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Title: The History of Korea (vol. 1 of 2)

Author: Homer B. Hulbert

Release Date: May 22, 2016 [EBook #52127]
[Last updated: August 2, 2016]

Language: English

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History of Korea

Editor of The Korea Review
Seoul, 1905
The Methodist Publishing House


Preface   I
Introductory note   V
Ancient Korea 2257 B.C.-890 A.D. Vol. I 1
Medieval Korea 890-1392 Vol. I 127
Modern Korea 1392-1904 Vol. I 295


The sources from which the following History of Korea is drawn are almost purely Korean. For ancient and medieval history the Tong-sa Kang-yo has been mainly followed. This is an abstract in nine volumes of the four great ancient histories of the country. The facts here found were verified by reference to the Tong-guk Tong-gam, the most complete of all existing ancient histories of the country. Many other works on history, geography and biography have been consulted, but in the main the narrative in the works mentioned above has been followed.

A number of Chinese works have been consulted, especially the Mun-hon Tong-go wherein we find the best description of the wild tribes that occupied the peninsula about the time of Christ.

It has been far more difficult to obtain material for compiling the history of the past five centuries. By unwritten law the history of no dynasty in Korea has ever been published until after its fall. Official records are carefully kept in the government archives and when the dynasty closes these are published by the new dynasty. There is an official record which is published under the name of the Kuk-cho Po-gam but it can in no sense be called a history, for it can contain nothing that is not complimentary to the ruling house and, moreover, it has not been brought down even to the opening of the 19th century. It has been necessary therefore to find private iimanuscript histories of the dynasty and by uniting and comparing them secure as accurate a delineation as possible of the salient features of modern Korean history. In this I have enjoyed the services of a Korean scholar who has made the history of this dynasty a special study for the past twenty-five years and who has had access to a large number of private manuscripts. I withhold his name by special request. By special courtesy I have also been granted access to one of the largest and most complete private libraries in the capital. Japanese records have also been consulted in regard to special points bearing on the relations between Korea and Japan.

A word must be said in regard to the authenticity and credibility of native Korean historical sources. The Chinese written character was introduced into Korea as a permanent factor about the time of Christ, and with it came the possibility of permanent historical records. That such records were kept is quite apparent from the fact that the dates of all solar eclipses have been carefully preserved from the year 57 B.C. In the next place it is worth noticing that the history of Korea is particularly free from those great cataclysms such as result so often in the destruction of libraries and records. Since the whole peninsula was consolidated under one flag in the days of ancient Sil-la no dynastic change has been effected by force. We have no mention of any catastrophe to the Sil-la records: and Sil-la merged into Koryŭ and Koryŭ into Cho-sŭn without the show of arms, and in each case the historical records were kept intact. To be sure, there have been three great invasions of Korea, by the Mongols, Manchus and Japanese respectively, but though much vandalism was committed by each of these, we have reason to believe that the records were not tampered with. The argument is three-fold. In the first place histories formed the great bulk of the literature in vogue among the people and it was so widely disseminated that it could not have been seriously injured without annihilating the entire population.

In the second place these invasions were made by peoples who, though not literary themselves, had a somewhat iiihigh regard for literature, and there could have been no such reason for destroying histories as might exist where one dynasty was forcibly ejected by another hostile one. In the third place the monasteries were the great literary centers during the centuries preceding the rise of the present dynasty, and we may well believe that the Mongols would not seriously molest these sacred repositories. On the whole then we may conclude that from the year 57 B.C. Korean histories are fairly accurate. Whatever comes before that is largely traditional and therefore more or less apocryphal.

One of the greatest difficulties encountered is the selection of a system of romanisation which shall steer a middle course between the Scilla of extreme accuracy and the Charybdis of extreme simplicity. I have adopted the rule of spelling all proper names in a purely phonetic way without reference to the way they are spelled in native Korean. In this way alone can the reader arrive at anything like the actual pronunciation as found in Korea. The simple vowels have their continental sounds: a as in “father,” i as in “ravine,” o as in “rope” and u as in “rule.” The vowel e is used only with the grave accent and is pronounced as in the French recit.” When a vowel has the short mark over it, it is to be given the flat sound: ă as in “fat,” ŏ as in “hot,” ŭ as in “nut.” The umlaut ö is used but it has a slightly more open sound thanthan in German. It is the “unrounded o” where the vowel is pronounced without protruding the lips. The pure Korean sound represented by is a pure diphthong and is pronounced by letting the lips assume the position of pronouncing o while the tongue is thrown forward as if to pronounce the short e in “met.” Eu is nearly the French eu but with a slightly more open sound. As for consonants they have their usual sounds, but when the surds k, p or t in the body of a word are immediately preceded by an open syllable or a syllable ending with a sonant, they change to their corresponding sonants: k to g, p to b and t to d. For instance, in the word Pak-tu, the t of the tu would be d if the first syllable were open. No word begins with the sonants g, b or d.

ivIn Korean we have the long and short quantity in vowels. Han may be pronounced either simply han or longer haan, but the distinction is not of enough importance to compensate for encumbering the system with additional diacritical marks.

In writing proper names I have adopted the plan most in use by sinologues. The patronymic stands alone and is followed by the two given names with a hyphen between them. All geographical names have hyphens between the syllables. To run the name all together would often lead to serious difficulty, for who would know, for instance, whether Songak were pronounced Son-gak or Song-ak?

In the spelling of some of the names of places there will be found to be a slight inconsistency because part of the work was printed before the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society had determined upon a system of romanization, but in the main the system here used corresponds to that of the Society.

This is the first attempt, so far as I am aware, to give to the English reading public a history of Korea based on native records, and I trust that in spite of all errors and infelicities it may add something to the general fund of information about the people of Korea.


Seoul, Korea, 1905.


Introductory Note.

Geography is the canvas on which history is painted. Topography means as much to the historian as to the general. A word, therefore, about the position of Korea will not be out of place.

The peninsula of Korea, containing approximately 80,000 square miles, lies between 33° and 43° north latitude, and between 124° 30′ and 130° 30′ east longitude. It is about nine hundred miles long from north to south and has an average width from east to west of about 240 miles. It is separated from Manchuria on the northwest by the Yalu or Am-nok River, and from Asiatic Russia on the northeast by the Tu-man River. BetweenBetween the sources of these streams rise the lofty peaks of White Head Mountain, called by the Chinese Ever-white or Long-white Mountain. From this mountain whorl emanates a range which passes irregularly southward through the peninsula until it loses itself in the waters of the Yellow Sea, thus giving birth to the almost countless islands of the Korean archipelago. The main watershed of the country is near the eastern coast and consequently the streams that flow into the Japan Sea are neither long nor navigable, while on the western side and in the extreme south we find considerable streams that are navigable for small craft a hundred miles or more. While the eastern coast is almost entirely lacking in good harbors the western coast is one labyrinth of estuaries, bays and gulfs which furnish innumerable harbors. It is on the western watershed of the country that we will find vimost of the arable land and by far the greater portion of the population.

We see then that, geographically, Korea’s face is toward China and her back toward Japan. It may be that this in part has moulded her history. During all the centuries her face has been politically, socially and religiously toward China rather than toward Japan.

The climate of Korea is the same as that of eastern North America between the same latitudes, the only difference being that in Korea the month of July brings the “rainy season” which renders nearly all roads in the interior impassable. This rainy season, by cutting in two the warmer portion of the year, has had a powerful influence on the history of the country; for military operations were necessarily suspended during this period and combatants usually withdrew to their own respective territories upon its approach.

The interior of Korea is fairly well wooded, although there are no very extensive tracts of timber land. A species of pine largely predominates but there is also a large variety of other trees both deciduous and evergreen.

Rice is the staple article of food throughout most of the country. Among the mountain districts in the north where rice cannot be grown potatoes and millet are largely used. An enormous amount of pulse is raised, almost solely for fodder, and other grains are also grown. The bamboo grows sparsely and only in the south. Ginseng is an important product of the country.

The fauna of Korea includes several species of deer, the tiger, leopard, wild pig, bear, wolf, fox and a large number of fur bearing animals among which the sable and sea-otter are the most valuable. The entire peninsula is thoroughly stocked with cattle, horses, swine and donkeys, but sheep are practically unknown. The fisheries off the coast of Korea are especially valuable and thousands of the people earn a livelihood on the banks. Pearls of good quality are found. Game birds of almost infinite variety exist and all the commoner domestic birds abound.

As to the geology of the country we find that there is viia back bone of granite formation with frequent outcroppings of various other forms of mineral life. Gold is extremely abundant and there are few prefectures in the country where traces of it are not found. Silver is also common. Large deposits of coal both anthracite and bituminous have been discovered, but until recently little has been done to open up the minerals of the country in a scientific manner.

Ethnologically we may say that the people are of a mixed Mongolian and Malay origin, although this question has as yet hardly been touched upon. The language of Korea is plainly agglutinative and may, without hesitation, be placed in the great Turanian or Scythian group.

The population of Korea is variously estimated from ten to twenty millions. We shall not be far from the truth if we take a middle course and call the population thirteen millions. Somewhat more than half of the people live south of a line drawn east and west through the capital of the country.



Chapter I.

Tan-gun.... his antecedents.... his origin.... he becomes king.... he teaches the people.... his capital.... he retires.... extent of his kingdom.... traditions.... monuments.

In the primeval ages, so the story runs, there was a divine being named Whan-in, or Che-Sŏ: “Creator.” His son, Whan-ung, being affected by celestial ennui, obtained permission to descend to earth and found a mundane kingdom. Armed with this warrant, Whan-ung with three thousand spirit companions descended upon Ta-băk Mountain, now known as Myo-hyang San, in the province of P’yŭng-an, Korea. It was in the twenty-fifth year of the Emperor Yao of China, which corresponds to 2332 B.C.

He gathered his spirit friends beneath the shade of an ancient pak-tal tree and there proclaimed himself King of the Universe. He governed through his three vice-regentsvice-regents, the “Wind General,” the “Rain Governor,” and the “Cloud Teacher,” but as he had not yet taken human shape, he found it difficult to assume control of a purely human kingdom. Searching for means of incarnation he found it in the following manner.

At early dawn, a tiger and a bear met upon a mountain side and held a colloquy.

“Would that we might become men” they said. Whan-ung overheard them and a voice came from out the void saying, “Here are twenty garlics and apiece of artemisia for 2each of you. Eat them and retire from the light of the sun for thrice seven days and you will become men.”

They ate and retired into the recesses of a cave, but the tiger, by reason of the fierceness of his nature, could not endure the restraint and came forth before the allotted time; but the bear, with greater faith and patience, waited the thrice seven days and then stepped forth, a perfect woman.

The first wish of her heart was maternity, and she cried, “Give me a son.” Whan-ung, the Spirit King, passing on the wind, beheld her sitting there beside the stream. He circled round her, breathed upon her, and her cry was answered. She cradled her babe in moss beneath that same pak-tal tree and it was there that in after years the wild people of the country found him sitting and made him their king.

This was the Tan-gun, “The Lord of the Pak-tal Tree.” He is also, but less widely, known as Wang-gŭm. At that time Korea and the territory immediately north was peopled by the “nine wild tribes” commonly called the Ku-i. Tradition names them respectively the Kyŭn, Pang, Whang, Făk, Chŭk, Hyŭn, P‘ung, Yang and U. These, we are told, were the aborigines, and were fond of drinking, dancing and singing. They dressed in a fabric of woven grass and their food was the natural fruits of the earth, such as nuts, roots, fruits and berries. In summer they lived beneath the trees and in winter they lived in a rudely covered hole in the ground. When the Tan-gun became their king he taught them the relation of king and subject, the rite of marriage, the art of cooking and the science of house building. He taught them to bind up the hair by tying a cloth about the head. He taught them to cut down trees and till fields.

The Tan-gun made P‘yŭng-yang the capital of his kingdom and there, tradition says, he reigned until the coming of Ki-ja, 1122 B.C. If any credence can be given this tradition it will be by supposing that the word Tan-gun refers to a line of native chieftains who may have antedated the coming of Ki-ja.

It is said that, upon the arrival of Ki-ja, the Tan-gun retired to Ku-wŭl San (in pure Korean A-sa-dal) in the present town of Mun-wha, Whang-hă Province, where he resumed his spirit form and disappeared forever from the earth. 3His wife was a woman of Pi-sŏ-ap, whose location is unknown. As to the size of the Tan-gun’s kingdom, it is generally believed that it extended from the vicinity of the present town of Mun-gyŭng on the south to the Heuk-yong River on the north, and from the Japan Sea on the east to Yo-ha (now Sŭng-gyŭng) on the west.

As to the events of the Tan-gun’s reign even tradition tells us very little. We learn that in 2265 B.C. the Tan-gun first offered sacrifice at Hyŭl-gu on the island of Kang-wha. For this purpose he built an altar on Mari San which remains to this day. We read that when the great Ha-u-si (The Great Yü), who drained off the waters which covered the interior of China, called to his court at To-san all the vassal kings, the Tan-gun sent his son, Pu-ru, as an envoy. This was supposed to be in 2187 B.C. Another work affirms that when Ki-ja came to Korea Pu-ru fled northward and founded the kingdom of North Pu-yŭ, which at a later date moved to Ka-yŭp-wŭn, and became Eastern Pu-yŭ. These stories show such enormous discrepancies in dates that they are alike incredible, and yet it may be that the latter story has some basis in fact, at any rate it gives us our only clue to the founding of the Kingdom of Pu-yŭ.

Late in the Tan-gun dynasty there was a minister named P‘ăng-o who is said to have had as his special charge the making of roads and the care of drainage. One authority says that the Emperor of China ordered P‘ăng-o to cut a road between Ye-măk, an eastern tribe, and Cho-sŭn. From this we see that the word Cho-sŭn, according to some authorities, antedates the coming of Ki-ja.

The remains of the Tan-gun dynasty, while not numerous, are interesting. On the island of Kang-wha, on the top of Mari San, is a stone platform or altar known as the “Tan-gun’s Altar,” and, as before said, it is popularly believed to have been used by the Tan-gun four thousand years ago. It is called also the Ch’am-sŭng Altar. On Chŭn-dung San is a fortress called Sam-nang which is believed to have been built by the Tan-gun’s three sons. The town of Ch’un-ch’ŭn, fifty miles east of Seoul, seems to have been an important place during this period. It was known as U-su-ju, or “Ox-hair Town,” and there is a curious confirmation of this tradition 4in the fact that in the vicinity there is today a plot of ground called the U-du-bol, or “Ox-head Plain.” A stone tablet to P’ang-o isP’ang-o is erected there. At Mun-wha there is a shrine to the Korean trinity, Whan-in, Whan-ung and Tan-gun. Though the Tan-gun resumed the spirit form, his grave is shown in Kang-dong and is 410 feet in circumference.

Chapter II.

Ki-ja.... striking character.... origin.... corrupt Chu.... story of Tal-geui.... Shang dynasty falls.... Ki-ja departs.... route.... destination.... allegience to China.... condition of Korea.... Ki-ja’s companions.... reforms.... evidences of genius.... arguments against Korean theory.... details of history meager.... Cho-sun sides against China.... delimitation of Cho-sun.... peace with Tsin dynasty.... Wi-man finds asylum.... betrays Cho-sun.... Ki-jun’s flight.

Without doubt the most striking character in Korean history is the sage Ki-ja, not only because of his connection with its early history but because of the striking contrast between him and his whole environmentenvironment. The singular wisdom which he displayed is vouched for not in the euphemistic language of a prejudiced historian but by what we can read between the lines, of which the historian was unconscious.

The Shang, or Yin, dynasty of China began 1766 B.C. Its twenty-fifth representative was the Emperor Wu-yi whose second son, Li, was the father of Ki-ja. His family name was Cha and his surname Su-yu, but he is also known by the name Sö-yŭ. The word Ki-ja is a title meaning “Lord of Ki,” which we may imagine to be the feudal domain of the family. The Emperor Chu, the “Nero of China” and the last of the dynasty, was the grandson of Emperor T’ă-jŭng and a second cousin of Ki-ja, but the latter is usually spoken of as his uncle. Pi-gan, Mi-ja and Ki-ja formed the advisory board to this corrupt emperor.

All that Chinese histories have to say by way of censure against the hideous debaucheries of this emperor is repeated in the Korean histories; his infatuation with the beautiful concubine, Tal-geui; his compliance with her every whim; his 5making a pond of wine in which he placed an island of meat and compelled nude men and women to walk about it, his torture of innocent men at her request by tying them to heated brazen pillars. All this is told in the Korean annals, but they go still deeper into the dark problem of Tal-geui’s character and profess to solve it. The legend, as given by Korean traditiontradition, is as follows.

The concubine Tal-geui was wonderfully beautiful, but surpassingly so when she smiled. At such times the person upon whom she smiled was fascinated as by a serpent and was forced to comply with whatever request she made. Pondering upon this, Pi-gan decided that she must be a fox in human shape, for it is well known that if an animal tastes of water that has lain for twenty years in a human skull it will acquire the power to assume the human shape at will. He set inquiries on foot and soon discovered that she made a monthly visit to a certain mountain which she always ascended alone leaving her train of attendants at the foot. Armed detectives were put on her track and, following her unperceived, they saw her enter a cave near the summit of the mountain. She presently emerged, accompanied by a pack of foxes who leaped about her and fawned upon her in evident delight. When she left, the spies entered and put the foxes to the sword, cutting from each dead body the piece of white fur which is always found on the breast of the fox. When Tal-geui met the emperor some days later and saw him dressed in a sumptuous white fur robe she shuddered but did not as yet guess the truth. A month later, however, it became plain to her when she entered the mountain cave and beheld the festering remains of her kindred.

On her way home she planned her revenge. Adorning herself in all her finery, she entered the imperial presence and exerted her power of fascination to the utmost. When the net had been well woven about the royal dupe, she said,she said,

“I hear that there are seven orifices in the heart of every good man. I fain would put it to the test.”

“But how can it be done?”

“I would that I might see the heart of Pi-gan;” and as she said it she smiled upon her lord. His soul revolted from the act and yet he had no power to refuse. Pi-gan was summoned 6and the executioner stood ready with the knife, but at the moment when it was plunged into the victim’s breast he cried,

“You are no woman; you are a fox in disguise, and I charge you to resume your natural shape.”

Instantly her face began to change; hair sprang forth upon it, her nails grew long, and, bursting forth from her garments, she stood revealed in her true character—a white fox with nine tails. With one parting snarl at the assembled court, she leaped from the window and made good her escape.

But it was too late to save the dynasty. Pal, the son of Mun-wang, a feudal baron, at the head of an army, was already thundering at the gates, and in a few days, a new dynasty assumed the yellow and Pal, under the title Mu-wang, became its first emperor.

Pi-gan and Mi-ja had both perished and Ki-ja, the sole survivor of the great trio of statesmen, had saved his life only by feigning madness. He was now in prison, but Mu-wang came to his door and besought him to assume the office of Prime Minister. Loyalty to the fallen dynasty compelled him to refuse. He secured the Emperor’s consent to his plan of emigrating to Cho-sŭn or “Morning Freshness,” but before setting out he presented the Emperor with that great work, the Hong-bŭm or “Great-Law,” which had been found inscribed upon the back of the fabled tortoise which came up out of the waters of the Nak River in the days of Ha-u-si over a thousand years before, but which no one had been able to decipher till Ki-ja took it in hand. Then with his five thousand followers he passed eastward into the peninsula of Korea.

Whether he came to Korea by boat or by land cannot be certainly determined. It is improbable that he brought such a large company by water and yet one tradition says that he came first to Su-wŭn, which is somewhat south of Chemulpo. This would argue an approach by sea. The theory which has been broached that the Shantung promontory at one time joined the projection of Whang-hă Province on the Korean coast cannot be true, for the formation of the Yellow Sea must have been too far back in the past to help us to solve this question. It is said that from Su-wŭn he went northward to 7the island Ch’ŭl-do, off Whang-hă Province, where today they point out a “Ki-ja Well.” From there he went to P‘yŭng-yang. His going to an island off Whang-hă Province argues against the theory of the connection between Korea and the Shantung promontory.


In whatever way he came, he finally settled at the town of P‘yŭng-yang which had already been the capital of the Tan-gun dynasty. Seven cities claimed the honor of being Homer’s birth place and about as many claim to be the burial spot of Ki-ja. The various authorities differ so widely as to the boundaries of his kingdom, the site of his capital and the place of his interment that some doubt is cast even upon the existence of this remarkable man; but the consensus of opinion points clearly to P‘yŭng-yang as being the scene of his labors.

It should be noticed that from the very first Korea was an independent kingdom. It was certainly so in the days of the Tan-gun and it remained so when Ki-ja came, for it is distinctly stated that though the Emperor Mu-wang made him King of Cho-sŭn he neither demanded nor received his allegience as vassal at that time. He even allowed Ki-ja to send envoys to worship at the tombs of the fallen dynasty. It is said that Ki-ja himself visited the site of the ancient Shang capital, but when he found it sown with barley he wept and composed an elegy on the occasion, after which he went and swore allegience to the new Emperor. The work entitled Cho-sŏ says that when Ki-ja saw the site of the former capital sown with barley he mounted a white cart drawn by a white horse and went to the new capital and swore allegience to the Emperor; and it adds that in this he showed his weakness for he had sworn never to do so.

Ki-ja, we may believe, found Korea in a semi-barbarous condition. To this the reforms which he instituted give abundant evidence. He found at least a kingdom possessed of some degree of homogeneity, probably a uniform language and certainly ready communication betweenbetween its parts. It is difficult to believe that the Tan-gun’s influence reached far beyond the Amnok River, wherever the nominal boundaries of his kingdom were. We are inclined to limit his actual power to the territory now included in the two provinces of P‘yŭng-an and Whang-hă.

8We must now inquire of what material was Ki-ja’s company of five thousand men made up. We are told that he brought from China the two great works called the Si-jun and the So-jun, which by liberal interpretation mean the books on history and poetry. The books which bear these names were not written until centuries after Ki-ja’s time, but the Koreans mean by them the list of aphorisms or principles which later made up these books. It is probable, therefore, that this company included men who were able to teach and expound the principles thus introduced. Ki-ja also brought the sciences of manners (well named a science), music, medicine, sorcery and incantation. He brought also men capable of teaching one hundred of the useful trades, amongst which silk culture and weaving are the only two specifically named. When, therefore, we make allowance for a small military escort we find that five thousand men were few enough to undertake the carrying out of the greatest individual plan for colonization which history has ever seen brought to a successful issue.

These careful preparations on the part of the self-exiled Ki-ja admit of but one conclusion. They were made with direct reference to the people among whom he had elected to cast his lot. He was a genuine civilizer. His genius was of the highest order in that, in an age when the sword was the only arbiter, he hammered his into a pruning-hook and carved out with it a kingdom which stood almost a thousand years. He was the ideal colonizer, for he carried with him all the elements of successful colonization which, while sufficing for the reclamation of the semi-barbarous tribes of the peninsula, would still have left him self-sufficient in the event of their contumacy. His method was brilliant when compared with even the best attempts of modern times.

His penal code was short, and clearly indicated the failings of the people among whom he had cast his lot. Murder was to be punished with death inflicted in the same manner in which the crime had been committed. Brawling was punished by a fine to be paid in grain. Theft was punished by enslaving the offender, but he could regain his freedom by the payment of a heavy fine. There were five other laws which are not mentioned specifically. Many have surmised, and perhaps rightly, that they were of the nature of the o-hang or 9“five precepts” which inculcate right relations between king and subject, parent and child, husband and wife, friend and friend, old and young. It is stated, apocryphally however, that to prevent quarreling Ki-ja compelled all males to wear a broad-brimmed hat made of clay pasted on a framework. If this hat was either doffed or broken the offender was severely punished. This is said to have effectually kept them at arms length.

Another evidence of Ki-ja’s genius is his immediate recognition of the fact that he must govern the Korean people by means of men selected from their own number. For this purpose he picked out a large number of men from the various districts and gave them special training in the duties of government and he soon had a working corps of officials and prefects without resorting to the dangerous expedient of filling all these positions from the company that came with him. He recognised that in order to gain any lasting influence with the people of Korea he and his followers must adapt themselves to the language of their adopted country rather than make the Koreans conform to their form of speech. We are told that he reduced the language of the people to writing and through this medium taught the people the arts and sciences which he had brought. If this is true, the method by which the writing was done and the style of the characters have entirely disappeared. Nothing remains to give evidence of such a written language. We are told that it took three years to teach it to the people.

The important matter of revenue received early attention. A novel method was adopted. All arable land was divided into squares and each square was subdivided into nine equal parts; eight squares about a central one. Whoever cultivated the eight surrounding squares must also cultivate the central one for the benefit of the government. The latter therefore received a ninth part of the produce of the land. Prosperity was seen on every side and the people called the Ta-dong River the Yellow River of Korea.

As a sign that his kingdom was founded in peace and as a constant reminder to his people he planted a long line of willows along the bank of the river opposite the city, so P‘yung-yang is sometimes called The Willow Capital.

10It is contended by not a few that Ki-ja never came to Korea at all and they base their belief upon the following facts. When the Han Emperor Mu-je overcame northern Korea and divided it into four parts he called the people savages, which could not be if Ki-ja civilized them. The Chinese histories of the Tang dynasty affirm that Ki-ja’s kingdom was in Liao-tung. The histories of the Kin dynasty and the Yuan or Mongol dynasty say that Ki-ja had his capital at Kwang-nyŭng in Liao-tung, and there is a Ki-ja well there today and a shrine to him. There was a picture of him there but it was burned in the days of Emperor Se-jong of the Ming dynasty. A Korean work entitled Sok-mun Heun-t’ong-go says that Ki-ja’s capital was at Ham-pyŭng-no in Liao-tung. The Chinese work Il-t’ong-ji of the time of the Ming dynasty says that the scholars of Liao-tung compiled a work called Söng-gyŭng-ji which treated of this question. That book said that Cho-sŭn included Sim-yang (Muk-den), Pong-ch’ŭn-bu, Eui-ju and Kwang-nyŭng; so that half of Liao-tung belonged to Cho-sun. The work entitled Kang-mok says that his capital was at P’yŭng-yang and that the kingdom gradually broadened until the scholar O Si-un said of it that it stretched from the Liao River to the Han. This last is the commonly accepted theory and so far as Korean evidence goes there seems to be little room for doubt.

Ki-ja was fifty-three years old when he came to Korea and he reigned here forty years. His grave may be seen to-day at To-san near the city which was the scene of his labors. Some other places that claim the honor of containing Ki-ja’s tomb are Mong-hyŭn, Pak-sung and Sang-gu-hyun in northern China.

It was not till thirty-six generations later that Ki-ja received the posthumous title of T’ă-jo Mun-sŭng Tă-wang.

The details of the history of K-ja’s dynasty are very meager and can be given here only in the most condensed form.[A]

A. The following details of the Ki-ja dynasty are taken from a work recently compiled in P’yung-yang and claiming to be based on private family records of the descendants of Ki-ja. It is difficult to say whether any reliance can be placed upon it but as it is the only source of information obtainable it seems best to give it. The dates are of course all B.C.



In 1083 Ki-ja died and was succeeded by his son Song. Of his reign of twenty-five years we know little beyond the fact that he built an Ancestral Temple. His successor, Sun, was a man of such filial piety that when his father died he went mad. The next king, Iăk, adopted for his officials the court garments of the Sang Kingdom in China. His son, Ch’un, who ascended the throne in 997 raised fifty-nine regiments of soldiers containing in all 7300 men. The flag of the army was blue. In 943 the reigning king, Cho, feeling the need of cavalry, appointed a special commission to attend to the breeding of horses, and with such success that in a few years horses were abundant. In 890 King Săk hung a drum in the palace gate and ordained that anyone having a grievance might strike the drum and obtain an audience. In 843 a law was promulgated by which the government undertook to support the hopelessly destitute. In 773 King Wŭl forbade the practice of sorcery and incantation. In 748 naval matters received attention and a number of war vessels were launched. The first day of the fifth moon of 722 is memorable as marking the first solar eclipse that is recorded in Korean history. A great famine occurred in 710. King Kwŭl selected a number of men who could speak Chinese and who knew Chinese customs. These he dressed in Chinese clothes which were white and sent them across the Yellow Sea with a large fleet of boats loaded with fish, salt and copper. With these they purchased rice for the starving Koreans. At this time all official salaries were reduced one half. In 702 King Whe ordered the making of fifteen kinds of musical instruments. He also executed a sorceress of An-ju who claimed to be the daughter of the Sea King and deceived many of the people. In 670 King Cho sent an envoy and made friends with the King of Che in China. He also revised the penal code and made the theft of a hundred million cash from the government or of a hundred and fifty millions from the people a capital crime. He ordered the construction of a building of 500 kan for an asylum for widows, orphans and aged people who were childless. In 664 one of the wild tribes of the north sent their chief, Kil-i-do-du, to swear allegiance to Cho-sŭn. In 659 there came to Korea from the Chu Kingdom in China a man by the name of Pak Il-jŭng, who brought with him a medicine 12called myun-dan-bang which he claimed was the elixir of youth. By his arts he succeeded in gaining the ear of the king and for many years was virtually ruler of the country. At last a king came to the throne who had the wisdom and nerve to order his execution. At this the whole land rejoiced. Banished men were recalled and prisoners were liberated. In 593 King Ch’am came to the throne at the age of five. His uncle acted as regent. But a powerful courtier Kong Son-gang secured the regent’s assassination and himself became virtual ruler. He imprisoned the king in a small pavilion and tried to make him abdicate, but in this was unsuccessful and himself met the assassin’s steel. In 560 the Ha tribe, inhabiting the northern Japanese island of I-so, sent their chief, Wha-ma-gyŭn-hu-ri, to swear allegiance to Cho-sŭn. In 505 the wild tribes to the north became restive and King Yŭ gathered 3000 troops and invaded their territory, taking 1000 heads and adding a wide strip of country to his realm. He put teachers in each of the magistracies to teach the people agriculture and sericulture. In 426, during the reign of King Cheung, occurred a formidable rebellion. U Yi-ch’ung of T’ă-an (now Cha-san) arose and said “I am the Heaven Shaker.” With a powerful force he approached the capital and besieged it. The king was forced to flee by boat and take refuge at Hyŭl-gu (probably an island). But not long after this the loyal troops rallied about the king and the rebel was chased across the northern border. In 403 the king of YŭnYŭn sent an envoy to Korea with greetings. This Yŭn kingdom had its capital at Chik-ye-sŭng where Peking now stands, and its territory was contiguous to Cho-sŭn on the west. But in spite of these friendly greetings the king of Yŭn sent an army in 380 and seized a district in western Cho-sun. They were soon driven back. Fifteen years later a Yŭn general, Chin-ga, came with 20,000 troops and delimited the western border of Cho-sŭn but the Cho-sŭn general Wi Mun-ŭn gathered 30,000 men and lying in ambush among the reeds beside the O-do River surprised the enemy and put them to flight. In 346 a wild chieftain of the north came and asked aid against Yŭn. It was granted to the extent of 10,000 troops. These with 1000 cavalry of the wild tribe attacked and took the border fortress of Sang-gok. Soon after, Yun sued for peace and it was granted.

13This ends the apocryphal account of the Ki-ja dynasty. Its contents are circumstantial enough to seem plausible yet we cannot but doubt the authenticity of any records which pretend to go back to such a remote period.

The Chou dynasty in China had long been on the decline and now, in 305 B.C. had reached a point of extreme weakness. In view of this the governor of the tributary state of Liao-tung who had always passed under the title of Hu or “Marquis” dared to assume the title Wang or “King” and so to defy the power of China. Cho-sŭn threw herself into the balance in favor of her great patron and hastened to attack Liao-tung in the rear. But before this course had become inevitable a warning voice was raised and one of the councillors, Ye, who was gifted with more knowledge of the signs of the times than his fellows pointed out the inevitable overthrow of the Chou dynasty, and he advised that Cho-sŭn make her peace with the new “King” of the Yŏn kingdom of Liao-tung, rather than brave his anger by siding against him. The advice was followed and Cho-sŭn threw off the light reins of allegiance to China and ranged herself alongside the new kingdom. This we learn from the annals of the Wei dynasty of China. But apparently Cho-sŭn, stretching as it did to and beyond the Liao River, was too tempting a morsel for the ambitious king of Yŭn to leave untasted. So he picked a quarrel with the king of Cho-sŭn and delimited his territory as far as the Yalu River, a stretch of 2,000 li, even to the town of Pan-han whose identity is now lost. He followed up this success by overcoming the wild tribes to the north and added 1,000 li more to his domains, securing it from attack, as he supposed, by building a wall from Cho-yang to Yang-p’yŭng.

When Emperor Shih of the Tsin dynasty ascended the throne of China in 221 B.C. and soon after began that tremendous work the Great Wall of China, the fortieth descendant of Ki-ja was swaying the scepter of Cho-sŭn under the name Ki-bi, posthumous title Chong-t’ong Wang. As soon as the news of this great undertaking reached the ears of this monarch he hauled down his colors and surrendered at discretion, sending an envoy to do obeisance for him.

King Ki-bi died and his son Ki-jun, the last of the dynasty 14reigned in his stead. For some years all was quiet, but at last the scepter was wrested from the hands of the short-lived Tsin dynasty by the founder of the illustrious Han, and across the border from Cho-sŭn all was turmoil and confusion. Fugitives from the three states of Yun, Che and Cho were seeking asylum anywhere, and thousands were hurrying across the Yalu and craving the protection of Ki-jun. The only protection he could give them from the victorious Han was remoteness from the latter’s base of operations; so he allowed them to settle along the valley of the Yalu and its southern tributaries. This was in the twentieth year of his reign, 200 B.C.

Unfortunately for Cho-sŭn, the Han emperor made No-gwan, one of his generals, governor of Yŭn. This gentleman had ideas of his own, and finding such good material for an army among the half-wild people of his province he decided to go on an empire hunt on his own account.

The story of his desperate fight and final defeat at the hands of the Han forces, of his flight northward to the wild tribe of Hyung-no, is interesting; but we must turn from it to follow the fortunes of one of his lieutenants, a native of the Yŭn, named Wi-man. Retreating eastward alone and in disguise, according to some writers, or according to others with an escort of 1,000 men, he eluded his pursuers and at last crossed the P’ă-su (the Yalu of today) and was received with open arms by his own kin who had already settled there. In the days of the Han dynasty the word P’ă-su meant the Yalu River, but in the days of the Tang dynasty it meant the Ta-dong. Hence much confusion has arisen.

Wi-man threw himself upon the protection of Ki-jun who, little knowing the nature of the man he was harboring, good-naturedly consented and accompanied his welcome with the substantial gift of a hundred li square of land in the north. Wi-man, on his part, engaged to act as border guard and give timely warning of the approach of an enemy. He was already on good terms with the people of the Chin-bŭn tribe, and now he began to cultivate their friendship more assiduously than ever. In a short time he found himself at the head of a considerable following composed partly of Yŭn refugees and partly of Chin-bŭn adventurers.

15Being thus prepared and weighing all the chances, he concluded to stake his whole fortune on a single throw. Sending a swift messenger to the court of Ki-jun at P‘yŭng-yang, he informed that peace loving monarch that an innumerable army was advancing from China in four divisions and would soon be at the doors of Cho-sŭn, and that he, Wi-man, must hasten to the capital with all his force to act as body-guard of the King. The ruse was successful and before Ki-jun and his court had awakened to the situation Wi-man was on them. An attempt was made to stop his advance when quite too late, but it held the traitor in check long enough for Ki-jun and his immediate court to load their treasure on boats; and as the triumphal army of Wi-man entered the gates of P‘yŭng-yang the last representative of the dynasty of Ki-ja slipped quietly down the river, seeking for himself a more congenial home in the south. This occurred, so far as we can judge from conflicting documents, in the year 193 B.C.

This was an event of utmost importance in the history of the peninsula. It opened up to the world the southern portion of Korea, where there were stored up forces that were destined to dominate the whole peninsula and impress upon it a distinctive stamp. But before following Ki-jun southward we must turn back and watch the outcome of Wi-man’s treachery.

Chapter III.

Wi-man.... establishes his kingdomkingdom.... extent.... power soon waned.... ambitious designs.... China aroused.... invasion of Korea.... U-gu tries to make peace.... siege of P‘yŭng-yang.... it falls.... the land redistributed.... the four provinces.... the two provinces.

Having secured possession of Ki-jun’s kingdom, Wi-man set to work to establish himself firmly on the throne. He had had some experience in dealing with the wild tribes and now he exerted himself to the utmost in the task of securing the allegiance of as many of them as possible. He was literally surrounded by them, and this policy of friendliness was an 16absolute necessity. He succeeded so well that ere long he had won over almost all the adjacent tribes whose chieftains frequented his court and were there treated with such liberality that more than once they found themselves accompanying embassies to the court of China.

It is said that when his kingdom was at its height it extended far into Liao-tung over all northern and eastern Korea and even across the Yellow Sea where it included Ch’ŭng-ju, China. Its southern boundary was the Han River.

So long as Wi-man lived he held the kingdom together with a strong hand, for he was possessed of that peculiar kind of power which enabled him to retain the respect and esteem of the surrounding tribes. He knew when to check them and when to loosen the reins. But he did not bequeath this power to his descendants. His grandson, U-gŭ, inherited all his ambition without any of his tact. He did not realise that it was the strong hand and quick wit of his grandfather that had held the kingdom together and he soon began to plan a still further independence from China. He collected about him all the refugees and all the malcontents, most of whom had much to gain and little to lose in any event. He then cut off all friendly intercourse with the Han court and also prevented the surrounding tribes from sending their little embassies across the border. The Emperor could not brook this insult, and sent an envoy, Sŭp-ha, to expostulate with the headstrong U-gŭ; but as the latter would not listen, the envoy went back across the Yalu and tried what he could do by sending one of the older chiefs to ask what the king meant by his conduct. U-gŭ was still stubborn and when the chief returned to Sŭp-ha empty-handed he was put to death. Sŭp-ha paid the penalty for this rash act, for not many days after he had been installed governor of Liao-tung the tribe he had injured fell upon him and killed him.

This was not done at the instigation of U-gŭ, but unfortunately it was all one to the Emperor. It was the “Eastern Barbarians” who, all alike, merited punishment. It was in 107 B.C. that the imperial edict went forth commanding all Chinese refugees in Korea to return at once, as U-gŭ was to be put down by the stern hand of war.

17In the autumn of that year the two generals, Yang-bok and Sun-ch’i, invaded Korea at the head of a strong force; but U-gŭ was ready for them and in the first engagement scattered the invading army, the remnants of which took refuge among the mountains. It was ten days before they rallied enough to make even a good retreat. U-gŭ was frightened by his own good luck for he knew that this would still further anger the Emperor; so when an envoy came from China the king humbled himself, confessed his sins and sent his son to China as hostage together with a gift of 5,000 horses. Ten thousand troops accompanied him. As these troops were armed, the Chinese envoy feared there might be trouble after the Yalu had been crossed. He therefore asked the Prince to have them disarmed. The latter thought he detected treachery and so fled at night and did not stop until he reached his father’s palace in P‘yŭng-yang. The envoy paid for this piece of gaucherie with his head.

Meanwhile Generals Yang-bok and Sun-ch’i had been scouring Liao-tung and had collected a larger army than before. With this they crossed the Ya-lu and marched on P‘yŭng-yang. They met with no resistance, for U-gŭ had collected all his forces at the capital, hoping perhaps that the severity of the weather would tire out any force that might be sent against him. The siege continued two months during which time the two generals quarreled incessantly. When the Emperor sent Gen. Kong Son-su to see what was the matter, Gen. Sun-ch’i accused his colleague of treason and had him sent back to China, where he lost his head. The siege, continued by Gen. Sun-ch’i, dragged on till the following summer and it would have continued longer had not a traitor within the town assassinated the king and fled to the Chinese camp. Still the people refused to make terms until another traitor opened the gates to the enemy. Gen. Sun-ch’i’s first act was to compel Prince Chang, the heir apparent, to do obeisance. But the people had their revenge upon the traitor who opened the gate for they fell upon him and tore him to pieces before he could make good his escape to the Chinese camp.

Such was the miserable end of Wi-man’s treachery. He had cheated Ki-jun out of his kingdom which had lasted almost 18a thousand years, while the one founded by himself lasted only eighty-eight. It fell in the thirty-fourth year of the Han Emperor Wu-ti, in the year 106 B.C.

Upon the downfall of Wi-man’s kingdom, the country was divided by the Chinese into four provinces called respectively Nang-nang, Im-dun, Hyŭn-do and Chin-bŭn. The first of these, Nang-nang, is supposed to have covered that portion of Korea now included in the three provinces of P‘yung-an, Whang-hă and Kyŭng-geui. Im-dun, so far as we can learn, was located about as the present province of Kang-wŭn, but it may have exceeded these limits. Hyŭn-do was about coterminous with the present province of Ham-gyŭng in the northeast. Chin-bŭn lay beyond the Yalu River but its limits can hardly be guessed at. It may have stretched to the Liao River or beyond. It is exceedingly doubtful whether the conquerors themselves had any definite idea of the shape or extent of these four provinces. Twenty-five years later, in the fifth year of Emperor Chao-ti 81 B.C. a change in administration was made. Chin-bŭn and Hyŭn-do were united to form a new province called P’yung-ju, while Im-dun and Nang-nang were thrown together to form Tong-bu. In this form the country remained until the founding of Ko-gu-ryŭ in the twelfth year of Emperor Yuan-ti, 36 B.C.

It is here a fitting place to pause and ask what was the nature of these wild tribes that hung upon the flanks of civilization and, like the North American Indians, were friendly one day and on the war-path the next. Very little can be gleaned from purely Korean sources, but a Chinese work entitled the Mun-hön T’ong-go deals with them in some detail, and while there is much that is quite fantastic and absurd the main points tally so well with the little that Korean records say, that in their essential features they are probably as nearly correct as anything we are likely to find in regard to these aborigines (shall we say) of north-eastern Asia.

Chapter IV.

The wild tribes.... the “Nine Tribes” apocryphal.... Ye-mak.... position.... history.... customs.... Ye and Mak perhaps two.... Ok-jo 19.... position.... history.... customs.... North Ok-jo.... Eum-nu.... position.... customs.... the western tribes.... the Mal-gal group.... position.... customs.... other border tribes.

As we have already seen, tradition gives us nine original wild tribes in the north named respectively the Kyŭn, Pang, Whang, Păk, Chŭk, Hyŭn, P’ung, Yang, and U. These we are told occupied the peninsula in the very earliest times. But little credence can be placed in this enumeration, for when it comes to the narration of events we find that these tribes are largely ignored and numerous other names are introduced. The tradition is that they lived in Yang-gok, “The Place of the Rising Sun.” In the days of Emperor T’ai-k’an of the Hsia dynasty, 2188 B.C. the wild tribes of the east revolted. In the days of Emperor Wu-wang, 1122 B.C. it is said that representatives from several of the wild tribes came to China bringing rude musical instruments and performing their queer dances. The Whe-i was another of the tribes, for we are told that the brothers of Emperor Wu-wang fled thither but were pursued and killed. Another tribe, the So-i, proclaimed their independence of China but were utterly destroyed by this same monarch.

It is probable that all these tribes occupied the territory north of the Yalu River and the Ever-white Mountains. Certain it is that these names never occur in the pages of Korean history proper. Doubtless there was more or less intermixture and it is more than possible that their blood runs in the veins of Koreans today, but of this we cannot be certain.

We must call attention to one more purely Chinese notice of early Korea because it contains perhaps the earliest mention of the word Cho-sŭn. It is said that in Cho-sŭn three rivers, the Chŭn-su, Yŭl-su, and San-su, unite to form the Yŭl-su, which flows by (or through) Nang-nang. This corresponds somewhat with the description of the Yalu River.

We now come to the wild tribes actually resident in the peninsula and whose existence can hardly be questioned, whatever may be said about the details here given.

We begin with the tribe called Ye-măk, about which there are full notices both in Chinese and Korean records. The Chinese accounts deal with it as a single tribe but the Korean accounts, which are more exact, tell us that Ye and 20Mak were two separate “kingdoms.” In all probability they were of the same stock but separate in government.

Ye-guk (guk meaning kingdom) is called by some Ye-wi-guk. It is also know as Ch’ŭl. It was situated directly north of the kingdom of Sil-la, which was practically the present province of Kyŭng-sang, so its boundary must have been the same as that of the present Kang-wŭn Province. On the north was Ok-jŭ, on the east the Great Sea, and on the west Nang-nang. We may say then that Ye-guk comprised the greater portion of what is now Kang-wŭn Province. To this day the ruins of its capital may be seen to the east of the town of Kang-neung. In the palmy days of Ye-guk its capital was called Tong-i and later, when overcome by Sil-la, a royal seal was unearthed there and Hă-wang the king of Sil-la adopted it as his royal seal. After this town was incorporated into Sil-la it was known as Myŭng-ju.

In the days of the Emperor Mu-je, 140 B.C., the king of Ye-guk was Nam-nyŭ. He revolted from Wi-man’s rule and, taking a great number of his people, estimated, fantastically of course, at 380,000, removed to Liao-tung, where the Emperor gave him a site for a settlement at Chang-hă-gun. Some accounts say that this colony lasted three years. Others say that after two years it revolted and was destroyed by the Emperor. There are indications that the remnant joined the kingdom of Pu-yŭ in the north-east for, according to one writer, the seal of Pu-yŭ contained the words “Seal of the King of Ye” and it was reported that the aged men of Pu-yŭPu-yŭ used to say that in the days of the Han dynasty they were fugitives. There was also in Pu-yŭ a fortress called the “Ye Fortress.” From this some argue that Nam-nyŭ was not a man of the east but of the north. Indeed it is difficult to see how he could have taken so many people so far especially across an enemy’s country.

When the Chinese took the whole northern part of Korea, the Ye country was incorporated into the province of Im-dun and in the time of the Emperor Kwang-mu the governor of the province resided at Kang-neung. The Emperor received an annual tribute of grass-cloth, fruit and horses.

The people of Ye-guk were simple and credulous, and not naturally inclined to warlike pursuits. They were modest 21and unassuming, nor were they fond of jewels or finery. Their peaceful disposition made them an easy prey to their neighbors who frequently harassed them. In later times both Ko-gu-ryŭ and Sil-la used Ye-guk soldiers in part in effecting their conquests. People of the same family name did not intermarry. If a person died of disease his house was deserted and the family found a new place of abode. We infer from this that their houses were of a very poor quality and easily built; probably little more than a rude thatch covering a slight excavation in a hill-side. The use of hemp was known as was also that of silk, though this was probably at a much later date. Cotton was also grown and woven. By observing the stars they believed they could foretell a famine; from which we infer that they were mainly an agricultural people. In the tenth moon they worshipped the heavens, during which ceremony they drank, sang and danced. They also worshipped the “Tiger Spirit.” Robbery was punished by fining the offender a horse or a cow. In fighting they used spears as long as three men and not infrequently several men wielded the same spear together. They fought entirely on foot. The celebrated Nang-nang bows were in reality of Ye-guk make and were cut out of pak-tal wood. The country was infested with leopards. The horses were so small that mounted men could ride under the branches of the fruit trees without difficulty. They sold colored fish skins to the Chinese, the fish being taken from the eastern sea.

