History of the Hwarang
No drama that takes place during the Silla dynasty would be complete without your Hwarang hero (or anti-hero). In this page we will give an overview on the history and significance the Hwarang played in Silla.
Hwarang were a youth warrior group made up of male youth during the Silla dynasty. Before we get started, let’s just get the word pronounced correctly. For whatever reason, the “powers-that-be” keep spelling it “hwaRang” with an “R”; however, it should be pronounced “Hwa-Lahng” with a soft “L“. It is NOT pronounced “Hwa-Rang” as in “Hey, your phone rang while you were out.”
You could say that the Hwarang-do was a cross between a military youth brigade and the Knights Templer. Only young lads from aristocratic families that possessed strong moral character and discipline were eligible to become a member of the Hwarang. As a member of the Hwarang, the boys would study and train in the art of war in addition to scholarly and artistic areas. Their mission was to defend Silla and its royal family.
The word Hwarang means “Flower Boys.” Like many Korean words, hwarang is from Hanja, meaning that it is derived from Chinese, similar to the way many English words derive from Latin or Greek). Let’s break it down:
- The “Hwa” (화 花) means “blooming flower” or “flower in bloom” + “Rang” or “Lang” (랑 郞) means “gentleman” (as in “shi-rang” 신랑, the modern Korean words for “groom” or “bridegroom”).
- Now, to break it down even more for you, the overall institution and it’s leaders were called Hwarang, whereas the actual youth warriors were called “Hwarang-do.” The “Do” (도 徒) is another means “followers” or “disciples.” Therefore “Hwarang-do” means “The followers of Hwarang“
- Hwarang= The overall institution (the organization) and it’s leaders
- Hwarang-do = The youth warriors (the students)
Origin of Hwarang:
Hwarang was founded during the reign of King Jinheung 진흥태왕 (526 – 576, reign 540 – 576) for the purpose of cultivating the youth.
Misperceptions of Hwarang (What it WASN’T):
- It’s important to note that the hwarang was not part of the official Silla army, but rather more of an auxiliary group whose bravery and patriotic spirit in the battles greatly contributed to Silla’s success.
- Hwarang was not based on any type of fighting style, but rather based on a code of conduct or discipline.
- It was a youth based organization, so one was not in the Hwarang for life. Many kings, court officials and army generals were hwarang-do before serving office.
What it is WAS: The Hwarang which focused on both mental and physical training combined elements of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism ideologies. Personal Discipline, Service to Country, Humility, Strong Moral Foundation, Graciousness. 5 Laws of Secular Life, Humility, Frugality.
Law Of The Hwarang:
- 사군이충(事君以忠): 충성으로써 임금을 섬기어야 한다 (Loyalty to the king)
- 사친이효(事親以孝): 효로써 부모를 섬기어야 한다 (Filial Piety)
- 교우이신(交友以信): 믿음으로써 벗을 사귀어야 한다 (Loyalty to one’s friends)
- 임전무퇴(臨戰無退): 싸움에 나가서 물러남이 없어야 한다 (Fight in battle without retreating)
- 살생유택(殺生有擇): 살아있는 것을 죽일 때에는 가림이 있어야 한다 (Kill only when necessary)
What Hwarang Represents Today:
After nearly 1500 years, the spirit of Hwarang is still alive. Unwavering patriotism and pride.
FIGHTING! 화이팅!!Sources: 1