One of the most famous stories eulogized by Hwarang literature is the martyrdom of the son of General P'umil, who died in the wars of unification.
Kwan Chang was a Hwarang commander at the age of 16. He was captured during a battle with Paekche, one of the western kingdoms. Since his high ranking battle crest indicated he was the general's son, he was taken before the Paekche general. Lifting his war helmet, the Paekche general was taken aback at his youth. Thinking of his own young son, he decided against execution, which was the usual fate of the captured officers, and returned him to Silla lines.
Kwan Chang went before his father and asked that he be sent back into battle at the head of his men. General P'umil agreed. He was captured after a day-long battle, but after he was disarmed, he broke loose from his guards, killing both of them by hand and attacked the Paekche general's second in command. A leaping, spin kick killed the commander as he sat on his horse, a full eight feet in the air. Finally subdued, he was taken before the Paekche general. Much distressed over the loss of his chief commander, he told Kwan Chang, "I gave you your life once because of your youth, but now you return to take the life of my best field commander." This time the Paekche general returned the boy's head attached to the saddle of his war horse.
At the Silla line, General P'umil grasped his
son's head and wiped off the blood with his sleeve. "My son's face is as
when he was alive!" he shouted to his men. "He was able to die in the
service of the king. There is nothing to regret." The General rode back
into battle to complete the final defeat of Paekche. This was the famous Hwang
San Bul battle and the story became legendary throughout Korean culture.