C. Gyeon Hweon and Gungye Emerge as New Central Figures
By the latter half of the 9th century, the royals of Silla controlled only the southeastern part of the nation under its dominion. In the countryside, local gentry families, who had cultivated strength in various parts of the region, respectively ruled the areas. Later, these local clans became united to form several powerful political powers. Gyeon Hweon, who was a solider of Silla defending the southwestern coastal region, succeeded to organize a rebellion against the Silla monarchy in the area centering on the former Baekje. In 900 A.D., he united the local gentry families of Jeolla and Chungcheong regions and founded the state of Later Baekje. Gungye, meanwhile, who had been living with the peasants, claimed himself to be the Maitreya Buddha and promised to open a new world for the populace in suffering. Based on the explosive support from the peasants, he united the gentry families in the central area and founded Later Goguryeo(901 A.D.). For 220 years after the Unified Silla achieved unification, the peninsula was once again divided into the Later Three Kingdoms along with those powers who proclaimed to be the successors to Baekje and Goguryeo. The split was caused by the fact that Unified Silla failed to resolve the issue of class society and regional disparities.
Admiral Jang Bo-go and the Military Base of Cheonghaejin"I, Buddhist monk Yenin of Japan, express my sincere gratitude to Admiral Jang Bo-go of Cheonghaejin. Without you looking after our safety, I would not have been able to cross the rough seas and undergo training in Tang China!"
This is part of the diary of Yenin, a Buddhist monk from Japan, who studied in Tang China and made great contributions to the development of Buddhism in Japan. Jang Bo-go, meanwhile, who hailed from the southwestern part of Silla made a great name for himself as a soldier in Tang China and contributed greatly to the development of Silla through international trade with the West Sea as the stage. Cheonghaejin was the maritime military base that Admiral Jang built in what is presently Wando, South Jeolla province.
Jang Bo-go, who engaged in trade with Tang, China, was appalled to see so many people of Silla dragged by the pirates and sold off as slaves. He thus returned to his homeland, established a military base Cheonghaejin on Wando Island, cleared the sea of pirates and established international sea routes linking Silla with Tang China and Japan. During this process, the people of Silla made active advances in maritime trade.
In the eastern coast of Tang China, a collective residential area of the people of Silla, known as Sillabang, was established. Trade vessels of Silla frequented the harbors of Japan while Arabian merchants came in and out of the ports of Silla. Jang Bo-go was at the forefront in introducing Silla to the international community bu functioning as an admiral, businessman and international merchant.
Jang Bo-go earned great respect as a strong admiral and shrewd international merchant in Japan and China as well. In China, Jang Bo-go is worshipped at a temple called Jeoksan Buddhist Temple situated in San Tung province while in Japan, he is worshipped as a celebrated deity in a shrine.