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In the sixth century, the Korean kingdom of Silla1 saw the emergence of a unique organization with equally unique functions. This particular organization revolved around the young men of the kingdom and sought to provide them with different types of education to create well-rounded elite members of society. “Hwarang” was the name given to the young boys who belonged to this special group. For modern historians, many questions about the hwarang have arisen: Where did this organization come from? What were the hwarang taught to believe in? Also, what purpose could such a group have served in pre-modern Korea?
Unfortunately, there are only limited primary sources available; however, many important implications can be drawn from them. The hwarang were, in the simplest of definitions provided by many scholars, the aristocratic military elite of Silla—but this definition is misleading and only begins to scratch the surface of the true functions and beliefs that these young men held. The true beliefs of the hwarang were influenced by virtues and practices from several religious and ideological sources including Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and native Korean shamanism. Also, the hwarang organization was not, as many scholars claim, solely a military organization; they served a military function, a religious function, and an educational function in Silla’s society.
Despite the lack of primary sources, the question of what the hwarang believed in and what their true function was has long been asked and debated by various scholars. The secondary literature that deals with hwarang-related topics usually focuses either on the organization itself or the religious associations the hwarang had. The field is divided over whether or not the hwarang were primarily a military organization or not. Some scholars, such as Richard Rutt and Vladimir Tikhonov, argue that the hwarang were primarily a religious organization. Others, mainly those who have authored large volumes on the history of Korea, stick with the assumption that the hwarang were there only to serve a military purpose. These scholars do not deny the religious ties the hwarang had, but they claim that the only true purpose of these young men was to be warriors. Some even go so far as to say that the reason Silla won the Unification Wars was because of the hwarang warriors.
The scope of the arguments across this field varies in terms of pinpointing where the religious influences of the hwarang came from, what the true purpose of the hwarang was, and what really happened to them after the Unification Wars. There is a consensus among most of the scholars that the hwarang philosophy contained a melting pot of ideas from Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and shamanism; however, some scholars will attribute more credit to one ideology or religion over another. For example, scholar Wanne J. Joe gives a considerable amount of credit to Korean shamanism and pays very little attention to Daoism. Some scholars follow this pattern while others, like Tikhonov, acknowledge that the hwarang were heir to a large mass of tangled beliefs. Likewise, when dealing with what became of the hwarang after the wars, some scholars agree with Rutt’s claim that the hwarang existed after the end of the wars but slowly faded away for unknown reasons. Others assert that the hwarang organizations disappeared right after the wars ceased because, since their function was supposedly only military, they were no longer needed and therefore disbanded.
The secondary literature on the hwarang is, unfortunately, sometimes as convoluted as the primary sources are. To form any type of opinion on the hwarang, one must sift through a great deal of arguments and evidence. Due to the conflicting secondary sources and lack of adequate primary sources, one must simply decide which side argues its case more effectively. Scholars who advocate for the non-traditional interpretations of the hwarang (i.e., those who believe they served more than a military purpose) are, currently, the ones with more convincing arguments and evidence.
Origin of the Hwarang
Before establishing what the hwarang believed in and what the purpose of their organization was, it is important to dissect two things: what the word “hwarang” means and where the hwarang came from. The word “hwarang” has seen several different translations in English sources. As one of the more common translations, “Flower of Youth” appears often.2 Many scholars stand by this translation and other similar ones, but some opt for the translation of “Flower Boys.” These scholars claim that the translation of “Flower of Youth” is “certainly grammatically, and possibly semantically, false.”3 No matter what translation one chooses to support, there is a similar connotation. For the purposes of this paper, the translation of “Flower Boys” will be used. The translation “Flower of Youth” is more ambiguous and mysterious whereas “Flower Boys” is more concrete and accurately describes the hwarang.
