Seong of Baekje

Seong of Baekje

Infobox Korean name
hangul=성왕, 명왕, 성명왕
hanja=聖王, 明王, 聖明王
rr=Seong-wang, Myeong-wang, Seongmyeong-wang
mr=Sŏng-wang, Myŏng-wang, Sŏngmyŏng-wang

Seong of Baekje (?-554, r. 523-554) was the 26th king of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. He was a son of Muryeong of Baekje. He made Buddhism the state religion, moved the national capital, and succeeded in reclaiming the center of the Korean Peninsula, only to be betrayed by an ally.

Foreign relations and Buddhism

Seong was known as a great patron of Buddhism, and built many temples and welcomed priests bringing Buddhist texts directly from India. In 528 Baekje officially adopted Buddhism as its state religion. He maintained his country's diplomatic ties with Liang Dynasty China as well as Japan.

He sent tribute missions to Liang in 534 and 541, on the second occasion requesting artisans as well as various Buddhist works and a teacher. According to Chinese records, all these requests were granted. A subsequent mission was sent in 549, only to find the Liang capital in the hands of the rebel Hou Jing, who threw them in prison for lamenting the fall of the capital.

He is credited with having sent a mission in 538 to Japan that brought an image of Shakyamuni and several sutras to the Japanese court. This has traditionally been considered the official introduction of Buddhism to Japan.

Move of the capital

In 538, he moved the capital from Ungjin (present-day Gongju) further south to Sabi (present-day Buyeo County), on the Geum River. Unlike the earlier move of the capital from the present-day Seoul region to Ungjin, forced by the military pressure of Goguryeo, the move to Sabi was directed by the king to strengthen royal power, aided by the political support of the Sa clan based in Sabi. []

He completely reorganized the administration of the country to strengthen central control, to counteract the political power of the noble clans. He changed the name of the country to Nambuyeo, to emphasize the ancient connection to Buyeo.

Battle among the Three Kingdoms

Baekje had maintained a century-long alliance with its neighbor Silla, to balance the threat of the northern kingdom Goguryeo. With the aid of Silla and the Gaya confederacy, Seong led a long campaign to regain the Han River valley, the former heartland of Baekje which had been lost to Goguryeo in 475. Baekje regained its original capital in 551. The campaign culminated in 553 with victories in a series of costly assaults on Goguryeo fortifications.

However, under a secret agreement with Goguryeo, Silla troops, arriving on the pretense of offering assistance, attacked the exhausted Baekje army and took possession of the entire Han River valley. Incensed by this betrayal, the following year Seong launched a retaliatory strike against Silla's western border. This attack was led by the crown prince (subsequent king Wideok) and joined by the Gaya, but Seong and 30,000 Baekje men were killed in the disastrous battle. This defeat led to significant erosion of royal power.

ee also

*History of Korea
*Korean Buddhism
*List of Korea-related topics

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