Sources: Yu Deukgong’s “Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals” 二十一都懷古詩 (1792) – part 4 of 6

See Introductionpart 1part 2 and part 3.

新羅  Silla

In the Beishi (北史) it is written, “The ancestors of Silla were originally the people of Jinhan (辰韓). The territory was southeast of Goguryeo and during the Han (漢) it was part of Lelang (樂浪). The king was originally from Baekje. He escaped by sea and came to Silla where he eventually became king.”

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “The surname of the founder of Silla was Bak (朴) and his first name was Hyeokgeose (赫居世). He ascended to the throne on the Byeongjin day (丙辰) in the 4th month of the 1st Wufeng (五鳳 오봉) year of Emperor Xuan-di (宣帝 91–49 BC), and was called Geoseogan (居西干). At the time he was aged thirty-three. Before then the remaining people of Joseon resided in the valleys divided into six villages which were known as the six bu (六部) of Jinhan. [One day] the village head of Goheo (高墟村長), So Beol-gong (蘇伐公), was in the forest beside Najeong (蘿井) at the foot of Mount Yang (陽山), when he saw through the trees a horse whinnying crouched down on its knees. Going to take a closer look, the horse suddenly vanished but left behind a large egg. Breaking open the egg he discovered inside a baby which he took into his care and raised. At the age of ten or so, the boy was already intelligent and precociously talented. The people of the six bu recognizing his divine and supernatural birth respectfully revered him and subsequently made him their ruler. Jinhan people call gourds (瓠 호) bak and because the large egg resembled a gourd, he took the surname Bak (朴). Geoseogan in Jinhan language means ‘king.'”

In the Munheon-pigo (文獻備考) it is written, “Silla was variously called Seoyabeol (徐耶伐), Sara (斯羅) and Saro (斯盧).

In the Donggyeong-japgi (Miscellaneous Records of the East Capital [aka Gyeongju] 東京雜記 it is written, “Gyeongju (慶州) was originally the former capital of Silla.”

辰韓六部澹秋烟  진한육부담추연  平平入上上平平(先)
徐菀繁華想可憐  서울번화상가련  平 平平上上平
萬萬波波加號笛  만만파파가호적  去去平平平去入
橫吹三姓一千年  횡취삼성일천년  平平平去入平平

jin han yuk bu dam chu yeon
seo ul beon hwa sang ga ryeon
man man pa pa ga ho jeok
heong chwi sam seong il cheon nyeon

Autumn mists drift across the six bu of Jinhan.
It is sad [now] to think of the prosperity of Seoul [Silla’s capital.]
They called it the Flute of Multitudinous Waves, manman-papa;
For a thousand years it was blown by the three families.

the six bu of Jinhan (辰韓六部): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “The first is Yangsan Village (楊山村) by Al-cheon River (閼川), the second is Goheo Village (高墟村) by Mount Dol (突山), the third is Jinji Village (珍支村) by Mount Ja (觜山), the fourth is Daesu Village (大樹村) by Mount Mu (茂山), the fifth is Gari Village (加利村) by Mount Geum (金山) and the sixth is Goya Village (高耶村) by Mount Myeonghwal (明活山).” These were the six bu of Jinhan.

Seoul (徐菀 서울): according to the Munheon-pigo (文獻備考), “The name of Silla was [also] Seoyabeol (徐耶伐) and so later generations called the capital Seobeol (徐伐) which changed to Seoul.”

Manman-papa (萬萬派派): according to the Donggyeong-japgi (東京雜記), “During the reign of King Sinmun (r. 681–692 神文王) in the middle of the East Sea (東海) was a mountain which shifted with the waves. Thinking it strange, the king took a boat to the mountain where, at the top, he discovered a stork of bamboo growing [there]. Upon crafting the bamboo into a flute and playing it, he found that enemy armies would retreat, diseases would recover, rain would fall at times of drought and during the rainy season the weather would become clear. It could both quieten the wind and calm the waves, and so it was named Manpa-sik-jeok (the Flute that Calms (息) Ten-Thousand Waves 萬波息笛). It was regarded as a treasure and passed down for generations. During the reign of King Hyoso (孝昭王) its name was augmented to Manman-papa (Multitudinous Waves).”

the three families (三姓): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “The surname of the founder of Silla was Bak (朴). The surname of Talhae-isageum was Seok (昔) and that of Michu-isageum was Kim (金).” According to the Jibong-yuseol (Topical Discourses of Jibong 芝峯類說 [written by Jibong I Su-gwang (1563-1628)]), “Silla enjoyed nearly a thousand years of prosperity. Around the time it unified the three Han, life was peaceful and every year was a good harvest; this was known as the Silla age of sages (/golden era 聖代).

幾處靑山幾佛幢  기처청산기불당  上去平平上入平(江)
荒池鴈鴨不成雙  황지안압불성쌍  平平去入入平平
春風谷口松花屋  춘풍곡구송화옥  平平入上平平入
時聽寥寥短尾狵  시청요요단미방  平平平平上上平

gi cheo cheong san gi bul dang
hwang ji an ap bul seong ssang
chun pung gok gu song hwa ok
si cheong yo yo dan mi bang

Amongst the many green peaks are many Buddhist temples.
The wild geese and ducks of the desolate [An’ap-ji] pond are unable to find mates.
A spring wind blows across the valley entrance by Pine Flower Hermitage.
At times one can hear the lonely bark of a short tailed
sapsal dog [삽살개.]

wild geese and ducks of the desolate pond (荒池鴈鴨 황지안압): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “The An’ap-ji pond (Goose-Duck Pond 鴈鴨池) is north of Cheonju Temple (天柱寺) in Gyeongju-bu (慶州府). King Munmu (r.661-81) of Silla dug the pond and piled stones to form a mountain resembling the twelve peaks of Mount Wu (巫山). He planted flowers and kept rare birds [there]. To the west is the former site of Imhae-jeon hall (臨海殿).”

Pine Flower Hermitage (松花屋): according to the Donggyeong-jabgi (東京雜記), “When Kim Yu-sin’s (金庾信) wife (or daughter? 宗女), Madam Jaemae (財買夫人) died she was buried in the valley above Cheong-yeon (靑淵) and so it was named Jaemae-gok gorge (財買谷). In spring each year, the men and women from the same family gather at the stream to the south of Jaemae-gok gorge and hold a banquet. At that time all different types of flowers are in bloom and the valley is filled with pine flowers. At the mouth of the valley a hermitage was built called Songhwa-bang (Pine Flower Room 松花房).

a short tailed sapsal (短尾狵 단미방): according to the Donggyeong-jabgi (東京雜記), “Northern Gyeonju is desolate (虛) and so most of the dogs there have short tails and are known as ‘eastern capital [ie Gyeongju] dogs’ (東京狗 동경구).”

料峭風中過上元 요초풍중과상원 去 平平去去平(元)
忉忉怛怛踏歌喧 도도달달답가훤 入入 入平平
年年糯飯無人祭 연년나반무인제 平平 去平平去
一陳寒鴉噪別村 일진한아조별촌 入平平平 入平

yo cho pung jung gwa sang won
do do dal dal dap ga hwon
yeon nyeon na ban mu in je
il jin han a jo byeol chon

The first two weeks of the [lunar] new year are spent amongst a chill wind.
Tapping the rhythm with their feet, they sing; anxious and melancholy.
There is no one to perform the yearly rites of offering glutinous rice.
A flock of cold crows squawk [far off] in another village.

anxious and melancholy (忉忉怛怛 도도달달): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Seochul-ji pond (書出池) is to the east of Mount Geum’o (金鰲山) in Gyeonju-bu. On the 15th day in the 1st month of the 10th year of King Soji’s reign (r.479-500), the king visited Cheoncheon-sa temple (天泉寺). A strange event occurred between a crow (烏) and mouse/rat, so the king ordered one of his mounted warriors to chase the crow. Upon the knight arriving at Pi-chon village (避村), [he saw] two pigs fighting one another. Lingering to watch this, he lost track of the crow. Then an old person came out from the pond [there] and offered up [to the knight] a written letter which read on the outside envelope, ‘If opened two people will die, if not opened one person will die.’ The knight galloped back to the king and delivered the letter. The king said, ‘It is better to not open the letter and for one person to die than for two people to die.’ But one of the official ilgwan (日官) soothsayers replied, ‘Two people refers to commoners, but one person refers to the king.’ Agreeing with this, the king opened the letter and found written, ‘Shoot the geomun’go box.’ The king entered the castle and fired an arrow at the geomun’go. [At this time] in the women’s quarters of the palace (內殿) the slave responsible for burning incense (焚修) was having an adulterous relationship with one of the chief palace ladies (could even refer to the queen 宮主 n.66) and plotting treason. The lady and slave were executed whilst the pond was named Seochul-ji (Letter Emerging Pond 書出池).” It further says, “The people of Silla considered that for the king to avoid the calamity (禍) of the geomun’go box, if not for the efforts of the crow, mouse, dragon, horse and pig, the king’s body would have been endangered. Finally the sangja (上子), sangjin (上辰), sang’o (上午) and sanhae (上亥) days of the 1st month (正月) were made days of abstinence when people would avoid all work and not move. In the vernacular, the word dodal (忉怛) refers to something sad and taboo. Also, the 16th day is observed as O’gi-il (Crow Abstinence Day 烏忌日) when glutinous rice (찰밥) is sacrificed to the crows. This national custom continues still today.” According to the Jeompiljae-jip (Collected Works of Jeompiljae [Kim Jong-jik (1431-92)] 佔畢齋集), “The Dodal song (忉怛歌 n.67) goes as follows, ‘Anxious and melancholy, the king was almost unable to preserve [himself]. Inside the tassled silk curtain [n.68], the geomun’go collapsed, the pretty queen [n.69] was unable to grow old with her husband.'”

金鰲山色晩蒼蒼  금오산색만창창  平平平入上平平(陽)
渲染鷄林一半霜  선염계림일반상  去上平平入去平
萬疊伽倻人去後  만첩가야인거후  去入平平平去上
至今紅葉上書莊  지금홍엽상서장  去平平入去平平

geum o san saek man chang chang
seon yeom gye rim il ban sang
man cheop ga ya in geo hu
ji geum hong yeop sang seo jang

In evening Golden Turtle Mountain turns a deep green.
Chicken Forest is half dyed in the gradations of frost.
After [Choe Chi-won] left for the deep [valleys of] Mount Gaya,
The leaves are now red at Letter Writing Villa.

Golden Turtle Mountain (金鰲山 금오산): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mount Geum’o (Golden Turtle) is also known as South Mountain (南山) and is six li south of Gyeongju-bu (慶州府). In a poem the Tang poet Gu Yun (顧雲 고운 n.70) sent to Choe Chi-won (崔致遠 b.857) he wrote, ‘I have heard that above the sea are three golden turtles and on their heads are the tallest of mountains. At the top of the mountains are the Pearl Palace (珠宮 주궁), the Clam Palace (貝闕 패궐) and the Golden Hall (黃金殿). Beneath the palaces are waves stretching out infinitely.'”

Chicken Forest (鷄林 계림 Gyerim): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “In the 3rd spring month of the 9th year of Talhae-isageum’s reign, the king heard the voice of a cockerel calling in Si-rim forest (始林) to the west of the Golden Palace (金城) and so ordered Duke Ho (瓠公) to investigate. [The duke] found a white chicken crowing beneath a branch on which a small golden box was balanced. Returning and reporting what he saw, the king ordered men to bring the box and open it, whereupon they found inside a baby boy of extraordinary and wonderful appearance. The king rejoiced saying, ‘This is surely heaven sending me a son!’ He took the baby in and raised it. Growing up the boy was intelligent and possessed much wisdom and so was named Al-ji (閼智). As he came out of a golden box, he was given the surname Kim (金). Si-rim forest was renamed Gye-rim (Chicken Forest), which also became the name of the country (Silla).”

Gaya (伽倻): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mount Gaya is 30 li to the north of Hapcheon-gun (陜川郡). It is also called Mount Udu (牛頭山).”

Letter Writing Villa (上書莊): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Choi Chi-won’s pen names were Go-un (孤雲) and Hae-un (海雲). He was from Saryang-bu (沙梁部). At the age of twelve, he accompanied an envoy by boat to Tang. In the 1st Qianfu year (乾符 건부, 874) he passed the examination held under (/for becoming?) the Ritual Department Libushilang-peizan (禮部侍郞 裵瓚 예부시랑 배찬), and became lieutenant of Lishui-xian county (凓水縣尉). Passing the kaoshi examination (考試) he was made chengwurang-shiyushi- neigongfeng (乘務郞 侍御史 內供奉 승무랑 시어사 내공봉) and then had the purple and gold fish robes (紫金魚袋) conferred upon him. During the Huang Chao (874-84) (黃巢 황소) rebellion Gao Pian (高騈 고변 d.887, ‘former Prince of Bohai’ n.71) was made Grand Marshall of Everywhere (諸道行營兵馬都統 zhudao-xingying-bingma-doutong) and when suppressing Huang Chao, made Chiwon a congshi (從事) officer. In the 1st Guangqi (光啓 광계) year (885), Choi Chiwon was called back by royal edict [to Silla] and became both a sidok (侍讀) and hallim-haksa scholar-official (翰林學士). Leaving the capital, he became magistrate of Tae-san (太山太守 present day Tae’in 泰仁 n.72). From the time he went west to serve the Tang until he returned to his former country [Silla] in the east, he met with all manner of difficulties and so did not intend again to pursue officialdom. Together with his family he retired to Haein-sa temple (海印寺 n.73) and lived out the rest of his life free and relaxed.” According to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Sangseo-jan (Letter Writing Villa 上書莊) is to the north of Mount Geum’o. When Taejo of Goryeo [aka Wang Geon (877-943)] rose to power, knowing that he would be ordered (back to office) Choe Chiwon wrote a letter to the king (上書), ‘Gyerim is a yellow leaf but Gong-nyeong (鵠嶺 곡령 = Song’ak 松嶽 = Goryeo, see poem 43) is a green pine.’ Later generations named the place where he resided Letter Writing [to the king] Villa.” 

城南城北蔚藍峯  성남성북울람봉  平平平入入平平(冬)
落日昌林寺裏鐘  낙일창림사리종  入入平平去上平
閒補東京書畵傳  한보동경서화전  平上上平平去去
金生碑版率居松  김생비판솔거송  平平平上入平平

seong nam seong buk ul ram bong
nak il chang rim sa ri jong
han bo dong gyeong seo hwa jeon
gim saeng bi pan sol geo song

Mountain peaks lush with vegetation [rise] both to the south and north of the fortress.
At sunset the bell sounds at Changnim-sa temple.
The books and paintings of the Eastern Capital [Gyeongju] are leisurely restored [and so] passed down.
[They remind us of] Kim Saeng’s stone monument and Sol Geo’s pine trees.

