Gonjiu and Buyo, two cities in the west of South Korea are capitals of the Baekje Dynasty, one of the dynasties along with Shilla and Goguryeo during the Three Kingdoms Period. Visiting tombs and fortresses of this period – from 50BC to 700 AD – one gets an appreciation of how revered this period is in the minds of current generations of Koreans. There is a steady flow of pilgrims through the gates of these sites and one wonders what the appeal is – they can’t all be archaeological or historical buffs.
The key to Koreans’ sense of identity with this period is that it represented a time of “purely” Korean history – free of the interruptions Korea has suffered from since, over-run numerously by a succession of other ambitious nations. Despite the travails Koreans have suffered over the last couple of centuries with others coveting the peninsula as a colony or a protectorate, Koreans still today reach back many, many centuries to a time when the peninsula was solely theirs, in order to preserve the knowledge of their origins.