These articles are the first two in a series of three educational articles published by the colonial regime to promote a heavily biased narrative of Japanese and Korean history from mythological times to the fall of the Kingdom of Baekje in 660 A.D., which the regime uses to justify its colonization of Korea. Beginning with a visit to the historical remains of Buyeo, the former capital of Baekje, they narrate the long history of intimate cultural, economic, and military exchanges between Ancient Japan and Baekje, and how Japanese military forces kept propping up Baekje for centuries until they were finally defeated by Silla and Tang Dynasty China in 660 A.D. Then the second article shifts into bizzare speculation about the alleged mythological ties between Ancient Japan and Silla: how the second king of Silla was allegedly the reincarnation of the Shinto god Susanoo, how the son of Susanoo allegedly landed at Soshimori in Silla and then settled in Woongjin, and how the great-great-grandson of Susanoo allegedly used three ropes to drag Silla into the realm of Izumo. Actually, the more mainstream interpretation of the story is that the three ropes were used to drag Shimane prefecture into the realm of Izumo. In 1944, Governor-General Koiso addressed the entire Korean nation alleging that the Korean mythological figure Dangun was Susanoo.
It goes without saying that you should take the historical narrative in these articles with a skeptical eye. However, it does provide an important insight into the version of Korean history that was imposed on the Korean people during the colonial era. The third article of the series, which I have yet to translate, shows how Korean school girls were immersed in this historical narrative during their field trip to Buyeo.
There are many references to both famous and obscure Japanese and Korean historical places and people, so I added plenty of links to Wikipedia articles and other resources for further reading. I tried to link to English language resources whenever possible, but often the only online resources were in Japanese or Korean, so some of the linked resources are only in those two languages.
The second article gave a correction to a typographical error in the first article, so I made the correction in the transcription and the translation accordingly. I also made other minor corrections to typographical errors in the articles where I spotted them, especially minor spelling errors in peoples’ names and numbers.
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) April 19, 1943
Describing the Holy Land of Buyeo (Part 1)
Cherry Blossoms abound where Baekje rose and fell
Know yourselves! This the historic site of Japanese-Korean Unification
Although the gods have not yet quieted down in Buyeo, worshipers who come to Buyeo these days feel an affinity to this holy place, because it is a solemn historic testament to Japanese-Korean Unification. From the reign of the 11th Emperor Suinin to the reign of the 38th Emperor Tenji, during a long period of 689 years from 29 B.C.E to 661 A.D., friendly relations between Japan and Baekje were consistently maintained without a single day of conflict between the two nations. At times, the two nations were bound by economic agreements and military alliances. They conducted mutual assistance through culture exchanges, which brought mutual prosperity to both nations. Baekje, as the younger brother, served Japan, the elder brother, and Baekje remained completely faithful to Japan, refusing until the very end of its existence to surrender to Tang Dynasty China. Baekje was supported by Japanese marine troops, and although the famous decisive Battle of Baekgang did not end in Japan’s favor, Baekje refused to surrender to Tang Dynasty China even upon death. Thus, Buyeo, the site of the Baekje Royal Castle, was trampled upon by Tang Chinese forces, and the Royal Castle and many other buildings were reduced to ashes in the fires of the war.
Today, only the Baekje Pagoda standing in the southern suburbs of Buyeo and a monument left by Tang Chinese General Liu Renyuan (劉仁願) remain as testament to what happened nearly 1,400 years ago. The many historical artifacts buried in the ground remind us of the good governance of the Baekje kings, and remind travelers of a great city that once thrived with a population of 700,000 people. Standing on Naghwaam Rock (낙화암, 落花巖), where 3,000 beautiful women of the royal court threw themselves off the cliff in defense of their purity on the last day of the existence of Baekje, one can feel a sense of melancholy.
