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Exploring Traditional Korean Weapons

January 11, 2018

Exploring Traditional Korean Weapons

The Korean Peninsula is responsible for pioneering a myriad of powerful weapons. While you may be familiar with some of these weapons, others will probably surprise you. In this post, we're going to explore some of the most common traditional Korean weapons.

Bonguk geom

The bonguk geom, meaning "national sword," was a double-edged sword developed during 18th century Korean. Unlike swords produced by its Japanese neighbor, the bonguk geom featured a straight blade instead of a curved blade.


The hwandudaedo, meaning "ring-pommeled sword," was a single-edged sword produced and used during Korea's Three Kingdoms Era. As the name suggests, it featured a ring pommel design, for which it became known throughout the Korean Peninsula. The hwandudaedo was designed in both single- and double-edged variants.


The unggeom was a single-edged long sword that could be wielded with either one or both hands. Its popularity peaked during Korea's Joseon era (1392 to 1897), which which many soldiers used the unggeom as a backup weapon.


The dangpa was a trident-like weapon that was also used during Korea's Joseon era. It was designed in Korea, however. Rather, the dangpa's design was imported from China, with Korea using the weapon to defend against Japanese pirates. It typically featured a slightly longer tip in the middle, with two shorter tips on the sides. The dangpa was constructed using the same steel as the unggeom as well as other bladed weapons produced during this era.


The langxian, also known as the nangseon, was a long multi-tipped spear used by Korean soldiers as early as the 16th century. With its multiple blades, it was highly effective at keeping enemies at a safe distance. If an enemy attempted to attack the wielder, they would often sustain injury from one of the langxian's many tips.


Perhaps the most impressive weapon during Korea's Joseon Dynasty (1392 to 1897) was the singijeon. Also known as the shinkichon, it used black powder to fire a barrage of explosive and incendiary arrows. According to various reports, the singijeon was instrumental in Korea's ability to protect against coasts from pirates. Korean General Gwon Yul specifically said that the Haengju mountain fortress would have fallen to Japanese pirates if it weren't for the singijeon.

These are just a few notable examples of traditional Korean weapons. Others include the gakgung, gichang, hyeopodo and woldo. Of course, Korean weapons such as these were often pioneered using techniques borrowed from China, Japan and other Asian territories.

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