So, where did the hwarang come from? The main source for the origin of the hwarang lies in the Samguk Sagi,4 a document completed in 1145 by historian Kim Busik.5 The Samguk Sagi details the history of Korea’s three kingdoms and has no current English translation. Although no full translation exists, there are relevant pieces translated in numerous secondary sources. While these different secondary sources change the language in which the story is told, the main ideas are still the same. The story begins by establishing a time period: the thirty-seventh year of King Chinhung’s reign—roughly 576 A.D. In order to find talented people to serve in the court, officials gathered a large group of people together in order to observe them. After watching the people, the officials appointed two beautiful women as leaders. The women were Nammo and Chunjong. Soon they had hundreds of followers in their group.6 Unfortunately, the women became competitive and envious of each other. This spiraled out of control until Chunjong “…enticed Nammo to her home, plied her with wine till she was drunk, then pushed her into a stream and killed her.”7 This premeditated and violent act led to Chunjong’s execution and subsequently to the disbandment of all of their followers.
Some time after this tragic occurrence, beautiful young men, instead of women, were appointed as leaders. These young men were “arrayed in cosmetics and fine clothes”8 and “respected as hwarang.”9 Followers once again gathered around these new leaders who had devolved from the earlier organization headed by women. The story goes on to say that “[t]he youths instructed one another in…rightness, entertained one another with song and music, or went sightseeing to even the most distant mountains and rivers. Much can be learned of a man’s character by watching him in these activities. Those who fared well were recommended to the court.”10 Thus, the court officials had a new system of designating talented people for service. Indeed, many famous military generals and political figures came from hwarang roots.11 But the deeper beliefs and functions of the hwarang cannot be summed up so simply.
Hwarang Beliefs and Ties to Religion
The beliefs of the hwarang were grounded in many traditions. There were elements of Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Korean shamanism present in the hwarang curriculum. One of the main components of hwarang belief was established by Wongwang (b. 541), a famous monk. Wongwang “required the hwarang braves to honor five injunctions: loyalty to the king, filial love toward one’s parents, fidelity in friendship, bravery in battle, and chivalry in warfare (no wanton killing).”12 These five requirements were also known as “The Five Commandments for Laymen.”13
The Five Commandments themselves have ties to two traditions: Buddhism and Confucianism. The commandments demanding loyalty and filial piety come from traditional Confucian teachings of serving the ruler and parents appropriately. Likewise, the Buddhist teaching of respect for all life is manifested in the commandment demanding a restriction on unnecessary killing. The Five Commandments effectively fused the virtue of bravery with Buddhism’s compassion and Confucianism’s faithfulness; but the religious ties do not stop there.
Buddhism’s connection to the hwarang was especially deep. The Buddha of the Future, also known as Maitreya Buddha, was “the patron saint of the hwarang.” Likewise, it was a common belief that hwarang could very well be direct reincarnations of the Future Buddha.14 This idea likely stemmed from the original Maitreya Hwarang story in the Samguk Yusa,15 which was written in the thirteenth century by Buddhist monk Ilyeon. This story tells the tale of Chinja, a monk from the Hungnyun Temple in Silla. Chinja focused on the Maitreya Buddha and “pray[ed] that the Buddha [would] be incarnated as a hwarang so that he might attend him as chief servant.”16 After praying, the monk saw a vision of a priest instructing him to travel to the Suwon Temple. There, the priest claimed, Chinja would be able to meet the Maitreya Buddha in the form of a hwarang. Chinja made the journey and encountered a young man who was exceptionally beautiful.17 He spoke with the youth briefly, but then talked to the abbot who told him to go to a specific mountain because he would be more likely to encounter spirits there. Chinja goes to the mountain and meets a spirit who tells him he already met the Maitreya Buddha at the Suwon Temple. Now Chinja realizes the young man he met was actually the Maitreya incarnate. He travels back to his hometown, finds the youth, and presents him to the king. King Chinji then places the incarnate, called Miri, at the head of the hwarang.18
This Maitreya Hwarang story was most likely the starting point for the hwarang connection to Buddhism. The hwarang were always associated with the Maitreya cult because each and every member of the hwarang was a representation of the Future Buddha. A select amount of the youths, including Miri, “were believed to be direct incarnations of Maitreya.”19 Numerous Koreans believed the Maitreya Buddha saw several direct incarnations on Silla’s soil.20 Likewise, many hwarang were devoted to Maitreya with the hopes of one day seeing him with their own eyes.21 This dedication to the future Buddha was most likely established because of the Maitreya Hwarang story in the Samguk Yusa, but the original reason for this traditional story are ambiguous at best.