There is a story of a fierce battle fought by Gyebaek (계백, 階伯), a general of Baekje who killed his wife and children before deployment to steel himself with a determination to die in battle, fought against 30,000 Tang Chinese troops with only 3,000 men, and died while personally protecting his sovereign. This story is quite similar to those told about the generals of Iki Island and Tsushima who defended Japan during the Mongol Invasions of 1274 and 1281. What is even more impressive are the ruins of the military storehouse. The large amount of rice, barley, and soybeans that Emperor Tenji had sent to Baekje as aid in the relief efforts were burnt in a tragic military fire, and the charred grains are still being gathered today in their original shapes by village children picking wild grass. As a reporter, as I went to this place, gazed at the mountains, and stared at the flowing waters of Baekmagang river (백마강, 白馬江), I saw powerful traces of Japanese-Korean unification, which speak of a history that lasted for more than a millenium.
During the reign of the 32nd Emperor Sushun, three Japanese maidens went to Baekje to study. When we see the ruins of Goransa Temple (고란사, 皐蘭寺), where the Japanese maidens trained under the Buddhist monks of Baekje, we can also imagine the richness of the exchanges between Japan and Korea.
In 1939, a dedication ceremony was performed for the newly constructed Buyeo Jingu Shrine, in which the four deities were used as pillars to deepen the bonds of Japanese-Korean Unification into this place for the first time. The 25 million people of the Korean peninsula were overjoyed, and the musical score of their precious labor was played under the sun in the clouds of the sacred mountain of Buso (부소산, 扶蘇山). Construction in the holy city is now underway in Chungnam with a total area of 13,380,000 pyeong (4423 hectares), centering on the inner park of 220,000 pyeong (73 hectares) and the outer park of 80,000 pyeong (65 hectares).
In place of the Baekmagang River, which used to be the only trade route in the past, four railway lines, including the local railway line, crisscross the holy city, and a new waterworks project has been completed to direct the water from the Baekmagang River. The remains of a statue of Buddha, which had forlornly lain underground for more than 1,000 years, have been excavated by the honoring committee. These remains have given new meaning to the restoration project for the old capital, and they will be used to ensure the life of the people for tens of thousands of years to come as they exchange smiles with the divine realm of Mount Buso (부소산, 扶蘇山) day and night. Thus, the construction of Buyeo Jingu Shrine proceeded, revealing the achievements of the more than 1,000 years of the joining together of the two peoples.
There used to be a stone monument that Baekje had erected for the Korean people to defend against Tang Dynasty China, to prepare for the invasion of Goguryeo by the Manchu peoples, and to resist the tyranny of Silla. Although that monument has now been reduced to an empty pile of rubble, the people who have consistently carried on the legacy of Baekje have continued to see Japan as their ally, and many migrated to Japan after the collapse of their nation. Their descendants, who include those of Dr. Wani (왕인, 王仁), settled in Naniwa and various other places in Japan and mixed with the blood of the 80 million people of the Japanese nation, living by the ideals of the founding of the Japanese nation since the descent of Amaterasu’s grandson Ninigi-no-Mikoto from Heaven to Ashihara-no-Nakatsukuni (Tenson kōrin), and serving the Emperor in righteousness. Who would doubt the fact that, among the 80 million people of mainland Japan, many descendants of the Baekje people have been nurtured? It may be more beneficial for the 25 million people who were born on the Korean peninsula to carefully examine this history of more than 1,000 years, rather than to call out for the Imperial Way again and again.
Even if we explore the historical changes over the past thousand plus years in the two peoples who once crisscrossed the narrow Genkai Sea in small boats, sending assistance to one another, there is no room for revisions in the solemn historical record of the two peoples’ interactions. The conscious union of the two peoples, who attacked their enemies together, shared each other’s food, and shared their cultures with each other, has been further strengthened by the construction of the Buyeo Jingu Shrine. The path forward for the Korean people to return to the Imperial Way after a thousand years, to come together under the Imperial family to share the joy of being under One Realm, and to stand as leaders of the East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere has finally been found here. Now, let us go a little further back in history and look at the history of the exchanges between Japan and Baekje. The main focus of this article will be on the reigns of Emperor Ōjin, Empress Saimei, Emperor Tenji, and Empress Jingū, who became deities of Buyeo Jingu Shrine. We will leave discussions about the relationship between the 16th Emperor Nintoku and the 36th Emperor Kōtoku for another day.
