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..


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

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

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

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

  4. Pingback: Sources: Yu Deukgong’s “Nostalgic Reflections of the Twenty-One Capitals” 二十一都懷古詩 (1792) – part 5 of 6 | Koreanology

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

  6. Hello! I am a girl who decided to stop watching Korean dramas and dramatic actors and start learning about real history and real heroes. I am so thankful for these articles. They are very informative and the poems were fascinating. The rest of the internet hardly has anything worth reading that is more than a framework of famous happenings and I was thirsty for details. These articles really made my day. Please keep up the good work. Actually, I am especially interested in Goguryeon culture but there is not much information on the internet on the subject. Could someone tell me of a good book in English with all the details on Goguryeon culture? I would appreciate knowing very much.

    • Thanks for the comment and reading! I have been rather inactive with posting but hopefully it will pick up again in the autumn!

      There are, unfortunately, no very good books in English with all of the known details on Goguryeo but there are some general histories and probably the most detailed still – due to its length – is the translation of Lee Ki-baek’s now-not-so-new “A New History of Korea” (1984). It’s easy to find on Amazon.

      Much more recent is the translation of the Goguryeo annal section of the Samguk-sagi published by The Academy of Korean Studies, titled “The Koguryo Annals of the Samguk Sagi” (2011). This is the main primary source for Goguryeo history. It should be available at

      “Sources of Korean Tradition vol 1” also presents useful primary source material, including related to Goguryeo, together with very informative introductions (available on Amazon). This book actually serves well as a general history for Korea.

      You might also search for information (and pictures of) Goguryeo tomb murals as these are a unique and defining part of its heritage.

      • Thank you for replying! But just in case another reader wants to know about the book, the book “The Koguryo Annals of the Samguk Sagi” is not on Seoul Selection. It is available on Amazon, though. Thank again for the information.

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