Sources: “Study of Balhae” 渤海考 (1784) – Bak Jega’s Preface

Bak Je-ga (朴齊家 1750-1815) was author of Bukhak-ui (北學議 Discussions of Northern Learning, 1778) and a close friend to Yu Deukgong.  This is an attempted  translation of his preface to Yu’s Balhae-go (渤海考 Study of Balhae, 1784).  See also Yu’s own preface.

Bak Jega’s Preface to Balhae-go 渤海考序

Early on I crossed west of the Amnok (鴨綠) [river] and, taking the Aiyang road (靉陽, in present day Fengcheng city, Liaoning Province), arrived at Liaoyang (遼陽, in central east Liaoning). Throughout the journey of some five or six hundred li (里), it was nearly all [a landscape of] tall mountains and deep valleys. [Only after] emerging from Langzi-shan mountain (狼子山) (present day Liangjia 亮甲), could [we] see an infinitely expansive plain where the sun, moon and flying birds would rise and sink in the prairie mist (野氣). But turning to view the mountains of the northeast, [the mountains] formed a ring around heaven, blocking the earth, just like a single straight brushstroke; [these] tall mountains and deep valleys that faced [us] were all beyond the thousand li perimeter of Liaodong. We sighed and marvelled, “This is the edge of heaven!”

Liaodong is [but] one corner of the world. However, nowhere has given rise to more heroes and kings (帝王) than here. The land bordered with Yan (燕, present day northeast Hebei province) and Qi (齊 present Shandong province) and thus the circumstances (勢) of China could easily be watched. Consequently the Dae clan (大氏) of Balhae, [took] the scattered remnant [folk] and, [even though they] abandoned the land outside the mountains, it was still sufficient to valiantly watch a single direction and vie (抗衝) with [the rest of] the world (天下). The Wang clan (王氏) unified the three Han (三韓, refers to the Later Three Kingdoms) but in the end they (其世) did not dare to [venture] a single step beyond the Amnok [river] and so [we] can see the traces of division and occupation, of gain and loss of the mountains and rivers.

A woman cannot see [the world] beyond the eaves of the roof; a child’s wanderings barely extend beyond the threshold: [they] certainly are insufficient to speak of anything beyond the [outer] wall [of their house]! Scholars [today] are [all] born inside the nine provinces of [Unified] Silla; their eyes are shut and ears blocked. They do not even know about the rise and fall, nor wars and battles of the Han, Tang, Song and Ming [dynasties]: less still of Balhae’s past events.

My friend, Mr Yu Hye-pung (楡惠風君, one of Yu Deukgong’s style names), is both erudite and skillful at poetry. He is expert at history (掌故) and has already compiled the Poems and Annotations of the Twenty-One Capitals (廿一都詩註) which looks in detail at internal [Korean history] (域內). [He has now] extended it writing [this] single volume Balhae-go. He has finely woven together the threads of personages, administrative divisions, a list of kings (世次) and basic chronology (沿革). That these have been brought together is a great happiness. But he says it is lamentable that the Wang clan [of Goryeo] was unable to restore the former [Go]guryeo territory. The Wang clan did not restore the old territory and so the places of Gyerim (鷄林 aka Silla) and Nangnang (樂浪 aka Goguryeo) eventually became vague (貿貿) and severed from the rest of the world (天下).

This corresponds with what I know and have previously seen, and I marvel at Mr Yu’s talent to be able to fathom the circumstances of the world and investigate the methods of good and bad kings. Further, how could this work be specially prepared [simply as] the writings of a single country; only the length could [be negatively compared with] the books of Huhui (胡恢) and Maling (馬令) [who both wrote histories of the Southern Tang]. Thus [I write this] preface and argue like this.

Autumn, 9th year [of King Jeongjo] (1785)

Sources: “Study of Balhae” 渤海考 (1784) – Author’s Preface 自序

P1030114c720 cropped
This is the famous preface to Yu Deukgong‘s Balhae-go ( 渤海考 Study of Balhae 1784).  See also, his friend, Bak Jega’s preface.

Author’s Preface

Goryeo did not compile (修) a history of Balhae and so [we] know that Goryeo was not fully vibrant (不振). In the past, the Go clan (高氏) resided in the north and [their land was] called Goguryeo; the Buyeo clan (夫餘氏) resided in the southwest and were called Baekje; and the Bak (朴), Seok (昔) and Kim (金) clans were in the southeast and called Silla. These were the Three Kingdoms. Appropriately there was a history of the Three Kingdoms which Goryeo had [duly] compiled. This was right.

Subsequently the Buyeo and Go clans came to an end; the Kim clan occupied the south whilst the Dae clan (大氏) occupied the north and [its country] was called Balhae. These were the Southern and Northern Kingdoms and there should have befittingly been a history of the Southern and Northern Kingdoms, but Goryeo did not compile one. This was wrong.

Who were the Dae clan? They were Goguryeo people. What land was it they occupied? It was Goguryeo land. They drove [others] out (斥) to the east, west and north and enlarged [the territory].

Subsequently [both] the Kim and Dae came to an end; the Wang clan (王氏) came to power (統) and, occupying [the former territories, their country] was called Goryeo. In the south they occupied all of the Kim clan’s [former] territory but in the north they could not occupy all of the Dae’s. Some of it went to the Jurchen (女眞) and some to the Khitan (契丹). At that time those who devised plans (計) for Goryeo should have quickly compiled a history of Balhae. They [should have] taken this to the Jurchen and remonstrated them saying, “Why don’t you return our Balhae territory? Balhae’s territory was Goguryeo territory!” Then [they should have] sent a military general to go and take [the territory] and that way they could have occupied to the north of the Tomun (土門 present day Tumen) [river]. Then [similarly they should have] taken [the history] to the Khitan and remonstrated them saying, “Why don’t you return our Balhae territory? Balhae’s territory was Goguryeo territory!” Then [they should have] sent a military general to go and take [the territory] and that way they could have occupied to the west of the Amnok (鴨綠 present day Yalu) [river]. [However], in the end no [such] history of Balhae was compiled and so no one knew which clan’s land they were, either to the north of the Tomun or to the west of the Amnok. [Even if] they wanted to remonstrate the Jurchen there was nothing they could say. [Even if] they wanted to remonstrate the Khitan, there was nothing they could say.

Goryeo in the end became a weak country because it was unable to reclaim (得) the Balhae territory. How lamentable! Perhaps [Goryeo people even] said, “Balhae was overthrown by the [Khitan] Liao how could its history be compiled?” This is not so. Balhae had a system of government (憲) resembling China’s and it would certainly have had a history bureau (史官). Its capital, Holhan-seong (忽汗城), was destroyed [but] those who fled to Goryeo with the crown prince [numbered] in the hundreds of thousands. [So even if] there were no official historians [amongst them] there would definitely have been books; [even] if there were no historians or books, [they could have] asked the crown prince and been able to learn the court [history] (世). They could have asked the Eun Gyejong (隱繼宗) and learnt [about Balhae’s] ritual behaviour (禮). If they asked the [remaining] hundreds of thousands, there is nothing that they could not have found out.

Zhang Jianzhang (張建章 806-866, see note below) was from Tang [China], yet he authored the Bohaiguo-ji (渤海國記 Record of Bohai/Balhae); [how is it, there were] Goryeo people but they were unable to compile a history of Balhae themselves?

Ah! It is [now] centuries after the literature [pertaining to Balhae] has been scattered and lost. Even if one attempts to compile [a history, the sources] cannot be obtained! Whilst [working] as an official at the Naegak (內閣, refers to Gyujanggak royal library) I extensively read royal/rare books (秘書 lit. ‘secret books’) and selectively compiled (撰次) the matters [concerning] Balhae as nine go short studies (考) on [the following]: rulers (君), subjects/officials (臣), geography, ranks and titles, ceremonial texts (儀章), produce (産物), language, literature and successor states. That they cannot be termed [under the orthodox categories of] important houses (世), biographies (傳) and treatises (志) but [only] go [means] this is not a complete history. [I] would not dare pretend this is an [official] history [史].

15th day, 3rd [lunar] leap month of Gabjin (甲辰 1784)

Zhang Jianzhang (張建章 806-866) served as a Tang emissary to Barhae, his tomb was discovered in Beijing in 1956. In 832 a Balhae emissary visited Youzhou (幽州, modern Beijing) and the following year Zhang was sent to Balhae. He arrived in the capital of Balhae in the 9th lunar month of 834 and returned Youzhou in the 8th month of 835. Based on this visit he authored the three volume Bohai-ji (渤海記 Record of Bohai); it has not survived but is thought to have been a primary reference for the ‘Bohai-zhuan’ (渤海傳) section of the Xin-Tangshu (新唐書 New Book of Tang).  (See Song 2012:41)

Song Gi-ho 송기호 (translator). 2012: 발해고 (Study of Balhae). Seoul: (주)홍익출판사

Sources: “History of the Balhae Empire” – Forward, Contents and Afterword

Balhae Empire c720

Seo Byeong-guk 서병국. 2010: 발해제국사: 발해가 고구려의 계승국인 34가지 증거 (History of the Balhae Empire: 34 pieces of evidence that Balhae was the successor state to Goguryeo). Gyeonggi-do Paju: 한국학술정보(주)

General warning: this is a good example of Korean subjectivity in the history dispute with China.  I do not particularly agree with the arguments presented.