Before we go any further, we must first confirm the location of the founding of the Baekje Kingdom. Although there is general agreement in written records that Baekje was founded in the year 18 B.C.E. in the reign of the 11th Emperor Suinin, there are many different theories about where Baekje was founded in Korean historical records and in the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), which is the original source of Japanese history. Nevertheless, it is certain that King Onjo (온조왕, 溫祚王), who ruled over the waters of the Han River in present-day Seoul, established his government in Gyeonggi-do, and built his residence on Namhan Mountain (남한산, 南漢山). Dating back to that time, Silla rose in 57 B.C.E., and in 37 B.C.E., Gogoryeo rose by relying on the forces of China. At that time, Silla was powerful and secretly supported the Kumaso tribe in Japan to oppose the Imperial Court, while at the same time, Silla allied with Goguryeo to bear down on the newly emerging Baekje kingdom to check Japan’s continental political ambitions.
In response, Baekje firmly established ties with Japan and strictly defended itself, but the power of their two enemies was not to be underestimated. In the meantime, the mythical Yamato Takeru defeated the Kumaso tribe in Kyūshū at the order of the 12th Emperor Keikō, and when the 14th Emperor Chūai passed away, Empress Jingū took his place and led an expedition against Silla, which was just one of many actions that the Imperial Court undertook to save Baekje. In the reign of the 21st Emperor Yūryaku, however, the war became more serious as Silla and Goguryeo once again increased their pressure on Baekje, and King Gaero (개로왕, 蓋鹵王) of Baekje was killed in battle. The royal court was moved to Gongju for safety, and the prince who was studying abroad in Japan at the time became King. Thus, the Gongju period of Baekje history began. In the reign of the 28th Emperor Senka, King Seong (성명왕, 聖明王) of Baekje moved the capital to Buyeo under the patronage of Japan, where it remained for six generations until the reign of the 37th Empress Saimei. For 123 years, Baekje enjoyed a golden age. King Uija (의자왕, 義慈王) of Baekje served Japan well and was ruled righteously.
However, Silla and Tang Dynasty China formed a renewed alliance and threatened Baekje again. When news of the danger reached the Empress‘s ears, she ordered her main headquarters to be moved to Asakura Palace on Kyūshū Island to support Baekje, but she passed away in the year 661 A.D at 67 years old. (written by Correspondent Mr. Arai)
History is still blooming and fragrant. Upper Photo: Myeongwoldae (명월대, 明月臺), where the King of Baekje is said to have observed the full moon. Lower Photo: Baekje Pagoda, inscribed with a calligraphic inscription left by a Tang Chinese general who was proud of his victory over Baekje.
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) April 20, 1943
Describing the Holy Land of Buyeo (Part 2)
Benevolent deference to the historic dynasties
Historic sites showing the support given to Baekje by Japan
After the death of Empress Saimei, Prince Nakano Ōe succeeded to the throne and became Emperor Tenji. Emperor Tenji also inherited the legacy of his predecessor and sent soldiers to rescue Baekje. When he heard that King Uija (의자왕, 義慈王) had finally been defeated by Tang Chinese forces, and that the Royal Castle had been captured, he immediately appointed Prince Pungjang (풍장왕, 豊璋), who was studying in Japan at the time, as the King of Baekje. Emperor Tenji also had his loyal retainer Gwisil Boksin (귀실복신, 鬼室福信) reassemble a righteous army. Thus, the territory of Baekje was once again restored, but after two years, the dark lord Pungjang executed the loyal retainer Boksin, and the country was once again in disarray, creating an opportunity for Tang Dynasty China to intervene. Five Japanese rescue attempts were unsuccessful and Baekje was lost, and the rescue forces returned to Japan with the exiled Baekje political refugees, thus ending the long relationship between the Japan and Baekje. Later, in the year 668 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Tenji, Goguryeo was also defeated by Tang Dynasty China, and Silla gained more and more momentum until finally, in the year 681 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Tenmu, Silla possessed most of the Korean peninsula.