The hwarang had another connection to Buddhism. This connection was in the form of their relationships with Buddhist monks. Buddhist monks were often educators of the hwarang22 and were responsible for teaching them both “Buddhism and loyalty to the king.”23 This is interesting because the monks assisting the hwarang were all of the Buddhist religion, but they were teaching a Confucian virtue to the youths. This helps to explain why the hwarang have such a deep connection to more than one religion and ideology—their teachers had multiple influences, just as the hwarang did.
Although the ties to Buddhism ran deep in the hwarang organization, the hwarang were not limited to Buddhism mixed with Confucian ideals. The other ethical beliefs of the hwarang also echoed influences from Daoism and native shamanism; the hwarang were taught “mercifulness towards living creatures, indifference to material temptations, and, most importantly, a calm and optimistic attitude towards death…”24 The first of these three teachings has an obvious connection to Buddhism, but the latter two teachings seem to stem from traditional Daoist beliefs.25
Although an indifference to material possessions and an accepting attitude towards death appear to be Daoist, it is also possible these ideals were part of the native religion of Silla (i.e., some form of shamanism). Shamanism refers to a religion that mixes polytheism and ancestor worship. In Korean, the term for this is sin’gyo.26 Shamanistic religions are headed by a shaman who acts as a priest. His or her duties include communicating with the spiritual world on behalf of humans in the physical world. Many shamans practice by performing ritual dances, sacrifices, and other forms of divination. Shamans were notorious for slipping into a trance or some sort of hypnosis—this is when they claimed to be communicating between the worlds. After returning to their normal state, shamans could relay information from the spirits to the humans.27
Whether or not certain beliefs of the hwarang should be attributed to shamanism or Daoism is not clear. In fact, shamanism often melded with other religions, including Daoism. It is possible that Daoism had the strongest impact on native Sillan shamanism.28 Many similarities exist between what is thought to have been the form of shamanism practiced in Silla and Daoism. No matter which religion the hwarang beliefs are attributed to, all that really matters is that both shamanism and Daoism have influenced the hwarang. It is also important to note that while distinctions can be made between shamanistic, Daoist, Confucian, and Buddhist influences, it is highly probable that these beliefs arrived in Korea as a “dense mass of mythology, beliefs, and practices…”29 Separating the beliefs of the hwarang into each of the available categories is exceptionally difficult, given the lack of primary sources.
The hwarang organization had one other connection to religion—nature. While it is known the hwarang journeyed to scenic places in nature to pray, sing, and dance, it is hard to pinpoint where these practices came from. These religious ceremonies resemble Daoism because of their connection to nature, but a deep connection to nature was already present in native Sillan shamanism.30 Shamanism was in Silla first, with Daoism arriving later as a foreign religion. Although it came to Korea later, Daoism’s role should not be perceived as meaningless or of little value. It is more likely the hwarang were first influenced by shamanism since it was present in Silla first, but Daoism probably also had an impact (especially if it fused with the native shamanism as mentioned above). The hwarang philosophy likely took influences from both religions as they became exposed to both over time.
Shamanism’s influence on the hwarang seems to be especially strong. When the hwarang came into existence under King Chinhung, the religion of the time was shamanism. Not only did the kings take shamanistic titles, the two women from the hwarang origin story (Nammo and Chunjong) are thought to have served religious purpose akin to a shaman.31 Since these two women and their followers were said to be the predecessors to the hwarang organizations, it is logical to think the hwarang would have taken on shamanistic practices as well. Indeed, it appears the hwarang took on many shamanistic features. Visiting mountains and rivers where shamanistic spirits would have lived, dancing and singing while in nature, and even dressing up in nice clothes and using cosmetics were all features of both the hwarang and Sillan shamanism.32 Where the shamanistic and Daoist lines blur is, unfortunately, unknown. What is most significant is that both shamanism and Daoism had a hand in shaping the hwarang philosophy.
Functions and Purpose of Hwarang
It is clear that the hwarang had a complicated belief system that fused together many types of religions and ideologies, but what were the functions of the hwarang? Why were these organizations even established to begin with? The most commonly accepted theory is that the hwarang’s main purpose and ultimate function was to serve in the military.33 Many scholars uphold this theory, but there is evidence that the purpose of the hwarang was more than just militant. The true function of the hwarang was multifaceted; they served military, religious, and educational purposes.
