Unified Silla (668 CE - 935 CE) or Later Silla is the name often applied to the kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, when it conquered Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668. In 660, conquering Baekje unified the southern portion of the Korean peninsula and in 668 Goguryeo was conquered. Its last king, ruling over a state in name only, submitted to the emerging Goryeo in 935, bringing the dynasty to an end.
The name "Unified Silla" is a term that likely dates from after the division of Korea
in 1945, and to some degree reflects modern-day political longings. Because of this, some historians suggest the term North-South States Period
(남북국 시대, 南北國時代) to better reflect the fact that Silla did not unify the Three Kingdoms' entire territory. Large parts of former Goguryeo territory remained outside Silla's realm and were part of the newly emerged Balhae
, King Munmu the Great
ordered his armies to attack Baekje. General Kim Yu-shin
, aided by Tang
forces, defeated General Gyebaek
and conquered Baekje. In 661
, he moved on Goguryeo but was repelled. King Munmu was the first ruler ever to look upon the south of Korean Peninsula as a single political entity after the fall of Gojoseon. As such, the post-668 Silla kingdom is often referred to as Unified Silla. Unified Silla lasted for 267 years until, under King Gyeongsun
, it fell to Goryeo
Unified Silla and Tang maintained close ties. This was evidenced by the continual importation of Chinese culture. Many Korean monks went to China to learn about Buddhism. The monk Hyech'o went to India to study Buddhism and wrote of accounts. Different new sects of Buddhism were introduced by these traveling monks who had studied abroad such as Son and Pure Land Buddhism
A national confucian college was established in 682 and around 750 it was renamed the National Confucian University
The university was restricted to the elite aristocracy.
Woodblock printing was used to disseminate Buddhist sutras and Confucian works. During a refurbishment of the Pagoda That Casts No Shadows, an ancient print of a Buddhist sutra was discovered. The print is dated to 751 CE and is the oldest discovered printed material in the world.
At first, Silla decreased agriculture output tax to 1/10 before unification and assigned tributary payment per town with special products.
Unified Silla conducted a census of all towns' size and population, as well as horses, cows and special products and recorded the data in Minjeongmunseo (민정문서). The reporting was done by the leader of each town.