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84 The Rise and Growth of Parhae The Period of the Northern and Southern States After Silla pushed Tang China off the Korean peninsula in 676, it as­ serted authority over the Korean peninsula south of the Taedong RiverW ŏnsan Bay line and thus unified Korea south of the peninsula’s narrow waist. The old domain of Koguryŏ above that line on the Korean peninsula and in Manchuria then came under the rule of Tang, which, to govern that vast territory, established the “Protectorate-General to Pacify the East.” But Tang’s rule met with stiff resistance from those displaced from Koguryŏ. To placate them Tang invested Pojang, the last king of Koguryŏ, with a fiefdom, giving him the title “King of Chaoxian (Chosŏn),” and in 677 it appointed him governor of Liaodong. His descendants succeeded him in that position and gradually secured virtual autonomy for the region they governed. This “state,” which remained in existence until the early ninth century, was often referred to by historians as “Lesser Koguryŏ.” In 698 Tang was forced to abolish the Protectorate-General to Pacify the East. Meanwhile,inthatsameyearinthevastplainsof easternManchuria,thenew state of Parhae was established by a former Koguryŏ general, Tae Cho-yŏng. 3 PARHAE, UNIFIED SILLA, AND THE LATER THREE KINGDOMS (676–936) Parhae, United Silla, and the Later Three Kingdoms 85 Tang China, which had exerted great power when the dynasty first started to rule, began to wane by this time. Empress Wu (685–705), the one-time con­ sort of Tang emperor Gaozong, was unable to pay much attention to the af­ fairs of Northeast Asia, as she was busy consolidating her own power through bloody struggles in which, on two occasions, she even removed her own sons from the imperial throne. Seizing upon this opportunity, Tae Cho-yŏng led a band of followers, from both Koguryŏ and Malgal, eastward to Dongmushan (near present-day Dunhua in Jilin province, China), where he proclaimed himself king of “Chin” (literally, “eastern land,” “dawn,” or “morning,” and interpreted as “state of sunrise”). He took the name King Ko (698–719). The name “Parhae,” from the name of the sea surrounding the Liaodong and Shan­ dong peninsulas, dates from 713 and was bestowed by Tang China, when the state of Parhae paid tribute to Tang as a formality. Parhae soon gained control of most of the former Koguryŏ territory. Chinese historians have claimed that the Parhae kingdom was historically part of China, arguing that Parhae was a state of the Malgal people rather than a successor kingdom of Koguryŏ. They have also maintained that, Parhae, like Koguryŏ, was one of China’s provincial governments for several reasons. First, the territory was named “Parhae” by Tang. Second, its kings continued to pay tribute to Tang and remained invested in the kingship of the Chinese dynasty. Third, Parhae embraced Chinese culture, including the use of Chinese char­ acters and Chinese writing. But old Chinese historical records clearly indicate that Tae Cho-yŏng was from Koguryŏ. That Parhae maintained a system of tribute and investiture with the Tang dynasty was merely for diplomatic purposes. Further, Parhae’s use of Chinese characters and Chinese writing only reflects its willingness to accept more advanced Chinese culture. Parhae’s kings called themselves “em­ peror” or “great king” and declared the names of their own era. Finally, Parhae wasasovereignstateindependentof Chinesesuzeraintyorinfluenceandstyled itself as Koguryŏ’s successor state. The text of an official communication con­ veyedbyaParhaeenvoytoJapanin727emphasizedthatParhae“hasrecovered the lost land of Koguryŏ and inherited the old traditions of Puyŏ.” In its return message Japan referred to Parhae as the “state of Ko[gu]ryŏ.” Thus it is evident that Parhae was indeed a revival of Koguryŏ. The state, in fact, was inhabited by people displaced from Koguryŏ. With the establishment of Parhae, Korea entered the era of the Northern (Parhae) and Southern (Silla) States.1 86 A History of Korea The Flourishing and Fall of Parhae Parhae’s rule extended not only over Koguryŏ’s ethnic inhabitants but also in­ cluded the large Malgal population, then living mainly in eastern Manchuria. Although the king and aristocracy were descendants of the Koguryŏ people, the people of Malgal formed the general populace. A semi-nomadic Tungusic people, the Malgal were organized into tribes scattered over a wide expanse of Manchuria, southern Siberia, and the northeastern Korean peninsula. In the reign of King Mu (719–737), Parhae greatly extended its territory to encompass the whole of northeastern Manchuria. Wary of Parhae...


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