Kim Saeng (金生 711-91): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “From an early age, Kim Saeng was skillful at calligraphy. Throughout his life he never studied any other art. Even past the age of 80, far from laying down his brush, he was a godly master in all three styles yeseo (隸書), haengseo (行書) and choseo (草/艸書). During the Chongning (崇寧 숭녕) reign period [of Song emperor Huizong (徽宗)] (1102-06), chunghaksa scholar (中學士) Hong Gwan (洪灌 d.1126 calligrapher, n.75) accompanied an official mission (奉仕 봉사) to Song and, whilst staying in Bianjing (汴京 변징, modern Kaifeng), hanlin-daizhao (翰林待詔 한림대조) Yang Qiu (楊球) and Li Ge (李革 n.76) visited with a letter from the emperor (勅書) and [whilst there they] painted a picture scroll. Hong Gwan showed them a sheet of Kim Saeng’s haeng-cho (行艸) [calligraphy] at which the two were greatly surprised and said, ‘Today we have unexpectedly seen the calligraphy of You Jun (右軍 303–61 n.77)!’ Hong Gwan replied, ‘This is the calligraphy of none other than Kim Saeng of Silla!’ But the two would not believe him.” In the epilogue (跋文) of the commemorative stone at Changnim-sa temple (昌林寺), Zhao Zi-ang (趙子昻, 1254-1322) wrote, ‘[Calligraphy as fine as] You (右) was written by a Silla monk of Tang, Kim Saeng. The character strokes on the commemorative stone of Changnim-sa Temple in his country [Silla] have depth and form (典型) such that even a famous calligraphic engraver of Tang would not be able to greatly surpass it. Did not the ancients say, ‘Talented people may be born in any land’? I believe it to be so.” According to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Changnim-sa temple (昌林寺) was located on Mount Geum’o but today is ruined. There is an old stone (碑) there but it has no writing.”

Sol Geo (率居): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Sol Geo was good at painting and early on he painted on the wall of Hwangnyong-sa temple (黃龍寺 n.79) the body, trunk, scales (鱗) and wrinkles of an old pine tree. Every now and then crows and kites spying the pine would try to fly and land on it but would fall down the wall. After a long time the colour began to fade and so the monks of the temple restored it with dancheong (丹靑) paint, but after that the crows and kites no longer came. The pictures of Avalokiteśvara (觀音) at Bunhwan-sa temple (芬皇寺 n.80) in Gyeonju and the portrait of Vimalakīrti (維摩像 유마상) at Dansok-sa (斷俗寺 n.81) in Jinju (晉州) are also by his brush.”

三月初旬去踏靑  삼월초순거답청  平入平平去入平(靑)
蚊川花柳鎖冥冥  문천화류쇄명명  平平平上上平平
流觴曲水傷心事  유상곡수상심사  平平入上平平去
休上春風鮑石亭  휴상춘풍포석정  平上平平上入平

sam wol cho sun geo dap cheong
mun cheon hwa ryu swae myeong myeong
yu sang gok su sang sim sa
hyu sang chun pung po seok jeong

In spring [the first ten days of the third lunar month], [King Gyeong-ae, penultimate king of Silla (r. 924–927)] was out enjoying the new foliage.
By Mosquito Stream, the flowers and willows are darkly locked together.
Whilst playing a game of floating wine cups, they met with sorrow.
Do not ascend to Abalone Stone Platform when the spring wind blows!

Mosquito Stream (蚊川): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mun-cheon stream (蚊川) is 5 li to the south of Gyeongju-bu, it is downstream of Sadeung-cheon stream (史等川). There is a poem by Kim Geuk-gi (金克己 1148-1209) of Goryeo that speaks of the Mun-cheon stream Bulgye festival game [composing poems before a wine cup floats past you] (蚊川祓禊 n.83).”

Abalone Stone Platform (鮑石亭 포석정): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Poseok-jeong is seven li south of Gyeongju-bu at the base of the western side of Mount Geum’o. The rocks have been arranged in the shape of an abalone (鮑) after which it is named. It is clearly the remains of where wine cups were floated along the winding water (流觴曲水).” According to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Gyeon Hwon (甄萱 867-936) suddenly invaded the Silla capital at which time the king and queen and ladies in waiting (嬪御) were out at Poseok-jeong enjoying wine. Having been invaded, they were in a fix and were not sure what to do. All the lords, retainers, palace women and officers were captured and died [King Gyeong’ae committed suicide].”

溟州  Myeongju

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “When King Seondeok (r.780–785) of Silla died he had no son and so a group of his vassals discussed together and decided to make an indirect descendant (族子) of Seondeok, Ju-won (周元), their king. Ju-won was living 20 li to the north of the capital, but just at that time heavy rain fell and swelled the Al-cheon river (閼川) preventing him from crossing. Someone then said, ‘Perhaps heaven is trying to stop Ju-won becoming king. Daesangdeung (大上等) Gyeong-sin (aka King Wonseong 敬信) was the younger brother of the former king and he has the countenance of a ruler.’ Upon deciding to enthrone him the rain stopped and so all the subjects of the kingdom shouted out manse!

In the Yeoji-ji (輿地志) it is written, “Fearing disaster, Ju-won withdrew to Myeoungju and was not invited to the court. Two years later he was enfeoffed as king of Myeongju-gun (溟州郡) which was divided into the fiefdoms (食邑) of Myeongju, Ingnyeong (翼嶺 익령, [modern day Yangyang]), Samcheok (三陟), Geun’eur’eo (斤乙於) [modern day Pyeonghae] and Uljin (蔚珍).”

In the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考) it is written, “Myeongju is present day Gangneung-bu (江陵府).”

雞林眞骨大王親  계림진골대왕친  平平平入去平平(眞)
九雉分供左海濱  구치분공좌해빈  上上平平上上平
最憶如花池上女  최억여화지상녀  去入平平平去上
魚書遠寄倦遊人  어서원기권유인  平平上去去平平

gye rim jin gol dae wang chin
gu chi bun gong jwa hae bin
choe eok yeo hwa ji wang nyeo
eo seo won gi gwon yu in

[Kim Juwon] was a True Bone rank (眞骨) of Gyerim and a close relative to the king (Seondeok who died without issue.)
Royal food provision was divided and given to [Kim Juwon] beside the left [i.e. eastern] sea.
[Myeongju] makes one think most of the girl by the lilly pond
Who sent a letter faraway by fish to the man she had promised herself to.

True Bone (眞骨): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Sadaham (斯多含) was of True Bone lineage. Seol Gye-du (薛罽頭 d.645 note84) said, ‘When appointments are made in Silla, they take into consideration their golpum bone rank status (骨品).'” Ling Hu-cheng (令狐澄 영호징) wrote in the Xinluoguo-ji (History of Silla 新羅國記), “In that country (신라), the king is First Bone rank (第一骨) and the rest of the aristocracy is Second Bone rank (第二骨).”

“royal food provision” guchi (九雉): according to the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考), “According to the Silla system, each day the king would eat three mal (斗 두) of rice and nine male pheasants (九雉).”

send a letter far away by fish (漁書遠寄 어서원기): according to the ‘Ak-ji’ chapter of the Goryeo-sa (Records of Music in the History of Goryeo 高麗史樂志), “In the Goguryeo folk music section (高句麗 俗樂部) is the song Myeongju-gok (Myeongju Melody 溟州曲). It is said that a young scholar (書生) was travelling for study when he arrived in Myeongju and saw the daughter of a well-to-do house who had a beautiful body and complexion. She also knew how to write. The young scholar kept writing her poems to try and seduce her, to which the girl replied, ‘A lady (婦女子) cannot pursue a stranger. Wait until you have passed the exam and if my parents order [our marriage] then something will happen.’ The young scholar soon returned to the capital and prepared for the gwago civil service examination. At the girls’ house [meanwhile] they started to welcome a future son-in-law. The girl raised fish in a pond and when they heard the sound of coughing they knew that food was coming. Feeding the fish, the girl said, ‘I have raised you for a long time, so you should understand my intentions (意).’ She threw in a silk letter (帛書) and a large fish jumped out and swallowed it before leisurely swimming away. Whilst in the capital, one day the young student bought a fish to feed his parents and when he cut open its stomach, he discovered inside a silk letter. Surprised and considering it wondrous, he immediately took the silk letter and a letter written by his father, and went straight to the girl’s house but found the intended future son-in-law had already arrived. He showed the letters to the girl’s family and sung this [Myeongju-gok] song. Thinking it wondrous, the girl’s parents said, ‘This has the feeling of sincere devotion (精誠) and is not something that can be done through [mere] human effort.’ Sending away the other man, they welcomed the young scholar as their son-in-law.”

According to the Ganggye-ji (Record of Borderlands 疆界志 n.86), “The younger brother of the Silla king, Muwol-lang (無月郞 무월랑 n.87), had two sons. The eldest was Ju-won (周元 n.88) and the second Gyeong-sin (敬信). Their mother was born in Myeongju and because she originally lived beneath Yeonhwa-bong peak (Lotus Peak 蓮花峯 연화봉) she was known as Madam Yeonhwa (n.89). When Ju-won became ruler of Myeongju, his mother lived under his support. The Myeongju-gok (n.90) is about Madam Yeonhwa and the young scholar is Muwol-lang. Also, because Myeongju was established during the Silla period, it is not a Goguryeo period name and so naturally Myeongju-gok is classified as a Silla song (新羅樂).”

Continue to part 5..


Was Goguryeo 高句麗 (Gāogōulí) Korean or Chinese? – tentative thoughts


Goguryeo was neither Korean nor Chinese but maintained its own dual south continental, northern peninsula identity which subsequently became divided together with its territory following the kingdom’s collapse.

  • The former territory of Goguryeo straddles the modern mainland Chinese and North Korean border.
  • The modern dispute over Goguryeo’s heritage is therefore nearly 100% subjective though Korea has the longer historiographic tradition.
  • The dispute is not academic or scholarly but politically motivated on both sides as both mainland China and the two Koreas are equally concerned about very real irredentist claims based on modern racial-nationalist claims to the ethnic heritage over the ancient kingdoms of the region (namely Old Joseon, Lelang Commandery, Goguryeo and Balhae).
    • In this context, Beijing’s assertion over Goguryeo is as much a reaction to Korean claims over the subsequent Balhae kingdom which was, more so than Goguryeo, overwhelmingly a (Manchurian) continental entity.

The contemporary ethnic identity of Goguryeo was neither Korean (which didn’t exist at the time) nor Han  Chinese.

  • However, it is possible and probably desirable for Goguryeo to simultaneously be regarded a part of both Korean and Chinese history but with the crucial qualification that ‘Chinese’ not denote the ethnic Han 漢 Chinese, but the multiethnic modern Chinese state which, despite the current political dominance of the modern ethnic Han majority, inherited the former territory of the Manchu Qing dynasty.  And here it should be appreciated that the Qing dynasty had been a multiethnic empire founded by Jurchen-Manchu whose very distant ancestors (whether remembered or not) likely included much of the continental population of Goguryeo.
  • If Goguryeo heritage cannot be treated as a part of multiethnic Chinese history, then the natural conclusion is the assertion of Korean irredentist claims.  Under such circumstances, the remaining tombs and fortress sites are vulnerable to neglect and continued deterioration.  As long as Manchuria is a part of the present day mainland Chinese state, Goguryeo’s continental heritage should be administered by China.

In the end, the only real arguments worth having are over the international pronunciation of the name as Goguryeo or Gāogōulí and access to joint archaeological investigation.

  • In the case of the international name, the Korean pronunciation should probably remain in acknowledgement of the longer historiographic tradition.

Territorial heritage:

In terms of its territorial heritage Goguryeo may be associated with both modern (multiethnic) China and the two Koreas today (especially North Korea).

  • Goguryeo emerged in the south of continental Manchuria with its early power base in the region of modern Jilin province of present day mainland China. Over its very long history, this power base gradually moved southwards into modern North Korean territory eventually to the location of Pyeongyang, the modern capital of North Korea. However, even in the later period, a major part of its history (Sui and Tang invasion wars) was played out in southern Manchuria, modern Liaoning province.
  • Whilst royal tombs were later constructed around modern Pyongyang and South Pyeong’an province (west of Pyongyang), Goguryeo’s spiritual homeland remained the region of Jolbon, modern Jilin, where the shrine to the mythical progenitor, King Dongmyeong (aka Jumong) was maintained.

Ethnic heritage:

Ethnic identity is a strongly subjective notion determined by self-identification with a group (influenced today by modern notions of political nationalism and racialist indoctrination) and traceable ancestry.

  • Goguryeo ethnic identity would have been forged from a multiethnic diversity primarily consisting of the southern Manchurian groups including a superstrate of the, semi-naturalized, descendants of former ethnic Han (漢) ‘Chinese’ who subjugated the region in 108BCE.
  • Goguryeo both expanded to the northeast and subsequently southwards into the peninsula.  During the latter process it would have absorbed the indigenous peoples of the northern Korean peninsula: many of these assimilated to the new Goguryeo ethnic identity; others, e.g. the peninsula ‘Malgal’ (靺鞨 – as they are anachronistically named in the Samguk-sagi), apparently maintained their own identity whilst accepting political suzerainty, perhaps in a manner similar to the much later banner system of the Manchu Qing dynasty (used to incorporate ethnic Mongols).  Other peninsula peoples meanwhile came under the dominance of Baekje and Silla and actively resisted Goguryeo expansion managing to maintain their complete independence.

Ancestry is a retrospective concept: no people attempt to trace their lineage into the future beyond the ideal of sustaining their current ethnic group.

  • Goguryeo people could only self-identify with their present and past: there was no concept of “Korea” or even the “Three Kingdoms” at this stage so it would not have been possible to self-identify as ‘Korean’.  Equally there was no larger Manchurian identity and Goguryeo was constantly at war with most neighbouring states including the various northern ‘Chinese’ dynasties (with the exception of Northern Wei which was an ethnic Xianbei entity and with which Goguryeo general maintained better relations).
  • In terms of ancestral lineage today, given the territorial division it can be surmised that the number of extremely distant Goguryeo descendants living in the territory of modern China would be at least as large, if not greater, than the number living now on the Korean peninsula.  The descendants of Goguryeo would have largely reassimilated as either Balhae-Jurchen (ethnic Tungus-Manchu) or as Unified Silla-Goryeo (Koreans).

Cultural heritage:

In terms of religious, artistic and technological innovation, Goguryeo had next to no known influence on dynastic mainland China, unknown though likely significant influence on the Manchurian region and some similar influence on the Korean peninsula, at least within its former territory.  Beyond the Jumong myth being maintained as northern folklore (to the extent that Yi Gyubo felt compelled to write it down) it is not clear what else was clearly inherited from Goguryeo as many traditions were superseded by those of Silla.

Historiographic heritage:

History is created by those who remember and write it down and perpetuated by those who read it.  Oral history is similarly dependent on transmission and continued relevance to the audience (but subject to distortion quickly becoming folklore).  People create and transmit history; they may dictate the narrative and conceal or censor available facts but nobody can physically own the past.

At a point when the peoples of the Korean peninsula had created a politically unified ‘Korean’ entity, namely the Goryeo dynasty (936-1392), Goguryeo’s history was remembered, re-compiled and incorporated into the notion of a peninsula focused Three Kingdoms historical period (also referred to at the time as Samhan).

