The Goguryeo Kingdom (37 BCE – 668 CE) arose along the middle reaches of the Amnokgang (Yalu). By conquering neighboring regions, the kingdom eventually encompassed a huge area, from the Liao River to the central part of the Korean Peninsula. While maintaining its own cultural traditions, Goguryeo also actively embraced diverse cultures from China, as well as Central and Northern Asia. Thus, Goguryeo culture was both dynamic and practical, and it exerted tremendous influence on Baekje (18 BCE – 660 CE), Silla (57 BCE – 676 CE) and Gaya (42-562 CE), and even crossed the sea into Japan.
Tomb murals of Goguryeo are among the internationally recognized cultural legacies of Korea. The most frequent themes of the murals are daily customs, decorative patterns, and the guardian deities of the four directions.
Goguryeo culture was passed on to Unified Silla (676-935 CE) and Balhae (698-926 CE), and thus formed the backbone of Korean culture.