The above is a general description of the relationship between Japan and Baekje, but now I would like to deepen our discussions into the Divine period and describe the process leading up to the reign of Emperor Ōjin, to clarify the proof of Japanese-Korean unification, and to investigate the precious significance of the divine restoration of Buyeo. The Nihon Shoki tells a myth about Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the younger brother of Amaterasu, who willed a divine mandate to manage the continent, and so he sent his son, Isotakeru, down to the land of Silla in Soshimori. From Soshimori, Isotakeru moved to Kumanasumine/Woongjin (웅진, 熊津), which is now in Gongju city in Chungnam province. In the Chronicles of the Founding of Izumo, which is a collection of stories about the Izumo Dynasty since the reign of Ōkuninushi-no-Mikoto, it unquestionably says that the Izumo Dynasty extended its rule stretching from the Korean peninsula to the coastal areas of Japan.
Susanoo-no-Mikoto’s great-great-grandson, Omizununo-kami, desired the land of Silla and proclaimed, “I will cast three ropes on the land and pull on them”. Thus, it is said that he brought Silla into the culture of Izumo. Although it is beyond the scope of this article to go into detail about the myth of the “three ropes”, there are numerous theories saying that Silla’s second King, Namhae of Silla (남해 차차웅, 南解次次雄), who is mentioned in the Records of the Three Kingdoms, was the reincarnation of Susanoo-no-Mikoto. The fact that and the peoples of Silla and Japan have mixed their blood for 2,600 years proves the deep connection of the Korean peninsula to the Imperial nation.
Therefore, when we consider that Silla, which destroyed Baekje, also had the blood of Japan flowing through their veins, and that the fearlessness of the soldiers of Silla was a legacy of Susanoo-no-Mikoto‘s wisdom, then Silla cannot be viewed only as a hated enemy.
Thus, the Izumo dynasty returned to divine rule and the coastal regions were unified, with Emperor Jimmu completing his conquests and establishing his capital in Yamato-kunihara. During the 860 years leading up to the reign of the 14th Emperor Chūai, the legacy of the Izumo Dynasty in subjugating Korean territory was passed down through the generations of the Imperial Court. However, when Silla once again attempted to invade Baekje, Empress Jingū assembled an army to send into distant Korea to rescue Baekje. In the reign of the fifteenth Emperor Ōjin, when Empress Jingū was regent, Dr. Wani (왕인, 王仁) came to Japan from Baekje in 285 A.D. and presented Japan with the Analects of Confucius and a thousand Chinese characters. Maketsu (真毛津女) brought her sewing skills to Japan. Takuso (卓素) came to Japan as a blacksmith. Suzukori (須須許理) brought the art of sake brewing to Japan to serve the whims of Emperor Ōjin, who praised him with the words, “The sake brewed by Suzukori has made me drunk again! The mellowness of this sake makes me drunk”.
In this way, during the reign of Emperor Ōjin, Baekje recovered, friendship with Japan deepened, and cultural exchanges benefited Japan to a great extent. In response to this, Japan supported the defense of Baekje, and the foundation of unity between Japan and Baekje was completed. Thus, generations of Emperors maintained friendly relations with Baekje. Along with the spread of Buddhism, in order to further solidify the spiritual bond between the two countries, many Baekje generals received an Imperial decree to move to Japan, and the Kings of Baekje also sent their sons to Japan for training in the Japanese spirit.