  • During the Three Kingdoms period there was no concept of a “Three Kingdoms” identity; nor throughout Unified Silla and Balhae.  It was created retrospectively during the Goryeo dynasty and thus, crucially, Koreans preserved the historiographic heritage of Goguryeo.  Neither Tang nor Silla wrote dynastic histories of Goguryeo but records were at least preserved during the Unified Silla such that they could be compiled early in the Goryeo dynasty (first as the now lost Gu-samguk-sa ‘Old History of the Three Kingdoms’ and later as the Samguk-sagi).  Balhae may have compiled its own dynastic history of Goguryeo but nearly all Balhae records have been lost.
  • In terms of historiography, Goguryeo has always been treated by Koreans as a part of their heritage.  This has not been the case in traditional Chinese historiography.
  • Official dynastic histories and modern government sponsored history writing have the primary aims of legitimizing territorial claims and assimilating ethnic minorities.  Unified Silla apparently failed to successfully assimilate or integrate its expanded territory and suffered the consequences of revivalist movements; Goguryeo was subsequently included in Goryeo’s official history helping to legitimize its claims over the full peninsula territory.
  • Following Goguryeo’s collapse, its former continental territory was not immediately occupied by any ethnic Han Chinese dynasty and so its history was not formally compiled.  This state of affairs did not change until the founding of the modern Chinese Communist Party and they immediately set to work on researching their borders; the current Chinese claims are the natural outcome of this official revisionist history project, in essence no different from the purpose of compiling dynastic histories (that is, to legitimize territorial claims and assimilate ethnic minorities).

Linguistic heritage:

Ethnic identity is closely associated with both linguistic and political boundaries but linguistic range does not always match the speed of dynastic and modern political re-configurations.

  • There were likely many languages spoken as a linguistic spectrum across the territory of Goguryeo, increasingly so as it expanded.  Undoubtedly, this predominantly included Tungusic languages ancestral to Jurchen-Manchu.
  • Goguryeo was already writing Classical Chinese inherited at the latest from the previous Han commanderies (Lelang and Xiantu) and propagated through Buddhist evangelism such that the language of the ruling class would have soon become at least partially Sinicized in a manner similar to modern Sino-Korean and Sino-Japanese, that is to say: whatever language the Goguryeo language was, it would have been Sino-Goguryeo.
  • The Koreanic ancestor to the modern (Sino-)Korean language was certainly the dominant language of Silla when it overthrew Baekje and Goguryeo.  It is not known to what degree Koreanic languages were spoken outside of Silla’s traditional southeastern peninsula territory; they may have been widespread on the peninsula but were very unlikely to have been spoken on the Manchurian continent and so would not have been the dynastic or continental language of Goguryeo.

Sources: Yu Deukgong’s “Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals” 二十一都懷古詩 (1792) – part 3 of 6

See Introductionpart 1 and part 2.

百濟  Baekje

In the Nanshi (History of the Southern Dynasties 南史) it is written, “Mahan was composed of fifty-four states (國) of which Baekje was one. Later on it gradually became stronger and absorbed the other smaller countries.”

In the Beishi (History of the Northern Dynasties 北史) it is written, “Baekje was a part of Mahan. The country was named Baekje (百 hundred + 濟 to cross) as it was established when a hundred families crossed the river [into the territory]. Its capital fortress was Geobal Fortress (居拔城), also known as Goma Fortress (固麻城).”

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “The founder of Baekje, King Onjo (溫祚王 r.18 BC–AD 28) established the capital Wirye Fortress (慰禮城) in Hanam (河南). Ten vassals supported the king and so the country’s name was made as Sipje (十濟, 十 ten + 濟 to help). It was the 3rd Hongjia (鴻嘉 홍가) year of Han emperor Cheng (成帝). Later on, commoners gladly came to submit to the king and so the country was renamed Baekje (百濟). Together with Goguryeo, the line of descent traced back to Buyeo, so Buyeo was used as the surname. In the 13th year of King Onjo’s reign, he built a wooden fence at the bottom of Mount Han (漢山) and in the 14th year, moved the capital [there]. In the 5th year of King Gaeru (蓋婁王 r.128–166), the Bukhan-san Fortress (北漢山城) was built and in the 26th year of King Geunchogo (近肖古王 r.346-375), the capital was moved to Mount Han. In the first year of King Munju (文周王 r.475-477), the capital was moved to Ungjin (熊津). Then in the 6th year of King Seong (聖王 r.523–554), the capital was moved to Sabi (泗沘) and the country named South Buyeo (南夫餘).”

In the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考) it is written, “Soburi-gun (所夫里郡) in Baekje was also called Sabi. It is present day Buyeo-hyeon (夫餘縣).”

歌樓舞殿向江開  가루무전향강개  平平上去去平平(灰)
半月城頭月影來  반월성두월영래  去入平平入上平
紅㲮𣰆寒眠不得  홍탑등한면부득  平入平平平入入
君王愛在自溫臺  군왕애재자온대  平平去上去平平 

ga ru mu jeon hyang gang gae
ban wol seong du wol yeong rae
hong tap deung han myeon bu deuk
gun wang ae jae ja on dae

A singing pagoda and dancing palace opens towards the river.
The top of Banwol Fortress [refers to Baekje’s last capital Sabi] is silhouetted against the moon.
The red carpet [mattress] is cold and [the king] cannot sleep.
The [last] king [of Baekje, Uija] loved to be on the Jaondae [rock].

Banwol Fortress (半月城): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Banwol Fortress in Buyeo-hyeon (夫餘縣) was built of stone and 13,006 cheok (尺 1=30cm 3.9km) in circumference. It is the capital of former Baekje. Built hugging the side of Mount Buso (扶蘇山), both ends reach to Baekma River (White Horse River 白馬江) and so it forms the shape of a half moon.”

the Jaondae “self-heating” rock (自溫臺): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Jaondae is five li to the west of Buyeo-hyeon. The rock is in the water downstream to the west of Nakhwa-am (Falling Flower Rock (落花巖). It is large enough for more than ten people to sit on it. It has been passed down that, ‘When the Baekje king relaxed (遊) on the rock, it became warm by itself.'”

落日扶蘇數點峯  낙일부소수점봉  入入平平去上平(冬)
天寒白馬怒濤洶  천한백마노도흉  平平入上去平平
奈何不用成忠策  내하불용성충책  去平入去平平入
却恃江中護國龍  각시강중호국룡  入上平平去入平

nak il bu so su jeom bong
cheon han baek ma no do hyung
nae ha bu yong seong chung chaek
gak si gang jung ho guk ryong

Sun sets [behind] the peaks of Mount Buso [the location of the final royal Baekje fortress].
[Beneath] the cold sky, the White Horse River angrily froths.
How could he fail to hark on loyal vassal Seongchung’s advice?
Yet he believed the dragon in the river would [be enough to] protect his kingdom!

Buso (扶蘇): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mount Buso is three li (1.2km) to the north of Buyeo-hyeon. The easternmost peak is called Yeongwol-dae (Moon Welcoming Platform 迎月臺) and the westernmost peak Songwol-dae (Seeing off the Moon Platform 送月臺).”

loyal vassal Seongchung (成忠): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “In the 16th year of King Uija (義慈王 r.641–660), jwa’pyeong (佐平) Seongchung (d.656) offered up a memorial to the king saying, ‘Having studied the propriety of times, war is certain now to arise. If an invading army comes, do not allow them to cross the Chim-hyeon pass (沈峴) by land or to enter Gibeol-po harbour (岐伐浦) by water. Only through [facing] danger will defence be possible.’ However, the king did not respond. Only when the Tang army bore down upon the fortress did the king lament, ‘I regret I did not listen to Seongchung’s counsel!'”

the dragon would protect the kingdom (護國龍): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Beneath Mount Buso is a rock which straddles the river and has dragon claw marks in it. It is commonly told that, ‘When Su Dingfang (蘇定方 591–667) invaded Baekje, upon arriving at the river he attempted to cross but powerful wind and rain prevented him; using a white horse as bait, he caught a dragon [from the river] which caused the storm to briefly subside allowing his soldiers to cross. On account of this the river is named Baekma-gang (White Horse River 白馬江), and the stone is called Joryong-dae (Fishing Dragon Platform 釣龍臺).'”

雨冷風凄去國愁  우냉풍처거국수  上上平平去入平(尤)
巖花落盡水悠悠  암화낙진수유유  平平入上上平平
泉臺寂寞誰相伴  천대적막수상반  平平入入平平上
同是江南歸命侯  동시강남귀명후  平上平平平去平

u naeng pung cheo geo guk su
am hwa nak jin su yu yu
cheon dae jeok mak su sang ban
dong si gang nam gwi myeong hu

In cold rain and chill wind, it is sad to leave your country.
Flowers [palace women] fell from the rock and expired; the water [now] flows gently by.
The Otherworld is lonely and dreary, who may accompany him [the last Baekje king, Uija] there?
He’ll be together with Sun Hao [Marquess Guiming] on the south bank.

flowers from the rock (巖花): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Nakhwa-am (Falling Flower Rock (落花巖) is one li north of Buyeo-hyeon. It is commonly told that, ‘When King Uija was defeated by the Tang army, the palace ladies climbed to the top of the rock and jumped into the river and that is how it got its name.'”

Marquess Guiming (歸命侯): according to the Tangshu (唐書), “In the 5th Xianqing year (顯慶 현경, 660) Great General of the Left Defence (左衛大將軍), Su Dingfang, was made Field Marshall of Shenqiu-dao (神邱道行軍總管) and ordered to attack Baekje. Crossing the sea from Mount Seong (城山), Baekje was defending the entrance to Ung-jin harbour (熊津) and so Su Dingfang immediately attacked and destroyed their defenses. Riding on the tide, they advanced and forced the surrender of the fortress. King Uija was captured and sent back to the [Tang] capital (京師) whilst governor-generals (都督) were placed in the five gun (郡) of Ungjin (熊津), Mahan (馬韓), Dongmyeong (東明), Geum’yeon (金漣) and Deok’an (德安). King Uija died of anguish and was given the (Tang?) rank of weiweiqing (‘Minister of the Guards’ 衛尉卿 위위경). His former vassals were permitted to conduct his funeral but ordered by imperial edict to hold the funeral to the left of Sun Hao (孫皓 손호, aka Marquess Guiming, 242–84 n.56) and Chen Shubao’s (陳叔寶, 553–604 n.57) graves [two former corrupt rulers of Wu (吳) and Chen (陳) who had been defeated and taken back to the victor’s capital where they died].

浴槃零落涴曣脂  욕반영낙완연지  入平平入 平(支)
石室藏書事可疑  석실장서사가의  入入平平去上平
時見荒原秋草裏  시견황원추초리  平去平平平上上
行人駐馬讀唐碑  행인주마독당비  平平去上入平平

yok ban yeong nak wan yeon ji
seok sil jang seo sa ga wi
si gyeon hwang won chu cho ri
haeng in ju ma dok dang bi

The wash basin is old and worn [but] yeonji make-up stains [remain.]
They say that books were stored in the Stone Room, but this seems doubtful.
At times visible in the autumn grasses of the desolate fields,
Passersby stop their horses and read the Tang stele.

the wash basin (浴槃): according to the Buyeohyeon-ji (Record of Buyeo-hyeon 夫餘縣志), “In the garden of the county office (縣廳) is a stone basin. When public business is conducted at night a pine torch is sometimes lit above it so it has become blackened with soot and cracked; but still a carved lotus flower pattern is faintly [visible]. It is said that this was the wash basin used by the palace ladies of Baekje.”

books stored in the stone room (石室藏書): according to the Buyeohyeon-ji (夫餘縣志), “To the east of Pungjeon-yeok horse station (豊田驛) in Buyeo-hyeon, is a high stone wall which, where it has been broken, has the form of a door; it is called Cheag’am (Book Rock 冊巖). It is commonly said that, ‘In Baekje times this is where books were stored.’ In past times somebody tried to open it and look inside but in spite of it being a clear day thunder rolled and, becoming frightened, they desisted.”

Tang stele (唐碑): according to the Buyeohyeon-ji (夫餘縣志), “Two li to the south of Buyeo-hyeon is a stone pagoda which has carved on it, ‘Stone [commemorating] the subjugation of Baekje by the Great Tang, erected on the 15th day of the 8th month in the 5th year of Xianqing (顯慶 현경), Gengshen (庚申 경신), Guiwei (癸未 계미). It was made by Jian-shi of Ling-zhou (陵州長史) Bingcao-panshu (‘Minister of War’ 兵曹判書) He Suiliang (賀遂亮 하수량) and written by Quan Huaisu (權懷素 권회소) of Luo-zhou (落州) in Henan (河南).’ It records the exploits of Su Dingfang. The calligraphy is pianli-ti style (駢儷體 변려체) and, being written well, is naturally the best example of calligraphy on old stones found in Korea. There is another commemorative stone three li (1.2km) north of Buyeo-hyeon that records the exploits of Liu RenYuan (劉仁願 유인원 n.59) but the middle section has broken off and many of the characters are worn.”

彌鄒忽  Michuhol [modern day Incheon]

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “When Jumong escaped from North Buyeo (北夫餘) and came to Jolbon Buyeo (卒本夫餘), the Buyeo king married his daughter to Jumong. Upon the death of the Buyeo king, Jumong ascended to the throne and had two sons named Biryu (沸流) and Onjo (溫祚). Jumong’s son previously born in North Buyeo arrived and was made crown prince. Fearing that they would not be accepted by the crown prince, Biryu and Onjo, together with ten vassals including Ogan (烏干) and Maryeo (馬黎), moved south and were followed by many subjects. Arriving at Mount Han (漢山) they climbed up Bu’a-ak peak (負兒岳, present day Insu-bong peak on Bukhan-san said to have resembled a parent carrying a child on their back and thus named as such, n60) and looked out over land [that appeared] suitable for living, but Biryu wanted to live by the sea, whereupon his ten retainers said, ‘Only here, in Hanam (河南) is the north bordered by the Han-su river (漢水), the east protected by high mountains, the south overlooking fertile land and the west ending in the ocean. What better place could there be to establish your capital?’ But Biryu did not listen and divided their followers; Biryu went on to Michuhol whilst Onjo established his capital at Wirye Fortress (慰禮城) in Hanam. In Michuhol the land was damp and the water salty. Unable to live there Biryu returned to Wirye Fortress, and finding it stable and the people peaceful he became regretful before dying.”

In the Yeoji-ji (Geographical Records 輿地志) it is written, “Ten li (4km) to the south of current day Incheon-bu (仁川府) there is a large grave at the top of Haepyeong (海坪). The perimeter wall remains intact; the stone grave statues (石人, 망두석) lying face down are especially big. It is said that this is the grave of the king of Michu.”

浿上悲歌別弟兄  패상비가별제형  去去平平入去平(庚)
登山臨水汨南征  등산임수골남정  平平平上上平平
三韓地劣姜肱被  삼한지열강굉피  平平去入平平上
休築崢嶸恚忿城  휴축쟁영에분성  平入去平 去平

pae sang bi ga byeol je hyeong
deung san im su gol nam jeong
sam han ji yeol gang goeng pi
hyu chuk jaeng yeong e bun seong

Above the waters of Pae the brothers parted with a sad song.
Climbing the mountain and looking down upon the water [Biryu] became infatuated with the southern road.
The land of the Three Han could not match the bed clothes of Jianggong (姜肱 강굉) [refers to Jianggong of the Eastern Han (東漢), who loved his two younger brothers Zhonghai (仲海) and Jijiang (季江) and would sleep under the same blanket, n61.]
So Biryu should not have [attempted] to build his towering Resentment Fortress.

