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King Biryue


King Biryue
King Biryue came to the throne in the year 304 when his predecessor King Bunseo was killed by an assassin sent from the Chinese commandery of Lelang. But Biryu was not the son of the assassinated king. The History of the Three Kingdoms states that Bunseo had several sons, but they were too young to become king. It is also recorded in the same history book that Biryu was the second son of the sixth king, Gusu. But historians believe that the record was incorrect, given the time span between the two kings. In a more plausible explanation, Biryu had to claim his royal lineage to previous kings when inheriting the throne. Unlike his predecessors who held a rite for the founder of the kingdom as soon as they became king, Biryu conducted the ritual nine years after he ascended the throne. It is assumed that there was a power struggle between the branches of the Baekje royal family, and the process of leadership transition to Biryu was not entirely smooth.

It is said that Biryu was a generous ruler who cared for his people deeply and he was also strong and good at archery. He concentrated on stabilizing the public livelihood. He sent his envoys to regional provinces to examine how local people lived. In the process, he distributed grains to those who had difficulty in earning a living independently, such as widowers, orphans and older people without children.

In foreign relations, the king refrained from confrontation but sought to promote friendship with neighboring states. In fact, Baekje never waged war with other states throughout the king’s reign.

Despite his efforts to stabilize the kingdom, Baekje was rather chaotic internally. In 327, his half-brother, Ubok, rose in revolt. The rebellion was eventually suppressed by the king’s troops. Not only political instability but natural disasters also plagued the king. In 321, swarms of locusts devastated farmlands in southern regions, and clouds that looked like red crows blotted out the sun in the year 327. Four years later, a long drought throughout the spring and summer dried up the river. In 333, a big fire broke out in the palace and spread to other areas. As a result, many private houses were burned.

In the face of the rebellion and natural disasters, King Biryu firmly maintained his throne for 40 years before he died in 344. The eldest son of his predecessor became the next ruler, King Gye. After Gye’s death, Biryu’s second son inherited the throne to become the famous king Geunchogo. Afterwards, the descendants of Biryu continued to succeed to the throne.

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