Translation notes: the verb ggeul’eodeul’ida 끌어들이다 has been directly translated throughout as “to pull in” to maintain its clear nuance, although in the context it would sound more natural as “to incorporate”.  The loaded terms minjok 민족 and jongjok 종족 are both translated here as “people” or “ethnic group”.


Following the collapse of the great empire of Goguryeo in northeast Asia, what could be called ‘the great exodus of a people (민족)’ continued for more than thirty years where the remnants (유민) of the Goguryeo people and the Malgal, who had been under Goguryeo’s rule, left their beloved homeland and [moved] to an unfamiliar foreign country, or else had to move their livelihoods to alien land (i.e. exactly the same thing.) Through this exodus of a people, the territory of our [Korean] people (우리 민족) received a mortal wound. Silla unified the peninsula but because they were unable to occupy the former Goguryeo territory north of Pyeongyang, an expansive area was expelled from our (i.e. Koreans’) historical interest.

Time passed, and the country of Balhae established itself (들어서다) in the land of the Songmal-malgal (粟末靺鞨 Ch. Sumo-mohe) which had been formerly governed by Goguryeo and so the ethnic chaos which had been stirred up by the great exodus of a people entered into a stage of calm. However, the lack of interest in the territory north of Pyeongyang remained the same.

So, how did Balhae come to be established? Tang caused the downfall of Goguryeo, but had been unable to advance into its former land north of the Yalu River (압록강) and so [the territory there] was in a state of empty vacuum. This vacuum was a prime requirement for founding a country and it was Balhae that was established here. Because Balhae was established outside of the region of Tang control, the only ethnic group (종족) who could have established it were either the remnants of Goguryeo or the Malgal.

Both during the Goguryeo period and after its collapse, the Goguryeo and Malgal people successfully maintained a relationship of mutual reliance. The founding of Balhae was achieved through this cooperative relationship. Goguryeo had originally been a multiethnic state and Balhae too, established on former Goguryeo land, was a country with a similar personality. Demonstrating in particularly that Balhae was a multiethnic state [is the fact that] Balhae was established immediately following the Khitan led rebellion against the Tang in Yingzhou (營州, modern Chaoyang 朝陽 west of the Liao River), in which the Goguryeo remnant people and Malgal had participated as a joint force.

But even in multiethnic states, it is inevitable that there will be [one] ethnic group (종족) which controls the whole territory. Just as in the multiethnic state of Tang, the principle power was the [Chinese] Han (漢), so in Balhae must there have been a dominant power (주체 세력). If so, was it of Goguryeo or Malgal lineage? The ethnic lineage (종족 계열) of the dominant power can be distinguished both by looking collectively at the relationship between the two during the Goguryeo period and [also] which ethnic group ruled the Balhae after its establishment.

However, this issue has not yet been properly resolved. Although the history of Balhae has largely been elucidated through written records (문헌), there is a need for further research. Even whilst research on this problem is so urgent, there are people who [would] deny this. They are the Chinese. This is because they blindly follow only the record in the ‘Bohai-zhuan’ (渤海傳 ‘Account of Balhae’) chapter in the Xin-Tangshu (新唐書 New Book of Tang) which says, “The Songmal-malgal (粟末靺鞨 속갈말갈 Ch. Sumo-mohe) established Balhae.”

However, to the same extent that the ‘Bohai-Mohe-zhuan’ (渤海靺鞨傳 ‘Account of the Balhae Malgal’) section of the Jiu-Tangshu (舊唐書 Old Book of Tang) provides an antithesis [to this], detailed historical examination is required into the issue of the dominant ethnic group. Unless this problem is solved, even if Balhae history is pulled onto the stage of our [Korean] history, it will not be acknowledge [as Korean] by the rest of the world. The Chinese have managed to separate the history of Balhae from us and pulled it into their own history. This is all because the problem of who the dominant ethnic group of Balhae was has not been researched.

Until now both Korea and China have relied only on fragmentary records. China has consciously avoided approaching the problem whilst Koreans have failed to deeply investigate from more than one angle. China avoids the issue because of a selfish judgement that [to do so] is beneficial to their national interests.

In the spring of 1990, this author participated in ‘The First International Conference on Balhae History’ sponsored by Yanbian University, established in China’s Korean Autonomous Prefecture; he was able to directly observe live what kinds of opinions Chinese scholars of Balhae history had regarding the history of Balhae [nice tautology!] The concluding report (합의문) presented during the closing ceremony suggested leaving the problem of [what] the dominant ethnic group of Balhae [was] for future research. Since then twenty years have passed but absolutely nothing has changed concerning this issue.

As noted above, the Chinese have completely ignored researching (or ‘research on’) this matter. Consequently it cannot but be our responsibility (몫). Concerning the problem of ethnicity, neither us [Korea] nor China will retreat an inch, but if we research this problem with a sense of historical mission (사명감), the assertions of the Chinese can be changed. This author heard a potentially shocking hint from ethnic Korean [Chinese] scholars who participated in the international conference on Balhae history. They themselves acknowledged that Balhae had been established with the remnants of Goguryeo as the central [people], but they were under pressure by Chinese authorities not to express this in words or writing.

Everyone has the hope that at sometime, even in China, academic freedom will be realized such that the history of Balhae, too, could be researched in a rational manner, but this may be an unrealizable fantasy. Since time immemorial the Chinese have regarded, as if [a matter] of ethnic pride, the complacent comfort [안주하는] [found in their] Hua-Yi historical perspective (華夷史觀 lit. ‘Chinese civilization [vs] barbarians’) which always views the history of the surrounding ethnic groups through a Sinocentric [outlook] (lit. ‘with their own country as the centre) and as a consequence even if in the future academic freedom is achieved, it is difficult to expect that the previous distortions of Balhae’s history will be correctly addressed (정립하다 lit. ‘to establish a [correct] thesis’).

That the sources on the Chinese side concerning the dominant (주체) [ethnic group of] Balhae are false has its very origin in the Hua-Yi historical perspective. Tang was absorbed in this historical outlook and so treated Balhae as a yidi barbarian (夷狄 Korean: ijeok) [entity]; whereupon Balhae became transformed into a country established by the Malgal (靺鞨 Chinese: Mohe) who for a long time had been the representative yidi people of Northeast Asian.

Tang [Chinese] viewed Balhae as a yidi [entity] and so would have been satisfied with [their] particular spiritual self-importance (자존), but what do Chinese people feel today? Different to their ancestors they point out the territorial satisfaction they feel. The Tang regarded the northeastern region of Goguryeo as useless land and so relinquished [thoughts of conquering] it but, through a sense of moral duty that the region is exclusive territory which must on no account be conceded to non-Han (漢) peoples, Chinese today are wiping away any remaining trace of the Goguryeo lineage. This is the byproduct of a modern version of the Hua-Yi historiographic perspective.

That Chinese scholars today pull Balhae into the history of their own country is a concrete expression of behaviour of this. On the question of which ethnic group the dominant power of Balhae emerged from, to say whether it was Goguryeo or Malgal based on a conclusion arrived at through pure research would be the academic approach. However, ignoring research and speaking from the dimension of national interest is not an academic approach. Here Chinese scholars’ research on Balhae history cannot be said to be free.

However it may be, recently there are people amongst ourselves, too, who are under the illusion (착각) that understanding Chinese people’s historical view of Balhae is [simply] a new research trend in [the study of] Balhae history. This is irresponsible behaviour, abandoning oneself in the distorted Hua-Yi historiographic perspective. If the results of research carried out with a serious attitude said that it were so, an understanding [for the Chinese perspective] could be found, but if they are words issued in a shallow manner without [having done that research] they then will be rejected.

When participating in the conference on Balhae history and directly coming into contact with the actual Chinese [scholars’] exclusionary historical view of Balhae, this author could not contain his indignation. But at the same time it gave him a new sense of mission. The result is this book.

Japanese sources on Balhae, too, unanimously say that the dominant power of Balhae was Goguryeo. But that Chinese people, in spite of this, inevitably insist it was Malgal is because the Hua-Yi historiographic perspective which refuses change continues to exist. Only when the Hua-Yi perspective changes will their view of Balhae history [start to] change. Unfortunately it is difficult to expect of Chinese people that [their] Hua-Yi perspective, viewing all nearby peoples as yidi barbarians, will change. But if we [Koreans] correctly establish a historical view of Balhae history, then the day will come when the twisted Hua-Yi perspective of the Chinese will change too.

This author’s comprehensive (종합적) research into the dominant power of Balhae is with the sole aim of trying to rectify the distorted view of Balhae history which is [itself] the dark side (이면) of the biased Hua-Yi perspective. As much as it is now the 21st century in which a new millenium has begun, we must no longer accept twisted views of history. Only rational views of history acknowledged by all, will guarantee peace and equality between countries.