We are confronted by the singular statement that at the time of the Wei dynasty in China, 220-294 A.D. Ye-guk swore allegiance to China and despatched an envoy four times a year. There was no Ye-mak in Korea at that time and this must refer to some other Ye tribe in the north. It is said they purchased exemption from military duty by paying a stipulated annual sum. This is manifestly said of some tribe more contiguous to China than the one we are here discussing.

Măk-guk, the other half of Ye-măk, had its seat of government near the site of the present town of Ch’un-ch’ŭn. Later, in the time of the Sil-la supremacy, it was known as U-su-ju. It was called Ch’ŭn-ju in the time of the Ko-ryŭ rule.

The ancient Chinese work, Su-jun, says that in the days 22of Emperor Mu-song (antedating Ki-ja) the people of Wha-ha Man-măk came and did obeisance to China. This may have been the Korean Măk. Mencius also makes mention of a greater Măk and a lesser Măk. In the time of the Han dynasty they spoke of Cho-sün, Chin-bŭn and Ye-măk. Mencius’ notice of a greater and lesser Măk is looked upon by some as an insult to the memory of Ki-ja, as if he had called Ki-ja’s kingdom a wild country; but the above mention of the three separately is quoted to show that Mencius had no such thought.

The annals of Emperor Mu-je state, in a commentary, that Măk was north of Chin-han and south of Ko-gu-ryŭ and Ok-jŭ and had the sea to the east, a description which exactly suits Ye-măk as we know it.

The wild tribe called Ok-jŭ occupied the territory east of Kă-ma San and lay along the eastern sea-coast. It was narrow and long, stretching a thousand li along the coast in the form of a hook. This well describes the contour of the coast from a point somewhat south of the present Wŭn-san northward along the shore of Ham-gyŭng Province. On its south was Ye-măk and on its north were the wild Eum-nu and Pu-yŭ tribes. It consisted of five thousand houses grouped in separate communities that were quite distinct from each other politically, and a sort of patriarchal government prevailed. The language was much like that of the people of Ko-gu-ryŭ.

When Wi-man took Ki-jun’s kingdom, the Ok-jŭ people became subject to him, but later, when the Chinese made the four provinces, Ok-jŭ was incorporated into Hyŭn-do. As Ok-jŭ was the most remote of all the wild tribes from the Chinese capital, a special governor was appointed over her, called a Tong-bu To-wi, and his seat of government was at Pul-lă fortress. The district was divided into seven parts, all of which were east of Tan-dan Pass, perhaps the Tă-gwul Pass of to-day. In the sixth year of the Emperor Kwang-mu, 31 A.D., it is said that the governorship was discontinued and native magnates were put at the head of affairs in each of the seven districts under the title Hu or Marquis. Three of the seven districts were Wha-ye, Ok-jŭ and Pul-lă. It is said that the people of Ye-guk were called in to build the government houses in these seven centers.

23When Ko-gu-ryŭ took over all northern Korea, she placed a single governor over all this territory with the title Tă-in. Tribute was rendered in the form of grass-cloth, fish, salt and other sea products. Handsome women were also requisitioned. The land was fertile. It had a range of mountains at its back and the sea in front. Cereals grew abundantly. The people are described as being very vindictive. Spears were the weapons mostly used in fighting. Horses and cattle were scarce. The style of dress was the same as that of Ko-gu-ryŭ.

When a girl reached the age of ten she was taken to the home of her future husband and brought up there. Having attained a marriageable age she returned home and her fiancé then obtained her by paying the stipulated price.

Dead bodies were buried in a shallow grave and when only the bones remained they were exhumed and thrust into a huge hollowed tree trunk which formed the family “vault.” Many generations were thus buried in a single tree trunk. The opening was at the end of the trunk. A wooden image of the dead was carved and set beside this coffin and with it a bowl of grain.

The northern part of Ok-jŭ was called Puk Ok-jŭ or “North Ok-jŭ.” The customs of these people were the same as those of the south except for some differences caused by the proximity of the Eum-nu tribe to the north, who were the Apaches of Korea. Every year these fierce people made a descent upon the villages of the peaceful Ok-jŭ, sweeping everything before them. So regular were these incursions that the Ok-jŭ people used to migrate to the mountains every summer, where they lived in caves as best they could, returning to their homes in the late autumn. The cold of winter held their enemies in check.

We are told that a Chinese envoy once penetrated these remote regions. He asked “Are there any people living beyond this sea?” (meaning the Japan Sea.) They replied “Sometimes when we go out to fish and a tempest strikes us we are driven ten days toward the east until we reach islands where men live whose language is strange and whose custom it is each summer to drown a young girl in the sea.” Another said “Once some clothes floated here which were like ours except that the sleeves were as long as the height of a man.” 24Another said “A boat once drifted here containing a man with a double face, one above the other. We could not understand his speech and as he refused to eat he soon expired.”

The tribe of Ok-jŭ was finally absorbed in Ko-gu-ryŭ in the fourth year of King T’ă-jo Wang.

The Eum-nu tribe did not belong to Korea proper but as its territory was adjacent to Korea a word may not be out of place. It was originally called Suk-sin. It was north of Ok-jŭ and stretched from the Tu-man river away north to the vicinity of the Amur. Its most famous mountain was Pul-ham San, It is said to have been a thousand li to the north-east of Pu-yŭ. The country was mountainous and there were no cart roads. The various cereals were grown, as well as hemp.

The native account of the people of Eum-nu is quite droll and can hardly be accepted as credible. It tells us that the people lived in the trees in summer and in holes in the ground in winter. The higher a man’s rank the deeper he was allowed to dig. The deepest holes were “nine rafters deep.” Pigs were much in evidence. The flesh was eaten and the skins were worn. In winter the people smeared themselves an inch thick with grease. In summer they wore only a breach-cloth. They were extremely filthy. In the center of each of these winter excavations was a common cesspool about which everything else was clustered. The extraordinary statement is made that these people picked up pieces of meat with their toes and ate them. They sat on frozen meat to thaw it out. There was no king, but a sort of hereditary chieftainship prevailed. If a man desired to marry he placed a feather in the hair of the damsel of his choice and if she accepted him she simply followed him home. Women did not marry twice, but before marriage the extreme of latitude was allowed. Young men were more respected than old men. They buried their dead, placing a number of slaughtered pigs beside the dead that he might have something to eat in the land beyond the grave. The people were fierce and cruel, and even though a parent died they did not weep. Death was the penalty for small as well as great offences. They had no form of writing and treaties were made only by word of mouth. In the days of Emperor Yüan-ti of the Eastern Tsin dynasty, an envoy from this tribe was seen in the Capital of China.

25We have described the tribes of eastern Korea. A word now about the western part of the peninsula. All that portion of Korea lying between the Han and Yalu rivers constituted what was known as Nang-nang and included the present provinces of P‘yŭng-an and Whang-hă together with a portion of Kyŭng-geui. It was originally the name of a single tribe whose position will probably never be exactly known; but it was of such importance that when China divided northern Korea into four provinces she gave this name of Nang-nang to all that portion lying, as we have said, between the Han and the Yalu. The only accounts of these people are given under the head of the Kingdom of Ko-gu-ryŭ which we shall consider later. But between Nang-nang and the extreme eastern tribes of Ok-jŭ there was a large tract of country including the eastern part of the present province of P’yŭng-anP’yŭng-an and the western part of Ham-gyŭng. This was called Hyŭn-do, and the Chinese gave this name to the whole north-eastern part of Korea. No separate accounts of Hyŭn-do seem to be now available.

Before passing to the account of the founding of the three great kingdoms of Sil-la, Păk-je and Ko-gu-ryŭ, we must give a passing glance at one or two of the great border tribes of the north-west. They were not Koreans but exercised such influence upon the life of Korea that they deserve passing notice.

In that vast tract of territory now known as Manchuria there existed, at the time of Christ, a group of wild tribes known under the common name Mal-gal. The group was composed of seven separate tribes, named respectively—Songmal, Păk-tol, An-gŭ-gol, Pul-lal, Ho-sil, Heuk-su (known also as the Mul-gil)Mul-gil) and the Păk-san. Between these tribes there was probably some strong affinity, although this is argued only from the generic name Mal-gal which was usually appended to their separate names, and the fact that Mal-gal is commonly spoken of as one. The location of this group of tribes is determined by the statement (1) that it was north of Ko-gu-ryŭ and (2) that to the east of it was a tribe anciently called the Suk-sin (the same as the Eum-nu,) and (3) that it was five thousand li from Nak-yang the capital of China. We are also told that in it was the great river Sog-mal which was three li wide referring it would seem to the Amur River. These tribes, though 26members of one family, were constantly fighting each other and their neighbors and the ancient records say that of all the wild tribes of the east the Mal-gal were the most feared by their neighbors. But of all the Mal-gal tribes the Heuk-su were the fiercest and most warlike. They lived by hunting and fishing. The title of their chiefs was Tă-mak-pul-man-lol-guk. The people honored their chiefs and stood in great fear of them. It is said that they would not attend to the duties of nature on a mountain, considering, it would seem, that there is something sacred about a mountain. They lived in excavations in the sides of earth banks, covering them with a rough thatch. The entrance was from above. Horses were used but there were no other domestic animals except pigs. Their rude carts were pushed by men and their plows were dragged by the same. They raised a little millet and barley, and cultivated nine kinds of vegetables. The water there, was brackish owing to the presence of a certain kind of tree the bark of whose roots tinged the water like an infusion. They made wine by chewing grain and then allowing it to ferment. This was very intoxicating. For the marriage ceremony the bride wore a hempen skirt and the groom a pig skin with a tiger skin over his head. Both bride and groom washed the face and hands in urine. They were the filthiest of all the wild tribes. They were expert archers, their bows being made of horn, and the arrows were twenty-three inches long. In summer a poison was prepared in which the arrow heads were dipped. A wound from one of these was almost instantly fatal. The almost incredible statement is made in the native accounts that the dead bodies of this people were not interred but were used in baiting traps for wild animals.

Besides the Mal-gal tribes there were two others of considerable note, namely the Pal-hă and the Kŭ-ran of which special mention is not here necessary, though their names will appear occasionally in the following pages. They lived somewhere along the northern borders of Korea, within striking distance. The last border tribe that we shall mention is the Yŭ-jin whose history is closely interwoven with that of Ko-gu-ryŭ. They were the direct descendants, or at least close relatives, of the Eum-nu people. They were said to have been the very lowest and weakest of all the wild tribes, in fact 27a mongrel tribe, made up of the offscourings of all the others. They are briefly described by the statement that if they took up a handful of water it instantly turned black. They were good archers and were skilful at mimicing the deer for the purpose of decoying it. They ate deer flesh raw. A favorite form of amusement was to make tame deer intoxicated with wine and watch their antics. Pigs, cattle and donkeys abounded. They used cattle for burden and the hides served for covering. The houses were roofed with bark. Fine horses were raised by them. It was in this tribe that the great conquerer of China, A-gol-t’a, arose, who paved the way for the founding of the great Kin dynasty a thousand years or more after the beginning of our era.

Chapter V.

Southern Korean.... Ki-jun’s arrival.... differences which he found.... three groups.... Ma-han.... position.... peculiarities.... characteristics.... worship.... tatooing.... numbers.... Chin-han.... Chinese immigrationimmigration.... customs.... Pyön-han.... position.... habits.... the philological argument.... southern origin.... Ki-jun and his descendants.

We must now ask the reader to go with us to the southern portion of the peninsula where we shall find a people differing in many essential respects from the people of the north, and evincing not merely such different but such opposite characteristics from the people of the north that it is difficult to believe that they are of the same origin.

When King Ki-jun, the last of the Ki-ja dynasty proper was driven from P’yŭng-yang by the unscrupulous Wi-man, he embarked, as we have already seen, upon the Ta-dong River accompanied by a small retinue of officials and servants. Faring southward along the coast, always within sight of land and generally between the islands and mainland, he deemed it safe at last to effect a landing. This he did at a place anciently known as Keum-ma-gol or “Place of the Golden Horse,” now Ik-san. It should be noticed that this rendering is simply that of the Chinese characters that were used to represent the word Keum-ma-gol. In all probability it was a mere 28transliteration of the native name of the place by the use of the Chinese, and the rendering here given was originally unthought of.

They found the land inhabited, but by a people strange in almost every particular. The explicitness with which all native accounts describe the people whom Ki-jun found in the south is in itself a striking argument in favor of the theory that a different race of people was there encountered. The southern part of the peninsula was divided between three groups of peoples called respectively Ma-han, Chin-han and Pyön-han. How these names originated can hardly be learned at this date, but it would seem that they were native words; for the last of the three, Pyön-han, was also called Pyön-jin, a word entering into the composition of many of the names of the towns peopled by the Pyön-han tribes. It is necessary for us now to take a brief glance at each of these three groups, for in them we shall find the solution of the most interesting and important problem that Korea has to offer either to the historian or ethnologist.

The Ma-han people occupied the south-western part of the peninsula, comprising the whole of the present province of Ch’ung-ch’ŭng and the northern part of Chŭl-la. It may have extended northward nearly to the Han river but of this we cannot be sure. On its north was the tribe of Nang-nang, on the south was probably a part of Pyön-han but one authority says that to the south of Ma-han were the Japanese or Wă-in. These Japanese are carefully described and much color is given to this statement by certain coincidences which will be brought out later. No Korean work mentions these Japanese and it may be that the Japanese referred to were those living on the islands between Korea and Japan. But we can easilyeasily imagine the thrifty islanders making settlements of the southern coast of Korea.

The first striking peculiarity of the Ma-han people, and one that differentiates them from the northern neighbors, was the fact that they were not one tribe but a congeries of small settlements each entirely independent of the others, each having its own chief, its own army, its own laws. It is said that they lived either among the mountains or along the coast, which would point to the existence of two races, the one inland, 29indigenous, and the other, colonists from some other country. The Ma-han people were acquainted with agriculture, sericulture and the use of flax and hemp. Their fowls had tails ninety-five inches long. Here is one of the interesting coincidences that uphold the contention that the Japanese were in the peninsula at that time. These peculiar fowls are now extinct, but, within the memory of people now living, such fowls were quite common in Japan and preserved specimens in the museum at Tokyo show that the above measurements are by no means unusual in that breed of fowl. It would seem then that Japan procured them from Korea, or else the Japanese colonists introduced them into Korea.

Another point which differentiates the south from the north was the fact that a walled town was a thing unknown in the south; as the Korean writer puts it “There was no difference between town and country.” Their houses were rough thatched huts sunken a little below the surface of the ground, as is indicated by the statement that the houses were entered from the top. These people of Ma-han were strong and fierce and were known by the loudness and vehemence of their speech. This accords well with the further fact that they were the virtual governors of all south Korea, for it was Ma-han who furnished rulers for Chin-han. These people did not kneel nor bow in salutation. There was no difference in the treatment of people of different ages or sexes. All were addressed alike.

Another marked difference between these people and those of the north was that the Ma-han people held neither gold nor silver in high repute. We may safely reckon upon the acquisitive faculty as being the most keen and pervasive of all the faculties of eastern as well as western peoples, and that the north should have been acquainted with the uses and values of these metals while the south was not, can argue nothing less than a complete ignorance of each other. The southern people loved beads strung about the head and face, a trait that naturally points to the south and the tropics. In the summer they worshipped spirits, at which time they consumed large quantities of intoxicating beverages while they sang and danced, several “tens of men” dancing together and keeping time with their feet. In the autumn, after the harvest, they 30worshipped and feasted again. In each of the little settlements there was a high priest whose business it was to worship for the whole community. They had a kind of monastic system, the devotees of which fastened iron drums to high posts and beat upon them during their worship.

Another striking statement is that tatooing was common. This is another powerful argument in favor of the theory of a southern origin, for it is apparent that tatooing is a form of dress and is most in vogue where the heat renders the use of clothing uncomfortable. As might be expected, this habit has died out in Korea, owing without doubt to the comparative severity of the climate; but within the memory of living men it has been practiced on a small scale, and today there is one remnant of the custom in the drawing of a red colored thread under the skin of the wrist in making certain kinds ofof vow or promises.

In the larger towns the ruler was called Sin-ji and in the smaller ones Eup-ch’a. They had tests of endurance similar to those used by North American Indians. One of them consisted in drawing a cord through the skin of the back and being hauled up and down by it without a murmur.

We are told that in Ma-han there were 100,000 houses, each district containing, from 1,000 to 10,000 houses. This would give an approximate population of 500,000. The names of the fifty-four districts or kingdom included in Ma-han are given in the appendix together with those of Chin-han and Pyön-han.

We are told that the aged men of Chin-han held the tradition that thousands of Chinese fled to Korea in the days of the Tsin dynasty, 255-209 B.C., and that the people of Ma-han gave them land in the east and enclosed them in a palisade, and furnished them with a governor who transmitted the office to his son. This could refer however only to a small portion of Chin-han. There was a large and widely scattered native population occupying approximatelyapproximately the territory covered by the present Kyŭng-sang Province. It is probable that these Chinese refugees exercised a great influence over them and taught them many things. It is not improbable that it was owing to this civilizing agency that Sil-la eventually became master of the peninsula. But it should be carefully 31noted that this Chin-han did not derive its name, from the Chin (Tsin) dynasty of China through these Chinese refugees. The character used in designating Chin-han is not the same as that used for the Chin dynasty.

The land was fertile. The mulberry flourished and silk culture was a common employment. Horses and cattle were used both under the saddle and as beasts of burden. Marriage rites were scrupulously observed and the distinction between the sexes was carefully preserved. When a body was interred men followed the bier waving feathers in the air to help waft the soul of the departed on its flight to heaven. The country contained much mineral wealth. Ye-măk, Ma-han and the Japanese all obtained metal from Chin-han. Iron was the medium of exchange. They were fond of music and the dance. Their music was made by means of a rude harp and an instrument made by stretching wire back and forth inside a metal cylinder which, when struck, caused the strings to vibrate. When a child was born a stone was placed against its head to flatten it. Tattooing was common in those parts contiguous to the Japanese, which would imply that the custom was a borrowed one. When two men met on the road it was considered good form for each to stop and insist upon the others passing first.

It is hardly necessary to dwell upon the characteristics of the Pyön-han people, for they were nearly the same as those of the people of Chin-han. Some say they were within the territory of Chin-han, others that they were south both of Ma-han and Chin-han, and nearest to the Japanese. They tatooed a great deal. Beyond this fact little is known of them excepting that their punishments were very severe, many offences being punished with death.

It is difficult to say what was the nature of the bond between the different districts which made up the whole body of either Ma-han, Chin-han or Pyön-han. On the one hand we are told that the districts were entirely separate and yet we find Ma-han, as a whole, performing acts that imply some sort of federation at least if not a fixed central government. In fact one Chinese work states that a town named Cha-ji was the capital of all three of the Hans. We must conclude therefore from those and subsequent statements that some sort of central government prevailed, at least in Ma-han.

32The names of the several kingdoms which composed the three Hans are preserved to us, mutilated, in all probability, by reason of Chinese transliteration, but still useful from a philological and ethnological standpoint. If the reader will glance but casually at the list of these separate districts as given in the appendix, he will see that there was good cause for the division into three Hans. We will point out only the most striking peculiarities here, as this belongs rather to the domain of philology than to that of history. In Ma-han we find seven of the names ending ro. We find two or three of the same in Pyön-han but none in Chin-hau. In Ma-han we find fourteen names ending in ri but none in either of the others. In Pyön-han we find ten names beginning with Pyön-jin which is wholly unknown to the other two. In this we also find three with the unique suffix mi-dong. In Chin-han we find nine ending in kan and five in kaye, which are found in neither of the others. It is hardly necessary to say that these cannot be mere coincidences. In each group we find at least one considerable set of endings entirely lacking in the others. As our own ending ton, ville, burgh, chester and coln have an original significance, so these ending ro, ri, mi-dong, kan and ka-ya have a meaning which should supply us with important clues to the origin of the people of southern Korea.

The marked polysyllabism of these names makes it impossible to imagine a Chinese origin for them. It is seldom that a Manchu or Mongol name of a place exceeds two syllables. On the other hand we find in Japan and Polynesia common use of polysyllabic geographical names. A thorough discussion of the subject here would be out of place, but this much must be said, that several of these endings, as ro, pin and kan, find their almost exact counterpart in the Dravidian languages of southern India, where they mean village, settlement and kingdom.

The argument in favor of the southern origin of the people of the three Hans is a cumulative one. The main points are; the structure and vocabulary of the language, the nonintercourse with the people of northern Korea, the custom of tattooing, the diminutive size of the horses found nowhere else, except in the Malay peninsula, the tradition of the southern origin of the people of the island of Quelpart, the physiological 33similarity between the people, especially the females, of Quelpart and Formosa, the seafaring propensities of the people of the three Hans, their ignorance of the value of gold and silver, the continuous line of islands stretching along the whole coast of China together with the powerful ocean current which sweeps northward along the Asiatic coast, the tradition of the Telugu origin of the ancient sultans of Anam and the love of bead ornaments.

Such was the status of southern Korea when Ki-jun arrived at Keum-ma-gol. By what means he obtained control of the government is not related but the fact remains that he did so and founded a new kingdom which was destined to survive nearly two centuries. Ki-jun died the same year. No details are given of the events that transpired during the next hundred years or more excepting that one Chinese work states that during the reign of Emperor Wu-ti 140-88 B.C. frequent envoys went from Ma-han to the Chinese court. We are also told that off the coast of Ma-han among the islands lived a tribe called the Chu-ho, a people of smaller stature than the people of Ma-han, and speaking a different language. They cut the hair and wore skins for clothing but clothed only the upper part of the body. They came frequently to Ma-han to barter cattle and pigs.

Ki-jun’s seventh descendant was Hun, with the title of Wŭn-wang. His reign began in 57 B.C. during the reign of the Han Emperor Hsuan-ti and in the second year the great kingdom of Sil-la was founded in Chin-han. In his twenty-second year the great northern kingdom of Ko-gu-ryŭKo-gu-ryŭ was founded, 35 B.C., and nineteen years later the kingdom of Ma-han fell before the forces of Păk-je.

Chapter VI.

The founding of Sil-la, Ko-gu-ryuSil-la, Ko-gu-ryu, and Pak-je.... Sil-la.... legend.... growth.... Tsushima a vassal.... credibility of accounts.... Japanese relations.... early vicissitudes.... Ko-gu-ryuKo-gu-ryu.... four Pu-yus.... legend.... location of Pu-yu.... Chu-mong founds Ko-gu-ryuKo-gu-ryu.... growth and extent.... products.... customs.... religious rites.... official grades.... punishments.... growth eastward.... Pak-je.... relations between Sil-la and Pak-je.... tradition of founding of Pak-je.... opposition of wide tribes.... the capital moved.... situationsituation of the peninsula at the time of Christ.

34In the year 57 B.C. the chiefs of the six great Chin-han states, Yŭn-jun-yang-san, Tol-san-go-hö, Cha-sa-jin-ji, Mu-san-dă-su, Keum san-ga-ri and Myŭng-whal-san-go-ya held a great council at Yun-chŭn-yangYun-chŭn-yang and agreed to merge their separate fiefs into a kingdom. They named the capital of the new kingdom Sŭ-ya-bŭl, from which the present word Seoul is probably derived, and it was situated where Kyöng-ju now stands in Kyüng-sang Province. At first the name applied both to the capital and to the kingdom.

They placed upon the throne a boy of thirteen years, named Hyŭk-kŭ-se, with the royal title Kŭ-sŭ-gan. It is said that his family name was Pak, but this was probably an afterthought derived from a Chinese source. At any rate he is generally known as Pak Hyŭk-kŭ-se. The story of his advent is typically Korean. A company of revellers beheld upon a mountain side a ball of light on which a horse was seated. They approached it and as they did so the horse rose straight in air and disappeared, leaving a great, luminous egg. This soon opened of itself and disclosed a handsome boy. This wonder was accompanied by vivid light and the noise of thunder. Not long after this another wonder was seen. Beside the Yŭn-yüng Spring a hen raised her wing and from her side came forth a female child with a mouth like a bird’s bill, but when they washed her in the spring the bill fell off and left her like other children. For this reason the well was named the Pal-ch’ŭn which refers to the falling of the bill. Another tradition says that she was formed from the rib of a dragon which inhabited the spring. In the fifth year of his reign the youthful king espoused this girl and they typify to all Koreans the perfect marriage.

As this kingdom included only six of the Chin-han states, it would be difficult to give its exact boundaries. From the very first it began to absorb the surrounding states, until at last it was bounded on the east and south by the sea alone, while it extended north to the vicinity of the Han River and westward to the borders of Na-han, or to Chi-ri San. It took her over four hundred years to complete these conquests, many of which were bloodless while others were effected at the point of the sword. It was not until the twenty-second generation that the name Sil-la was adopted as the name of this kingdom.

35It is important to notice that the island of Tsushima, whether actually conquered by Sil-la or not, became a dependency of that Kingdom and on account of the sterility of the soil the people of that island were annually aided by the government. It was not until the year 500 A.D. or thereabouts that the Japanese took charge of the island and placed their magistrate there. From that time on, the island was not a dependency of any Korean state but the relations between them were very intimate, and there was a constant interchange of goods, in a half commercial and half political manner. There is nothing to show that the daimyos of Tsushima ever had any control over any portion of the adjacent coast of Korea.

It gives one a strong sense of the trustworthiness of the Korean records of these early days to note with what care the date of every eclipse was recorded. At the beginning of each reign the list of the dates of solar eclipses is given. For instance, in the reign of Hyŭk-kŭ-se they occurred, so the recordsthe records say, in the fourth, twenty-fourth, thirtieth, thirty-second, forty-third, forty-fifth, fifty-sixth and fifty-ninth years of his reign. According to the Gregorian calendar this would mean the years 53, 31, 27, 25, 14, 12 B.C. and 2. A.D. If these annals were later productions, intended to deceive posterity, they would scarcely contain lists of solar eclipses. The marvelous or incredible stories given in these records are given only as such and often the reader is warned not to put faith in them.

The year 48 B.C. gives us the first definite statement of a historical fact regarding Japanese relations with Korea. In that year the Japanese pirates stopped their incursions into Korea for the time being. From this it would seem that even at that early date the Japanese had become the vikings of the East and were carrying fire and sword wherever there was enough water to float their boats. It would also indicate thatthat the extreme south of Korea was not settled by Japanese, for it was here that the Japanese incursions took place.

In 37 B.C. the power of the little kingdomkingdom of Sil-la began to be felt in surrounding districts and the towns of Pyön-han joined her standards. It was probably a bloodless conquest, the people of Pyön-han coming voluntarily into Sil-la. In 37 B.C. the capital of Sil-la, which had received the secondary 36name Keum-sŭng, was surrounded by a wall thirty-five li, twelve miles, long. The city was 5,075 paces long and 3,018 paces wide. The progress made by Sil-la and the evident tendency toward centralisation of all power in a monarchy aroused the suspicion of the king of Ma-han who, we must remember, had considered Chin-han as in some sense a vassal of Ma-han. For this reason the king of Sil-la, in 19 B.C., sent an envoy to the court of Ma-han with rich presents in order to allay the fears of that monarch. The constant and heavy influx into Sil-la of the fugitive Chinese element also disturbed the mind of that same king, for he foresaw that if this went unchecked it might mean the supremacy of Sil-la instead of that of Ma-han. This envoy from Sil-la was Ho-gong, said to have been a native of Japan. He found the king of Ma-han in an unenviable frame of mind and it required all his tact to pacify him, and even then he succeeded so ill that had not the Ma-han officials interfered the king would have had his life. The following year the king of Ma-han died and a Sil-la embassy went to attend the obsequies. They were anxious to find opportunity to seize the helm of state in Ma-han and bring her into the port of Sil-la, but this they were strictly forbidden to do by their royal master who generously forebore to take revenge for the insult of the preceding year.

As this was the year, 37 B.C., whichwhich marks the founding of the powerful kingdom of Ko-gur-yŭ, we must turn our eyes northward and examine that important event.

As the founder of Ko-gur-yŭ originated in the kingdom of Pu-yŭPu-yŭ, it will be necessary for us to examine brieflybriefly the position and status of that tribe, whose name stands prominently forth in Korean history and tradition. There were four Pu-yŭs in all; North Pu-yŭ, East Pu-yŭ, Chŭl-bŭn Pu-yŭ and South Pu-yŭ. We have already, under the head of the Tan-gun, seen that tradition gives to Pu-ru his son, the honor of having having been the founder of North Pu-yŭ, or Puk Pu-yŭ as it is commonly called. This is quite apocryphal but gives us at least a precarious starting point. This Puk Pu-yŭ is said by some to have been far to the north in the vicinity of the Amur River or on one of its tributaries, a belief which is sustained to a certain extent by some inferences to be deduced from the following legend.

37It must have been about fifty years before the beginning of our era that King Hă-bu-ru sat upon the throne of North Pu-yŭ. His great sorrow was that Providence had not given him a son. Riding one day in the forest he reached the bank of a swift rushing stream and there dismounting he besought the Great Spirit to grant him a son. Turning to remount he found the horse standing with bowed head before a great boulder while tears were rolling down its face. He turned the boulder over and found beneath it a child of the color of gold but with a form resembling a toad. Thus was his prayer answered.answered. He took the curious child home and gave it the name Keum-wa or “Golden Toad.” Soon after this the kingdom removed to East Pu-yŭ, or Tong Pu-yŭ, somewhere near the “White Head Mountain,” known as Păk-tu San.

Arriving at the age of manhood, Keum-wa looked about for a wife. As he was walking along the shore of U-bal-su (whether river or sea we do not know) he found a maiden crying. Her name was Yu-wha, “Willow Catkin.” To his inquiries she replied that she was daughter of the Sea King, Ha-băk, but that she had been driven from home because she had been enticed away and ravished by a spirit called Ha-mo-su. Keum-wa took her home as his wife but shut her in a room to which the sun-light had access only by a single minute aperture. Marvelous to relate a ray of light entered and followed her to whatever part of the room she went. By it she conceived and in due time gave birth to an egg, as large as five “measures.” Keum-wa in anger threw it to the pigs and dogs but they would not touch it. Cattle and horses breathed upon it to give it warmth. A stork from heaven settled down upon it and warmed it beneath her feathers. Keum-wa relented and allowed Yu-wha to bring it to the palace, where she wrapped it in silk and cotton. At last it burst and disclosed a fine boy. This precocious youth at seven years of age was so expert with the bow that he won the name of Chu-mong, “Skillful Archer.” He was not a favorite with the people and they tried to compass his death but the king protected him and made him keeper of the royal stables. Like Jacob of Holy Writ he brought his wits to bear upon the situation. By fattening the poorer horses and making the good ones lean he succeeded in reserving for his own use the 38fleetest steeds. Thus in the hunt he always led the rout and secured the lion’s share of the game. For this his seven brothers hated him and determined upon his death. By night his mother sought his bed-side and whispered the word of warning. Chu-mong arose and with three trusty councillors, O-i, Ma-ri and Hyŭp-pu, fled southward until he found his path blocked by the Eum-ho River. There was neither boat, bridge nor ford. Striking the surface of the water with his bow he called upon the spirit of the river to aid him, for behind him the plain smoked with the pursuing hoof-beats of his brothers’ horses. Instantly there came up from the depths of the river a shoal of fish and tortoises who lay their backs together and thus bridged the stream.

Fantastic as this story seems, it may have an important bearing upon the question of the location of Pu-yŭ. Can we not see in this great shoal of fish a reference to the salmon which, at certain seasons, run up the Amur and its tributaries in such numbers that the water is literally crowded with them? If there is any weight to this argument the kingdom of Pu-yŭ, from which Chu-mong came, must have been, as some believe, along the Sungari or some other tributary of the Amur.

Leaving his brothers baffled on the northern bank, Chu-mong fared southward till he reached Mo-tun-gok by the Po-sul River where he met three men, Chă-sa, clothed in grass cloth, Mu-gol in priestly garb and Muk-hŭ, in seaweed. They joined his retinue and proceeded with him to Chŭl-bon, the present town of Song-ch’ŭn, where he founded a kingdom. He gave it the name of Ko-gu-ryŭ, from Ko, his family name, and Ku-ryŭ, a mountain in his native Pu-yŭ. Some say the Ko is from the Chinese Kao, “high,” referring to his origin. This kingdom is also known by the name Chŭl-bon Pu-yu. It is said that Pu-ryu River flowed by the capital. These events occurred, if at all, in the year 37 B.C. This was all Chinese land, for it was a part of the great province of Tong-bu which had been erected by the Emperor So-je (Chao-ti) in 81 B.C. Only one authority mentions Chu-mong’s relations with Tong-bu. This says that when he erected his capital at Chŭl-bon he seized Tong-bu. China had probably held these provinces with a very light hand and the founding of a 39vigorous native monarchy would be likely to attract the semi-barbarous people of northern Korea. Besides, the young Ko-gu-ryŭ did not seize the whole territory at once but gradually absorbed it. It is not unlikely that China looked with complacency upon a native ruler who, while recognising her suzerainty, could at the same time hold in check the fierce denizens of the peninsula.

We are told that the soil of Ko-gu-ryŭ was fertile and that the cereals grew abundantly. The land was famous for its fine horses and its red jade, its blue squirrel skins and its pearls. Chu-mong inclosed his capital in a heavy stockade and built store-houses and a prison. At its best the country stretched a thousand li beyond the Yalu River and southward to the banks of the Han. It comprised the Nang-nang tribe from which Emperor Mu-je named the whole north-western portion of Korea when he divided northern Korea into four provinces. On the east was Ok-ju and on its north was Pu-yŭ. It contained two races of people, one living among the mountains and the other in the plains. It is said they had a five-fold origin. There were the So-ro-bu, Chŭl-lo-bu, Sun-no-bu, Kwan-no-bu and Kye-ro-bu. The kings at first came from the So-ro-bu line but afterwards from the Kye-ro-bu. This probablyprobably refers to certain family clans or parties which existed at the time of Chu-mong’s arrival and which were not discontinued. Chu-mong is said to have married the daughter of the king of Chŭl-bon and so he came into the control of affairs in a peaceful way and the institutions of society were not particularly disturbed.

Agriculture was not extensively followed. In the matter of food they were very frugal. Their manners and customs were somewhat like those of Pu-yŭ but were not derived from that kingdom. Though licentious they were fond of clean clothes. At night both sexes gathered in a single apartment and immorality abounded. Adultery, however, if discovered, was severely punished. In bowing it was customary for these people to throw out one leg behind. While travelling, men more often ran than walked. The worship of spirits was universal. In the autumn there was a great religious festival. In the eastern part of the peninsula there was a famous cave called Su-sin where a great religious gathering occurred each 40autumn. Their religious rites included singing and drinking. At the same time captives were set free. They worshipped likewise on the eve of battle, slaughtering a bullock and examining the body for omens.

Swords, arrows and spears were their common weapons. A widow usually became the wife of her dead husband’s brother. When a great man died it was common to bury one or more men alive with his body. The statement that sometimes as many as a hundred were killed is probably an exaggeration. These characteristics were those of the Nang-nang people as well as of the rest of Ko-gu-ryŭ. The highest official grades were called Sang-ga-dă, No-p’ă, Ko-ju-dă. Some say their official grades were called by the names of animals, as the “horse grade” the “dog grade” the “cow grade.” There were special court garments of silk embroidered with gold and silver. The court hat was something like the present kwan or skull-cap. There were few prisoners. If a man committed a crime he was summarily tried and executed, and his wife and children became slaves. Thieves restored twelve-fold. Marriage always took place at the bride’s house. The dead were wrapped in silks and interred, and commonly the entire fortune of the deceased was exhaustedexhausted in the funeral ceremony. The bodies of criminals were left unburied. The people were fierce and violent and thieving was common. They rapidly corrupted the simpler and cleaner people of the Ye-măk and Ok-jŭ tribes.

No sooner had Chu-mong become firmly established in his new capital than he began to extend the limits of his kingdom. In 35 B.C. he began a series of conquests which resulted in the establishment of a kingdom destined to defy the power of China for three quarters of a millennium. His first operations were against the wild people to the east of him. The first year he took Pu-ryu on the Ya-lu, then in 29 B.C. he took Hăng-in, a district near the present Myo-hyang San. In 27 B.C. he took Ok-jŭ, thus extending his kingdom to the shore of eastern Korea. In 23 B.C. he learned that his mother had died in far off Pu-yŭ and he sent an embassy thither to do honor to her.

The year 18 B.C. beheld the founding of the third of the great kingdoms which held the triple sceptre of Korea, and 41we must therefore turn southward and examine the events which led up to the founding of the kingdom of Păk-je.

When Chu-mong fled southward from Pu-yŭ he left behind him a wife and son. The latter was named Yu-ri. Tradition says that one day while playing with pebbles in the street he accidentally broke a woman’s water jar. In anger she exclaimed “You are a child without a father.” The boy went sadly home and askedasked his mother if it was true. She answered yes, in order to see what the boy would do. He went out and found a knife and was on the point of plunging it into his body when she threw herself upon him saying “Your father is living and is a great king in the south. Before he left he hid a token under a tree, which you are to find and take to him.” The boy searched every where but could not find the tree. At last, wearied out, he sat down behind the house in despair, when suddenly he heard a sound as of picking, and noticing that it came from one of the posts of the house he said “This is the tree and I shall now find the token.” Digging beneath the post he unearthed the broken blade of a sword. With this he started south and when he reached his father’s palace he showed the token. His father produced the other half of the broken blade and as the two matched he received the boy and proclaimed him heir to the throne.

But he had two other sons by a wife whom he had taken more recently. They were Pi-ryu and On-jo. When Yu-ri appeared on the scene these two brothers, knowing how proverbially unsafe the head of a king’s relative is, feared for their lives and so fled southward. Ascending Sam-gak San, the mountain immediately behind the present Seoul, they surveyed the country southward. Pi-ryu the elder chose the country to the westward along the sea. On-jo chose to go directly south. So they separated, Pi-ryu going to Mi-ch’u-hol, now In-ch’ŭn near Chemulpo, where he made a settlement. On-jo struck southward into what is now Ch’ung-ch’ŭng Province and settled at a place called Eui-rye-sŭng, now the district of Chik-san. There he was given a generous tract of land by the king of Ma-han; and he forthwith set up a little kingdom which he named South Pu-yŭ. The origin of the name Păk-je is not definitely known. Some say it was because a hundred men constituted the whole of On-jo’s party. Others say 42that it was at first called Sip-je and then changed to Păk-je when their numbers were swelled by the arrival of Pi-ryu and his party. The latter had found the land sterile and the climate unhealthy at Mi-ch’u-hol and so was constrained to join his brother again. On the other hand we find the name Păk-je in the list of original districts of Ma-han and it is probable that this new kingdom sprang up in the district called Păk-je and this name became so connected with it that it has came down in history as Păk-je, while in truth it was not called so by its own people. It the same way Cho-sŭn is known today by the medieval name Korea. Not long after Pi-ryu rejoined his brother he died of chagrin at his own failure.

It must not be imagined that these three kingdoms of Sil-la, Ko-gu-ryŭ and Păk-je, which represented so strongly the centripetal idea in government, were allowed to proceed without vigorous protests from the less civilized tribes about them. The Mal-gal tribes in the north, the Suk-sin and North Ok-jŭ tribe in the north-east and Ye-măk in the east made fierce attacks upon them as opportunity presented. The Mal-gal tribes in particular seem to have penetrated southward even to the borders of Păk-je, probably after skirting the eastern borders of Ko-gu-ryŭ. Nominally Ko-gu-ryŭ held sway even to the Japan Sea but practically the wild tribes roamed as yet at will all through the eastern part of the peninsula. In the eighth year of On-jo’s reign, 10 B.C., the Mal-gal forces besieged his capital and it was only after a most desperate fight that they were driven back. On-jo found it necessary to build the fortresses of Ma-su-sŭng and Ch’il-chung-sŭng to guard against such inroads. At the same time the Sŭn-bi were threatening Ko-gu-ryŭ on the north, but Gen. Pu Bun-no lured them into an ambush and routed them completely. The king rewarded him with land, horses and thirty pounds of gold, but the last he refused.

The next year the wild men pulled down the fortresses lately erected by King On-jo and the latter decided that he must find a better site for his capital. So he moved it to the present site of Nam-han, about twenty miles from the present Seoul. At the same time he sent and informed the king of Ma-han that he had found it necessary to move. The following year he enclosed the town in a wall and set to work teaching 43agriculture to the people throughout the valley of the Han River which flowed near by.

In the year which saw the birth of Christ the situation of affairs in Korea was as follows. In the north, Ko-gu-ryŭ, a vigorous, warlike kingdom, was making herself thoroughly feared by her neighbors; in the central western portion was the little kingdom of Păk-je, as yet without any claims to independence but waiting patiently for the power of Ma-han so to decline as to make it possible to play the serpent in the bosom as Wi-man had done to Ki-ja’s kingdom. In the south was Sil-la, known as a peaceful power, not needing the sword because her rule was so mild and just that people from far and near flocked to her borders and craved to become her citizens. It is one of the compensations of history that Sil-la, the least martial of them all, in an age when force seemed the only arbiter, should have finally overcome them all and imposed upon them her laws and her language.

Chapter VII.

Change of Ko-gu-ryu capital.... Sil-la raided.... Legend of Suk-ta’l-ba.... fall of Ma-han.... beginning of Chinese enmity against Ko-gu-ryu....the three kingdoms differentiated.... King Yu-ri degraded.... extension of Ko-gu-ryu.... Japanese corsairs... remnant of Ma-han revolts.... fall of Pu-yu.... origin of in-gum.... siege of Ko-gu-ryu capital raised.... Sil-la’s peaceful policy.... patronymics.... official grades.... unoccupied territory.... kingdom of Ka-rak.... legends.... position.... dependencies.

We read that in 2 A.D. the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ was about to sacrifice a pig to his gods, when the pig escaped and taking to its heels was chased by the courtier Sŭl-chi into the district of Kung-nă. He caught the animal near Wi-na Cliff, north of the Ch’o-san of today. When he returned he described the place to the king as being rough and consequently suitable for the site of a capital. Deer, fish and turtles also abounded. He gave such a glowing account that the king was fain to move his capital to that place, where it remained for two hundredhundred and six years.

In 4 A.D. Hyuk-kŭ-se, the wise king of Sil-la died and seven days later his queen followed him. It is said that they 44were so completely one that neither could live without the other. Nam-hă his son, with the title of Ch’a-ch’a-ung, reigned in his stead. A remnant of the Nang-nang tribe, hearing of the death of King Hyŭk-kŭ-se, thought it a fitting time to make a raid into Sil-la territory, but they were beaten back.

In the third yearyear of his reign, Nam-hă built a shrine to his father and then put the management of the government into the hands of a man named Sŭk-t’al-hă who had become his son-in-law. This man is one of the noted men of Sil-la and his origin and rise are among the cherished traditions of the people.

Somewhere in north-eastern Japan there was a kingdom known as Ta-p’a-ra and there a woman, pregnant for seven years, brought forth an egg. The neighbors thought it a bad omen and were minded to destroy it but the mother, aware of their intentions, wrapped the egg in silk and cotton and placing it in a strong chest committed it to the waters of the Japan Sea. In time it drifted to A-jin Harbor on the coast of Sil-la where an old fisherwoman drew it ashore and found upon opening it that it contained a beautiful child. She adopted him and reared him in her humble home. It was noticed that wherever the child went the magpies followed him in flocks, so they gave him the name of Sŭk, the first part of the Chinese word for magpie. The second part of his name was T’al, “to put off” referring to his having broken forth from the egg, and the final syllable of his name was Hă meaning “to open” for the fishwife opened the chest. This boy developed into a giant both physically and mentally. His foster-mother saw in him the making of a great man, and so gave him what educational advantages she could afford. When he had exhausted these she sent him to enter the service of the great statesman Pyo-gong the same that had acted as envoy to Păk-je. Pyo-gong recognised his merit and introduced him at court where his rise was so rapid that ere long he married the king’s daughter and became vicegerent of the realm, the king resigning into his hands the greater part of the business of state.

The year 9 A.D. beheld the fall of the kingdom of Ma-han. We remember that Ki-jun became king of Ma-han in 193 B.C. He died the same year and was succeeded by his son Ki-t’ak with the title Kang-wang, who ruled four years. 45It was in 58 B.C. that Ki-jun’s descendant Ki-hun (Wun-wang) ascended the throne. It was in the second year of his reign that Sil-la was founded and in his twenty-second year that Ko-gu-ryŭ was founded. After twenty-six years of rule he died and left his son, Ki-jŭng, to hold the scepter. It was this king who, in his sixteenth year gave On-jo the plot of land which became the seat of the kingdom of Păk-je. Twenty-six years had now passed since that act of generosity. Păk-je had steadily been growing stronger and Ma-han had as steadily dwindled, holding now only the two important towns of Wŭn-san and Köm-hyŭn. In fact some authorities say that Ma-han actually came to an end in 16 B.C. at the age of 177 years but that a remnant still held the towns of Wŭn-san and Köm-hyŭn. The balance of proof is however with the statement that Ma-han kept up at least a semblance of a state until 9 A.D.

The first sign of hostile intent on the part of Păk-je against her host, Ma-han, had appeared some years before, when Păk-je had thrown up a line of breast-works between herself and the capital of Ma-han. The latter had no intention of taking the offensive but Păk-je apparently feared that Ma-han would divine her hostile intent. Ma-han hastened to send a message saying “Did I not give you a hundred li of land? Why do you then suspect me of hostile designs?” In answer, Păk-je partly from shame and partly because she saw that Ma-han was wholly unsuspicious of her ulterior designs, tore down the barriers and things went on as before. But now that Ma-han was utterly weak, the king of Păk-je decided to settle the matter by one bold stroke. He organised a great hunting expedition and under cover of this approached the Ma-han capital and took it almost without resistance. Thus, as Wi-man had paid back the kindness of Ki-jun by treachery so now again On-jo paid back this last descendant of Ki-jun in the same way.

Up to this time China had looked on with complacency at the growth of Ko-gu-ryŭ but now Wang-mang the usurper had seized the throne of the Han dynasty. His title was Hsin Whang-ti. One of his first acts seems to have been directed against the powerful little kingdom that had supplanted the two provinces of Tong-bu and P‘yŭng-ju into which China had 46divided northern Korea. He was probably suspicious of a rapidly growing and thoroughly warlike power which might at any time gather to its standards the wild hordes of the north and sweep down into China.

Here was the beginning of a long struggle which lasted with occasional intermissions until Ko-gu-ryŭ was finally destroyed some eight centuries later. Ko-gu-ryŭ was uniformly China’s foe and Sil-la was as uniformly her friend and ally. Păk-je was now one and now the other. It may be in place to say here that the three powers that divided the peninsula between them were strongly differentiated. Ko-gu-ryŭ in the north was a strong, energetic, fierce, unscrupulous military power, the natural product of her constituent elements. Sil-la was the very opposite; always inclined toward peace and willing oftentimes to make very large concessions in order to secure it. Her policy was always to conciliate, and it was for this mainly that at the last China chose her as the one to assume control of the whole peninsula. Păk-je differed from both the others. She was as warlike as Ko-gu-ryŭ but as weak in military resources as Sil-la. She therefore found her life one scene of turmoil and strife and she was the first of the three to succumb.

