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Buyeo kingdom

2nd century BC–494 AD
Map of Buyeo (3rd century)
Map of Buyeo (3rd century)
Capital Buyeo
Common languages Buyeo language (Koreanic)
Shamanism, Buddhism
Government Monarchy
• ?–?
Hae Mo-su?
• 86-48 BC
Hae Buru
• ?–494 AD
Jan (last)
Historical era Ancient
• Established
2nd century BC
• Disestablished
494 AD
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Korean name
Part of a series on the
History of Manchuria

Buyeo, or Puyŏ (Korean: 부여; Hanja: 夫餘 Korean pronunciation: [pu.jʌ]), was an ancient kingdom centred around the middle of Jilin province in Manchuria and existing as an independent polity from before the late 2nd century BC to the mid-4th century AD.[1]

The state entered into formal diplomatic relations with the Eastern Han dynasty by the mid-1st century AD as an important ally of that empire to check the Xianbei and Goguryeo threats.[2] After an incapacitating Xianbei invasion in 285, Buyeo was restored with help from Jin dynasty. This, however marked the beginning of a period of decline. A second Xianbei invasion in 346 finally destroyed the state, save for some remnants in its core region which survived as vassals of Goguryeo until their final annexation in 494.

Both Goguryeo and Baekje, two of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, each considered itself Buyeo's successor.[3]

Mythical Origins

Proto–Three Kingdoms, c. 001 AD.

The mythical founder of the Buyeo kingdom was Dongmyeong, having no relations with Jumong (Hangul주몽; Hanja朱蒙) who founded Goguryeo. After its foundation, Hae Mo-su (the son of heaven, Hangul해모수; Hanja解慕漱) brought the royal court to his new palace, and they proclaimed him King. Hae Mo-su called his new kingdom "Buyeo" to show that he was the true successor to the Kings of Buyeo. Generally, this Buyeo is often known as "Bukbuyeo" (Northern Buyeo).

Jumong is described as the son of Hae Mo-su and Lady Yuhwa (Hangul유화부인; Hanja柳花夫人), who was the daughter of Habaek (Hangul하백; Hanja河伯), the god of the Amnok River or, according to an alternate interpretation, the sun god Haebak (Hangul해밝).[4][5][6][7]


According to the Samguk Sagi and other accounts, the kingdom of Dongbuyeo (86 BC – 22 AD) branched out to the east of Bukbuyeo, near the land of Okjeo. Bukbuyeo's King died, and his brother Hae Buru succeeded him and became the king of Bukbuyeo.

Hae Buru found a golden frog-like child under a large rock. Hae Buru named the child Geumwa, meaning golden frog, and later made him crown prince.

Geumwa became king after Hae Buru's death. Geumwa met Lady Yuhwa and brought her back to his palace. She was said to have been impregnated by sunlight and to have laid a golden egg. Geumwa made many attempts to destroy the egg, but failed, and returned the egg to Lady Yuhwa. From the egg hatched Jumong, who later founded the kingdom of Goguryeo. Jumong later fled to Jolbon Buyeo after numerous assassination attempts by the seven sons of King Geumwa.

Geumwa's eldest son Daeso became the next king. Daeso attacked Goguryeo during the reign of its second King Yuri. Goguryeo's third king Daemusin attacked Dongbuyeo and killed Daeso. After internal strife, Dongbuyeo fell, and its territory was absorbed into Goguryeo.

Contrarily, Gwanggaeto stele mentioned Dongbuyeo as a vassal state of Goguryeo, even long after its destruction. Since the chronology is inconsistent with the Samguk Sagi, the Dongbuyeo mentioned in the stele is widely speculated by historians to have been a revival movement of Dongbuyeo, formed around 285.


Archaeological Predecessors

The Buyeo state emerged from the Bronze Age polities of the Xituanshan and Liangquan archaeological cultures in the context of trade with various Chinese polities.[8] In particular was the state of Yan which introduced iron technology to Manchuria and the Korean peninsula after its conquest of Liaodong in the early third century BC.

Relations with China

Buyeo became a vassal of Eastern Han in 49 AD.[9] This was advantageous to the Chinese as an ally in the northeast would curb the threats of the Xianbei in western Manchuria and eastern Mongolia and Goguryeo in the Liaodong region and the northern Korean peninsula.[2]

The Buyeo elites also sought this arrangement as it legitimized their rule and gave them better access to Chinese prestige trade goods.

