Significantly, this stele inscription, like the King Muyeol stele erected in 662, records the names of both author and calligrapher. Both the composition and calligraphy of the inscription on the King Muyeol stele are the work of King Munmu’s younger brother, Gim In-mun, while the author of the King Munmu inscription is recorded as having the surname Gim (his given name is illegible),33and the calligrapher is recorded as being one Han Nul-lyu. Instead of anonymous officials writing and engraving the inscription and thus giving royal authority to the position of author, the texts were now being produced at royal command by a hierarchically ordered authorial collective. Closely associated with this is the fact that the King Munmu inscription is written in “parallel prose” and otherwise reveals the high cultural level of the author. Parallel prose refers to essays made up of short, parallel, four- or five-character phrases artfully joining structure and meaning and linked together through refined similes. This style of writing was especially popular during the period of the North-South Dynasties and did not lose its importance until the mid-Tang. The author of the King Munmu inscription uses extravagant language to praise the actions of the Silla court and both King Muyeol and King Munmu. At the same time, the language itself suggests that Silla had become accustomed to Tang cultural models and had accepted Tang cultural hegemony. Whether this was King Sinmun’s intention is unclear, but the highly cultivated language of the inscription suggests political rhetoric that both accommodated and was in rivalry with the Tang. According to Lee Young-ho (1986), each line in the King Munmu inscription is fifty-two characters long, with twenty-eight lines on the front of the stele and twenty-two lines on the back. Based on these calculations, he concludes that, making due allowances for empty spaces on the original inscription, the inscription would have included about 2,540 characters. Of these, only 746 characters are still legible. In the vital section between lines 13 and 43, very few characters remain, making it hard to understand the content. However, the general substance of the inscription seems to be as follows:
Kim 23 Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review E-Journal No. 2 (March 2012) • () Line 1: Title, name, and rank of author. Lines 2–5: Eulogy for Silla, description of its natural environment, the origin of the Gim clan. Lines 6–10: Eulogy of kings preceding King Muyeol (his fifteenth ancestor King Seonghan, followed by the monarchs between King Jinheung and King Jindeok). Lines 11–21: The glory of King Muyeol, his diplomatic relationship with the Tang, his victorious war against Baekje.