Chinese academia has claimed that the people of Balhae, including the founder Jo-yeong Dae (King Go), were Mohe (Tungusic people in ancient Manchuria). An excerpt from the New Book of Tang, which states that the Balhae were originally Songmal Mohe, has been used as a basis for the claim. The claim also asserts that the majority of Balhae inhabitants were Mohe.
It is true that the Mohe participated in founding Balhae and that its population included the Mohe. However, the Mohe people were a subjugated class, and the members of the ruling class that established the empire were Koguryo refugees. A record from the Old Book of Tang states, "Balhae Mohe Jo-yeong Dae (King Go) is another type of Goryeo." This record clearly reveals his Koguryo lineage, indicating that Koguryo refugees played a central role in the empire's founding.
To discover who exactly the people of Balhae were, one must look at how the Balhae people identified themselves. A sovereign message sent to Japan stated that Balhae had recovered the former Koguryo territories and retained the traditions of Buyeo. It also included "King Mun of Goryeo," rather than Balhae, indicating Balhae's succession of Koguryo. This is compelling evidence that the people of Balhae considered themselves to be the successors of Koguryo.
Koguryo Refugees Founded Balhae