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King Chogo


King Chogo
King Chogo came to the throne in the year 166 to become the fifth ruler of Baekje. There had been friction between Baekje and the neighboring state of Silla, since the reign of the king’s predecessor, who refused to repatriate a defector from Silla. The conflict continued after Chogo became king.

In 167, King Chogo invaded Silla to capture two castles and take 1,000 local residents captive. Silla counterattacked with 20-thousand troops, with the Silla king leading 8,000 elite cavalrymen himself. At that time, Silla was a small country that occupied the present-day southeastern Gyeongsang Province. Given this, 28-thousand troops were a huge force, and it seemed that Silla was ready for an all-out war. King Chogo was so overwhelmed by the large enemy force that he held out an olive branch to Silla by returning the two Silla castles as well as 1,000 captives. Silla accepted the offer and immediately retreated. This indicates that Silla had no intention of waging war with Baekje in the first place and only engaged in a massive show of force, which eventually worked. The new king of Baekje wanted to show off his power by dominating Silla, but his attempt only backfired.

Obviously, King Chogo’s pride was hurt. Later, he invaded Silla’s border again several more times. Baekje narrowly defeated Silla forces in a few battles, but mostly, his military campaign against Silla failed to produce visible result.

While the two countries were competing fiercely, the Malgal tribe in the north was watching for an opportunity to attack the two southern states. In 210, King Chogo built new fortresses and relocated people there to strengthen defense. In 214, the king sent 1,000 soldiers to attack a castle of Malgal, which fought back and invaded Baekje. In this chaotic situation, King Chogo died.

As evidenced in his military campaign, King Chogo was deeply obsessed with national defense and territory expansion. Despite the frequent battles with archrival Silla, the king failed to expand the territory. On the contrary, the battles placed a burden on people. Also, the king formed hostile relations with Malgal, causing his successor to fight numerous wars with it.

Apart from repeated wars, Baekje also suffered from a series of locust infestation during King Chogo’s reign. It is said that a large swarm of locusts devastated farmlands in 208 and 211.

Details on the king’s family are unknown, but the fact that his eldest son, King Gusu, inherited the throne shows that the royal court was relatively stable.

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