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One of the most famous stories that illustrates the respect that the country of Tang (as China was known in this period) had for the people of Silla, is told about the young Hwarang general named Yoo Shin Kim. General Kim was 15 at the time he became a commander in the army. Some years later China and Silla were in an alliance in a war against Paekche. The Silla armies had engaged Paekche in a battle and defeated them. But the battle had taken several days and it caused the Silla commander, Moon Kyung Kim, to be late for a meeting with the Chinese general, who was the top commander in this temporary alliance.

      The Hwarang commander and General Kim went before the Chinese General Jung Bang So to report the good news of their victory. But General So wanted to punish the Silla Commander for his disobedience and late arrival, so he ordered his execution! Suspecting treachery, that China's real intentions were to first take Paekche and then turn on Silla, General Kim spoke out angrily, "Are we your allies or your slaves?" Then in a burst of fury he exploded, "I will first fight with your army and then we will defeat Paekche." Kuksun Yoo Shin Kim's sword rose from its scabbard by itself into his hand and he was about to take the life of the Chinese general. It was thought in those times that the sword was the soul of the warrior and that it followed the mind of its master. Seeing this, General So was taken with fright. He quickly apologized to General Kim and rescinded the order of execution.

      Paekche was defeated and Silla prepared for a war with China. However General So was afraid to attack Silla and returned home to China. Asked by the Emperor why he had not taken Silla also, General So said, "It is true that Silla is a small country, but their King is very wise and the generals are fierce and loyal. All the people are united in a strong camaraderie." He repeated the incident with the Hwarang commander and said, "they are small, but we cannot defeat them."