Sources and Further Readings For The Three Kingdoms Era

In this blog I aim primarily to focus on the narrative of history. In order to keep this narrative as clear as possible, the more scholarly details of the different sources will sometimes be ignored. For anyone interested in reading more in detail about the scholarship and archaeology of the Three Kingdom era, here are the sources I am drawing from.


In English

Annals of the Three Kingdoms: Silla and Koguryo. (Pekche edition out of print) A translation of the Samguk Sagi, written by Kim Pusik, the major source for most of our information on the Three Kingdoms era and where most of the stories come from. Unfortunately, although the annals were written after the Three Kingdoms era, they are the closest thing to a primary source that we have. So some of the accounts need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Samguk Yusa This is a collection of stories gathered by a monk named Iryeon. Iryeon decided to compile this book because he didn’t how like Kim Pusik ignored all the miracles and magical powers in the history of the Three Kingdoms. Suffice to say that most of the stories here are considered legends, although the book does provide information on the more ancient kingdoms like Gojoseon.

A New History of Korea by Ki-Baik Lee  An incredibly comprehensive look at the history of the country.  The book does not focus much on narrative, but is a great source for describing the politics, culture, religion and institutions of the land.  The book is still in university reading lists.

The Land of Scholars by Kang Jae-Eun A look at the history of Confucianism in Korea. A good source to look at the philosophical and ideological debates that shaped the country in the past.

History And Structure of Korean Shamanism A scholarly look at the development of shamanism, and an examination of  the symbolism behind the myths and rites of ancient Korea.

A History of Korea (Palgrave Essential Series) by Kyung Hwang. A great introduction to the history of the peninsula.

Sources of Korean Tradition Volume 1  A collection of translations from various sources, great for going in depth.

Korea Journal An incredibly in-depth collection of articles for just about everything related to Korea. It can take days to look at the whole thing.

The Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch’s Annual Journal Transactions A long running publication with articles on various aspects of history.


In Korean

한권으로 읽는왕조실록: 백제 고구려 신라 박영규  The story stands as a commentary on the Samguk Sagi. It compares the stories of the text to other texts of the same era, as well as archaeological evidence. The whole series is five books in total (including Joseon and Goryeo).

우리 역사의 수수께끼 1  2  3  이덕일 A delightful and intriguing series that explores the various mysteries and controversies of history. A great source that chronicles such debates as Gija’s existence.

한국민중사 (volume 1) A book that explores the lives of the people during the early era. Great exploration of the culture and political structure of the earlier kingdoms.

이야기 한국사 The first book on Korean history I’ve read, and the one that’s got me interested in the subject. A great overview.

한국사를 움직인 100인 윤제운  A look at the hundred most influential people in the history of Korea, their lives and accomplishments.

왕의역사 박영현 This book details the lives of the most important kings of every era, giving details into the political situation around them as well as relations with other countries.

이슬람과 한국문화  이회수 An intriguing look at the relationship between Korea and the Islamic countries, starting from the 7th century.

Naver Encyclopedia  Gigantic collection of articles, some written by prominent professors or historians, covering just about everything you want to know.