Goguryeo was an ancient brilliant Korean empire whose history flourished on a vast land of East Asia. The founder of Goguryeo was King Chumo. Goguryeo developed strong leadership and military power, and began to pursue a policy of expansion by conquering smaller nations. Goguryeo slowly grew up to be a strong country that was overpowered.
Goguryeo was able to absorb various foreign cultural elements of preceding kingdoms and established itself as a stable state. Goguryeo had to suffer a humiliating defeat and its capital temporarily fell into the enemies hands when forces from China attacked from the west. It soon regained its national strength and was able to repulse repeated subsequent attacks. Goguryeo’s capital once again fell into enemy hands during the invasion of the Moyong Seonbi tribe. Thus sustaining another severe blow.
Goguryeo had a typical class society. The social hierarchy consisted four classess namely, the king, aristocrats, commoners and slaves. Goguryeo kings were drawn from a blood lineage called “gherubu” and the royal family was clearly distinguished from other aristocratic families. Aristocrats were allowed to give titles and wealth to their descendants, but they were also responsible to go out themselves to fight battles in times of war. Goguryeo had a large number of slaves. The Goguryeo kingdom flourished for a long span of years. Goguryeo people were not able to pick up things on the streets, as social discipline was a must.
In the Goguryeo period, the entire country, including the capital, was divided into five provinces and provincial administrative structures were organized. Policy decision-making through discussions and consensus was a time-honored tradition of Goguryeo’s political culture. The region where Goguryeo was founded was not very suitable for cultivation purposes. Early Goguryeo was a poor nation maintaining its livelihood on hunting and grazing, in addition to farming. Goguryeo captured an increasing number of its inhabitants. Goguryeo increasingly piled up wealth and extended its territory into fertile agricultural lands. Goguryeo grew up into an advanced farming country, as the size of arable land increasing the conquests and territorial expansions.
Goguryeo was blessed with a great abundance of gold, silver and iron. The Goguryeo people highly regarded technicians, and worshipped the “Wagon-wheel God,” “Blacksmith God,” and “God of Fire.” Winter weather in Goguryeo was very cold. So, a warm dwelling environment was very important for their lives. Goguryeo people invented the “ondol” heating system in which a floor stone was heated by burning fire at one end of the room with the smoke traveling underneath and exiting at the other end, making the living space warm. The system was widely used in palaces, temples and military posts, as well as houses of ordinary citizens. Rice, beans and millet were staple grains, while barley, wheat and Indian millet served as a subsidiary diet of these groups of people. Goguryeo dish was “maeg-jeok, or roasted meat with seasonings.”Bulgogi” (roast beef), was one of the most famous Korean dishes they had.
Religion played a significant role in the life of Goguryeo people. They not only held memorial rites for ancestors frequently but also worshipped them as supernatural beings, or gods. Subak eventually evolved into Taekwondo, which was Korea’s most well known martial art. Hunting was also an important pastime. They used to set up shooting targets and hold archery-shooting contests. In terms of marriage customs, the kingdom had a practice called “seo-ok-je,” in which the bride’s family build an annex (“Seo-ok’) to their house and have the new couple use to live there and rear children until they fully grew up.
North Korea sees Goguryeo legacy as way to promote inter-Korean relations. The murals of the Goguryeo kingdom, which controlled the northern part of the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria (northeastern China), are an element that links the people of South and North Korea. The Goguryeo people left paintings on the walls and ceilings of tombs depicting their daily lives and mythical beliefs. A total of 107 Goguryeo tombs have been discovered, 76 in and around the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and the rest around the North Korean border with China. Goguryeo has been said as part of Korean history
Goguryeo was a great empire that took pride being the guardian of international order and the most sacred state under the sun. Goguryeo was able to nurture a high quality culture, while enjoying peace.