- Taejo of Goryeo
title =Emperor of Goryeo
June 15, 918- July 4, 943
June 15, 918
Hyejong of Goryeo
Queen Sin-ui, Queen Sindeok
Hyejong of Goryeo, Jeonjong of Goryeo, Gwangjong of Goryeo
royal house =
House of Wang
royal anthem =
date of birth =birth date|877|1|31|mf=y
place of birth =
date of death =death date and age|943|7|4|877|1|31|mf=y
place of death =
buried =|Infobox Korean name
Taejo of Goryeo (
January 31, 877- July 4, 943, r. 918-943 [Combining his rule of Taebongand Goryeo. He only established Goryeo in 936.] ), was the founder of the GoryeoDynasty, which ruled Koreafrom the 10th to the 14th century.
Taejo Wang Geon (태조 왕건) was born in 877 and was a descendant of a merchant family at
Songdo(present-day Kaesŏng), who controlled trade on the Yeseong River. His father, Wang Yung, gained much wealth from trade with China. His ancestors were known to have lived within ancient Goguryeo boundaries, thus making Wang Geon a Goguryeoan by descent.
Rise to power
Taejo began his career in the turbulent Later Three Kingdoms period (후삼국 시대; 後三國時代; "Husamguk Sidae"). In the later years of
Silla, many local leaders and bandits rebelled against the rule of Queen Jinsung, who did not have strong leadership or policy to improve the condition of the people. Among those rebels, Gung Ye(궁예; 弓裔; "Kung Ye") of northwestern region and Gyeon Hwon(견훤; 甄萱; "Kyŏn Hwŏn") of southwest gained more power. They defeated and absorbed much of the other rebellion group as their troops marched against local Silla officials and bandits. In 895, Gung Ye led his forces into the far northwestern part of Silla, where Songdo was located. Wang Yung, along with many other local clans, quickly surrendered to Gung Ye. Wang Geon followed his father into service under Gung Ye, the future leader of Taebong, and he began his service under Gungye's command.
Wang Geon's ability as a military commander was soon recognized by Gung Ye, who promoted him to general and even regarded him as his brother. In 900, he led a successful campaign against local clans and army of
Later Baekjein Chungjuarea, gaining more fame and recognition from the king. In 903, he led famous naval campaign against the southwestern coastline of Hubaekje, while Gyeon Hwon was at war against Silla. He led several more military campaigns, and also helping conquered people who lived in poverty under Silla rule. Public favored him due to his leadership and generosity.
In 913, he was appointed as prime minister of newly renamed Taebong. Its king, Gung Ye, whose leadership helped foundation of the kingdom but began to refer himself as the Buddha, began to persecute people who expressed their opposition against his religious arguments. He executed many monks, then later even his own wife and two sons, and the public began to turn away from him. His costly rituals and harsh rule caused even more opposition.
Rise to the throne and founding of Goryeo
In 918, four top-ranked generals of Taebong—Hong Yu (홍유; 洪儒),
Bae Hyeongyeong(배현경; 裵玄慶; "Pae Hyŏn-gyŏng"), Shin Sung-gyeom(신숭겸; 申崇謙; "S(h)in Sung-gyŏm") and Bok Jigyeom(복지겸; 卜智謙; "Pok Chi-gyŏm")—met secretly and agreed to overthrow Gungye's rule and crown Wang Kon as their new king. Wang first opposed the idea but later agreed to their plan. At the same year Gung Ye was overthrown and killed near his capital, Cheorwon. When Gung Ye was assassinated in 918, the generals selected him to be the new king of this short-lived state. Wang was crowned king and renamed the kingdom Goryeo, thus beginning Goryeo Dynasty. The next year he moved the capital back to his hometown, Songak.
He promoted Buddhism as national religion, and called for the reconquest of northern part of Korea and Manchuria, which was controlled by
Balhae. Balhae's rule over vast region of Manchuria and parts of Siberia was overthrowned by Khitan invasion in 926, and the majority of its people came to Goryeo as refugees led by Balhae's last Crown Prince Dae Gwang-hyeon. Taejo accepted them as his citizens, since Balhae and Goryeo came from common ancestry of Goguryeo, and captured the old, then abandoned capital city of Goguryeo, P'yŏngyang. He also sought for alliance and cooperation with local clans rather than trying to conquer and bring them under his direct control.
