An Analysis on the Contents of the Stele of Koguryŏ in Ji’an with Regard to Koguryŏ’s Reorganization of Sumyoje

An Analysis on the Contents of the Stele of Koguryŏ in Ji’an with Regard to Koguryŏ’s Reorganization of Sumyoje


  • Journal title: International Journal of Korean History
  • ISSN: 1598-2041 (print) 2508-5921 (online)
  • Publisher: Korea University, Center for Korean History
  • Country of publisher: korea, republic of
  • Date added to EuroPub: 2018/May/12

Subject and more

  • LCC Subject Category: History
  • Publisher's keywords: the Stele of Koguryŏ in Ji’an, the Stele of King Kwanggaet’o, Sumyoje, King Kwanggaet’o, statute labor, centralized government system
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF


    Jong-Rok Lee



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Despite a considerable amount of research focused on Koguryŏ’s Sumyoje (守墓制), there are many unsolved issues regarding the characteristics of the custodians of the royal tombs because the Stele of King Kwanggaet’o has been the only source to examine the system. In this sense, the Stele of Koguryŏ in Ji’an (集安高句麗碑; Chiban Koguryŏbi in Korean),” found in 2012, provides an opportunity to reinterpret the system, drawing scholarly attention to Koguryŏ’s Sumyoje again. Although the date and purpose of the stele is still amidst debate, historians generally agree that the purpose of the stele is related to the custodians for the royal tombs. Naturally, most of the recent articles on the newfound stele have addressed this system, broadening our perspective on Koguryŏ’s domestic administration. This paper, based on the interpretations and arguments of previous studies, argues that the Stele of Koguryŏ in Ji’an was a part of Koguryŏ’s general policy to reorganize their control over their inhabitants and overcome the shortage of manpower. Under the hypothesis that “selling and buying” the custodians and, ultimately, statute labors had been habitually practiced in Koguryŏ before this time, it is possible that the ruling class of Koguryŏ recognized the necessity to forbid this custom around the fourth century as the kingdom suffered a shortage of manpower especially after the continuous wars against the Yan dynasty and Paekche.

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