Resentment Fortress (恚忿城 에분성): according to the Yeoji-ji (輿地志), “To the south of current day Incheon-bu is a mountain named South Mountain (南山) It is also know as Mount Munhak (文鶴山) and there is a fortress built on it. It is said that this is the place of Biryu’s capital and because he died of resentment, it was called Ebun-seong (Resentment Fortress).”

Continue to part 4..

Sources: Samguk-sagi biographies – Sona 素那

The account of Sona is the 24th of fifty biographies included in Kim Busik’s Samguk-sagi (三國史記).

Sona  素那  소나

Sona, also called Kim Cheon (金川), was from Sasan (蛇山 ‘Snake Mountain’) in Baekseong county (白城郡 ‘White Fortress’) [of Silla]. His father was Simna (沈那), also called Hwangcheon (煌川), whose physical strength (膂) surpassed [all] others but whose body was [at once] light and agile. Sasan straddled the border with Baekje and so they continuously attacked one another without a quiet month (虛月). Whenever Simna went out to battle there were no strong [enemy] camps that could face him.

During the Inpyeong era (仁平, the second reign era of Queen Seondeok, 634-48) [Silla] sent out troops from Baekseong to go and attack (往抄?) a Baekje border town (邑). [In response] Baekje sent out elite soldiers and they fought furiously (急). Our [Silla] troops were thrown into disorder and retreated. [But] Simna stood alone gripping his sword. With angry eyes and wild shouting he hacked down several tens of men [such] that the [Baekje] bandits did not dare to face [him] (當). Eventually the [Baekje commanders] pulled back their soldiers and fled. [From a distance] the Baekje men pointed at Simna saying, “The flying general (飛將) of Silla!”  And they said to one another, “[As long as] Simna is alive, do not go near Baekseong!”

Sona had the [same] heroic (雄豪) character (風) as his father. After the downfall of Baekje, Prince Yu (儒公), the governor of Hanju province (漢州), requested to the king to transfer Sona to Adal Fortress (阿達城) to strengthen the defence of the northern border (北鄙).

In the second year of Sangwon (上元), Eulhae (乙亥 675), spring, the geupchan (級飡 ninth degree rank) chief magistrate (太守) of Adal Fortress, [named] Hanseon (漢宣), had the commoners all go out on a certain day to plant hemp[!] and [they] were unable to ignore this command. A Malgal (靺鞨) spy learnt of this (認) and returned to report it to his chief (酋長). When the day arrived, all of the commoners went out of the fortress into the fields. [But] the Malgal had secretly [led] soldiers and suddenly entered the fortress, plundering it whole. The old and young were in a difficult situation and did not know what would become of themselves. [Whereupon] Sona brandishing his sword confronted the [Malgal] bandits and loudly cried out, “Know ye that Silla has Sona the son of Simna! I have absolutely no fear of death with [any] plan of living. Will those who want to fight come forward!?”

Enraged he charged into the bandits [but] they did not dare to approach him and only shot arrows. Sona shot back [such that the] flying arrows were like a swarm of bees. [They continued like this] from the Jin hour (辰時 7-9am) until the Yu hour (酉時 5-7pm) [until] Sona’s body [was pierced with so many] arrows he looked like a hedgehog and finally he collapsed and died.

Sona’s wife was the daughter of the respected household (良家) of Garimgun (加林郡). When at first the enemy country (敵國) had been close to Adal Fortress, [Sona] had gone alone making his wife stay at home. When the county folk heard of Sona’s death they [tried to] console her. His wife cried but said to them, “My husband always said, ‘A great man must die in battle (兵死). How can one lie in bed and die housebound (死家人之手 lit. ‘die [with?/by?] the hands of a house person’)?!’ Throughout his life his words were such. Now he has died according to this will.”

[Upon] hearing this the great king shed tears [until] the collar [of his robe] was wet and said, “Father and son were valiant in their service to the kingdom. [This is] loyalty and virtue across generations!”

[He posthumously] awarded [Sona] the rank of japchan (迊飡 third rank).

Sources: Samguk-sagi biographies – Haeron 奚論

The account of Haeron is the 23rd of fifty biographies included in Kim Busik’s Samguk-sagi (三國史記).

Haeron  奚論  해론

Haeron was a [Silla] man from Moryang (牟梁). His father was Chandeok (讚德) who possessed a courageous spirit and outstanding fidelity and at one time had been renowned. In the 27th Geonbok (建福) year, Eulchuk (乙丑 605), King Jinpyeong   the Great (眞平大王) had selected [Chandeok] to be the hyeollyeong county sheriff (縣令) of Gagam fortress (椵岑城). In the 10th month of the following year, Byeong’in (丙寅 606), winter, Baekje mobilized a great host of soldiers and attacked Gagam Fortress for more than a hundred days. King Jinpyeong ordered [his] generals to rescue them with troops from Sangju (上州 lit. ‘upper province’), Haju (下州 lit. ‘lower province’) and Sinju (新州 lit. ‘new province’). Eventually they went and fought with Baekje [but] were unable to defeat them and withdrew. Chandeok was [both] furious and sorrowful and said to his commanders and men (士卒), “The commanders of three provinces [upon] seeing the enemy’s strength, did not advance. The fortress is in peril [yet] they did not come to [our] assistance. They have no sense of virtue (義). Rather than live without virtue, it is better to have virtue and die.”

At this [spirits] were greatly roused; they fought and defended [the fortress]. Even when they ran out of food and water, they ate dead bodies and drank urine. They fought hard and did not give in (怠). [But] by lunar New Year [of the following year] in spring the men were exhausted and the fortress was on the verge of collapse. [Realising] it was no longer possible to restore [their] spirits (勢), [Chandeok] looked up at the sky and loudly shouted, “Our king entrusted me with a single fortress but I was unable to maintain it and have been defeated by the enemy. I wish to die and become a great demon (大厲) that will eat up the Baekje people and restore this fortress.”

At last, rolling up his sleeves and staring wildly, he charged into a pagoda tree (槐樹) and died. With that the fortress capitulated and all the soldiers surrendered.

At the age of twenty or so, owing to the meritorious achievements (功) of his father, Haeron became a daenama (大奈麻 10th degree rank). In the 41st Geonbok year, Muin (戊寅 618), the king made Haeron a dangju commander (幢主) of Geumsan (金山). Together with the governor (都督) of Hansan province (漢山州) they raised an army (師) and attacking Gagam Fortress, [re]took it. [Upon] hearing this, Baekje soldiers came. Haeron and the others met with them [in battle]. [When] the soldiers had already clashed, Haeron said to his generals, “In the past my father died here. Now I am also fighting here against Baekje men [and so] it is the day I die.”

Taking a short weapon he charged into the enemy. He killed a number of men and died. [When] the king heard of this, he shed tears. He gave aid to [Haeron’s] family all the more generously. At the time people could not help but be sad and composed a long song (長歌) to mourn them.

Sources: Samguk-sagi biographies – Bi’nyeongja 丕寧子

The account of Bi’nyeongja is the 32nd of fifty biographies included in Kim Busik’s Samguk-sagi (三國史記).

Bi’nyeongja  丕寧子  비녕자

Bi’nyeongja, [his] home domain, clan and surname are all unknown. During the first year of King Jindeok’s (眞德王) reign, the Jeongmi year (丁未 647), a large number of warriors came and attacked fortresses including Musan (茂山), Gammul (甘勿) and Dongjam (桐岑). Kim Yusin (金庾信) led ten thousand foot and mounted [soldiers] and blocked them. The Baekje soldiers were extremely fierce (lit. “sharp”) and [although Silla] fought hard they could not overcome them; their spirits shrunk and strength tired. Kim Yusin, knowing that Bi’nyeongja had the will to strongly fight and deeply penetrate [the enemy], called him over and said, “Only in the cold winter can it be known that pine trees (松柏) do not wither. Today events are perilous (急), if not you who [else] can effectively project their fighting spirit to encourage people’s hearts?!”

With this they drank wine together to show their humble reverence. Bowing twice Bi’nyeongja said, “Though in the midst of countless people, you have entrusted me with this task, it can be said you know me [well]! I must repay you with death.”

Emerging [Bi’nyeongja] said to his slave Hapjeol (合節), “I, today for the higher purpose of the country and the lesser sake of having been understood [by Kim Yusin] will die. My son, Geojin (擧眞), although young in years possesses noble intentions (壯志) and [so] will certainly wish to die with me. [But] if father and son were both to die at once, then who would the family rely on for their future? You, together with Geojin, must collect my bones and return home to console a mother’s heart.”

Finishing his speech, he whipped his horse and leveled his spear and charged into the enemy camp. He killed a number of people before dying [himself]. Watching from afar, Geojin wanted to go [after him, but] Hapjeol said, “Your father has said I must return home together with the young master (阿郞) to console [your] mother; if you now disobey your father’s command and abandon your mother’s love, how could this be called filial piety?”

[Hapjeol] took hold of the horse’s reigns and would not let go. Geojin said, “Having watched my father die but caring for my own continued existence, would this be called a filial son?!”

Whereupon he cut [Hapjeol’s] arm [off?!] with his sword. Galloping into the midst of the enemy, he died fighting. Hapjeol said, “[Aaaaaaaaghh my arm!] My own sky has collapsed! If I don’t die what would become of me?”

[He] crossed blades [with the enemy] and died. The soldiers and warriors, upon seeing the deaths of the three men, were deeply moved and [began] fighting on the advance. Wherever they turned, they overpowered the [enemy] blades and forced the collapse of the enemy’s camp. They utterly defeated the enemy soldiers and decapitated more than three thousand heads. Yusin collected the three corpses; taking off his own robes he covered them and cried with incredible sadness. Hearing of this the great king [too] shed tears. With full ceremony they were buried on Mount Banji (反知山) and rewards to the wife and [remaining] children and nine generations (九族, four lineal generations above and four below) were bestowed all the more generously.

Sources: Samguk-sagi 三國史記 (1145) – contents

Below is a translated contents of the Samguk-sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms) compiled by Kim Bu-sik (金富軾 1075-1151).

NB: ‘Upper,’ ‘middle’ and ‘lower’ are equivalent to first, second and third parts, or with just ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ parts one and two.

Samguk-sagi 三國史記

Book 1 – Basic annals of Silla 1 卷第一 新羅本紀 第一

Founder Hyeokgeose-geoseogan 始祖 赫居世居西干 시조 혁거세거거산
Namhae-chacha’ung 南解次次雄 남해차차웅
Yuri-isageum 儒理尼師今 유리이사금
Talhae-isageum 脫解尼師今 탈해이사금
Pisa-isageum 婆娑尼師今 피사이사금
Jima-isageum 祗摩尼師今 지마이사금
Ilseong-isageum 逸聖尼師今 일성이사금

Book 2 – Basic annals of Silla 2

Adalla-isageum 阿達羅尼師今 아달라이사금
Beolhyu-isageum 伐休尼師今 벌휴이사금
Naehae-isageum 奈解尼師今 내해이사금
Jobun-isageum 助賁尼師今 조분이사금
Cheomhae-isageum 沾解尼師今 첨해이사금
Michu-isageum 味鄒尼師今 미추이사금
Yurye-isageum 儒禮尼師今 유례이사금
Girim-isageum 基臨尼斯今 기림이사금
Heulhae-isageum 訖解尼師今 흘해이사금 

Book 3 – Basic annals of Silla 3

Naemul-isageum 奈勿尼師今 내물이사금
Silseong-isageum 實聖尼師今 실성이사금
Nulji-maripgan 訥祗痲立干 눌지마립간
Jabi-maripgan 慈悲麻立干 자비마립간
Soji-maripgan 炤知麻立干 소지마립간

Book 4 – Basic annals of Silla 4

Jijeung-maripgan 智證麻立干 지증마립간
Beopheung-wang 法興王 법흥왕
Jinheung-wang 眞興王 진흥왕
Jinji-wang 眞智王 진지왕
Jinpyeong-wang 眞平王 진평왕

Book 5 – Basic annals of Silla 5

Seondeok-wang 善德王 선덕왕
Jindeok-wang 眞德王 진덕왕
Taejong Muyeol-wang 太宗武烈王 태종무열왕 

Book 6 – Basic annals of Silla 6

Munmu-wang – upper 文武王·上 문무왕·상

Book 7 – Basic annals of Silla 7

Munmu-wang – lower 文武王·下 문무왕·하 

Book 8 – Basic annals of Silla 8

Sinmun-wang 神文王 신문왕
Hyoso-wang 孝昭王 효소왕
Seongdeokwang 聖德王 성덕왕

Book 9 – Basic annals of Silla 9

Hyoseong-wang 孝成王 효성왕
Gyeongdeok-wang 景德王 경덕왕
Hyegong-wang 惠恭王 혜공왕
Seondeok-wang 宣德王 선덕왕

Book 10 – Basic annals of Silla 10

Wonseong-wang 元聖王 원성왕
Soseong-wang 昭聖王 소성왕
Aejang-wang 哀莊王 애장왕
Heondeok-wang 憲德王 헌덕왕
Heungdeok-wang 興德王 흥덕왕
Hwigang-wang 僖康王 희강왕
Min’ae-wang 閔哀王 민애왕
Sinmu-wang 神武王 신무왕

Book 11 – Basic annals of Silla 11

Munseong-wang 文聖王 문성왕
Heon’an-wang 憲安王 헌안왕
Gyeongmun-wang 景文王 경문왕
Heon’gang-wang 憲康王 헌강왕
Heungdeok-wang 興德王 흥덕왕
Jeonggang-wang 定康王 정강왕
Jinseong-wang 眞聖王 진성왕

Book 12 – Basic annals of Silla 12

Hyogong-wang 孝恭王 효공왕
Sindeok-wang 神德王 신덕왕
Gyeongmyeong-wang 景明王 경명왕
Gyeong’ae-wang 景哀王 경애왕
Gyeongsun-wang 敬順王 경순왕

Book 13 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 1 高句麗本紀 第一

Founder Deongmyeong-seongwang 始祖 東明聖王 동명성왕
Yuri-myeongwang 瑠璃明王

Book 14 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 2

Daemusin-wang 大武神王 대무신왕
Minjung-wang 閔中王 민중왕
Mobon-wang 慕本王 모본왕 

Book 15 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 3

Taejo Daewang 太祖大王 태조대왕
Chadae-wang 次大王 차대왕 

Book 16 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 4

Sindae-wang 新大王 신대왕
Gogukcheon-wang 故國川王 고국천왕
Sansang-wang 山上王 산상왕 

Book 17 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 5

Dongcheon-wang 東川王 동천왕
Jungcheon-wang 中川王 중천왕
Seocheon-wang 西川王 서천왕
Bongsang-wang 烽上王 봉상왕
Micheon-wang 美川王 미천왕

Book 18 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 6

Goguk’won-wang 故國原王 고국원왕
Sosurim-wang 小獸林王 소수림왕
Goguk’yang-wang 故國壤王 고국양왕
Gwanggaeto-wang 廣開土王 광개토왕
Jangsu-wang 長壽王 장수왕

Book 19 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 7

Munja-myeongwang 文咨明王 문자명왕
Anjang-wang 安藏王 안장왕
Anwon-wang 安原王 안원왕
Yang’won-wang 陽原王 양원왕
Pyeong’won-wang 平原王 평원왕

