First recorded Hwarang hero Sul Won-Nang was elected as the first Kuk-Son or head of the Hwarang order. However, the first recorded Hwarang hero was Sa Da-Ham. At the young age of 15, he raised his own 1,000-man army in support of Silla in its war against the neighboring kingdom of Kara. He requested and was granted the honor of leading this force in support of the Silla army attacking the main fort of the Kara in 562 AD. As the first to breach the walls of the enemy fort, he was highly praised and rewarded by King Chin Hung for his bravery. He was offered 300 slaves and a large tract of land as a reward, but released the slaves and refused the land, stating that he did not wish to receive personal rewards for his deeds. He did agree to accept a small amount of fertile soil as a matter of courtesy to the King. However, when his best friend was killed in battle, Sa Da-Ham was inconsolable. As a youth, Sa Da-Ham and his friend had made pact-of-death should either of them ever die in battle. True to his promise, Sa Da-Ham starved himself to death, demonstrating his loyalty and adherence to the code of the Hwarang. Driving force in the unification of the Korean
Another dedicated Hwarang, Kwan Chang, became a Hwarang commander at the age of 16 and was the son of Kim Yu-Sin's Assistant General Kim Pumil. In 655 AD, he fought in the battle of Hwangsan against Paekche under General Kim Yu-Sin. During this battle, he dashed headlong into the enemy camp and killed many Paekche soldiers, but was finally captured. His high ranking battle crest indicated that he was the son of a general so he was taken before the Paekche general, Gae-Baek. Surprised by Kwan Chang's youthfulness when his helmet was removed, and thinking of his own young son, Gae-Baek decided that instead of executing him as was the custom with captured officers, he would return the young Hwa-rang to the Silla lines. Gae-Baek remarked, "Alas, how can we match the army of Silla! Even a young boy like this has such courage, not to speak of Silla's men." Kwan Chang went before his father and asked permission to be sent back into battle at the head of his men.