Has Yona of the Dawn held a historical truth we failed to notice?

Yona of the Dawn is a well-known Japanese manga series created by Mizuho Kusanagi. Studio Pierrot also adapted it into an anime series that aired from October 2014 to March 2015. While the manga is still ongoing, the anime series covers the first 24 volumes. Critics have given high praise to the anime, and it even received the Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo manga in 2015.


Image Courtesy by Studio Pierrot

Yona is the sole princess of the Kingdom of Kouka and has lived a protected life within the palace walls. However, on her sixteenth birthday, she witnesses her cousin, Su-won, murder her father and take the throne. Faced with no other option, Yona must escape with her trusted bodyguard, Hak, and together, they begin a journey filled with danger and uncertainty.

Along the way, Yona and Hak meet different kinds of people, like the mysterious priest Ik-soo, the skilled swordsman Yoon, the gentle giant Kija, and the enigmatic Ao. She gains a deeper understanding of Kouka’s history and the dragons.; and works on improving both her abilities and physical prowess.

Yona and Hak | Image Courtesy by Studio Pierrot

While on their journey through the kingdom, Yona and her companions discover a tangled web of lies and corruption. They also come to realise that Su-won has motives for his desire to become the ruler of Kouka and is willing to resort to violence to achieve his objectives.

Historical elements in Yona of the Dawn

Yona | Image Courtesy by Studio Pierrot

Yona of the Dawn is a work of fiction that incorporates certain historical aspects. The Kingdom of Kouka, where the story takes place, is influenced by the ancient Chinese empire. Themes like power, corruption, and the significance of standing up for what is right are explored in the manga and anime, all of which have been significant throughout history.

Let’s explore the connections between Yona of the Dawn and the ancient Chinese empire:

  • The Four Dragons: The Four Dragons of Kouka derive from the Four Symbols of Chinese mythology: the Azure Dragon, the Vermilion Bird, the White Tiger, and the Black Tortoise. These symbols signify the four main directions, four seasons, and four fundamental elements.
  • The Kingdom of Kouka: The Kingdom of Kouka is heavily influenced by the ancient Chinese empire. The manga and anime show many similarities between the two, such as the use of chopsticks, traditional Chinese clothing, and Chinese architecture. The people of Kouka adhere to Buddhism and Confucianism, and their Fire festival shares similarities with the Chinese New Year.
Yona in her dancer outfit | Image Courtesy by Studio Pierrot
  • The Role of Women: Yona is a strong and independent female figure who perfectly represents the changing position of women in Chinese society in recent years.

Exploring how the characters represent historical components.

Yona and Yoon

While the characters in the popular anime series Yona of the Dawn are indeed fictional, they are crafted to embody certain historical elements. This attention to detail not only makes for a captivating viewing experience but also adds a layer of authenticity to the show’s storytelling.

For instance:

  • Yona: Yona embodies strength and independence, fearlessly advocating for herself. Her character signifies the evolving status of women in Chinese society over the past few centuries. In the Tang Dynasty era (618-907 AD), women enjoyed property ownership, and entrepreneurship and held significant positions in government.
  • Su-won: Su-won is a multi-faceted character, driven by both ambition and a desire to improve the kingdom of Kouka. He serves as a reminder that history is often biased towards the victors and that individuals who appear villainous may have valid justifications for their actions.

  • Hak: Hak is a devoted and defensive bodyguard who is always prepared to risk his safety to protect Yona. In addition, he is a proficient swordsman and a formidable fighter. This mirrors the traditional role of samurai in Japanese culture. Samurai were trained warriors who fought to safeguard and serve their lords.
  • Yoon: Yoon possesses great archery skills and has mastered the art of disguise. He is a devoted and dependable friend to Yona and Hak. His character reflects the important role of ninjas in Japanese history, as they were trained as spies and assassins with expertise in stealth and martial arts.


Image Courtesy by Studio Pierrot

Yona of the Dawn is a captivating and informative narrative that explores a range of historical themes, making it a must-read for those interested in history.

In addition to the historical themes mentioned, Yona of the Dawn delves into other significant themes, including the significance of friendship, family, and love. The story shows how these relationships can help people overcome even the most difficult challenges. If you’re interested in exploring a variety of manga themes, subscribe to our newsletter for must-read recommendations.

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