Using written and material evidence to criticize the Samguk sagi's relatively static depiction of Paekche's past, this study examines the importance of Buddhism in the early sixth-century political and cultural transformation of the kingdom, a subject that passes virtually unnoticed in Kim Pusik's early history of Korea. Prior to the end of the fifth century, court life in Paekche was similar in notable respects to that of contemporary Koguryo, which, in turn, was partly influenced by earlier Chinese forms. At this early time, Buddhism was acknowledged by Paekche's kings but neither held a prominent place in the court nor played a significant role in policies of state. This changed after the loss of the Han River valley to Koguryo in 475. Paekche's early sixth-century kings Muryong and Song evidently recognized that if the dynasty was to survive, a fundamental restructuring of the government and its policies had to occur. The court intensified diplomatic and cultural ties to China. Accordingly, not only did they intensify diplomatic and cultural ties to China, but further the example of the ardently Buddhist Liang emperor Wu Di evidently inspired these monarchs to enhance their patronage of Buddhism and to use the religion as a force to help centralize and strengthen royal authority.


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pp. 165-215
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