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General Survey

Garak state in Gimhae was the leader of the earlier state confederation of Gaya.

Dae-sung tombs group

The Status of Garak State in Gimhae

According to a record referring to Han from Wiseo Dongijeon in Samguk-ji, twenty-four small states existed in the southern part of the Korean peninsula in the third century. Among these states, twelve states were called Byeonhan and 12 states were called Jinhan. Gimhae's Guya-guk (a.k.a. Garak-guk) was one of the 12 states of Byeonhan, a confederation of which we will call "the early Gaya Confederation" in this history of Gaya.

A record in Samguk-sagi confirms Gimhae's Garak-guk's sphere of influence extended throughout the basin of the Nakdong River before the fourth century. Based on this piece of evidence, it is likely that the leader of the confederation was Garak-guk at Gimhae. Archeological remains dated from between the first and fourth centuries A.D. have been excavated from the cultural center of the Gaya region, or the Gyeongsang-namdo seashore area, which encloses Gimhae, Busan, and Changwon. Among the excavated goods, the relics from Gimhae city show superior craftsmanship to those from other regions, indicating a higher level of development, which would seem to confirm the region as a major political center.

These small states of the early Gaya Confederation had already developed a fairly sophisticated political system and shared many similar cultural features. Among these states, the small state of Guya-guk--a seashore state with a geographically advantageous location---more often than others played a representative role in negotiations with other states. Gradually, a confederation of small states with similar vested interests had been formed.

It is usually assumed that the Gaya Confederation was formed sometime in the late second century, but not later than the earlier half of the third century. We can conclude, therefore, that in the third and fourth centuries, twelve states of Byeonhan had established a state confederation of Byeonhan, or the "early Gaya Confederation," with Gimhae's Garak-guk (a.k.a. Gaya-guk and Guya-guk) at its center.