It was in 12 A.D. that Wang-mang sent an envoy to Yu-ri, king of Ko-gu-ryŭ, demanding aid in the work of subduing the wild tribes of the north. This was refused by the headstrong Yu-ri, but the Emperor compelled him to send certain troops to accompany the Chinese army. They however took advantage of every opportunity to desert, and large numbers of them formed a marauding band that penetrated the Liao-tung territory and plundered and killed on every hand. For this cause the Emperor sent against Ko-gu-ryŭ a strong force under Gen. Om-u, who speedily brought the recalcitrant Yu-ri to terms, took away his title of royalty and left him only the lesser title of Hu or “Marquis.” From that day began the policy of reprisals on Chinese territory which Ko-gu-ryŭ steadily pursued until it cost her life.

These were stirring days in all three of the kingdoms of the peninsula. In 14 A.D. Ko-gu-ryŭ extended her territory northward by the conquest of the Yang-măk tribe and at the same time she seized a strip of land beyond the Liao River 47This shows that the castigation inflicted by Wang-mang had not been very severe.

At the same time Sil-la was being harrassed along her southern sea-board by Japanese corsairs, and while her small army was busy driving these out the wild people of Nang-nang attacked her on the north. It is said that one night a meteor fell in their camp and frightened them back to their own country and thus Sil-la was saved.

Two years later the king Yu-ri of Ko-gu-ryŭ died and his son Mu-hyŭl ascended the throne, bestowing on his father the title Tong-myŭng or “Eastern Brightness.” The same year saw a remnant of the overthrown kingdom of Ma-han, under the leadership of Captain Chu-geun, attempt to wrest the scepter from Păk-je and restore the fallen house, but they were defeated and together with their wives and children were put to the sword. About this time an ancient royal seal was unearthed in northern Sil-la, where Kang-neung now lies. It became the royal seal of Sil-la.

The next year Ko-gu-ryŭ, ever on the lookout for aggrandisement, made the conquest of Pu-yŭ, the land from which Chu-mong had fled. The tradition is as follows. Ta-so the king of Pu-yŭ, had become possessed of a red crow with two bodies but only one head. The soothsayers said “Two countries will be joined under one head”. The king replied “Then it means that I shall conquer Ko-gu-ryŭ.” So he sent the bird to the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ as a gage of war, but that astute monarch replied “Red is the color of the south. I shall therefore conquer you.” Thereupon he took the initiative and sent a powerful army northward to make good his threat. The story says that as the army entered Li-mul forest the soldiers found swords clashing together but wielded by invisible hands. These they seized and hastened on. Soon they were joined by a gigantic warrior with a white face who joined their party and gave his name as Kwe-yu.

Approaching the capital of Pu-yŭ, they brought up at night before an extensive marsh. The Pu-yŭ king, thinking to surprise them by a night attack, attempted to cross the marsh, but became mired. The giant Kwe-yu dashed into the swamp and brought to the Ko-gu-ryŭ king his rival’s head. Upon this the Pu-yŭ forces surrendered; all but the 48brother of the fallen king who fled with a hundred followers and settled near the Ya-lu River, calling the place Kal-sa. This Ko-gu-ryŭ winked at.

In 24 A.D. the king of Sil-la died, having nominated as his successor not his son but Sŭk-t’al-hă his son-in-law. After the obsequies had been performed Sŭk-t’al-hă insisted that the prince assume the throne, but he in turn insisted that the dead king’s orders be followed. As a compromise Sŭk-t’al-hă proposed that they should find a man with sixteen teeth in his upper jaw, as this was a sign of unusual wisdom, and that upon him the throne should be bestowed. When it came to the test, it was found that the prince himself was the man. He could no longer refuse and ascended the throne under the title of Yi-sa-geum, or “Sixteen Teeth.” The present word In-gum which means “king” was doubtless derived from or is a corruption of this Sil-la word.

Meanwhile Ko-gu-ryŭ had been pushing her conquests steadily. Kă-ma and Ku-da, two northern districts or “kingdoms” were absorbed and other conquests were contemplated. The Emperor beheld these enlargements of Ko-gu-ryŭ with some concern and in 27 A.D. sent a strong force to bring her to terms. At the first encounter the forces of Ko-gu-ryŭ were routed and fell back toward the capital which, as we have seen, was then at or near the present town of Eui-ju. The king hastily summoned a council of war at which it was decided to man the walls of the capital and try to hold out until the enemy should be compelled by lack of food or the severity of the weather to raise the siege. The Chinese knew that there was little water within the wall and had high hopes of compelling a speedy surrendersurrender. This was all too true and there was soon much distress in the city; but a certain courtier said “If you will give me all the fish in the city I will undertake to make the enemy raise the siege or I will pay the penalty with my life.” He was given permission and soon he had the soldiers along the wall going through the motions of a bath, using fish scales for water. The scales glittered in the sun like drops of water and the enemy supposing that there must therefore be a good store of water in the city despaired of taking it by siege and so struck their tents and returned to China.

49The marked difference between Ko-gu-ryŭ and Sil-la was well illustrated by the events of this year. While Ko-gu-ryŭ was reaching out covetous hands in every direction and carrying fire and sword into the hamlets of inoffensive neighbors, Sil-la was pursuing a course of such good will to all both without and within her borders that natives of the wild tribes to the north of her came in large numbers and settled on her soil, glad to become citizens of so kind and generous a land. The king himself made frequent tours of the country alleviating the distress of widows, orphans and cripples. It was in 32 B.C. that he changed the name of the six original families which united in founding Sil-la. The men of Yang-san, Ko-hŭ, Tă-su, Ul-jin, Ka-ri, and of Myŭng-whal were named respectively Yi, Ch’oé, Son, Chöng, Pă and Sŭl. These names will be recognised at once as among the most common patronymics in Korea at the present day, which adds confirmatory evidence that Korea of to-day is essentially the Korea of the south. When we add to this the fact that the names Pak, Kim, An, Ko, Sŭk, Yang, So, Sŭ, Kwŭn, Pă, Im, Na, Hyŭn, Kwak, Ho, Whang, Chang, Sim and Yu originated in southern Korea the argument becomes well-nigh conclusive. The only names of importance that did not originate in southern Korea are Min, Song, Om, Cho, and Han; and many of these originated in what must have been Ma-han territory. At the same time the king established seventeen official grades and called them respectively I-bŭl-son, I-ch’ŭk-son, I-son, P’a-jin-son, Tă-a-son, A-son, Kil-son, Sa-son, etc.

It must be remembered that as yet neither of the “Three Kingdoms” had begun to occupy all the territory that nominally belonged to it or that lay within its “sphere of influence.” Between them lay large tracts of land as yet unoccupied except by wild tribes. It is more than probable that at no point did any of these kingdoms actually touch each other. Ko-gu-ryŭ was broadening out northwards, Păk-je was at a standstill and Sil-la was growing rather by immigration than by occupation of new territory. As yet Sil-la had taken but four districts outside of the original six, and so we see that a large part of the south was still in the hands of the original inhabitants as given in the list of the settlements of the three Hans. In 41 A.D. the nine districts whose names ended in 50kan, namely A-do-gan, Yö-do-gan, P’i-do-gan, O-do-gan, Yu-su-gan, Yu-ch’ŭn-gan, Sin-ch’ŭn-gan, Sin-gwi-gan and O-ch’ŭn-gan, formed a confederacy and called it the “Kingdom of Ka-rak”. They placed their capital at Ka-rak, the present town of Kim-hă, and made Keum Su-ro their king. Tradition says that he obtained his Queen in the following way. A boat approached the shore bearing a beautiful woman, Queen Ho, whose ornamental name was Whang-ok or “Yellow Jade”. She came from the far southern kingdom of A-yu-t’a, otherwise known as Ch’ŭn-ch’uk. It is said that she lived a hundred and fifty-seven years and that the king survived her one year. All that is told us of the history of this rival of Sil-la is the list of her kings which will be found in the chronological tables. After an existence of 491 years it came to an end in the reign of the Sil-la king Pŭp-heung. It is also affirmed that when Sil-la fell in 935, some worthless wretches who defiled the grave of Keum Su-ro were mysteriously killed, one by the falling of a beam, one by an invisible archer and nine others by a serpent eighteen feet long. The records say that when the Japanese, at the time of the great invasion three centuries ago, dug open this king’s grave they found great store of gold and jade. The skull of the monarch was of prodigious size, and beside his body lay two women whose features were well preserved but which dissolved and melted away when exposed to the air. It is barely possible that we here have an indication that embalming was practiced, but if so we have no other intimation of it.

Ka-rak extended eastward as far as Wang-san River, six miles to the west of the present Yang-san; to the north-east as far as Ka-ya San, the present Ko-ryŭng; to the south and south-west as far as the coast and on the west to Chi-ri San. From this we see that it was little inferior to Sil-la in size.

Ka-rak had five dependencies, namely the districts known under the common name of Ka-ya. They were So-ga-ya, Ko-ryŭng-ga-ya, Song-san-ga-ya, Tă-ga-ya and A-ra-ga-ya. They correspond respectively to the present towns of Ko-sŭng, Ham-ch’ang, Ham-ch’ang, Sŭng-ju, Ko-ryŭng andHam-ch’ang, Ham-ch’ang, Sŭng-ju, Ko-ryŭng and Ham-an. Tradition says that one day when the chiefs of the nine tribes of Ka-rak were banqueting they saw upon the slope of Sung-bong, called also Ku-yii-bong, a singular cloud. From the sky 51above it came a voice. They hastened up the mountain and there found a golden box containing six golden eggs. These opened and disclosed six boys. One of them was Keum Su-rothem was Keum Su-ro who became king of Ka-rak and the other five were made chiefs of the five Ka-ya, subject to Ka-rak. Of these Ka-ya states we know the founder of only one. He was descended from Kyŏn-mo-ju, the female divinity of Ka-ya Mountain who wedded a celestial being, Yi-ja-ga. Their off-spring was Yi-i-a-si, who founded one of the Ka-ya states. The Ka-ya states fell before Sil-la some five hundred years later in the reign of King Chin-heung.

Chapter VIII.

Vicissitudes of Ko-gu-ryu.... last Ma-han chief joins Sil-la.... Pak-je and Sil-la become sworn enemies.... legend of Kye-rim.... Pak-je worsted.... Ko-gu-ryu’s strength on the increase.... Sil-la’s rapid growth.... Ka-ya attacks Sil-la.... Ko-gu-ryu make compact with Ye-mak.... Su-sŭng’s evil reign.... roads in Sil-la.... Japanese raid.... legend.... an epicurean.... Pak-je’s victory.... origin of government loans.... Yun-u’s trickery.... capital of Ko-gu-ryu moved.... wild tribes attack Sil-la.... democratic ideas in Sil-la.... Ko-gu-ryu breaks with China.... and attacks Sil-la.... China invades Ko-gu-ryu.... the king retreats.... relieved through treachery.... capital of Ko-gu-ryu moved to P’yung-yang.... beginning of feud between Korea and Japan.... reforms in Pak-je.... third century closes.... progress of Sil-la.... how Eul-bul became king of Ko-gu-ryuKo-gu-ryu.... a noble lady of Sil-la isis sent to Japan.

Mu-hyŭl, the third king of Ko-gu-ryŭ died in 45, leaving the kingdom to the tender mercies of his son a worthless debauchee. Four years later he in turn made way for Hă-u, a member of a collateral branch of the family. Following the traditions ofof Ko-gu-ryŭ this ruler professed loyalty to China on the one hand and seizedseized all the Chinese territory he could lay hands on, on the other. In 54 he was assassinated by one Tu-no and the seven year old grandson of king Yu-ri was placed on the throne, a regent being appointed to carry on the government until the boy reached his majority. The good work continued. Ten forts were built in western Liao-tung to guard against Chinese advances, which shows that she had regained nearly all the territory she had lost at the hands of 52the parvenu Wang-mang. The following year she took formal possession of the territory of Ok-jŭ on the eastern coast.

In the year 58 Yu-ri, the third king of Sil-la died. He must not be confounded with Yu-ri the second king of Ko-gu-ryŭ. The sound is the same but the character is different. It was he who had the difference of opinion with Sŭk-t’al-hă in regard to the succession. As he died without issue the reins of government naturally passed into the hands of the aged statesman Sŭk-t’al-hă. He was sixty-two years old when he assumed the cares of royalty. In his fifth year the one remaining Ma-han chief, Măng-so, who had escaped the appetite of Păk-je, went over to Sil-la, as he concluded it was no longer possible to prolong a hopeless struggle againstagainst Păk-je. Pok-am fortress thus passed into the hands of Sil-la. Strange to say Păk-je not only did not resent this but even made overtures to Sil-la for a friendly meeting of their respective kings in the following year. Sil-la refused to sanction this, and the rebuff was too much for the equanimity of Păk-je. From that day the attitude of Păk-je toward Sil-la was one of studied hostility, broken only by an occasional spasmodic attempt at reconciliation. Among the three kingdoms, Sil-la was the only one that preserved her dignity intact and kept herself untainted by the charge either of avarice or pusilanimitypusilanimity.

The year 66 brought forth another of those wonders that embellishembellish the legendary lore of Korea. The king of Sil-la was wakened one night by the loud cackling of a hen, which seemed to come from a forest to the south. A messenger was sent to see what was the cause of the disturbance and he found a box hanging from the branch of a tree, while on the ground beneath it there cluttered a white hen. When the box was placed before the king and he had opened it a handsome child was found. It received the name Keum Yun-ji. Some say this Yŭn-ji was merely a part of the name while others affirm that it is a pure Sil-la word meaning “baby”. Up to this time the kingdom had been called Sŭ-ra-bŭl but now the king changed it to Kye-rim, kye meaning “hen” and rim meaning “woods.” So the kingdom was called “Hen in the Woods”, not a very dignified name but one, perhaps, that fitted well the military prowess of the kingdom.

In 68 Păk-je deemed herself strong enough to undertake 53operations against Sil-la. She began by seizing the fortress of Wa-san. She enjoyed possession of it for nine years but in the end she paid dear, for it was retaken by Sil-la and the Păk-je garrison was put to the sword. This year also saw a continuation of Ko-gu-ryŭ’s forward policy and the little settlement of Kal-sa which had been make by Pu-yŭ fugitives was absorbed. She followed this up by the conquest of Chu-ra farther north. Her military strength seems to have been on the rapid increase.

In 80 the great Sŭk-t’al-hă died and was succeeded by the son of King Nam-hă. He must have been of advanced age and yet not so old as to prevent his becoming the greatest conqueror that Sil-la ever produced. During the thirty-two years of his reign he added to the Sil-la crown the districts of Eum-jip-pŭl, Ap-to, Pi-ji, Ta-bŭl, Ch’o-p’al, and Sil-jik. These together with U-si and Kŭ-ch’il, which and been added the year before his accession, formed a considerable increase in the territory of the kingdom and added not a little to Sil-la’s reputation as a military power. This king, P’a-sa, was one of those men who seem to take hold of affairs by the right end and wring success from seeming failure. He was as great an administrator as he was mild a conqueror. He attended so carefully to the needs of the people that it is said that during most of his reign food was so plentiful that the wayfarer needed no money to pay for food or lodgings along the road.

The kingdom of Ka-ya, whose origin we noted in the previous chapter, now assumed the offensive against Sil-la. The first intimation we have of this is the fact that Sil-la in 88 built two forts named Ka-so and Ma-du, the first of which was to guard against the encroachments of Păk-je and the second to guard against those of Ka-ya. It was not till three years later that Ka-ya actually opened hostilities by inaugurating an expedition against Sil-la. As the event is not disclosed by the annalists we may conclude that it was unsuccessful.

Ko-gu-ryŭ now extended the field of her military operations. She made friends with the people of Ye-măk, to the east, and together with them began a series of raids into Chinese territory beyond the northern borders. The sixth king of Ko-gu-ryŭ, T’ă-jo Wang, had now reached the sixty-ninth year of his reign so he turned over to his brother, Su-sŭng, 54the administration of affairs. This brother was as ambitious as the king and continued the league with Ye-măk and the encroachments upon China. But he was disloyal to his brother and tried to form a combination against him. In this he was not successful. The reign of this T’ă-jo Wang was the longest one on record in Korean annals. He held the scepter ninety-four years, thereby sorely trying the patience of his heir apparent. That gentleman came to the throne at the green old age of seventy-six, in the year 147 A.D. He showed however that his memory had not yet failed him for one of his first acts was to arrestto arrest and put to death all the wise men who had chidden him for attempting to unseat his brother. Ko Pok-chang a celebrated scholar of that day was so overwhelmed in view of this barbarous act that he asked to be destroyed with the rest of the wise men, a wish that was probably granted. One day this singular monarch having seen a white fox cross his path, an evil omen, asked a soothsayer what it might portend. That individual suggested that if the king should reform even the worst of omens would turn out happily. The soothsayer lost his head as a result of his candor; but from that day on, whenever the king wanted to consult a soothsayer he found that they were all engaged in important work at some distant point.

King Il-seung of Sil-la whose reign began 134 was the first to pay attention to the building of good roads throughout the country. In his fifth year he built a road from his capital to Chuk-yŭn, now Pung-geui, and another one over Kye-ip Pass. These became very important thoroughfares. We also find that his successor continued this good work by opening roads throthro to the north of the kingdom. These kings were not many years behind the Romans in recognising the vast importance of good roads both for administrative and military purposes.

The relations between Sil-la and Japan are graphically described in the single statement that when someone circulated in the capital the rumor that a company of Japanese were coming the people fled precipitately from the city until it was half depopulated. When the mistake was discovered they gradually came back.

The interesting legend of Yŭng-o and Se-o belongs to the year 158, though it scarcely merits the “once upon a time” of 55a nursery tale. Yŭng-o a poor fisherman lived with his wife Se-o beside the waters of the Japan Sea on the eastern shore of Sil-la. One day as Yŭng-o was seated on a great boulder beside the water, fishing, he felt the rock tremble and then rise straight in air. He was carried, to his great consternation, eastward across the sea and deposited in a Japanese village. The Japanese folk took him for a god and made him their king at once. When his wife found that he did not return from fishing she went in search of him. Ascending the same rock that had carried him to Japan she experienced the same novel extradition that had so surprised her spouse. She found him metamorphosed into a king and was nothing loath to become queen. But their departure brought disaster to Sil-la for the sun and moon were darkened and the land was shrouded in gloom. The sooth-sayers said it was because someone had gone to Japan. An envoy was sent post haste to those islands in search of the fugitives, but found to his dismay that they had become king and queen of one of the kingdoms there. He told his story and besought them to return, but they seemed well satisfied with the change. Se-o however brought out a roll of silk and gave it to the envoy saying that if the king of Sil-la would spread it out and sacrifice upon it the light would return. The event proved the truth of her statement and when the king uttered the words of invocation the sunlight burst forth again and all was well. It is an interesting but melancholy fact that most of the arguments used to show a Korean origin of things Japanese are based upon evidence nearly if not quite as credible as this story. The Japanese work entitled the Kojiki bears the same relation to the carefully detailed history of Sil-la that the Niebelungenlied bears to the works of Tacitus.

When the time came for Su-sŭng, the sanguinary king of Ko-gu-ryŭ to die a young scapegrace by the name of Ch’a-da came to the throne. His idea of royalty was that it consisted in one long orgie. He attempted to carry out his ideal but was cut short within a year by the assassin’s knife. His motto, in his own words, was “Who does not wish to enjoy life?” Epicureanism may have existed in Korea before but it had never had so frank a disciple. Păk-ko a relative of the murdered king was called from a mountain fastness whither 56he had fled for safety. They had to ask him three times before they could convince him that it was not a mere decoy.

By the year 168 either Păk-je had grown so strong or Sil-la so weak that the former deemed it a fit time to make a grand demonstration all along Sil-la’s western border. It is said she carried back a thousand captives to grace her triumph. Sil-la, though filled with rage, was not in condition to return the compliment in kind. She however sent an urgent letter pointing out the advantages of peace and asking that the captives be returned. We may imagine how this was received by the proud army flushed as it must have been by an unwonted victory.

About this time was begun one of the ancient customs of Korea that has ever since exerted an important influence upon the life of the people. While hunting the king met a man weeping bitterly and upon being asked what was the matter replied that he had not a grain of food to give his parents. Thereupon the king gave him an order on the government granary with the understanding that when autumn came he should pay it back. Thus originated the whan-sang or custom of making government loans in the spring to be paid back with interest in the autumn. When this king died he was succeeded by the grandson of old Sŭk-t’al-hă. He took in hand the work of instilling new life into the well-nigh dead bones of Sil-la. His first action was to establish two military stations at the capital so that it might not be at the mercy of the first adventurer that might pass that way. He also ordered the people to pay less attention to the construction of fine government buildings and more to agriculture, the back bone of the state.

Nam-mu the tenth king of Ko-gu-ryŭ died at night and the queen, desiring to gain an extension of her power, slipped out of the palace and hastened to the house of the king’s oldest brother Pal-gi. She stated the case and urged him to hasten to the palace and assume the royal prerogative. He refused to believe that the king was dead and accused her of immodesty. She then hurried to the house of the younger brother Yŭn-u and repeated the story. The young man accompanied her and when morning broke it was found that he was established in the palace and ready to meet all comers. Pal-gi raged and cursed. He stormed the palace with his retainers, but being unsuccessful, was fain to beat a retreat to Liao-tung.

57The dawn of the third century saw the three states of Korea in the same relative position as before. Ko-gu-ryŭ was still the same ambitious military power, Păk-je was still her own worst enemy though flaunting for the time being in the gay colors of a temporal triumph, Sil-la was plodding along quietly paying more attention to internal improvements and so earning the right which she afterward enjoyed of holding sway over the whole peninsula. The first twenty-five years of the century witnessed unusual activity on the part of the surrounding savages who in view of the constantly increasing power of the three states beheld their territories diminishing. The wild people of Kol-p’o, Chil-p’o and Ko-p’o ravaged the borders of Sil-la but were driven back. On the south she attacked and burned a settlement of Japanese corsairs who had apparently gained a foothold on the mainland. Păk-je was also attacked on the east by the savages and was obliged to build a wall at Sa-do to keep them back. This period saw over a thousand Chinese refugees cross the Yalu and find asylum in Ko-gu-ryŭ. It also saw U-wi-gŭ, the fruit of a liaison between the eleventh king of Ko-gu-ryŭ and a farmer girl whom he met while hunting, ascend the throne of Ko-gu-ryŭ. It witnessed a remarkable exhibition of democratic feeling in Sil-la when the people rejected Prince Sa-ba-ni and in his place set up Ko-i-rŭ to be king.

The year 240 was an important one in the history of Ko-gu-ryŭ. King U-wi-gŭ was a man of boundless ambition and his temerity was as great as his ambition. Ko-gu-ryŭ had been at peace with China for eight years when, without warning, this U-wi-gŭ saw fit to cross the border and invade the territory of his powerful neighbor. The town of An-p’yŭng-hyŭn in western Liao-tung fell before the unexpected assault. This unprovoked insult aroused the slumbering giant of the Middle Kingdom and the hereditary feud that had existed for many years between Ko-gu-ryŭ and China was intensified. At the same time U-wi-gŭ turned his eyes southward and contemplated the subjugation of Sil-la. To this end he sent an expedition against her in the following year. It was met on the Sil-la border by a defensive force under Gen. Sŭk U-ro who withstood the invaders bravely but was driven back as far as the “Palisades of Ma-du” 58where he took a firm stand. As he could not be dislodged the invading army found itself checked. Meanwhile a dark cloud was rapidly overspreading Ko-gu-ryŭ’s western horizon. The great Chinese general, Mo Gu-geum, with a force of 10,000 men advanced upon the Ko-gu-ryŭ outposts and penetrated the country as far as the present Sŭng-ch’ŭn where he met the Ko-gu-ryŭ army under the direct command of king U-wi-gŭ. The result was an overwhelming victory for Ko-gu-ryŭ whose soldiers chased the flying columns of the enemy to Yang-băk-kok where dreadful carnage ensued. “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” proved true in this case. U-wi-gŭ was so elated over the victory that he declared that a handful of Ko-gu-ryŭ troops could chase an army of Chinese. Taking five hundred picked cavalry he continued the pursuit; but he had boasted too soon. Gen. Mo Gu-geum’s reputation was at stake. Rallying a handful of his braves the latter turned upon his pursuers and handled them so severely that they turned and fled. The Chinese followed up the timely victory and threw themselves upon the army of Ko-gu-ryŭ so fiercely that the tables were completely turned. It is said that in the engagement that followed Ko-gu-ryŭ lost 18,000 men. King U-wi-gŭ, seeing that all was lost, fled back to his capital and awaited developments. But Gen. Wang-geui, Mo Gu-geum’s associate, pursued the king across the Yalu and gave him no rest until he had fled eastward to the territory of Ok-jŭ on the eastern coast. On his way thither he crossed Chuk-nyŭng Pass where all his remaining guard forsook him and fled. One of his officials, Mil-u, said “I will go back and hold the enemy at bay while you make good your escape”. So with three or four soldiers he held the narrow pass while the king found a retreat in a deep valley, where he succeeded in getting together a little band of soldiers. He offered a reward to anyone who should go and bring Mil-u safely to him. U Ok-ku volunteered to go. Finding Mil-u wounded and lying on the ground he took him in his arms and carried him to the king. The latter was so delighted to recover his faithful follower that he nursed him back to life by his own hand. A few days later the pursuit continued and the king was again hard pressed. A courtiercourtier, Yu-ryu, offered to go to the enemy’s 59camp and in some way stop the pursuit. Taking some food he went and boldly announced that the king desired to surrender and had sent this gift ahead to announce his coming. His words were believed and the general received the gift. But Yu-ryu had concealed a short sword beneath the dishes and when he approached the general he whipped out the weapon and plungedplunged it into the enemy’s breast. The next moment he himself was cut down by the attendants. When the king learned that the pursuers had lost their general he rallied his little force, threw himself upon them and put them to flight. The following year U-wi-gŭ, recognising that his capital was too near the border, decided to remove the court to P‘yŭng-yang which had been the capital for so many centuries. Two years later helater he made a treaty with Sil-la which remained unbroken for a century. He had been cured of some of his over-ambitiousness. Yŭn-bul was his successor.

InIn the third year of King Ch’ŭm-hă of Sil-la, 249 A.D. the first envoy ever received from Japan arrived at the shore of Sil-la. He was met by Gen. Sŭk U-ro who addressed him in the following unaccountable manner, “It would be well if your king and queen should come and be slaves in the kitchen of the king of Sil-la”. Without a word the envoy turned about and posted back to Japan. An invasion of Korea was determined upon and soon a powerful force landed on the coast of that country. Gen. Sŭk U-ro was filled with dismay and remorse. He confessed to the king that he was the cause of this hostile display and begged to be allowed to go alone and propitiate the advancing enemy. It was granted and he walked straight into the Japanese camp and confessed his crime and asked that he alone be punished. The Japanese took him at his word, burned him alive in their camp and returned to their own land without striking a blow. The following year the same envoy came again and was well received by the king, but the widow of Gen. Sŭk U-ro desiring to avenge the blood of her husband, obtained permission to work in the kitchen of the envoy’s place of entertainment. There she found opportunity to poison his food and thus accomplish her purpose. This of course put an end to all hope of amity between the two countries and that event marks 60the beginning of the feud which in spite of occasional periods of apparent friendship, existed between the people of Japan and Korea until the year 1868. Hostilities did not however beginbegin at once.

The latter half of the third century beheld few events of special interest in the peninsula. During this period Păk-je seems to have made a spasmodic effort at reform, for we read that she reorganised her official system and set a heavy penalty for bribery, namely imprisonment for life. She also patched up a shallow peace with Sil-la. In Ko-gu-ryŭ a concubine of King Pong-sang tried to incense him against the queen by showing him a leathern bag which she claimed the queen had made to drown her in. The king saw through the trick and to punish the crafty concubine had her killed in the very way she had described. A chief of the Sŭn-bi tribe invaded Ko-gu-ryŭ and desecrated the grave of the king’s father. The wild men of Suk-sin attempted to overthrow Sil-la but the king’s brother drove them back and succeeded in attaching their territory to the crown of Sil-la. It is said that when Sil-la was hard pressed by a band of savages strange warriors suddenly appeared and after putting the savages to flight, as suddenly disappeared. Each of these strange warriors had ears like the leaves of the bamboo and when it was discovered next day that the ground around the king’s father’s grave was covered with bamboo leaves it was believed that he had come forth from his grave with spirit warriors to aid his son.

With the opening of the fourth century the fifteenth king of Sil-la, Ki-rim, made an extensive tour of his realm. He passed northward as far as U-du-ju near the present Ch’un-ch’ŭn. He also visited a little independent “kingdom” called Pi-ryul, now An-byŭn, and made many presents, encouraged agriculture and made himself generally agreeable. Not so with the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ. He was made of sterner stuff. He issued a proclamation that every man woman and child above fifteen years old should lend their aid in building a palace. Ko-gu-ryŭ had of late years passed through troublous times and the people were in no mood to undertake such a work. An influential courtier, Ch’ang Cho-ri, attempted to dissuade the king but as he was not successful he settled the question by assassinating the king. Eul-bul, who succeeded 61him, had a chequered career before coming to the throne. Being the king’s cousin he had to flee for his life. He first became a common coolie in the house of one Eun-mo in the town of Sil-la. By day he cut wood on the hill sides and by night he made tiles or kept the frogs from croaking while his master slept. Tiring of this he attached himself to a salt merchant but being wrongfully accused he was dragged before the magistrate and beaten almost to death. The official Ch’ang Cho-ri and a few others knew his whereabouts and, hunting him up, they brought him to the “Pul-yu water” a hundred and ten li from P’yŭng-yang, and hid him in the house of one O Măk-nam. When all was ripe for the final move, Ch’ang Cho-ri inaugurated a great hunting party. Those who were willing to aid in dethroning the king were to wear a bunch of grass in the hat as a sign. The king was seized and imprisoned, and there hanged himself. His sons also killed themselves and Eul-bul was then elevated to the perilous pinnacle of royalty.

It was about the beginning of this century also that the Japanese, during one of those spasmodic periods of seeming friendship asked the king of Sil-la to send a noble maiden of Sil-la to be their queen. The king complied and sent the daughter of one of his highest officials, A-son-geup-ri.

Chapter IX.

Rise of Yŭn.... rebellion against China.... siege of Keuk Fortress raised.... Ko-gu-ryŭ surrenders to Yŭn.... Ko-gu-ryŭ disarmed.... Japanese attack Sil-la.... Păk-je’s victory over Ko-gu-ryŭ.... moves her capital across the Han.... Păk-je people in Sil-la.... Yŭn is punished.... Buddhism introduced into Ko-gu-ryŭ.... and into Păk-je.... amnesty between Ko-gu-ryŭ and Păk-je.... but Ko-gu-ryŭ continues the war.... Păk-je in danger.... envoy to Japan.... Ch’ŭm-nye usurps the throne of Păk-je.... and is killed.... Sil-la princes rescued.... Ko-gu-ryŭ and Păk-je receive investiture from China.... China’s policy.... Nul-ji’s reign.... Ko-gu-ryŭ and Păk-je transfer their allegience.... Yŭn extinct.... beginning of triangular war.... diplomatic relations.... Ko-gu-ryŭ falls from grace.... first war vessel.... diplomatic complications.... Păk-je humiliated.... her capital moved.

62We have now come to the events which marked the rise of the great Yŭn power in Liao-tung. They are so intimately connected with the history of Ko-gu-ryŭ that we must give them in detail. For many years there had been a Yŭn tribe in the north but up to the year 320 it had not come into prominence. It was a dependency of the Tsin dynasty of China. Its chiefs were known by the general name Mo Yong. In 320 Mo Yong-we was the acting chief of the tribe. He conceived the ambitious design of overcoming China and founding a new dynasty. The Emperor immediately despatched an army under Gen. Ch’oe-bi to put down the incipient rebellion. Ko-gu-ryŭ and the U-mun and Tan tribes were called upon to render assistance against the rebels. All complied and soon the recalcitrant chieftain found himself besieged in Keuk Fortress and was on the point of surrendering at discretion when an event occurred which, fortunately for him, broke up the combination and raised the siege. It was customary before surrendering to send a present of food to the one who receives the overtures of surrender. Mo Yong-we, in pursuance of this custom, sent out the present, but for some reason it found its way only into the camp of the U-mun forces while the others received none. When this became known the forces of Ko-gu-ryŭ, believing that Mo Yong-we had won over the U-mun people to his side, retired in disgust and the Chinese forces, fearing perhaps a hostile combination, likewise withdrew. The U-mun chiefs resented this suspicion of treachery and vowed they would take Mo Yong-we single-handed. But this they could not do, for the latter poured out upon them with all his force and scattered them right and left. From this point dates the rise of Yŭn. Gen. Ch’oe-bi fearing the wrath of the Emperor fled to Ko-gu-ryŭ where he found asylum. Here the affair rested for a time. The kingdom of Yŭn forebore to attack Ko-gu-ryŭ and she in turn was busy strengthening her own position in view of future contingencies. Ten years passed during which no events of importance transpired. In 331 Eul-bul the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ died and his son Soé began his reign by adopting an active policy of defense. He heightened the walls of P’yŭng-yang and built a strong fortress in the north, called Sin-sŭng. He followed this up by strengthening 63his friendly relations with the court of China. These facts did not escape the notice of the rising Yŭn power. Mo Yong-whang, who had succeeded Mo Yong-weYong-we, hurled an expedition against the new Sin-sŭng Fortress and wrested it from Ko-gu-ryŭ. The king was compelled, much against his will, to go to Liao-tung and swear fealty to the Yŭn power. Two years laterlater the capital was moved northward to Wan-do, in the vicinity of the Eui-ju of today. This was done probably at the command of Yŭn who desired to have the capital of Ko-gu-ryŭ within easy reach in case any complications might arise.

Mo Yong-whang desired to invade China without delay but one of his relatives, Mo Yong-han, advised him to disarm Ko-gu-ryŭ and the U-mun tribe so that no possible enemy should be left in his rear when he marched into China. It was decided to attack Ko-gu-ryŭ from the north and west, but the latter route was to be the main one, for Ko-gu-ryŭ would be expecting the attack from the north. The strategem worked like a charm. Mo Yong-han and Mo Yong-p’ă led a powerful army by way of the sea road while General Wang-u led a decoy force by the northern route. The flower of the Ko-gu-ryŭ army, 50,000 strong, marched northward under the king’s brother Mu to meet an imaginary foe while the king with a few undisciplined troops held the other approach. As may be supposed, the capital fell speedily into the enemy’s hands but the king escaped. The Ko-gu-ryŭ forces had been successful in the north and might return any day, so the Yun forces were forbidden to go in pursuit of the king. To insure the good behavior of the king, however, they burned the palace, looted the treasure, exhumed the body of the king’s father and took it, together with the queen and her mother, back to the capital of Yŭn. With such hostages as these Yŭn was safe from that quarter. The next year the king offered his humble apologies and made a complete surrender, in view of which his father’s body and his queen were returned to him but his mother-in-law was still held. The same year Ko-gu-ryŭ moved her capital back to P’yŭng-yang. A few years laterlater by sending his son as substitute he got his mother-in-law out of pawn.

In 344 new complications grew up betweenbetween Sil-la and 64Japan. The Japanese having already obtained one Sil-la maiden for a queen made bold to ask for a royal princess to be sent to wed their king. This was peremptorily refused and of course war was the result. A Japanese force attacked the Sil-la coastguard but being driven back they harried the island of P‘ung-do and finally worked around until they were able to approach the capital. Finding the gates fast shut they laid siege to the city. But their provisions were soon exhausted and they were compelled to retire. Then the Sil-la forces swarmed out and attacked them in the rear and put them to an ignominious flight. Some years later the Japanese made a similar attempt but were outwitted by the Sil-la soldiers who made manikins of grass to represent soldiers, and the Japanese, seeing these, supposed that Sil-la had been reinforced and so retired from the contest.

Ko-gu-ryŭ had been so severely handled by her northern neighbor that she gave up for the time being her plans of conquest in that direction. Instead of this she turned her attention toward her southern neighbor Păk-je whose territory was a morsel not to be despised. About the year 360 she erected a fort at Ch’i-yang not far from the Păk-je capital which was thenthen at Nam-han. Into this she threw a large force consisting of 20,000 infantry and cavalry. They began a systematic plundering of Păk-je. The army of the latter, under the leadership of the Crown Prince, fell suddenly upon this fort and gained a victory, for, when the Ko-gu-ryŭ forces retired, they left 5,000 dead upon the field. Păk-je followed up this victory by throwing up a line of breastworks along the southern bank of the Han river to insure against a future surprise on the part of her unscrupulous northern neighbor. But Păk-je’s victories had shown her the weakness of Ko-gu-ryŭ and reprisals were therefore in order. She equipped an army of 30,000 men and penetrated the country of the enemy. She met no resistance until her army stood beneath the walls of P‘yŭng-yang. An attempt was made to storm the town, during which the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ was mortally wounded by an arrowarrow, but the assault failed and the Păk-je army withdrew in good order. The king of Păk-je, elated over so many evidences of his growing power, promptly moved his capital across the Han River into Ko-gu-ryŭ territory. Some say he settled 65at Puk-han the great mountain fortress back of Seoul while others say he settled at Nam P’yŭng-yang or “South P’yŭng-yang,” by which is meant the present city of Seoul. Others still say it was at a point a short distance outside the east gate of Seoul. But in spite of the apparent successes of Păk-je it appears that the people were not satisfied. It may be that military exactions had alienated their good will, or it may be that they saw in these ambitious advances the sure presage of speedy punishment at the hands of Ko-gu-ryŭ; but whatever the cause may have been over a thousand people fled from Păk-je and found asylum in Sil-la. The king set aside six villages as their place of residence, and when Păk-je demanded to have them sent back answer was returned that Sil-la could not drive from her borders those who had sought asylum from the ill-treatment of Păk-je.

Three years before this, inin 372, the Chinese had gained a signal victory over the Yŭn kingdom and its king, Mo Yong-p’ung, had fled for safety to Ko-gu-ryŭ. It must have been his last resource, for he was likely to find little sympathy there. And so it proved for the king immediately seized him and sent him a captive to China.

The year 372 beheld an event of prime importance in the history of Ko-gu-ryŭ and of the whole peninsula. It was the introduction of Buddhism. It is probable that before this time some knowledge of Buddhism was current in Korea, but as it is eminently a sacerdotal institution but little more than indefinite reports could have been circulated previous to the coming of the monks. We are not told whether this was done at the request of Ko-gu-ryŭ or whether it was at the advice of Pu-gyŭn, one of the petty kings who then divided between them the north of China. Be that as it may, in 372 A.D. images of Buddha were brought by a monk, Sun-do, and also a Buddhist book called Pul-gyŭng. For this the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ returned hearty thanks and forthwith set his son and heir to learning the new doctrine. At the same time he gave an impetus to the study of the Confucian code. It is quite probable that to this new departure is due the fact that the next year the laws of the country were overhauled and put in proper shape for use. In 375 two great monasteries were built in the capital of Ko-gu-ryŭ. They were called Cho-mun 66and I-bul-lan. It should be noticed that the introduction of Buddhism into Korea was a government affair. There had been no propagation of the tenets of this cult through emmisariesemmisaries sent for the purpose, there was no call for it from the people. In all probability the king and his court were pleased at the idea of introducing the stately ceremonial of the new faith. In fact it was a social event rather than a religious one and from that date to this there has not been a time when the people of Korea have entered heartily into the spirit of Buddhism, nor have her most distinguished representatives understood more than the mere forms and trappings of that religion which among all pagan cults is the most mystical.

Păk-je was not long in following the example of her powerful neighbor. In the year 384 a new king ascended the throne of Păk-je. His name was Ch’im-yu. One of his first acts was to send an envoy to China asking that a noted monk named Mararanta be sent to Păk-je to introduce the Buddhist ritual. We notice that this request was sent to the Emperor Hyo-mu (Hsia-wu), the proper head of the Eastern Tsin dynasty, while Ko-gu-ryŭ had received hers at the hands of one of those petty kings who hung upon the skirts of the weakening dynasty and waited patiently for its dissolution. Each of these petty states, as well as the central government of the Tsin, was on the lookout for promising allies and such a request as this of Păk-je could scarcely be refused. Mararanta, whose name smacks of the south and who certainly cannot have been a Chinaman, was sent to the Păk-je capital. He was received with open arms. His apartments were in the palace where he soon erected a Buddhist shrine. Ten more monks followed him and Buddhism was firmly established in this second of the three Korean states. The greatest deference was paid to these monks and they were addressed by the honorific title To-seung. Sil-la received Buddhism some fifty years later.

All this time fighting was almost continuous along the Ko-gu-ryŭ-Păk-je border. The latter stood on the defensive and found it necessary in 386 to build a line of breastworks along the border, extending from Ch’ŭng-mok-yŭng northward to P’al-gon-sung and thence westward to the sea. An amnesty was brought about through a happy accident. A 67groom who had accidentally broken the leg of a Păk-je prince’s horse had fled to Ko-gu-ryŭ to escape punishment. Returning now to Păk-je, he purchased pardon by informing the king that if, in battle, the Păk-je forces should direct their whole force against that part of the enemy’s line where they should see a red flag flying they would surely be successful. This turned out to be true and Păk-je was once more successful, but followed up her success only to the extent of securing a definite cessation of hostilities and the erection of a boundary stone at Su-gok-sŭng to witness forever against him who should dispute the point. But when King Ch’im-yu of Ko-gu-ryŭ died in 392 and his son Tam-dok came into power all previous obligations were swept away and he proceeded to reopen the wound. He attacked Păk-je fiercely and took ten of her towns. Then he turned northward and chastised the Kŭ-ran tribe. When this was done he came back to the charge again and seized Kwang-nu Fortress. This was an almost inaccessible position on a high rock surrounded by the sea, but the hardy soldiers of Ko-gu-ryŭ after twenty days of siege found seven paths by which the wall could be reached, and they finally took the place by a simultaneous assault at these various points. When the court of Păk-je heard of this well-nigh impossible feat, all hope of victory in the field was taken away, and they could only bar the gates of the capital and await the turn of events. This king, Tam-dok, was as enthusiastically Buddhistic as his father. He made a decree that all the people of Ko-gu-ryŭ should adopt the Buddhistic faith and a few years later built nine more monasteries in P’yŭng-yang.

A year later King A-sin of Păk-je sent his son, Chön-ji, to Japan as an envoy. It is likely, but not certain, that it was a last resource of Păk-je to secure help against Ko-gu-ryŭ. This is the more likely from the fact that he went not only as an envoy but also as a hostage, or a guarantee of good faith. If this was the hope of Păk-je it failed, for no Japanese army was forthcoming. As another means of self-preservation King A-sin formed a great school of archery, but the people did not like it; for exercise in it was compulsory, and many of the people ran away.

In 399 Ko-gu-ryŭ sent an envoy to the Yŭn capital to pay her respects, but the king of that country charged Ko-gu-ryŭ 68with ambitious designs and sent an army of 30,000 men to seize the fortresses of Sin-sŭng and Nam-so, thus delimiting the frontier of Ko-gu-ryŭ to the extent of 700 li. They carried back with them 5,000 “houses,” which means approximately 25,000 people, as captives. It is difficult to believe this enumeration unless we conclude that it means that the people living within the limit of the 700 li were taken to be citizens of Yŭn.

The fifth century of our era dawned upon a troubled Korea. The tension between the three rival powers was severe, and every nerve was strained in the struggle for preeminence. In 402 Nă-mul, the king of Sil-la, died and Sil-sŭng came to the throne. He sent out feelers in two directions, one toward Ko-gu-ryŭ in the shape of a hostage, called by euphemism an envoy, and another of the same sort to Japan; which would indicate that Sil-la was still suffering from the depredations of the Japanese corsairs. The envoy to Ko-gu-ryŭ was the king’s brother, Pok-ho, and the one to Japan was also his brother, Mi-sa-heun. We remember that Păk-je already had an envoy in Japan in the person of the king’s eldest son Chön-ji. Now in 405 the king of Păk-je died. Chön-ji was the rightful heir but as he was in Japan the second son should have assumed the reins of government. As a fact the third son Chŭng-nye killed his brother and seized the scepter. Hearing of his father’s death, Chön-ji returned from Japan with an escort of a hundred Japanese, but learning of his brother’s murder he feared treachery against himself and so landed on an island off the coast where he remained until the people, with a fine sense of justice, drove Ch’ăm-nyeCh’ăm-nye from the throne and welcomed back the rightful heir.

Meanwhile interesting events were transpiring in Sil-la. In 403 Sil-sung, King of that land, fearing lest harm overtake his two brothers whom he had sent the year before to Ko-gu-ryŭ and Japan, was seeking for some means of getting them back. This might not be an easy thing to do, for to ask their return so soon would perhaps arouse the suspicion of these neighbors, and precipitate a war. Ko-gu-ryŭ had often taken up arms for a less affront than this. An official, Pak Che-san, volunteered to undertake this delicate mission even though it cost him his life. He went first to Ko-gu-ryŭ 69and there proved so skillful a diplomatdiplomat that he soon brought Prince Pok-ho back to Sil-la. The mission to Japan was a different matter, but he was equal to the occasion. Before starting out he said to the king: “I will bring the Prince back though it cost my life; only, before I go, I must ask you to imprison my family; otherwise I cannot succeed.” The king acceded to this strange request and Pak Che-san, starting immediately as if in flight, without even changing his garments, fled until he came to the Yul Harbor. Even his wife he repulsed, exclaiming “I have determined to die.” He apparently feared that the sight of her might shake his loyal purpose. He arrived in Japan as a political fugitive, but the king suspected him until news came that his family had been imprisoned. This seemed to prove his statement and he was received graciously. He pretended that he wished to lead a Japanese force against Sil-la. Mi-sa-heun, the Prince whom he had come to rescue, was in the secret and heartily seconded the plan. The king made them joint leaders of an expedition. The fleet arrived at a certain island and there Pak succeeded in spiriting Mi-sa-heun away by night in a little boat while he himself remained behind, to delay the inevitable pursuit. Mi-sa-heun begged him with tears to accompany him but he refused to jeopardise Mi-sa-heun’s chances of escape by so doing. In the morning he pretended to sleep very late and no one suspected the flight of the Prince until late in the day when concealment was no longer possible. When the Japanese found that they had been duped they were in a terrible rage. They bound Pak and went in pursuit of the run-away. But a heavy fog settled upon the sea and frustrated their plan. Then they torturedtortured their remaining victim and to their inquiries he replied that he was a loyal subject of Kye-rim (the name of Sil-la at that time) and that he would rather be a Kye-rim pig than a subject of Japan; that he would rather be whipped like a school-boy in Kye-rim than receive office in Japan. By these taunts he escaped a lingering death byby torture. They burned him alive there on the island of Mok-do. When the king of Sil-la heard of his brave end he mourned for him and heaped upon him posthumous honors, and Mi-sa-heun married his preserver’s daughter. The wife of the devoted Pak ascended the pass of Ap-sul-yŭng whence 70she could obtain a distant view of the islands of Japan. There she gave herself up to grief until death put an end to her misery.