In order to demonstrate the historical fact that the dominant power of Balhae was of Goguryeo lineage, this author will devote his whole energies (심혈 lit. ‘heart and blood’) to finding relations between the two. In concrete terms he will try to form connections between whether facts and events appearing in each topic [related to] Balhae also appear in Goguryeo. That is to say, he will focus on proving that the roots of historical facts which can be seen in Balhae, [can be traced to] Goguryeo. Because resolving this problem is the emphasis of this book, criticism and refutations of the twisted assertions and opinions of Chinese [scholars] cannot be neglected.

The uniqueness of this book is in its new method of research which has not until now been attempted. That is to divide the connections between Balhae and Goguryeo into thirty-four categories such as politics, diplomacy and culture and to take pains that the reader has no difficult in understanding [the discourse]. [The author] believes that anyone who knows [no more than] the name Balhae, should have no problems in understanding [this book].

August 2010
Seo Byeong-guk


1 Dae Joyeong (大祚榮), establishing Balhae
2 The name of the country established by Dae Joyeong was Balhae
3 Balhae was an empire
4 Balhae and Jin-guk (振國/震國) were different
5 The majority of Balhae’s inhabitants were of Goguryeo lineage
6 Criticizing sources which write Balhae as Malgal
7 Examining the meaning of the expansion of anti-Balhae power in Tang
8 Silla acknowledged Balhae as the successor to Goguryeo
9 Goryeo acknowledged Balhae as the successor to Goguryeo
10 Japan viewed Balhae as the same as Goguryeo
11 Examining Gung’ye’s (弓裔) view of Balhae
12 Finding out the world view of Balhae’s people
13 Goguryeo and Malgal lineages coexisted in Balhae
14 Balhae was the successor to Goguryeo
15 Balhae inherited Goguryeo’s policy [towards the] Tujue (突厥 돌궐) people
16 Balhae utilized Goguryeo’s knowledge of foreign countries
17 Balhae customs were Goguryeo type
18 The culture level of Balhae was the same as Goguryeo’s
19 The artist technology of Balhae was the same as Goguryeo’s
20 Balhae developed Goguryeo music
21 Balhae developed Goguryeo literature
22 On the front of [archaeological] remains and relics, Balhae was the successor to Goguryeo
23 The roots of Balhae polo (擊毬 격구) was Goguryeo
24 The roots of Balhae’s agriculture was Goguryeo
25 The roots of Balhae falconry was Goguryeo
26 The remnants of Balhae were acknowledged as the same ethnicity as Goryeo
27 The remnants of Balhae participated in the governments of the Khitan and Jurchen
28 The Liaoyang (遼陽) remnants of Goguryeo were the ancestors of Balhae people
29 The Khitans Balhae imperial guard (儀仗) were of Goguryeo lineage
30 Liaoyang is the homeland of both Goguryeo and Balhae people
31 Balhae and the Jurchen were not the same people
32 The Balhae of the Five Dynasties means Goguryeo lineage
33 Hwang Uidon (黃義敦 1890-1964) regarded Balhae as the same ethnic identity as Silla
34 Correct understanding of the Southern and Northern states (南北國 aka Silla and Balhae) period



Even though we [Koreans] are the protagonists of Balhae’s history, the Chinese do not acknowledge this. Much of the cause is due to us. It is because we have not made it clear through scholarly research that we are the masters (주인) of Balhae history. Until now we have only said in words that Balhae history belongs to us without any academic evidence (뒷받침). As a result who [do we expect] Chinese would consider Balhae history to belong to? Currently they insist that Balhae history belongs to them, but previously they asserted that it belonged to the Malgal people. That the [perceived] ownership of Balhae history has changed from the Malgal to the Chinese [themselves] is set against the context of an exclusionary Chinese view of history that pulls in the histories of all the ethnic groups that were [previously] inside the territory of present day China.

The Chinese are going to great lengths to make Balhae history Chinese history based on the fact that the former rulers of Manchuria – the Goguryeo, Balhae and Manchs (descendants of the Malgal) – have since been assimilated as Chinese. There are twenty-five official Chinese histories (正史); they include the histories of northern ethnic groups, namely the Liao, Jin, Yuan and Qing. These states voluntarily entered into the Chinese mainland and governed the Chinese people for extended periods of time and so it is natural that their histories should be included (편입) as Chinese history.

However, should that make it okay to, in this way, [also] artificially pull the histories of Goguryeo and Balhae into Chinese history when they had [previously] existed with solemn dignity (엄연히) outside of Chinese history?! Chinese would say that it is okay but they would not find it easy to gain acceptance [for this idea] from people of other countries. But in spite of that we cannot afford to stand idly by. The Chinese claims shake up rational recognition (인식) of Balhae history face on and so we, as Koreans, must establish a counter logic (대응논리).

This author believes that he established a counter logic with his Goguryeo-jeguksa (고구려제국사 History of the Goguryeo Empire), published in 1997. And in his Balhae Balhae’in (발해 발해인 Balhae, Balhae People), published in 1990, he brought into clear relief [the idea] that Balhae history is the history of the remnants of Goguryeo through [examining] the way of life of the remnants of the Balhae people.

The accounts (열전) of the remnant people of Balhae recorded in the Liaoshi (遼史) and Jinshi (金史) are valuable written sources clearly showing the real identity (정체) of Balhae. In spite of that, Chinese do not take notice of these sections and pretend not to know about them. This is because they well know that there are no other written sources showing the identity of Balhae as accurately as these.

When discussing the identity of Balhae, the history of the remnants of Balhae recorded in the Liaoshi and Jinshi must not be ignored. As has been pointed out, it is regrettable that Chinese [scholars] ignore these sections and only make obstinate claims running counter to reason. They only talk about the identity of Balhae in a manner convenient [to themselves].

Although the [former] territory of Balhae is now inside the present day territory of China, it [can only be considered] appropriate and reasonable to say that the dominant (주체적) ethnic group (종족) of Balhae was of Goguryeo lineage. Anyone with even a modicum of basic common sense about history would be able to think like this, so why do only the Chinese think differently? The cause [of this] is filled up with the Chinese people’s traditional Hua-Yi historical perspective and so it is here that the answer must be found.

What forms the basis of this Hua-Yi historical perspective is the Chinese people’s traditional sense of history. Their sense and view of history is self-righteous, exclusionary and uncompromising. But it was the northern peoples who opposed this Hua-Yi historical perspective. In order to render it impotent they established a Yi-Hua historical perspective (夷華史觀) [in its place]. It was not an absolutely stubborn (무조건) opposing [view], but a rational one. The central content of the Yi-Hua historical perspective is to say that the Chinese mainland cannot only be governed always by Chinese Han, but that it can be governed also by non-Han (northern) peoples. That is to say, non-Han ethnic groups can also be the owners of the Chinese mainland.

The fate of this Yi-Hua historical perspective followed that of the northern peoples’ states. Whereupon the Hua-Yi historical perspective which had been suppressed by the Yi-Hua perspective, was revived and [since then we have been in a situation where the Chinese] have been asserting with free abandon that Goguryeo and Balhae history are all [a part of] Chinese history. In the past, the Chinese did not say that Goguryeo and Balhae history are Chinese. That presently the Chinese government is even saying that Balhae history is Chinese shows that the Hua-Yi view of history has become still more exclusionary [than before].

In this maelstrom of [confused] historic awareness, the [only] thing we can do is to discover multi-angled approaches which can prove the fact that Balhae history is the history of the remnant people of Goguryeo, and to secure rational evidence. Owing to our overly devoted confrontation [inherited from Silla against Goguryeo/Balhae; or simply against modern Chinese historiography], we have forgotten the true value of Goguryeo and Balhae history, but the Chinese who, with their uncompromising Hua-Yi perspective, are familiar with debasing the history of neighbouring countries, have been silently progressing in their government supported project to pull Goguryeo and Balhae history into Chinese history.

If the history of Goguryeo and Balhae becomes that of China, we will receive an indescribable wound. That is to say, we will become a people without history and so lose [our] ethnic dignity and experience the fate of the disappearance of the Korean people’s existence. Therefore we must absolutely defend Goguryeo and Balhae history with our own strength. With what method shall we protect it?

The defence of Goguryeo and Balhae history is a matter of the survival of a people which cannot be relaxed. Consequently we must search for the method through history. The most certain method is to disarm (무력화시키다) the forced logic of the Chinese. In Goguryeo history [we must] demonstrate that Goguryeo was not a minority regional government (정권) of China but that it was an empire; in Balhae history, [we must] prove from many angles that Balhae was the successor empire to Goguryeo.

The case of the latter was the objective in writing this book. The accounts in Chinese written sources concerning Balhae which mention Balhae being the successor to Goguryeo are fragmentary, but they are not few. Based on these sources, this author has minutely examined the nature of inheritance (계승성) as thirty-four [separate] items. The conclusion reached from this is the fact that Balhae was jointly established by [people of] Goguryeo and Malgal lineage but those who led its development were clearly of Goguryeo lineage.

