Kim Suro

by Charles La Shure

The founder of the Gaya kingdom in the first century CE. According to legend, the area in the south central Korean peninsula was first ruled by nine elders, but there was no king. One day a voice spoke from heaven at a place called Kuji (meaning "delicious turtle" in Korean, it was the name of an area and a mountain). Two or three hundred people gathered there, along with the three elders. The voice instructed them to go to the top of the mountain, dig up some earth, dance and sing a song now known as Kujiga. They did as they were instructed and a plum-colored cord descended from heaven. At the end of the cord was a gold chest, and when they opened the chest they discovered six golden orbs. The elders brought the chest home, and the next day they opened up the chest to discover that the orbs had transformed into a baby boy.

The boy grew quickly (a sure sign of a hero) and reached a height of nine feet. When the moon waxed to its fullest that month, the boy — who was now called Suro — came to the throne of the land that was named Gaya. After two years he built his own palace and ruled from there. He had a brief confrontation with Seok T'alhae, who came to take the throne, but he was able to defeat him and T'alhae voluntarily gave up his claim and departed for Silla (this tale conflicts with the Silla legend of Seok T'alhae).

When the nine elders encouraged the king to take a bride he refused, saying that heaven had sent him to be king and heaven would take care of his marriage as well. He later married Heo Hwangok, a princess who arrived on a boat from India.