Balhae (Parhae) Kingdom


map of Parhae and Silla


Documentary about Parhae in Korea with English subtitles

 In AC. 698, 30 years after Goguryeo collapsed, Dae Joyoung, a general of Goguryeo, who continued to resist the Tang, founded the Balhae nation with the migrants of Goguryeo and parties of Malgal. However, today, China is distorting our history of Balhae, and claiming that they were minority race in their empire.China asserts that Balhae was not an independent country but a local government of Dang because the King of Balhae was a vassal of the King of Dang. But this is not true. You can see the reasons through this video

When Tang conquered Koguryo, many of its people fled to north Manchuria. According to Tang Dynasty sources, the founder of Parhae was Dae Joyeong or Tae Cho-yong(大祚榮), later called King Ko, a former Goguryeo general.After the fall of Koguryo, he was taken prisoner and forced to settle in Ying-chou ( modern day Chao-yang), but led a band of followers to Tung-mou-shan in Jilin, where he proclaimed himself king .There, along with the Malgal tribes ( a semi-nomadic Tungusic people) of that region, they formed the state of Parhae (698-926).The Malgal were more numerous, but the ruling class was comprised of Koguryo people .They regarded themselves as a revival of Koguryo .



 Malgal-Udege tribe (Bikin River), Forgotten People of Balhae

image from the Tomb of Princess Jeonghyo, the fourth daughter of King Mun

The second king Mu (r. 719-737), who felt encircled by Tang, Silla and Black Water Malgal along the Amur River, attacked Tang with his navy in 732 in far away Teng-chou, Shangdong .Silla, alarmed by the power of Parhae, built a defensive wall along its northern frontier .In 733, Tang and Silla allied to confront Parhae .To counter this, Parhae established relations with Japan and Tu-Chueh tribes north of China .


map of Parhae at its greatest extent

King Mun (737-794) took advantage of the An Lu-shan rebellion in tang China to extend his dominion by incorporating the Liaotung peninsula .Parhae reached its zenith under King Son (818-830) when it occupied vast areas of what is now the Russian Maritime Territory.


Legend of the Shadowless Sword (무영검)

Korean historical drama Set in the Parhae kingdom,The kingdom of the land has been conquered, and the ruler's only remaining descendant is the exiled Prince Jung-Hyun (Lee Seo Jin). Unaware of the darkness that has fallen over his homeland, female warrior Soha (Yoon Soy) comes to his aid and guides him toward his royal destiny. Meanwhile, the vicious Killer-Blade Army are hot on their trail, determined to spill the last remaining noble blood

    dragon head from Parhae


                         Reconstruction of the Parhae capital, Sangyong

Unlike Silla, which keep traditional administration, Parhae was heavily Confucianist. Once peaceful relations with Tang were established, many students from Parhae went to china to study and many passed the civil service exams .The capital of Parhae, called Sanggyong (上京 상경) or 'High Capital' was located in Tung-qing-cheng in modern Heilongjiang province and was laid out like the tang capital of Chang-an.The ondol floor heating system has been discovered in the ruins of the capital.

One of the few remains of the Parhae capital, a stone latern

Some have suggested the instability of the Koguryo-Malgal makeup of Parhae was the main reason why it fell so easily to the Khitan in 926.Others have put forward that it was the eruption of Mt. Beakdu in the center of  Parhae in the 10th cent which led to its collapse .The Parhae elite took refuge in the new Koran state of Koryo, while the Malgal, who were left behind, after 2 centuries of Khitan rule, went on to found their own (Jurchen Chin Dynasty) and drive out the Khitan. With the fall of Parhae, Manchuria ceased to be a stage for Korean history .


Buddhist figure from Parhae


 Silla (Shilla)

668 - 935 AD


Goryeo (Koryo)