Stories of the Hwarang and their individual feats illustrate the code of the Hwarang, the type of ethics and morality essential to the evolution of the martial arts and the success Silla as a nation. This code has profoundly affected the Korean people and their culture throughout history. The lives and deeds of the Hwarang illustrate a level of courage, honor, wisdom, culture, compassion, and impeccable conduct that few men in history have demonstrated. The dedication and self-sacrifice of the Hwarang was clearly based on principles much stronger than ego and self interest. This basis was the Sesok-Ogye, the code of the Hwarang as set forth by the great Buddhist monk and scholar, Won Kang:
Be loyal to your king. Be obedient to your parents. Be honorable to your friends. Never retreat in battle. Make a just kill.
The Hwarang became known for their courage and skill in battle, gaining respect from even their bitterest foes. The strength they derived from their respect to their code enabled them to attain legendary feats of valor. Many of these brave young warriors died on fields of battle in the threshold of their youth, some as young as fourteen or fifteen years of age. Through their feats, they inspired the people of Silla to rise and unite. From the victories of Silla, the Korean peninsula became united for the first time in its history.
The main reason Silla was able to defeat both Koguryo and Paekche and unify the three dynasties was because of the Hwarang spirit under which the youth had been trained. The Hwarang spirit has survived through the ages and today it is still used as an inspiration for youth.