Samguk Yusa

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Edition of Samguk Yusa in Seoul National University
Korean spelling
Korean alphabet : 삼국유사
Hanja : 三國 遺事
Revised Romanization : Samguk Yusa
McCune-Reischauer : Samguk Yusa

Samguk Yusa , or Legends of the Three Kingdoms , is a collection of legends, folk stories, and historical depictions of the Three Kingdoms of Korea ( Goguryeo , Baekje, and Silla ). Other times and states before, during and after the Three Kingdoms are also dealt with. The oldest surviving text version is the Jeongdeok-bon version from 1512. It comprises five books with 138 stories.

The text was written in Classical Chinese at the end of the 13th century by the Buddhist monk Il-yeon (1206–1289) and probably compiled, revised and posthumously printed by his student Bogam Guksa Mugeuk. The Korean script was not developed until the 15th century. The Samguk Yusa, together with the historiography Samguk Sagi (1145) by Kim Bu-sik, which is about a hundred years younger, is one of the oldest written sources in Korea.

In contrast to the factual Samguk Sagi, the Samguk Yusa, as a narrative chronology, focuses on folk tales, legends and biographies from early Korean history. Many of the founding myths of the various kingdoms in Korean history are captured in this book. Il-yeon wrote down legends from various kingdoms, including a. from Gojoseon , Wiman Joseon , Buyeo , Goguryeo , Baekje , Silla , and Gaya .

The book is the earliest extant source of the Dangun legend depicting the establishment of Gojoseon as the first Korean nation.


  • Samguk Yusa. Legends and wonder stories from the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Translated by Young-ja Beckers-Kim, Hamburg-Schenefeld, EB-Verlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-936912-39-5

Web links

Wikisource: 三國 遺事  - Sources and full texts (Chinese)