The Hwarang

Around 550 A.D., nobles known as the Hwarang ("Flowering Knights") rose to prominence as rulers, warriors, and officials in the Korean kingdom of Silla. These knights adhered to Hwarang O Kae, or "the Five Ethics," which stressed loyalty, filial piety, trustworthiness, valor, and justice - much like bushido or chivalry. They studied fighting arts, literature, administration, and philosophy. In 668, Hwarang general Kim Yu-shin completed the conquest of the region's other two significant kingdoms, Koguryo and Paekche, thereby unifying Korea.

Elite among the Hwarang were the sulsa ("technicians"). These warriors practiced am ja ("the art of shadows") and un ship bop ("invisibility methods"), and were used for special missions. For details, see Other Ninja (p. 13).

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