Introduction to the Kimhae Kim Clan

Tomb of King Suro

The Kimhae Kim Clan (金海金氏, 김해김씨) is not only the largest Kim clan, but also the largest family clan overall in Korea. Its founding progenitor (始祖, 시조) is Kim Suro (金首路王, 김수로, 42-199), the founder of one of the states of Gaya (伽倻, 가야), which is more commonly referred in the family clan’s literature as Garak (駕洛, 가락), a small confederacy that existed in the south of Korea from 42 to 562 AD. (More about the legend concerning his birth in a future post). The progenitrix of the Family Clan is Heo Hwangok (許黃玉, 허황옥), who accordingly to legend came from the “Ayuta” State (阿踰陁國, 아유타국). (Various theories on her origin will also be in a future post). The Kings of the Garak State are as follows:

  1. King Suro (首路王, 수로왕, 42-199)
  2. King Geodeung (居登王, 거등왕, r. 199-253), also known as King Do (道王, 도왕)
  3. King Mapum (麻品王, 마품왕, r. 253-291), also known as King Seong (成王, 성왕)
  4. King Geojilmi (居叱彌王, 거질미왕, r. 291-346), also known as King Geummul (今勿王, 금물왕) and King Deok (德王, 덕왕)
  5. King Ishipum (伊尸品王, 이시품왕, r. 346-407), also known as King Myeong (明王, 명왕)
  6. King Jwaji (坐知王, 좌지왕, r. 407-421), also known as King Shin (神王, 신왕)
  7. King Chwiheui (吹希王, 취희왕, r. 421-451), also known as King Hye (惠王, 혜왕)
  8. King Jilji (銍知王, 질지왕, r. 451-491), also known as King Jang (莊王, 장왕)
  9. King Gyeomji (鉗知王, 겸지왕, r. 491-521), also known as King Suk (肅王, 숙왕)
  10. King Guhyeong (仇衡王, 구형왕, r. 521-532), also known as King Yang (讓王, 양왕)

After Garak was annexed by the Kingdom of Shilla (新羅, 신라) in 532, the family clan was absorbed into the “True Bone” rank (眞骨, 진골) of Shilla’s Bone Rank System (骨品制度, 골품제도), which was one of the highest ranks, and its members entered into various roles in Shilla’s governing class. Out of these, Kim Yushin (金庾信, 김유신, 595-673), the great-grandson of the last King, became a military general of Shilla and went on to conquer the Kingdoms of Baekje (百濟, 백제, 18BC-660AD) and Goguryeo (高句麗, 고구려, 37BC-668) for Shilla. He is considered to have reestablished the family clan and become its middle progenitor (中始祖, 중시조). The Kimhae Kim Family Clan played a prominent role in Shilla and Goryeo Dynasties (高麗, 고려, 918-1392) but its influence began to wane after the Early Period of the Chosun Dynasty. Prior to modern times, most of the members of the family clan resided in the Chungcheong (忠淸道, 충청도), Jeolla (全羅道, 전라도), and Gyeongsang (慶尙道, 경상도) Provinces. Throughout the ages, it expanded to almost 150 branches and subranches (派, 파). The direct descendant branches (直係宗派, 직계종파) that would pass down directly from Kim Yushin are the following:

  • Kimnyeonggung Branch (金寧君派, 김녕군파) or Gyeong Branch (京派, 경파), whose progenitor is Mokgyeong (牧卿, 목경)
  • Sagun Branch (四君派, 사군파), whose progenitor is Ikgyeong (益卿, 익경)
  • Samhyeon Branch (三賢派, 삼현파), whose progenitor is Gwan (管, 관)

There are more subbranches and subsubbranches within these branches. In addition, there are even more branches off non-direct lines and many more subbranches within those branches. This blog will cover at least the direct descendant branches in further detail.

Note: Also check out the Inje University Genealogy Library. It gives an introduction to Korean genealogy records.

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