Pattern History - Hwa-Rang Tul
The Hwarang, or "Flowering Knights", were an elite group of male youth in Silla, an ancient Korean kingdom that lasted until the 10th century. There were educational institutions as well as social clubs where members gathered for all aspects of study, originally for arts and culture, and stemming mainly from Buddhism. Few Koreans are said to have known about the history of hwarang until after the liberation of 1945, after which the hwarang became elevated to a symbolic importance.

The Silla king, "concerned about the strengthening of the country issued a decree and chose boys from good families who were of good morals and renamed them hwarang." These youths that were chosen by the Silla Kingdom became the knights and warriors for the Silla Dynasty within the age of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. A close relationship did exist between the Hwarang and Buddhism because Buddhism was accepted as a state religion by the royalty and aristocrats within the Silla Kingdom. The Buddhist monks would often be mentors for the Hwarang in both physical and spiritual ways. The Hwarang would seek the teachings of these Buddhist monks because they knew that the martial arts possessed by these Buddhist monks were a source through which they could strengthen themselves for greater success in the future and for the benefit of the Silla Kingdom.

The monks would train themselves in physical fitness exercises through self-defense techniques, countering the weakening effects of long-term meditation and enabling them to protect themselves from bandits and robbers who tried to steal the donations and charities that were collected by the monks on their pilgrimages. Both the Buddhist monks and the Hwarang would go on journeys to famous mountains to heighten their training and would seek encounters with supernatural beings for protection and success of the Silla Kingdom. Won Gwang Beop Sa (圓光法士) was a Buddhist monk who was asked by the Hwarang to teach them ways in developing ambition, bravery, and honor, in order to protect the Silla Kingdom from the other kingdoms inhabiting the peninsula. Won Gwang trained these youths in three areas: Self-defense capabilities, Self-confidence and Self-control.

Won Gwang taught the youths of the Hwarang to become warriors who could defend their beliefs with martial arts, to be confident in their actions, and to control themselves and their surroundings. Won Gwang gave to these Hwarang, martial arts techniques that combined the secret Buddhist monk's physical exercises, along with Taek Kyeon, the art of foot fighting that existed at that time (also known as: gwonbeop). Won Gwang also proposed 5 principles or guidelines that were later called the Five Precepts for Secular Life {Se Sok O Gye; 세속오계; 世俗五戒} which became a list of ethics that the Hwarang could embrace (this is why he is commonly known as Beop Sa or "lawgiver").

These have since been attributed as a guiding ethos for the Hwarang:
  1. Loyalty to one's lord (sagun ichung; 사군이충; 事君以忠; 나라에 충성하고)
  2. Love and respect your parents(sachin ihyo; 사친이효; 事親以孝; 부모님께 효도하고)
  3. Trust among friends (gyo-u isin; 교우이신; 交友以信; 믿음으로 벗을 사귀고)
  4. Never retreat in battle (imjeon mutwae; 임전무퇴; 臨戰無退; 싸움에 나가서는 물러서지 않으며)
  5. Never take a life without a just cause (salsaeng yutaek; 살생유택; 殺生有擇; 살아있는 것을 함부로 죽이지 않는다)
The Samguk Yusa also records that Hwarang members learned the Five Cardinal Confucian Virtues, the Six Arts, the Three Scholarly Occupations, and the Six Ways of Government Service (五常六藝 三師六正).

These commandments and teachings of Won Gwang were followed by the Hwarang to protect the Silla Kingdom from rivaling kingdoms and helped unify the nation of Ancient Korea until the fall of the Silla Kingdom. In 520, King Beopheung had instituted Sino-Korean style reforms and formalized the golpum (bone rank) system. In 527, Silla formally adopted Buddhism as a state religion. The establishment of Hwarang took place in the context of tightening central state control, a complement to the golpum system and a symbol of harmony and compromise between the king and the aristocracy.

A Famous Hwarang Warrior - Gwanchang

Gwangchang was the son of General P’umil who died as a martyr in the wars of unification within the Three Kingdom Era of Ancient Korea. Gwangchang was a Hwarang commander at the age of 16 and second in command of the Hwarang-do who fought against Paekche. After being caught by the Paekche forces, the general of Paekche lifted Gwanchang’s helmet to be surprised seeing a child as a high-ranking officer. Thinking of his own son, the general released Gwanchang instead of executing him and allowed him to return to the Silla army. Pleading with his father, Gwanchang was allowed to fight again the next day against Paekche. After a day’s battle Gwanchang was defeated and again captured. He broke free from his guards and attacked and killed Paekche’s chief commander but was subdued afterwards. Gwanchang was sentenced to death and the general of Paekche attached his head on his horse and sent it to the Silla army. General P’umil grasped his son’s head and was proud yet grief-stricken; he shouted, “He was able to die in the service of the king. There is nothing to regret.” The Hwarang rode into battle with determination and ferocity, successfully defeating Paekche due to the efforts of Gwangchang during the battle of Hwang San Bul.

Above and below: Mr. Doogan, Mr. Manjitka and Mr. Raukura. At Donggung Palace and  Anapji, Gyeongju National Park, South Korea.
Above: Fantastic Yopcha Jerugi by Mr. Doogan at Donggung Palace and  Anapji, Gyeongju National Park, South Korea.
Above: Anapji - beautiful in winter.
Above: Statue of Kim Yushin (a great Hwarang Warrior) - he is remembered by his people to have been one of the greatest generals in Korean history. His ultimate legacy is the unifying of the Korean nation. One of his ten children, his second son Kim Wonsul, became a general during the time of King Munmu of Silla, and he was essential in unifying Silla.