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Hangul 예맥
Revised Romanization Yemaek
McCune–Reischauer Yemaek

Yemaek or Yamaek (Korean pronunciation: [jemɛk]) were an ethnic group who dwelt in Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula. They had ancestral ties to various Korean kingdoms including Gojoseon, Gori (고리; 藁離), Buyeo, Goguryeo, Baekje, Okjeo, Dongye, Yangmaek (양맥; 梁貊) and Sosumaek (소수맥; 小水貊), and is believed to be one of the ancient tribes that were formed into the Tungusic peoples.[1][2]


Yemaek is believed to be a combination of Ye (濊·穢·薉) and Maek (貊·貉) people of two neighboring cultures.[3][4][5] The main culture is the Xitunshan culture (西团山文化). He Qiutao (何秋涛) said Ye is the short name of Buyeo.[6] Dongye first appears in history as a vassal state of Gojoseon until its fall to China in 108 BCE.[7] It was known as the Huiyetou (穢邪頭) state in Shuowen Jiezi.[8][9] It later became a vassal of the increasingly powerful Goguryeo. According to the Chinese Records of Three Kingdoms, Ye worshiped tigers,[10] whereas according to Erya (爾雅), Maek means bears. Gomnaru, the capital of Baekje, also means the "bear port". Historians suggest tigers and bears may have been totems worshiped by Ye and Maek tribes.

Several history books suggest Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom in history, was established by Yemaek.

  • In Dangun's ancestry legend of Gojoseon recorded in Samguk Yusa, a tiger and a bear prayed to Hwanung that they may become human but had to stay in a cave eating only garlic and mugwort, and while the tiger shortly gave up and left the cave, the bear remained and after 21 days was transformed into a woman who later married Hwanung and then gave birth to Dangun Wanggeom,[11] which is believed to symbolize combination of Ye and Maek tribes into one Yemaek tribe.[12]
  • Tombstone of Yeon Namsan (연남산) found in Luoyang says Yeon, son of Goguryeo's leader Yeon Gaesomun, is a Joseon person.[13]
  • Gojoseon is called "Yemaek Joseon" in the Chinese Records of the Grand Historian, which says Yemaek Joseon bordered on Xiongnu around 200 BC.[14]

Genetically, Haplogroup O2b is believed to be a Y-DNA Haplogroup characterizing Yemaek's genetic pool.[15]


There have been some academic attempts to recover Yemaek words based on the fragments of toponyms recorded in the Samguk Sagi for the areas once possessed by Goguryeo and Baekje.


According to Samguk Sagi, Silla was established as a confederacy of six clans composed of Joseon refugees,[16] and the Royal Seal of Ye (예왕지인; 濊王之印), previously used by Buyeo's kings, was found in Silla in 19 AD and presented for King Namhae of Silla.[17]

Traces of Yemaek culture can be found in Korean culture, such as kimchi, bulgogi and ondol.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 『白鳥庫吉全集 第4巻』(1970年、岩波書店)P536
  2. ^ 下中直人『新訂増補 朝鮮を知る事典』(1986年、平凡社)
  3. ^ 关于秽、貊或秽貊的考辨
  4. ^ 先秦时期的秽人与貊人
  5. ^ 关于东北古代史研究的几个问题
  6. ^ 民族探幽:夫余与秽貊
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ the Investigation about the Hui Country
  9. ^ 說文解字第十一篇下
  10. ^ Chen Shou,Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 30, Weizhi,Chapter 30, Dongyizhuan, "常用十月節祭天,晝夜飲酒歌舞,名之爲舞天,又祭虎以爲神"
  11. ^ Il-yeon, Samguk Yusa, Vol.1, Giyi Chapter I, [2]
  12. ^ Hankyore, 'Why are Korean more familiar with tigers than with bears?', Dec 21, 2008
  13. ^ [3]
  14. ^ Sima Qian,Records of the Grand Historian, Vol.110, Xiongnu Liezhuan,"諸左方王將居東方,直上穀以往者,東接穢貉朝鮮"
  15. ^ [4]
  16. ^ Kim Bu-sik, Samguk Sagi, Silla Bongi, Vol.1, "先是朝鮮遺民分居山谷之間爲六村"[5]
  17. ^ Kim Bu-sik, Samguk Sagi, Silla Bongi, Vol.1, "春二月 北溟人耕田 得濊王印獻之"[6]