Koguryo (277 BC–AD 668) was an advanced, civilized state that made much progress in developing science and technology like in all other fields of social life. Science was one of the important factors of the country’s prominence as a great power. The state of development in its meteorology, astronomy, mathematics, dynamics and medicine shows well how much progress the country made in the research work as a whole.
Koguryo people made their livelihood by farming, so the country studied deep into and developed meteorology and astronomy from its early years. According to old documents they recorded details of abnormal climatic phenomena such as drought, flood, storm, earthquake, hail, frost and high temperature, and made systematical astronomical observations on solar and lunar eclipses, comets, falling stars and the sun. The observation data include lots of valuable records, such as those on a comet that disappeared 20 days after it showed up in the sky south of Koguryo in November of the year 46, a comet that appeared in the vicinity of the Great Bear in February 158 and a sunspot that appeared in September 640. These are what could not be found in similar records of the neighbouring countries. This testifies to the extent to which Koguryo’s astronomy developed at that time.
A typical relic that tells the advanced astronomical knowledge of Koguryo people is a stonecarved astronomical chart. In 1395, during the period of the feudal Joson dynasty (1392–1910), there was made the Chonsangryolchabunyajido, an astronomical chart based on the aforesaid stonecarved chart. The chart has hundreds of constellations and 1 467 stars, and projects the celestial sphere on the plane surface with the North Pole in the centre. It also indicates the positions of the vernal and autumnal equinox points, the position of every fundamental star of the 28 constellations, equatorial circle, zodiacal circle, longitudinal circle and the Galaxy.
Mathematics and dynamics also developed remarkably in Koguryo. The fact that the astronomical chart, little different from the present one, was drawn during the period of Koguryo is inconceivable apart from deep knowledge of mathematics. This shows that mathematics developed on a very high level in Koguryo.
Examples of perfect application of dynamic knowledge in Koguryo are stone gates to burial chambers from that period. One of them is the one to the entrance from the doorway to the front chamber in the Tomb of King Kogugwon (Tomb No. 3 in Anak). Now there remains only the west gate intact in the tomb. Heavy as it is, the gate is easy to open and close only by pushing with a finger. This proves that masonry reached a high stage of development on the basis of dynamic knowledge in Koguryo.
Medicine of Koguryo, too, was on a high level. Acupuncture and moxibustion and medicinal materials and decoctions were mainly used in treatment of diseases. Acupuncture was developed so much as to find merely with a needle that a hair is hollow. And neighbouring countries admired medicine of Koguryo, praising that it could save even a dying person, and gave wide publicity to and used its medical treatments. In Koguryo there were compiled medical books such as Rosabang, all based on rich clinical experience, and its famous medical men travelled neighbouring countries, passing on excellent medical techniques, and thus helped develop the medical science in the East.
Article: Kim Un Jong