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King Gusu


King Gusu
King Gusu became the sixth ruler of Baekje in 214 when his father King Chogo died. Historical records say that he was very tall, presumably standing at roughly 2 meters, and his appearance was very unique. The king’s name “Gusu” means “mismatched head” or “arrogant head.” A “mismatched head” apparently indicates that one side of his head protruded or the surface of the head was uneven. This unusual head may have been glamorized as an “arrogant head.” King Gusu was also called Gwisu, meaning “precious beard” or “precious hair.” Similarly, it is assumed that the king had a bushy beard or a hairy body. This shows that his looks were clearly different from those of ordinary people. It seems the king himself and his people liked his extraordinary physical appearance, as it is even reflected in the king’s name.

Like his name, the king appeared to be very aggressive. During his reign, he waged wars with the two neighboring tribes, Silla and Malgal. In 216, the king led 800 troops himself and defeated the Malgal forces near the Sado Castle. The following year, the king built a long wooden fence near the castle to fend off additional invasions of the enemy. The two states exchanged victory and defeat in subsequent battles.

The neighboring state of Silla was another enemy that constantly bothered Baekje. The two countries fought battles on several different occasions. However, after Baekje suffered a crushing defeat in 224 the king refrained from attacking Silla. From then on there was no war between the two states until the king died in 234.

Unfortunately, Baekje experienced even more serious disasters than the many wars during the king’s reign. The big flood in eastern regions in 221 caused the mountains in 40 areas to collapse, while the prolonged drought in 227 led the king to hold a rain-calling ceremony himself. In 231, hail as big as chestnuts fell from the sky. The extra-large hail did a great deal of damage to the crops. In addition to the floods and drought, a big fire broke out at the west gate of the palace in 220. The Malgal forces attacked Baekje amid the fire confusion. In 229, an epidemic spread to the entire country. Again Malgal took advantage of the commotion and invaded again. This shows that Baekje’s national defense became weak due to the disasters.

King Gusu died in 234, ending his 20-year reign. He was succeeded by his son, King Saban.

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