Book 20 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 8

Yeong’yang-wang 嬰陽王 영양왕
Yeongnyu-wang 榮留王 영류왕 

Book 21 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 9

Bojang-wang – upper 寶藏王·上 보장왕·상

Book 22 – Basic annals of Goguryeo 10

Bojang-wang – lower 寶藏王·下 보장왕·하

Book 23 – Basic annals of Baekje 1 百濟本紀 第一

Founder Onjo-wang 始祖 溫祚王 시조 온조왕
Daru-wang 多婁王 다루왕
Giru-wang 己婁王 기루왕
Gaeru-wang 蓋婁王 개루왕
Chogo-wang 肖古王 초고왕

Book 24 – Basic annals of Baekje 2

Gusu-wang 仇首王 구수왕
Go’i-wang 古爾王 고이왕
Chaekgye-wang 責稽王 책계왕
Bunseo-wang 汾西王 분서왕
Biryu-wang 比流王 비류왕
Gye-wang 契王 계왕
Geunchogo-wang 近肖古王 근초고왕
Geungusu-wang 近仇首王 근구수왕
Chimnyu-wang 枕流王 침류왕

Book 25 – Basic annals of Baekje 3

Jinsa-wang 辰斯王 진사왕
Asin-wang 阿莘王 아신왕
Jeonji-wang 腆支王 전지왕
Gu’isin-wang 久爾辛王 구이신왕
Biyu-wang 毘有王 비유왕
Gaero-wang 蓋鹵王 개로왕 

Book 26 – Basic annals of Baekje 4

Munju-wang 文周王 문주왕
Samgeun-wang 三斤王 삼근왕
Deongseong-wang 東城王 동성왕
Muryeong-wang 武寧王 무령왕
Seong-wang 聖王 성왕

Book 27 – Basic annals of Baekje 5

Wideok-wang 威德王 위덕왕
Hye-wang 惠王 혜왕
Beop-wang 法王 법왕
Mu-wang 武王 무왕

Book 28 – Basic annals of Baekje 6

Uija-wang 義慈王 의자왕

Book 29 – Chronological tables – upper 年表·上

Book 30 – Chronological tables – middle 年表·中

Book 31 – Chronological tables – lower 年表·下

Book 32 – Miscellaneous treaties 1 雜志 第一

Rites 祭祀 제사
Music 音樂 음악

Book 33 – Miscellaneous treaties 2

Colour of robes 服色 복색
Vehicles 車騎 거기
Utensils 器用 기용
Housing 屋舍 옥사 

Book 34 – Miscellaneous treaties 3

Geography 1 – Silla 地理 一 新羅 

Book 35 – Miscellaneous treaties 4

Geography 2 – Silla 地理 二 新羅

Book 36 – Miscellaneous treaties 5

Geography 3 – Silla 地理 三 新羅

Book 37 – Miscellaneous treaties 6

Geography 4 – Goguryeo and Baekje 地理 四 高句麗 – 地理 四 百濟

Book 38 – Miscellaneous treaties 7

Official positions and ranks – upper 職官·上 직관·상

Book 39 – Miscellaneous treaties 8

Official positions and ranks – middle 職官·中 직관·중

Book 40 – Miscellaneous treaties 9

Official positions and ranks – lower 職官·下 직관·하

Book 41 – Biographies 1 列傳 第一

Kim Yusin – upper 金庾信·上 김유신·상

Book 42 – Biographies 2

Kim Yusin – middle 金庾信·中 김유신·중

Book 43 – Biographies 3

Kim Yusin – lower 金庾信·下 김유신·하

Book 44 – Biographies 4

Eulji Mundeok 乙支文德 을지문덕
Geochilbu 居柒夫 거칠부
Geodo 居道 거도
Isabu 異斯夫 이사부
Kim Inmun 金仁問 김인문
Kim Yang 金陽 김양
Heukchi Sangji 黑齒常之 흑치상지
Jang Bogo [and Jeongnyeon] 張保皐 [鄭年] 장보고[와 정년]
Sadaham 斯多含 사다함

Book 45 – Biographies 5

Eulpaso 乙巴素 을파소
Kim Hujik 金后稷 김후직
Nokjin 祿眞 녹진
Mir’u [and] Nyuyu 密友 紐由 밀우[와] 뉴유
Myeongnim-dapbu 明臨答夫 명림답부
Seok Uro 昔于老 석우로
Bak Jesang 朴堤上 박제상
Gwisan 貴山 귀산
Ondal 溫達 온달

Book 46 – Biographies 6

Gangsu 强首 강수
Choe Chiwon 崔致遠 최치원
Seolchong 薛聰 설총 

Book 47 – Biographies 7

Haeron 奚論 해론
Sona 素那 소나
Chwido 驟徒 취도
Nulchoe 訥催 눌최
Seol Gyedu 薛罽頭 설계두
Kim Yeong-yun 金令胤 김영윤
Gwanchang 官昌 관창
Kim Heum-un 金歆運 김흠운
Yeolgi 裂起 열기
Bi’nyeongja 丕寧子 비녕자
Jukjuk 竹竹 죽죽
Pilbu 匹夫 필부
Gyebaek 階伯 계백 

Book 48 – Biographies 8

Sangdeok 尙德 상덕
Seonggak 聖覺 성각
Silhye 實兮 실혜
Mulgyeja 勿稽子 물계자
Baekgyeol-seonsaeng 百結先生 백결선생
Geomgun 劍君 검순
Kim Saeng 金生 김생
Solgeo 率居 솔거
Filial daughter Ji’eun 孝女知恩 효녀지은
Miss Seol 薛氏女 설씨녀
Do-mi 都彌 도미

Book 49 – Biographies 9

Chang Jori 倉租利 창조리
Gaesomun 蓋蘇文 개소문

Book 50 – Biographies 10

Gung’ye 弓裔 궁예
Gyeonhwon 甄萱 원훤

Sources: Yu Deukgong’s “Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals” 二十一都懷古詩 (1792) – part 2 of 6

See Introduction and part 1.

高句麗 Goguryeo

In the Weishu (Book of Wei 魏書) it is written, “Goguryeo emerged from Buyeo and they said themselves that their founder was Jumong (朱蒙). Jumong’s mother was the daughter of Habaek (河伯); the Buyeo king confined her in a room, but there the sun shone and where her body avoided the sun, its shadow too pursued. She became pregnant and laid an egg the size of five doe (升 승, small measuring container). Wrapping it in a towel she kept it in a warm place until a young man broke out of the shell. Growing up he was given the name Jumong which according to tradition refers to one who is good at archery. When Buyeo vassals plotted to kill him, Jumong fled to the southeast together with O In (烏引) and O Wi (烏違). Reaching a wide body of water they were unable to cross but were being chased by Buyeo men. Jumong declared to the water, ‘I am son of the sun and the maternal grandson (外孫) of Habaek. At the moment we are fleeing but being chased by soldiers. How can we cross?’ At this the fish and turtles lined up to form a floating bridge over which Jumong [and his friends] crossed before the fish and turtles scattered such that the pursuing mounted soldiers were unable to cross. Finally arriving at Bosul-su (普述水), Jumong met three people. One wore hemp clothing, another a priest’s robes, and the third garments with a water chestnut pattern [or colour]. Reaching Heulseunggol Fortress (訖升骨城) they resided there and, calling it Goguryeo, took the surname Go (高).”

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “The founder of Goguryeo was Sage King Dongmyeong (東明聖王 lit. ‘Eastern Light’) whose surname was Go. Seeing the impregnability (險固) of the terrain (山河) between Buyeo and Jolbon Stream (卒本川) he built a grass hut (廬 려) at Biryu-su River (沸流水) intending to establish there the capital. At this time he was aged 22 and it was the 2nd year of Han emperor Yuan’s (元帝) reign (37BC). In the 22nd year of King Yuri’s (瑠璃王) reign, the capital was moved to Gungnae-seong (國內城) and there Wina’am Fortress (慰那巖城) was built. In the 13th year of King Sansang’s (山上王) reign the capital was moved to Hwando (丸都) and then during the 21st year of King Dongcheon’s (東川王) reign, Pyeongyang Fortress was built and the people moved there together with the temple shrines (廟社 묘사).”

In the Tongdian (Comprehensive Encyclopedia 通典) it is written, “Goguryeo had its capital at Pyeongyang since [the time of] the Eastern Jin (東晋 동진).”

弧矢橫行十九年  호시횡행십구년  平上去平入上平(先)
麒麟寶馬去朝天  기린보마거조천  平平上上去平平
千秋覇氣凉于水  천추패기량우수  平平去去平平上
墓裏消沈白玉鞭  묘리소침백옥편  去上平平入入平

ho si hoeng haeng sip gu nyeon
gi rin bo ma geo jo cheon
cheon chu pae gi ryang u su
myo ri so chim baek ok pyeon

For nineteen years [Jumong] went around [renowned] for his archery [before being forced to flee.]
Riding on his fine
girin steed, [Jumong] left [the world] through the Stone of Heavenly Ascension.
The vigour [of Goguryeo] that lasted a thousand autumns is [now] as cold as water.
[Only] a white jade handled whip [lies] decaying in [his] tomb.

fine girin steed (麒麟寶馬): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Girin Cave (麒麟窟 기린굴) is beneath Bu’byeok Tower (浮碧樓 부벽류) inside Guje Palace (九梯宮) in Pyeongyang-bu. Here King Dongmyeong (東明王) kept his girin steed (麒麟馬). It is said, ‘King Dongmyeong rode his girin steed into the tunnel and emerging from the ground through the Jocheon Stone (Stone of Heavenly Ascension 朝天石), he ascended to heaven.’ Hoof prints still remain on the stone which is to the south of Girin Cave.”

a white jade handled whip (白玉鞭): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “King Dongmyeong’s grave is on Mount Yong (龍山) in Junghwa-bu (中和府) and is colloquially called Jinju-myo (眞珠墓). It has been passed down that, ‘The founder of Goguryeo always mounted a girin steed and rode up to heaven to report on his deeds, but when he reached the age of forty, he no longer returned. The crown prince took the jade whip (玉鞭 옥편) left behind and carried out ancestral rites on Mount Yong.”

昔日夫餘挾彈兒  석일부여협탄아  入入平平入平平(支)
東明王子號琉璃  동명왕자호유리  平平平上去平平
數聲黃鳥啼深樹  수성황조제심수  去平平上平平去
猶似禾姬罵雉姬  유사화희매치희  平上平平去上平 

seok il bu yeo hyeop tan a
dong myeong wang ja ho yu ri
su seong hwang jo je sim su
yu sa hwa hwi mae chi hwi

There was once a boy in Buyeo who carried a slingshot.
He was the son of King Dongmyeong [Jumong] and called Yuri.
Many voices of black-naped orioles sing deep amongst the trees,
Just as when Queen Hwa insulted Queen Chi.

a boy who carried a slingshot (挾彈兒): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “King Yuri’s (瑠璃王) name was Yuri (類利). When Jumong was still in Puyeo he married a lady of the name Ye (禮씨) who showed signs of pregnancy. After Jumong left, she gave birth to a boy called Yuri (類利). One day when he was young, whilst out playing on a hill he fired [a sling shot] at a bird but missed and hit the bucket of a woman drawing water from a pump by accident. Angrily she said, ‘It is because this child has no father that he is unruly (頑 완) like this.’ Ashamed, Yuri went home and asked his mother, ‘Who is my father, and where is he now?’ His mother replied, ‘Your father is not a normal man and so he was not accepted here and he fled south, established a new country and proclaimed himself king.’ Together with three friends, Okji (屋智), Guchu (句鄒) and Dojo (都祖) he went to Jolbon (卒本) and there met with his father becoming the crown prince.”

black-naped oriole (黃鳥): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “King Yuri had two wives: one called Hwa-hui (禾姬), the daughter of a Golcheon man (鶻川人), and the other Chi-hui (雉姬), the daughter of a Han (漢人). The two fought for [Yuri’s] affections. The king built two palaces in the east and west of Yang-gok Valley (凉谷). Later on, one day when the king went out hunting on Mount Gi (箕山), Hwa-hui rebuked Chi-hui saying, ‘You are a Han concubine, how can you be so impolite (無禮)?!’ Embarrassed and angry, Chi-hui fled and returned home [to Han China? Or the queens were on the hunting trip?]. Hearing this, the king whipped his horse and pursued after, but Chi-hui remained angry and would not return. Resting under a tree he heard the twittering of black-naped orioles whereupon he was moved to sing, ‘The fluttering orioles, female and male hold affection for [lit. ‘rely on’] one another. Thinking of my [own] loneliness; with whom will it [that is my lonely heart] go home?‘ (翩翩黃鳥 雌雄相依 念我之獨 誰其與歸)”

鷄立山前漲戰塵  계립산전창전진  平入平平去去平(眞)
丹㫌依戀沁園春  단정의연심원춘  平平平去去平平
平生慷慨愚溫達  평생강개우온달  平平平去平平入
自是龍鐘可笑人  자시용종가소인  去上平平上去平 

gye rip san jeon chang jeon jin
dan jeong wi yeon sim won chun
pyeong saeng gang gae u on dal
ja si yong jong ga so in

The dust of war spreads before Mount Gyerip [where Ondal died fighting in his attempt to invade Silla].
The red banner [of Ondal?] still loves King Pyeongwon’s daughter [or lit. “spring in the princess’s garden”].
Throughout his life, he was resented as Ondal the Fool,
To be sure, his appearance was so gaunt that people would laugh [at him].

Mount Gyerip (鷄立山): according to Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mount Gyerip is 20 li (50km) north of Mun’gyeong-hyeon (聞慶縣 문경현). It is also commonly known as Mount Magol (麻骨山) which in the local dialect sounds similar.”

Ondal the Fool (愚溫達 우온달): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Ondal’s appearance was uncouth and laughable. His family was poor so he supported his parents by begging. When he went to the market wearing an old summer jacket (적삼) and worn out shoes, others would point and say, ‘Ondal the Fool!’ King Pyeonggang’s (平崗王 r.559-90) daughter used to often cry. Jokingly the king would say, ‘You are always crying, my ears ache! When you grow up you will hardly make a nobleman’s wife, I’ll surely have to marry you to Ondal the Fool!” When the princes’s age reached 16, the king planned to marry her to a high ranking (上部) retainer by the name of Go (高씨), however, she declared, ‘The king has always said that I would become the wife of Ondal, for what reason has he gone back on his words?’ Angrily the king retorted, ‘Go where you please!’ The princess put on several tens of jeweled bracelets up to her elbows, left the palace and went to Ondal’s home. When Emperor Wu (武帝 r.561-78) of the Later Zhou (後周) invaded Liaodong, King Pyeonggang fought in battle against him on the plain of Mount Yi (肄山 이산). Ondal led the van and fought like a hurricane achieving the greatest merit. King Pyeonggang joyfully exclaimed, ‘He is my son-in-law!’ He bestowed on him the rank of daehyeong (大兄). When King Yanggang (陽崗王) ascended to the throne, Ondal asked to attack Silla to which the king agreed. Upon setting out Ondal swore, ‘I will not return unless we are unable to recapture Gyerip-hyeon (鷄立峴 계립현) and west of Jungnyeong (竹嶺 죽령).’ Eventually he was killed in battle against Silla by an arrow. When they tried to prepare for the funeral, his coffin would not move. The princess came and stroking the coffin said, ‘Death and life are already decided. Ah, come home!’ Only then could they bury the coffin.”

