Najeong was not much to look at because of the archaeological dig that had recently been held here and irritated many descendants of the Silla family. Our professor said that family members were upset because the research caused them to tear up the site and “they never put things back to the way they found them,” before the “historic dig” began.
To make matters worse, relics and historic artifacts found here were hauled off to national museums (they didn’t find much, according to local historians) and so much of the site is just land, dirt and maps at this point.
But regardless of the controversy, this site is historic because it is said to be the location of the “birth” of the first king of the Silla Dynastic period in Korea, following the Goryeo Dynasty, and lasting nearly 1,000 years before the emergence of the Joseon Dynasty, which closes out the dynastic period of Korea’s history.
According to Korean historians of the Na Jung site:
According to Samguksagi and Samgukusa, Bak Hyeokgeose, the founder king of Silla (57 B.C. ~ A.D. 935) was born here. One day in 69 B.C., according to a legend, Sobeol, chieftain of the village called Goheo, saw a white horse on its knees by a well. When he went to the well for a closer look, the horse suddenly disappeared. But he found a large egg on the spot where the horse had been. A baby came out of the egg. When he reached the age of 13, six chieftains in the area elected him to be their first king. They called their country Seorabeol, the ancient name of Silla.
Now according to Dr. Peterson, our resident historian and guide for our tour of Korea, the account lacks some details. The horse was a horse with gigantic wings, and with them the horse could fly, which is what happened to the horse when the egg appeared. The horse, according to legend, flew away, leaving this giant egg. But not just any egg. The egg appeared to be a bright, lustrous, iridescent egg – one that definitely is different from any other egg any one would have seen up to that point in time. And as the baby comes out of this egg, the people of the village are mystified by this baby. So much so that the elect him king of their village, and thus begins the Silla Dynasty for 1,000 years.
Najeong appears to be the site of this event and the birthplace (or hatching, depending on accounts) of this illustrious king of the Silla period. Archaeological digs have proven that artifacts found on the site date back to this time period and have helped historians pinpoint the timing of events such that they coincide with the accounts of that period and relics found here.