There has been a limit to the methods previously employed [to develop] the [most] certain counter logic which can turn around the forced logic of the Chinese and so [this author] introduced a new research method which has never been tested until now. This is a method to demonstrate the correlations focusing on the records related to Goguryeo from amongst the fragmentary records concerning Balhae in Chinese and our own Korean historical literature.

Up until now, concerning the question of [which] ethnic group was dominant in the foundation and development of Balhae, opinions and assertions have in actuality been at loggerheads according to the national interests of the involved parties [Korea and China], saying it was either of Goguryeo or Malgal lineage. As long as this kind of research continues, the explication of this problem cannot but remain unresolved. But China suddenly came out from its previous approach (태도) and forcibly pulled Balhae history into Chinese history. A part of Balhae’s [former] territory is inside present day Russian Primorsky Krai but Russia does not claim Balhae as Russian history. They simply say it was the history of the Malgal.

When looked at from this position, it cannot be that the Chinese claims [of Malgal over Goguryeo lineage] are not convincing. As a result we must not let go [of the matter]. [This author] has tried to make clear the connections between Goguryeo and Balhae [working] from the conviction that we must deeply investigate through scholarly [research] the unreasonable Chinese claims and create a perfect counter logic [to them]. In the final evaluation, [he] confidently believes that he has obtained the effect of [showing] the dominant ethnic group [involved] in Balhae’s foundation and development was of Goguryeo lineage. He hopes for nothing more than if a better research method than this emerges hereafter.

Sources: Samguk-sagi biographies – Choe Chiwon 崔致遠

The account of the famous scholar Choe Chiwon is the 21st of fifty biographies included in Kim Busik’s Samguk-sagi (三國史記).

Choe Chiwon  崔致遠  최치원

Choe Chiwon’s style name (字) was Goun (孤雲 ‘lonely cloud’) and also Hae’un (海雲 ‘sea cloud’). He was from Saryang-bu (裟梁部) in the [Silla] capital [Gyeongju]. Historical biographies have disappeared so his ancestry is unknown. From a very young age, Chiwon was meticulous and sharp minded and liked to study. At the [Korean] age of twelve, he planned to cross the sea by ship and enter Tang [China] to study. His father said to him, “If you don’t pass the Tang civil service examination within ten years, you are not my son. Go, and work hard!”

[Chiwon] reached faraway Tang. He followed a master and in studying was not idle. In the 1st Ganfu year (乾符), Gab’o (甲午 874), [Chiwon] successfully passed in one attempt the examination supervised by the shilang official of the Department of Rites (禮部侍郞), Peizan (裵瓚), and was selected to be a wei (尉) [county official] of Lishui county (溧水縣) in Xuanzhou province (宣州). Examining [records about him] in more detail [we can know that] he became a shengwulang shiyushi neigongfeng (乘務郞 侍御史 內供奉) and was given a purple and gold fish bag (紫金魚袋).

At this time, Huang Chao (黃巢) rose in revolt. Gao Pian (高騈) was made commanding general (諸道行營兵馬都統) to put down the rebellion. [He] called Chiwon and, making him a congshi (從事) [attendant], appointed him as a secretary (書記). His [various] biaozhuangshu and qi [writings] (表壯書啓) [from that period] have been passed down to the present.

At the age of twenty-eight, he had the desire (志) to return home and see his parents (歸寧). Knowing of this, in the first Guangqi year (光啓, 885), [Emperor] Xizong (僖宗) had him sent home by [his own] imperial edict (使將詔來聘). [Back in Silla,] he was made sidok-gyeom-hallimsa (侍讀兼翰林學士 attendant reader and royal scribe) and subyeongbu-sirang (守兵部侍郞 military defence official) and jiseo-seogam (知瑞書監).

Chiwon had obtained much [knowledge] through [travelling] west to study. [Upon return] he was going to act according to his own intentions (己志) but [the situation] deteriorated with the end [of Silla] (衰李); there were many [who were] suspicious and envious [and so] he was not accepted. Leaving [the Silla capital] he became the chief magistrate (太守) of Daesan county (大山郡).

In the second Jingfu year (景福, 893) of Tang [emperor] Zhaozong (昭宗), the napjeong-jeolsa emissary (納旌節使) and military section sirang official (兵部侍郞), Kim Cheohoe (金處誨), drowned at sea. Immediately the chief magistrate of Chuseong county (橻城郡), Kim Jun (金峻), was made a gojusa emissary (告奏使). At the time Chiwon was chief magistrate of Buseong county (富城郡) but he was reverently called (祗召) and made a hajeongsa emissary (賀正使).  However, during this period on account of constant famine there were bandits roaming across the country [such that] the roads were impassible and in the end they could not go.

After that, Chiwon again had the experience serving (嘗奉) as an emissary to Tang but the date is unknown. In reference [though] the collection of his writings contains a missive (狀) he addressed to the Taishi shizhong (太師侍中 great master palace attendant) which reads:

“[I] have humbly heard that beyond the eastern sea were three countries; their names were Mahan (馬韓), Byeonhan (卞韓) and Jinhan (辰韓). Mahan was Go[gu]ryeo, Byeonhan was Baekje and Jinhan was Silla. At the height of Goguryeo and Baekje’s flourishing they [had] one million strong armies; to the south they invaded Wuyue (吳越 southern China), to the north they menaced (撓) Youyan (幽燕 modern Hebei) and Qilu (齊魯 modern Shandong) and [in this way] became a great source of harm (巨蠹) to China. That the Sui emperor [Yangdi] went to ruin (失馭) was owing to [his attempted] conquest of [Goguryeo occupied] Liao[dong]. During the Zhengguan era (貞觀 626-649) our Tang emperor Taizong personally led six armies across the sea to administer celestial punishment. Afraid and awed, Goguryeo sued for peace. Emperor Wen (Taizong) accepted their surrender and returned (廻蹕).

At this time our great king, Muyeol (武烈大王), entreated with absolute sincerity (犬馬之誠), to [be allowed to] help with the suppression of a ‘one sided disturbance’ (助定一方之難). After this Goguryeo and Baekje continued their bad behaviour [and so] King Muyeol sent [as many as seven missions] requesting that they may become guides (鄕導) [to the Tang army]. In the 5th Xianqing (顯慶) year of Emperor Gaozong (高宗, 660), the emperor ordered (勅) [general] Su Dingfang (蘇定方 (591-667) to lead a strong army of the ten provinces (道 lit. ‘roads’) and ten thousand tower ships. [The army] destroyed Baekje and on that territory established the Buyeo governor-general (扶餘都督府). Summoning the remnants of Baekje they were given Han [Chinese] titles [but] because their customs (臭味) were not the same, there was constant news of rebellions (屢聞離叛) and in the end those people were moved to Henan (河南 in China).

In the 1st Zongzhang year (總章 668), the [emperor’s] order was given to Yinggong Xuji (英公 徐勣) who destroyed Goguryeo and established the Protectorate General to Pacify the East (安東都督府). In the 3rd Yifeng year (儀鳳 678) those [Goguryeo] people were moved to Henan and Longyou (隴右). The remnants of Goguryeo regrouped and moved north to below Taebaek mountain (太白山 aka Baekdu-san); the name of [their] country became Balhae (渤海). In the 20th Kaiyuan year (開元 732), bearing a grudge against the celestial court (i.e. Tang) [Balhae] launched a surprise attack on Dengzhou province (登州 present day Shandong peninsula) and killed the cishi sheriff (刺史) Weizun (韋俊). At this Emperor Ming (aka Xuanzong) was enraged and by his order, neishi interior official (內史) Gao Pin (高品), Hehangcheng (何行成), and taipuqing (太僕卿) Kim Saran (金思蘭) led an army across the sea to attack [Balhae]. Consequently, our [Silla] king, Kim ‘somebody’ (金某 – an expression of humbleness), was made Zhengtaiwei-chijie Chong-ninghai-junshi (正太尉 持節 充寧海軍事) and Great governor of Gyerim province (鷄林州大都督). With it being deep winter the snow was thick; the [Silla] barbarians (蕃 – again being deprecatory)  and Chinese (漢) suffered from the cold and so the order was given for the army to return. [Since that time] until today, it has been more than three hundred years, but there has not been a single incident and the blue sea (i.e. the Yellow Sea between Silla and Tang China) has been peaceful. This is the achievement (功) of our great king Muyeol.

Now [I, this] shallow scholar (末學) of a certain Confucian college, a foreigner of mediocre talent, impertinently deliver up this memorial (表章) and come to the court of the joyful land (樂土 i.e. Tang China). In general [I] have utmost sincerity (誠懇) and in accordance with correct etiquette [I hope to] make a statement (禮合披陳).