The hwarang functioned as a very unique social group. The members of the hwarang were themselves from aristocratic families and their leaders were of the true-bone34 rank.35 The hwarang lived together for a fixed period of time in order to “learn military arts and cultivate virtue.”36 They also, as previously mentioned, traveled together to mountains and rivers. Although the military aspect of the hwarang was definitely present, it is often taken to be their sole function. This is because more attention is paid to the perilous period of the Unification Wars than to other periods. It is true that during the Unification Wars, “bravery in battle emerged as one of the prevailing virtues” of the hwarang, but this did not “transform [the organization] into a military unit.”37 On the contrary, the accounts in the primary sources do not provide much support that the hwarang were “exclusively or even primarily [a] military organization”; therefore it is incorrect to assume the hwarang were “merely a type of soldier or even [a type] of knight.”38 It is more correct to think of the hwarang as a group that intended to cultivate abilities and talents which would then be used to fulfill a military role or governmental position.39 This is not to say that the military purpose of the hwarang should be belittled in any way. The point here is that the military purpose of the hwarang was made possible because of the educational function of the group—the military function coexisted with the other purposes of the hwarang.
By looking at the structure of the Sillan military, it is evident that the hwarang were actually not chiefly a military organization. In Silla, “garrisons were established in each provincial jurisdiction, commanded by generals of true-bone status.” These garrisons were composed of elite men from the capital and “oath-bannermen.” The bannermen were similar to feudal retainers in that they “pledged their individual services and loyalty to their commanders.”40 The elite groups that made up the military did not include the hwarang as a stable branch; in fact, the hwarang and other youths were used to supplement the elite divisions.41 Evidence for hwarang participation in battle is not non-existent, but it is uncommon. This fact coupled with their seemingly supporting role in the military suggests that the hwarang were not themselves an established group of elite warriors.42
Although there is not sufficient evidence to support the claim that the hwarang were a military organization, the roles they did serve in the military should not be discounted. The hwarang groups served an indirect military function. In other words, the hwarang organizations were responsible for giving their members valuable military training that they could utilize later in life, after their time as a hwarang. Many great generals spent time as a hwarang in their youth, but they only really fought in battles once they were no longer a member of this group. By being in the hwarang organization, they gained the training they needed in order to succeed in the military. To illustrate this idea, consider the case of one famous hwarang, Kim Yu-shin (b. 595).
Kim Yu-shin was a hwarang youth who later became a hwarang leader. The Samguk Yusa records his biography and discusses an excursion he once went on to obtain information.43 Although this excursion could be regarded as a military expedition, there is no mention in the text of the other hwarang taking part in the mission. It seems that Kim undertook this quest individually, so it really has no connection to the hwarang.44
Likewise, Kim Yu-shin was involved in the battle of Nangbisong in 629. By this point in time, it is likely that Kim “had already retired from hwarang leadership and was no longer directly connected with the organization.”45 If his retirement had already transpired, Kim participated in the battle on his own instead of as a hwarang; however, his background in hwarang training could have contributed to his willingness to fight and his success as a fighter. There is enough evidence in primary literature to link Kim to the hwarang organization, but not enough to prove he participated in battle on a regular basis while still a member of this organization. This is but one example of how the hwarang organization provided the background necessary to produce great fighters and generals without having a direct, instrumental role in the military of Silla.