In 413 a new king came to the throne of Ko-gu-ryŭ. called Kö-ryŭn. As China and Ko-gu-ryŭ had been kept apart by the intervening Yun, and had acquired some power of sympathy through mutual fear of that power, we are not surprised that the new king of Ko-gu-ryŭ condescended to receive investiture from the Emperor, nornor that the latter condescended in turn to grant it. It was formally done, and the act of Ko-gu-ryŭ proclaimed her vassalage to China. From that time on excepting when war existed between them, the kings of Ko-gu-ryŭ were invested by the Emperor with the insignia of royalty. Two years later the Emperor conferred the same honor upon the king of Păk-je. It was always China’s policy to keep the kingdoms at peace with each other so long as they all wore the yoke of vassalage; but so soon as one or the other cast it off it was her policy to keep them at war.

In 417 Nul-ji came to the throne of Sil-la and began a reign that was to last well on toward half a century. He was a regicide. He had been treated very harshly by the king and had more than once narrowly escaped with his life. It is therefore the less surprising, though none the less reprehensible, that when the opportunity presented of paying off old scores he succumbed to the temptation. He ascended the throne not with the title of I-sa-geum, which had been the royal title for centuries, but with the new title of Ma-rip-kan. However doubtful may have been his title to the crown his reign was a strong one. Among the far-reaching effects of his reign the introduction of carts to be drawn by oxen was the most important.

The friendly relations of Ko-gu-ryŭ with the Tsin dynasty were cut short by the extinction of that dynasty in 419 but in 435 Ko-gu-ryŭ made friendly advances toward the Northern Wei dynasty and, finding sufficient encouragement, she transferred her allegience to that power. Meantime Păk-je had transferred hers to the Sung dynasty which arose in 420.

It was in 436 that P’ung-hong, the “Emperor” of Yun, found himself so weak that he could not withstand the pressure 71from the Chinese side and asked the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ to grant him asylum. Consent was given and an escort was sent to conduct him to the Ko-gu-ryŭ capital. He found that this sort of life had its drawbacks; for, to begin with, the king did not address him as emperor but simply as king. This was a great affront to his dignity and, though he was treated very handsomely, he assumed such a supercillious bearing that the king had to curtail his retinue and his income. He had been given quarters in Puk-p’ung and from there the mendicant emperor applied to the Sung Emperor for asylum. It was granted, and seven thousand soldiers came to escort him; but ere they arrived the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ sent two generals, Son-su and Ko-gu, who killed the imperial refugee and nine of his attendants. The Sung troops, arriving on the instant, discovered the crime and caught and executed the two generals who had perpetrated it.

In 449 a Ko-gu-ryŭ general was out on a hunting expedition and the chase brought him into Sil-la territory near the present town of Kang-neung. The prefect of the district, in an excess of patriotic enthusiasm, seized him and put him to death. An envoy came in haste to the Sil-la capital demanding why this outrage had been committed. War would have been declared on the spot had not Sil-la been profuse in apologies. She might have spared herself this humiliation for war was sure to break out soon in any case. When ngng came to the throne of Păk-je in 455, Ko-gu-ryŭ took advantage of the confusion, consequent upon the change, to attack her. Sil-la, who, though ordinarily a peaceful power, had been perforce drawn into war-like operations and had acquired some military skill, now sided with Păk-je. Sending a considerable number of troops she reinforced Păk-je to the extent of warding off the threatened invasion. But Păk-je, though glad to find herself extricated from her position of danger, would allow no feelings of gratitude to stand in the way of her ancient feud against Sil-la; so this act of friendship not only did not help toward peace but on the contrary, by showing Sil-la the fickleness of Păk-je, made peace all the more impossible. The middle of the fifth century marks the point when all friendly relations between the three Korean states were broken off and an actual state of war existed between 72them from this time on, though active military operations were not constant. This we may call the Triangular War.

The key to this great struggle, which resulted in the advancement of Sil-la to the control of the whole peninsula, lay not so much in the relative military strength of the three rival kingdoms as in the skill which each developed in diplomacy. Each was trying to gain the active support of China, knowing very well that if China should once become thoroughly interested in favor of any one of the three powers the other two would be doomed.

We will remember that Ko-gu-ryŭ had cultivated friendlyKo-gu-ryŭ had cultivated friendly relations with the Sung dynasty while Păk-je had made herself agreeable to the Wei dynasty. In this Păk-je chose the wiser part for the Wei power was nearer and more powerful. In 466 Ko-gu-ryŭ lost a splendid opportunity to establish herself in the good graces of the Wei Emperor, and so insure her preeminence in the peninsula. The Emperor Hsien-wen made friendly advances and requested the daughter of the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ for his wife. With a short-sightedness that is quite inexplicable this request was put off by the lame excuse that his daughter was dead. This being easily proved a falsehood, Ko-gu-ryŭ fell from the good graces of the very power whose friendship she should have cultivated.

The year 467 witnessed an important innovation in Korea. Sil-la took the lead in the construction of war vessels. The one made at that time was doubtless intended for use against the Japanese corsairs. That Sil-la had been gaining along military lines is shown by her successful repulse of a Ko-gu-ryŭ invasion in this year, in which the wild people of some of the Mal-gal tribes assisted Ko-gu-ryŭ. After the latter had been driven back, Sil-la built a fortress at Po-eun on her northern border to guard against a repetition of this invasion.

Ko-gu-ryŭ and Păk-je were now exerting themselves to the utmost to make capital out of their Chinese alliances. Ko-gu-ryŭ sent rich presents and richer words to the Sung capital and so won the confidence of that power. Păk-je, on the other hand, sent word to the Wei Emperor that Ko-gu-ryŭ was coquetting with the Sung court and with the wild Mal-gal tribes, insinuating that this was all detrimental to the interests of Păk-je’s patron.

73As this was without result, she sent and asked openly that the Wei Emperor send anan army and chastise Ko-gu-ryŭ. The Emperor replied that until Ko-gu-ryŭ committed some overt act of more hostile import than the mere cementing of peaceful alliances no notice could be taken of her. In other words the Wei power refused to be the aggressor, much to Păk-je’s chagrinchagrin. The Wei Emperor sent this answer by way of Ko-gu-ryŭ and the king of that country was ordered to grant the messenger a safe conduct through his territory. But Ko-gu-ryŭ, as though bent on self-destruction, refused to let him pass, and so the great northern kingdom approached one step nearer the precipice which was to prove her destruction. Upon learning the news of this affront the Emperor was highly incensed and tried to send the messenger by way of a southern port; but stress of weather rendered this impossible and Păk-je, receiving no answer to her missive, took offense and would have nothing more to do with China, for a time. By the time she had recovered her temper, Ko-gu-ryŭ had in some way patched up her difficulty with the Wei court and so scored a point against Păk-je. And for a time she was on friendly terms with both the Wei and Sung dynasties.

At this point Ko-gu-ryŭ decided upon a bold attempt to swallow Păk-je bodily. It was to be done partly by strategem and partly by force. A monk of Ko-gu-ryŭ named To-rim, a fellow of excellent craft, arrived at the Păk-je capital as if seeking refuge. The king received him with open arms and, finding him an excellent chess player, made him his trusty councilor. This monk told the king that the palaces, walls, tombs and public buildings ought to be thoroughly repaired, and so induced him to drain the public treasury in this work, and also in bringing a huge monolith from Uk-nyi to the capital. This done the monk fled back to Ko-gu-ryŭ and announced that the treasury of Păk-je was empty and it was a good time to attack her. A large army was put in the field, guided by one Kŭl-lu, a Păk-je fugitive from justice. Almost before Păk-je was aware, her capital was surrounded. She had applied to Sil-la for help, but too late. First the suburbs were laid in ashes, and then access being gained, the palace was fired. The king fled with ten attendants out the west gate, but Kŭl-lu the renegade followed and overtook him. 74The king begged for mercy upon his knees but Kŭl-lu spit thrice in his face, bound him and sent him to the fortress of A-han where lie was killed. Then the Ko-gu-ryŭ army went back north carrying with them 8,000 captives, men and women.

Meanwhile Prince Mun-ju had obtained help from Sil-la and with 10,000 troops was hastening homewards. He found the city in ashes, his father dead, the people mourning their lost, who had been dragged away captive. He promptly assumed control of affairs, moved the capital southward to Ung-jin the present Kong-ju, took all the Păk-je people away from Han-yang (Seoul) and moved them back across the Han River and abandoned all the territory beyond that natural barrier to Ko-gu-ryŭ to whom it had originally belonged. The following year he tried to send a message to the Sung Emperor by way of Ko-gu-ryŭ but the messenger was intercepted and the message stopped.

Chapter X.

Quelpart.... origin of T’am-na.... new alliances.... advances in Sil-la.... but not in Păk-je nor Ko-gu-ryŭ.... temporary peace.... Buddhism in Sil-la.... remnants of barbarism.... influence of Chinese literature.... important reforms.... Ko-gu-ryŭ’s foreign relations.... conquest of Dagelet Island.... posthumous titles.... colors in official grades.... Wei displeased.... the “miracle” of Yi Cha-don.... end of Ka-rak.... Sil-la rejects Chinese calendar.... confusion in China.... Păk-je attempts reform.... history of Sil-la.... two alliances.... Păk-je and Ko-gu-ryŭ envoys to China.... advance of Buddhism in Sil-la.... music in Sil-la.... war between Păk-je and Sil-la.... retrogression in Sil-la because of Buddhism.... Ko-gu-ryŭ and the Sui Emperor.... the Ondali.

Tradition says that in the dawn of history when the island of Che-ju (Quelpart) was covered only with a tangled forest three sages arose from a crevice in the ground. This spot is shown to this day by the people of Che-ju. These three men were Ko-ŭlla, Yang-ŭlla and Pu-ŭlla. As they stood upon the shore they saw three stout chests floating in from the south-east. Drawing them to land and opening them the three wise men discovered that each chest contained 75a calf, a colt, a dog,a dog, a pig and a woman, together with sundry seeds, such as beans, wheat, barley, millet and rice. By the three families thus organised the island was populated. During the early days of Sil-la a certain court astrologer announced that the “Friend Star” was visible in the south and that a distinguished visitor would soon arrive. Soon after this three men came by boat from Quelpart, landing at the harbor of T’am-jin, now Kang-jin. They came straight to the court of Sil-la where they were hospitably entertained. One of the visitors was Ko-hu, one was Ko-ch’ŭng, but theKo-hu, one was Ko-ch’ŭng, but the name of the third is lost. The king called the first Sŭng-ju or “Lord of the Star,” the second Wang-ja or “King’s Son” and the third To-nă or “The One who has Come.” He named their country T’am from the name of the port where they landed, and na, which seems to have meant “Kingdom”, for we find that the last syllable of Sil-la is this same na changed by euphonic laws to la. It is the root of the present Korean word na-ra or “kingdom.” So the kingdom was called T’am-na. The authorities are at a loss to tell the date or even the reign during which these events transpired. In the year 477 the little kingdom of T’am-na sent an envoy to the court of Păk-je with gifts. This is the first really authentic mention of the place. If tradition is of any value it must be confessed that the story of the peopling of Quelpart points toward a southern origin.

In 479 the aged king of Ko-gu-ryŭ, Kö-ryŭn, now in the sixty-eighth year of his reign, sought and obtained recognition from Emperor Ko-je (Kao-ti) the founder of the Ch’i dynasty in China. That this occurred in the very first year after the founding of that dynasty shows how sedulously Ko-gu-ryŭ was cultivating the good-will of the Chinese. Păk-je was not far behind, for she swore allegiance to the same Emperor only two years later.

During all these years it is to Sil-la that we must look for any signs of internal improvement, any of those innovations which are the mile-stones of progress. We saw above how she introduced the use of the cart and so raised a great burden from the shoulders of the people. The wheel is the great burden bearer of history. And now we find her introducing further reforms. The first was the horse relay 76system called the yong-ma. It did not bear so directly upon the condition of the people but it afforded an opportunity for the rapid transmission of official information and thus indirectly had an important bearing upon the welfarewelfare of the masses. In the next place, she organised a general market where at stated intervals merchants from the various districts could meet and exchange commodities. These are things that we look upon as matters of course and we do not realise their importance till we imagine ourselves deprived of the comforts that spring from the possibility of rapid communication and exchange of commodities. That Ko-gu-ryŭ had not made similar advances in the line of industrial reform is shown by the fact that when the Emperor of the Wei dynasty sent to grant investiture to Na-un the twenty-first king of Ko-gu-ryŭ in 499 he presented him with suits of clothes, flags, a crown and a cart. This shows that carts were not as yet in common use in Ko-gu-ryŭ. As for Păk-je, disaster was following upon disaster. At one time a thousand people were swept away in a flood. Then famine carried away three thousand. A few years later ten thousand people passed over into Sil-la to save themselves from starvation.

The sixth century dawned upon a comparatively peaceful Korea; for the time being the dogs of war were held in leash and feuds seem to have been laid on the shelf. The three kingdoms employed their time in different but characteristic ways. The king of Păk-je built an enormous pleasure-house and adorned it with all manner of curious flowers and animals. To the expostulations of his ministers he turned a deaf ear. A few years later he was murdered by one of his courtiers. In truth, peace was nearly as bad for Păk-je as war.

In Sil-la Buddhism had been introduced during the reign of Nul-ji, 417-458. A monk named Muk Ho-ja had been well received and was lodged in the palace. But, at the first, Buddhism did not find congenial soil in Sil-la. Tradition gives the following account of the first set-back which it suffered there. In 502 while the king was idling an hour away in a favorite summer-house outside the city, a raven appeared bearing in its beak a letter. It laid the missive at the king’s feet and flew away. The superscription said “If the king opens and reads this note two people will die; if he 77does not open it one will die”. He determined not to open it, but one of his attendants said, “The one referred to is Your Majesty and therefore you should open it even though two lives are sacrificed”. He broke the seal and read the strange words “Let the king take his trustiest bow, hasten to the palace and shoot an arrow through the zither case”. The king obeyed the mandate, hastened back to the palace by a private gate, entered the queen’s apartments unannounced and shot an arrow through a zither case that stood against the wall. The arrow pierced the zither case and the High Priest who was hidden behind it. The latter had taken advantage of the king’s absence to attack his honor. He was strangled together with the guilty queen.

With all her attempts at progress some evidences of the grossest barbarity still lingered in Sil-la. It was not, so the records tell us, until the year 503 that Sil-la discontinued the horrible custom of burying people alive when a king’s body was interred. It had been customary to bury five boys and five girls alive on such occasions, but in 503 the king published a decree forbidding the continuance of the custom. The very barbarity of the custom renders its abolition the more striking and places the name of king Chi-jeung, the twenty-second of his line, among the names of Korea’s benefactors. At the same time the custom of plowing with oxen was introduced, an innovation that had a most far-reaching effect upon society. It was in the beginning of the sixth century that Sil-la began to show evidences of the influence of Chinese literature and thought. In 504 she adopted the Chinese word Wang as the title of her kings in place of the pure Korean words I-sa-geum or Ma-rip-kan. She also changed the name of the kingdom from Kye-rim to Sil-la. We have been speaking of this kingdom under the name Sil-la but as a matter of fact it was not so designated until the year 504 A.D. Before that time it had been variously styled Sŭ-ya-bŭl, Sa-ro, and Kye-rim. The word Sil-la is said to have been composed of the Chinese words Sin and ra, which when united become Sil-la according to Korean laws of euphony. It is more than probable that it was merely an adaptation of Chinese characters to pure Korean words, for the last syllable la or na is the same as that used in other words, centuries before that time, 78in southern Korea. The na of T’am-na is the same character. To the word Sil-la was added the word Kuk or “kingdom” which put her in line with the other vassals of China. The Confucian code must have been making headway too, for in the following year the custom was adopted of assuming a mourning garb for three years upon the death of a parent. It was at this time that the influence of China upon Korea began to bear its legitimate fruit. Chinese religion, literature, government and art were beginning to mould the thought and life of the Korean people. Many Chinese words had been introduced into Korea before this time but the use of the Chinese character had not been general.

In the mean time Ko-gu-ryŭ had been paying attention not so much to internal reforms as to external alliances. She sent to the Wei Emperor begging him to remit the revenue in gold and jade, as they were obtained, the one in Pu-yŭ, which she claimed the Mal-gal savages had seized, and the other in Sŭp-na which she averred the wicked Păk-je had feloniously taken. But she added “Of course all that Ko-gu-ryŭ has is yours”. The Emperor good-naturedly remitted the revenue but urged his vassal to continue the good work of subduing the wild tribes of the peninsula. It is said that in a single year Ko-gu-ryŭ sent three separate embassies to the Wei court. At the same time she was coquetting, sub rosa, with the new Liang power which had arisen in 502. In this Păk-je of course followed suite. We thus see that the three kingdoms spent their time in different ways; Sil-la in internal improvement, Păk-je in self-gratification and Ko-gu-ryŭ in strengthening her foreign relations.

In the year 512 the kingdom of U-san was added to the crown of Sil-la. This was the little island of Dagelet, off the eastern coast of Korea, about opposite the prefecture of Kang-neung. How Sil-la happened to branch out in a policy of conquest we are not told, but having decided to do so she did it very neatly. The expedition was led by Gen. Yi Sa-bu. He ordered the construction of several lions with gaping mouths and enormous fangs. They were carved from wood. He placed one of these in the prow of each of the boats and when the little flotilla approached the shores of the island 79the natives were called upon to lay down their arms and surrender, or the lions would be set loose among them and would tear them to pieces. This, it is averred, brought the trembling islanders to their knees at once and Sil-la won a bloodless victory. This is among the most cherished traditions of the Korean people.

With the accession of Wŭn-jong to the throne of Sil-la in 514 the Chinese custom of conferring a posthumous title upon a deceased king was introduced for the first time into Korea. Long before this the custom had prevailed in Ko-gu-ryŭ of naming a dead king after the place in which he was buried but to the very last the Ko-gu-ryŭ kings did not receive posthumous honorific titles. Păk-je however followed Sil-la’s example ten years later.

King Pŭp-heung of Sil-la in 520 reorganised the official list and indicated the different grades of rank by different colors. The grades called t’a-do, kak-kan and ta-a-son wore lavenderlavender. Those called a-son and keup-son, wore red, and carried the ivory memo tablets that are common today. The ta-na-ma and the na-ma wore blue. The ta-sa and sun-jo-ji wore hats of silk, shaped like the broad-brimmed, round crowned hats of the chair-coolie of the present day. The pa-jin-son and the ta-a-son wore red silk hats. The sang-dang, chuk-wi and ta-sa wore red hat strings. The kaleidoscopic colors of a royal Korean procession of today indicate what a prominent role the love of color plays in the oriental temperament.

The Wei power in China was not pleased with the friendship that was springing up between Ko-gu-ryŭ and the Liang court. This came to a climax when she stoppedstopped a Liang envoy who was on his way to Ko-gu-ryŭ to confer investiture upon the king. It may be that Ko-gu-ryŭ realised that the Wei dynasty was waning to its close and that it was well to cultivate the good-will of the young and rising Liang power; but if so the forecast was false for the Liang power outlived the Wei only twenty-four years.

The year 524 gave Sil-la Buddhism a new lease of life. Its most celebrated representative was a monk named Muk Ho-ja who lived about the middle of the fifth century. Coming 80from Ko-gu-ryŭ he had settled at the town of Il-sŭng-gun where a Sil-la citizen had made him a cave dwelling. The king of Sil-la received a gift of incense from China, but did not know how to use it till this monk Muk Ho-ja showed him how. He told the king to burn it and ask anything of the spirits, and they would grant it. The king’s daughter was very ill at the time and the king burned the incense and asked that his daughter be healed. The story says that she immediately arose from her bed a well woman. This of course gave Buddhism a long start. Since that time, as we have seen, Buddhism had suffered a severe drawback in the person of the wicked monk who was discovered in the act of abusing his sacerdotal function. It had recovered from that shock however and had again assumed large proportions in the state of Sil-la. The king had come so completely under the influence of the monks that now in 524 the courtiers feared that their power would be seriously threatened. They therefore used every means to induce the king to moderate his views. The king gave his reluctant assent to the execution of the high priest, Yi Cha-don. Tradition says that when he was brought to execution he exclaimed “When you slay me, my blood will flow not red like blood but white as milk and then you will know that Buddhism is true.” And so it proved, for when his head was severed from the trunk his blood flowed white like milk. None could gainsay this evidence and from that day Buddhism advanced with rapid steps. The following year the king made a law against the killing of animals.

The kingdom of Ka-rak had existed side by side with Sil-la on terms of mutual friendship for four hundred and eighty-two years, but in 527 her king, Kim Ku-hyŭng, gave up his sovereign power and merged his kingdom into that of Sil-la. He was however retained at the head of the Ka-rak state under appointment by the king of Sil-la. It does not appear from the scanty records that this was other than a peaceful change. Ka-rak had long seen the growing power of Sil-la and doubtless recognised that more was to be gained by becoming part of that kingdom than by standing aloof and running the chance of becoming disputed territory between the rival powers of the peninsula. She had been founded in 8141 A.D. and now she came to an end in 527, so her lease of life seems to have been four hundred and eighty-six years rather than four hundred and eighty-two as the records state. As the dates of her beginning and end are both taken from the records the discrepancy must be laid at the door of the recorder.


About this time Sil-la discovered that it was useless to cultivate the friendship of the Chinese powers. The Chinese territory was divided into a number of petty kingdoms and more were on the eve of being founded. None of them had strength enough to hold her own against the others, much less to be of any avail in case of trouble in the peninsula. Perhaps it was for this reason that in 535 Sil-la rejected the Chinese calendar and named the year according to a plan of her own. In China the Liang dynasty, the Northern Wei, and the Eastern Wei were all in the field, while the Ch’en, the Northern Ch’i, the Northern Chu and the Sui dynasties were just about to make their appearance and all to pass away like summer clouds before the power of the mighty T’ang.

About the year 540 Păk-je moved her capital again; this time it was to Sa-ja the site of the present prefecture of Pu-yŭ in the province of Ch’ung-ch’ŭng. She seems to have had some aspirations after better things, for in 541 she sent to the Liang court asking that books of poetry, teachers of literature, Buddhist books, artisans and picture painters be sent to help in creating a taste for literature and art in that country. The request was granted.

The year 543 marks an important event in the life of Sil-la. The history of that country existed as yet only in the form of notes, but now the king ordered that a congress of the best scholars of the land set to work compiling a proper history under the leadership of the great scholar Kim-gŭ Ch’il-bu. We will notice that this was about two hundred years before the earliest date that is set for the publication of the Japanese work entitled the Kojiki. And it should be noticed likewise that this history of Sil-la was not a collection of myths and stories only, but a proper history, worked up from government records which a certain degree of knowledge of Chinese had rendered the officials capable of making and transmitting. One needs but to compare the Kojiki with the 82Sam-guk-sa or “History of the Three Kingdoms” founded on these records to see how immeasurably the latter excels the former as a source of accurate historical evidence.

It was about this time that the wild tribes of the Mal-gal and Ye-măk began to realise that the continued progress of Păk-je and Sil-la meant extinction for themselves. So in 547 they joined Ko-gu-ryŭ in an attack upon Păk-je; but Sil-la and Ka-ya rendered aid to Păk-je and the northern allies were driven back. From this time on, during a period of several years, Ko-gu-ryŭ, Ye-măk and Mal-gal were allies, and Sil-la, Păk-je and Ka-ya were allies; a sort of dual arrangement, which preserved a nice equilibrium in the peninsula.

In 549 the king of Păk-je sent an envoy to present his compliments to the Liang Emperor. When he arrived at the capital of the Liang power he found the palace in ashes and the reins of government in the hands of the usurper Hu-gyŭng; so he took his stand before the Tan-mun (gate) and wept aloud from morning till night. The passers-by, hearing his story, stopped and wept with him. This of course did not please the usurper, and the envoy was seized and thrown into prison where he stayed until the rebellion was put down and the Emperor returned. As the Ch’i dynasty arose in 550 we are not surprised to learn that Ko-gu-ryŭ sent an envoy immediately to do obeisance and get into the good graces of the new power.

It must be confessed that meantime Buddhism had been making rapid strides in Sil-la. Monasteries had been erected and the new cult was winning its way into the hearts of the people. In 551 the public teaching of the eight laws of Buddhism against (1) the slaughter of animals, (2) theft. (3) licentiousness, (4) lying, (5) drunkenness, (6) ambition, (7) the eating of garlic, (8) levity, was decreed.

It is probable that the art of music was not highly developed at this time but in 552 the king of Sil-la sent three men to the Ka-ya country to learn music from a celebrated master named U Reuk; but that learned man had come to realise that Ka-ya was doomed and, taking his twelve-stringed instrument under his arm he went with his disciple Ni Mun to the court of Sil-la. The three men, Pŭp-ji, Kye-go and Man-dok, whom the king had appointed to study music, entered 83upon their duties under this mail’s tutelage. One of them studied singing, another the use of the instrument and a third dancing. When they had perfected themselves in these ornamental arts they proposed to alter some of the songs, on the plea that they were too licentious, but old U Reuk violently objected to expurgated editions of his works, and so it was stopped. From that time music became very popular and in many cases students of this great branch of art went among the mountains and spent years in practice. The instrument was called a Ka-ya-geum from Ka-ya where it originated. It is now called the ka-go and is shaped like a Korean zither but is smaller. Among the favorite songs that have come down to the present time are “The Ascent of the Mountain,” “The Descent of the Mountain,” “The Rustling Bamboo,” “The Stork Dance,” “The Blowing Wind” and “The Monastery on the Mountain.” But music was not the only art that flourished, for we are gravely told that an artist painted a tree on the wall of “Yellow Dragon Monastery” with such skill that birds tried to alight on its branches.

In 555 war broke out between Sil-la and Păk-je. We are not told its cause but Sil-la was victorious and added to her territory a large tract of country along the eastern side of Păk-je, which she erected into a prefecture under the name of Wan-san-ju (now Chŭn-ju). One authority says that in this war Păk-je lost one half of her territory to Sil-la. It seems that Sil-la had by this time developed the taste for diplomatic intercourse with China. Frequent embassies were sent on the long and costly journey. Each of the three powers sent two and three times a year to one or other of the various Chinese courts. The Emperor of the Ch’i dynasty sent Sil-la great store of Buddhistic books. It is said that as many as 1700 volumes were sent at one time.

When Păk-jong ascended the throne of Sil-la in 570 the Buddhistic tendencies had begun to bear their legitimate fruits. The king was so given over to it that he became a monk and the queen became a nun. All thought of progress seems to have been given up and the revenues were squandered in sending useless embassies to China. The style of Buddhism prevalent in Sil-la is illustrated by the fact that in the second 84year of this reign the minister of war took the king severely to task for spending so much time in the chase, though the killing of animals is the first prohibition of the Buddhist law. Tradition says that this faithful minister, Hu-jik, pleadplead in vain, and finally, when dying, asked to be buried near the road the king usually took when going to hunt. It was done and the king when passing the grave heard a noise of warning proceeding from it. When he was told that it was the faithful but neglected Hu-jik, the king determined on the spot that he would reform, and so the faithful minister did more by his death than by his life.

It was in the year 586 that Ko-gu-ryŭ again moved her capital northward to the old place near the present Eui-ju. Soon after this the Tsin dynasty in China fell before the victorious Sui, and Ko-gu-ryŭ, who had been friendly with the Tsin but had never cultivated the Sui, was left in an extremely delicate position. She immediately began preparations for repelling a Sui invasion. The Emperor however had no such intentions and sent a swift messenger chiding the king for his unjust suspicions and opening the way for a friendly understanding. This seemed a little strained to the king and he feared treachery; so, while he greatly desired to send an envoy, he hardly ventured to do so.

One of the famous traditions of Korea centers about this king. His daughter when of tender years cried so much that on one occasionoccasion the king impatiently exclaimed “When you grow up you cannot marry a man of the nobility but we will marry you to an ondali.” Now an ondali is a very ignorant, foolish fellow, a boor. When the girl reached a marriageable age the king who had forgottenforgotten all about his threat was for marrying her to a high noble but the girl called to his remembrance the words he had spoken and said she would marry no one but an ondali. The king bound ten golden hairpins to her arm and drove thethe away from the palace. She fled to the hut of an ondali on the outskirts of the town but he was away in the hills gathering elm bark to eat. His mother, old and blind, said “You smell of perfume and your hands are soft and smooth. My boy is only an ignorant ondali and no match for you.” Without answering, the maiden hastened to the hills and found the boy, but he thought her a spirit and took 85to his heels and ran home as fast as he could go. She followed and slept before his door that night. At last the youth comprehended the situation and accepted the hand of the princess. With the ten golden hairpins she set him up in the horse-raising business. He bought the broken-down palace ponies and by careful treatment made them sound and fleet again. In the chase he always led the rout and when the King asked who he might be the answer was “Only an ondali.” From this the youth advanced until he became a famous general and had the honor of defeating a Chinese army in Liao-tung. He was killed during an invasion of Sil-la but no one was able to lift his dead body till his wife came and knelt beside it saying “The dead and living are separated.” Then it was lifted and carried back to Ko-gu-ryŭ.

Chapter XI.

Ko-gu-ryŭ relations with the Sui court.... Ko-gu-ryŭ suspected.... takes the offensive.... submits.... the Emperor suspicious.... the great Chinese invasion.... Chinese allies.... Ko-gu-ryŭ’s allies.... Chinese cross the Liao.... go into camp.... naval expedition.... defeated at P‘yŭng-yang.... routes of the Chinese army.... Ko-gu-ryŭ spy.... Ko-gu-ryŭ lures the Chinese on.... pretense of surrender.... Chinese retreat.... terrible slaughter.... Păk-je neutral.... second invasion.... siege of Liao-tung fortress.... Chinese retire.... and give up the contest.... treaty with the T’ang Emperor.... triangular war renewed.... China neutral.... guerilla warfare.... first woman sovereign.... Păk-je retrogrades.... attacks Sil-la.... Păk-je’s terrible mistake.... Chinese spy.... rise of Hap So-mun.... the tortoise and the rabbit.... Taoism introduced.... China finally sides with Sil-la.... and announces her program.... preparations for war.... the invasion.... siege of Liao-tung Fortress.... siege of An-si Fortress.... Chinese retire.

We have seen that Ko-gu-ryŭ did not respond freely to the friendly advances of the Sui power in China. Although a Sui envoy came and conferred investiture upon the king in 590, yet the relations were not cordial. Something was lacking. A mutual suspicion existed which kept them both on the watch for signs of treachery. But two years later the king did obeisance to the Emperor and was apparently taken 86into his good graces. And now the net began to be drawn about Ko-gu-ryŭ. Her position had always been precarious. She was the largest of the peninsular kingdoms and the nearest to China. She was also nearest to the wild tribes who periodically joined in an attempt to overthrow the Chinese ruling dynasty. So Ko-gu-ryŭ was always more or less suspected of ulterior designs and she seems to have realised it, for she always sedulously cultivated the good-will of the Emperors. She knew very well that with Sil-la and Păk-je, hereditary enemies, at her back, the day when she fell under the serious suspicion of any strong dynasty in China would be her day of doom. And so it proved in the end. She had now thoroughly alienated the good-will and aroused the suspicions of the Sui Emperor; Sil-la and Păk-je were in his good graces, and stirring times were at hand. These two rival powers sent envoys to China urging the Emperor to unite with them in invading Ko-gu-ryŭ and putting an end to her once for all. To this the Emperor assented. Ko-gu-ryŭ knew that the fight was on and, being the warlike power that she was, she boldly determined to take the offensive. Drawing on her faithful allies the Mal-gal for 10,000 troops she despatched these, together with her own army, to western Liao-tung and across the river Liao, where the town of Yŭng-ju was attacked and taken. This was her declaration of war. The Emperor in 598 proclaimed the royal title withdrawn from the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ and an army of 300,000 men was put in motion toward the frontier. At the same time a naval expedition was fitted out. But reverses occurred; storms by sea and bad management of the commissariat by land rendered the expedition a failure. It opened the eyes of the Ko-gu-ryŭ king however and he saw that the Emperor was fully determined upon his destruction. He saw but one way to make himself safe and that was by abject submission. He therefore hastened to tell the Emperor, “I am a base and worthless subject, vile as ordure,” which was received by the Emperor with considerable complaisancy, and a show of pardon was made; but it was probably done only to keep Ko-gu-ryŭ from active preparations until China could equip a much larger army and put it in the field. Păk-je, who did not like to see affairs brought to a halt at this interesting juncture, sent an 87envoy to China offering to act as guide, to lead a Chinese army against the foe. When Ko-gu-ryŭ learned of this her anger knew no bounds and she began to make reprisals upon Păk-je territory.

About this time the Sui Emperor had business in the north. The Tol-gwŭl tribe needed chastisement. When the Chinese forces entered the chief town of the humbled tribe they found a Ko-gu-ryŭ emissary there. This fed the Emperor’s suspicions for it looked as if Ko-gu-ryŭ were preparing a league of the wild tribes for the purpose of conquest. He therefore sent to Ko-gu-ryŭ saying “The king should not be afraid of me. Let him come himself and do obeisance. If not, I shall send and destroy him.” We may well imagine that this pressing invitation was declined by the king.

The last year of the sixth century witnessed the compilation of the first great history of Ko-gu-ryŭ, in 100 volumes. It was named the Yu-geui or “Record of Remembrance.”

It took China some years to get ready for the carrying out of her plan, but at last in 612 began one of the mightiest military movements in history. China massed upon the western bank of the Liao River an army of 1,130,000 men. There were forty regiments of cavalry and eighty of infantry. The army was divided into twenty-four battalions, marching with an interval of forty li between each, so that the entire army stretched for 960 li or 320 miles along the road. Eighty li in the rear came the Emperor with his body-guard.

When this enormous army reached the banks of the Liao they beheld on the farther bank the soldiers of Ko-gu-ryŭ. Nothing can better prove the hardihoodhardihood of the Ko-gu-ryŭ soldiery than that, when they saw this well-nigh innumerable host approach, they dared to dispute the crossing of the river.

The Chinese army was composed of Chinese regulars and of allies from twenty-four of their dependencies whose names are given as follows. Nu-bang, Chang-jam, Myŭng-hă, Kă-ma, Kön-an, Nam-so, Yo-dong, Hyŭn-do, Pu-yŭ, Nang-nang, Ok-jŭ, Chŭm-sŭn, Ham-ja, Hon-mi, Im-dun, Hu-sŭng, Che-hă, Tap-don, Suk-sin, Kal-sŭk, Tong-i, Tă-bang and Yang-p’yŭng. One would suppose from this long list that there could be few left to act as allies to Ko-gu-ryŭ, but when we remember that the Mal-gal group of tribes was by far the 88most powerful and warlike of all the northern hordes we will see that Ko-gu-ryŭ was not without allies. In addition to this, Ko-gu-ryŭ had two important factors in her favor; in summer the rains made the greater part of Liao-tung impassable either for advance or retreat, and in winter the severity of the weather rendered military operations next to impossible. Only two courses were therefore open to antherefore open to an invading army; either it must make a quick dash into Ko-gu-ryŭ in the spring or autumn and retire before the summer rains or winter storms, or else it must be prepared to go into camp and spend the inclement season in an enemy’s country, cut off from its base of supplies. It was in the spring that this invasion took place and the Emperor was determined to carry it through to a finish in spite of summer rains or winter storms.

No sooner had the Chinese army reached the Liao River than the engineers set to work bridging the stream. So energetically was the work done that in two days a double span was thrown across. There had been a miscalculation however, for it fell six feet short of reaching the eastern bank, and the Ko-gu-ryŭ soldiers were there to give them a warm welcome. The Chinese troops leaped from the unfinished end of the bridge and tried to climb up the steep bank, but were again and again driven back. The eastern bank was not gained until Gen Măk Chŭl-jang leaped to the shore and mowed a path for his followers with his sword. At this point the Ko-gu-ryŭ generals Chön Sa-ung and Măng Keum-ch’a were killed.

When the whole army had effected a crossing the Emperor sent 1200 troops to occupy the fortified town of Liao-tung but the Ko-gu-ryŭ general, Eul-ji Mun-dŭk, hastened thither and drove back this detachment of Chinese in confusion. The Emperor learned of the retreat and proceeded toward the scene of action. When he came up with the flying detachments of his defeated force he severely reprimanded the generals in charge and chided them for being lazy and afraid of death. But it was now late in June and the rainy season was at hand, so the Emperor with his whole army went into camp at Yuk-hap Fortress a little to the west of the town of Liao-tung, to await the end of the wet season.

He was unwilling however to let all this time pass without any active work; so he sent a fleet of boats by sea to sail 89up the Ta-dong River and attack P’yüng-yang. This was under the leadership of Gen. Nă Ho-a. Landing his force on the bank of the Ta-dong, sixty li below the city, he enjoyed there a signal victory over a small force which had been sent to head him off. This made the general over-confident and in spite of the protests of his lieutenants he marched on P‘yŭng-yang without an hour’s delay. With twenty thousand troops he went straight into the town, the gates being left wide open for him. This was a ruse on the part of the Ko-gu-ryŭ forces. A strong body of Ko-gu-ryŭ troops had hidden in a monastery in Nă-gwak Fort on the heights within the city. The Chinese found themselves entrapped and Gen. Nă was forced to beat a hasty retreat with what forces he had left, and at last got back to Hă-p’o (harbor) in Liao-tung. What the Emperor said to him is not known but it could not have been flattering.

The rainy season had now come and gone and the main plan of the invasion was ready to be worked out. It was necessary for the Emperor to spread out his force over the country in order to find forage, and so, in approaching the borders of Ko-gu-ryŭ, it was decided that they should come by several different routes. Gen. U Mun-sul led a detachment by way of Pu-yŭ, Gen. U Chung-mun by way of Nang-nang, Gen. Hyŭng Wŭn-hang by way of Yo-dong, Gen. Sŭl Se-ung by way of Ok-jŭ, Gen. Sin Se-ung by way of Hyŭn-do, Gen. Chang Keun by way of Yang-p’yăng, Gen. Cho Hyo-jă by way of Kal-sŭk, Gen. Ch’oe Hong-seung by way of Su-sung, Gen. Wi Mun-seung by way of Cheung-ji. It is said that they all rendezvoused on the western bank of the Yalu River, but if so there must have been great changes in the position of these wild tribes. It is more than probable that like the North American Indians they had moved further and further back from their original lands until they were far beyond the Yalu and Tumen rivers.

In the early autumn of 612 the whole army lay just east of the Yalu River.

The king of Ko-gu-ryŭ sent Gen. Eul-ji Mun-dŭk to the Chinese camp to tender the Emperor a pretense of surrender but in reality to spy out his position and force. When he appeared the Emperor was minded to kill him on the spot 90but thought better of it and, after listening to what he had to say, let him go. Not an hour after he had gotten beyond the Chinese pickets the Emperor changed his mind again and sent in pursuit of him; but the general had too good a start and made too good use of his time to allow himself to be retaken.

And now appeared one of the disadvantages of being far from one’s base of supplies, and in an enemy’s country. Some weeks before this each Chinese soldier had been given three bags of rice and told that he must carry them on the march, besides his other necessary accoutrements. Death was to the penalty of throwing any of it away. The result was that most of them buried a large part of the rice in their tents and so escaped detection. Now they were short of provisions, while the generals thought their knapsacks were full of rice. The Ko-gu-ryŭ Gen. Eul-ji, who had been in their camp, however, knew about it. He entered upon a geurillageurilla warfare with the object of luring the enemy far into Ko-gu-ryŭ territory and then cutting them to pieces at leisure. To this end he made a feigned retreat several times each day, thus giving the enemy confidence and blinding them to his own strength. It was decided that a Chinese force of 305,000 men under Gen. U Chung-mun should proceed straight to P’yŭng-yang. It seemed wholly unnecessary that the whole army of 1,130,000 men should undergo that long march when only a pusillanimous enemy barred the way.

On they came toward the capital without meeting anything but a few skirmishers, until they reached the Sal-su, a stream only thirty li from P’yŭng-yang. Crossing this the Chinese went into camp for a few days to recover from the fatigue of the rapid march before attacking the town.

At this point Gen. Eul-ji began operations. He wrote a very humble letter sueingsueing for mercy. When the Chinese general received this, his course of reasoning must have been something as follows: “My forces are completely exhausted by this long march; the provisions are almost gone; I shall find the capital defended by desperate men; it may be that I shall be handled as roughly as were the forces of Gen. Nă. I will accept this submission and start back in time to reach the Yalu before my provisions are entirely gone. I will thus spare my army and gain the desired end as well.”

91Whether this was his course of reasoning or not, sure it is that he accepted the submission tendered him and put his army in motion toward the Yalu. But before his forces had gone a mile they found themselves attacked on all sides at once by an unseen foe which seemed to fill the forests on either side the road. When half the army had gotten across the Sal-su the other half was fiercely attacked and cut to pieces or driven like dumb cattle over the face of the country, where they were butchered at leisure. The retreat became a flight, the flight a rout, and still the Ko-gu-ryŭ soldiers hung on their flanks like wolves and dragged them down by scores and hundreds. It is said that in a single day and night the fugitive Chinese covered four hundredhundred and fifty li, and when the remnant of that noble army of 305,000 men that had swept across the Yalu went back across that historic stream it was just 2700 strong. Over 300,000 men had perished along the hill-sides and among the forests of Ko-gu-ryŭ. The Emperor in anger imprisoned the over-confident Gen. U Chung-mun.

Meanwhile what of Păk-je? She had promised that she would rise and strike Ko-gu-ryŭ simultaneously with the Emperor, but when the moment for action came, like the paltroonpaltroon that she was, she waited to see which side would be most likely to win in the end. When the Chinese fled back to the border in panic Păk-je quietly stacked her arms and said nothing about attacking her neighbor.

Winter was now at hand, or would be before another plan could be perfected and carried out. The army was without provisions. There was nothing left but to retreat. The Chinese army, still a mighty host, moved slowly back across the Liao River and Ko-gu-ryŭ was left to her own pleasant musings. All that China gained was that portion of Ko-gu-ryŭ lying west of the Liao River, which the Emperor erected into three prefectures.

If Ko-gu-ryŭ flattered herself that her troubles were all over she was wofully mistaken. With the opening of spring the Emperor’s determination to humble her was as strong as ever. All the courtiers urged him to give over the attempt. They had seen enough of Ko-gu-ryŭ. The Emperor, however, was firm in his determination, and in the fourth moon another army was launched against the hardy little kingdom 92to the east. It crossed the Liao without opposition but when it arrived at Tong-whang Fortress, near the present Eui-ju, it attempted in vain to take it. The Emperor decided therefore to make a thorough conquest of all the Liao-tung territory and delimit the possessions of Ko-gu-ryŭ as far as the Yalu River, To this end siege was laid to the Fortress of Liao-tung. After twenty days the town was still intact and the Chinese seemingly as far from victory as ever. Ladders were tried but without effect. A bank of earth was thrown upup as high as the wall of the town, but this too failed. Platforms of timber were erected and rolled up to the wall on trucks of eight wheels each. This seemed to promise success but just as the attempt was to be made fortune favored Ko-gu-ryŭ, for news came to the Chinese that an insurrection had arisen in China, headed by Yang Hyŭn-gam. The tents were hastily struck and the army by forced marches moved rapidly back towards China. At first the Ko-gu-ryŭ forces thought this was a mere feint but when the truth was known they rushed in pursuit and succeeded in putting several thousands of the Chinese braves hors de combat.

The following year the Emperor wanted to return to the charge but an envoy came from Ko-gu-ryŭ offering the king’s humble submission. To this the Emperor replied “Then let him come in person and present it.” This he would not do.

Four years later the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ died and his brother Kön-mu assumed control. It was in this same year 618 that the great T’ang dynasty was founded on the ruins of the Sui and the fear of vengeance was lifted from Ko-gu-ryŭ. She immediately sent an envoy to the T’ang court offering her allegiance. Păk-je and Sil-la were only a year behind her in paying their respects to the new Emperor. As a test of Ko-gu-ryŭ sincerity, Emperor Kao-tsu demanded that she send back the captives taken during the late war. As the price of peace Ko-gu-ryŭ complied and sent back 10,000 men. The next year the T’ang Emperor conferred the title of royalty upon all the three kings of the peninsula which, instead of settling the deadly feud between them, simply opened a new and final scene of the fratricidal struggle. To Ko-gu-ryŭ the Emperor sent books on the Shinto faith, of the introduction of which into Korea we here have the first intimation.

93Now that danger from the west no longer threatened Ko-gu-ryŭ, she turned to her neighbors and began to exercise her arms upon them. Păk-je also attacked Sil-la fiercely and soon a triangular war was being waged in the peninsula which promised to be a war of extermination unless China should interfere. Of course each wished the Emperor to interfere in her behalf and each plied the throne of China with recriminations of the others and with justifications of herself until the Emperor was wholly at a loss to decide between them. Perhaps it was not his policy to put an end to the war but let it rage until the whole peninsula was exhausted, when it would become an easy prey to his arms. At any rate he gave encouragement to none of them but simply told them to stop fighting. Ko-gu-ryŭ diplomatically added to her supplications a request for Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto teachers.

The details of this series of hostilities between the three Korean states form a tangled skein. First one border fort was taken and then recovered, then the same was repeated at another point; and so it went all along the line, now one being victorious and now another. Large forces were not employed at any one time or place, but it was a skirmish fire all along the border, burning up brightly first at one spot and then at another. One remarkable statement in the records, to the effect that Ko-gu-ryŭ began the building of a wall straight across the peninsula from Eui-ju to the Japan Sea to keep out the people of the northern tribes, seems almost incredible. If true it is another testimony to the great power of Ko-gu-ryŭ. It is said the work was finished in sixteen years.

In 632, after a reign of fifty years, King Chim-p’yŭng died without male issue but his daughter Tong-man, a woman of strong personality, ascended the throne of Sil-la, being the first of her sex that ever sat on a Korean throne.

Many stories are told of her precocity. Once when she was a mere child her father had received from the Emperor a picture of the mok-tan flower together with some seeds of the same. She immediately remarked that the flowers would have no perfume. When asked why she thought so she replied “Because there is no butterfly on them in the picture.” While not a valid argument, it showed a power of observation very uncommon in a child. This proved to be true, for when 94the seeds sprouted and grew the blossoms had no fragrance. The Emperor conferred upon her the title of royalty, the same as upon a male sovereign.

The first few years of her reign were peaceful ones for Sil-la, and Păk-je, as usual when relieved of the stress of war, fell back into her profligate ways again. The king built gardens and miniature lakes, bringing water from a point some twenty li away to supply them. Here he spent his time in sport and debauchery while the country ruled itself.