During a period of turmoil in China's northeast, Buyeo attacked the some of Eastern Han's holdings in 111, but relations were mended in 120 and a military alliance was arranged. Two years later Buyeo saved the Xuantu commandery from total destruction by Goguryeo when it sent reinforcement to break the siege of the commandery seat.[10]

In 167 Buyeo attacked the Xuantu commandery but was defeated. Relations were again restored in 174.

In the early 3rd century, Gongsun Du, a Chinese warlord in Liaodong, supported Buyeo to counter Xianbei in the north and Goguryeo in the east. After destroying the Gongsun family, the northern Chinese state of Cao Wei sent Guanqiu Jian to attack Goguryeo. Part of the expeditionary force led by Wang Qi (Hangul왕기; Hanja王頎), the Grand Administrator of the Xuantu Commandery, pursued the Guguryeo court eastward through Okjeo and into the lands of the Yilou. On their return journey they were welcomed as they passed through the land of Buyeo. It brought detailed information of the kingdom to China.[11]

In 285 the Murong tribe of the Xianbei, led by Murong Hui, invaded Buyeo,[12] pushing King Uiryeo (依慮) to suicide, and forcing the relocation of the court to Okjeo.[13] Considering its friendly relationship with the Jin Dynasty, Emperor Wu helped King Uira (依羅) revive Buyeo.

Goguryeo's attack sometime before 347 caused further decline. Having lost its stronghold on the Ashi River (within modern Harbin), Buyeo moved southwestward to Nong'an. Around 347, Buyeo was attacked by Murong Huang of the Former Yan, and King Hyeon (玄) was captured.


According to Samguk Sagi, in 504, the tribute emissary Yesilbu mentions that the gold of Buyeo can no longer be obtainable for tribute as Buyeo has been driven out by the Malgal and the Somna and absorbed into Baekje. It is also shown that the Emperor Xuanwu of Northern Wei wished that Buyeo would regain its former glory.

A remnant of Buyeo seems to have lingered around modern Harbin area under the influence of Goguryeo. Buyeo paid tribute once to Northern Wei in 457-8,[14] but otherwise seems to have been controlled by Goguryeo. In 494, Buyeo were under attack by the rising Wuji (also known as the Mohe, Hangul물길; Hanja勿吉), and the Buyeo court moved and surrendered to Goguryeo.[15]

Jolbon Buyeo

Many ancient historical records indicate the "Jolbon Buyeo" (Hangul졸본부여; Hanja卒本夫餘), apparently referring to the incipient Goguryeo or its capital city.

In 37 BC, Jumong became the first king of Goguryeo. Jumong went on to conquer Okjeo, Dongye, and Haengin, regaining some of Buyeo and former territory of Gojoseon.


According to the Sanguo Zhi the Buyeo were agricultural people who occupied the northeastern lands in Manchuria beyond the great walls. The aristocratic rulers subject to the king bore the title ka (加) and were distinguished from each other by animal names, such as the dog ka and horse ka.[2]

Buyeo is north of the Long Wall, a thousand li distant from Xuantu; it is contiguous with Goguryeo on the south, with the Eumnu on the east and the Xianbei on the west, while to its north is the Ruo River. It covers an area some two thousand li square, and its households number eight myriads. Its people are sedentary, possessing houses, storehouses, and prisons. With their many tumuli and broad marshes, theirs is the most level and open of the Eastern Barbarian territories. Their land is suitable for cultivation of the five grains; they do not produce the five fruits. Their people are coarsely big; by temperament strong and brave, assiduous and generous, they are not prone to brigandage... For their dress within their state they favor white; they have large sleeves, gowns, and trousers, and on their feet they wear leather sandals... The people of their state are good at raising domestic animals; they also produce famous horses, red jade, sables, and beautiful pearls... For weapons they have bows, arrows, knives, and shields; each household has its own armorer. The elders of the state speak of themselves as alien refugees of long ago. The forts they build are round and have a resemblance to prisons. Old and young, they sing when walking along the road whether it be day or night; all day long the sound of their voice never ceases... When facing the enemy the several ga themselves do battle; the lower households carry provisions for them to eat and drink.[16]

— Sanguo Zhi


Chinese dynastic records state that the languages of Buyeo, Goguryeo, and Okjeo were similar while being very different from the language of the Yilou to the east.[17][18][19][20]

The Buyeo languages are a hypothetical language family that would relate the language of Buyeo with the languages of Goguryeo and Baekje, and are often considered a branch of the Koreanic language family.