Having humbly examined (伏見) [historical antecedents], in the 12th Yuanhe year (元和 817), Prince Kim Jangnyeom (金張廉) was blown by a typhoon and arrived at the coast of Mingzhou (明州) province (present day Yin country 鄞縣 of Zhejiang province 浙江). A certain official of Zhedong (浙東 Eastern Zhejiang) provided an escort to the capital. In the 2nd Zhonghe year (中和 882) on account of the revolt (the Huang Chao 黃巢 peasant uprising) the [Silla] emissary Kim Jik-ryang (金直諒 김직량) was unable to travel along the roads. Eventually he came down the coast of Chuzhou (楚州 present day Huai’an city, Jiangsu province) and by a circuitous route (邐迤) arrived at Yangzhou (揚州) where he learnt that the holy [emperor] had [already] moved to Shu (蜀, present day Sichuan); the gao-taiwei high sheriff (高太尉) dispatched dutou (都頭) Zhang Jian (張儉) to escort (監押送) them [all the way] to Sichuan (西川). The events prior to that are clear.

[I] humbly beg that Taishi shizhong (太師侍中) will bend down [to me] and bestow a great kindness granting [us] a permit of travel by water and land; ordering at the places [we] will be (令所在) the provision of boats, food and [enough] hay for [our] donkeys [to complete] the long journey, and [arranging] a military escort that will conduct us to the front of the emperor’s procession (駕前).”

It is not possible to know the name of the taishi shizhong (太師侍中) referred to in this [letter].

Having served the great Tang in the west, Chiwon returned to his home country (i.e. Silla) in the east. [But] meeting with a world [suffering] chaotic rebellions [亂] his feet [metaphorically] were restrained (屯邅蹇連) [as] to move would easily meet with disaster (咎). Pained that he could not meet [with better fortune/was not better received], he did not again seek a career in officialdom. He wandered in self-abandon; below the mountain forests beside the sea, he built a pagoda (臺) and pavilion (榭) and planted pine and bamboo. He [used as] his pillow books and histories and composed aloud poems (風月 lit. ‘wind and moon’). Such places as Namsan (南山 ‘south mountain’) in Gyeongju (慶州), Bing-san mountain (氷山) in Ganju (剛州), Cheongnyang-sa temple (淸涼寺) in Hapju (陜州), Ssanggye-sa temple (雙溪寺) on Jiri-san mountain(智異山) and the pavilion (別墅) in Happo-hyeon county (合浦縣): these were all sites he visited on his wanderings. At the very end [of his life], he took his family and concealed himself at Haein-sa temple (海印寺) on Gaya-san mountain (伽耶山). He formed a Buddhist friendship (道友) with two monks (浮圖) who were actual brothers, Hyeonjun (賢俊) and Master Jeonghyeon (定玄師); he lived out his last days growing old in quiet leisure (棲遲偃仰).

When he first traveled to the west [to Tang China], he became acquainted with the Jiangdong (江東) poet, Luo Yin (羅隱 833-909). Yin held his own talents in high regard and did not lightly [have dealings with] (許可 lit. ‘permit’) others, [but] to Chiwon he showed five of his poetic compositions (歌詩). [Choe Chiwon] also became good friends with Go Yun (顧雲) who was the same age. When he was leaving back [to Silla], Go Yun bade him farewell with a poem [which] roughly went:

我聞海上三金鼇  아문해상삼금오
金鼇頭戴山高高  금오두대산고고
山之上兮            산지상혜
珠宮貝闕黃金殿  주궁패궐황금전
山之下兮            산지하혜
千里萬里之洪濤  천리만리지홍도
傍邊一點雞林碧  방변일점계림벽
鼇山孕秀生奇特  오산잉수생기특
十二乘船渡海來  십이승선도해래
文章感動中華國  문장감동중화국
十八橫行戰詞苑  십팔횡행전사원
一箭射破金門策  일전사파금문책

I have heard there are three gold turtles on the ocean;
on the turtles’ heads is a high, high mountain.
At the top of the mountain
is a pearl palace with shell halls (闕) and golden halls (殿).
Below the mountain
waves [stretch] for thousands and tens of thousands of li.
Beside, a single dot, is Gyerim [aka Silla] blue.
Turtle mountain conceived a [precocious] talent and gave birth to a marvel.
[Aged] twelve he boarded a ship and came across the sea;
[his] writings moved China [deeply].
[Aged] eighteen he freely competed in a poetry contest (詞苑);
firing a single arrow, he shattered the Golden [Horse] Gate (金[馬]門 refers to the central palace gate and alludes to his success in the civil service examination.)

In the “Treatise on Art and Literature” (藝文志) in the Xin Tangshu (新唐書 New Book of Tang), it says, “Choe Chiwon [left behind] the single volume (卷) Saryuk-jip (四六集 Forty-six Collection) and the twenty volume Gyewon-pilgyeong (桂苑筆耕 Cultivated Writings [of the] Gyesu-namu [tree] Garden).” In the annotation (注), it says, “Choe Chiwon was from Goryeo (高麗). Passing the bin’gong (賓貢) examination [for foreigners], he [served] as a congshi attendent to Gao Pian; his name is know as such in the higher kingdom (上國 aka China). There are thirty volumes of his collected writings which have been passed down.”

Previously when our [king] Taejo (太祖) arose [establishing the Goryeo dynasty], Chiwon knew that [Wang Geon, the future king Taejo,] was an extraordinary person who would receive the [celestial] command to establish a new kingdom. Consequently [Chiwon] sent a letter inquiring [on his health] which contained the lines, “The leaves of Gyelim (鷄林 aka Silla) are yellow [but] the Gongnyeong (鵠嶺 곡령 refers to Song’ak 松嶽 ‘pine peak’ mountain in the new Goryeo capital) pines are green.” [From amongst] his students, at the beginning of the new [Goryeo] dynasty, there was more than just one given high rank.

When King Hyeonjong (顯宗 r.1009-1031) was on the throne, Chiwon secretly helped with the king’s work (祖業). Unable to forget this meritorious service, [the king] issued a writ [posthumously] conferring on him the rank of naesaryeong (內史令). In the 5th month of the 14th year [of King Hyeonjong’s reign, which was] the 2nd Taiping (太平) year [of Liao emperor Shengzong 遼聖宗], Gyehae (癸亥 1023), [the king] bestowed [on Choe Chiwon] the posthumous name Munchang-hu (文昌侯 ‘writing beautiful lord’).

Sources: Yu Deukgong’s “Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals” 二十一都懷古詩 (1792) – part 5 of 6

See Introductionpart 1part 2part 3 and part 4.

金官  Geumgwan [a later name for Bon Gaya 本伽倻]

In the Nanqishu (Book of Southern Qi 南齊書) it is written, “The country of Gara-guk (伽羅國) was a tribe (種) of the Three Han. In the 1st Jianyuan year (建元, 479) a tributary mission came sent by King Haji (荷知王). He was designated [by the emperor] fuguo-jiangjun-benguo-wang (loyal vassal state general and king of the main country 輔國將軍本國王 보국장군본국왕).”

In the Beishi (北史) it is written, “Silla was an affiliated state of Gara-guk (加羅國).”

In an annotation (註) of the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “Gaya (伽倻) was also called Gara (加羅).”

In the Garakguk-gi (History of Garak-guk 駕洛國記 가락국기) it is written, “In the 3rd month of the 18th Jianwu year (建武) of the Later Han Emperor Guangwu (光武帝), nine chieftains of Garak performed the yudu [流頭] sacrificial purification ceremony to ward of evil (禊飮 n.91) beside the water, whereupon looking up at Gwiji-bong peak (龜旨峯) there was a supernatural energy (異氣). Looking closer [they saw] a golden hap bowl (盒) tied with purple string had descended. Opening the lid they found inside six golden eggs which they ceremoniously arranged (置). The next day the eggs broke and there were six boys. Each day they [grew] in intelligence and magnificence. After ten days they were nine cheok tall. The people chose one of them to be their suzerain (宗主) and this was King Suro (首露王). Because he was born from a golden egg, his surname was Kim (Gold 金). The country’s name was Gaya and this was in the 18th year (AD42) of King Yuri (儒理王) of Silla. The remaining five became lords of the Five Gaya (五伽倻) which defined its borders as the Hwangsan River (黃山江) to the east, the sea to the southwest, Mount Jiri (智異山) to the northwest and Mount Gaya (伽倻山) to the east [again].”

In the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽) it is written, “[The territory of] the Five Gaya [was thus]. Goryeong (高靈) was Dae-Gaya (大伽倻), Go-seong (固城) was So-Gaya (小伽倻), Seong-ju (星州) was Byeokjin-Gaya (碧珍伽倻), Ham’an (咸安) was Ara-Gaya (阿那伽倻) and Hamchang (咸昌) was Goryeong-Gaya (古寧伽倻). Also, Gwiji-bong peak (龜旨峯) is three li to the north of Gimhae-bu (金海府) and the site of King Suro’s palace is inside Gimhae-bu.”

In the Yeoji-ji (輿地志) it is written, “The tomb of King Suro is 300 paces (步) to the west of Gimhae-bu and beside it is the ancestral shrine (廟 묘). The tomb of the queen is on the eastern side of Mount Gwiji (龜旨山). The people of Gimehae-bu perform memorial services all together in the first, fifth and eight months of the year.”

