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Shilla, Three Kingdoms of Korea

Shilla (57 BC – 935 AD), was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Its origin is starting from King Park Hyeokgeose, who is also the origin of Korean family name Park. It began as chiefdom in the Samhan confederacies. Allied with China, Shilla eventually conquered the other two kingdoms, Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668. Thereafter, it is sometimes called Unified Shilla or Later Shilla, occupying most of the Korean Peninsula, while the northern part re-emerged as Balhae, which was a successor-state of Goguryeo. After nearly nine hundred years, Shilla fragmented into the brief Later Three Kingdoms, and submitted to its successor dynasty Goryeo in 935.

Shilla Kingdom Growth

From its founding until its growth into a full-fledged kingdom, Shilla was recorded with various Hanja (Chinese characters) phonetically approximating its native Korean name: 斯盧 (사로, saro), 斯羅 (사라, sara), 徐那(伐) (서나(벌), seona(beol)), 徐耶(伐) (서야(벌), seoya(beol)), 徐羅(伐) (서라(벌), seora(beol)), 徐伐 (서벌, seobeol). In 503, King Jijeung standardized on the characters 新羅(신라), which in Modern Korean are read together as Shilla.

Shilla capital

An etymological hypothesis (there are various other speculations) suggests that, the native name “Seora-beol” might have been the origin of the native word “seo'ul” meaning "capital city" and also the name of the present capital of South Korea, a city which was previously known as Hanseong or Hanyang. The name of the Shilla capital, might have been changed into, in the Late Middle Korean form Syeobeul (셔블) meaning "royal capital city," which soon might have altered into Syeo'ul (셔울), and finally resulted in Seo'ul (서울) in the Modern Korean language.

The name of either Shilla or its capital Seora-beol

The name of either Shilla or its capital Seora-beol was also widely used throughout Northeast Asia as the ethnonym for the people of Shilla, appearing as "Shiragi" (新羅、しらぎ) or "Shiragi-bito" (新羅人, literally "Shilla-people") in the language of the Yamato Japanese and as "Sogol" or "Solho" in the language of the medieval Jurchens and their later descendants, the Manchus respectively.

Shilla history

Shilla was also referred to as Gyerim (鷄林, 계림), literally "chicken forest", a name that has its origins in the forest near the Shilla capital where by legend the state's founder was hatched from the egg of a cockatrice (kor. 계룡, literally chicken-dragon). Scholars have traditionally divided Shilla history into three distinct periods: Early (trad. 57 BCE–654 CE), Middle (654–780), and Late (780–935).