In the 1930s, Chinese historian Jin Yufu developed a linear model of descent for the people of Manchuria and northern Korea, from the kingdoms of Buyeo, Goguryeo, and Baekje, to the modern Korean nationality. Later historians of Northeast China built upon this influential model.[21]

Goguryeo and Baekje, two of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, considered themselves successors of Buyeo. King Onjo, the founder of Baekje, is said to have been a son of King Dongmyeongseong, founder of Goguryeo. Baekje officially changed its name to Nambuyeo (South Buyeo, Hangul남부여; Hanja南夫餘) in 538.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Byington, Mark E. (2016). The Ancient State of Puyŏ in Northeast Asia: Archaeology and Historical Memory. Cambridge (Massachusetts) and London: Harvard University Asia Center. pp. 11, 13. ISBN 978-0-674-73719-8.
  2. ^ a b c Byington, Mark E. (2016). The Ancient State of Puyŏ in Northeast Asia: Archaeology and Historical Memory. Cambridge (Massachusetts) and London: Harvard University Asia Center. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-674-73719-8.
  3. ^ Warren I. Cohen (2000) East Asia at the Center: Four Thousand Years of Engagement With the World. Columbia University Press.
  4. ^ Doosan Encyclopedia 유화부인 柳花夫人. Doosan Encyclopedia.
  5. ^ Doosan Encyclopedia 하백 河伯. Doosan Encyclopedia.
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Korean Culture 하백 河伯. Encyclopedia of Korean Culture.
  7. ^ 조현설. "유화부인". Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture. National Folk Museum of Korea. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  8. ^ Byington, Mark E. (2016). The Ancient State of Puyŏ in Northeast Asia: Archaeology and Historical Memory. Cambridge (Massachusetts) and London: Harvard University Asia Center. pp. 62, 101. ISBN 978-0-674-73719-8.
  9. ^ Byington, Mark E. (2016). The Ancient State of Puyŏ in Northeast Asia: Archaeology and Historical Memory. Cambridge (Massachusetts) and London: Harvard University Asia Center. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-674-73719-8.
  10. ^ Byington, Mark E. (2016). The Ancient State of Puyŏ in Northeast Asia: Archaeology and Historical Memory. Cambridge (Massachusetts) and London: Harvard University Asia Center. pp. 148–149. ISBN 978-0-674-73719-8.
  11. ^ Ikeuchi, Hiroshi. "The Chinese Expeditions to Manchuria under the Wei dynasty," Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko 4 (1929): 71-119. p. 109
  12. ^ Patricia Ebrey, Anne Walthall, 《East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History》, Cengage Learning, 2013, pp.101-102
  13. ^ Hyŏn-hŭi Yi, Sŏng-su Pak, Nae-hyŏn Yun, 《New history of Korea:Korean studies series》, vol.30, Jimoondang, 2005. p.116
  14. ^ Northeast Asian History Foundation, 《Journal of Northeast Asian History》, Vol.4-1-2, 2007. p.100
  15. ^ La Universidad de Seúl, 《Seoul Journal of Korean Studies,》, Vol.17, 2004. p.16
  16. ^ Lee 1992, p. 15-16.
  17. ^ 人形似夫餘, 言語不與夫餘句麗同. <三国志>
  18. ^ 挹婁, 古肅愼之國也. 在夫餘東北千餘里, 東濱大海, 南與北沃沮接, 不知其北所極. 土地多山險. 人形似夫餘, 而言語各異. <後漢書>
  19. ^ 勿吉國在高句麗北, 舊肅愼國也. ... 言語獨異.<魏書>
  20. ^ 勿吉國在高句麗北, 一曰靺鞨. 言語獨異.<北史>
  21. ^ Byington, Mark. "History News Network | The War of Words Between South Korea and China Over An Ancient Kingdom: Why Both Sides Are Misguided". Retrieved 2015-12-30.


  • Lee, Peter H. (1992), Sourcebook of Korean Civilization 1, Columbia University Press

External links

  • The origin of the Proto-Bulgarians: Korea's Bu-Yeo Tribe (부여족)
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