Have you heard of the Gaema Musa?
Goguryeo (37 BC – AD 668) is an ancient Korean kingdom. It was a power in East Asia that won many victories against China and controlled the vast territory of northern Korea and southern Manchuria. What was the secret behind its remarkable victories? Among many reasons, the key was the kingdom’s Gaema musa, armed with steel weapons, then the cutting-edge technology. Gaema means a horse in armor and Gaema Musa means a well-trained solider on that horse. At the time, arming horses and people in steel armor wasn’t easy because it required an advanced steelmaking technology and the economic strength to support it.
Goguryeo had a lot of quality iron ore on its land and an advanced metalworking technology passed down from the first Korean kingdom of Gojoseon (2333-108 BC). Goguryeo further developed the technology and armed its soldiers with powerful steel weaponry. It was almost a millennium later that ironclad cavalry like the Gaema musa appeared in the west.
Gaema musa, armed with steel armors and helmets on armored horses, triumphed in battle. With their steel armors shielding them from their enemy’s arrows and spears, they charged through enemy lines and created chaos in enemy formations, leading to victory. We can see the mighty Gaema musa in many Korean and Chinese documents and on murals in Goguryeo tombs.