In the fifth year of her reign Queen Tong-man, while walking in her palace grounds, passed a pond of water but suddenly stopped and exclaimed “There is war on our western border.” When asked her reasons for thinking so she pointed to the frogs in the pond and said “See how red their eyes are. It means that there is war on the border.” As if to bear out her statement, swift messengers came the next day announcing that Păk-je was again at work along the western border. So runs the story.

And so the fight went on merrily all along the line, while at the capitals of the three kingdoms things continued much as usual. Each of the countries sent Princes to China to be educated, and the diplomatic relations with China were as intimate as ever; but in 642 Păk-je made the great mistake of her life. After an unusually successful military campaign against Sil-la during which she seized forty of her frontier posts, she conceived the bright idea of cutting off Sil-la’s communication with China. The plan was to block the way of Sil-la envoys on their way to China. Thus she thought that China’s good will would be withdrawn from her rival, Sil-la. It was a brilliant plan but it had after effects which worked ruin for Păk-je. Such a momentous undertaking could not be kept from the ears of the Emperor nor could Sil-la’s envoys be thus debarred from going to the Emperor’s court. When the whole matter was therefore laid before the Chinese court the Emperor immediately condemned Păk-je in his own mind.

About this time a Chinese envoy named Chin Ta-t’ok arrived on the borders of Ko-gu-ryŭ. On his way to the capital he pretended to enjoy all the views along the way and he gave costly presents to the prefects and gained from them accurate 95information about every part of the route. By this means he spied out the land and carried a fund of important information back to the Emperor. He advised that Ko-gu-ryŭ be invaded both by land and sea, for she would not be hard to conquer.

It was in this year 642 that a Ko-gu-ryŭ official named Hap So-mun assassinated the king and set up the king’s nephew Chang as king. He himself became of course the court favorite. He was a man of powerful body and powerful mind. He was as “sharp as a falcon.” He claimed to have risen from the water by a miraculous birth. He was hated by the people because of his cruelty and fierceness. Having by specious promises so far mollifiedmollified the dislike of the officials as to have gained a position under the government he became worse than before and some of the officials had an understanding with the king that he must be put out of the way. This came to the ears of Hap So-mun and he gave a great feast, during the course of which he fell upon and killed all those who had advised against him. He then killed the king in the palace, cut the body in two and threw it into a ditch. Then, as we have seen, he set up Chang as king. This Hap So-mun is said to have worn five swords on his person all the time. All bowed their heads when he appeared and when he rode in state he passed over the prostrate bodies of men.

When an envoy, soon after this, came from Sil-la he was thrown into prison as a spy and was told that he would be released as soon as Sil-la should restore to Ko-gu-ryŭ the two districts of Ma-hyŭn which had at one time belonged to Ko-gu-ryŭ. This envoy had a friend among the Ko-gu-ryŭ officials and to him he applied for help. That gentleman gave him advice in the form of an allegory. It was as follows.

The daughter of the Sea King being ill, the physicians said that she could not recover unless she should eat the liver of a rabbit. This being a terrestrial animal it was of course almost impossible to obtain, but finally a tortoise volunteered toto secure a rabbit and bring it to the king. Emerging from the sea on the coast of Sil-la the tortoise entered a field and found a rabbit sleeping under a covert. Awakening the animal he began to tell of an island off the shore where there were neither 96hawks nor hunters—a rabbit’s paradise, and volunteered to take the rabbit across to it upon his back. When well out at sea the tortoise bade the rabbit prepare for death, for his liver was needed by the Sea King. After a moment’s rapid thought the rabbit exclaimed “You might have had it without all this ado, for when the Creator made rabbits he made them with detachable livers so that when they became too warm they could take them out and wash them in cool water and then put them back. When you found me I had just washed mine and laid it on a rock to dry. You can have it if you wish, for I have no special use for it.” The tortoise in great chagrin turned about and paddled him back to the shore. Leaping to the land the rabbit cried “Good day, my friend, my liver is safe inside of me.”

The imprisoned envoy pondered over this conundrum and its application and finally solved it. Sending to the king he said “You cannot get back the two districts by keeping me here. If you will let me go and will provide me with an escort I will induce the Sil-la government to restore the territory to you.”to you.” The king complied, but when the envoy had once gotten across the border he sent back word that the restoration of territory was not in his line of business and he must decline to discuss the question at the court of Sil-la.

In 643 the powerful and much dreaded Hap So-mun sent to China asking the Emperor to send a teacher of the Shinto religion; for he said that the three religions, Buddhism, Taoism and Shintoism were like the three legs of a kettle, all necessary. The Emperor complied and sent a teacher, Suk-da, with eight others and with books to be used in the study of the new cult.

The prowess of this Hap So-mun was well known at the Chinese court and it kept the Emperor from attempting any offensive operations. He said it would not do to drain China of her soldiers at such a critical time, but that the Mal-gal tribes must first be alienated from their fealty to Ko-gu-ryŭ and be induced to attack her northern border. Others advised that Hap So-mun be allowed free rein so that all suspicion of aggression on the part of China should be removed and Ko-gu-ryŭ would become careless of her defenses. This would in time bring a good opportunity to strike the decisive blow. It 97was in pursuance of this policy that the Shinto teachers were sent and that Hap So-mun’s creature, Chang, was given investiture. At the same time a Sil-la emmissaryemmissary was on his way to the Chinese court asking for aid against Ko-gu-ryŭ. The Emperor could not comply but proposed three plans: first, that China stir up the Mal-gal tribes to harry the northern borders of Ko-gu-ryŭ and so relieve the strain on the south; second, that China give Sil-la a large number of red flags which she should use in battle. The Păk-je or Ko-gu-ryŭ forces, seeing these, would think that Sil-la had Chinese allies and would hasten to make peace; third, that China should send an expedition against Păk-je, which should unite with a Sil-la force and thus crush the Păk-je power once for all and join her territory to that of Sil-la. This would prepare the way for the subjugation of Ko-gu-ryŭ. But to this advice the Emperor added that so long as Sil-la had a woman on the throne she could not expect to undertake any large operations. She ought to put a man on the throne and then, after the war was over, restore the woman if she so wished. The Sil-la envoy pondered these three plans but could come to no decision. So the Emperor called him a fool and sent him away. We see behind each of these schemes a fear of Ko-gu-ryŭ. China was willing to do anything but meet the hardy soldiers of Ko-gu-ryŭ in the field.

We see that the Emperor had virtually decided in favor of Sil-la as against Păk-je and Ko-gu-ryŭ. The long expected event had at last occurred. Tacitly but really China had cast her vote for Sil-la and the future of the peninsula was decided for so long as the Tang dynasty should last. That the decision was a wise one a moment’s consideration will show. Ko-gu-ryŭ never could be depended upon for six months in advance and must be constantly watched; Păk-je, being really a mixture of the northern and southern elements, had neither the power of the one nornor the peaceful disposition of the other but was as unstable as a cloud. Sil-la on the other hand was purely southern, excepting for a strain of Chinese blood brought in by the refugees from the Tsin dynasty. Her temperament was even, her instincts peaceful, her tendencies toward improvement and reform. She was by all means the best ally China could have in the peninsula. 98And so the die was cast and henceforth the main drift of Chinese sympathy is to be Sil-la-ward.

The year 644 was a fateful one for Korea. The Emperor sent an envoy to Ko-gu-ryŭ and Păk-je commanding them to cease their depredations on Sil-la. Thus was the Chinese policy announced. Păk-je hastened to comply but Hap So-mun of Ko-gu-ryŭ replied that this wasthis was an ancient feud with Sil-la and could not be set aside until Ko-gu-ryŭ recovered 500 li of territory that she had been despoiled of. The Emperor in anger sent another envoy with the same demand, but Hap So-mun threw him into prison and defied China. When he heard however that the Emperor had determined upon an invasion of Ko-gu-ryŭ he changed his mind and sent a present of gold to the Chinese court. But he was too late. The gold was returned and the envoy thrown into prison.

There were many at the Chinese court who could remember the horrors of that retreat from P’yŭng-yang when China left 300,000 dead upon the hills of Ko-gu-ryŭ, and the Emperor was advised to move cautiously. He however felt that unless Ko-go-ryŭ was chastised she might develop an ambition towards imperialism and the throne of China itself might be endangered. He therefore began to collect provisions on the northern border, storing them at Tă-in Fortress. He called into his counsels the old general, Chöng Wŭn-do, who had been an eye-witness of the disasters of the late war with Ko-gu-ryŭ. This man gave healthful advice, saying that the subjugation of Ko-gu-ryŭ would be no easy task; first, because the way was so long; second, because of the difficulty of provisioning the army; third, because of the stubborn resistance of Ko-gu-ryŭ’s soldiers. He gave the enemy their due and did not minimize the difficulties of the situation.

The Emperor listened to and profittedprofitted by this advice, for during the events to be related his soldiers never suffered from over-confidence, but in their advances made sure of every step as they went along.

Active operations began by the sending of an army of 40,000 men in 501 boats to the harbor of Nă-ju where they were joined by land forces to the number of 60,000, besides large contingents from the wild tribes of the north. Large numbers of ladders and other engines of war had been constructed 99and were ready for use. Before crossing the Liao River the Emperor made proclamation far and wide saying “Hap So-mun has killed our vassal, King of Ko-gu-ryŭ, and we go to inquire into the matter. Let none of the prefects along the way waste their revenues in doing us useless honors. Let Sil-la, Păk-je and Kŭ-ran help us in this righteous war.”

Crossing the Liao without resistance the Chinese forces marched toward the fortress of Kön-an which soon fell into their hands. Some thousands of heads fell here to show the rest of Ko-gu-ryŭKo-gu-ryŭ what they might expect in case of contumacy. Then Ham-mo Fortress fell an easy victim. Not so the renowned fortress of Liao-tung. As the Emperor approached the place he found his way obstructed by a morass 200 li in length. He built a road through it and then when all his army had passed he destroyed the road behind him as Pizarro burnt his ships behind him when he landed on the shores of America to show his army that there was to be no retreat. Approaching the town he laid siege to it and after a hard fight, during which the Chinese soldiers lifted a man on the end of a long piece of timber until he could reach and set fire to the defences that surmounted the wall, an entrance was finally effected and the town taken. In this battle the Chinese were materially aided by armor which Păk-je had sent as a gift to the Chinese Emperor.

The Chinese were destined to find still greater difficulty in storming An-si Fortress which was to Ko-gu-ryŭ what Metz is to Germany. It was in command of the two generals, Ko Yŭn-su and Ko Hye-jin who had called to their aid 100,000 warriors of the Mal-gal tribes. At first the Emperor tried a ruse to draw the garrison out where he could give them battle. The wise heads among the Ko-gu-ryŭ garrison strongly opposed the sortie saying that it were better to await an opportunity to cut off the Chinese from their base of supplies, and so entrap them; but they were outvoted and the greater part of the Ko-gu-ryŭ and allied forces marched out to engage the enemy in the open field. The Emperor ascended an eminence where he could obtain a view of the enemy and he beheld the camp of the Mal-gal allies stretching out forty li, twelve miles. He determined to exercise the utmost caution. One of his generals, Wang Do-jong begged to be allowed to 100march on P‘yŭng-yang, which he deemed must be nearly bare of defenses, and so bring the war to a speedy close; but the Emperor, like Hannibal when begged by his generals to march straight into Rome, made the mistake of over-caution and so missed his great opportunity. To the Emperor this sounded too much like a similar attempt that had once cost China 300,000 men.

A messenger was sent to the Ko-gu-rŭ camp to say that China did not want to fight but had only come to inquire into the cause of the king’s death. As he intended, this put the Ko-gu-ryŭ forces off their guard and that night he surrounded the fortress and the forces which had come out to engage him. This was done in such a way that but few of the surrounding Chinese army were visible. Seeing these, the Ko-gu-ryŭ forces made a fierce onslaught anticipating an easy victory, instead of which they soon found themselves surrounded by the flower of the Chinese army and their retreat to the fortress cut off. It is said that in this fight 20,000 Ko-gu-ryŭ troops were cut down and three thousand of the Mal-gal allies, besides losing many through flight and capture. These were all released and sent back to Ko-gu-ryŭ excepting 3,500 noblemen whom the Emperor sent to China as hostages. This fight occurred outside the An-si Fortress and the Emperor supposed the gates would now be thrown open; but not so, for there was still a strong garrison within and plenty of provisions; so they barred the gates and still defied the Chinese. Upon hearing of the Chinese victory the neighboring Ko-gu-ryŭ fortresses Ho-whang and Eui capitulated, not knowing that An-si still held out against the victors.

Many of the Emperor’s advisers wanted him to ignore An-si and press on into Ko-gu-ryŭ leaving it in the rear, but this the wary Emperor would not consent to do, for he feared lest his retreat should be cut off. So the weary siege was continued. One day, hearing the lowing of cattle and the cackling of hens within the walls, the Emperor astutely surmised that a feast was being prepared preparatory to a sortie that was about to be made. Extra pickets were thrown out and the army was held in readiness for the attack. That very night the garrison came down the wall by means of ropes; but finding the besiegers ready for them they retired in confusion 101and suffered a severe defeat. The siege went on. The Chinese spent two months constructing a mound against the wall but the garrison rushed out and captured it. It is said that during this siege the Emperor lost an eye by an arrow wound, but the Chinese histories do not mention it. The cold blasts of late autumn were now beginning to give warning that winter was at hand and the Emperor was obliged to consider the question of withdrawing. He was filled with admiration of the pluck and bravery of the little garrison of An-si and before he broke camp he sent a message to the commander praising his faithfulness to his sovereign and presenting him with a hundred pieces of silk. Then the long march back to China began, and the 70,000 soldiers wended their way westward, foiled a second time by the stubborn hardihood of Ko-gu-ryŭ.

Chapter XII.

Revolt in Sil-la.... Ko-gu-ryŭ invaded.... Sil-la invades Păk-je.... China decides to aid Sil-la.... war between Păk-je and Sil-la.... relations with China.... league against Sil-la.... China diverts Ko-gu-ryŭ’s attention.... traitors in Păk-je.... Sŭng-ch’ung’s advice.... Chinese forces sent to Păk-je.... portents of the fall of Păk-je.... conflicting plans.... Sil-la army enters Păk-je.... Păk-je capital seized.... Păk-je dismembered.... end of Păk-je.... disturbances in Păk-je territory.... Ko-gu-ryŭ attacks Sil-la.... final invasion of Ko-gu-ryŭ planned.... Păk-je malcontents.... combination against Ko-gu-ryŭ.... siege of P‘yŭng-yang raised.... Pok-sin’s fall.... Păk-je Japanese defeated.... governor of Ung-jin.... Buddhist reverses in Sil-la.... Sil-la king takes oath.... Nam-gŭn’s treachery.... the Mal-gal tribes desert Ko-gu-ryŭ.... the Yalu defended.... Chinese and Sil-la forces march on P‘yŭng-yang.... omens.... Ko-gu-ryŭ forts surrender.... Ko-gu-ryŭ falls.

Tong-man, the Queen ruler of Sil-la, died in 645 and was succeeded by her sister Söng-man. The Emperor confirmed her in her accession to the throne. It began to look seriously as if a gynecocracy was being established in Sil-la. Some of the highest officials decided to effect a change. The malcontents were led by Pi-un and Yŭm-jong. These men with a considerable number of troops went into camp near the capital and prepared to besiege it. For four days the rebels and the loyal troops faced each other without daring to strike a 102blow. Tradition says a star fell one night among the loyal forces and caused consternation there and exultation among the traitors. But the loyal Gen. Yu-sin hastened to the Queen and promised to reverse the omen. That night he prepared a great kite and fastened a lantern to its tail. Then he exhorted the soldiers to be of good cheer, sacrificed a white horse to the deities of the land and flew the kite. The rebels, seeing the light rising from the loyal camp, concluded that Providence had reversed the decree. So when the loyal troops made their attack the hearts of the rebels turned to water and they were driven over the face of the country and cut down with great slaughter. That same year the Emperor again planned to attack Ko-gu-ryŭ but the baleful light of a comet made him desist.

At the instigation of Hap So-mun, the king of Ko-gu-ryŭ sent his son to China, confessed his faults and begged for mercy, but the Emperor’s face was flint. The next year the message was again sent, but Ko-gu-ryŭ’s day of grace was over. China’s answer was an army of 30,000 men and a mighty fleet of ships. The fortress of Pak-chak in Liao-tung was besieged but it was so fortified by nature as to be almost impregnable. The Emperor therefore said “Return to China and next year we will send 300,000 men instead of 30,000.” He then ordered the building of a war vessel 100 feet in length. He also had large store of provisions placed on O-ho Island to be used by the invading army.

Meanwhile Sil-la had become emboldened by the professed preferencepreference of China for her and she arose and smote Păk-je, taking twenty-one of her forts, killing 30,000 of her soldiers and carrying away 9,000 prisoners. She followed this up by making a strong appeal to China for help, saying that unless China should come to her aid she would be unable to continue her embassies to the Chinese court. The Emperor thereupon ordered Gen. So Chöng-bang to take 200,000 troops and go to the aid of Sil-la. He evidently was intending to try a new way of attacking Ko-gu-ryŭ. As the Sil-la messenger was hastening homeward with this happy news emissaries of Ko-gu-ryŭ dogged his footsteps and sought his life. Once he was so hard pressed that he escaped only by a clever and costly ruse. One of his suite dressed in his official garments and 103personated him and thus drew the assassins off the scent and allowed himself to be killed, the real envoy making good his escape. It was now for the first time that Sil-la adopted the Chinese costume, having first obtained leave from the Emperor. It is said that it resembled closely the costume used in Korea today.

Unfortunately for Sil-la the Emperor died in 649 and Ko-gu-ryŭ began to breathe freely again. It also emboldened Păk-je and she invaded Sil-la with a considerable army and seized seven forts. Sil-la retaliated by seizing 10,000 houses belonging to Păk-je subjects and killing the leading Păk-je general, Eum-sang. Sil-la lost not a moment in gaining the good will of the new Emperor. Envoys with presents were sent frequently. She adopted the Chinese calendar and other customs from the suzerain state and so curried favor with the powerful. The Păk-je envoy was received coldly by the Emperor and was told to go and give back to Sil-la the land that had been taken and to cease the hostilities. This Păk-je politely declined to do. Each emperor of China seems to have declined the legacy of quarrels handed down by his predecessor. So bye-gones were bye-gones and Ko-gu-ryŭ was accepted again on her good behavior.

With the end of Queen Söng-man’s reign affairs in the peninsula began to focus toward that crisis which Ko-gu-ryŭ and Păk-je had so long been preparing for themselves. In 655 a new combination was effected and one that would have made Sil-la’s horizon very dark had she not been sure of Imperial help. Her two neighbors formed a league against her, and of course the Mal-gal tribes sided with Ko-gu-ryŭ in this new venture. Păk-je and Ko-gu-ryŭ were drawn together by their mutual fear of Sil-la and soon the allied armies were marching on Sil-la’s borders. At the first onslaught thirty-three of Sil-la’s border forts passed into the hands of the allies. It was now China’s last chance to give aid to the most faithful of her Korean vassals, for otherwise she would surely have fallen before this combination. A swift messenger was sent imploring the Emperor for aid and stating that if it was not granted Sil-la would be swallowed up. The Emperor had no intention of letting Sil-la be dismembered and without a day’s delay troops were despatched into Liao-tung under Generals 104Chŭng Myŭng-jin and So Chöng-bang. Many of Ko-gu-ryŭ’s fortresses beyond the Yalu River were soon in the possession of China. This was successful in diverting Ko-gu-ryŭ’s attention from Sil-la, but Păk-je continued the fight with her. The advantage lay now with one side and now with the other. The court of Păk-je was utterly corrupt and except for a small army in the field under almost irresponsible leadership, she was weak indeed.

Now it happened that a Sil-la man named Cho Mi-gon had been taken captive and carried to Păk-je where he was employed in the household of the Prime Minister. One day he made his escape and found his way across the border into his native country, but there meeting one of the Sil-la generals he was induced to go back and see what he could do in the Păk-je capital towards facilitating an invasion on the part of his countrymen. He returned and after sounding the Prime Minister found him ready to sell his country if there was anything to be made out of it. It is said that here began the downfall of Păk-je. The king of Păk-je was utterly incompetent and corrupt. One of his best councillors was thrown into prison and starved to death for rebuking him ofof his excesses. But even while this faithful man was dying he sent a message to the king saying “Do not fail to place a strong garrison at ‘Charcoal Pass’ and at Păk River.” These were the two strategic points of Păk-je’s defenses; if they were guarded well, surprise was impossible. From that time affairs in Păk-je went from bad to worse. China kept Ko-gu-ryŭ busy in the north and nothing of consequence was gained by either side in the south until finally in 659 another Sil-la envoy made his appearance in the Emperor’s court. At last the great desire of Sil-la was accomplished. The Emperor ordered Gen. So Chöng-bang to take 130,000 men by boat to the shores of Păk-je and there coöperate with a Sil-la army in the utter subjugation of Păk-je. The Sil-la army went into camp at Nam-ch’ŭn and received word from the Chinese general to meet him at the Păk-je capital in the seventh moon.

Tradition says that the doom impending over Păk-je was shadowed forth in advance by many omens and signs. Frogs, it is said, grew like leaves on the trees and if anyone killed one of them he instantly fell dead. Among the mountains black 105clouds met and fought one another. The form of an animal, half dog and half lion, was seen in the sky approaching the palace and uttering terrible bellowings and roarings. Dogs congregated in the streets and howled. Imps of awful shape came into the palace and cried “Păk-je is fallen, Păk-je is fallen,” and disappeared in the ground. Digging there the king found a tortoise on whose back were writtenwritten the words “Păk-je is at full moon; Sil-la is at half moon.” The diviners were called upon to interpret this. “It means that Sil-la is in the ascendant while Păk-je is full and about to wane.” The king ordered their heads off, and called in another company of diviners. These said that it meant that Sil-la was half waned while Păk-je was at her zenith. Somewhat mollifiedmollified by this, the king called a grand council of war. The advice given was of the most conflicting nature. Some said the Chinese must be attacked first; othersfirst; others said the Sil-la forces must be attended to first. A celebrated general who had been banished was sent for and his advice was the same as that of the famous statesman whom the king had starved in prison. “You must guard the ‘Charcoal Pass’ and the Pak River.” But the majority of the courtiers said that the Chinese had better be allowed to land before they were attacked and that the Sil-la army should be allowed to come in part through the pass before being opposed. This latter point was decided for them, for when the Păk-je troops approached the pass they found that the Sil-la army was already streaming through, and at its head was the famous Gen. Kim Yu-sin. When the battle was joined the Păk-je forces held their ground and fought manfully; but victory perched upon the banners of Sil-la and when the battle was done nothing lay between the Sil-la forces and the capital of Păk-je, the place of rendezvous. It is said that Gen. Ke-băk the leader of the Păk-je forces killed all his family before starting out on this expedition, fearing lest the thought of them might make him waver. He fell in the battle.

The capital of Păk-je was situated on the site of the present town of Sa-ch’ŭn. When the Sil-la warriors approached it the king fled to the town now known as Kong-ju. He left all the palace women behind and they, knowing what their fate would be at the hands of the Sil-la soldiery, went together to a beetling precipice which overhangs the harbor 106of Tă-wang and cast themselves from its summit into the water beneath. That precipice is famed in Korean song and story and is called by the exquisitely poetical name Nak-wha-am “Precipice of the Falling Flowers.” The victors forced the gates of the capital and seized the person of the Prince, the king’s second son, who had been left behind. A few days later the King and the Crown Prince came back from their place of hiding and voluntarily gave themselves up.

The allies had now met as they had agreedagreed and Păk-je was at their mercy. The Chinese general said that the Emperor had given him full authority to settle the matter and that China would take half the territory and Sil-la might have the other half. This was indeed a generous proposal on the part of China but the Sil-la commander replied that Sil-la wanted none of the Păk-je territory but only sought revenge for the wrongs that Păk-je had heaped upon her. At the feast that night the king of Păk-je was made to pour the wine for the victors and in this act of abject humiliation Sil-la had her desire for revenge fully satisfied. When the Chinese generals went back to China to announce these events they took with them the unthroned King of Păk-je together with his four sons, eighty-eight of the highest officials and 12,807 of the people.

It was in 660 that Păk-je fell. She survived for 678 years and during that time thirty kings had sat upon her throne. A singular discrepancy occurs here in the records. They affirm that the whole period of Păk-je rule covered a lapse ofof 678 years; but they also say that Păk-je was founded in the third year of Emperor Ch’eng-ti of China. That would have been in 29 B.C. making the whole dynastydynasty 689 years. The vast burden of proof favors the belief that Păk-je was founded in 16 B.C. and that her whole lease of life was 678 years.

As Sil-la had declined to share in the dismemberment of Păk-je, China proceeded to divide it into provinces for administrative purposes. There were five of these, Ung-jin, Tong-myŭng, Keum-ryŭn, Tŭk-an. The central government was at Sa-ja the former capital of Păk-je. The separate provinces were put under the control of prefects selected from among the people. The country was of course in a very unsettled state; disaffectiondisaffection showed itself on every side and disturbances were frequent. A remnant of the Păk-je army 107took its stand among the mountains, fortified its position and bid defiance to the new government. These malcontents found strong sympathisers at the capital and in the country towns far and wide. The Chinese governor, Yu In-wŭn, found the task of government no easy one. But still Sil-la stood ready to aid and soon a Sil-la army crossed the border and attacked the fortress of I-rye where the rebels were intrenched. Taking this by assault they advanced toward the mountain fortress already mentioned, crossed the “Chicken Ford,” crumpled up the line of rebel intrenchments and lifted a heavy load from the governor’s shoulders.

Ko-gu-ryŭ soon heard the ominous news and she took it as a presage of evil for herself. She immediatelyimmediately threw a powerful army across the Sil-la border and stormed the Ch’il-jung Fortress. The records naively remark that they filled the commander as full of arrows as a hedgehog is of quills.

Now that Păk-je had been overcome China took up with alacrity the plan of subduing Ko-gu-ryŭ. The great final struggle began, that was destined to close the career of the proudest, hardiest and bravest kingdom that the peninsula of Korea ever saw. The Păk-je king who had been carried to China died there in 661. In that same year Generals Kye-p’il, So Chŏng-bang and Ha Ryŭk, who had already received their orders to march on Ko-gu-ryŭ, rendezvoused with their forces at Ha-nam and the warriors of the Whe-bol together with many volunteers from other tribes joined the imperial standards. The plan was to proceed by land and sea. The Emperor desired to accompany the expedition, but the death of the empress made it impossible.

Meanwhile matters in Păk-je were becoming complicated again. A man named Pok Sin revolted against the government, proclaimed Pu-yŭ P‘ung, the son of a former king, monarch of the realm and planned a reëstablishment of the kingdom. This was pleasing to many of the people. So popular was the movement that the Emperor feared it would be successful. He therefore sent a summons to Sil-la to send troops and put it down. Operations began at once. Gen. Yu In-gwe besieged Ung-jin the stronghold of the pretender and chased him out, but a remnant of his forces intrenchedintrenched themselves and made a good fight. They were however routed 108by the combined Sil-la and Chinese forces. But in spite of this defeat the cause was so popular that the country was honeycombed with bands of its sympathisers who gained many lesser victories over the government troops and their Sil-la allies. The Sil-la general, Kim Yu-sin, was very active, passing rapidly from one part of the country to another, now driving back to the mountains some band of Păk-je rebels and now holding in check some marauding band from Ko-gu-ryŭ. He was always found where he was most needed and was never at a loss for expedients. It is said that at this time rice was so plentiful in Sil-la that it took thirty bags of it to buy a single bolt of grass cloth.

That same autumn the Chinese engaged the Ko-gu-ryŭ forces at the Yalu River and gained a decided victory. Then the fortress at Ma-eup San fell into their hands. This cleared the road to P‘yŭng-yang, and the Chinese boldly advanced and laid siege to that ancient stronghold. At the same time the Emperor ordered Sil-la to send troops to coöperate with the imperial army. She obeyed, but with great trepidation, for the fame of Ko-gu-ryŭ’s arms made this seem a matter of life and death. She was obliged to comply, however, or lose all the vantage ground she had gained in the Emperor’s favor. There were still some Ko-gu-ryŭ forces in the north and they were attempting to check the advance of a large body of Chinese reinforcements. It was late in the autumn and the Yalu was frozen. Taking advantage of this the Chinese crossed in the night and falling suddenly upon the unsuspecting army of Ko-gu-ryŭ inflicted a crushing defeat. It is said that 30,000 Ko-gu-ryŭ soldiers were killed in this engagement. The speedy downfall of Ko-gu-ryŭ seemed now inevitable, but a sudden timidity seized the Emperor, who feared perhaps to let his army winter on Korean soil. So he sent orders for an immediate retreat back to Chinese territory. The generals before P‘yŭng-yang were deeply chagrined and indeed found it impossible on account of lack of provisions to obey the command at once. Soon the Sil-la army arrived before P‘yŭng-yang with full supply of provisions. These the Chinese took and the greater part of them reluctantly broke camp and marched back to China, leaving Sil-la in a frame of mind better imagined than described.

109While Ko-gu-ryŭ was staggering under the terrible reverses inflicted by the Chinese, events of interest were taking place in the south. The kingdom of T‘am-na on the island of Quelpart had always been a dependency of Păk-je, but now found it necessary to transfer her allegiance to Sil-la. The king of T‘am-na at that time was To-dong Eum-yul.

The mischief-maker, Pok-sin, was again in the field. Now that he was relieved of pressure he came back to the charge and took Ung-jin from the Chinese. At the earnest request of the governor the Emperor sent Gen. Son In-sa with a small army to aid in putting down this dangerous malcontent. Pok-sin was obliged to retire to Chin-hyŭn where he fortified himself strongly. Success seems to have turned his head for he began to carry himself so proudly that his followers arose and put him to death and then sent a messenger to Ko-gu-ryŭ and to Japan asking aid against the Chinese. The latter responded by sending a considerable force to the shores of Păk-je to coöperate with this hardy band of men who were honestly fighting for the independence of their country.

In 663 the Emperor conferred upon the king of Sil-la the title of Tă-do-dok of Kye-rim.

It appears that when the Chinese retired from before P‘yŭng-yang and left the Sil-la forces in such a delicate position, some of the Chinese were allowed to remain there on the plea that if all were removed it would invite an outbreak of the Păk-je revolutionists. Now as the year 663 opened the Emperor reinforced them by a powerful army under Gen. Son In-sa. Sil-la also sent the flower of her army under command of twenty-eight generals to join the Chinese before P‘yŭng-yang. But the plan of operations was changed. It was decided to move southward and complete the subjugation of the troublesome Păk-je patriots and their Japanese allies. The combined Chinese and Sil-la armies marched toward Chu-ryu fortress where the revolutionists were supposed to be intrenched. On their way they met the Japanese disembarking, on the banks of the Pak River. They were put to flight and their boats were burned. The march was continued and the fortress was duly invested. It fell straightway and the pretender to the Sil-la throne was captured. This was followed 110by the surrender of all the revolutionists and their Japanese friends. The last fortress to fall was that of Im-jon, now Tă-heung, after a desperate struggle.

The war was now at an end. The dead were buried, a census was taken of the people in the Păk-je capital, aid was given to the poor, and the people were encouraged to return at their peaceful avocations. Expressions of satisfaction at what seemed to be the return of peace were heard on all sides.

Gen. Yu In-gwe, who had been left in charge of thethe Chinese troops before P‘yŭng-yang when the Emperor ordered the retreat, now sent word to the Chinese capital that as his soldiers had been in the peninsula two years without seeing home he feared they might mutiny. He received orders to return to China with his men but he decided to wait till the grain that his men had sown should ripen. The Emperor then appointed Pu-yŭ Yung the brother of the last king of Păk-je to the position of governor of all the territory formerly embraced in Păk-je. He received the title of Tă-do-dok of Ung-jin, and was urged by the Emperor to govern well. This was in 664.

Sil-la took advantage of the timely cessation of hostilities to send to the Chinese camp in Păk-je and have some of her men take lessons in music from the musicians there. They also took copies of the dishes, clothes and customs of the Chinese. All these were imitated by the king and his court. Buddhism received a sudden check in Sil-la at this time for the king took the surest way to crush it out, namely, by forbidding any one to give the monks either money oror rice.

In 665 Gen. Yu In-wŭn received orders from China to return to that country but before doing so he performed a significant act. He made the king of Sil-la and the new Tă-do-dok of Ung-jin take an oath in the blood of a white horse that they would fight no more. This was done at the fortress of Ch‘wi-ri San and the slaughtered animal was buried there under the oath altar. A written copy of the oath was placed in the ancestral temple of the kings of Sil-la. After Gen. Yu’s return to China he was followed by Gen. Yu In-gwe who took with him envoys from Sil-la, Păk-je, T‘am-na and Japan. To render the compact of peace more binding still the Emperor 111sacrificed to heaven in the presence of these envoys. It is said, however, that the new ruler in Păk-je stood in such fear of Sil-la that he fled back to China soon after this.


The last act in the tragedy of Ko-gu-ryŭ opens with the death of her iron chancellor, Hap So-mun. It was his genius that had kept the armies in the field; it was his faith in her ultimate victory that had kept the general courage up. When he was laid in his grave the only thing that Ko-gu-ryŭ had to fall back upon was the energy of despair. It was her misfortune that Hap So-mun left two sons each of whom possessed a full share of his father’s ferocity and impatience of restraint. Nam-săng, the elder, assumed his father’s position as Prime Minister, but while he was away in the country attending to some business, his brother, Nam-gŭn, seized his place. Nam-săng fled to the Yalu River and putting himself at the head of the Mal-gal and Kŭ-ran tribes went over with them to the Emperor’s side. Thus by Nam-gŭn’s treachery to his brother, Ko-gu-ryŭ was deprived of her one great ally, and gained an implacable enemy in Nam-săng. The Emperor made the latter Governor-general of Liao-tung and he began welding the wild tribes into an instrument for revenge. Then the Chinese forces appeared and together they went to the feast of death; and even as they were coming news reached them that the Ko-gu-ryŭ general, Yŭn Chŭn-t‘o, had surrendered to Sil-la and turned over to her twelve of Ko-gu-ryŭ’s border forts. It was not till the next year that the Chinese crossed the Liao and fell upon the Ko-gu-ryŭ outposts. The Chinese general had told his men that the strategic point was the fortress Sin-sŭng and that its capture meant the speedy capitulation of all the rest. Sin-sŭng was therefore besieged and the strugglestruggle began. The commandant was loyal and wished to defend it to the death but hishis men thought otherwise, and they bound him and surrendered. Then sixteen other forts speedily followed the example.

Gen. Ko-gan hastened forward and engaged the Ko-gu-ryŭ forces at Keum-san and won a decided victory, while at the same time Gen. Sŭl-In gwi was reducing the fortresses of Nam-so, Mok-jŭ and Ch‘ang-am, after which he was joined by the Mal-gal forces under the renegade Nam-săng. Another Chinese general, Wŭn Man-gyŭng, now sent a boastful letter to the 112Ko-gu-ryŭ capital saying “Look out now for the defenses of that precious Am-nok River of yours.” The answer came grimly back “We will do so.” And they did it so well that not a Chinese soldier set foot on the hither side during that year. The Emperor was enraged at this seeming incompetence and banished the boastful general to Yong-nam. A message had already been sent to Sil-la ordering her to throw her army into Ko-gu-ryŭ and for the Chinese generals Yu In-wŭn and Kim In-t‘ă to meet them before P‘yŭng-yang. These two generals were in Păk-je at the time.

In 668 everything beyond the Yalu had fallen into the hands of the Chinese; even Pu-yŭ Fortress of ancient fame had been taken by Gen. Sŭl In-gwi. The Emperor sent a messenger asking “Can you take Ko-gu-ryŭ?” The answer went back “Yes, we must take her. Prophecy says that after 700 years Ko-gu-ryŭ shall fall and that eighty shall cause her overthrow. The 700 years have passed and now Gen. Yi Jök is eighty years old. He shall be the one to fulfill the prophecy.”

Terrible omens had been seen in the Ko-gu-ryŭ capital. Earthquakes had been felt; foxes had been seen running through the streets; the people were in a state of panic. The end of Ko-gu-ryŭ was manifestly near. So tradition says.

Nam-gŭn had sent 50,000 troops to succor Pu-yŭ Fortress but in the battle which ensued 30,000 of these were killed and the remainder were scattered. Conformably to China’s demands, Sil-la in the sixth moon threw her army into Ko-gu-ryŭ. The great Sil-la general, Kim Yu-sin was ill, and so Gen. Kim In-mun was in command with twenty-eight generals under him. While this army was making its way northward the Chinese under Gen. Yi Jök in the north took Tă-hăng Fortress and focussed all the troops in his command upon the defenses of the Yalu. These defenses were broken through, the river was crossed and the Chinese advanced 210 li toward the capital without opposition. One by one the Ko-gu-ryŭ forts surrendered and at last Gen. Kye-p‘il Ha-ryŭk arrived before the historic city of P‘yŭng-yang. Gen. Yi Jök arrived next and finally Gen. Kim In-mun appeared at the head of the Sil-la army.

After an uninteresting siege of a month the king sent out 113Gen. Chön Nam-san and ninety other nobles with a flag of truce and offered to surrender. But the chancellor Nam-gŭn knew what fate was in store for him, so he made a bold dash at the besieging army. The attempt failed and the miserable man put the sword to his own throat and expired. The aged general, Yi Jök, took the king and his two sons, Pong-nam, and Tong-nam, a number of the officials, many of Nam-gŭn’s relatives and a large company of the people of P‘yŭng-yang and carried them back to China, where he was received with evidences of the utmost favor by the Emperor. The whole number of captives in the triumphal return of Gen. Yi Jök is said to have been 20,000.

Ko-gu-ryŭ’s lease of life had been 705 years, from 37 B.C. to 668 A.D., during which time she had been governed by twenty-eighty kings.

Chapter XIII.

Sil-la’s captives.... Ko-gu-ryŭ dismembered.... extent of Sil-la.... she deceives China.... her encroachments.... rebellion.... the word Il-bon (Nippon) adopted.... Sil-la opposed China.... but is humbled.... again opposes.... Sil-la a military power.... her policy.... the Emperor nominates a rival king.... Sil-la pardoned by China.... again makes trouble.... the Emperor establishes two kingdoms in the north.... Sil-la’s northern capital.... cremation.... no mention of Arabs.... China’s interest in Korea wanes.... redistribution of land.... diacritical points.... philological interest.... Pal-hă founded.... Chinese customs introduced.... Pal-hă’s rapid growth.... omens.... Sil-la’s northern limit.... casting of a bell.... names of provinces changed.... Sil-la’s weakness.... disorder.... examinations.... BuddhismBuddhism interdicted.... no evidence of Korean origin of Japanese Buddhism.... Japanese history before the 10th century.... civil wars.... Ch‘oé Ch‘i-wŭn.... tradition.... Queen Man’s profligacy.

Immediately upon the fall of Ko-gu-ryŭ the Sil-la forces retired to their own country carrying 7000 captives with them. The king gave his generals and the soldiers rich presents of silks and money.

China divided all Ko-gu-ryŭ into nine provinces in which there were forty-two large towns and over a hundred lesser ones of prefectural rank. In P‘yŭng-yang Gen. Sŭl In-gwi 114was stationed with a garrison of 20,000 men. The various provinces were governed partly by Chinese governors and partly by native prefects.

The king of Sil-la was now the only king in the peninsula and the presumption was that in view of his loyalty to the Chinese his kingdom would extendextend to the Yalu River if not beyond, but it probably was not extended at the time further than the middle of Whang-hă Province of to-day. The records say that in 669 the three kingdoms were all consolidated but it did not occur immediately. It is affirmed that the Chinese took 38,000 families from Ko-gu-ryŭ and colonized Kang-whe in China and that some were also sent to San-nam in western China. That Sil-la was expecting a large extension of territory is not explicitly stated but it is implied in the statement that when a Sil-la envoy went to the Chinese court the Emperor accused the king of wanting to possess himself of the whole peninsula, and threw the envoy into prison. At the same time he ordered Sil-la to send bow-makers to China to make bows that would shoot 1,000 paces. In due time these arrived but when the bows were made it was found that they would shoot but thirty paces. They gave as a reason for this that it was necessary to obtain the wood from Sil-la to make good bows. This was done and still the bows would shoot but sixty paces. The bow-makers declared that they did not know the reason unless it was because the wood had been hurt by being brought across the water. This was the beginning of an estrangement between the Emperor and the king of Sil-la which resulted in a state of actual war between the two.

Sil-la was determined to obtain possession of a larger portion of Ko-gu-ryŭ than had as yet fallen to her lot; so she sent small bodies of troops here and there to take possession of any districts that they could lay their hands on. It is probable that this meant only such districts as were under native prefects and not those under direct Chinese rule. It is probable that Sil-la had acquired considerable territory in the north for we are told that the Mal-gal ravaged her northern border and she sent troops to drive them back.

If China hoped to rule any portion of Korea without trouble she must have been speedily disillusionised for no sooner had the new form of government been put in operation 115than a Sil-la gentleman, Köm Mo-jam, raised an insurrection in one of the larger magistracies, put the Chinese prefect to death and proclaimed An Seung king. He was a member of a collateral branch of the royal family. Sil-la seems to have taken it for granted that the whole territory was under her supervision for now she sent an envoy and gave consent to the founding of this small state in the north which she deemed would act as a barrier to the incursions of the northern barbarians. The Chinese evidently did not look upon it in this light and a strong force was sent against the nascent state; and to such effect that the newly appointed king fled to Sil-la for safety. The wheel of fortune was turning again and Chinese sympathies were now rather with Păk-je than with Sil-la.

It was at this time, 671, that the term Il-bün (Nippon) was first used in Korea in connection with the kingdom of Japan.

The relations between Sil-la and Păk-je were badly strained. In the following year the Chinese threw a powerful army into Păk-je with the evident intention of opposing Sil-la. So the latter furbished up her arms and went into the fray. In the great battle which ensued at the fortress of Sŭk-sŭng 5,000 of the Chinese were killed. Sil-la was rather frightened at her own success and when she was called upon to explain her hostile attitude toward China she averred that it was all a mistake and she did not intend to give up her allegience to China. This smoothed the matter over for the time being, but when, a little later, the Emperor sent seventy boat loads of rice for the garrison at P‘yŭng-yang, Sil-la seized the rice and drowned the crew’s of the boats, thus storing up wrath against herself. The next year she attacked the fortress of Ko-sŭng in Păk-je and 30,000 Chinese advanced to the support of the Păk-je forces. A collision took place between them and the Sil-la army in which the Chinese were very severely handled. This made the Emperor seriously consider the question of subduing Sil-la once for all. He ordered that the Mal-gal people be summoned to a joint invasion of the insolent Sil-la and the result was that seven Sil-la generals were driven back in turn and 2,000 troops made prisoners. In this predicament there was nothing for the king to do but play the humble suppliant again. The letter to the Emperor praying for pardon 116was written by the celebrated scholar Im Gang-su. But it was not successful, for we find that in the following year the Chinese troops in the north joined with the Mal-gal and Kŭ-ran tribes in making reprisals on Sil-la territory. This time however Sil-la was on the alert and drove the enemy back with great loss. She also sent a hundred war boats up the western coast to look after her interests in the north. At the same time she offered amnesty and official positions to Păk-je nobles who should come over to her side.

We can scarcely escape the conviction that Sil-la had now become a military power of no mean dimensions. Many citizens of Ko-gu-ryŭ had come over to her and some of the Păk-je element that was disaffected toward the Chinese. All, in fact, who wanted to keep Korea for the Koreans and could put aside small prejudices and jealousies, gathered under the Sil-la banners as being the last chance of saving the peninsula from the octopus grasp of China. Sil-la was willing to be good friends with China—on her own terms; namely that China should let her have her own way in the peninsula, and that it should not be overrun by officious generals who considered themselves superior to the king of the land and so brought him into contempt among the people.

At this time there was at the Chinese court a Sil-la envoy of high rank named Kim In-mun. The Emperor offered him the throne of Sil-la, but loyalty to his king made him refuse the honor. In spite of this he was proclaimed King of Sil-la and was sent with three generals to enforce the claim. That Sil-la was not without power at this time is shown by the fact that she proclaimed An-seung King of Păk-je, an act that would have been impossible had she not possessed a strong foothold in that country.

The war began again in earnest. The Chinese general, Yi Gön-hăng, in two fierce encounters, broke the line of Sil-la defenses and brought the time-serving king to his knees again. One can but wonder at the patience of the Emperor in listening to the humble petition of this King Mun-mu who had made these promises time and again but only to break them as before. He was, however, forgiven and confirmed again in his rule. The unfortunateunfortunate Kim In-mun whom the Emperor had proclaimed King of Sil-la was now in a very delicate position 117and he wisely hastened back to China where he was compensated for his disappointment by being made a high official.

Sil-la’s actions were most inconsistent, for having just saved herself from condign punishment by abject submission she nevertheless kept on absorbing Păk-je territory and reaching after Ko-gu-ryŭ territory as well. In view of this the Emperor ordered the Chinese troops in the north to unite with the Mal-galMal-gal and Kŭ-ran forces and hold themselves in readiness to move at an hour’s notice. They began operations by attacking the Chön-sŭng Fortress but there the Sil-la forces were overwhelmingly successful. It is said that 6,000 heads fell and that Sil-la captured 30,000 (?) horses. This is hard to reconcile with the statement of the records that in the following year a Sil-la envoy was received at the Chinese court and presented the compliments of the king. It seems sure that Sil-la had now so grown in the sinews of war that it was not easy for China to handle her at such long range. It may be too that the cloud of Empress Wu’s usurpation had begun to darken the horizon of Chinese politics and that events at home absorbed all the attention of the court, while the army on the border was working practically on its own authority.

A new kind of attempt to solve the border question was made when in 677 the Emperor sent the son of the captive king of Ko-gu-ryŭ to found a little kingdom on the Yalu River. This might be called the Latter Ko-gu-ryŭ even as the Păk-je of that day was called the Latter Păk-je. At the same time a son of the last Păk-je king was sent to found a little kingdom at Tă-bang in the north. He lived, however, in fear of the surrounding tribes and was glad to retire into the little Ko-gu-ryŭ kingdom that lay lower down the stream. The records call this the “last” end of Păk-je.

In 678 Sil-la made a northern capital at a place called Puk-wŭn-ju the capital of Kang-wŭn Province. There a fine palace was erected. The king enquired of his spiritual adviser whether he had better change his residence to the new capital but not receiving sufficient encouragement he desisted. This monarch died in 681 but before he expired he said “Do not waste the public money in building me a costly mausoleum. Cremate my body after the manner of the West.” This gives us an interesting clue to Sil-la’s knowledge of the 118outside world. If, as some surmise, Arab traders had commercial intercourse with the people of Sil-la it must have been about this time or a little earlier for this was the period of the greatest expansion of Arabian commerce. It is possible that the idea of cremation may have been received from them although from first to last there is not the slightest intimation that Western traders ever visited the coasts of Sil-la. It is difficult to believe that, had there been any considerable dealings with the Arabs, it should not have been mentioned in the records.