In the Jibong-yuseol (芝峯類說) it is written, “In the Imjin year, the Japanese bandits exhumed King Suro’s grave and found his skull bone to be as large as a copper pot. Beside the coffin were two women whose facial colour looked like they were still alive, but upon bringing them out, they quickly deteriorated.”

In the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考) it is written, “Garak (駕洛) was alternatively called Garak (伽落) and also Gaya (伽倻). Later on it was changed to Geumgwan (金官).”

訪古伽倻咽竹枝  방고가야인죽지  去上平平平入平(支)
婆娑塔影虎溪湄  파사탑영호계미  平去入上上平平
回看落日沈西海  회간락일침서해  平去入入平平上
正似紅旗入浦時  정사홍기입포시  去上平平入上平

bang go ga ya in juk ji
pa sa tap yeong ho gye mi
hoe gan rak il chim seo hae
jeong sa hong gi ip po si

Upon visiting Old Gaya [her] throat was dry from [singing the] zhuzhi (lit. ‘bamboo branch’ 竹枝 n.91) songs.
The Pasa-tap pagoda casts a shadow on the banks of Tiger Stream.
Looking back the sun sets over the Western Sea;
It appears just as when the red flag arrived at the harbour.

visiting Old Gaya (訪古伽倻): Po’eun Jeong Mong-ju (圃隱 鄭夢周) wrote in the poem Swallow Pagoda of Gimhae (金海燕子樓), “Visiting Old Gaya, the grass is the colour of spring but having prospered and declined many times, the sea has become dust.”

Pasa-tap pagoda (婆娑塔 파사탑): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Pasa stone pagoda is beside the Ho-gye Stream (虎溪). It has five stories, a mottled red pattern and the carvings are particularly elaborate and strange. It is said that, ‘When Empress Heo (許皇后 허황후) came from the Western Regions (西域), she had this pagoda placed on her boat to calm the waves.'”

Tiger Stream, Ho-gye (虎溪): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Ho-gye stream is in the middle of Gimhaebu-seong fortress (金海府城). Its source emerges from Mount Bun (盆山) and, flowing south, it enters Gangchang-po (江倉浦).”

the red flag arriving at the harbour (紅旗入浦): according to the Garakguk-gi (駕洛國記), “In the 24th Jianwu year of the Eastern Han emperor [Guangwu], Empress Heo arrived crossing the sea from Ayodhya (Ch. Ayutuo 阿踰陀國). Looking at the silk sail and madder red (茜) flag which from the southwest corner of the sea pointed to the north, King Suro had set up a temporary tent palace (幔殿) to the west of the palace and was waiting. Mooring the ship and coming ashore, the empress climbed the mountain and whilst resting took off the patterned silk trousers she was wearing and presented them to the mountain spirit (山靈). As soon as she arrived, the king welcomed her and they went into the tent palace. After two days they came out and went by palanquin (輦 연) to the main palace where she was enthroned as empress. The Gaya people call the place where her boat first docked, Ju-po (Ruler’s Harbour 主浦), the place where she took off her trousers as Neung-hyeon (Silk Summit/pass 綾峴) and the place where the red flag entered the sea as Gichul-byeon (Flag-emerging Shore 旗出邊 기출변).” According to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Someone said that Empress Heo (許) was also called the princess of southern India (Nan Tianzhuguo 南天竺國); her surname was Heo (許 허), her first name Hwang’ok (黃玉) and her title (號) Empress Dowager of Jinju (普州太后).”

大伽倻  Greater Gaya

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “In the 23rd year of King Jingheung’s (of Silla) reign, the king ordered Isabu (異斯夫) to subjugate Gaya (伽倻) and made Sadaham (斯多含 n.93) second in command (副). Leading 5,000 mounted warriors, [Isabu] galloped to Jeondan-mun Gate (旃檀門) and there erected a white flag. Those inside the fortress became afraid and knew not what to do. With Isabu leading his soldiers, the fortress surrendered.”

In the Yeoji-ji (輿地志) it is written, “[The territory of] Greater Gaya is now Goryeong-hyeon (高靈縣); one li to the south of the hyeon [‘county’] is the site of the old palace. There is also a stone well called Eo-jeong (御井).”

In the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考) it is written, “The founded of Greater Gaya was King Ijinado (伊珍阿鼓王) and until King Doseolji (道設智王), there were sixteen generations.”

千載高山流水音  천재고산류수음  平上平平平上平(侵)
泠泠一十二絃琴  령령일십이현금  上上入入去平平
凄凉往事無人問  처량왕사무인문  平平上去平平去
紅葉迎霜作錦林  홍엽영상작금림  平入平平入上平

cheon jae go san ryu su eum
ryeong ryeong il sip i hyeon geum
cheo ryang wang sa mu in mun
hong yeop yeong sang jak geum rim

The sound of flowing water [has been heard] on the high mountain for a thousand years.
The clear [sound] of the twelve string zither.
No one asks of desolate past events,
The red leaves meet with frost and form a forest of silk.

twelve string zither (一十二絃琴): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “The music teacher (樂師) of King Gasil of Gaya, U Reuk (于勒), made a zither based on the Chinese qin-zheng (秦箏 진쟁 n.94) called the Gaya-geum zither (伽倻琴). Three li to the north of Goryeong-hyeon (高靈縣) is a place named Geum-gok (Zither Valley 琴谷). It is said that it is where he led the court musicians to practice.” According to the Jibong-yuseol (芝峯類說), “Because the King of Gaya made a twelve string zither, it is now called the Gaya-geum.”

a forest of silk (錦林 금림): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Two li to the west of Goryeong-hyeon is an old grave (古藏), which is known as the Geumnim-wangneung (Silk Forest 錦林) royal tomb.'”

甘文  Gammun

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “In the 2nd year of his reign, the Silla king, Jobun-isageum (助賁尼師今), made ichan (伊湌) U-ro (于老 우로) general (大將軍) and, invading and defeating the state of Gammun (甘文國), made its territory into a gun (郡 ‘commandery’).

In the Yeoji-ji (輿地志) it is written, “Gammun is present day Gaeryeong-hyeon (開寧縣). Mount Gammun (甘文山) is two li to the north. Also, Mount Yu (柳山) is two li to the east of the hyeon and to its north the site of Gammun remains.”

獐姬一去野花香  장희일거야화향  平平入去上平平(陽)
埋沒殘碑古孝王  매몰잔비고효왕  平入平平上去平
三十雄兵曾大發  삼십웅병증대발  平入平平平去入
蝸牛角上鬪千場  와우각상투천장  平平入去去平平

jang hwi il geo ya hwa hyang
mae mol jan bi go hyo wang
sam sip ung byeong jeung dae bal
wa u gak sang tu cheon jang

After Queen Jang’s passing, the meadow flowers are fragrant.
The [half] buried and aging memorial stone [is that of] the ancient King Hyo.
[It is said] they fielded just thirty manly warriors;
For a thousand battles on [a patch of land no larger than the space] between a snail’s tentacles!

Queen Jang (獐姬): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “The tomb of Queen Jang (獐陵) is west of Gaeryeong-hyeon on Ung-hyeon crest (熊峴). It is said to be the tomb of Madam Jang (獐夫人) of Gammun.”

King Hyo (孝王): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Twenty li to the north of Gaeryeong-hyeon is a large grave. It is said to be the tomb of Gammun king Kim Hyo (金孝).”

thirty manly warriors (三十雄兵): according to the Dong-sa (東史), “At its most, Gammun fielded thirty warriors.” According to the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考), “Gammun was likely an extremely small country.”

于山  Usan [modern day Ulleung Island]

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “In the 13th year of King Jijeung-maripgan (智證麻立干), the state of Usan (于山國) submitted to Silla and each year sent local products as tribute. Usan-guk is an island located directly to the east of Myeongju. It is also known as Ulleung-do island (鬱陵島).”

In the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽) it is written, “Ulleung-do is also known both as Mureung (武陵) and Ureung (羽陵) and is located in the sea directly east of Uljin-hyeon (蔚珍縣). In four directions the land stretches a 100 li and the earth is rich and fertile. The bamboo is as large as pillars, the rats as large as cats and peach seeds the size of a doe (升 승) measuring vessel.”