Along with their indirect military role, the hwarang served religious and educational purposes. As for a hwarang’s religious purpose, he “was indeed a shamanic leader.”46 The hwarang, because of their roots in shamanism, spent a copious amount time in nature. While out in the open, the hwarang took time to “cultivate the mind and exercise the body” by “meditating, discoursing, singing, dancing, and drinking.”47 The places in nature to which the hwarang chose to travel were thought to have been the residences of spirits, probably spirits that had been in Silla’s native religion for many years. The hwarang’s religious purpose as a shamanic leader also explains why they used cosmetics and dressed up in nice clothes—the feminization of male shamans was commonplace throughout Asian shamanism and continues to this day.48 The over-arching religious purpose of the hwarang was to protect Silla. They attempted to preserve Silla by praying for its safety and security while performing their shamanistic rituals in nature.49
The educational function of the hwarang was extremely important. The organization was meant to educate the young men about the native religion of Silla, but also to instruct the youths in the military arts and the mass of other religious and ethical beliefs that have been previously discussed.50 It is likely the Sillan government wanted to have an elite pool of candidates to select from when looking to fill governmental positions. Those in charge of Silla would want young men who were trained to be ideal leaders. The hwarang organizations seemed to be an effective way to accomplish this since all hwarang would be trained in traditional values, ethical and moral standards, fighting, and religion. Indeed, it seems that most hwarang went on to be successful politicians or soldiers.51
Many scholars argue that after the Unification Wars, the hwarang disappeared. If they really did disappear after the Unification Wars, it would grant evidence to the idea that the hwarang were mainly a military organization. However, some scholars have chosen to argue the opposite end of the spectrum. According to these researchers, after the Unification Wars, the hwarang “continued to exist as an organization of aristocratic youth.”52 Some even suggest that once the “virile spirit…manifested by the hwarang [had] disappeared,” they became “a group specializing in poetry, music, and dance—not for moral cultivation, but for enjoyment and ‘play.’”53 It is logical that once the wars were over the military aspect of the hwarang was no longer needed, so they were able to focus even more on educating young men in moral, ethical, and religious ways. Whether or not the hwarang really disappeared as soon as the wars ended is still a mystery—the primary sources do not give much information on this, so it is really up to the interpretation of various scholars and researchers.
Even if the end of the Unification Wars directly coincided with the end of the hwarang, perhaps it was simply because the post-war unified Sillan government did not see a need to continue the organizations. The hwarang were originally established by the government, so why would the government not be the one to disband them? Yes, the hwarang served religious and educational functions which could have still been valuable after the wars, but the hwarang were educated in order to one day serve as good, successful soldiers and politicians. Since many hwarang went on to be soldiers specifically, maybe no one felt it was necessary to continue being a hwarang after the wars were over. It is also possible post-war Silla just had other areas it wanted to focus on. Maybe a training corps just was not one of them, or maybe the hwarang organizations had simply lost their importance and significance to the government after the wars concluded. It is truly impossible to say exactly when and why the hwarang ended, so speculations like the previously mentioned ones are all that scholars and researchers can achieve—for now.
The hwarang youths were an exclusive phenomenon in Silla’s society. The young men gathered into these organizations were taught many important skills for success within the Sillan world—they studied military art, religion, morals, and traditional values. The mass of hwarang beliefs is hard to sift through and contains a fusion of native shamanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and possibly Daoism. Even though the philosophy of the hwarang is complicated, the purpose those beliefs served is easy to understand. The main religious function of the hwarang was to serve as shamanic leaders that prayed for Silla’s protection. They also served military and educational purposes, but their military function was not crucial. The military training the hwarang received aided them in their future careers, long after leaving the organization behind. The educational purpose of the hwarang was perhaps the most important—without the hwarang curriculum, the religious and military functions could not have been filled by these young men. In all, the hwarang organizations of Silla effectively gave rise to many important, prominent, and successful leaders of Korea by instilling in young men the importance of cultivating the self and all of its dimensions.
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1. Silla existed from 57 BCE to 935 CE during the Three Kingdoms period in Korea. Silla fought in the Unification Wars against the other two kingdoms, Baekje and Goguryeo, eventually dominating them and leading into the next period known as the North and South States period.
2. Richard Rutt, “The Flower Boys of Silla (Hwarang),” Transactions of the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 38 (1961): 7.
4. The Samguk Sagi is Korea’s oldest historical record. Written in classical Chinese (which was used by the educated classes in ancient Korea), it chronicles the Three Kingdoms period. To this date, there is no full English translation.
5. Note that in Korean, family names appear first.
6. Busik Kim, Samguk Sagi in "The Flower Boys of Silla (Hwarang)," by Richard Rutt. Transactions of the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 38 (1961): 16.
9. Busik Kim, Samguk Sagi in Sources of Korean Tradition: From Early Times Through the Sixteenth Century by Peter H. Lee. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 55.
11. Michael Seth, A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic Period through the Nineteenth Century, (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2006), 40.
12. Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997), 34.