The king’s directions were carried out and his son, Chong-myŭng, burned his body on a great stone by the Eastern Sea and gave the stone the name “Great King Stone.” That the Emperor granted investiture to this new king shows that all the troubles had been smoothed over. But from this time on Chinese interest in the Korean peninsula seems to have died out altogether. The little kingdom of Latter Ko-gu-ryŭ, which the Emperor had established on the border, no sooner got on a sound basis than it revolted and the Emperor had to stamp it out and banish its king to a distant Chinese province. This, according to the records, was the “last” end of Ko-gu-ryŭ. It occurred in 682 A.D.

Sil-la now held all the land south of the Ta-dong River. North of that the country was nominally under Chinese control but more likely was without special government. In 685 Sil-la took in hand the redistribution of the land and the formation of provinces and prefectures for the purpose of consolidating her power throughout the peninsula. She divided the territory into nine provinces, making three of the original Păk-je and three of that portion of the original Ko-gu-ryŭ that had fallen into her hands. The three provinces corresponding to the original Sil-la were (1) Sŭ-bŭl-ju (the first step in the transformation of the word Sŭ ya-bŭl to Seoul), (2) Sam-yang-ju, now Yang-san, (3) Ch‘ŭng-ju now Chin-ju. Those comprising the original Păk-je were (1) Ung-ch‘ŭn-ju in thethe north, (2) Wan-san-ju in the south-west, (3) Mu-jin-ju in the south, now Kwang-ju. Of that portion of Ko-gu-ryŭ which Sil-la had acquired she made the three provinces (1) Han-san-ju, now Seoul, (2) Mok-yak-ju, now Ch‘un-ch‘ŭn, (3) Ha-să-ju, now Kang-neung. These nine names 119represent rather the provincial capitals than the provinces themselves. Besides these important centers there were 450 prefectures. Changes followed each other in quick succession. Former Ko-gu-ryŭ officials were given places of trust and honor; the former mode of salarying officials, by giving them tracts of land from whose produce they obtained their emoluments, was changed, and each received an allowance of rice according to his grade; the administration of the state was put on a solid basis.

One of the most far-reaching and important events of this reign was the invention of the yi-du, or set of terminations used in the margin of Chinese texts to aid the reader in Koreanizing the syntax of the Chinese sentence. We must bear in mind that in those days reading was as rare an accomplishment in Sil-la as it was in England in the days of Chaucer. All writing was done by the a-jun, who was the exact counterpart of the “clerk” of the Middle Ages. The difficulty of construing the Chinese sentence and using the right suffixes was so great that Sŭl-ch‘ong, the son of the king’s favorite monk, Wŭn-hyo, attempted a solution of the difficulty. Making a list of the endings in common use in the vernacular of Sil-la he found Chinese characters to correspond with the sounds of these endings. The correspondence was of two kinds; either the name of the Chinese character was the same as the Sil-la ending or the Sil-la meaning of the character was the same as the ending. To illustrate this let us take the case of the ending sal-ji, as in ha-sal-ji, which has since been shortened to ha-ji. Now, in a Chinese text nothing but the root idea of the word ha will be given and the reader must supply the sal-ji which is the ending. If then some arbitrary signs could be made to represent these endings and could be put in the margin it would simplify the reading of Chinese in no small degree. It was done in this way:way: There is a Chinese character which the Koreans call păk, Chinese pa, meaning “white.” One of the Sil-la definitions of this character sal-wi-ta. It was the first syllable of this word that was used to represent the first syllable of the ending sal-ji. Notice that it was not the name of the character that was used but the Sil-la equivalent. For the last syllable of the ending sal-ji, however, the Chinese character ji is used without reference to its 120Sil-la equivalent. We find then in the yi-du as handed down from father to son by the a-jun’s of Korea a means for discovering the connection between the Korean vernacular of to-day with that of the Sil-la people. It was indeed a clumsy method, but the genius of Sŭl-ch‘ong lay in his discovery of the need of such a system and of the possibility of making one. It was a literary event of the greatest significance. It was the first outcry against the absurd primitiveness of the Chinese ideography, a plea for common sense. It was the first of three great protests which Korea has made against the use of the Chinese character. The other two will be examined as they come up. This set of endings which Sŭl-ch‘ong invented became stereotyped and through all the changes which the vernacular has passed the yi-du remains to-day what it was twelve hundred years ago. Its quaint sounds are to the Korean precisely what the stereotyped clerkly terms of England are to us, as illustrated in such legal terms as to wit, escheat and the like. There is an important corollary to this fact. The invention of the yi-du indicates that the study of Chinese was progressing in the peninsula and this system was invented to supply a popular demand. It was in the interests of general education and as such marks an era in the literary life of the Korean people. The name of Sŭl-ch‘ong is one of the most honored in the list of Korean literary men.

The eighth century opened with the beginning of a new and important reign for Sil-la. Sŭng-dŭk came to the throne in 702 and was destined to hold the reins of power for thirty-five years. From the first, his relations with China were pleasant. He received envoys from Japan and returned the compliment, and his representatives were everywhere well received. The twelfth year of his reign beheld the founding of the kingdom of Pal-hă in the north. This was an event of great significance to Sil-la. The Song-mal family of the Mal-gal group of tribes, under the leadership of Kŭl-gŭl Chung-sŭng, moved southward into the peninsula and settled near the original Tă-băk Mountain, now Myo-hyang San. There they gathered together many of the Ko-gu-ryŭ people and founded a kingdom which they called Chin. It is said this kingdom was 5,000 li in circumference and that it contained 200,000 houses. The remnants of the Pu-yŭ and Ok-jŭ tribes 121joined them and a formidable kingdom arose under the skillful management ofmanagement of Kŭl-gŭl Chung-sŭng. He sent his son to China as a hostage and received imperial recognition and the title of King of Pal-hă. From that time the word Mal-gal disappears from Korean history and Pal-hă takes its place.

During the next few years Sil-la made steady advance in civilization of the Chinese type. She imported from China pictures of Confucius and paid increased attention to that cult. The water clock was introduced, the title Hu was given to the Queen, the custom of approaching the throne by means of the sang-so or “memorial” was introduced.

Meanwhile the kingdom of Pal-hă was rapidly spreading abroad its arms and grasping at everything in sight. China began to grow uneasy on this account and we find that in 734 a Sil-la general, Kim Yun-jung went to China and joined a Chinese expedition against the Pal-hă forces. The latter had not only absorbed much territory in the north but had dared to throw troops across the Yellow Sea and had gained a foothold on the Shantung promontory. This attempt to chastise her failed because the season was so far advanced that the approach of winter interfered with the progress of the campaign.

The story of the next century and a half is the story of Sil-la’s decline and fall. The following is the list of omens which tradition cites as being prophetic of that event. A white rainbow pierced the sun; the sea turned to bloodblood; hail fell of the size of hens’ eggs; a monastery was shaken sixteen times by an earthquake; a cow brought forth five calves at a time; two suns arose together; three stars fell and fought together in the palace; a tract of land subsided fifty feet and the hollow filled with blue black water; a tiger came into the palace; a black fog covered the land; famines and plagues were common; a hurricane blew over two of the palace gates; a huge boulder rose on end and stood by itself; two pagodas at a monastery fought with each other; snow fell in September; at Han-yang (Seoul) a boulder moved a hundred paces all by itself; stones fought with each other; a shower of worms fell; apricot trees bloomed twice in a year; a whirlwind started from the grave of Kim Yu-sin and stopped at the 122grave of Hyŭk Kŭ-se. These omens were scattered through a series of years but to the Korean they all point toward the coming catastrophe.

It was in 735 that the Emperor formally invested the king of Sil-la with the right to rule as far north as the banks ofof the Ta-dong River which runs by the wall of P‘yŭng-yang. It was a right he had long exercised but which had never before been acquiesced in by China. The custom of cremating the royal remains, which had been begun by King Mun-mu, was continued by his successors and in each case the ashes were thrown into the sea.

The first mention of the casting of a bell in Korea was in the year 754 when a bell one and one third the height of a man was cast. The records say it weighed 497,581 pounds, which illustrates the luxuriance of the oriental imagination.

In 757 the names of the nine provinces were changed. Sŭ-bŭl became Sang-ju, Sam-yang became Yang-ju, Ch’ŭng-ju became Kang-ju, Han-san became Han-ju, Ha-să became Myŭng-ju, Ung-chŭn became Ung-ju, Wan-san became Chŭn-ju, Mu-jin became Mu-ju, and Su-yak (called Mok-yak in the other list) was changed to Sak-ju. Following hard upon this came the change of the name of government offices.

As we saw at the first, Sil-la never had in her the making of a first class power. Circumstances forced her into the field and helped her win, and for a short time the enthusiasm of success made her believe that she was a military power; but it was an illusion. She was one of those states which would flourish under the fostering wing of some great patron but as for standing alone and carving out a career for herself, that was beyond her power. Only a few years had passed since she had taken possession of well-nigh the whole of the peninsula and now we see her torn by internal dissentions and so weak that the first man of power who arose and shook his sword at her doors made her fall to pieces like a house of cards. Let us rapidly bring under review the events of the next century from 780 to 880 and see whether the facts bear out the statement.

First a conspiracy was aimed at the king and was led by a courtier named Kim Chi-jong. Another man, Yang Sang, learned of it and promptly seized him and put him to death. 123A very meritorious act one would say; but he did it in order to put his foot upon the same ladder, for he immediately turned about and killed the king and queen and seated himself upon the throne. His reign of fifteen years contains only two important events, the repeopling of P‘yŭng-yang with citizens of Han-yangHan-yang (Seoul), and the institution of written examinations after the Chinese plan. In 799 Chun-ong came to the throne and was followed a year later by his adopted son Ch‘ŭng-myŭng. These two reigns meant nothing to Sil-la except the reception of a Japanese envoy bearing gifts and an attempt at the repression of Buddhism. The building of monasteries and the making of gold and silver Buddhas was interdicted. It is well to remember that in all these long centuries no mention is made of a Korean envoy to Japan, though Japanese envoys came not infrequently to Sil-la. There is no mention in the records of any request on the part of the Japanese for Buddhist books or teachers and there seems to be no evidence from the Korean standpoint to believe that Japan received her Buddhism from Korea. Geographically it would seem probable that she might have done so but as a fact there is little to prove it. It would, geographically speaking, be probable also that Japan would get her pronunciation of the Chinese character by way of Korea but as a matter of fact the two methods of the pronunciation of Chinese ideographs are at the very antipodes. The probability is that Japan received her knowledge both of Buddhism and of the Chinese character direct from China and not mainly by way of Korea.

The condition of Sil-la during this period of decline may be judged from the events which occurred between the years 836 and 839 inclusive. King Su-jong was on the throne and had been ruling some eleven years, when, in 835 he died and his cousin Kyun-jăng succeeded him. Before the year was out Kim Myŭng a powerful official put him to death and put Che Yung on the throne. The son of the murdered king, Yu-jeung, fled to Ch‘ŭng-hă Fortress, whither many loyal soldiers flocked around him and enabled him to take the field against the usurper. Kim Myu finding that affairs did not go to suit him killed the puppet whom he had put on the throne and elevated himself to that position. After Yu-jeung, the rightful heir, had received large reinforcements from various 124sources, he attacked the forces of this parvenu at Mu-ju and gained a victory. The young prince followed up this success by a sharp attack on the self-made king who fled for his life but was pursued and captured. Yu-jeung then ascended the throne. This illustrates the weakness of the kingdom, in that any adventurer, with only daring and nerve, could seize the seat of power and hold it even so long as Kim Myŭng did. The outlying provinces practicallypractically governed themselves. There was no power of direction, no power to bring swift punishment upon disloyal adventurers, and the whole attitude of the kingdom invited insubordination. In this reign there were two other rebellions which had to be put down.

The year 896 shows a bright spot in a dark picture. The celebrated scholar Ch‘oé Ch‘i-wŭn appeared upon the scene. He was born in Sa-ryang. At the age of twelve he went to China to study; at eighteen he obtained a high literary degree at the court of China. He travelled widely and at last returned to his native land where his erudition and statesmanship found instant recognition. He was elevated to a high position and a splendid career lay before him; but he was far ahead of his time; one of those men who seem to have appeared a century or two before the world was ready for them. The low state of affairs at the court of Sil-la is proved by the intense hatred and jealousy which he unwittingly aroused. He soon found it impossible to remain in office; so he quietly withdrew to a mountain retreat and spent his time in literary pursuits. His writings are to be found in the work entitled Ko-un-jip. He is enshrined in the memory of Koreans as the very acme of literaryliterary attainment, the brightest flower of Sil-la civilization and without a superior in the annals of all the kingdoms of the peninsula.

Tradition asserts that signs began to appear and portents of the fall of Sil-la. King Chung-gang made a journey through the southern part of the country and returned by boat. A dense fog arose which hid the land. Sacrifice was offered to the genius of the sea, and the fog lifted and a strange and beautiful apparition of a man appeared who accompanied the expeditionexpedition back to the capital and sang a song whose burden was that many wise men would die and that the capital would be changed. Chung-gang died the next year and was succeeded 125by his brother Chin-sung who lived but a year and then made way for his sister who became the ruler of the land. Her name was Man. Under her rule the court morals fell to about as low a point as was possible. When her criminal intimacy with a certain courtier, Eui-hong, was terminated by the death of the latter she took three or four other lovers at once, raising them to high offices in the state and caring as little for the real welfare of the country as she did for her own fair fame. Things reached such a pass that the people lost patience with her and insulting placards were hung in the streets of the capital calling attention to the depth of infamy to which the court had sunk.

It was in 892 that the great bandit Yang-gil arose in the north. His right hand man was Kung-ye, and as he plays an important part in the subsequent history of Sil-la we must stop long enough to give his antecedents. The story of his rise is the story of the inception of the Kingdom of Ko-ryŭ. It may be proper to close the ancient history of Korea at this point and begin the medieval section with the events which led up to the founding of Koryŭ.


From 890 to 1392 A.D.


Chapter I.

Kung-ye.... antecedents.... revolts.... Ch‘oé Ch‘i-wŭn.... retires.... Wang-gön.... origin.... Kung-ye successful.... advances Wang-gön himself King.... Wang-gön again promoted.... Sil-la court corrupt.... Kung-ye proclaims himself a Buddha.... condition of the peninsula.... Wang-gön accused.... refuses the throne.... forced to take it.... Kung-ye killed.... prophecy.... Wang-gön doesdoes justice..... Ko-ryŭ organized..... Buddhist festival..... Song-do.... Ko-ryŭ’s defenses.... Kyŭn-whŭn becomes Wang-gön’s enemy.... wild tribes submit.... China upholds Kyŭn-whŭn.... his gift to Wang-gön.... loots the capital of Sil-la.... Ko-ryŭ troops repulsed.... war.... Wang-gön visits Sil-la.... improvements.... Kyŭn-whŭn’s last stand.... imprisoned by his sons.... comes to Song-do.... Sil-la expires.... her last king comes to Song-do.... Wang-gön’s generosity.

Kung-ye was the son of King Hön-gang by a concubine. He was born on the least auspicious day of the year, the fifth of the fifth moon. He had several teeth when he was born which made his arrival the less welcome. The King ordered the child to be destroyed; so it was thrown out of the window. But the nurse rescued it and carried it to a place of safety where she nursed it and provided for its bringing up. As she was carrying the child to this place of safety she accidentally put out one of its eyes. When he reached man’s estate he became a monk under the name of Sŭn-jong. He was by nature ill fitted for the monastic life and soon found himself in the camp of the bandit Ki-whŭn at Chuk-ju. Soon he began to consider himself ill-treated by his new master and deserted him, finding his way later to the camp of the bandit Yang-gil at Puk-wŭn now Wŭn-ju. A considerable number of men accompanied 128him. Here his talents were better appreciated and he was put in command of a goodly force with which he soon overcame the districts of Ch‘un-ch‘ŭn, Nă-sŭng, Ul-o and O-jin. From this time Kung-ye steadily gained in power until he quite eclipsed his master. Marching into the western part of Sil-la he took ten districts and went into permanent camp.

The following year another robber, Kyŭn-whŭn, made head against Sil-la in the southern part of what is now Kyŭng-sang Province. He was a Sang-ju man. Having seized the district of Mu-ju he proclaimed himself King of Southern Sil-la. His name was originally Yi but when fifteen years of age he had changed it to Kyŭn. He had been connected with the Sil-la army and had risen step by step and made himself extremely useful by his great activity in the field. When, however, the state of Sil-la became so corrupt as to be a by-word among all good men, he threw off his allegiance to her, gathered about him a band of desperate criminals, outlaws and other disaffected persons and began the conquest of the south and west. In a month he had a following of 5,000 men. He found he had gone too far in proclaiming himself King and so modified his title to that of “Master of Men and Horses.” It is said of him that once, while still a small child, his father being busy in the fields and his mother at work behind the house, a tiger came along and the child sucked milk from its udder. This accounted for his wild and fierce nature.

At this time the great scholar Ch‘oé Ch‘i-wŭn, whom we have mentioned, was living at of Pu-sŭng. Recognizing the abyss of depravity into which the state was falling he formulated ten rules for the regulation of the government and sent them to Queen Man. She read and praised them but took no means to put them in force. Ch‘oé could no longer serve a Queen who made light of the counsels of her most worthy subjects and, throwing up his position, retired to Kwang-ju in Nam-san and became a hermit. After that he removed to Ping-san in Kang-ju, then to Ch‘ŭng-yang Monastery in Hyŭp-ju, then to Sang-gye Monastery at Ch‘i-ri San but finally made his permanent home at Ka-ya San where he lived with a few other choice spirits. It was here that he wrote his autobiography in thirteen volumes.

129In 896 Kung-ye began operating in the north on a larger scale. He took ten districts near Ch‘ŭl-wŭn and put them in charge of his young lieutenant Wang-gön who was destined to become the founder of a dynasty. We must now retrace our steps in order to tell of the origin of this celebrated man.

Wang-yŭng, a large-minded and ambitious man, lived in the town of Song-ak. To him a son was born in the third year of King Hön-gang of Sil-la, A.D. 878. The night the boy was born a luminous cloud stood above the house and made it as bright as day, so the story runs. The child had a very high forehead and a square chin, and he developed rapidly. His birth had long since been prophesied by a monk named To-sŭn who told Wang-yŭng, as he was building his house, that within its walls a great man would be born. As the monk turned to go Wang-yŭng called him back and received from him a letter which he was ordered to give to the yet unborn child when he should be old enough to read. The contents are unknown but when the boy reached his seventeenth year the same monk reappeared and became his tutor, instructing him especially in the art of war. He showed him also how to obtain aid from the heavenly powers, how to sacrifice to the spirits of mountain and stream so as to propitiate them. Such is the tradition that surrounds the origin of the youth who now in the troubled days of Sil-la found a wide field for the display of his martial skill.

Kung-ye first ravaged the country from Puk-wŭn to A-sil-la, with 600 followers. He there assumed the title of “Great General.” Then he reduced all the country about Nang-ch’ŭn, Han-san, Kwan-nă and Ch‘ŭl-wŭn. By this time his force had enormously increased and his fame had spread far and wide. All the wild tribes beyond the Ta-dong River did obeisance to him. But these successes soon began to turn his head. He styled himself “Prince” and began to appoint prefects to various places. He advanced Wang-gön to a high position and made him governor of Song-do. This he did at the instigation of Wang-yŭng who sent him the following enigmatical advice: “If you want to become King of Cho-sŭn, Suk-sin and Pyön-han you must build a wall about Song-do and make my son governor.” It was immediately done, and in this way Wang-gön was provided with a place for his capital.

130In 897 the profligate Queen Man of Sil-la handed the government over to her adopted son Yo and retired. This change gave opportunities on every side for the rebels to ply their trade. Kung-ye forthwith seized thirty more districts north of the Han River and Kyŭn-whŭn established his headquarters at Wan-san, now Chŭn-ju and called his kingdom New Păk-je. Wang-gön, in the name of Kung-ye, seized almost the whole of the territory included in the present provinces of Kyŭng-geui and Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng. Finally in 901 Kung-ye proclaimed himself king and emphasized it by slashing with a sword the picture of the king of Sil-la which hung in a monastery. Two years later Wang-gön moved southward into what is now Chŭl-la Province and soon came in contact with the forces of Kyŭn-whŭn. In these contests the young Wang-gön was uniformly successful.

In 905 Kung-ye established his capital at Ch‘ŭl-wŭn in the present Kang-wŭn province and named his kingdom Ma-jin and the year was called Mut. Then he distributed the offices among his followers. By this time all the north and east had joined the standards of Kung-ye and Wang-gön even to within 120 miles of the Sil-la capital. The king and court of Sil-la were in despair. There was no army with which to take the field and all they could do was to defend the position they had as best they could and hope that Kyung-ye and Kyŭn-whŭn might destroy each other. In 909 Kung-ye called Sil-la “The Kingdom to be Destroyed” and set Wang-gön as military governor of all the south-west. Here he pursued an active policy, now fitting out ships with which to subjugate the neighboring islands and now leading the attack on Kyŭn-whŭn who always suffered in the event. His army was a model of military precision and order. Volunteers flocked to his standard. He was recognised as the great leader of the day. When, at last, Na-ju fell into the hands of the young Wang-gön, Kyŭn-whŭn decided on a desperate venture and suddenly appearing before that town laid siege to it. After ten days of unsuccessful assault he retired but Wang-gön followed and forced an engagement at Mok-p‘o, now Yŭng-san-p‘o, and gave him such a whipping that he was fain to escape alone and unattended.

Meanwhile Kung-ye’s character was developing. Cruelty 131and capriciousness became more and more his dominant qualities. Wang-gön never acted more wisely than in keeping as far as possible from the court of his master. His rising fame would have instantly roused the jealousy of Kung-ye.

Sil-la had apparently adopted the principle “Let us eat and be merry for to-morrow we die.” Debauchery ran rife at the court and sapped what little strength was left. Among the courtiers was one of the better stamp and when he found that the king preferred the counsel of his favorite concubine to his own, he took occasion to use a sharper argument in the form of a dagger, which at a blow brought her down from her dizzy eminence.

In 911 Kung-ye changed the name of his kingdom to Tă-bong. It is probable that this was because of a strong Buddhistic tendency that had at this time quite absorbed him. He proclaimed himself a Buddha, called himself Mi-ryŭk-pul, made both his sons Buddhists, dressed as a high priest and went nowhere without censers. He pretended to teach the tenets of Buddhism. He printed a book, and put a monk to death because he did not accept it as canonical. The more Kung-ye dabbled in Buddhism the more did all military matters devolve upon Wang-gön, who from a distance beheld with amazement and concern the dotage of his master. At his own request he was always sent to a post far removed from the court. At last Kung-ye became so infatuated that he seemed little better than a madman. He heated an iron to a white heat and thrust it into his wife’s womb because she continually tried to dissuade him from his Buddhistic notions. He charged her with being an adultress. He followed this up by killing both his sons and many other of the people near his person. He was hated as thoroughly as he was feared.

The year 918 was one of the epochal years of Korean history. The state of the peninsula was as follows. In the south-east, the reduced kingdom of Sil-la, prostrated by her own excesses, without an army, and yet in her very supineness running to excess of riot, putting off the evil day and trying to drown regrets in further debauchery. In the central eastern portion, the little kingdom of Kung-ye who had now become a tyrant and a madman. He had put his whole army under the hand of a young, skillful, energetic and popular man who had 132gained the esteem of all classes. In the south-west was another sporadic state under Kyŭn-whŭn who was a fierce, unscrupulous bandit, at swords points with the rising Wang-gön.

Suddenly Kung-ye awoke to the reality of his position. He knew he was hated by all and that Wang-gön was loved by all, and he knew too that the army was wholly estranged from himself and that everything depended upon what course the young general should pursue. Fear, suspicion and jealousy mastered him and he suddenly ordered the young general up to the capital. Wang-gön boldly complied, knowing doubtless by how slender a thread hung his fortunes. When he entered his master’s presence the latter exclaimed “You conspired against me yesterday.” The young man calmly asked how. Kung-ye pretended to know it through the power of his sacred office as Buddha. He said “Wait, I will again consult the inner consciousness.” Bowing his head he pretended to be communing with his inner self. At this moment one of the clerks purposely dropped his pen, letting it roll near to the prostrate formform of Wang-gön. As the clerk stooped to pick it up, he whispered in Wang-gön’s ear “Confess that you have conspired.” The young man grasped the situation at once. When the mock Buddha raised hishis head and repeated the accusation Wang-gön confessed that it was true. The King was delighted at this, for he deceived himself into believing that he actually had acquired the faculty of reading men’s minds. This pleased him so greatly that he readily forgave the offence and merely warned the young man not to repeat it. After this he gave Wang-gön rich gifts and had more confidence in him than ever.

But the officials all besieged the young general with entreaties to crush the cruel and capricious monarch and assume the reins of government himself. This he refused to do, for through it all, he was faithful to his master. But they said “He has killed his wife and his sons and we will all fall a prey to his fickle temper unless you come to our aid. He is worse than the Emperor Chu.” Wang-gön, however, urged that it was the worst of crimes to usurp a throne. “But” said they “is it not much worse for us all to perish? If one does not improve the opportunity that heaven provides it is a sin.” He was unmoved by this casuistry and stood his ground firmly. 133At last even his wife joined in urging him to lay aside his foolish scruples and she told the officials to take him by force and carry him to the palace, whether he would or not. They did so, and bearing him in their arms they burst through the palace gate and called upon the wretch Kung-ye to make room for their chosen king. The terrified creature fled naked but was caught at Pu-yang, now P‘yŭng-gang, and beheaded.

Tradition says that this was all in fulfillment of a prophecy which was given in the form of an enigma. A Chinese merchant bought a mirror of a Sil-la man and in the mirror could be seen these words: “Between three waters—God sends his son to Chin and Ma—First seize a hen and then a duck—in the year Ki-ja two dragons will arise, one in a green forest and one east of black metal.” The merchant presented it to Kung-ye who prized it highly and sought everywhere for the solution of the riddle. At last the scholar Song Han-hong solved it for him as follows. “The Chin and Ma mean Chin-han and Ma-han. The hen is Kye-rim (Sil-la). The duck is the Am-nok (duck-blue) River. The green forest is pine tree or Song-do (Pine Tree Capital) and black metal is Ch‘ŭl-wŭn (Ch‘ŭl is metal). So a king in Song-do must arise (Wang-gön) and a king in Ch‘ŭl-wŭn must fall (Kung-ye).”(Kung-ye).”

Wang-gön began by bringing to summary justice the creatures of Kung-ye who seconded him in his cruelty; some of them were killed and some were imprisoned. Everywhere the people gave themselves up to festivities and rejoicings.

But the ambitious general, Whan Son-gil, took advantage of the unsettled state of affairs to raise an insurrection. Entering the palace with a band of desperadoes he suddenly entered the presence of Wang-gön who was without a guard. The King rose from his seat, and looking the traitor in the face said “I am not King by my own desire or request. You all made me King. It was heaven’s ordinance and you cannot kill me. Approach and try.” The traitor thought that the King had a strong guard secreted near by and turning fled from the palace. He was caught and beheaded.

Wang-gön sent messages to all the bandit chiefs and invited them to join the new movement, and soon from all sides they came in and swore allegiance to the young king. Kyŭn-whŭn, however, held aloof and sought for means to put down 134the new power. Wang-gön set to work to establish his kingdom on a firm basis. He changed the official system and established a new set of official grades. He rewarded those who had been true to him and remitted three years’ revenues. He altered the revenue laws, requiring the people to pay much less than heretofore, manumitted over a thousand slaves and gave them goods out of the royal storehouses with which to make a start in life. As P‘yŭng-yang was the ancient capital of the country he sent one of the highest officials there as governor. And he finished the year with a Buddhist festival, being himself a Buddhist of a mild type. This great annual festival is described as follows:—There was an enormous lantern, hung about with hundreds of others, under a tent made of a net-work of silk cords. Music was an important element. There were also representations of dragons, birds, elephants, horses, carts and boats. Dancing was prominent and there were in all a hundred forms of entertainment. Each official wore the long flowing sleeves and each carried the ivory memo tablet. The king sat upon a high platform and watched the entertainment.

The next year he transferred his court to Song-do which became the permanent capital. There he built his palace and also the large merchants’ houses and shops in the center of the city. This latter act was in accordance with the ancient custom of granting a monopolymonopoly of certain kinds of trade and using the merchants as a source of revenue when a sudden need for money arose. He divided the city into five wards and established seven military stations. He also established a secondary capital at Ch‘ŭl-wŭn, the present Ch‘un-ch‘ŭn, and called it Tong-ju. The pagodas and Buddhas in both the capitals were regilded and put in good order. The people looked with some suspicion upon these Buddhistic tendencies but he told them that the old customs must not be changed too rapidly, for the kingdom had need of the help of the spirits in order to become thoroughly established, and that when that was accomplished they could abandon the religion as soon as they pleased. Here was his grand mistake. He riveted upon the state a baneful influence which was destined to drag it into the mire and eventually bring it to ruin.

In 920 Sil-la first recognised Koryŭ as a kingdom 135and sent an envoy with presents to the court at Song-do.


Wang-gön looked out for the interests of the people in the distant parts of the country as well as for those near the capital. In order to break the force of the attacks of the wild people beyond the Tu-man River he built a wall across the northern border of Ham-gyŭng Province. It is said to have been 900 li long. But there was a still stronger enemy on the south. Kyŭn-whŭn had by this time come to see that he had no hope of overcoming the young kingdom of Koryŭ and so he bent his energies to the securing of his position against the danger of interference, especially in his plans against Sil-la. For this reason he sent a messenger to Song-do with presents and tried to make friends with his old time enemy. His next move was to attack Sil-la. Wang-gön took up the cudgels in support of the king of Sil-la and by so doing secured the lasting enmity of the bandit who from this time determined upon war without quarter against his northern enemy. Wang-gön said to the Sil-la envoys, “Sil-la has three treasures; the nine storey pagoda, the Buddha six times the height of a man, and the jade belt. As long as these three remain intact Sil-la will stand. The first two are in Sil-la. Where is the jade belt?” The envoy answered that he did not know, whereupon Wang-gön blamed him sharply and sent him home. When Sil-la finally fell, the jade belt passed into the hands of Wang-gön.

In 921 the Mal-gal tribe, Heuk-su, made a treaty with Wang-gön. This bears evidence to the rapidly growing power of the young king. The Heuk-su Mal-gal were the most feared of all the semi-savage tribes of the north. The following year the Kŭ-ran, usually called Kitan in Chinese histories, followed the example of the Heuk-su people by sending an envoy with presents. It was not till 923 that Wang-gön thought fit to send an envoy to China to offer his compliments.

When the last king of Sil-la, but one, ascended the throne in 924 important events were following thick and fast upon each other. Sil-la was now so weak that the records say the king had nothing left but his genealogy. Kyŭn-whŭn sent a force to begin operations against Koryŭ, but without success, and in the following year Wang-gön retaliated with such good success that Kyŭn-whŭn was fain to send his son to Song-do as a hostage. He thus bound himself to keep the 136peace. Having done this he sent to China desiring to secure backing against Koryŭ. The Emperor so far complied as to confer upon him the title of King of Păk-je, thus following the time-honored policy of pitting one power against another.

The year 926 saw the first envoy come from the kingdom of T‘am-na on the island of Quelpart. He arrived at the capital of Koryŭ, where he was well received. The fame of Wang-gön was spreading far and wide among the northern tribes. The Kŭ-ran, or Kitan tribe, having overcome the Păl-ha tribe, made overtures to Wang-gön relative to annexation. These advances were cordially responded to but we are not informed that the union was actually effected.

Kyŭn-whŭn, who was at this time on the island Chŭl-yong-do, sent a present of horses to Wang-gön but a few days later he found a book of prophecy which said that in the year when he should send a gift of horses to Song-do his power would come to an end. He therefore sent a swift messenger begging Wang-gön to return the gift. The King laughed long and loud when he saw this message and good-naturedly sent back the horses.

The last King of Sil-la, Kyŭng-sun, ascended the throne in 927. It happened on this wise; Kyŭn-whŭn was keeping up a double fight, one against Wang-gön and the other, an offensive one, against Sil-la. He was badly defeated in an engagement with Koryŭ forces but had good success in his other venture. He burned and pillaged right up to the gates of Sil-la’s capital, and, while a Sil-la envoy was posting to Song-do to ask for aid, entered the city with a picked band of men. Succor in the shape of 10,000 Koryŭ troops was on its way but came too late. At the hour when Kyŭn-whŭn entered the city the king, his son, the queen and many of the courtiers were feasting at Po-sŭk summer-house. When the unwelcome news arrived, there was no time for preparation. The king and queen fled south without attendants. The palace women were seized and the palace occupied. The king was soon run to earth and was compelled to commit suicide. Kyŭn-whŭn ravished the queen and delivered over the palace women to the soldiery. The palace was looted and the entire band, sated with excess and debauchery, and loaded down 137with the treasures of the palace, started back on the homeward road. But not until Kyŭn-whŭn had appointed a relative of the murdered king to succeed him.

When Wang-gön heard of these atrocities, he hastened forward his troops and overtook the army of Kyŭn-whŭn in O-dong forest where a sharp engagement ensued. For some reason, whether it be because the soldiers of Kyŭn-whŭn were more familiar with the locality or because the Koryŭ soldiers were exhausted by their long forced march, the assault was unsuccessful and the Koryŭ forces withdrew. This was doubly unfortunate for it not only did not punish the ruffians for their atrocities at the Sil-la capital but it inspired them with confidence in their own power. Shortly after this Kyŭn-whŭn sent a letter to Wang-gön saying “I became Sil-la’s enemy because she sought aid from you. You have no cause for warring against me. It is like a dog chasing a rabbit; both are tired out to no purpose. It is like a king-fisher trying to catch a clam; when he thrusts his bill into the shell the clam closes it and he finds himself caught”. To this epistle Wang-gön replied “Your actions at the Sil-la capital are so outrageous that I cannot endure the thought of any compromise. Your present course will lead you to speedy ruin”.

Elated over his successful repulse of Wang-gön’s army, Kyŭn-whŭn took the field the following year, with a strong force, and was prepared to assume the offensive. He assaulted and took two Koryŭ fortresses and even, at one time, surrounded Wang-gön in Ch’ŭng-ju and caused him no little anxiety. In the battle which followed Kyŭn-whŭn lost three hundred men and was pushed back, thus freeing the king from an embarrassing position; but before the campaign was over Kyŭn-whŭn scored another victory by capturing the district of Ok-ch’ŭn. In his next campaign he was still successful, and Eui Fortress fell into his hands and he killed the general in charge. Here his successes ended, for Wang-gön awoke to the necessity of using strong measures against him. The following year Koryŭ forces inflicted a crushing defeat upon the southern leader, at An-dong. The fight had lasted all day and neither side had gained any advantage, but that night a picked band of Koryŭ men ascended Hog’s Head Mountain and made a rush downdown upon the unsuspecting 138camp of the enemy, causing a panic and a stampede in which eight thousand men were killed. Kyŭn-whŭn himself sought safety in flight. This seemed conclusive and all the countryside sent in their allegiance to the victors. A hundred and ten districts in eastern Korea came over to Wang-gön in a body. Dagelet Island, or Ul-leung as the Koreans call it, sent presents to Koryŭ.

The next year after these stirring events, namely 931, Wang-gön made a visit to Sil-la taking with him an escort of only fifty soldiers. The king of Sil-la came out to meet him and they feasted there at the meeting-place together. The king of Sil-la lamented the smallness and weakness of his kingdom and deplored the ravages of Kyŭn-whŭnKyŭn-whŭn. The evils, he said, were beyond estimation; and he broke down and wept. The courtiers did the same and even Wang-gön could scarce restrain his tears. After this they had a friendly talk and the king of Koryŭ remained as a guest for some twenty days. As he left the capital of Sil-la the people vied with each other in doing him honor. Poor old Sil-la had gone out of fashion and the minds of all men were turned Koryŭ-ward.

Wang-gön had a strong predilection for P‘yŭng-yang, the ancient capital of the country. He had already established a school there with professorships of literature, medicine and incantation. He now in 932 conceived the project of moving his capital northward to that place. To this end he erected barracks there for his troops and was making other preparations for the change, when he was dissuaded from it by some evil omens. A great wind blew down some of the houses in P‘yŭng-yang and, so the story goes, a hen became a cock. These portents made it impossible to carry out the plan. It was about this time that he built a guest-house outside the walls of Song-do to be used as a reception hall for envoys and messengers from the wild tribes of the north. Suspicion as to the object of their coming may have made it seem undesirable to allow them to enter the city proper, or it may have been simply to impress them with the importance of the place.

Kyŭn-whŭn’s right hand man came and swore allegience even though, at the time, his two sons and his daughter were hostages in the hands of his former master. When Kyŭn-whŭn heard of it he burned the first son alive and would have 139treated the second son and the daughter in like manner had they not effected their escape to a retreat where they lay in hiding till his death. This desertion seems to have roused the old man’s ire, and he longed for the din of battle once more. He could still command a considerable force; so he entered upon another campaign and as usual was at first successful. He seized three districts in the east country and set fire to a large number of towns. It was not until the next year that Wang-gön sent an expedition against him. This was under the command of Gen. Yu Gön-p’il, whom the king had banished but had pardoned and recalled because of his lively efforts while in exile to raise a company of soldiers. He never seemed to know when he was beaten. He routed the forces of Kyŭn-whŭn and returned in triumph to Song-do, where he was hailed as the savior of the people. We may judge from this that Kyŭn-whŭn was still considered formidable. In another fight Gen. Yu captured seven of Kyŭn-whŭn’s captains and one of his sons as well.

As things seemed quiet now, the king made a royal progress through the north and west, helping the poor, inspecting fortresses, supplanting unpopular prefects; but when he got back he found his old enemy still active, and at Un-ju he had his last great fight with him. In this struggle three thousand of the enemy were killed and thirty-two fortresses were taken. The year 935 A.D. is another mile-stone in Korean history. It marks the end of a dynasty which lacked but eight years of completing a millennium. But we must relate the events of the year in order. Kyŭn-whŭn had many concubines and more than ten sons. Of the latter the fourth named Keum-gang, was the one he loved the best, a boy of robust body and great intelligence. The old man passed by his other sons and named this one as his successor. This of course made trouble at once. The first son, Sin-geum, led a conspiracy and the old gentleman was seized and imprisoned in Keum-san monastery, the young Keum-gang was put to death and Sin-geum ascended the insecure throne of his father, now doubly insecure, since it had lost the masterly genius which of late years had been its only support. But old Kyŭn-whŭn had not played his last card. After three months imprisonment he succeeded in getting his guards drunk (jolly 140monks those) and escaped to Ka-ju from which point he had the colossal impudence to send a letter to Wang-gön surrendering and asking for asylum in Koryŭ against his own son. It was granted and soon a ship of war arrived with a high official on board to escort the grey old wolf of the south to the Koryŭ capital, where he was received as a guest, given a comfortable house and plenty of servants and the revenues of Yang-ju prefecture. From that point we may believe that he waited patiently to see the overthrow of his sons.

But these are small events compared with what followed. The king of Sil-la determined to abdicate and hand over the remnant of his kingdom to Wang-gön. When he broached the matter to his officials no man raised his voice. They could not assent and they knew there was no use in demurring. The crown prince urged his father to submit the question to the people and to abide by their decision, but the king was determined and so sent a letter to Song-do offering to lay his scepter at the feet of Wang-gön. The crown prince was in despair, refused to see his father, retired to a mountain retreat and ate coarse food as a token of his grief. He died there of chagrin and sorrow.

Wang-gön answered by sending one of the highest officials to escort the ex-king to Song-do. The royal procession was ten miles long, as it slowly wound its way out of the deserted city amidst the clamorous grief of the people. Wang-gön met him in person at the gate of Song-do. He did not want the ex-king to bow to him but the courtiers had decided that as the country could have but one king this must be done. So the new arrival did obeisance. Wang-gön gave him his daughter to wife and made him prime minister, set aside the revenues of an entire district to his use and conferred high rank upon the Sil-la courtiers.

And so ended the ancient kingdom of Sil-la which had existed for 992 years, from 57 B.C. to 935 A.D. Her line of kings included fifty-six names, which gives an average of about eighteen years to each reign. From that day the capital of Sil-la was called simply by the name Kyöng-ju. We believe that history shows few instances of greater generosity, forbearance, delicacy and tact than are shadowed forth in the life of this same Wang-gön. Does history show a nobler act 141than that of providing a comfortable home where his old enemy Kyŭn-whŭn might spend his last days in comfort and ease? Does it show more delicacy than was shown by Wang-gön when he took every means to cover the chagrin of the retiring king of Sil-la by treating him as a royal guest?

Chapter II.

Kyŭn-whŭn’s sons defeated.... Buddhist teachers from China.... The Emperor recognizes Koryŭ.... Wang-gön refuses to treat with the Kitans.... makes ten rules.... king marries his sister.... plot detected.... practical Shogunate.... Buddhism flourishes.... P‘yŭng-yang.... Chinamen take office in Koryŭ.... slavery.... examinations.... Chinese favored.... official garments.... incapable king.... retrogression.... reform.... Confucianism.... Kitan growing.... bureau of history reorganized.... equilibrium between Confucianism and Buddhism.... Uk is banished.... quarrel with Kitan.... concession.... dispute.... China refuses aid.... the provinces.... the “Emperor” of Kitan gives the king investiture.... first coinage.... reforms.... conspiracy crushed.

Before leaving the kingdom of Sil-la to be swallowed up in antiquity we must notice a few corollaries. We will notice that Sil-la was the first power to gain the control of the whole peninsula. It was the language of Sil-la that became at least the official language of the entire country. The yi-t‘u, or system of diacritical marks, tended to stereotype the agglutinative endings, so that we find to-day the general characteristics running through the grammar of Korean are those which characterized the language of ancient Sil-la. This fact, clearly grasped, goes a long way toward opening a way for the solution of the question of the origin of the language.

As the year 936 opens we see king Wang-gön with his two former rivals, the peaceful one and the warlike one, gathered under his wing, and the only cloud upon his horizon the attitude of Kyŭn-whŭn’s sons in the south. This was soon settled. The king in company with Kyŭn-whŭn, at the 142head of an army of 87,000 men, marched southward and engaged the pitiable force that was all the malcontents could now muster. When they saw this tremendous army approaching and knew that Kyŭn-whŭn was there in person, surrender was immediate. Wang-gön’s first demand was “where is Sin-geum?” He was told that he was in a fortress in the mountains with a small force and was prepared to fight to a finish. He was there attacked and 3,200 men were taken and 5,700 killed, which shows how desperate the battle was. Sin-geum and his two brothers were captured. The two other sons of Kyŭn-whŭn were executed, because they had driven their father away, but Sin-geum in some way showed that he had not been a principal actor in that disgraceful scene and so escaped what we may well believe was merited punishment. There on the field the old man Kyŭn-whŭn died. It is said that his death was caused by chagrin that Sin-geum was not killed with his brothers.

It was in 938 that Wang-gön went outside the walls of the capital to meet a celebrated monk named Hong-bŭm, who had come originally from Ch’un-ch’uk monastery in the land of Sŭ-yŭk.

All this time interesting reforms were in progress. The names of all the prefectures throughout the country were changed. This has always been customary in Korea with a change of dynasty. The next year, 939, the new king of Koryŭ was formally recognized by the Emperor who sent and invested him with the insignia of royalty. The crown prince of T‘am-na, on Quelpart, came and did obeisance at the court of Koryŭ. A redistribution of the farming lands throughout the country was effected, by which, the records say, the worthy received more while others received less. It would be interesting to know in what way the test of worthiness was applied.

In 942 the Kitan power in the north tried to make friendly advances and sent a present of thirty camels. But Wang-gön remembered the way in which Kitan had feigned friendship for Pal-hă and then treacherously seized her; and for this reason he showed his opinion of Kitan now by banishing the thirty men and tying the thirty camels to Man-bu bridge and starving them to death.

143King Wang-gön was now sixty-five years old. His life had been an active one; first as a warrior and then as the administrator of the kingdom which he had founded. Feeling that his end was approaching, he set himself to the task of formulating rules for his successor. As a result he placed in the hands of his son and heir ten rules which read as follows:

(1) Buddhism is the state religion.

(2) Build no more monasteries.

(3) If the first son is bad let the second or some other become king.

(4) Do not make friends with Kitan.

(5) Do honor to P‘yŭng-yang, the ancient capital.

(6) Establish an annual Buddhist festival.

(7) Listen to good men and banish bad ones.

(8) As the south is disaffected towards us do not marry from among the people of that section.

(9) Look after the interests of the army.

(10) Be always ready for emergencies.

After urging his son to lock all these precepts in his heart the aged king turned to the wall and died. These ten laws are typical of the man. They inculcated reverence for the best religion that had come under his notice, but in the same breath forbade the disproportionate growth of priest-craft, for he had seen what a seductive influence lay hidden within the arcana of this most mystical of all heathen cults. He advised temperance in religion. He forbade the throning of a man simply because he was the king’s firstborn. By so doing he really proclaimed that the king was for the people and not the people for the king. He hated treachery and forbade making alliances with the forsworn. He believed in doing honor to the best of the old traditions and ordered that the ancient city of P‘yŭng-yang be rememberedremembered. He believed in loving his friends and hating his enemies and forbade descendants taking a wife from among the people of the south who had so desperately supported the claims of Kyŭn-whŭn, the one-time bandit. He was a military man and believed in having a strong army and in treating it in such a way as to insure its perfect loyalty. It was in the last injunction, however, that he struck the key-note of his character. Be always ready for emergencies. Reading his character in the light of his actions 144we can well imagine one more precept that would have been characteristic of him; namely, that it is better to make a friend of an honest enemy than to kill him. And so in the year 942 the great general, reformer, king and administrator was laid to his fathers and his son Mu reigned in his stead. The latter’s posthumous titletitle is Hye-jong.

The reign of this second king of Koryŭ starts with the statement that the king gave his own sister to his brother for a wife. It was one of the peculiar institutions of the dynasty that whenever possible the king married his own sister. In this instance he gave his sister to his brother, but the king had probably already married another of his sisters. This custom, which has prevailed in other countries besides Korea, notably in ancient Egypt, rests upon the assumption that by marrying one’s own sister more of royalty is preserved in the family and the line is kept purer, the royal blood not being mixed with any of baser quality. We are told that, in order to make it seem less offensive, the sister, upon marrying her brother, took her mother’s family name. This shows that the custom was looked down upon, else this device would not have been resorted to. We find also that the kings of Koryŭ were accustomed to have more than one real wife, contrary to the custom of the present dynasty. We read that this king, who had none of the elements of his father’s greatness, took as his sixteenth wife the daughter of one Wang-gyu and by her had a son. Through her influence Wang-gyu had risen to the position of prime minister and it was his ambition to see his daughter’s son ascend the throne. It had been the king’s plan to give the throne to his brother Yo and the prime minister began by plotting against the life of this possible successor. The king learned of this and frustrated it by immediately abdicating in favor of his brother. Wang-gyu seems to have possessed considerable power independently of the king for we learn that he not only was not punished but that he continued to plot against Yo even after he had assumed the reins of power. An assassin whom he had hired to kill the king was himself killed by the king while attempting to carry out the deed. When the king fell ill he was advised to move secretly to another palace for safety. He did so and that very night the myrmidons of Wang-gyu broke into the palace that 145he had left, but found that their bird had flown. In spite of all this the king did not proceed against his minister but went about with an armed escort. This signal failure to punish a traitor is said to have been the reason why, during the whole dynasty, the officials overruled the king and made a puppet of him. In fact many times during the dynasty we find the condition of affairs somewhat like those in Japan where the emperor himself had little practical power but the government was carried on by a shogun. But at last this Wang-gyu met his deserts for he was banished to Kap-whan and there executed, and with him 300 men who had been in his pay.