The War of the Later Three Kingdoms
In 927, Gyeon Hwon of Hubaekje led forces into Silla's capital,
Gyeongju, capturing and executing its king, King Gyeongae. Then he established King Gyeongsun as his puppet monarch before he turned his army toward Goryeo. Taejo, hearing of the news, planned to strike Gyeon's troops on the way back home at Gongsan near Daegu. He met Hubaekje forces and suffered disastrous defeat, losing most of his army including his best warrior Shin Sunggyeom, the very same man who crowned Wang as a king. However, Goryeo quickly recovered from defeat and successfully defended Hubaekje attack on its front.
In 935, the last king of Silla, King Gyeongsun, felt there was no way to revive his kingdom and surrendered his entire land to Taejo. Taejo gladly accepted his surrender and gave him the title of prince, and accepted his daughter as one of his wives (Wang had six queens, and many more wives as he married daughters of every single local leader). It caused much disgust to Gyeon Hwon. Gyeon's father, who held his own claim of
Sangjuregion, also defected and surrendered to Goryeo and was received as the father of an emperor.
In the same year, Gyeon Hwon's oldest son,
Singeom(신검; 神劍; "S(h)in-gŏm"), led a coup against his father, who favored his half-brother as his successor to the throne. Gyeon Hwon was sent into exile and imprisoned in a Buddhist temple, but escaped to Goryeo and was treated like his father, who died just before his surrender.
Goryeo victory and unification
In 936, Wang led his final campaign against Singeom of Later Baekje. Singeom fought against Taejo, but facing much disadvantage and inner conflict, he surrendered to Taejo. Wang finally occupied Hubaekje formally, and unified the nation for the first time since
Gojoseon; He ruled until 943, and died from disease.
Taejo sought to bring even his enemies into his ruling coalition. He gave titles and land to rulers and nobles from the various countries he had defeated: Later Baekje, Silla, and also
Balhae, which disintegrated around the same time. Thus he sought to secure stability and unity for his kingdom which had been lacking in the later years of Silla.
The unification of the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 was very important in Korean history; the unification of 668 by Silla was completed in only half of the nation, since the northern part was ruled by Balhae, the revival of Goguryeo. However, Wang's unification in 936 was a full-scale unification, with the agreement of all Korean people—and the nation remained as single, unified country until 1948, when Korea was divided into North and South. Many modern Koreans look on his legacy—the only one who unified the divided nation in its whole history—to find hope in his leadership and comparisons with the current situation.
Wang Ryung(왕 륭)
*mother: Lady Han (한 씨)
# Empress Sinhye (신혜왕후)
# Empress Janghwa (장화왕후)
# Empress Sinmyeongsunseong (신명순성왕후)
# Empress Sinjeong (신정왕후)
# Empress Sinseong (신성왕후)
# Empress Jeongdeok (정덕왕후)
# Emperor Hyejong (혜종), Only Son of Empress Janghwa.
# Emperor Jeongjong (정종), 1st Son of Empress Sinmyeongsunseong.
# Emperor Gwangjong (광종), 2nd Son of Empress Sinmyeongsunseong.
# Empress Daemok (대목황후), Only daughter of Empress Sinjeong.
# Prince Wangwyu (왕위군), 1st Son of Empress Jeongdeok.
# Prince In-ae (인애군), 2nd Son of Empress Jeongdeok.
# Prince Imperial Hyoui (효의대왕), Only Son of Empress Sinseong.
# Crown Prince Wonjang (원장태자), 3rd Son of Empress Jeongdeok.
# Empress Munhye (문혜왕후), 1st daughter of Empress Jeongdeok.
# Empress Seon-ui (선의왕후), 2nd daughter of Empress Jeongdeok.
In the year 2000, there was a new drama, Taejo Wang Geon that had the huge numbers of 200 episodes based on Taejo (Wang Gun)'s life. It starred
Choi Soo Jongin the leading role.
"Wang Kon" Emperor Taejo of Goryeo is a playable leader of the Korean Empire in and .
Rulers of Korea
History of Korea
List of Korea-related topics
Wang (family name)
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