Are you a fan of 사극드라마 Sageuk Drama? If you are, did you watch MBC’s 2009 hit drama, 선덕여왕 Queen Seondeok?
Put your hands up if you did!
By chance, did you remember the 화랑 Hwarang, featured in the drama? Are you curious about the Hwarang as much as I do? Well, u gotta read on if you do ^ㅅ^
Before the pretty boys of 꽃보다남자 Boys Over Flowers melt the hearts of female fans all over the universe, the Hwarang had girls and BOYS (yes, you read that right!) gathering around them like clouds during the Silla dynasty. So, what is the fuss over the Hwarang all about, you may wonder?
The Hwarang was, in fact, a military institution of youths formed by the Silla King to serve as elite units of the Silla army. However, not any ordinary boys can joined these elite groups. It was believed that only boys who fulfilled the criterias below were selected :-
- They must have aristocratic blood
- They must be handsome and good-looking
(Of course, there were exceptions to rule #1, where boys from lower-ranking families were said to be recruited. Before you start judging the discriminating selection criteria, please understand that Silla’s aristocrats were first of all warriors and the greatest honor bestowed to these families was having a son died a hero in a battle for the nation)
Due to the physical beauty of these boys, they were depicted by historians as the “Flower Boys” of Silla. Their faces were made up and painted with cosmetics and they wore beautiful dresses. Once they were successfully enrolled, these boys studied together and were taught fighting techniques. They also studied Chinese classics and were said to be highly literate.
Before Buddhism invaded Silla, shamanism practices played a major role in their ritual ceremonies. They would meet up at sacred sites outside the Silla capital, took loyalty oath with one another and participated in initiation ceremonies.
Most of the prominent figures of Silla originated from the Hwarang. Some of the famous Hwarang includes the great General 김유신 Kim Yu-shin who later played a vital role in unifying the kingdom of Goguryeo, Baekche and Silla, and 알천 Kim Al-Cheon, also a famous general. Incidentally, the two Hwarang were also featured in선덕여왕 Queen Seondeok.
It was apparent that the unfailing loyalty and bravery of these young men still live on in the hearts of Koreans. Many Korean novels and movies/musical about the Hwarang were produced over the years. Modern martial arts, such as 화랑도 Hwarangdo and a taekwondo pattern were also inspired by the Hwarang.