It is interesting to notice how soon after the death of Wang-gön his ill-considered advice about Buddhism was to bear its legitimate fruit. The third king of Koryŭ was thoroughly in the hands of the sacerdotalthoroughly in the hands of the sacerdotal power. He was a devout worshipper of Buddha and spent large sums of money upon the priesthood. He favored the monks in every way and thus added one more blow to the wedge which ultimately split the land and brought the dynasty to a close.

Following the directions of Wang-gön in regard to the city of P‘yŭng-yang, he decided to make this town a secondary capital. In the prosecution of this work many people were compelled to give their time and labor, and great suffering was the natural result. Many of the people of Song-do were compelled to move to the northern capital. This was very distasteful to them, and, joined with the king’s blind adherence to Buddhism, made it easy for the people to rejoice when in 970 he died and his younger brother So became king. His posthumous title is Kwang-jong. He in turn married his own sister, and the records intimate that another reason for marrying in the family was that it kept out undesirable connections who would naturally expect to receive positions under the government.

When in 953 the emperor sent an envoy to the court of Koryŭ approving of the coronation of the new king, he was accompanied by a great scholar, Sang Geui, who found such favor in the eyes of the king that he remained and took office under the government. It is said that this caused a serious set-back to the fortunes of Buddhism. Well would it have 146been could he have seen that insidious power crushed and driven from the country. But it had gained too strong a foothold to be overcome by the teaching or example of a single man or coterie of men. It is not unlikely that it was at the suggestion of this man that the king changed the law concerning slavery. Heretofore slavery had been the punishment for comparatively venial offences and the country was overrun with slaves. The king manumitted manymany of these and by so doing gained the enmity of many who thus lost valuable property. It also resulted in outbreaks among slaves, incipient riots, because this humane tendency in the king emboldened them to claim more than he had intended. It showed that sometimes the indiscriminate franchisement of slaves may be a dangerous thing.

The most radical reform instituted at the advice of this Sang Geui was the establishment of a national competitive examination similar to those held in China. In Korea it is called the kwaga. The examination was a six-fold one; (1) heptameter verse, (2) hexameter verse, (3) commentary, (4) historic citation, (5) medicine, (6) divination.

Communication with China seems to have become more frequent and close, for we find that in 960 an envoy went to China carrying as gifts 50,000 pounds of copper and 4,000 pieces of rock crystal used in making spectacles. This was likewise a period of Chinese immigration, encouraged without doubt by the flattering reception given to Sang Geui. The king gave the visitors a hearty welcome, provided them with houses, gave them office and even secured them wives. So far did he go in the way of providing houses that he incurred the resentment of some of his highest officials, one of whom, So P‘il, asked the king to take his fine residence from him as a gift. In surprise the king asked him why he wanted to give it up. The answer was, “It will be seized anyway when I die and I would rather give it up now and spend the rest of my days preparing a little home somewhere for my children.” This threw the king into a rage; but the shot told, for he stopped the form of injustice from that very day.

The following year, 961, a sweeping change was made in the style and color of official garments. This was also under 147the direction of Sang Geui. For the highest rank purple was used, and for the second rank red, for the third rank deep red, and for the fourth rank blue.

How far this king had degenerated from the standard set by the founder of the kingdom, less than fifty years before, is apparent from the fact that he was the pliant instrument of anyone who had access to his ear. He believed anybody and everybody. Enemies accused each other before him and he accepted every statement as true. The result was that the prisons were simply bursting with inmates and the executioner’s axe was busy night and day. Hundreds of men were executed whose only crime was that they had been accused before the king. Added to this was a prodigal waste of treasure in the building of palaces, the assumption throughout of Chinese clothes and the entertainment of countless “friends” who came from across the border, on the principle, no doubt, that where the carcass is there will the eagles be gathered together. This state of things continued up to 969, going from bad to worse. That year the king took to himself two Buddhist monks as mentors. He suddenly awoke to the fact that many murders lay at his door and he began to have twinges of conscience. He thought to make it right by a wholesale favoring of Buddhism. He put himself entirely into the hands of the monks and let them manage all the affairs of state to suit themselves. But this, while it may have eased his conscience, brought no betterment to the state. He was imposed upon in the grossest manner and never once guessed it. He lost the respect of all men of sense and reason. His useless reign dragged on till 976 when the country was relieved of the mighty incubus by his death. The prisons were overrun with innocent men, priestcraft had wound its octopus tentacles about every branch of the government. Energy and patriotism had been eradicated; for, the moment a man possessing these traits appeared, jealousy caused him to be accused to the credulous king and he was thrown into prison.

But now his son, Chu, came to the throne. His posthumous title is Kyong-jong. His first act was to open the prison doors and liberate all who were not condemned felons. This act of mere justice was greeted by applause from the people. It was the signal for a general reform in the methods 148of administration. The monks were sent back to their monasteries. The competitive examinations were renewed and an impetus was given to the study of the classics. The king in person examined the papers of the candidates. But death put an end to his promising career after six short years and in 982 his younger brother, Ch’i, posthumous title Song-jong, ascended the throne. Fortunately he was of the same mind as his deceased brother and the good work went on unchecked. He first did away with the senseless festivals described under the reign of Wang-gön, at which all manner of animals were represented. He changed the names of official grades to correspond with those of the Tang dynasty in China. Intercourse with China was revived and frequent envoys passed back and forth. It was in the second year of his reign, namely 983, that the time-honored custom was instituted of the king plowing a piece of land in person each year. This too was borrowed from China. Confucianism received a great impetus during these days; an envoy to China brought back a picture of the emperor’s shrine, of the patron genius of China, of Confucius’ shrine, and a history of the seventy-two disciples of the great sage. Financial affairs engaged his attention too, for we find that in this year 984 the legal rate of interest on money was set at ten per cent per mensem. The defenses of the country were not neglected. A fortress was begun on the banks of the Yalu River but the people of the Yŭ-jin tribe caused the work to be suspended.

The Kitan tribe were still in the ascendant and so ominous was the growth of their power that the envoy from China who came to perform the ceremony of investiture of the new king, intimated that China would be glad to join the forces of Koryŭ in an invasion of the Kitan territory. We are not told what reply was given but nothing seems to have come of it. Buddhistic encroachments were checked and a stop was put to the seizure of houses for the purpose of erecting monasteries. Mourning customs were changed; the three years’ limit was shortened to one hundred days, the one year limit to thirty days, the nine months’ limit to twenty days, the six months’ limit to fifteen days and the three months’ limit to seven days. Special instructions were given to the governors of the provinces to foster agriculture, and prizes 149were offered for superior excellence in agricultural methods as proved by their results. The governors were allowed to take their families with them to the provincial capitals. This marks a long step in advance, for it would seem that heretofore the families of provincial governors had been held at the national capital as a guarantee of good behavior on the part of the governors while in the country.

The king caused the erection of great store-houses in the various parts of the country for the storage of rice to be used in time of famine. The students in the Confucian school were encouraged by gifts of clothes and food, and several were sent to China to prosecute their studies. In 987 the soldiers’ implements of war were beaten into agricultural implements, especially in the country districts. A second trial was made of liberating slaves but without satisfactory results. It made those that were not freed so arrogant that the attempt was given up. A further invasion was made into the territory of priest-craft by the discontinuance of certain important festivals, but the fact that the law against the killing of any animal in the first, fifth or ninth moons was still in active force shows that Buddhism was still a powerful factor in the national life. Kyöng-ju, the ancient capital of Sil-la, was made the eastern capital of the kingdom, a merely honorary distinction.

The annals state that this reign beheld the inauguration of the humane custom of remitting the revenues, in part or in whole, in times of famine, also the custom of the king sending medicine to courtiers who might be ill.

The growing power of Kitan in the north was a cause of uneasiness for we find that in 989 the whole north-east border was thoroughly garrisoned. The time was approaching when this half-savage tribe would add another proof that conquest is usually from the cooler to the warmer climate.

During the commotion incident upon the founding of the dynasty and the extinction of the kingdom of Sil-la, the bureau of history had been largely neglected. Now it was reorganized and the annals of the kingdom were put in proper shape.

The king was apparently trying to steer a middle course between Buddhism and Confucianism, for the pen of the annalist 150records that no animals were to be killed on the king’s birthday, and in the next stroke that wives were to be rewarded for unusual virtue, and again that the king went out of the city to meet an envoy bringing the great Buddhistic work, Tă-jang-gyŭng, from China, and still again that the first ancestral temple was erected. Well would it have been could this equilibrium have been maintained.

One of the sons of Wang-gön was still living. His name was Uk. He was the author of a court scandal which illustrates the lax morals of the time. He formed a liaison with the widow of his younger brother. The king learned of it and visited his anger upon the offender by banishing him. The woman bore a son and then went forth and hanged herself on a willow tree. The nurse brought up the child and taught it the word father. One day the child was brought into the presence of the king, when it rushed forward, caught the king by the garments and cried father. The king was deeply moved and sent the child to its father in banishment. When Uk died the boy was brought back to the capital and given office. He eventually became king.

In 993 the cloud in the north began to assume a threatening aspect. A feeble attempt was made to stem the march of the now powerful Kitan tribe, but without avail. The Kitan general, So Son-ryŭng, made this a casus belli, and, mustering a strong force, pushed down into Koryŭ territory. The king put Gen. Păk Yang-yu at the head of the Koryŭ forces and himself went with the army as far as P‘yŭng-yang. At that point news came that the enemy was going around the flank and had already taken one important fortress there. The king hurried back to Song-do. Gen. So Son-ryŭng sent a curt message saying “Ko-gu-ryŭ once belonged to Kitan. We have come to claim only our own. It remains therefore only for you to surrender and become our vassals.” In answer the king sent Yi Mong-jun to negotiate a peace on the best possible terms. Arriving at the camp of Gen. So he boldly demanded why the northern tribe had presumed to break across the boundary. Gen. So replied that the land was the property of his master and the sooner the king acknowledged it and accepted Kitan as his suzerain the better for all parties. The envoy returned to the capital and a great council of war was 151held. Some advised to surrender, but some said “Offer them all the territory north of the Tă-dong River as a compromise measure.” The king chose the latter alternative and began by having the people there throw into the river all grain that they could not carry away, so that it might not fall into the hands of the enemy. The Kitan general was highly pleased with this concession but his pride had a fall when, a few days later, he was defeated by the Koryŭ forces under Gen. Yu Bang. Thereupon he modified his demands to the mere recognition of the suzerainty of Kitan; but this the king was unwilling, under the circumstances, to agree to. Gen. So was not satisfied with the grade of the general sent to negotiate the treaty and demanded that the prime minister of Koryŭ be sent to do it. A high official was therefore sent but he refused to bow before the Kitan general. The latter said, “You are from Sil-la and we are from Ko-gu-ryŭ. You are trespassing on our territory. We are your neighbors. Why do you persist in sending envoys to the court of China? That is the reason we are now at war with you. Restore our land, become our vassals and all will go well.” The envoy refused to agree to this. He said “We are Ko-gu-ryŭ people. How else could our land be Koryŭ? The capital of Ko-gu-ryŭ was at P‘yŭng-yang and you formed a small part of that kingdom; so why do you claim that we have usurped the power? Our territory extended far beyond the Yalu River, but the Yŭ-jin people stole it from us. You had better first go and recover that part of Ko-gu-ryŭ which the Yŭ-jin stole and then we will gladly bow to you as suzerain.” What there was in this argument that convinced the hardy warrior of the north we cannot say, but it served its purpose, for he first spread a great feast and afterwards broke camp and marched back to his own country without obtaining the coveted surrender. The king, in order to maintain the semblance of good faith, adopted the Kitan calendar. The next step, however, showed the true bent of his mind, for he sent a swift messenger to the court of China with an urgent request for aid against the arrogant people of the north. But the Sung emperor apparently thought he had his own hands full in watching his own borders and declined to send the aid requested. This put an end to the friendship between Koryŭ and the Chinese court, 152and all communication was broken off. The king of Kitan sent a commissioner to Koryŭ to look after his interests there and when he returned to the north he took a large number of women as a gift from the Koryŭ king to his master.

It was now, near the end of the tenth century, that Koryŭ was first regularly divided into provinces. There were ten of them. Their names and positions were as follows. Kwan-nă, the present Kyŭng-geui; Chung-wŭn, now Chung-ju; Ha-nam, now Kong-ju; Yong-nam, now Sang-ju; Kang-nam, now Chŭn-ju; San-nam, now Chin-ju; Hă-yang, now Na-ju; Sak-pang, now Ch‘un-ch‘ŭn, Kang-neung and An-byŭn; P‘ă-su, now P‘yŭng-yang; and Kă-sŭng, another name for Song-do. These were rather the provincial centers than the provinces themselves.

In pursuance of the policy adopted in reference to the kingdom of Kitan, ten boys were sent northward to that country to learn its language and marry among its people. The final act of suzerainty was played when in 996 the “emperor” of Kitan invested the king of Koryŭ with the royal insignia. The end of the reign was approaching, but before it was reached one of the most important events of that century transpired. It occupies little space on the page of history. Many a court intrigue or senseless pageant bulks larger in the annals, but it was one of the most far-reaching in its effects. It was the first coining of money. It was in this same year, 996. These coins were of iron but without the hole which so generally characterizes the “cash” of to-day.

In 998 the king died and his nephew, Song, posthumous title Mok-jong, ascended the throne. His first act was to revise the system of taxation, probably by causing a remeasurement of arable land. Officials received their salaries not in money nor in rice, but to each one was assigned a certain tract of land and his salary was the produce from that particular tract. In the third year of his reign, 1000 A.D., he received investiture from the Kitan emperor. His fifth year was signalized by a five days’ eruption of a volcano on the island of Quelpart. This reign was destined to end in disaster. The widow of the late king formed a criminal intimacy with one Kim Ji-yang, whom she raised to a high official position. The whole kingdom was scandalized. She had the walls of 153her palace decorated with sentiments expressive of the epicurean dictum “Eat, drink and be merry”; and curiously enough expressed the belief that after enjoying all this world had to give they would all become Buddhas in the next. This is probably a fair sample of the Buddhistic teaching of the times, at least this was its legitimate fruit. She and her lover soon began to plot against the young king. The latter was ill at the time but knew well what was going on. He sent for Sun, the illegitimate son of Uk, of whom we spoke in the last chapter, with the intention of nominating him as his successor. At the same time he sent post-haste to the country and summoned Gen. Kang Cho, a faithful and upright man. On his way up to the capital the general was falsely told that it was not the king who had summoned him but the queen dowager’s lover. Enraged at being thus played upon, the stern old general marched into the capital and seized the lecherous traitor and gave him his quietus. He then turned upon the king and put him to death as well. He had not looked carefully into the case, but he deemed that the whole court needed a thorough cleaning out. He completed the work by driving out the queen dowager who deserved the block more than any other; and then he seated the above-mentioned Sun on the throne. His posthumous title is Hyön-jong. This was in 1010 A.D.

Chapter III.

Reforms.... eclipses.... Kitan declares war.... Koryŭ on guard.... Kitan troops cross the Yalu.... diplomacy.... Gen. Kang Cho taken.... before the emperor.... P‘yŭng-yang besieged.... the king submits.... siege of P‘yŭng-yang raised.... king moves south.... Kitan deceived.... Song-do taken.... a rebel governor.... Koryŭ’s victories.... Kitan forces retreat across the Yalu.... king returns to Song-do.... Gen. Ha Kong-jin executed.... reconstruction.... military and civil factions.... king overthrows the military faction.... Kitan invasion.... overwhelming defeat.... envoys.... Buddhism versus Confucianism.... Koryŭ on the increase.... the “Great Wall” of Koryŭ.... Buddhism flourishes.... primogeniture.... the disputed bridge.... Japanese envoys.... Buddhism rampant.... new laws.... progress of Buddhism.

The first act of king Hyön-jong after announcing to Kitan his accession to the throne was to raze to the ground the 154palace of the queen dowager who had dragged the fair fame of Koryŭ in the mire. His next move was to build a double wall about his capital. Evidently coming events were casting ominous shadows before, and he saw the storm brewing.

We should say at this point that during all these reigns the annals make careful note of every eclipse. This is brought prominently to our notice by the statement in the annals that in the sixteenth year of this reign there should have been an eclipse but that it did not take place. This throws some light upon the science of astronomy as practiced in those dark days. The common people looked upon an eclipse as an omen of evil, but this would indicate that among the educated people, then as to-day, they were understood to be mere natural phenomena. In 1010 the storm, which had already given sharp premonitions of its coming, broke in all its fury. It must have come sooner or later in any event, but the immediate pretext for it was as follows: Two Koryŭ generals, Ha Kong-jin and Yu Chŭng, who had been placed in charge of the forces in the north, when Gen. Kang-cho was recalled to the capital, took matters into their own hands and looked for no orders from headquarters. The desperate state of things at the capital partly warranted them in this, but they carried it too far. Of their own accord they attacked the eastern Yŭ-jin tribe and though they did not succeed in the attempt they impressed those people so strongly that an embassy came bringing the submission of that tribe. The two generals who seem to have partially lost their balance with the increase of their importance, wantonly killed every member of this embassy. As soon as the young king heard of this he promptly stripped them of their honors and banished them. This, however, did not mend matters with the outraged Yŭ-jin people, and they hastened to inform the Kitan emperor of the whole matter. Thereupon the proclamation went out from the Kitan capital, “Gen. Kang-cho has killed the king of Koryŭ. We will go and inquire into it.”

As a preliminary, a messenger was sent to Song-do to demand why the king had been put to death. The officials were thrown into a panic and hastened to send and envoy to Kitan to explain matters. He was held a prisoner by the emperor. The king sent again and again, ten envoys in all, 155but an ominous silence was the only answer. It appeared that something serious was about to happen, but just what it was could not be surmised. In order to be ready for any emergency, the king sent Generals Kang Cho and Yi Hyŭn-un to T‘ong-ju (now Sŭn-ch‘ŭn) in the north to guard against a sudden surprise.

Early in December the spell was broken and the watchers by the Yalu hurried in with the news that a cloud of Kitan warriors was already crossing the stream. The invading army 400,000 strong, so say the records, pushed forward and surrounded the Koryŭ forces at Heung-wha camp. When it was found, however, that they would stand their ground and fight, the invaders sent presents of silk and other valuables and advised them to surrender, and said “We liked the king whom Kang Cho killed, and we are determined to overthrow the murderer. You assist us in this. If not we will destroy you root and branch.” The reply was “We prefer to die rather than surrender.” Thereupon the enemy sent more costly presents still but the answer was the same. When it became plain that there was to be bloodshed before Koryŭ would come to terms, the Kitan emperor divided his immense army into two divisions, sending 200,000 men to the vicinity of Eui-ju and 200,000 to T‘ong-ju. Gen. Kang Cho cunningly disposed his little army between two creeks where he was protected on either flank. It is said that he had a species of battle chariot with swords attached to the axles of the wheels so that when they charged among the ranks of the enemy the latter were mown down. On this account the little Koryŭ army was at first successful. Then Gen. Kang Cho was seized by that common infatuation of fancied security and in the midst of the fighting he sat down in his pride and began playing a game of go-bang. A messenger hurried up with the news that the line of battle had been broken on the west and that the enemy were pouring in. Gen. Kang Cho laughed and said “Do not come to me with such an insignificant piece of news. Wait till they come in numbers worthy of my sword; then come and tell me.” Soon a messenger came saying that the Kitan forces were approaching in full column. Thereupon Gen. Kang arose and prepared for battle. While doing so the annals say that the spirit of the murdered king appeared before 156him and chided him for scorning the power of Kitan. He took off his helmet, and, bowing before the apparition, said “I have committed an offence worthy of death.” The Kitan soldiery rushed in and seized him. They bound him in a cart and took him away.

Nothing now lay between the invading army and universal rapine. The army penetrated far into the territory of Koryŭ, cut off 30,000 heads and ravaged right and left.

When Gen. Kang Cho and Gen. Yi Hyŭn-un were brought before the Kitan emperor the bonds of the former were cut and he was bidden to stand forth. “Will you become my subject?” “I am a Koryŭ man. How can I be your subject?” They cut his flesh with knives but he remained firm. When the same question was put to Gen. Yi Hyŭn-un he replied:he replied: “As I now look upon the sun and moon, how can I remember any lesser light?” Such were the words of his apostacy. Kang Cho cried out upon him as a traitor, and then bowed his head to the axe.

The Kitan army was now in full march on P‘yŭng-yang, but the broken remnants of the Koryŭ army united at “Long Neck Pass” and successfully opposed the progress of the invaders. A little diplomacy was now made use of by the Kitan general. He sent a letter to Heung-wha camp, purporting to be from Kang Cho, ordering them to surrender, but the commander, Yang Kyu, replied “I listen only to the king.”

Kwak-ju (now Kwak-san) and Suk-ju (now Suk ch‘ŭn) fell in quick succession and soon the victorious army of Kitan was thundering at the gates of P‘yŭng-yang. The general in command was Wŭn Chong-sŭk and his two lieutenants were Chi Ch‘oa-mun and Ch‘oé Ch‘ang. The commander was willing to surrender without a fight and went so far as to write out the surrender, but the other two prevented this by seizing the paper, tearing it up and putting the Kitan messenger to death. The camp of these generals was without the city, but the panic of the people inside increased to such an extent that all the forces entered the city to insure quiet.

The Kitan general-in-chief now received from the king an offer of surrender. It caused the greatest satisfaction in the Kitan camp and orders were given that the soldiers should cease ravaging the surrounding country. Ma Po-u was sent 157as Kitan commissioner in Song-do and was accompanied by an escort of a thousand men under the command of Gen. Eul Neum.

We can see how little connection there was between the capital and the army in the field by the fact that this submission on the part of the king did not lead to the surrender of P‘yŭng-yang nor to a cessation of hostilities by the generals who commanded the forces there. When a second messenger was sent into the city to ask why the former one did not return he too was put to death.

Gen. Eul Neum was ordered to reduce P‘yŭng-yang and he approached to attack it but was driven back with a loss of 3,000 men. This attempt failing, the conquerorsconquerors decided to lay siege to the town. When the inmates saw this they knew that the end was near. A plan was made whereby a part of the troops should make a sally from the West Gate and another part from the East Gate and together they hoped to dislodge the enemy. But one of the generals, instead of following out the plan, improved the opportunity to make good his escape. The other party was therefore in a trap and had to surrender. But still two generals held the city.

Meanwhile a band of 1,000 soldiers under Gen. Yang Kyu attacked Kwak-ju by night, and put the Kitan garrison to the sword, and took seven thousand people away to Tong-bu for safety.

When the Kitan forces found they were likely to have difficulty in bringing P‘yŭng-yang to terms they gave it up and marched away eastward. Thereupon the general Chi Ch‘oa-mun hastened to Song-do and announced that he had fled from P‘yŭng-yang. The “residency” of Ma Po-u seems to have been a short-lived one and terminated when it was found that the submission of the king amounted to little when the armies would not surrender. Courtiers urged an immediate surrender but Gen. Kang Kam-ch‘an said “If we could put them off a while and gain time they would be gradually worn out. The king should move south out of harm’s way for a time.” So that very night the king and queen and a large number of officials together with 5,000 troops moved southward to Chŭk-sŭng. The king’s southward flight was by no means an easy one. The very first night out from the 158capital the house where he slept was attacked by a band of traitors and malcontents. The king escaped to the mountains where he was attended by the faithful Gen. Chi. From this retreat he recalled the two generals who had been banished for attacking Yŭ-jin without orders, and restored them to their positions. Escorted by Generals Chi, Ch‘o and Chu, the king slowly retreated toward Wang-ju. All his numerous escort had left him excepting his two wives, two palace women and two intimate friends. Gen. Chi kept a sharp lookout for the bands of robbers who were roaming about the country. Once when hard pressed by these irresponsible gentry, Gen. Chi spirited the king away under cover of night and concealed him in To-bong monastery in Yang-ju a little to the northeast of the present Seoul, and the robbers were thrown completely off the scent.

Gen. Ha Kong-jin told the king that the Kitan forces had invaded Koryŭ for the purpose of punishing Gen. Kang Bho, and as this had been accomplished all difficulty between Koryŭ and Kitan could be easily settled by a letter from the king to his northern suzerain. The letter was written and sent by the hand of a trusty man. It said that the king had left Song-do for an expedition into the country to quell certain disturbances there. When the messenger was asked how far the king had gone he answered that he had gone several thousand li. This seemed plausible to the Kitan court and soon its army was working its way slowly back to the boundary, the first stop being made at Ch‘ang-wha.

This retreat was more with a view to obtaining a wintering place than with a desire to favor Koryŭ, for no sooner had the next season, 1011, come than the Kitan army marched straight down through the peninsula and entered the capital and burned the palaces and most of the common houses. The king was in Kwang-ju but, learning of this disaster, he hurried still further south with his two wives to Ch‘ŭn-an in the present Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province. From there he continued south to Chŭn-ju where he was treated very cavalierly by the governor who met him in common clothes and without the ceremony befitting a royal visitor. In fact this governor had determined to put the king out of the way. To this end he hired three men to go by night and assassinate him. But 159the door was guarded by Gen. Chi who bolted it firmly and then mounted the roof and cried loudly to all who were loyal to the king to rally round him. The next day the governor was summoned before the king. Some of the generals were clamorous for his death but Gen. Chi who was as wise as he was faithful vetoed this, for the king was not in a position to face the opposition that the execution of the governor would arouse in the province. It will be remembered that Wang-gön had left command that as the south was disaffected none of his descendants should marry among its people. This shows that the king when he went south found it unwise to exercise all the prerogatives of royalty. So the governor was left intact and the king moved further south to Na-ju.

Meanwhile the Kitan forces were not having it all their own way in the north. Gen. Kim Suk-heung of Kwi-ju attacked a powerful force of the enemy and secured a signal victory. It is said that he put 10,000 men to death. Then Gen. Yang Kyu made a dash at the enemy at Mu-ro-da near Eui-ju and killed 2,000 and recovered 3,000 prisoners. Also at Yi-su there was a battle in which 2,500 Kitan men were killed and 1,000 captives rescued. At Yo-ri-ch‘ŭn also 1,000 more were killed. These three desperate engagements occurred on the same day.

Gen. Ha Kong-jin was at this time a hostage in the Kitan capital, and he managed to send a letter to the King informing him that the forces of Kitan were slowly retreating. This made it possible for the king to start on his way back to the capital. The first stage was to Chŭn-ju.

The retreating forces of Kitan were again engaged at A-jin but as heavy reinforcements arrived at the moment, the Koryŭ generals, Yang Kyu and Kim Suk-heng, lost the day and fell upon the field of battle. This victory, however, did not stop the retreat of the invading army. There had been very heavy rains, and many horses had perished and many soldiers were practically without arms. Gen. Chon Song, who assumed command after the death of the two generals at K-jŭn, hung on the flanks of the retreating enemy and when half of them had crossed the Yalu he fell upon the remainder and many of them were cut down and many more were 160drowned in mid-stream. When it became known that all the Kitan forces were across the border it took but a few days to re-man the fortresses which had been deserted.

The king now hastened northward stopping for a time at Kong-ju where the governor gave him his three daughters to wife. By the first he begat two sons both of whom became kings of Koryŭ, and by the second he begat another who also became king. He was soon on the road again, and ere long he reentered the gates of his capital which had undergone much hardship during his absence. His first act was to give presents to all the generals and to order that all the bones of the soldiers who had fallen be interred. He followed this up by dispatching an envoy to the Kitan thanking them for recalling their troops. He banished the governor of Chŭn-ju who had attempted his life. He repaired the wall of the capital and rebuilt the palace.

Gen. Ha was still in the hands of the Kitan but he was extremely anxious to return to Koryŭ. He therefore feigned to be quite satisfied there and gradually gained the entire confidence of his captors. When he deemed that it was safe he proposed that he be sent back to Koryŭ to spy out the condition of the land and report on the number of soldiers. The emperor consented but changed his mind when he heard that the king had returned to Song-do. Instead of sending Gen. Ha back to Koryŭ he sent him to Yun-gyŭng to live and gave him a woman of high position as his wife. Even then the general did not give up hope of escaping and was soon busy on a new plan. He purchased fleet horses and had them placed at stated intervals along the road toward Koryŭ with trusty grooms in charge of each. Someone, however, told the emperor of this and, calling the exile, he questioned him about it. Gen. Ha confessed that his life in exile was intolerable. When the emperor had offered him every inducement to transfer his allegience and all to no avail, he commandedto no avail, he commanded the executioner to put an end to the interview. When news reached Song-do that Gen. Ha had preferred death to disloyalty, the king hastened to give office to the patriot’s son.


The work of reconstruction was now commenced, in 1012. Kyöng-ju was no longer called the eastern capital but was changed back to a mere prefecture. The twelve

161The twelve provinces were reconstructed into five and there were seventy-five prefectures in all. This plan however was abandoned two years later. Now that Koryŭ had regained control of her own territory, the Yŭ-jin tribe thought best to cultivate her good will and so sent frequent envoys with gifts of horses and other valuables. But when the Emperor of Kitan, angry because the King refused on the plea of ill health to go to Kitan and do obeisance, sent an army and seized six of the northern districts this side the Yalu, the Yŭ-jin turned about and ravaged the northeast boundary. The next year the Yŭ-jin joined Kitan and crossed the Yalu but were speedily driven back by Gen. Kim Sang-wi.

In 1014 the King came to the conclusion that he had made a mistake in casting off the friendship of China and sent an envoy to make explanations; but the Emperor Chin-jong (Sang dynasty) was angry because he had been so long neglected and would have nothing to do with the repentant Koryŭ.

In the autumn the Kitan army was again forced back across the border. The Koryŭ army had now grown to such proportions that the question of revenue became a very serious one and the officials found it necessary to suggest a change. They had been accustomed to “squeeze” a good proportion of the soldiers’ pay and now that there was danger of further change which would be only in the officials’ favor, the soldiers raised a disturbance, forced the palace gates, killed two of the leading officials and compelled the King to banish others. They saw to it that the military officials took precedence of civil officials. From that time on there was great friction between the military and civil factions, each trying to drive the other to the wall.

The next year, 1015, the Kitan people bridged the Yalu, built a wall at each end and successfully defended it from capture; but when they attempted to harry the adjoining country they were speedily driven back. The military faction had now obtained complete control at the capital. Swarms of incompetent men were foisted into office and things were going from bad to worse. The King was much dissatisfied at this condition of affairs and at some-one’s advice decided to sever the knot which he could not untie. He summoned all the leaders of the military faction to a great feast, and, when 162he had gotten them all intoxicated, had them cut down by men who had lain concealed in an adjoining chamber. In this way nineteen men were put out of the way and the military faction was driven to the wall.

Year by year the northern people tried to make headway against Koryŭ. The Sung dynasty was again and again appealed to but without success. Koryŭ was advised to make peace with Kitan on the best terms possible. The Kitan generals, Yu Pyul, Hăng Byŭn and Ya-yul Se-chang made raid after raid into Koryŭ territory with varying success. In 1016 Kitan scored a decisive victory at Kwak-ju where the Koryŭ forces were cut to pieces. Winter however sent them back to their northern haunts. The next year they came again and in the following year, 1018, Gen. So Son-ryŭng came with 100,000 men. The Koryŭ army was by this time in good order again and showed an aggregate of 200,000 men. They were led by General Kang Kam-ch‘an. When the battle was fought the latter used a new form of strategem. He caused a heavy dam to be constructed across a wooded valley and when a considerable body of water had accumulated behind it he drew the enemy into the valley below and then had the dam torn up; the escaping water rushed down the valley and swept away hundreds of the enemy and threw the rest into such a panic that they fell an easy prey to the superior numbers of the Koryŭ army. This was followed by two more victories for the Koryŭ arms.

The next year, again, the infatuated north-men flung themselves against the Koryŭ rock. Under Gen. So Son-ryŭng they advanced upon Song-do. The Koryŭ generals went out thirty miles and brought into the capital the people in the suburbs. Gen. So tried a ruse to throw the Koryŭ generals off their guard. He sent a letter saying that he had decided not to continue the march but to retire to Kitan; but he secretly threw out a strong force toward Song-do. They found every point disputed and were obliged to withdraw to Yŭng-byŭn. Like most soldiers the Koryŭ forces fought best when on the offensive and the moment the enemy took this backward step Gen. Kang Kam-ch‘an was upon them, flank and rear. The invaders were driven out of Yŭng-byŭn but made a stand at Kwi-ju. At first the fight was an even one 163but when a south wind sprang up which lent force to the Koryŭ arrows and drove dust into the eyes of the enemy the latter turned and fled, with the exulting Koryŭ troops in full pursuit. Across the Sŭk-ch‘ŭn brook they floundered and across the fields which they left carpeted with Kitan dead. All their plunder, arms and camp equipage fell into Koryŭ hands and Gen. So Son-ryŭng with a few thousand weary followers finally succeeded in getting across the Yalu. This was the greatest disaster that Kitan suffered at any time from her southern neighbor. Gen. So received a cool welcome from his master, while Gen. Kang, returning in triumph to Song-do with Kitan heads and limitless plunder, was met by the King in person and given a flattering ovation. His Majesty with his own hands presented him with eight golden flowers. The name of the meeting place was changed to Heung-eui-yŭk, “Place of Lofty Righteousness.” When Gen. Kang retired the following year he received six honorary titles and the revenue from three hundred houses. He was a man of small stature and ill-favored and did not dress in a manner befitting his position, but he was called the “Pillar of Koryŭ.” Many towns in the north had been laid waste during the war and so the people were moved and given houses and land. The records say that an envoy came with greetings from the kingdom of Ch‘ŭl-ri. One also came from Tă-sik in western China and another from the kingdom of Pul-lă. Several of the Mal-gal tribes also sent envoys; the kingdom of T‘am-na was again heard from and the Kol-bu tribe in the north sent envoys. In 1020 Koryŭ sent an envoy to make friends again with her old time enemy Kitan and was successful. The ambition of the then Emperor of Kitan had apparently sought some new channel. Buddhism, too, came in for its share of attention. We read that the King sent to Kyöng-ju, the ancient capital of Sil-la, to procure a bone of Buddha which was preserved there as a relic. Every important matter was referred in prayer to the Buddhistic deities. As yet Confucianism had succeeded in keeping pace with BuddhismBuddhism. In 1024 the King decreed that the candidates in the national examinations should come according to population; three men from a thousand-house town, two from a five hundredhundred-house town and one each from smaller places. Several 164examinations were held in succession and only those who excelled in them all received promotion. The great struggle between Buddhism and Confucianism, which now began, arrayed the great class of monks on the side of the former and the whole official class on the side of the latter. The former worked upon the superstitions of the King and had continual access to him while the latter could appeal to him only on the side of general common sense and reason. Moreover Buddhism had this in its favor that as a rule each man worked for the system rather than for himself, always presenting a solid front to the opposition. The other party was itself a conglomerate of interests, each man working mainly for himself and joining with others only when his own interests demanded. This marked division of parties was strikingly illustrated when, in 1026, in the face of vehement expostulations on the part of the officials, the King spent a large amount of treasure in the repairing of monasteries. The kingdom of Kitan received a heavy blow when in 1029 one of her generals, Tă Yŭn-im, revolted and formed the sporadic kingdom of Heung-yo. Having accomplished this he sent to the King of Koryŭ saying “We have founded a new kingdom and you must send troops to aid us.” The Koryŭ officials advised that advantage be taken of this schism in Kitan to recover the territory beyond the Yalu which originally belonged to Ko-gu-ryŭ and to which Koryŭ therefore had some remote title. Neither plan was adopted. It seemed good to keep friendly with Kitan until such time as her power for taking revenge should be past, so envoys were sent as usual, but were intercepted and held by the new King of Heung-yo. This policy turned out to be a wise one, for soon the news came that Kitan had destroyed the parvenu.

Now that the fortunes of Koryŭ were manifestly in the ascendant, many people in the north sent and swore allegiance to her, thus following the example of a certain Kitan envoy who at this time transferred his citizenship voluntarily from Kitan to Koryŭ.

The King died and his son Heum, posthumous title Tŭk-jong, came to the throne in 1032. He married his own sister. All friendly relations with Kitan were broken off, because the bridge across the Yalu was not destroyed. It did not seem 165a friendly act to leave this standing menace to the peace of Koryŭ. In view of this the King ordered a wall to be built across the entire peninsula from the Yalu River to the Japan Sea. It was nearly a thousand li long. This would seem almost incredible were it not that the facts are given in such detail. The wall was twenty-five cha high and the same in breadth and stretched from Ko-gung-nă Fortress, near Eui-ju on the Yalu, to Yöng-heung near the Japan Sea. The Kitan people tried to hinder this work but without avail. This period marks the acme of Koryŭ’s power and wealth. She had reached her zenith within a century and a quarter of her birth and now for three centuries she was destined to decline.

The younger brother, Hyöng, of this King Tŭk-jong, succeeded him in 1035, after a short reign of three years. He continued the work of making impregnable the defenses of the north. He built a wall from Song-ryŭng Pass in the west to the borders of the Yŭ-jin tribe in the north-east. He also built a Fortress Chă-jŭn, now Ch‘ang-sŭng. His reign beheld the riveting of Buddhistic chains upon the kingdom. Those who could read the signs of the times surmised this when, in 1036, the King decreed that, if a man had four sons, one of them must become a monk. Because of the Buddhistic canon against the spilling of blood the death penalty was commuted to banishment. Another Buddhistic anniversary was instituted. The King also inaugurated the custom of having boys go about the streets bearing Buddhistic books upon their backs from which the monks read aloud as they passed along. This was for the purpose of securing blessings for the people.

In order to counteract the tendency toward luxury, the King forbade the use of silk and gold and went so far as to burn up the whole stock of silk held by the merchants. He made a new law of primogeniture. The first son is to succeed. If he dies, the son of the first son succeedssucceeds. If there is no grandson the second son succeeds. If there is no son by the wife the son by a concubine succeeds. If there is none then a daughter succeeds. The Yŭ-jin tribe came with rich gifts and promised faithfully to refrain from raiding the frontier again. In 1047 the King was succeeded by his younger brother, Whi, posthumous title Mun-jong, who was 166destined to sit upon the throne for thirty-seven years. After announcing to his suzerain his accession, he followed the custom of his house and married his sister.

This monarch at first showed a blending of Buddhistic and Confucian influences, for the annals state that in his second year he fed ten thousand monks in the palace and gave them lodging there, and that shortly after this he built a Temple to Heaven before the palace. The Yŭ-jin tribe broke their promise and made a descent upon the border fortresses but were driven back; and not only so, but the Koryŭ forces followed them to their haunts and burned their villages to the ground.

In 1053 the system of taxation was overhauled and a new schedule of weights was made. The King sent a letter to Kitan complaining that the bridge across the Yalu still stood, that a wall had been built to secure it and that a horse relay system had been established, with this bridge as one of its termini. It seemed, in the words of the letter, that “Kitan was the silk-worm and Koryŭ was the mulberry leaf.” The King was anxious to attempt an embassy to China and for that purpose suggested that a boat be built on the island of Quelpart but the officials dissuaded him from the attempt.

The year 1056 was signalised by the arrival of an envoy from Japan. It is probable that the strong Buddhistic tendency which had developed in Japan had tempted the Japanese to send and secure further instruction in that cult and to secure relics and paraphernalia. The envoy may have asked that Buddhist teachers be sent, but the records say nothing to this effect.

Buddhism was making steady advances. A large quantity of metal intended for the manufacture of arms was taken by order of the King and made into nails for use in building monasteries. He took away houses from many wealthy people, among them some of his own relatives, and gave them to the monks. The law requiring that of four sons one must become a monk was now revised so as to read that one of every three should don the cowl. Nearly every house furnished its monk. The King said “From the very first our Kings have encouraged Buddhism and each generation has paid attention to the building of monasteries. By so doing many blessings 167have been received. Now that I have become King I find that many evils are oppressing the state because of the neglect of the important precept. I will now mend this breach in our conduct and restore to the country her former prosperity.” So he built monasteries in various places. The officials all used their influence against this but the monks carried the day. A Buddhist book called Tal-jang-gyŭng was sent by Kitan as a gift to Koryŭ.

This period was not without some hopeful signs. A law was passed that no man should be punished before being tried before three judges. The government built a fleet of a hundred and six sailing vessels to carry the government rice from one port to another. The boats made six trips a year.

But the advances, or rather retrogressions, in a Buddhistic line were still more marked. In 1065 the King’s son Ku cut his hair and became a monk. A law was promulgated that no beast should be killed in the land for three years. A monastery was being built in Song-do containing 2,800 kan, each kan being eight feet square. It took twelve years to complete it. When it became ready for occupancy there was a magnificent festival at which all monks within a radius of many miles were present. The feasting lasted five days. There was an awning of silk, covering a passage-way from the palace to this monastery. Mountains and trees were represented by lanterns massed together. The King dressed in the robes of a high priest. In this monastery was a pagoda on which 140 pounds of gold and 427 pounds of silver were lavished.

Chapter IV.

Revenue.... mathematics.... the bridge removed.... friends with China again.... Confucianism wanes.... Buddhist book from Japan.... frontier defence.... prophecy.... Han-yang made a secondary capital.... new laws.... cash counterfeited.... Yŭ-jin taken.... botany.... beginnings of the Kin power.... between Kitan and Kin.... kingdom of Wŭn.... China allies herself with Kitan.... Kin seeks the good will of Koryŭ.... dancing-girls and Buddhism.... Kin demands Koryŭ alliance.... refused.... defense of the north.... an ambitious 168official.... Kitan falls.... Sung dynasty falls.... harbor improvement.... Buddhist trickery.... rebellion quelled.... historical work, Sam-guk-sa.... an abject king.... Kin immigrants.... a good governor for Quelpart.... military faction dominant.... criminals, houses destroyed.... king banished.... a plot foiled.... the emperor suspicious.... military and monastic factions.... attempted revolution.... monastic revolt.

It is evident that population and revenue are proportionate. Not often is the question of population touched upon in the Korean annals but some light is thrown upon it by the statement that at this time the revenue from the north, from the most distant places only, was 49,000 bags of rice. From this we must infer that the north was fairly well populated.

An interesting point in connection with the mathematical knowledge of the time is brought out in the statement that the system of land tax was changed and was collected at a certain rate per each square of thirty-three paces; but if the field was large the tax was a certain amount for each tract forty-seven paces square. The square of thirty-three is 1089 and the square of forty-seven is 2209, which is the nearest possible to twice the square of thirty-three. It would seem then that they had some notion of the properties of geometrical figures.

It was about this time that Kitan changed its name to Yo. She at once sent an envoy announcing the fact. These were the golden days of Koryŭ’s relations. The Yŭ-jin tribe of To-ryŭng-ko-do-wha came and swore allegiance as also did the Chang-man and Tu-hul tribes. A few years later a Japanese ruler named Sal-ma sent gifts to the Koryŭ court as also did the people of Tsushima.

During the latter years of this reign the Kitan people were induced to break down the bridge across the Yalu but it was done only by sending anan abject letter in which the Koryŭ king said “As all the world is yours and all the people in the world belong to you, you have no need of a bridge to bind us to you.”

In 1077 an envoy came from the Emperor of China (Sung dynasty) asking aid against the Kitan. The king might well have turned and answered that as the Emperor had remained deaf to Koryŭ’s entreaties for help so now Koryŭ would decline to respond. But he did nothing of the kind; 169this opportunity to reëstablish friendly relations with China was hailed with delight by all classes. The king, though ill, was carried on his bed outside the city walls to meet this welcome messenger. The latter was treated royally and was loaded with so many gifts that he could not take them back with him. He had no intention, however, of leaving them entirely, for he sold them and took the money instead. This sort of thrift was something new to the Koreans and they showed their disgust by ridiculing him; and when he left they spat upon the ground in token of their contempt. We are not told that Koryŭ gave the aid requested. And yet the friendly relations were continued, as is seen from the fact that in 1079 the emperor sent physicians and medicines to Koryŭ. We have here the first definite mention of gold mining in the statement that the people of Hong-wŭn dug a hundred ounces of gold and a hundred and fifty ounces of silver, which they sent to the king. He graciously gave it back to them.

In 1084 the king died and his adopted son Hun, posthumous title Sun-jong, came to the throne; but he died almost immediately and was succeeded the same year by his younger brother Un, posthumous title Sŭn-jong. When the messenger announcing this arrived at the gates of the Kitan capital he was refused entrance, for they said there must be some underlying cause for the sudden death of king Sun-jong.

Under the new king, Buddhism continued its rapid advance. In the first year of his reign he instituted a Buddhist examination to take the place of the ordinary examination which was at bottom Confucian; and so Buddhism scored a decided victory over her rival. It was a blow from which Confucianism recovered only by the extinction of the dynasty. These examinations the king attended in person, a Buddhist book being carried before him. He sent the prince to China to learn more about the tenets of the popular faith and when he returned the king went out to welcome him home. The young man brought back 1,000 volumes of Buddhistic books. Later the king secured 4,000 volumes more from the same source. The records distinctly state that he sent also to Japan to secure still other Buddhistic books. This is a strong indication that Japan did not obtain her Buddhism largely 170from Korea. It proves at least that she had a more direct channel for the procuring of Buddhist literature than by way of Korea, otherwise Koryŭ would hardly have applied to her for books. The king married his own sister. The bridge across the Yalu had been destroyed but it would seem that it had been again built, for now in 1088 the records say it was finally destroyed.

King Sŭn-jong could not do enough for Buddhism. A vast amount of government rice was turned from its legitimate uses and found its way into the store-rooms of monasteries. The king constructed a thirteen-storey pagoda in the palace. His mother made frequent visits to one of the monasteries.

The only act of this king which was not with special reference to Buddhism was the stationing at Eui-ju of a large number of war chariots to be used in defense of the frontier.

In 1095 the king was succeeded by his son Uk, posthumous title Hön-jong, who was only eleven years old. His uncle Ong become regent but proved unfaithful and in the following year drove the boy from the throne and proclaimed himself king. His title was Suk-jong. The most important events of his reign were in connection with the founding of a second capital as Han-yang, the present Seoul. The monk TosunTosun who, it will be remembered, had taught the young Wang-gön the science of war, had also left a prophecy to the effect that after 160 years it would be well for the kingdom if the site of the capital be changed. The preliminary arrangements were made early in this reign but it was not until the year 1104 that a palace was actually constructed there, nor was the royal residence changed either at this time or at any later period, for any considerable length of time. A few important laws were promulgated; that if relatives intermarried they could not receive official position; that the nomination of an heir to the throne should be made only after consultation with the court of the northern suzerain; that candidates who failed to pass the government examinations should be solaced by receiving military rank.

