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Far East Kingdoms

East Asia


Heungyo (Korea)
AD 1029 - 1030

The Korean kingdom of Barhae (or Balhae) had been founded in 698 to replace its lost predecessor, Koguryo. Many refugees had headed southwards into the rival state of Silla, especially the nobility which was largely transported there en masse by Silla itself, but several movements also formed throughout now-Tang-dynasty-occupied Koguryo territory with the aim of reviving the kingdom.

They succeeded, temporarily and in reduced form, although the focus of this effort soon moved south to Bodeok. Other refugees had headed towards the northern boundaries of Koguryo's former territory under the leadership of General Dae Jung-sang and his son, General Dae Joyeong.

Their band managed to find security in the Dongmo Mountain area (in what is now the Jilin Province of China), where Dae Joyeong founded Barhae. The kingdom expanded to encompass a great swathe of East Asia to the north of the Korean peninsula, but its end came suddenly, in 926, when an unstoppable force of Khitans from the Liao dynasty empire swept in and captured the capital.

They imposed a highly short-lived vassal state called Dongdan, which almost immediately faced opposition from a restoration Korean state called Later Barhae. Neither survived to see the end of the tenth century, the first being absorbed directly under Liao control and the second being conquered in 986.

For the next forty-three years any native Koreans who remained following several mass migrations southwards into Goryeo were a subject people. The fact that a resistance movement of sorts survived is evidenced by the creation of Heungyo (alternatively translated as Heung-yo or Xingliao) in 1029 along the western edge of Barhae's former territory.

The fact that it survived so briefly is probably testament to the fact that an entire generation had grown up under Khitan leadership and may have had divided loyalties. Information on precise events is understandably brief.

South Korea's flag

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from A New History of Korea, Lee Ki-baik (1984), from Pacific northeast Asia in prehistory: hunter-fisher-gatherers, farmers, and sociopolitical elites, C Melvin Aikens (WSU Press, 1992), from The Origins of Northern China's Ethnicities, Zhu Xueyuan (Beijing 2004), from A History of Korea, Charles Roger Tennant (Routledge, 1996), and from External Links: Three Kingdoms (Encyclopaedia Britannica), and Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom (UNESCO), and Encyclopaedia Britannica.)

1029 - 1030

Dae Yeon-rim

Direct descendant of Barhae's founder. Fate unknown.


Dae Yeon-rim, direct descendant of the kings of Barhae, with all of his supporters and subjects, pronounces the creation of an independent restoration state by the name of Heungyo (with limited support from Goryeo). His territory amounts to about three long river valleys on the western edge of Barhae's former territory (across the modern dividing line between China's Liaoning and Jilin provinces).

Map of East Asia AD 1029
Eleventh century Korea in the south and centre of the peninsula was united under the single rule of Goryeo, but an attempt was made to restore at least part of the lost kingdom of Barhae when a relative of its kings pronounced the state of Heungyo (click or tap on map to view full sized)


The Liao response comes by 1030 at the latest, if it has not already begun in the previous year. Several of Heungyo's castles are captured and destroyed until the only one which remains standing houses Dae Yeon-rim and his immediate forces.

The would-be king is betrayed by one of his own commanders, Yang Sang-se, who opens the doors to the Liao. The castle is captured and the restoration attempt is quashed. The fate of Dae Yeon-rim and his commanders is unknown.

Goryeo to the south is now the only viable homeland for Koreans of the north, and more of them head there. A single further restoration attempt takes place in the twelfth century, under the name of Daebalhae.

This brief failure occurs in 1116 under Go Yeong-chang, but virtually no information in English seems to be available.

Jurchen warrior fights a Chinese warrior
Two warriors locked in combat, one Chinese and one Jurchen in this Jurchen (Jin dynasty) mural

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