Named for the Hwarang youth group that originated in the Silla Dynasty about 1350 years ago and became the driving force for unification of the three kingdoms of Korea.
During the 6th century AD, the Korean peninsula was divided into three kingdoms: Silla, Koguryo, and Paekche. Silla, the smallest of these kingdoms, was constantly under invasion and harassment by its two more powerful neighbors.
The Hwarang were established by Chin Hung, the 24th King of Silla (540 AD), who was a devoted Buddhist and loved elegance and physical beauty. He believed in mythical beings and male (Sin-Sun) and female fairies (Sun-Nyo). These beliefs led him to hold beauty contests to find the prettiest maidens in the country, which he called Won-Hwa (Original Flowers). He taught them modesty, loyalty, filial piety, and sincerity, so they would become good wives. In one contest among 300-400 Won-Hwa, two exceptionally beautiful young women were favored, Nam-Mo and Joon-Jung. Unfortunately, the two began to struggle for power and influence between themselves. Finally, to win the contest, Joon Jung got Nam-Mo drunk and killed her by crushing her skull with a rock. When the unfortunate maiden's body was found in a shallow grave by the river, the king had Joon-Jung put to death and disbanded the order of the Won-Hwa.
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