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King Gye


King Gye
The History of the Three Kingdoms states that King Gye was honest and courageous and that he was good at horse-riding and archery. He was the eldest son of the 10th ruler, King Bunseo. But when Bunseo was assassinated by the Chinese commandery of Lelang in 304, it was not Gye who became the next king. It was King Biryu from a different royal family line that succeeded the deceased king.

Biryu was a relative of King Saban, who was forced to step down by King Goi. Descendants of the two family lines—one from Saban and the other from Goi—fiercely competed for the throne. As a rule, King Gye was supposed to inherit his father, King Bunseo. However, Biryu came to power instead by claiming that Bunseo’s sons, including Gye, were too young to rule the country. It was not until Biryu ended his 40-year reign and died in 344 that Gye was finally able to take his position as king. Unfortunately, Gye’s reign was only short-lived as he died two years later in 346.

The historical account of this king is quite short. Apparently, however, his reign and death were not that simple. First of all, his one-syllable name “Gye” is different from the official titles of his predecessors who all had two-syllable names. It is assumed that the king failed to earn an official title and was later called by his childhood name “Gye.” If this theory is correct, it is believed that the king’s legitimacy was challenged and the process of his death was not normal.

When King Gye took power by claiming his royal lineage after Biryu’s death, Biryu’s son was probably displeased and decided to dethrone the king by mobilizing his troops. After a bitter conflict between the two royal lines, King Gye presumably lost to Biryu’s son, who later became King Geunchogo, the most powerful and important ruler of the Baekje Dynasty. Afterwards, Biryu’s descendants continued to accede to the throne. That means King Gye was the last ruler from the line of Goi, which ended with Gye’s short, uneventful reign. There are no records about King Gye’s family or descendants.

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