春風五兩邏帆廻  춘풍오량나범회  平平上上去平平(灰)
海上桃花寂寞開  해상도화적막개  上去平平入入平
唯見可之登岸臥  유견가지등안와  平去上平平去去
更無獅子撲人來  갱무사자박인래  去平平上入平平

chun pung o ryang na beom hoe
hae sang do hwa jeok mak gae
yu gyeon ga ji deung an wa
gaeng mu sa ja bak in rae

Spring wind blows the oryang [wind measuring instrument] on the sails of the patrol ship [visiting Usan Island].
Peach blossoms [being brought back from the island] open lonely and sad about the sea.
Only sea lions lie up on the seashore,
No more lions will come to attack the people.

the sails of the patrol ship (邏帆 나범): according to the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考), “On Ulleung-do there are all kinds of fragrant plants including sickle hare’s ear (柴胡 시호 n.97), gobon Apiaceae (藁本 n.98), camphor tree (石楠 석남 n.99) and wisteria (藤草 등초 n.100). Many of the nojuk (蘆竹) bamboo trunks are wider than one can wrap their arms around whilst the fruit of nojuk bamboo and seeds of peaches are as large as a wine glass (杯) or doe (升 승). The Silla court (本朝) dispatched (刷出 쇄출) fleeing citizens (逃民) to open up (空) the land and every three years an inspector would be sent. Distributing fifteen axes, they would cut bamboo and timber; gathering local products they were given as tribute to the (Silla) court and used as guarantees/tokens of trust (信物). The yeongjang commander of Samcheok (三陟營將) and manho commander of Wolsong (越松萬戶) went there in turn.”

sea lions (可之): according to the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考), “On the shore of Ulleung-do island there is an animal similar to a cow but with red eyes and no horns. In large groups they lie on the shore. If they see someone coming alone they may harm them, but if many people come they will swim away. They are called gaji (可之 n.101) sea lions.”

lions (獅子): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “After Isabu (異斯夫) became military commander (軍主) of Aseulla-ju (阿瑟羅州 present day Gangneung-si n.102) he began to plot the annexation of Usan-guk. Regarding the people of Usan-guk as foolish and primitive he knew he would be able to subjugate them through a scheme. So he had many wooden lions made and loaded them onto war ships. Arriving at the island state, he told them, ‘If you do not surrender we will release these lions which will trample and kill you!’ Frightened the people surrendered.”

耽羅  Tamna [modern day Jeju Island]

In the Beishi (北史) it is written, “In the sea south of Baekje is the state of Tammora-guk (耽牟羅國). The land has many roe and other deer. It is a vassal state to Baekje.”

In the Tangshu (唐書) it is written, “At the beginning of Yongsak (龍朔 661-3) [year of Emperor Gaozong], there was a place called Damna (儋羅 담라). Its king, Yuri Dora (儒理都羅) sent an envoy to the [Tang] court. The state was on an island to the south of Mu-ju province (武州) of Silla. Its customs are simple and dirty. They wear the skin of large pigs. In summer they live in houses made of animal hide and in the winter they live in caves. At first it was a vassal state to Baekje but later became vassal to Silla.”

In the Tamnaguk-gi (History of Tamna 耽羅國記) it is written, “In the beginning there were three human gods (神人) who came out of the ground and were called Yang-eulna (良乙那), Go-eulna (高乙那) and Bu-eulna (夫乙那). The three eulna roamed around hunting in a wild and remote place. They wore animals skins and ate meat. One day they saw a person wearing a red belt and purple clothes. He had loaded in a box three maidens wearing blue clothes, ponies, calves and seeds of the five cereals. He said, ‘I am an emissary from Japan (日本). Our king had these three daughters and said, “In the West Sea (西海) three holy children (神子) have descended and will establish a country but have no spouses so I am sending my three daughters.”‘ The three eulna each married one of the girls according to their age; they sowed the cereal and bred the ponies and calves and so began to prosper. The place where Yang-eulna resided was known as the First Capital (第一都, n.104), the place were Go-eulna resided as the Second Capital (第二都) and Bu-eulna’s as the Third Capital (第三都). The twelfth generation descendents of Go-eulna, Go Hu (高厚) and Go Cheong (高淸), together with their younger brother (弟三人) built boats and crossed the sea dropping anchor at Tamjin (耽津). This was at a time when Silla was thriving. At this time a guest star (客星 ‘variable star’ n.105) was visible in the south and the astronomers (太史) declared, ‘This is an omen of foreigners coming to pay homage to [our] court (來朝).’ The king regarded the arrival of Hu and the others as a rejoiceful thing. He named Hu as Seongju (Star Lord 星主 n.106) as he had moved the star signs (星象). He ordered Cheong to wear his trousers on the outside (??令淸出袴下) and loving him like a son named him Wangja (prince 王子 n.107) whilst their younger brother was named Donae (‘inside the capital’ 都內). Their country was named Tamna (耽羅 탐라) as their boats had moored at Tamjin when coming to pay homage to the Silla court. The king gifted them with jewels and clothing and sent them off. Thenceforth they served Silla and eventually those with the surname Go (高氏) took the title seongju, those named Yang (良氏) took the title wangja and those with Bu (夫氏), dosang (都上). Later on Yang (良) became Yang (梁).”

In the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽) it is written, “Jeju (濟州) was originally called Tamna-guk (耽羅國) and alternatively Tangna (乇羅 탁라) or Tammora (耽毛羅).”

三乙那城瘴霧開  삼을나성장무개  平入平平平去平(灰)
耽津江口峭帆廻  탐진강구초범회  平平平上 平平
厥初還有毛興穴  궐초환유모흥혈  入平平上平平入
何必他人袴下來  하필타인고하래  平平平平去上平

sam eul na seong jang mu gae
tam jin gang gu cho beom hoe
gwol cho hwan yu mo heung hyeol
ha pil ta in go ha rae

Humid mist clears over the Fortress of the Three Eulna.
The tall sail returns to [from] the mouth of the Tamjin-gang river.
From the very beginning the had the Moheung-hyeol hole.
Why would they have to come out of another person’s trousers?! [Refuting a Silla myth that they emerged from the king’s trousers.]

Tamjin (耽津): according to the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考), “Present day Gangjin-hyeon (康津縣) was Tamjin of Silla.”

the Moheung Hole (毛興穴): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “On the north side of Mount Jin (鎭山) in Jeju-mok (濟州牧), at the base of the mountain is a hole called Moheung-hyeol. It is from here that the three eulna emerged.”

後百濟  Later Baekje

In the Samguk-sagi it is written, “Gyeon-hwon (甄萱) was from Ga’eun-hyeon (加恩縣) in Sang-ju (尙州). His appearance was majestic and strange/wondrous; the spirit of his will (志氣) was extraordinary. Joining the army he was given the task of defending the southwest sea and based on his deeds (功勞) there he was made pijang adjutant (裨將). In the 6th year of King Jin-seong of Silla, bandits were multiplying like insects. Gyeon-hwon raised a group and attacked the provinces and counties (州縣) to the southwest of the capital. At each place he came to he found new sympathizers. Eventually, after attacking Mujin-ju (武珍州) he established his capital at Mount Wan (完山) and, proclaiming himself king of Later Baekje, he sent emissaries to Later Tang who were referred to as border emissaries (藩臣 번신). Later Tang bestowed the titles of (“Inspector of State” 檢校太尉兼侍中 검교태위겸시중), (“Supreme Commanding General of the Baekje Army” 判百濟軍事持節都督全武公等州軍事 판백제군사지절도독전무공등주군사) and (“General Governor, Magistrate of Jeonju, Four Direction Supreme Military Commander in the Eastern Seas and King of Baekje” 行全州刺史海東四面都統指揮兵馬制置等事百濟王 행전주자사해동사면도통지휘병마제치등사백제왕) and allotted fiefdoms (食邑) of 2,500 ho households (戶).”

In the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽) it is written, “There is an old earthen fortress five li north of Jeonju-bu (全州府), it was built by Gyeon-hwon.”

往事悠悠疽背翁  왕사유유저배옹  上去平平平去平(東)
繽紛紅葉古城東  빈분홍엽고성동  平平平入上平平
可憐探鷇金山寺  가련탐구금산사  上平平 平平去
亡國何關絶影驄  망국하관절영총  平入平平入上平

wang sa yu yu jeo bae ong
bin bun hong yeop go seong dong
ga ryeon tam gu geum san sa
mang guk ha gwan jeol yeong chong

For an old man suffering an abscess on his back past events grow dim.
To the east of the former fortress [just north of Jeonju] autumn leaves chaotically scatter.
It was pitiful to search for the fledgling birds [the three rebellious sons] at Gold Mountain Temple.
What had a bluish-white horse from Jeolyeong Island to do with the downfall of a country?!

an old man suffering an abscess on his back (疽背翁 저배옹): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Gyeon-hwon had more than ten sons. His fourth son, Geum-gang (金剛) was tall and wise. Gyeon-hwon loved him and intended to pass on to him the throne, however, Geum-gang’s older brother, Sin-geom (神劍), imprisoned Gyeon-hwon in the Buddha hall (佛宇) of Geumsan-sa temple (金山寺) and, killing Geumgang, declared himself high king (大王). Gyeon-hwon fled to Goryeo (高麗) together with his youngest son Neung-ye (能乂), his daughter Soe-bok (衰福), his favourite concubine (愛妾) Gobi (姑比). Taejo (太祖) of Goryeo treated them with warm etiquette (禮) and elevated [Gyeonhwon] to the rank of sangbu (尙父). Gyeonhwon died at the Buddhist sanctum (佛舍) on Mount Hwang (黃山) when his abscess (疽) burst.”

autumn leaves chaotically scatter (繽粉紅葉 빈분홍엽): in Po’eun Jeong Mong-ju’s (圃隱 鄭夢周) poem Infinite View from the Tower of Jeonju (全州萬景樓) there are the lines, “Buyeo-guk hidden in the green mountains (靑山隱約夫餘國), Baekje Fortress [amongst] the chaotically scattering red leaves (繽粉紅葉百濟城).

a bluish-white horse from Jeolyeong (絶影驄 절영총): according to the Goryeo-sa (History of Goryeo 高麗史), “Gyeonhwon presented Wang Geon Taejo with a bluish-white horse from Jeolyeong-do Island (絶影島) but later it was foretold that, ‘When a horse from Jeolyeong-do arrives, Baekje will collapse.’ Regretting his actions Gyeonhwon sent a messenger requesting the horse be returned. Taejo laughed and granted the request.”