遼海歸旌數片紅  요해귀정수편홍  平上平平去去平(東)
湯湯薩水捲沙蟲  탕탕살수권사충  平平入上上平平
乙支文德眞才士  을지문덕진재사  入平平入平平上
倡五言時冠大東  창오언시관대동  去上平平去去上 

yo hae gwi jeong su pyeon hong
tang tang sal su gwon sa chung
eul ji mun deok jin jae sa
chang o eon si gwan dae dong

Banners returning [retreating] across Liaodong [appear] as fragments of red.
The churning Sal-su River sweeps along sand and insects [after Eulji Mundeok built a dam and released it as Sui forces were crossing].
Eulji Mundeok was truly a man of talent.
He was the first to advocate five character lined poems. [Like the one he sent to the invading Sui general before defeating him in ambush.]

Sal-su River (薩水 살수): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Another name for the Cheongcheon River (淸川江) is Sal-su. Emerging from Mount Myohyang (妙香山) it passes to the north of Anju Fortress (安州城) and flows westwards for 30 li (12km) before merging with the Bakcheon River (博川江) and into the sea.”

Eulji Mundeok (乙支文德): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “Eulji Mundeok was calm, dauntless and possessed wisdom. During the Kaihuang (開皇 개황 581-600) reign (of Emperor Wen 文帝 r.581-604) of the Sui dynasty (隨), [future] Emperor Yang (煬帝 r.604-618) issued an edict to subjugate Goguryeo. Great General of the Left (左翊衛大將軍 좌익위대장군), Yuwen Shu (宇文述 우문술) set out on the road to Buyeo whilst Great General of the Right (右翊衛大將軍), Yu Zhongwen (于仲文 우중문), set out on the road to Lelang (樂浪道), arriving together as the imperial Nine Armies (九軍 n.24) at the Amnok River (鴨綠江). Seeing that the Sui soldiers were hungry and in order to make them more tired, Eulji Mundeok [purposefully] lost each battle such that in one day the Sui won as many as seven battles. Crossing the Sal-su River to the east, the Sui army set up camp 30 li (12km) from Pyeongyang Fortress. Eulji Mundeok sent a false envoy to the Sui saying that they would surrender, whereupon Yuwen Shu and the others formed their army into a square (方陣) and began to turn around. Mobilising his army, Eulji Mundeok then attacked on all four sides. Reaching the Sal-su River, when half of the Sui army had crossed, Eulji Mundeok attacked the back army. Upon killing youtunwei General of the Right (右屯衛將軍 우둔위장군), Xing Shi Xiong (辛世雄 신세웅) the entire Sui army collapsed and fleeing, reached the Amnok River in a day and night. When the Sui army first came to Liaodong it was composed of 305,000 men, but when it returned there were merely 7,700.” 

to advocate five syllable lined poems (倡五言詩): according to the Suishu (Book of Sui 隨書), “At the time of the Liaodong War, Yu Zhongwen (于仲文) led his army on the Lelang Road (낙랑도) and reached the Amnok River. When Goguryeo general Eulji Mundeok pretended to capitulate, Yu Zhongwen intended to capture him but Shangshu-youcheng (尙書右承 상서우승) Liu Shi Long (劉士龍 유사룡) restrained him and in the end Eulji Mundeok was let go. Regretting this Yu Zhongwen subsequently sent a messenger to Eulji Mundeok saying as a lie, ‘I have something to discuss with you, so it would be good if you returned.’ Eulji Mundeok did not return however and eventually crossed [the Amnok River back into Goguryeo]. Selecting mounted warriors (騎), Yu Zhongwen crossed the river and at every battle defeated his enemy. Eulji Mundeok then sent him a poem, ‘Amazing plots are researched by heaven, subtle calculations penetrate the geography. Much merit has been achieved in [your] victories, I hope you will be satisfied and halt [your invasion].'”

句麗錯料下句麗  구려착료하구려  去去入去上去去(霽)
駐蹕山靑老六師  주필산청로육사  去   平平上入平(支)
爲問西京紅拂妓  위문서경홍불기  平去平平平入上
虯髥客是莫離支  규염객시막리지  平入上入平平

gu ryeo chak ryo ha gu ryeo
ju pil san cheong ro yuk sa
wi mun seo gyeong hong bul gi
gyu yeom gaek si mak ri ji

[Go “high”] Guryeo was inappropriately referred to as ”base” Guryeo.
Ju’pil mountain [remains] green but the emperor’s army (六師) has grown old.
One [should] question Hongfu-ji of the [Sui] Western Capital [modern day Xian]
For the Curly-Bearded Guest was a

low/base-Guryeo (下句麗): according to the Hou Hanshu (後漢書), “Wang Mang (王莽 왕망) [sole emperor of the short lived Xin Dynasty] named the king of High Guryeo (高句麗), lord of Low Guryeo (下句麗侯) instead.” According to You Tong’s (尤侗 우통, 1618-1704) Waiguo-zhuzhici (Zhuzhi Lyrics on Foreign Countries 外國竹枝詞), “High Guryeo was reduced to Low Guryeo.”

Ju’pil mountain (駐蹕山): according to the Tangshu (Book of Tang 唐書), “In an attempt to conquer Goguryeo, Emperor Taizong (太宗 r.626-49), personally led the army. Arriving at Ansi Fortress (安市城), Yoksal officer of the North (北部 褥薩) Go Yeon-su (高延壽) and Yoksal officer of the South (南部 褥薩), Go Hye-jin (高惠眞), led a group [of Goguryeo people] who came to submit to the emperor. Owing to this, the mountain visited by the emperor was named Ju’pil (Ch. Zhubishan, “Royal Carriage Halting Mountain”) and on its rocks the military achievements were recorded. The emperor then attacked Ansi Fortress but failed to make it surrender. If anyone in the fortress saw the emperor’s banner, they would climb the low motte and begin a great racket. This angered the emperor. Using wooden branches, the king of Jiangxia (江夏王), Dao Zong (道宗), piled up a mound of earth closely threatening Ansi Fortress. Guoyi-du/dou-wei (果毅都尉 과의도위) major Fu Fu’ai (傅伏愛) was defending the earth mound when it collapsed from the top and, engulfing Ansi Fortress, caused the main wall to collapse. Whilst Fu Fu’ai was away from his troops, Goguryeo soldiers emerged from the fortress and took up position on the earth mound where they dug trenches blocking the approach. They then piled up firewood and set it alight forming a shield to staunchly defend [themselves]. The emperor had Fu Fu’ai executed and ordered his army to turn back. Climbing to the top of the fortress, the Goguryeo chieften (酋長 추장, who was Yang Manchun 楊萬春) bowed in gratitude. Impressed by his staunch defense, the emperor presented him with a hundred rolls (匹 필) of silk.”

mangniji (莫離支): according to the Tangshu (唐書), “Gae So-mun (蓋蘇文 603-66) was also known as Gae Geum (蓋金) whilst his surname was Cheon (泉씨 n.33 [His surname was originally Yeon 淵 but because this was the name of Tang Emperor Gaozu, Li Yuan (李淵 r.618-26), Chinese scribes would have changed the character]). Claiming himself to have been born from water, he charmed/bewildered the common people. Becoming mangniji (supreme military leader) he ruled the country in the way he wished and so his position could be likened to the [prime ministerial] bingbu-shangshu (兵部尙書 병부상서) zhongshuling (中書令 중서령 n.34) [position] of the Tang (唐). His appearance was striking and handsome with a beautiful beard. His cap and clothes were all adorned with gold and he carried five swords on him such that those on his left and right would not dare look up at him. When mounting his horse, he would have noble men bow down and then step on their backs. When leaving or entering the military camp, he would [have people] shout not to approach (禁切) him. Those passing by would cower in fear even burrowing [their faces] into holes.” According to the Haedong-paeseung (Unofficial History of Korea 海東稗乘), “Although Qiuranke-chuan (Tale of the Curly-Bearded Guest 虯髥客傳 규염객전) is a Tang novel, there probably was such a person [as Hongfu-ji a female character in the story]. Considering that Buyeo’s land was inherited by Goguryeo, at the time of the Sui-Tang transition, there was no country known as Buyeo. When it was reported that the Nanman southern barbarians (南蠻 남만) ‘took hundreds of thousands of soldiers on thousands of boats and entered Buyeo,’ Buyeo meant Goguryeo. Something to consider is that, as the son of the (Goguryeo) East dae’in (東部大人 n.36 Goguryeo chieftain), Gae So-mun’s personality was crude and arrogant. Exploiting the chaos at the end of Sui, he roamed in China and schemed about the future, but upon witnessing the ability of Emperor Wen (文皇) [refers to the full title of Tang Emperor Taizong n.37] he returned to the east and mobilizing an army led a revolt, thereby becoming mangniji.”


報德 Bodeok

In the Tangshu (唐書) it is written, “In the first Qianfeng year (乾封元年 건봉원년 666-7) [of Emperor Gao Zong (r.649-83)], when moving to conquer Goguryeo, [the emperor] made Li Ji (李勣 이적 d.669 n.39) both Dazongguan field marshall of the Liaodong Road marches (療東道行軍大總管) and anfu-dashi high sheriff (安撫大使). In the third year, they surrounded Pyeongyang Fortress and captured the Goguryeo king, Jang (臧 r.642-68). The territory [of Goguryeo] was divided into 9 commanderies (都督府), 42 provinces (州) and 100 counties (縣) whilst the Protectorate General to Pacify the East (安東都護府) was also established. In the following Zongzhang year (總章 668-9, the 6th year of Emperor Gao Zong) General Gyeom Mo-jam (鉗牟岑 n.42) raised men and led a revolt establishing as king An-sun (安舜= 安勝 안승 n.43) whose maternal grandfather was King Jang.”

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “In the 10th year of Silla King Mun-mu (文武王 r.661-81), the daehyeong (大兄 n.45) of Surim Fortress (水臨城 in modern Singye-gun (新溪郡) Hwanghae-do n.44), Mo-jam (牟岑), searched between Gungmo Fortress (窮牟城 in modern Seoheung-gun (瑞興郡) Hwanghae-do n.46) and Saya Island (史冶島, modern Soya-do (蘇爺島) in Deokjeok-myeon, Ungjin-gun, Gyeonggi-do n.47) for An-seung (安勝), the son of Goguryeo daesin (大臣) Yeon Jeong-to (淵淨土 who was the younger brother of Yeon Gaesomun (淵蓋蘇文) and had himself surrendered to Silla n.48). Meeting him at Han Fortress (漢城), Mo-jam made An-seung king. He then dispatched a sohyeong (小兄 n.49), dasik (? 多式) and others [to Silla] delivering the message, ‘Re-establishing a fallen kingdom and continuing a line of descent is the righteous way (公義) of heaven. We rely (望) entirely on the great kingdom (大國 ie Silla).’ The [Silla] king allowed them to reside in Geummajeo (金馬渚 modern Iksan, North Jeolla-do n.50) to the west [of Silla] and enfeoffed Anseung as Goguryeo king. In the 14th year [of King Mun-mu], Anseung was re-enfeoffed as king of Bodeok and his younger sister became a secondary wife [to King Mun-mu]. In the 2nd year of King Sin-mun’s reign, Anseung was called to the Silla court and given the Silla title of so’pan (蘇判 n.51 3rd out of 17 ranks) together with the surname Kim (金씨).”

In the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽) it is written, “Iksan County (益山郡) was originally Mahan (馬韓國) and when it merged with Baekje it was named Geummajeo (金馬渚).”

春艸萋萋金馬渚  춘초처처금마저  平上 平上上
句麗南波有荒城  구려남파유황성  去去平平上平平(庚)
未知慾報誰家德  미지욕보수가덕  去平入去平平入
可惜英風劒大兄  가석영풍검대형  上入平平去去平 

chun cho cheo cheo geum ma jeo
gu ryeo nam pa yu hwang seong
mi ji yuk bo su ga deok
ga seok yeong pung geom dae hyeong

Lush spring grasses grow over Geummajeo.
South of the water is the ruined fortress occupied by [the remnants of] Goguryeo [led by Anseung].
Who knows whose kindness [Anseung] wanted to repay.
The noble
daehyeong Geom [Mo-jam]’s [end, murdered by Anseung] was lamentable.

daehyeong Geom (劒大兄): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “In a bid to restore the kingdom, Geom Mo-jam (劒牟岑) led a revolt against the Tang and made king the grandson of the [last Goguryeo] monarch through his daughter (外孫), An-sun (安舜).” It also records, “Daehyeong Mo-jam consolidated the remaining [Goguryeo] subjects, crossed south of the Pae River (浿江) and killed the Tang official there.” According to the Tangshu (唐書), “In the 2nd Zongzang (總章 669) year, Go Gan (高人+品 고간) and Li Jin-xing/Genhaeng (李謹行 이근행) were made field marshals (行軍總管 xingjun-zongguan) by the emperor and ordered to subjugate An-sun who subsequently killed Mo-jam and fled to Silla.”

沸流 Biryu

In the geography section (地理志) of the Liaoshi (History of Liao 遼史) it is written, “Jeong-ju (正州) was originally the former territory of the king of Biryu (沸流王) but it was annexed by Gongsun Kang (公孫康). [Later on] Balhae established Biryu-gun where the Biryu-su river (沸流水) is located.”

In the Samguk-sagi (三國史記) it is written, “In the 2nd year of Goguryeo’s founder, the king of Biryu, Song-yang (松讓) came and surrendered. The region was called Damuldo (多勿都) and Song-yang was made [its] lord. In the Goguryeo language, the restoration of old territory is called da’mul.”

In the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽) it is written, “Seongcheon-bu (成川府) was originally the site of Biryu king, Song-yang’s capital.”

劒樣靑峰一十二  검양청봉일십이  去去平平入入去
遊車衣水逝湯湯  유거의수서탕탕  平平平上去平平(陽)
朱蒙不是眞豪傑  주몽불시진호걸  平平入上平平入
欺負酸寒喫菜王  기부산한끽채왕  平上平平入去平 

geom yang cheong bong il sip i
yu geo wi su seo tang tang
ju mong bul si jin ho geol
gi bu san han ggik chae wang

Twelve green mountain peaks [of Mount Heulgol 紇骨山 rise up] in the shape of swords.
The water of the Yugeo’ui River flows forcefully.
Jumong was not such a perfect hero,
He tricked a [humble and] poor king who ate [only] vegetables into [accepting] defeat.

green mountain peaks in the shape of swords (劒樣靑峰): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mount Heulgol (紇骨山) is two li (0.8km) to the northwest of Seongcheon-bu (成川府) and it has twelve tightly clustered peaks. Bak Won-hyeong (朴元亨 1411-69 n.53) wrote the poem, ‘The mountain peaks clustered beside the river are pointed like swords. The water in front of the peaks looks like indigo dye has been added.‘”

the Yugeo’i-su River (遊車衣水): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “The Biryu River (沸流江) is the Jolbon Stream (卒本川) and it is commonly known as the Yugeo’ui Rapids (遊車衣津). It is 30 paces (步) to the west of Seongcheon-bu (成川府). It has two sources, one emerges from Mount Ogang (吳江山) in Yangdeok-hyeon (陽德縣) and the other from Daemowon-dong Cave (大母院洞) in Maengsan-hyeon (孟山縣). To the north of Seongcheon-bu they merge and pass by/through Mount Heulgol. On the mountain there are four stone holes into which the water enters and reemerges bubbling which is why the river is called Biryu (bubbling/boiling current). At Jasan-gun (慈山郡) it also merges with Uga-yeon (禹家淵) before flowing into the Daedong River (大同江).”

the king who ate vegetables (喫菜王 끽채왕): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “King Dong-myeong of Goguryeo saw vegetable leaves floating down the Biryu-su River and so knew that people were living upstream. Consequently he went hunting and reached the country of Biryu. The king of Biryu, Song-yang, came out and said, ‘I lean against a corner of the sea, I could not see you earlier. It is good chance to meet one another today. But I do not know from where you have come.’ King Dong-myeong answered, ‘I am the son of the heavenly emperor and have established my capital at a certain location.’ Song-yang replied, ‘I am the hereditary king, this land is narrow and insufficient to receive two rulers. You have only recently established a capital, so how about you becoming a vassal to me?’ At this King Dong-myeong became angered and so they competed in archery but Song-yang was unable to match him.” According to the Go-gi (Old Records 古記), “King Dong-myeong competed with the king of Biryu, Song-yang, in archery. Song-yang drew a picture of a deer and placed it at not more than a hundred paces (步) but was not able to hit its navel. Jumong placed a jade ring at more than a hundred paces and then shattered it like a tile. Song-yang was shocked. He had intended to use the fact he had established his capital earlier to make [Goguryeo] his tributary, but when Jumong built his palace he used old wood for the pillars so that it looked a thousand years old. Song-yang did not dare to vie against him.”

