Although Subak first appeared in the Koguryo kingdom, the Hwarang-do is credited with the growth and spread of the art throughout Korea. When Koguryo became so strong that Silla was unable to defend itself, Silla saw the need for special warriors. Although it had an army, the soldiers were not of a high caliber, so through numerous battles, it could not defeat Koguryo or Paekche. So King Chin-Hung (534-576 AD), the 24th Silla King, in his 37th year of reign (reigned from 540-576), called up strong and patriotic youths throughout the country and form a national youth military group called the "Hwarang-do." The problem was how to find and evaluate high caliber aristocratic men for the group.
One way to achieve this was to gather young men, teach them the higher levels of Buddhism, honor, and the arts, and then pick the exceptionally talented ones for the group. Kim Tae Mun in the Hwa Rang Segi (Annals of the Hwarang) states, "Ministers and loyal subjects shall be chosen from this group and good generals and brave soldiers will be born."
As a way to gather the young men, two beautiful court women, Nammo and Chunjung, were selected to attract men around them. The women did gather a great number of men, but the plan then failed. Chunjong became jealous of Nammo, poisoned her wine, and threw her into a river, killing her. Chunjong was subsequently put to death by the royal court and the group of men the women had gathered was disbanded.