泰封  Taebong [Later Goguryeo founded by Gung-ye]

In the Zizhi Tongjian (Comprehensive Mirror for Governance 資治通鑑) it is written, “At the beginning of the Tianyou (天祐 천우 904-7) year of Tang, a one-eyed monk of Seokgul-sa Temple (石窟寺), Gung-ye (躬乂) raised a group and, occupying Gae-ju (開州), was proclaimed king of Taebong-guk (泰封國). In the Zhenming (貞明 정명 915-20) year of the Later Liang (後粱 후량) [Gung-ye] sent jwarang-wi lieutenant (佐郞尉 좌랑위) Kim Rip-gi (金立奇) to the Wu (吳) to pay tribute.”

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “Gung-ye (弓裔) was from Silla and his father was either Heon An-wang (憲安王 d.861) or Gyeong Mun-wang (景文王 d.875). Shaving his hair he became a monk and took the name (號) Seonjong (宣宗). He was tall and courageous in spirit (膽氣). Towards the end of Silla, many bandits led revolts and Gung-ye joined the army of Bukwon (北原 present day Wonju) bandit Yang-gil (梁吉). Dividing his army, Yang-gil entrusted Gung-ye with [a part of it] and sent him to attack the east. Gung-ye subsequently overthrew the fortresses of Jeojok (猪足), Saengcheon (牲川), Buyak (夫若), Geum-seong (金城) and Cheorwon (鐵圓). In the first year of Tianfu (天福 901-3) he was proclaimed king of Majin (摩震) and took the era name (年號) of Mutae (武泰). Moving more than a thousand families from Cheongju (淸州) he established his capital at Cheorwon Fortress (鐵圓城). Mutae was revised to the first year of Seongchaek (聖冊 905-10) whilst the land to the west of the Pae River was divided into thirteen military jin (鎭). In the first Qianhua (乾化 911-15) year of Liang Emperor Zhu (朱粱 주량), Seongchaek was revised to Sudeok-manse (水德萬歲 911-14) and the name of the country was revised to Taebong (泰封). Declaring himself to be the Maitreya Buddha (彌勒佛), Gung-ye wore a golden cap (金幘) and priest’s robes (方袍). His oldest son was named Cheonggwang Bodhisattva (靑光菩薩) and his youngest son, Sin’gwang Bodhisattva (神光菩薩). When he went out he rode a white horse whose mane and tail were decorated with patterned silk. He had boys and girls go in front with incense and a parasol. He also ordered more than two hundred nuns (比丘尼) to follow behind singing Buddhist chants.”

In the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽) it is written, “Pungcheon-won (楓川原), located twenty li north of Cheorwon-bu (鐵原府), is where Gung-ye established his capital. The site of the palace is still completely intact.”

烏鵲飛邊認故宮  오작비변인고궁  上入平平去去平(東)
凄凉覇業黑金東  처량패업흑금동  平平去入入平平
設弧猶記端陽節  설호유기단양절  入平平去平平入
未作鷄林老薛公  미작계림로설공  去入平平上入平

o jak bi byeon in go gung
cheo ryang pae eop heuk geum dong
seol ho yu gi dan yang jeol
mi jak gye rim ro seol gong

One can tell there was formerly a palace around here by the crows and magpies [circling above.]
[One can only be reminded of] the desolate achievements of conquering east of Heijin.
The day the bow was hung up [refers to a custom on the day of birth] is rather remembered for having been Dan’o [5th day of the 5th lunar month].
But [Gung-ye] was unable to become a venerable of Gyerim [Silla] like Mengchang of Qi [who had also been born on the inauspicious day of Dan’o and was initially rejected by his father to be brought up in secret by his mother. n.113]

the crows and magpies (烏鵲): In Songgang Jeong Cheol’s (松江 鄭澈) song Gwandong-byeolgok (關東別曲) there is the line, “As though knowing and not knowing the vicissitudes of ancient times (千古), the crows and magpies bleakly cry at the old palace of King Gung-ye.”

east of Heijin (黑金東 Kr. Heukgeum): according to the ‘Sega’ (Noble Families 世家) chapters of the Goryeo-sa (高麗史), “The Tang merchant (商人), Wang Changjin (王昌瑾), by chance met someone at the market. This person’s appearance was large and impressive and both his hair and beard were white. In his left had he was holding three bowls and in his right an old mirror which was around one ja (尺) in diameter. He asked Changjin, ‘Will you buy my mirror?’ Changjin gave him two mal (斗) of rice in return for the mirror. Walking along the road the man distributed the food to the begging children and left. His speed was like that of a whirlwind. Changjin hung the mirror on the wall of his stall whereupon the sunlight falling at an angle dimly illuminated fine letters which could be read. They said, ‘Amongst the three waters and the four corners (四維 사유= NW, SW, NE and SE), the emperor of heaven (上帝) sent down his two sons, Chen (辰) and Ma (馬). To first catch a chicken and afterwards a duck, this fortune is called filling the one-three jia (一三甲 일삼갑). When dark [one] rises to heaven, when light [one] reigns over the earth. In the year of the rat (子年) great works will be achieved. Hiding one’s tracks and concealing one’s name (姓名), within disorder who can discern restraint (愼) and holiness (聖)? Shaking the thunder of the law (法) and with the flash of the gods’ lightening, in the year of the snake (巳年) two dragons shall appear. One of them will conceal themselves in the green trees; the other will cast a shadow east of Heijin (黑金). Those who are wise will see, those who are foolish will not. Forming clouds and causing rain, it will conquer alongside the people. At times it will appear prosperous (盛) and at times weak (衰). Prosperity and weakness (盛衰) will destroy the bad remnants. Over six years/cycles of the rat (甲子), three or four (三四)) children of the dragon will exchange generations and succeed [one from another]. In these four corners (四維), chou (丑) will be destroyed; crossing the sea and surrendering, one must wait for you (酉). If these letters are seen by a wise king, then the country’s subjects will be peaceful and their sovereign (帝) long prosper. My record in total is a 147 characters.’ Changjin at first had not known that there was writing, but seeing it he realised it was extraordinary and so offered it to Gung-ye. Gung-ye chose Changjin to search for the person [who had sold the mirror] but after a month he was unable to find him. The only thing [discovered] was that at Balsap-sa temple (勃颯寺) in Dong-ju (東州 = Cheorwon) was an old statue of Jinseong (塡星 진[전]성=土星) in front of the statue of Chiseonggwang Bodhisattva (North Star Buddha 熾盛光如來); it resembled the former owner of the mirror and in its left and right hands were a bowl and mirror. Changjin was happy and submitted a detailed account. Sighing in admiration and considering it wondrous, Gung-ye had the text analysed by scholars Song Ham-hong (宋含弘), Baek Tak (白卓) and Heo Won (許原). They said amongst themselves, ‘Chen (辰) and Ma (馬) refer to [Korean] Jinhan (辰韓) and Mahan (馬韓); green trees (靑木) are pine trees and so indicate Song’ak-gun (松嶽郡). Heijin (black gold 黑金) means iron and so is speaking of the present day capital (都) of Cheorwon (lit. ‘iron area’ 鐵圈). This is the place where you, [my] lord (主), first prospered and may eventually be the place of your [or the kingdom’s] demise. To first catch a chicken and then a duck has the meaning of Sijung Wang (王侍中, Gung-ye’s title) having occupied a [new] country, first obtaining Gyerim (Chicken Forest 鷄林, aka Silla) and then up to the Amnok (Duck Green 鴨綠) river.’ Amongst themselves the three conferred, ‘King Gung-ye has much envy and has killed many people, if we were to speak the truth, he would certainly come to harm which we too would not be able to avoid.’ So they gave a false report.”

hanging up the bow on Dan’o (設弧端陽 설호단양): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Gung-ye was born on the 5th day of the 5th month and already had teeth. Disliking this, King Heon’an (憲安王) ordered him to be killed and so a servant (使者) wrapped the baby in swaddling and threw him down from a tower. A wet nurse (乳母) maidservant (侍婢) secretly caught the babe, but by accident she poked out one of its eyes with her hand.”

Continue to part 6..