Continue to part 3..

Sources: Yu Deukgong’s “Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals” 二十一都懷古詩 (1792) – part 1 of 6

This is the first part of Yu Deukgong‘s celebrated cycle to which the introduction can be read here.

檀君朝鮮 Dan’gun Joseon

In the Dongguk-tonggam (Comprehensive Mirror of the Eastern Land [aka Korea] 東國通鑑) it is written, “In the east originally there was no ruler, but when a god-human descended below a birch tree, [they] made him [their] sovereign and he was called Dan’gun. The country’s name was Joseon and the time was the Mujin year (戊辰年) of King Yao (堯 요).

In the Samguk-yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms 三國遺事) it is written, “Dan’gun established the capital at Pyeongyang (平壤).”

大同江浸水烟蕪  대동강침수연무  去平平去上平平(虞)
王儉春城似畵圖  왕검춘성사화도  平上平平上去平(虞)
萬里塗山來執玉  만리도산내집옥  去上平平平入入
佳兒尙憶解扶婁  가아상억해부루  平平去入上平平(尤)

[transliteration of Korean]
dae dong gang chim su yeon mu
wang geom chun seong sa hwa do
man ri do san nae jip ok
ga a sang eok hae bu ru

With the Daedong River shrouded in mist,
Wang Geom’s spring fortress appears as if [in] a painting.
To the distant Mount To they came with treasure;
We still remember that beautiful child, Hae Buru.

Daedong River: according to the Yeoji-seungnam (Complete Geography of the Eastern Land 輿地勝覽여지승람), “The Daedong River (大同江) is one li (里 = about 400m) east of Pyeongyang-bu (平壤府) and is also known both as the Pae River (浿江) and Wang-seong River (王城江). The river has two sources; one from Gamak-dong (加幕洞) in Yeongwon-gun county (寧遠郡) and the other from Mount Mun’eum (文音山) in Yangdeok-hyeon (陽德縣). On the border of Gangdong-hyeon (江東縣) they merge and become the Seojin River (西津江); east of Pyeongyang-bu Fortress (平壤府城) it becomes the Daedong River and as it flows west it turns into the Gujin-yaksu (九津弱水). East of Yonggang-hyeon (龍岡縣) it passes through the Geupsu-mun (Swift Water Gate, 急水門) and into the sea.”

Wang Geom Fortress: according to the Samguk-sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms 三國史記), “Pyeongyang is originally the place where the seon’in (mountain hermit, 仙人) Wang Geom (王儉) lived.” According to the Dong-sa (History of the East, 東史), “Dan’gun’s name was Wang Geom.” In the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽) it has, “Wi Man (衛滿) of Yan (燕 연나라) established his capital at Wang-heom (王險) [an alternative spelling of Wang-geom, thus meaning Pyeongyang]. 

bringing treasure to Mount Do (塗山執玉): according to the Dong-sa (東史), “In the 18th year of his reign, King Yu (禹우) of Xia (夏 하나라) gathered his vassals at Mount Do, to which Dan’gun sent his son, Buru (扶婁).” In the Munheon-bi’go (Encyclopedia of [Korean] Writings, 文獻備考) it has, “Dan’gun’s son, Hae Buru (解扶婁) became the founder of Buyeo (夫餘).”

箕子朝鮮 Gi Ja Joseon

In the Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian, 史記) it is written, “King Wu (武王) subjugated Yin (殷 은나라) and entrusted it to Gi Ja (箕子) but did not consider him his vassal.” 

In the Hanshu (Book of Han, 漢書) it is written, “When the moral way (道) in Yin (殷) began to deteriorate, Gi Ja left and went to Joseon where he enlightened the people in etiquette (禮義) and taught them farming, silk worm cultivation and weaving. To the people of Nangnang Joseon (樂浪朝鮮 Ch. Lelang Chaoxian) [he introduced] an eight articled law code (n.2): murderers are to be executed on the spot; one who has caused injury to another must compensate them with grain; one who has committed theft will have his belongings confiscated and his family made into slaves for which they must pay 500,000 metal coins, to be made free.”

In the Dongguk-tonggam (東國通鑑) it is written, “The royal instructor (太師) Gi Ja was the uncle (叔父) of Zhou (紂 주). When Zhou became degenerate (無道) Gi Ja pulled out his own hair pretending to be mad and became a slave. King Wu of Zhou (周 주나라) subjugated Zhou and when he asked Gi Ja about the way, Gi Ja wrote down the Hongfanjiuchou (Nine Wide Ridges [of principle to control] a Flood, 洪範九疇 홍범구주). King Wu enfeoffed Joseon [to Gi Ja who] established the capital at Pyeongyang.”

兎山山色碧森沈  토산산색벽삼침  去平平入入平平(侵)
翁仲巾裾艸露侵  옹중건거초노침  平去平仄上去平
猶似龍年奔卉寇  유사용년분훼구  平上平平平去去
松風閒作管絃音  송풍한작관현음  平平平入上平平 

to san san saek byeok sam chim
ong jung geon geo cho no chim
yu sa yong nyeon bun hwe gu
song pung han jak gwan hyeon eum

The mountain hue of Mount To is imbued with the green forest.
The stone statues’ caps and sleeves are encroached upon by the moss’s dew.
Just as when the Japanese invaders were frightened [from this place] in the year of the Dragon (1592),
The wind in the pines makes the sound of flutes and zithers.

Mount To: according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “The grave of Gi Ja is on Mount To (兎山) to the north of Pyeongyang-bu fortress.”

stong statues’ caps and sleeves 翁仲巾裾 (옹중건거): according to the Dongyue‘s (董越 Dong’wol) Chaoxian-fu (Joseon Rhapsody 朝鮮賦), “The memorial shrine (祠堂) of Gi Ja is in the east. There, according to correct ritual behavior (禮) a wooden tablet has been erected with ‘Founder of Later Joseon’ written on it. This elevates Dan’gun’s work of establishing and opening up the country. It was appropriate that Gi Ja received the kingship. His grave is at Geonjwa (乾坐) at Yu Fortress (維城) on Mount To. There are two stone statues which seemed to be dressed in the caps and attire of Tang (唐) and owing to the moss appear as if wearing patterned silk.”

the sound of flutes and zithers 管絃音: according to the Munheon-bi’go (文獻備考), “During the 1592 Imjin invasion, the Japanese dug up Gi Ja’s grave, but when they dug into the left hand side, the sound of music and singing came from within and they fled in fear.”

麂眼籬斜井字阡  궤안리사정자천  入上平平上去平(先)
一村桑柘望芊芊  일촌상자망천천  入平平 去平平
誰知遼海蒼茫外  수지요해창망외  平平平上平平去
耕種殷人七十田  경종은인칠십전  平上平平入入平 

gwe an ri sa jeong ja cheon
il chon sang ja mang cheon cheon
su ji yo hae chang mang woe
gyeong jong eun in chil sip jeon

Ridges enclose the square shaped [fields] like the uneven eyes of a roe deer.
Village mulberry trees [appear] densely clustered.
Who can know that beyond the wide and distant sea of Liao [or just refers to Liaodong]
The people of Yin, [too,] till the same number of seventy fields?!

the people of Yin [till] seventy fields (殷人七十田): according to the Pyeongyangbu-ji (Record of Pyeongyang-bu 平壤府志), “Gi Ja’s square fields are outside Jeong’yang-mun Gate (正陽門) and Hamgu-mun Gate (含毬門); their layout is clear.”

衛滿朝鮮 Wi Man Joseon

In the Shiji (史記) it is written, “Joseon king, Wi Man, was originally from Yan (燕 연나라). When King Lu Wan(盧綰 노관) of Yan rebelled [betraying the Han] and returned to the Xiongnu (匈奴), Wi Man defected and led a group of over a thousand; tying their hair in topknots and dressing in the attire of the yi barbarians (夷) they fled to the east. Crossing the Pei-su River (浿水) they occupied the small fortresses up and down the deserted lands of former Qin (秦 진나라). Gradually people from Jinbeon (眞番), Joseon and Man’i (蠻夷) together with defectors from Yan (燕) and Qi (齊 제나라) took Wi Man as their king and he established his capital at Wang-heom (王險 왕험, refers to Wang-geom).”

In the Shiji-suoyin (Searching for What is Hidden [in The Records of the Grand Historian] [史記]索隱) it is written, “Man (滿)’s surname was Wi (衛). According to Ying Shao (應劭 응소 n.5), ‘Geomdo-hyeon (險瀆縣 험도현) is in Liaodong (遼東 요동) which is the former capital of the Joseon king.’ According to Zan (瓚 찬 n.6), ‘Geom Fortress (險城) is to the east of the Pei-su River in Lelang-gun Commandery (樂浪郡 낙랑군).’

In the Kuodizhi (Record of Consolidated Lands, 括地志 괄지지 n.7) it is written, “Pyeongyang Fortress is originally Wang Geom Fortress (王險城) of the Han Lelang Commandery.”

魋結人來漢祖年  퇴결인내한조년  入平平去上平(先)
同時差擬趙龍川  동시차의조용천  平平平上上平平
箕王可恨無分別  기왕가한무분별  平平上去平平入
塡補梟雄博士員  전보효웅박사원  平上平平入上平 

toe gyeol in nae han jo nyeon
dong si cha ui jo yong cheon
gi wang ga han mu bun byeol
jeon bo hyo ung bak sa won

During the reign of [Han Dynasty] Emperor Gaozu, men arrived with their hair tied in tall topknots.
It was at this time, too, that Zhaotuo [self declared Emperor Wu of Nanyue, n.8] had been poorly appointed.
Lamentably King Gi [Jun, of Joseon] lacked judgement
And conferred the official rank of 
baksa on an [ambitious] hero.

baksa (博士): according to the Weilüe (Summary of Wei 魏略), “When Jun (準) son of Joseon king Bi (否 비), a descendent of Gi Ja (箕子) ascended the throne, Wi Man of Yan [arrived] and submitted to him; Jun trusted him in good faith and bestowed on him the title of baksa entrusting him with a sceptre (圭 구) and the defense of a hundred li (=40km) of land on the western border. Man gradually gathered together a group of defectors whereupon he sent a messenger to Gi Jun falsely saying, ‘The army of Han is approaching via ten roads, we are trying to defend against them!’ Finally his army met with Gi Jun’s, but the latter was no match.”

樂浪城外水悠悠  낙랑성외수유유  去去平去上平平(尤)
誰識萩苴漢代侯  수식추저한대후  平入平平去去平
不及當年津吏婦  불급당년진리부  入入平平平去上
箜葔一曲豔千秋  공후일곡염천추  平入入去平平

nak rang seong woe su yu yu
su sik chu jeo han dae hu
bu geup dang nyeon jin ri bu
gong hu il gok yeom cheon chu

The water beside Lelang (K. Nangnang) Fortress leisurely flows by.
Who [now] would recognize Lord Chujeo of the Han dynasty?
[His legacy] cannot compare to the ferryman’s wife of that same year,
gong-hu melody [remains] beautiful a thousand autumns [after].

Lelang (Nangnang) (樂浪): according to the Hanshu (漢書), “The Joseon kingship was passed down from Wi Man to his son and then grandson, U’geo (右渠) during which time many more defectors came from Han. U’geo did not attend the [Han] court even once, and did not follow the Han emperor’s commands. The emperor sent the tower ship commander (樓船將軍 누선장군), Yang Pu (楊僕 양복) and Commander of the Left (左將軍), Sun Zhi (筍彘 순체), who subjugated Joseon and established the four commanderies (四郡) of Zhenpan (眞番 K. Jinbeon), Lintun (臨屯 Imdun), Lelang (樂浪 Nangnang) and Xuantu (玄菟 현토 Hyeondo).” According to the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考), “Joseon-hyeon (朝鮮縣,) the territory under the administration of Lelang, is present day Pyeongyang.”

Chujeo (萩苴): according to the Shiji (史記), “Official Han’eum (韓陰) fled from Joseon and was made Lord (of?) Chujeo (萩苴侯 추저후) by the Han [emperor].”

the ferryman’s wife (津吏婦): according to the Guyuefu (Old [Songs] of the Music Bureau 古樂府), “In the Qincao (Zither Playing 琴操 n.10), amongst the nine notated songs (九引) is Konghou-yin (箜篌引 공후인) which is also known as Gongwuduhe (公無渡河 공무도하). It was composed by Yeo’ok (麗玉 여옥) the wife of Joseon ferryman Gwangni Jago (霍里子高 곽리자고). [The story goes that] Jago woke at dawn and was inspecting his boat when he saw a white haired madman (狂夫), pulling out his hair, holding a bottle of drink whilst crossing the river. The madman’s wife followed after and tried to stop him but did not catch up so he drowned in the water. Then the wife brought out her konghou harp (箜篌 K. gonghu) and whilst playing sung, ‘Don’t cross the river, my darling. In the end my darling crossed the river. My darling drowned. What now, my darling?’ The sound of her singing was bleak and sad. Returning home Jago told his wife who becoming sad took up her own konghou and set the song to music.”


In the Hou Hanshu (Book of Later Han 後漢書) it is written, “In Han (韓) there are three types, the first is Mahan (馬韓), the second is Jinhan (辰韓) and the third is Byeonhan (弁韓). Mahan is in the west and consists of 54 states. To the north is Lelang whilst the south borders the Wae (倭 왜). More than forty generations after Gi Ja, the lord of Joseon (朝鮮侯) Gi Jun proclaimed himself king, however, Wi Man of Yan defeated Gi Jun and became king. Whereupon, Jun took his remaining few thousand troops and crossed the sea to attack Mahan proclaiming himself king of the Han (韓).”

In the Dongguk-tonggam (東國通鑑) it is written, “After Gi Jun had been attacked by Wi Man and had his kingdom stolen from him, he crossed the sea to Geunma-gun County (Commandery?) (金馬郡) and entering, lived there.”

