla pottery was unglazed, grayish stoneware. Under state patronage, Buddhism flourished and many temples were built, including Hwangyong-sa, Pulguk-sa, and the grotto shrine of Sokkuram.

During the reign of King Jinheung (Chinhung, 진흥태왕, 眞興太王, the twenty-fourth monarch, r. 540–576) the military system was reorganized and a unique military corps, called the Hwarang, was organized, which incorporated spiritual training, intellectual enhancement and artistic pursuits with martial arts training. In the following century, Silla allied itself with the Tang Dynasty of China (618 – 907) and, in 660, conquered the southeastern Korean state of Baekje, followed in 668 by the northern Korean state of Goguryeo. Silla then expelled the Tang Chinese and established a unified kingdom on the Korean peninsula.


Jinpyeong of Silla (진평왕 眞平王, 眞平王, r. 579?-632) was the twenty-sixth king of Silla (신라, 新羅). His exact birthdate is unknown. He was a member of the Kim dynasty. The twenty-fourth monarch, King Jinheung (眞興太王) was succeeded by his second son, Prince Sa-Ryun, who became King Jinji (真智王), the twenty-fifty monarch of Silla in 576, but lived for only three years after ascending the throne. Jinpyeong's father was the first son of King Jinheung, and his mother was a sister of King Jinheung.


During Jinpyeong’s reign, many conflicts with Baekje and Goguryeo arose, and Jinpyeong sent emissaries to Tang to improve relations with China and put pressure on Goguryeo and Baekje. Silla's relations with the other Korean nations deteriorated, but he secured more support from China, which later contributed to the unification of Korea under the Silla. Along with this foreign policy, Jinpyeong tried to organize his central government and strengthen his domestic rule in order to pursue territorial ambitions.

Encouragement of Buddhism

Jinpyeong was a patron of Buddhism, and supported sending students to study Buddhism in China. In July 585, Jinpyeong sent a venerable monk, Jimiyon (智明), to study under the Chen Dynasty (陳朝). In 589, Wangwan (円光)was sent to the Sui dynasty to study Confucianism; after hearing Buddhist teachings, he became a monk. He studied Prajñā (Sanskrit) (or paññā (Pali)) and so forth. Later in 589, Wangwan won respect and admiration when he taught the theory of Mahayana Buddhism in Chang'an (長安). After Jinpyeong called Wangwan (円光) to return to Silla in 600 , he served as a simple monk, reserving his talents especially for a crisis. He was also a political advisor; on one occasion Jinpyeong asked Wangwan to write a letter to the Sui dynasty, asking them to send reinforcements to defend Silla against a Goguryeo raid.

Wangwan valued loyalty and fidelity to King Jinpyeong (진평왕 眞平王) and had an ardent commitment to the defense of his country. When two warriors asked Wangwan what were the important commandments for the life of a warrior, he gave them “The five commandments of worldly matters,” which were rules for Buddhist laypeople:

The first commandment is that you should attend with loyalty and fidelity on our King (sovereign or lord).The second commandment is that you should devote yourself with filial piety to your parents.The third commandment is that you should keep good company and put your trust in your friends. The fourth commandment is that in the face of the war, you should not move backward.The fifth commandment is that you have a choice to shed blood or not to shed it.

When the two warriors heard these commandments from Wangwan, they complained that they could not understand the fifth commandment. Normally, Buddhist teaching prohibits killing; however, Wangwan ventured to offer this direction when the nation was facing a crisis. Wangwan educated the Hwarang, an elite group of military youth in Silla.

Wonhyo (元曉, 617 - 686), one of the leading thinkers, writers and commentators of the Korean Buddhist tradition, was born during the reign of Jinpyeong (진평왕 眞平王). According to tradition, Silluk-sa Temple, located southeast of Seoul, was founded by Wonhyo during the reign of King Jinpyeong. The name Silluk-sa is said to have come from the legend that the King's advisor Naonghwasang caught a dragon using a magic bridle.[1]

When the famous temple named Yonfunsa (永興寺) was burned, Jinpyeong of his own accord restored the temple. The princess of King Jinheung (眞興太王) lived as a nun in this temple; in 614, when a plaster image in the temple crumbled due to natural causes , the princess passed away. In 613, a monk (王世儀) of the Sui dynasty came to Silla and gave lectures on Buddhism.  

Queen Seondeok

King Jinpyeong had no sons, so he selected his eldest daughter, Seondeok (Sondok) as his heir. Women at that period already had a certain degree of influence as advisors, dowager queens, and regents. Throughout the kingdom, women were heads of families, since matrilineal lines of descent existed alongside patrilineal ones. The Confucian model, which placed women in a subordinate position within the family, was not to have a major impact in Korea until the mid Joseon period in the fifteenth century. During the Silla kingdom, women's status remained relatively high, but they were expected to do their duties and not try to do activities that were considered to be unwomanly.

Early in her life, Seondeok had displayed an unusually quick mind. Once the king received a box of peony seeds from the emperor of China, accompanied by a painting of what the flowers looked like. Looking at the picture, unmarried Seondeok remarked that while the flower was pretty it was too bad that it did not smell. "If it did, there would be butterflies and bees around the flower in the painting." Her observation about the peonies' lack of smell proved correct, a demonstration of her intelligence, and thus her ability to rule.

In 634, Seondeok became the sole ruler of Silla, and ruled until 647. She was the first of three female rulers of the kingdom, and was immediately succeeded by her cousin Jindeok, who ruled until 654.

Jinpyeong had two more daughters, Chonmyoung, who was the mother of Kim chun chu (김춘추 金春秋), later King Muyeol of Silla ( 태종 무열왕; 太宗 武烈王; the twenty–ninth king of Silla). His third daughter was Seonhwa, who is said, debatably, to have married King Mu of Baekje( 무왕 武; 王 the thirtieth king ) of the neighboring country.


  1. Jeffrey Miller, Silluk-sa: Korea's Only Riverside Temple, The Buddhist Channel, Nov 17, 2004. Retrieved September 18, 2007.

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