13. Peter Lee, ed., Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 100.
14. Peter H. Lee, ed., Sources of Korean Tradition: From Early Times Through the Sixteenth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997) 48.
15. Like the Samguk Sagi, the Samguk Yusa contains historical accounts and legends. This collection mostly contains information relating to the Three Kingdoms period, but does refer to other periods as well.
16. Ilyon, Samguk Yusa, trans. Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz (Korea: Silk Pagoda), 208.
17. Ibid., 209.
19. Richard McBride, “Silla Buddhism and the Hwarang,” Korean Studies 34 (2010): 61.
20. Carter Eckert and Ki-baik Lee, Korea Old and New: A History, (Seoul: Ilchokak Publishers, 1990), 38.
21. McBride, “Silla Buddhism and the Hwarang,” 63.
22. Woo-keun Han, The History of Korea, trans. Kyung-shik Lee (Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1974), 61.
23. Lee, ed., Sources of Korean Tradition, 54.
24. Vlad nov, “Hwarang Organization: Its Functions and Ethics,” Korea Journal 38, no. 2 (1998): 334.
26. Wanne J. Joe, A Cultural History of Modern Korea: A History of Korean Civilization, (Seoul: Hollym International Corp., 2000), 7.Sin’gyo, when translated into English, means “the Way of the Gods.”
27. Ibid., 8.
28. Ibid., 10.
29. McBride, “Silla Buddhism and the Hwarang,” 56.
30. Eckert and Lee, Korea Old and New, 35.
31. Rutt, “The Flower Boys of Silla,” 19.
32. Joe, Cultural History of Modern Korea, 433.
33. Eckert and Lee, Korea Old and New, 35.
34. The bone ranking system was used in Silla in order to separate the different classes of the aristocracy. It is very similar to the idea of royal blood in Western cultures. “True-bone” status was below “sacred-bone” rank, which was the highest. Individuals with true-bone rank were usually from families with royal backgrounds.
35. Lee, ed., Sources of Korean Tradition, 54.
37. Tikhonov, “Hwarang Organization,” 337.
38. Rutt, “The Flower Boys of Silla,” 21.
39. Lee, ed., Sources of Korean Tradition, 54.
41. Eckert and Lee, Korea Old and New, 34.
43. Tikhonov, “Hwarang Organization,” 324.
44. Ilyon, Samguk Yusa, trans. Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz (Korea: Silk Pagoda), 61.
44. Tikhonov, “Hwarang Organization,” 325.
45. Ibid., 324.
46. Joe, Cultural History of Modern Korea, 433.
48. Ibid., 434.
49. Ibid., 10.
50. Tikhonov, “Hwarang Organization,” 331.
51. Lee, ed., Sources of Korean Tradition, 54.
52. Seth, A Concise History of Korea, 51.
53. Lee, ed., Sources of Korean Tradition, 54.
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Ilyon. Samguk Yusa. Translated by Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz. Korea: Silk Pagoda.
Kim, Busik. Samguk Sagi. “The Flower Boys of Silla (Hwarang)” by Richard Rutt. Transactions of the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 38. (1961): 1-66.
Kim, Busik. Samguk Sagi. Sources of Korean Tradition: From Early Times Through the Sixteenth Century by Peter H. Lee. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
Cumings, Bruce. Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.
Eckert, Carter, and Ki-baik Lee. Korea Old and New: A History. Seoul: Ilchokak Publishers, 1990.
Han, Woo-keun. The History of Korea. Translated by Kyung-shik Lee. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1974.
Joe, Wanne J. A Cultural History of Modern Korea: A History of Korean Civilization. Seoul: Hollym International Corp., 2000.
Lee, Peter, ed. Sourcebook of Korean Civilization. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.
Lee, Peter H., ed. Sources of Korean Tradition: From Early Times Through the Sixteenth Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
McBride, Richard. "Silla Buddhism and the Hwarang." Korean Studies 34, (2010): 54-89.
Rutt, Richard. "The Flower Boys of Silla (Hwarang)." Transactions of the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 38, (1961): 1-66.
Seth, Michael. A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic Period through the Nineteenth Century. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2006.
Tikhonov, Vladimir. “Hwarang Organization: Its Functions and Ethics.” Korea Journal 38, no. 2 (1998): 318-338.