In the 455 years from 200 A.D. when Empress Jingū defeated Silla to 655 A.D. when Empress Saimei ascended the throne, the Asuka culture arose in Japan, and Buyeo, the royal city of Baekje, entered its golden age. Baekmagang River was busy with trading ships from the two countries, and there were mass exchanges of people between the two countries. There were growing numbers of Koreans who became Japanese people, as well as growing numbers of Japanese people who became long-term residents of Baekje.
In the midst of such peace, Silla, in cooperation with Tang Dynasty China, vigilantly watched over Baekje. When Goguryeo invaded Baekje’s frontiers, Baekje became a tumultuous place, with elites already weakened by dreams of academia. The two platforms to greet the full moons on the sacred top of Mount Buso (부소산, 扶蘇山), are testament to the king of Baekje at that time who wept at seeing the shadow of the moon floating down and disappearing as he was accompanied by one hundred beautiful women. Before the Japanese forces arrived to help the weakly equipped Baekje troops, a combined force of 180,000 soldiers from Silla and Tang Dynasty China finally invaded Baekje Castle and captured King Uija (의자왕, 義慈王). At the time, 3,000 beautiful women of the royal palace, including Japanese women, were too ashamed to fall into the hands of the enemy, so they dared to take their own lives by leaping like flower petals from a rocky head overlooking the abyss of Baekmagang River. This rock, later named Naghwaam Rock (낙화암, 落花巖) (Fallen Flower Rock), still reminds visitors of the tragedy of the destruction of Baekje.
The tragic news of Baekje’s imminent peril also caused a stir among the Japanese people and the Imperial Court. Empress Saimei had weapons and warships ready at a moment’s notice, and she moved the main headquarters to Tsukushi to control the military situation. However, she passed away at 68 years old in Asakura Palace.
Emperor Tenji, as mentioned in the first part of this article series, sent his commander, Abenohirafu, to rescue Baekje in a hurry, and he also sent Prince Pungjang (풍장왕, 豊璋) to Baekje with more than 5,000 soldiers with assistance from the younger sister of Ōnokomoshiki. Hearing that Gwisil Boksin (귀실복신, 鬼室福信), his loyal retainer in Baekje, was fighting to recapture the Royal Castle with his righteous army, he gave Boksin 100,000 arrows, 500 kin (~300 kg) of thread, 1,000 kin (~600 kg) of cotton, 1,000 sheets of cloth, 1,000 strips of leather, and 3,000 saka (~540,000 liters) of rice. Now, if you visit the site of the military storehouse at the top of the castle and remove the weeds, you will find in the soil a great deal of the original rice and soybeans that were sent here by the Emperor, which have subsequently been carbonized in their original shapes and have not been damaged by the weather over the past thousand plus years.
With the support of the Japanese forces, the Baekje capital was once again restored after driving out the Tang Chinese general Liu Renyuan, but within two years of the restoration, internal chaos broke out in Baekje, and the foolish dark Prince Pungjang (풍장왕, 豊璋) was once again scorned by the coalition forces of Silla and Tang Dynasty China after he killed many of his distinguished ministers, including Boksin, and the Royal Castle was again surrounded by the enemy. The Emperor’s troops, led by Abenohirafu with 170 warships and 27,000 soldiers led by Kamitsuke-no-Wakako, were isolated in the lower reaches of Baekmagang River by the superior force of the enemy interceptors. Although the Emperor’s troops fought well, they ran out of arrows, so they evacuated the defeated Baekje government officials and people and retreated to Japan.
On September 25th in the 2nd year of the reign of Emperor Tenji, the 600-year history of Baekje, which had flourished here in Buyeo, was reduced to a mere tale of autumn grass along with the passing of the moon on Myeongwoldae (명월대, 明月臺).
Erratum: “Silla” on the 33rd line from the end of the article in the morning edition of April 19th is a misprint of “Baekje”.
Photo: Female students are collecting rice and beans from the ruins of the military storehouse at the fortress on Mount Buso (부소산, 扶蘇山), and the monument has an inscription from the invasion of Baekje, written by the Tang Chinese General Liu Renyuan.