In the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考) it is written, “Geunma-gun is present day Iksan-gun (益山郡) where there is Mount Geunma (金馬山).”

In the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽) it is written, “Gi Jun Fortress (箕準城) is on Mount Yonghwa (龍華山) in Iksan-gun. The circumference is 3,900 cheok (尺, 1.287km).”

當年枉信漢亡人  당년왕신한망인  平平上去去平平(眞)
麥秀殷墟又一春  맥수은허우일춘  入去平平去入平
可笑蒼黃浮海日  가소창황부해일  上去平平平上入
船頭猶載善花嬪  선두유재선화빈  平平平去上平平

dang nyeon wang sin han mang in
maek su eun heo u il chun
ga so chang hwang bu hae il
seon du yu jae seon hwa bin

At that time Gi Jun [King of Joseon] vainly put his trust in those who had fled from Han.
Barley ears grow out at the site of the ancient Yin capital [Yinxu], spring has come again.
How amusing, that on the day they hurriedly set out to sea
He [still made sure to] have on board his second queen [consort/concubine], Seonhwa [standing at] the ship’s prow!

second queen [consort/concubine] Seonhwa (善花嬪): according to the Sanguozhi (Records of the Three Kingdoms 三國志), “The lord of Joseon, Gi Jun, self-styled himself king but was attacked by the refugee Wi Man, whereupon he took the palace ladies around him and escaped across the sea to live in Han (韓) territory.” According to the Dong-sa (東史), “Gi Jun was also known as King Mugang (武康王).” According to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “Mount Yonghwa (龍華山) is 8 li (3.2km) north of the commandery (郡). It is commonly told that King Mugang won the hearts of the people and establishing Mahan (馬韓) strolled together with his wife, Seonhwa (善花夫人), beneath the mountain.”  It also says, “A pair of graves (雙陵 쌍릉) are several hundred paces (步) to the west of Ogeum Temple (五金寺) and they are the graves of King Mugang of Later Joseon (後朝鮮) and his queen.”

濊 Ye

In the Hanshu (漢書) it is written, “In the first year of Emperor Wu (140BC) when the ruler of Ye (濊 Ch. Wei), Namnyeo (南閭 남려 Ch. Nan Lü) surrendered together with a population of 280,000, the territory was made into Canghai Commandery (滄海郡 창해군).

In the Hou Hanshu (後漢書) it is written, “To the north of Ye (濊) is Goguryeo and Okjeo (沃沮), the south borders Jin Han (辰韓), eastwards it reaches the sea and in the west to Lelang which was originally the territory of Joseon.”

In Gu Dan’s (賈耽 K. Ga Tam, 730-805) Gujin Jun’guozhi (Record of Old and Current Counties and Countries 古今郡國志 고금군국지) it is written, “Myeongju (溟州) on the northern border of Silla was formerly the country of Ye.”

In Munheon-bigo (文獻備考) it is written, “To the east of present day Gangneung-bu (江陵府 강릉부) is the site of an ancient fortress that was constructed during the time of Ye.”

大關嶺外大東洋  대관령외대동양  去平上去去上平(陽)
蘂國山川蔭搏桑  예국산천음박상  上入平平平 平
野老不知興廢事  야노부지흥폐사  上上入平平去去
田間閒拾古銅章  전간한습고동장  平平平入上平平

dae gwan ryeong woe dae dong yang
ye guk san cheon eum bak sang
ya no bu ji heung pye sa
jeon gan han seup go dong jang

Beyond the Daegwan-nyeong Pass [lies] the great East Ocean.
The busang tree [legendary tree in the East sea] casts a shadow across the land of Ye.
An old rustic farmer, ignorant of history [lit. not knowing the “rise and fall events”]
Leisurely picked up an old copper seal [found] in his field.
[Either 桑 is short for 扶桑 or 搏 is an error for 榑 which is also used to write 榑桑]

Daegwan-nyeong Pass (大關嶺 대관령): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “The Daegwan Pass lies 45 li (18km) to the west of Gangneung-bu (江陵府). It is the geomantic mountain (鎭山 진산) of the province (州). The mountain chain extends down from Mount Jangbaek (長白山) in the territory of the Jurchen (女眞 K. Yeojin) along the eastern coast; it is not known how much territory it occupies but this pass is the highest. Wonwoerang (員外郞 title) Kim Geuk-gi (金克己 1148-1209) wrote the poem, Autumn frost descends before the wild geese have flown by, the dawn sun rises from where the first cockerel calls.

an old copper seal (古銅章 고동장): according to the Samguk-sagi (三國史記), “In the 16th year of King Nam-hae (南解王) of Silla, a person from north Myeongju (溟州) discovered the royal seal of Ye (濊王印) and presented it [to the Silla king].”


貊 Maek

In the Hanshu (漢書) it is written, “After Emperor Wu (武帝) ascended to the throne, Peng Wu (彭吳 팽오) opened roads through Ye, Maek and Joseon.” 

In the Hou Hanshu (後漢書) it is written, “The governor of Liaodong (遼東太守), Zhai (or Ji) Rong (祭肜 제융, d.73), dominated the north such that his name spread to the sea. At this time the Ye, Maek, Wae and Han (濊貊倭韓) came to pay tribute from 10,000 li away.” It also has, “King Gung (宮) of Guryeo (句麗) together with the Ye and Maek invaded Xuantu [Han Commandery] (玄免 현토/도) and attacked Huali Fortress (華麗城 K. Hwaryeo-seong).”

In the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考) it is written, “The capital of Maek was located to the north of the Soyang River (昭陽江), thirteen li (5.2km) north of present day Chuncheon-bu (春川府).”

昭陽江水接滄津 소양강수접창진 平平平上入平平(眞)
通道碑殘沒蕀榛 통도비잔몰극진 平上平平入仄平
東史未窮班掾志 동사미궁반연지 平上去平平平去
堯時君命漢時臣 요시군명한시신 平平平去去平平

so yang gang su jeop chang jin
tong do bi jan mol geuk jin
dong sa mi gung ban yeon ji
yo si gun myeong han si sin

The waters of the Soyang River reach the Chang-jin ferry crossing [entrance to the eastern sea, n.15].
The ruined stone commemorating the opening of roads is now buried amongst brambles and hazelnut trees.
Korean history [as recorded in the Dong-sa] has failed to study Ban Gu[‘s 
Hanshu 漢書]
To say that in the period of the [legendary] Yao Emperor Dan’gun could have ordered Peng Wu a vassal of the [much later] Han Dyansty to build the first roads!

Soyang River (昭陽江): according to the Yeoji-seungnam (輿地勝覽), “The Soyang River is six li (2.4km) north of Chuncheon-bu (春川府). Its source emerges from the Seohwa-hyeon (瑞和縣) of Inje (麟蹄) and joins with the water of Girin-hyeon (基麟縣) at Chuncheon-bu; south of Yan’gu-hyeon (楊口縣) it becomes the Chosari Rapids (艸沙里灘). Then northeast of [Chuncheon] bu, it turns into Cheong-yeon (靑淵), then Ju-yeon (舟淵) and then the Jeok’am Rapids (狄巖灘), before becoming the Soyang River.”

stone commemorating the opening of roads (通道碑): according to the Dong-sa (東史), “Dan’gun ordered Peng Wu (彭吳 팽오) to divide the land (山川) into administrative units and so give stability to the people.” According to the Bon’gi-tonggam (Conveyed Mirror of the Basic Records 本紀通覽), “The memorial stone of Peng Wu is in Usu-ju (牛首州).” According to the Munheon-bigo (文獻備考), “Peng Wu was from Han (漢) and not a vassal of Dan’gun.” Maewol-dang Kim Si-seup (梅月堂 金時習, 1435-93) wrote the poem, “From Peng Wu the roads were opened.[n.191]”

Continue to part 2..

Introduction to Yu Deukgong’s “Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals” 二十一都懷古詩 (1792)

Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals (二十一都懷古詩 Isib’ildo-hoegosi ) is a cycle of forty-three poems, seven character lined ‘heptasyllabic’ Chinese quatrains (七言絶句), describing a personal selection of ancient landscapes and monuments which in turn evoke the memory of various events and characters from some of the earliest recorded kingdoms and dynasties associated with Korean history. Poet-historian Yu Deukgong (1748-1807) initially completed the work in 1778, he added a preface in 1785 and subsequently revised it in 1792.  Each of the twenty-one subdivisions and individual poems is accompanied by lengthier prose quotes taken from some forty-three different historical sources.

What’s in the title?

The first four characters, isib’il-do (二十一都 ‘twenty-one capitals,’) in the title refer to the revised work’s subdivision into twenty-one separately titled kingdoms and smaller states.  However, in the poems themselves, though often mentioned, there is no overt emphasis placed on the notion of capitals or fortified urban centres.  Any stricter adherence to poetically representing each capital, as the title implies, is further diminished in the case of kingdoms such as Goguryeo and Baekje who’s capitals changed location several times but are each treated in the cycle still as a single do (都).  The ambiguous usage in the title is thus best understood as more loosely delineating the kingdoms themselves.  Perhaps this is because whilst it may have been considered misleading to term all of the twenty-one states included as fully fledged kingdoms or dynasties, they were all assumed to at least have had a seat of power in the form of a fortress or palace where the ruler was based and which could be designated a ‘capital,’ however minor the kingdom itself.

During the process of revision, it also seems Nostalgic Reflections evolved away from an initially stronger concept of structuring the cycle around the motif of capitals.  Originally the first edition, though still covering the same twenty-one kingdoms, was subdivided into sixteen do with some of the kingdoms from different periods treated as having shared the same capital locations.  The cycle was thus referred to by Jeong Yak-yong (丁若鏞1762-1836) in a letter to his son as the Sixteen Capital Heogo-si (十六都懷古詩).  The locations hosting more than one kingdom were Pyeong’yang-bu (for Dan’gun Joseon, Gi Ja Joseon, Wi Man Joseon and Goguryeo), Iksan-gun (for Mahan and Bodeok) and Gangneung-bu (for Ye and Myeongju).

The last three characters of the title, hoego-si (懷古詩 lit. ‘poems thinking of/cherishing the old’), in my translation rendered as “nostalgic reflections,” was a genre of Chinese verse developed during the Tang dynasty.  A Beijing friend and early champion of the work, Pan Tingyun (潘庭筠), observed that Yu’s hoego-si incorporates aspects of several related genres of Chinese poem including yeongsa-si (詠史詩) ‘poems reciting history,’ jukji (竹枝 lit. ‘bamboo branch’) typically discussing local scenery and customs, and gung-sa (宮詞 lit. ‘palace lyrics’) which take as their subject the intrigues and tales of palace life.  Like Yu’s hoego-si – which also shares much in terms of subject matter – both the latter jukji and gung-sa are composed of seven character lines, whilst yeongsa-si are slightly freer in form.

Yeongsa-si are ‘poems reciting history’ and as expected recount past events. Though famously being the first poetry cycle written in the new vernacular hangul alongside Classical Chinese, in terms of content and style, perhaps the most representative yeongsa-si known to Korean literature today is Yongbi Eocheon-ga (龍飛御天歌 Songs of Flying Dragons ) whilst a more archetypal Korean yeongsa-si in Classical Chinese is the earlier Jewang-un’gi (帝王韻紀 1287) by Yi Seung-hyu (1224-1300). What distinguishes Yu’s Nostalgic Reflections most from other yeongsa-si or prose histories, such as the dynastic chronicles, is that as a hoego-si it does not attempt to recite or recount a historical narrative but only recalls episodes from it. In contrast to official histories there is no underlying didacticism, Yu neither eulogizes nor overtly moralizes.

It could also be noted that in content and motivation Yu’s individual quatrains are highly reminiscent of Anglo-Saxon elegiac verse; they do not overtly ponder death but are keenly aware of the passing of ages and ruination of ancient civilization.

In what form does the work survive?

Currently eight known variant editions of Nostalgic Reflections have survived to the present. They are chiefly divided into the first version of 1778 and the revised version of 1792. The latter is the dominant version whilst extant copies of the former were only recently rediscovered.

Aside from changing the classification of the capitals, the main difference between the first and revised versions is the greater detail of the quotations taken from historical sources.  In the first edition, the quotes following the poems apparently do not always indicate their source and sometimes do not even directly relate to the contents of the poem.  By contrast, the quotations used in the revised version are chosen to explain only specific names, phrases or words in the text and their sources are explicitly stated.  Previously absent, introductions composed of further quotes were also added for each of the twenty-one kingdoms inserted before their associated poems.

In the final revision then, the forty-three quatrains are in total accompanied by some 196 separate quotations including from one paeseung (稗乘), from two poems by Jeong Mong-ju (鄭夢周 1337-92) and one byeolgok song (別曲) by Jeong Cheol (鄭澈1536-93).  The remaining 192 quotations are from the aforementioned forty-three sources twenty of which are Korean, the other twenty-three Chinese of various dynasties including the classic histories.

Of the twenty Korean sources, three now only exist in fragmentary form quoted in other books whilst two are entirely unknown outside of Elegies.  Only one of the quoted Chinese sources is no longer extant.  Throughout the cycle, the most frequently referred to source is the Sinjeung Dongguk Yeojiseungnam (新增東國輿地勝覽Newly Augmented Complete Korean Geography, 1530), quoted from some forty-six times, followed by the Samguk-sagi (三國史記History of the Three Kingdoms, 1145) quoted thirty-two times and the Dongguk Munheon (東國文獻備考bigoEncyclopedia of Korean Writings, 1770) twenty times.

Significance of the revision

The enhanced academic rigour of the revised version no doubt reflects the experience Yu had subsequently gained working at the Gyujanggak royal library combined with a more fully developed interest in historical research as well as greater appreciation for toponymy derived from his travels.

Whilst the quatrains themselves retain the characteristics of a hoegosi, the effect of augmenting the quotations to such a degree is that, taken as a whole, Nostalgic Reflections becomes as much a prose work of historical survey as it does one of poetic rumination.

As the poems themselves did not greatly change in content, Yu’s somewhat idiosyncratic choice of historical personages and scenes chosen for the cycle were preserved throughout the revision.  The final result is best appreciated then as an ‘alternative history’ or even, simply a miscellany of topics which interested Yu most at the initial time of composition.  In this former sense, the work bears some similarity with the Samgukyusa (三國遺事), though Yu was not trying in any way to supplement or revise the orthodox histories from which he was inspired as is thought to have been Il Yeon’s (1206-89) motivation.  Thus, even though during the intervening period of revising Nostalgic Reflections he had compiled Balhae-go, in which he lamented the kingdom having been omitted from Kim Bu-sik’s Samguk-sagi, he still chose not to add a new Balhae ‘capital’ to the cycle despite its importance over some of the more minor kingdoms already included.

Aside from Balhae, much else could be made of what and who Yu left out of the cycle but the selection process is better understood by considering the content that was included.  What becomes apparent is that each poem was composed in order to reference at least one cultural, anecdotal, literary or archaeological point of interest.  The latter often includes the monuments and landscapes Yu observed on his early travels, the others were culled from his extensive reading.  Nostalgic Reflections is not a panegyric and so Yu was under no obligation to include names of historic figures and major events, unless they served a further purpose in linking to the other points of lesser known interest.