It is said that in 1100 copper cash had begun to circulate for the first time with freedom among the people. Buddhism also made material advances during this reign and riveted its 171fetters more firmly upon the body politic. On the whole it was a very clean reign, when we remember that a usurper was on the throne.

In 1106 Suk-jong’s son U, posthumous title Ye-jong, came to the throne. At the very first he was confronted by a new problem. The people had yet to learn that the coinage of money is a purely government monopoly. The readiness with which cash circulated tempted some to attempt to counterfeit it. The king consequently promulgated a law inflicting a heavy penalty upon this offense and at the same time made a law against the adulteration of food.

Having, in his third year, married a near relative he took as a teacher a monk named Un-jin, another indication of the steady progress of that cult. The talk about the change of site for the capital resulted in the building of a palace at P‘yŭng-yang and several royal progresses to each of the proposed sites.

The tribe of Yŭ-jin had repeatedly promised to remain peaceful and had as often broken their word; so now when they began to grow restless again, the king decided to make an end of the matter. He sent a strong force into their territory, killed 4,800 men and took several thousand prisoners. The territory was divided into four administrative districts.

In 1115 the king developed a fad. He became an enthusiastic botanist. He ransacked the kingdom for rare and beautiful plants and sent them to China in exchange for many kinds that were not indigenous.

We have now arrived at the threshold of events which were destined to result in the founding of a great dynasty. In order to explain we must go back a few years. Early in this dynasty a Koryŭ monk from P‘yŭng-yang, named Keum-jun, had fled, for some reason not stated, to the town of A-ji-go among the Yŭ-jin tribe. He had there married a Yŭ-jin woman and gotten a son whom he named Ko-eul. He in turn begot Whal-ra, and to him were born many sons, the eldest of whom was Hyo-ri-bal and the second Yong-ga. The latter was unusually bright and popular and eventually became chief; but on his death the son of his brother Hyo-ri-bal, named O-a-sok, took his place. O-a-sok died and his younger brother, A-gol-t‘a, became chief. Yŭ-jin was at this 172time a small weak tribe under the sway of the Ki-tan court, but now the masterly genius of A-gol-t‘a had come to her help, matters were destined to assume a different complexion.

It was now in 1114 that the little tribe of Yŭ-jin broke off its allegiance to Kitan and prepared to carve out a career for herself under her great leader. Soon an envoy came in haste from the capital of Kitan commanding the king to stand ready to drive back the Yŭ-jin tribe if they attempted to escape into his territory, for the emperor of Kitan was about to chastise his recalcitrant vassal.

The next year A-gol-t‘a with sublime presumption proclaimed himself emperor and named his kingdom Kin. At the same time he changed his own name to Min.

The Kitan emperor sent again demanding a contingent of Koryŭ troops. After anxious consultation it was decided to keep the soldiers near home and guard the interests of Koryŭ. In the war between Kitan and Kin the former were severely handled and again appealed to Koryŭ for help, but now with no hope of success.

The next year, 1116, a Koryŭ envoy Yun Eun-sun was sent to the Kitan court but he did not return, so a second one was dispatched to learn the cause. The fact is, the first envoy had fallen into the hands of a new power named Wŭn which had been set up in eastern Kitan by a man named Ko Yöng-ch‘ang. War was still raging between Kitan and Kin and the whole country was in a state of turmoil and confusion. The second envoy from Koryŭ fell into the hands of the Wŭn people but got out of the difficulty by promptly stating that he was accredited to them by the king of Koryŭ; and he forthwith laid out his present. This made the upstart “emperor” of Wŭn wild with delight and, loading the envoy with rich presents, he sent him back home. Instead of going back to the king, however, the envoy returned secretly to his own home, and it was only by accident that the king learned of his return. When he did learn of it he sent for the man and inflicted summary punishment. Of course the Wŭn people liberated the other envoy and sent him home. Him also the king punished for having saved his life by seemingly offering allegiance to Wŭn.

The emperor of China sent an envoy to Koryŭ with gifts 173of musical instruments and took advantage of the occasion to ask the Koryŭ king about the Kitan people. The king answered, “Of all the savage tribes they are the worst.” When this reply reached the Chinese court some of the courtiers said that the king of Koryŭ was trying to keep China from knowing Kitan, since there was treasure there which Koryŭ wanted to secure for herself. The emperor therefore sent and made an alliance with Kitan, which, as the sequel shows, cost him dear.

Kitan was being hard pressed by Kin, and Gen. Ya Ryul-lyŭng wanted to escape and find asylum somewhere, so the king sent him a verbal invitation to come to Koryŭ. He replied that he could not do so without a written invitation. The Koryŭ statesmen feared that this covered some kind of trickery and the written invitation was not sent.

Koryŭ desired to put out a feeler to see how she stood with the Kin power so she sent a message saying “The district of P‘o-ju is rightfully Koryŭ territory and we should be pleased to have it turned over to us.” The answer was given without an hour’s delay “Certainly, take it and do with it as you wish.” Evidently the great Kin leader did not intend to let a single district stand between him and the good-will of a power which might cause him serious trouble while he was prosecuting his designs upon China.

The year ended with a great feast at the capital of Koryŭ at which dancing girls from all parts of the country congregated. The records say that they came “in clouds” which indicates the social status of the country. Buddhism had her representative in every home, but no severe asceticism would seem to have characterized the people, if this report is true.

The year 1117 beheld repeated triumphs of the Kin leader over the Kitan forces, the flight of the Kitan general Ya Ryul-lyŭng by boat, the burning of the Kitan fleet and the cession to Koryŭ of two more districts, thus placing her border again at the Yalu River. But this concession was of design for it was followed by a letter from the Kin court which read as follows: “The elder brother, the Emperor of the Great Kin, to the younger brother, the king of Koryŭ; we were a small, weak tribe and were badly treated by the Kitan power but 174now we are about to destroy it. The King of Koryŭ must now make with us a firm treaty which shall be binding to the ten thousandth generation.”

This met with an almost universal negative among the wise-heads of Koryŭ, but one voice was heard saying “They may be in a position to do us great harm and we should comply with this demand.” The latter opinion did not prevail. Three years later another envoy came from the king of Kin with gifts but the accompanying letter was couched in low language which was construed into an insult and was answered in the same tone. The king then hastened to repair the fortresses in the north and to increase the height of the wall stretching across the country; but the Kin emperor sent and forbade it. When he received as answer the question “What affair is it of yours?” he kept his temper and did not press the demand for he was anxious just then to be on good terms with his southern neighbor.

We must not imagine that these years were barren of events of importance within the bounds of Koryŭ herself. Splendid monasteries were built, notably the beautiful An-wha monastery; embassies and gifts were received from China; the king made trips to P‘yŭng-yang and Han-yang. In spite of the height to which Buddhism had climbed, we read in the annals that the king frequented the society of dancing girls to such an extent that he drew down upon himself the censure of one of his highest officials, whom he consequently banished.

In 1123 the king’s son Hă, posthumous title In-jong, came to the throne. An official, Yi Ja-gyŭm, who had risen to the highest position under the former king seemed to think himself in a sense on an equality with the young king now on the throne, and wanted to have him bow to him, but the other officials interfered and prevented it. In order to make his position the more secure, and to strengthen his influence over the king, Yi Ja-gyŭm bestowed upon him his four daughters to wife. Naturally he incurred the bitter enmity of the other officials, who sought means for destroying him, but without success. As a last resort they sent a band of soldiers to the palace to kill him. But he escaped to his private house, taking the king with him. From that place he governed the 175land as he wished. Finding the king an incumbrance he tried to do away with him by the use of poisoned bread, but someone warned the king, and instead of eating the bread he threw it out of the window and the magpies, which soon discovered it, fell dead on the spot. Thereupon the king sent a secret message to one of his generals and soon the traitor was travelling southward into exile and all his connections and followers were put where they could do no more harm.

It was in the third year of this King, 1124, that the Kin armies finally overthrew the Kitan power. The false report came to Koryŭ that China had defeated the Kin forces and that the leader of the defeated power was coming to find asylum in Koryŭ. The king was advised by some to take this opportunity of dealing Kin a staggering blow, but the more cautious advised delay until the report should be authenticated. This was fortunate, for the report proved false.

It was in 1126 that the northern Sung dynasty came to an end at the hands of the all-conquering Kin. The records state that Kin leaders carried the last emperor of the Sung dynasty away and set up one Chang Pang-ch‘ang as king in his stead, and changed the name of the dynasty to Ch‘o. When this had been effected the Kin emperor sent Gen. Ya Ryul Ka-geum to Koryŭ bearing his commands to the king, but what those commands were the records do not tell.

The influence which priestcraft had exercised in Koryŭ was well illustrated by a monk Myo-chung of P‘yŭng-yang who told the King that there was no more “king Spirit” in the soil of Song-do, but if he should move the capital to P‘yŭng-yang the Kitan, Kin and Sung would all become subject to him. The king believed every word of this and ordered a palace to be built there for his occupancy. A year or so later, after sending the Kin court his abject submission, he essayed to move to the northern city by boat, but a fresh breeze sprang up and he quickly changed his mind and hurried back to Song-do. The coastwise trade must have been of considerable importance, for we read that the water on the bar at Hong-ju harbor, was too shallow for boats of large burden to cross, so the king put several thousand men to work to deepen the channel; but to no effect.

176The fight between Confucianism and Buddhism went steadily on. The king was the puppet of the latter but could not always carry out his plans. He wanted to take away the support of Confucian schools and turn over the funds to the monks, but this called out such a storm of remonstrances that he hastened to recall the order. He had not forgotten the flattering words of the monk Myo-chung, and now in 1130 he took occasion to visit the city of P‘yŭng-yang. The tricky monk had made preparation for his coming. Hollow loaves of bread were prepared with holes in their sides after the style of a Jack-o’-lantern. Oil was placed inside and as the king approached the town at dusk these were floated down the stream, and the oil on the water, shining in the light of the setting sun, reflected all the hues of the rainbow. The monk told the king that this was the dragon’s breath. This was to convince the king of the truth of his former statement. But the king’s attendants were sceptical and sent messengers who returned with the bread floats, thus unmasking the trickster. They demanded the head of the monk but the king did not consent.

Foiled in this the ambitious monk laid new plans. In 1135 they were ready to be put in execution. Together with a fellow traitor, Cho Kwang, he massed soldiers at P‘yŭng-yang and set up a kingdom of his own which he named Ta-wi. He called the army the “Celestial Army,” perhaps to keep them in good humor. The government forces easily overcame these insurrectionary forces and Cho Kwang, finding that the end was approaching, tried to buy pardon by cutting off the head of the monk and bringing it to the capital. The king forgave him, but no sooner had he re-entered the gates of P‘yŭng-yang than he raised the standard of revolt again. The royal forces laid siege to the city, and having broken down a portion of the wall effected an entrance. Cho Kwang, seeing that there was no longer any chance of safety, set fire to his house and perished in the flames.

We find in the records the curious statement that the law against murder was revised, making that crime a greater one than the killing of a cow. The following year there was a Buddhistic festival at which 30,000 monks were present.

177In the year 1145 occurred an event of great importance. A century and a quarter had now passed since the kingdom of Sil-la had fallen and as yet the annals of Sil-la, Ko-gu-ryŭ and Păk-je had not been worked up into a proper history. This year it was done and the great work entitled Sam-guk-sa, or History of the Three Kingdoms, was the result. This work which, though rare, exists to-day, is the thesaurus of ancient Korean history, and it is the basis upon which all subsequent histories of ancient Korea are founded. Its compiler, Kim Pu-sik, is one of the celebrated literary men of Korea and may truly be called the father of Korean history.

In-jong was succeeded in 1147 by his son Hyön, posthumous title Eui-jong. Never before had a king given himself over so abjectly to the priesthood. The people were thoroughly discontented with his course, but he would listen to no remonstrances. It would have been better had he been a more consistent Buddhist but his drinking, gambling and licentiousness gave the lie to his religious pretentions and left the impression that he was in reality only the tool of the priesthood. It is said that his visits to a certain monastery were so frequent that an awning had to be erected from the palace to its gates, and if at any time the king was not to be found they looked for him in this monastery. He was an object of ridicule to the whole people. A diviner told him that if he built a palace at Păk-ju (now Pă-ch‘ŭn) in Whang-hă Province, in seven years he would overcome both Kitan and Kin. The king was simple enough to follow his advice. He wasted the public treasure on the wildest debaucheries, gave high positions to monks and surrounded himself with a vile set of men who debauched the palace women.

In 1165 numbers of the Kin people crossed the Yalu and settled at In-ju and Chŭng-ju. The magistrates raised a force of soldiers on their own account without royal authority and drove out the intruders and burned their houses. The Kin emperor made the king restore them to their places but the magistrates again drove them out; so the Emperor sent a body of troops and seized sixteen of the country officials.

The officials desired to stop the king’s frequent visits to his favorite monastery. One day as he was passing along his covered passage-way they made his horse rear violently and 178at the same time one of them let fall an arrow before him. The king was terrified, supposing that someone had shot at him, so he returned to the palace in haste and barred the gates. He charged a slave of his brother’s with having shot the arrow and after wringing a false confession from him by torture put him to death.

In 1168 Ch’oe Ch’ŭk-kyŭng became prefect of T’am-na (Quelpart). He was well liked by the people and when he was removed and another man put in his place they rose in revolt, drove out the successor and said they would have no governor but Ch’oe. So the King was obliged to reinstate him. These people of Quelpart were very unruly. It was only during the reign of this king’s father that the first prefect had been sent to that island.

The king sent a commission to Dagelet island off the east coast to find out whether it was habitable. They brought back an adverse report.

Besides his partiality to Buddhism the king added another burden to those which the people already carried. He made the eunuchs his instruments to exact money from the people, and to such as supplied him with the most money from this illegal practice he gave rank and honors. The king was continually feasting, but none of the military men enjoyed his favor or shared his hospitality. Matters came to a crisis when in 1170 one of the military officials was struck by a civil official of a lower grade in the presence of the king while at a monastery outside the city. The matter was hushed up for the moment but when the company separated some of the generals assembled the palace guards and seized and killed the two leading civil officials. One, Han Roe, escaped and hid behind the king’s bed. In spite of this the generals entered and dragged him away to his death. Then they began to slaughter the civil officials and eunuchs indiscriminately. The records say that the dead bodies were piled “mountains high.” The military officials had a sign by which they might be distinguished. The right shoulder was left bare and they wore a head-dress called the pok-tu. Whoever was found lacking these two signs was cut down. The king was in mortal fear and tried to propitiate the leading general by the gift of a beautiful sword. He accepted it but the 179work of death went on. They took the king back to the capital and, arriving at the palace, cut down ten leading men at that point. Then they went to the palace of the crown prince and killed ten more. Proclamation was made in the main street “Kill any official wearing the garments of the civil rank”. This was the sign for a general slaughter and fifty more of the officials were murdered. After this, twenty eunuchs were beheaded and their heads were set upon pikes.

Though the king was badly frightened he continued his evil course of life without abatement. The generals wanted to kill him but were dissuaded. The persecution of the civil officials continued but there was some discrimination, for two of them who were better than the rest were spared and protected. A civil official, returning from China, learned oflearned of this emeute and, gathering forces in the country, approached the capital; but at a certain pass an unfavorable omen was seen in the shape of a tiger sitting in the road. The omen was true, for the improvised army was defeated by the insurrectionists. One Chöng Chung-bu was the leading spirit in this business and he now proceeded to pull down all the houses of the civil officials, turning a deaf ear to the expostulations of those who pitied the widows and orphans. From this time dates the custom of destroying the house of any official or gentleman who is guilty of any serious crime against the king.

Gen. Chöng came to the conclusion that the king was a hopeless case and so he banished him to Kö-je in Island, Kyŭng-sang Province, and the Crown Prince to the island of Chin-do, and made way with a large number of the king’s relatives and hangers-on. He then put the king’s younger brother Ho on the throne. His posthumous title is Myŭng-jong. This was in 1171.

Then all the offices were filled by military officials, Gen. Im Keuk-ch’ung becoming Prime Minister. Mun Keup-kyŭm was one of the civil officials who were spared, and he now feigned to be well content with the condition of things and gave his daughter to the son of one of the generals in marriage. An envoy was sent to the Kin court saying that as the king was old and sick his brother had been given the reins of power.

180One of the generals, Yi Ko, desired to effect a revolution and, gathering his friends about him, promised them high honors in case the attempt should succeed. Thereupon he took with him to a feast a number of his followers with swords hidden in their sleeves. Gen. Ch’oa Wŭn, however, suspected something and communicated his suspicions to Gen. Yi Eui-bang who managed to get Gen. Yi Ko out into the anteroom and there felled him to the ground with an iron mace and dispatched him. His followers were also seized and killed.

The emperor suspected that the deposed king had been forcibly ejected and so sent a letter severely blaming his successor. An envoy was dispatched to the Kin court to explain matters. He talked well but the emperor still suspected something and refused to answer the king’s letter. The envoy thereupon sat down and deliberately began to starve himself to death. This secured the desired answer and the envoy returned to Song-do. The emperor sent a commission to enquire into the matter. The commissioner was feasted at the capital and told that the deposed king was old and sick and had gone away to a distant part of the country and could not be produced.

The ill-will between the military and the monks was well illustrated when the palace caught fire. General Chöng saw many monks running toward the burning buildings, but rather than have them enter he locked the gates and let the buildings burn to the ground.

The remnant of the civil officers were ever on the lookout for opportunities to get the upper hand again and drive out the military party. To this end Kim Po-dang sent letters to prefects far and wide and a time for a rising was agreed upon. The banished king was put in the van of the army thus improvised and they advanced as far as Kyöng-ju. But the plan miscarried and Kim, its originator, was seized by the people and sent to Song-do where he was put to death. Before dying he exclaimed “I was in league with all the civil nobles.” This was probably not true, but it caused a fresh outbreak of the military party upon the civil nobles, and scores of them were killed. At last a reaction set in and the military leaders, feeling that they had gone too far, tried to make 181amends by giving their daughters to the sons of the civil officials in marriage.

At this point occurred one of the most revolting events that blot the pages of Korean history. Gen. Chöng, hearing that the banished king had come as far as Kyöng-ju sent Gen. Yi Eui-mun to put him out of the way. After the leader and two hundred members of the ex-king’s guard had been treacherously killed the ex-king himself was spirited away to a neighboring monastery. He was taken out to the brink of a pond behind this monastery and there Gen. Yi, who was a man of immense stature, seized him in his arms and crushed his ribs, killing him instantly. The body was wrapped in blankets, placed in two kettles, which were placed mouth to mouth, and thrown into the pond. When this monster, Gen. Yi, returned to Song-do he was loaded with honors. Later a monk, who was a good swimmer, raised the body and gave it decent burial.

In spite of the overwhelming power exercised by the military party, the king was devoted to Buddhism. The monks were very anxious to kill Gen. Yi, who had taken such an active part in deposing the late king; so they massed in front of the palace and set fire to it by first firing the adjoining houses. Gen. Yi made a sudden sally with a strong guard and killed a hundred of the monks. He followed this up by demolishing five monasteries whose sacred vessels and other utensils he confiscated.

Chapter V.

Rebellion quelled.... cannibalism.... anarchy....“faith cure”.... reformation.... Ta-na well.... the Queen restored.... slaves revolt.... the Mongols.... envoy killed.... Kin weakens.... Kitan refugees.... civil strife.... Kitan driven back.... Mongol allies.... Mongols drive Kitans into Koryŭ.... Mongol savages.... Kitan remnant surrenders.... Mongol envoy.... jealousy.... Mongol demands.... rebels’ heads sent to Song-do.... Mongol demands tribute.... brutal envoy.... a new wall.... Japanese pirates.... Mongol envoy killed.... Mongol allies.... driven back.... prime minister duped.... pirates again.... a Korean “Shogun”.... Mongols cross the Yalu.... a Mongol letter.... the 182Mongols reach Song-do.... leave it untaken.... the “Shogun” flees.... a brave prefect.... Mongol terms.... King surrenders.... Mongol residency.

Cho Wi-jong was a P‘yŭng-yang man with a towering ambition, and he now deemed the time ripe to put the wheels in motion. He therefore drew about him a strong body of troops. All the districts about P‘yŭng-yang joined him excepting Yŭn-ju, which remained loyal to the king. The people of that place were afraid of the rebel but the loyal prefect Hyŭn Tŭk-su forged a letter purporting to be from the royal army en route for P‘yŭng-yang. This gave the people courage to hold out.

Cho and his troops marched toward Song-do and encamped not far to the west of the town. Gen. Yi Eui-bang, having first seized and killed all the P‘yŭng-an officials who happened to be in the capital, marched out against the rebels. At the first attack the seditious force broke and fled. Gen. Yi chased them as far as the Ta-dong River. He crossed that river and lay siege to P‘yŭng-yang; but winter was coming on and he was obliged to retire to Song-do. Cho then made two or three attempts to overthrow the loyal town of Yŭn-ju, but without success.

Gen. Yi was a ruthless man, who had no love of humanity in him, but would kill his best friend if it served his purpose. For this reason Gen. Chöng did not dare to associate with him, but threw up his commission and went into retirement. His son got a priest to dog the footsteps of Gen. Yi and wait for a chance to kill him. This he finally accomplished and Gen. Yi and many of his relatives were killed; and the queen, who was his daughter, was driven away.

As Cho Wi-jong, the P‘yŭng-yang traitor, was gradually losing power he desired to get help from the Kin emperor. For this purpose he sent two envoys, but one of them killed the other on the way and them fled to Song-do. Cho sent another, but him the Kin emperor seized and sent a prisoner to the Koryŭ capital. In the spring the royal forces besieged Cho in P‘yŭng-yang again and famine within the walls became so great that men ate each other. Many of the towns-people came out by stealth and as they were well received by the besieging force, well-nigh all the civilians in the city came over 183the walls by night. When the city fell, Cho was killed and his wife and children were sent to Song-do where they were hung in the center of the city.

The rebel forces were scattered but reunited in various places and terrorized the whole north, so that envoys to the Kin court had to go a round-about way to avoid them. The whole country in fact was in a state of anarchy. In the south whole sections of the country were disaffected toward the government and bands of men roamed the country. There was a rising also in Whang-hă Province. In P‘yŭng-yang the people rose and drove out the governor. The king was forced to begin the correction of abuses. He sent all about gathering information as to how the people were governed and as a consequence eight hundred officials were cashiered. But the attempt at renovation came too late. In the west the bands of robbers looted right and left and could not be apprehended. The capital itself swarmed with thieves. The ancestral temple itself was robbed of its utensils. But all this time the king kept up a round of carousals and debaucheries at which he himself played the buffoon, and danced for the delectation of his guests, and that too at a monastery. A sacred place truly!

In the twelfth year of the reign, 1182, we find an interesting application of what goes in these days under the name of “faith cure.” A priest claimed to be able to cure any disease. Being called before the king he said, “If anyone drinks water in which I have washed my hands he will be immediately cured.” He further explained “After drinking the water, pray earnestly to Buddha. Then rise and say ‘I am cured’, and if you really believe you are cured, you will be so.” Crowds of people applied to him for treatment. He seduced many of the women who came to him.

Gen. Yi Eui-mun was now court favorite and he usurped all the leading offices and acted as pander-in-general to the King by seeking out and forcibly carrying to the palace young and handsome girls. This seemed intolerable to such loyal men as Gen. Ch‘oe Chung-heun, and he, in company with his brother, surrounded the palace, killed Yi Eui-mun and many others of his ilk, chased away many illegitimate sons of the king, who had become monks, and would not let them enter 184the palace again. This all happened in 1196, and two years later the reformer continued the good work by deposing the old and indolent king, banishing the crown prince to Kang-wha and putting the king’s brother Mun on the throne. His posthumous title is Sin-jong. The banishing of the crown prince and his wife was effected in a very heartless manner. They were ordered out of the palace at a moment’s notice and, coming forth entirely unprepared for the journey, were mounted on horses in a cold rain and hurried away to Kang-wha. A terrible storm raged the day the King was deposed, as if in sympathy with the throes throughthrough the country was passing.

There was a saying current among the people which shows at once how superstitioussuperstitious they were and to what an extent the eunuchs were wont to abuse their power. They said “If the King uses water from the Ta-nă Wall many eunuchs will arise and will cause the government to be administered badly;” so the well was filled up. Another instance shows what a terrible temptation there was for the people to abuse their power. This same reformer Ch’oeCh’oe Chung-heun, though himself a man of perfect uprightness, had a brother who now took advantage of his position to force the king to take his daughter as queen. To do this the real queen had to be banished. As it happened, the king was deeply attached to her, but he was in no position to refuse to do the bidding of the powerful courtier. After a tearful parting she went into exile. This was as yet unknown to the reformer, but when he learned of it his indignation was deep and fierce. Cloaking his feelings, he called his brother to a feast and there reminded him that they were not of a high enough family to furnish a queen, and he charged him to give up the attempt. The next day, the villain changed his mind again. His mother expostulated with him and he felled her to the floor. Gen. Ch‘oe was told of this and, surrounding himself with a strong body-guard, he proceeded to the palace gate. When his niece was brought in her chair and was about to enter to become queen, the faithful old general disputed the passage and a fight ensued between his men and his brother’s. The former were successful and the wretch betook himself to flight, but was pursued, taken and killed by the general himself. The rightful queen was restored to her station.

185The six years of this king’s reign were one long scene of turmoil and strife. In the first place the slaves revolted. They said “The high men are not made so by the decree of heaven. Great men are those who do well. Let us fight for our rights; Gen. Ch‘oe is from as low a grade as ourselves. Let us become high men too.” They rendezvoused at Heung-guk monastery and decided as a preliminary measure to demand from their masters the deeds of themselves (for slaves as well as houses were deeded property) and to burn them. They were betrayed to Gen. Ch‘oe who trapped a hundred of them, tied stones about their necks and drowned them in the river. The south was overrun by marauding parties whom the king bought off by gifts of food, clothes and land. In Chin-ju the governor’s servants locked him in his private dungeon, gathered a band of men and put to death all who would not join their standard. It is said that 6,400 men were killed because of refusal to join them. The same scenes were enacted in various places, notably in Quelpart and Kong-ju.

In the midst of these scenes the king died and was succeeded in 1205 by his son Tok, posthumous title Heui-jong.

We have now arrived at the threshold of events which were destined to make Asia one great battle-field and to cause the sovereigns of Europe to tremble on their thrones.

The Mongols lived north of Yŭ-jin and were in a sense connected with them. Their first great chief was Ya-sok-hă (Yusuka) who first led the revolt which separated the Mongol power from the Yŭ-jin. He together with Keui-ak-on conquered forty of the northern tribes in quick succession and brought them all under his flag. His son’s name was Chŭl-mok-jin, the great Genghis Khan. It was now in the second year of Heui-jong, in 1206, that the great Genghis proclaimed himself emperor and named his empire Mong.

Meanwhile Ch‘oe Chung-heun was not proof against the seductions of ambition and power, and we next find him seizing the people’s houses and building himself a magnificent residence adjoining the palace. People said of him that he buried a boy or a girl under each corner post.

When the spring of 1212 opened, an envoy was sent to the Kin court but was intercepted by Mongol videttes who 186had by this time worked their way southward to a point that commanded the road between Koryŭ and Kin. The Kin people recovered the body and sent it back to Koryŭ.

Gen. Ch‘oe had acquired so much power that he was in reality the ruler of the land, holding much the same position that the Shogun of Japan is said to have occupied. He may not inappropriately be styled the Shogun of Koryŭ. For this reason the king desired to get him out of the way. To this end he put upon his track a number of monks, but as they began by attacking his servant he quietly slipped into a chest and they could not find him. His body-guard became aware of his predicament and forced the palace gates, killing right left; and they would have killed the king had not the wily old general stepped out of his hiding place and prevented it. The latter banished the king to Kang-wha and the crown prince to Chemulpo and set upon the throne one Chong, whose posthumous title is Kang-jong.

The only event recorded of this reign is the arrival of an envoy from the Kin court, who wanted to enter the palace by the central or royal gate. He insisted upon it until he was asked the question “If you enter by the royal gate, by what gate would your master enter should he come here?” This silenced him.

Kang-jong was succeeded in 1214 by his son Chin, posthumous title Kang-jang. This was destined to be the longest and by far the most eventfuleventful reign of the dynasty for it lasted forty-five years and witnessed the great Mongol invasion.

The Kin power was now trembling under the Mongol onslaught and envoys came demanding aid from Koryŭ in the shape of rice and horses. The king ostensibly refused but allowed the envoys to purchase rice and carry it away with them.

Again a dark cloud hung over Koryŭ’s northern border. It was not the Mongols as yet, but the remnant of the Kitan forces who were unable to withstand the Mongols and so had fled south into Koryŭ territory. At first the Koryŭ forces were able to keep them in check but as they came in ever increasing numbers they broke down all opposition and were soon ravaging Whang-hă Province, making P‘yŭng-yang their headquarters. The lack of Koryŭ soldiers was so evident 187that men of all classes, even the monks, became soldiers. It was of no avail. They were cut down like stubble and Whang-ju fell into Kitan hands. The enemy was soon only eighty li from the capital. Consternation reigned in the city and the people all procured swords or other weapons and manned the walls.

To this outward danger was added the terror of civil strife for the priests took this inopportune moment to attack the old general, Ch‘oe, who still ruled with a high hand. He turned on them however and cut down three hundred. He then instituted an inquisition and as a result 800 more were killed.

Such then was the desperate position of Koryŭ; a powerful enemy at her door, the south rife with rebellion, and in the capital itself “mountains of dead and rivers of blood.” Victorious Kitan came sweeping down on Song-do, but for some reason, perhaps because they had heard that the town was well defended, they made a detour, appearing next on the banks of the Im-jin River half way between Song-do and the present capital. There they suffered defeat at the hands of the Koryŭ forces as they did also later at the site of the present capital. In view of these defeats the Kitan army retired to Tă-băk San. Now another cause of anxiety appeared in the shape of the Yŭ-jin allies of the Mongols who crossed the Yalu and took Eui-ju. But Koryŭ, wide awake to the danger, threw upon them a well equipped force which destroyed 500 of them, captured many more and drove the remaining 300 across the river. The king now built a royal residence at Pă-gak San to the east of Song-do, for he had been told that by so doing he would be able to hold the north in check.

Myŭn Ku-ha of east Yŭ-jin, being defeated by the Mongols, came in his flight towards the Yalu, but the Koryŭ general, Chŭng Kong-su, caught him and sent him safely to the Mongol headquarters. This pleased the Mongols hugely and they said “We must make a treaty of friendship.” We must remember that the Mongols were at war with Kitan and had driven her army across into Koryŭ, but at first did not pursue them. Now, however, an army of 10,000 men under Generals T‘ap Chin and Ch‘al Cha, were sent to complete the destruction of the Kitan power. They were joined by Yŭ-jin allies to 188the number of 20,000 men under Gen. Wan-an Cha-yŭn. As these allies were advancing against the doomed army of Kitan, the remnant of which, 50,000 strong, was massed at Kang-dong, a great snowstorm came on and provisions ran low. Koryŭ was asked to supply the deficiency which she did to the extent of 1,000 bags of rice. This still more helped her into the good graces of the Mongols. But the records state that the Mongols were so little beyond the condition of the savage that there could be little real friendship between them and the people of Koryŭ. The latter showed it too plainly and the Mongols of course resented it.

In this army that was marching to the annihilation of Kitan there was a contingent of Koryŭ forces under Gen. Kim Ch‘ui-ryo who is described as being a giant in size with a beard that reached his knees. He was a favorite with the Mongol generals and was treated handsomely by them.

The siegesiege of Kang-dong was prosecuted vigorously and soon the greatest distress prevailed within the walls. The leader finally gave up hope and hanged himself, and the 50,000 men came out and surrendered. Gen. T‘ap reviewed them, took off the heads of a hundred of the leaders and released the remainder. The Mongol leader wished to make a visit to Song-do to see the king but he could not leave his army, so he sent an envoy instead. He gave the Koryŭ generals rich presents and released 700 Koryŭ captives that had been previously taken. Many Kitan captives were put into the hands of the Koryŭ generals as a result of the decisive termination of the war against Kitan and many of the heretofore inaccessible parts of the north were opened up, and they were called the “Kitan District.”

Ere long the Mongol envoy approached Song-do and the king sent out a messenger to meet him, but this did not satisfy him, for he exclaimed “Why did not the king come out to meet me?” It took some persuasion to induce him not to turn back. When he had audience with the king he wore the heavy fur clothing of his native country with a fur head-dress, and carried a sword and a bow. Approaching the king he seized his hand and showed him the letter from the Mongol emperor, Genghis Khan. The king turned pale and was exceedingly embarrassed at this familiarity, and the officials 189asked each other how the presence of this barbarian could be endured. They induced him to retire and assume Koryŭ garments, after which he reappeared and the king presented him with gifts of gold, silver, silk and linen.

Gen. Cho Ch‘ung accompanied the retiring Mongol and Yŭ-jin allies as far as the Yalu where they bade him an affectionate adieu and declared that he was a man of whom Koryŭ should be proud. The Mongol general, Hap Chin, left forty men at Eui-ju to learn the Koryŭ language and told them to stay there till he returned. Gen. Cho then returned to P‘yŭng-yang where he was lionized and fêted. The old man Ch‘oe Chung-heun feared that Gen. Cho would attempt to throw him down from his high position and thought it would be better to have him near by, where he could watch him; so he forged a letter purporting to be from the king, ordering him to come down to the capital. He obeyed.

It seemed at this time that the relations of Koryŭ and the Mongols would remain friendly, but if Koryŭ thought this she was destined to be rudely awakened. The Mongol and Yŭ-jin allies sent to Myŭng-sŭng and said “Koryŭ must send an envoy and do obeisance each year.” This was said in so offensive a way that it seemed to be an attempt to provoke war. We are not told what answer was given but it sufficed for the time to secure peace.

The great Ch‘oe Chung-heun who had carried things with such a high hand now fell ill and died. This caused more commotion than the death of several kings. He was buried with royal honors. He left many sons, of whom U and Hyang were first and second. Hyang was a bold and powerful man, and before the father died he warned U against him. U succeeded to his father’s position which, as we have seen, corresponded closely with that of the Shogun of Japan.

A serious rebellion broke out in the north under two leaders, Han Sun and Ta Chi, the cause being the illegal exactions of the prefects. When the king found that it could not be put down by peaceful means he sent Gen. Kim Ch‘ui-ro to put it down by force. The east Yŭ-jin leader, Myŭn Ku-ha, at first sided with the rebels but later changed his mind, invited Han Sun and Ta Chi to a feast, got them intoxicated, assassinated them, put their heads in a box and sent it to the 190king, thereby earning the good will of the latter. The king then reformed the abuses in the rebellious section and peace was at last secured.

The Mongols were not to be content with an empty friendship, and in 1221 they sent a demand for revenue, consisting of 10,000 pounds of cotton, 3,000 rolls of fine silk, 2,000 pieces of gauze, 100,000 sheets of paper of the largest size. The envoy who brought this extraordinaryextraordinary letter was provided commodious quarters and excellent food but he expressed his dissatisfaction at everything by shooting arrows into the house posts, and by acting in a very boorish manner generally. The only man who could do anything with him was Kim Heui-jo who charged him with killing a man in Eui-ji, and threatened to have him imprisoned. Thus meeting bluster with bluster he made the brutal northerner listen to reason. When the envoy was about to go to an audience with his weapons in hand, this same Kim made him lay them aside. Other Mongol and Yo-jin messengers came and Kim managed them all so well that no trouble arose.

It was becoming apparent that the Mongols were likely at any time to make a descent upon Koryŭ; so, in the following year, 1222, a wall was built near the Yalu river, extending from Eui-ju to Wha-ju. It is said that this was completed in the marvelously short space of forty days, a feat which shows not only how great a power Koryŭ could exert when necessary but how important she deemed it that this wall should be built.

1223 A.D. marks the beginning of that long series of depredations which Japanese freebooters inflicted upon Koryŭ betweenbetween 1200 and 1400. In this year they landed on the coast of Kyŭng-sang Province and ravaged the district of Keum-ju. With the opening of the next year, a Mongol envoy came modifying the demand for tribute to sea otter skins only. The Kin dynasty was now tottering to its fall but was destined to cling to life for another ten years. This year saw it nearly fall before the Mongol power. Koryŭ therefore discarded the Kin calendar. The friendship between the Mongols and Koryŭ was destined to be rudely broken in the year 1225, and through no fault of the latter except the inability to keep order in her own territory. The Mongol envoy, returning 191to the north, was set upon by a Koryŭ highwayman and was robbed of the gifts which he was carrying home. Thus all friendly relations were ruptured and another step was taken toward the final catastrophe. This year also witnessed another Japanese raid in the south.


The Yŭ-jin who had now assumed the Mongol clothes, and were in reality an integral part of the Mongol power, made a descent upon Koryŭ in 1226 in the vicinity of Eui-ju. The prefect deemed it too pressing a matter to wait till word could be received from Song-do, so he sent a thousand men immediately against the raiders and drove them back. The king forgave the irregularity but refused to reward him.

Ch‘oé U who, as we know, was the prime minister, was duped by a diviner into believing that he was to become king some day, and he foolishly divulged the secret to a certain Kim, and soon it became common property. As punishment for this, as well as to get himself out of trouble, Ch‘oe U had both Kim and the diviner drowned.

The depredations of the Japanese were without the cognizance of the Japanese government and were against its wish. This appears from the fact that when in 1227 an envoy, Pak In, was sent to Japan to remonstrate against them, the government of that country acquiesced and arrested and killed a number of the corsairs.

Both this year and the next Yŭ-jin bands ravaged the northern part of Koryŭ, but at the same time asked that a treaty be concluded. The ink was hardly dry on this before it was broken by the very ones who advocated it.

Ch‘oe U followed in his father’s steps and having established himself in the viceroyship began to abuse the people, stealing houses and lands from them wherewith to build himself a princely mansion, two hundred paces long. In the court of it he had mock battles and the soldiers played at ball. The expense of this was borne by the people, whose faces were already being ground to furnish the regular revenue. His younger brother, Hyang, who long since been had banished, attempted to raise an insurrection in favor of the exiled king; but Ch‘oe U sent a strong force and chased his brother until he was run to earth in a cave among the mountains where he was killed.

192It was now the year 1231, the year which saw the outbreak which had been threatening ever since Genghis Khan came to the chieftainship of the Mongol armies. As the spring opened a powerful Mongol army moved southward across the Yalu under the leadership of Sal Ye-t‘ap and took the fortress of Ham-sin near Eui-ju. They followed this up by storming Ch‘ŭl-ju which ended only after the prefect had set fire to his house and destroyed his whole family and he and his associates had cut their own throats.

The king did not intend to submit without a struggle. He sent Generals Pak Sö and Kim Kyöng-sol at the head of a large army to operate against the invaders. They rendezvoused with all their forces at Ku-ju, the four gates of which were strongly barricaded. The Mongols commenced the attack at the south gate. The Koryŭ soldiers made five brilliant sallies and forced the enemy to retire. The honors of this victory fell to Gen. Kim who pursued the enemy some distance and then returned to the town in triumph. The Mongols, who seem to have been independent of any base of supplies and made the country through which they passed supply them, now left this town untaken and the Koryŭ army undefeated in their rear, and marched boldly southward, taking Kwak-ju and Sŭn-ju. From this point the Mongol general Sal Ye-t‘ap sent a letter to the king saying “Let us make peace. We have now taken your country as far as Han-sin and if you do not come to terms with us we will draw reinforcements from Yŭ-jin and crush you.” The messenger who conveyed this very candid letter got only as far as P‘yŭng-ju where he was seized by the people and imprisoned. While waiting for an answer, the invaders tried another attack on Ku-ju but with no better success. Not only so, but they were badly defeated at Au-puk fortress.

The king now reinforced the army in the north and at the same time feasted 30,000 monks at the capital in order to influence the celestial powers to bring about a cessation of war. But at the same time the Mongol forces were reinforced by Yŭ-jin troops and with high spirits crossed the Ta-dong river and swept down to P‘yŭng-ju to wreak their vengeance on that place where even yet the Mongol messenger with the letter for the king was languishing in durance vile. By a 193night attack they took the place, burned it to the ground, killed the prefect and even destroyed every dog and other domestic animal in the place. Then they advanced toward Song-do and soon appeared beneath its walls. There the Mongol generals P‘o-do, Chŭk-kŭ and Tang-go went into camp. They supplied their army by foraging all through the surrounding country, in which operation thousands of people were killed, their houses destroyed and their goods confiscated, especially all kinds of food. The people in the capital were in the greatest distress. Ch‘oe U, the viceroy, stationed all the best troops about his own house and left the inferior troops to guard the palace.

The Mongol general Sal Ye-t‘ap was now in the north. The king had already sent one messenger to ask for terms of peace and had received the following answer; “I am emperor. If you wish to fight it out then come on and fight. If not then surrender, and be quick about it, too.” The king now sent another messenger on a similar errand. He returned with two Mongol commissioners and three more soon followed. They were immediately admitted to an audience and a conference followed, after which the king sent rich presents to Gen. Sal Ye-t‘ap who seems now to have joined the main army before Song-do, and also to the other generals. What the result of the conference was is, for some reason, not stated in the records, but that it was not entirely satisfactory to the Mongols, or if satisfactory not sufficiently so to make them forego the pleasure of plundering, is seen from their next move, for they left Song-do and went southward to the center of the peninsula, the rich province of Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng.

The cowardly prime minister showed his colors by sending a man to find a retreat for him on the island of Kang-wha, but the messenger fell into the hands of Mongol foragers.

Gen. Sal Ye-t‘ap had gone north and joined another division of the Mongol army and again he attacked Ku-ju. He made engines of war called ta-p‘o-ch‘a, a sort of catapult, with which to reduce this town, but the magistrate, Pak Sö also made similar instruments which hurled huge stones, and the besiegers were compelled to retire to a distance and take refuge behind various kinds of defenses. The Mongols made three attempts to deceive the prefect by forged letters purporting 194to be from the king and saying “I have surrendered and therefore you must submit,” but Pak Sö was not to be caught by so simple a trick. The besiegers then tried huge scaling ladders, but these were cut down by the defenders as fast as they were put in place. An aged Mongol general, who made a circuit of the town and marked the splendid state of defense into which the place had been put, declared that he had never seen a place so well defended.

So the little town stood and the great Mongol general was forced to seek other fields for the display of his prowess. He sent a letter to the king finding fault because of the death of the first Mongol messengermessenger and modestly suggesting that peace could be secured if he would surrender and give 20,000 horse-loads of clothing, 10,000 pieces of purple silk, 20,000 sea-otter skins, 20,000 horses, 1,000 boys, 1,000 girls and 1,000,000 soldiers, with food, to help conquer Japan. In addition to this the king must go to the Mongol court and do obeisance. These were the terms upon which Koryŭ could secure peace.

With the beginning of the next year, 1232, the king sent two generals bearing a letter of surrender. With it he sent seventy pounds of gold, thirteen pounds of silver, 1,000 coats and a hundred and seventy horses. He moreover stated that the killing of the Mongol messenger was not the work of the Koryŭ government but of a band of insurgents and robbers. The officials had to give their garments in order to make up the number that was sent. Each prefect along the route was charged with the duty of seeing that the Mongols were in no way molested.

But Pak Sö the prefect of Ku-JuKu-Ju was an obstinate man and would not give up his fortress even when he knew the king had surrendered. It was only after a great deal of argument and expostulation that he at last capitulated. The Koryŭ people wanted to kill him for his obstinacy but the Mongols said “He is your greatest man and you should prize him highly.”

So ended the first act of the tragedy, but it was not to be the last. A Mongol residency was established at Song-do and Mongol governors were stationed at important centers throughout the country. The Mongol resident insisted upon 195entering the palace by the middle gate which the king alone used, but it was shut and barred and he was not able to carry his point. When the tribute above mentioned reached Gen. Sal Ye-t‘ap he expressed the greatest dissatisfaction with it because it fell so far short of what was demanded and he imprisoned the messenger who brought it. The king sent an envoy to the Mongol capital saluting the emperor as suzerain for the first time.

Chapter VI.

The king moves to Kang-wha.... a slave rebellion.... Mongol anger.... second invasion.... Mongol charges.... popular insurrections.... palace building.... the north occupied by Mongols.... Mongols not good seamen.... suffering and distress.... nature of Mongol occupation.... diplomacy.... temporary peace.... Gayuk Khan.... Mangu Khan.... efforts to get the king out of Kang-wha.... great invasion of 1253.... an urgent letter.... king decides not to remove.... great fortress falls.... impossible demands.... siege of Ch‘un-ch‘ŭn.... Ya Gol-dă meets the king.... the king promises to return to the capital.... a ferocious governor-general.... exchequer depleted.... Cha Ra-dă before Kang-wha.... a beautiful reply.... a new viceroy.... succession of disasters.... viceroy overthrown.... Mongol ravages.... the north defenseless.

That neither the Koryŭ king nor any of the officials believed that the end of the trouble had come is evident. No sooner had the tumult of war subsided than the question arose in the Koryŭ councils as to the moving of the court. Some objections were made, but Choe U silenced them by killing off a few of the objectors. As for the king, he could not make up his mind to go; but the viceroy showed no hesitation. Seizing the government carts he loaded his household effects upon them and moved to the island of Kang-wha. He also urged the people to do likewise, and put up placards threatening with death anyone who should speak against removing. Meanwhile the people throughout the country were rising in revolt against the Mongol governors and were driving them out. This was sure to call down upon the troubled land another invasion, and the king at last made up his mind 196to follow the example of his viceroy and move to Kang-wha. A palace had been prepared for him there and on the appointed day a start was made from the capital. It happened to be in the midst of the rainy season when the roads are well-nigh impassable. The whole cavalcade soon found itself mired, and torrents of rain added materially to the discomfort. Even ladies of noble rank were seen wading with bared limbs in the mud and carrying bundles on their heads. The wailing and crying of this forlorn multitude was audible for a long distance. Gen. Kim Chung-gwi was left to guard the capital. When the king at last arrived on the island he found that the palace was not ready for occupancy and he was obliged to live in a common house while the officials shifted for themselves. Messengers were immediately sent in all directions ordering the people to leave the mainland and seek refuge on the islands.

The common people in Song-do were in utter confusion. Anarchy stared them in the face. A slave by the name of Yi T‘ong gathered about him a band of slaves and raised an insurrection. The general who had been placed in charge was driven out, the monks were summoned to help in the sack of the town and all the government buildings were soon looted. It is hardly complimentary to Buddhism that her monks were invited by this seditious rabble to help in these lawless acts but it is probably a true picture of the times. When this came to the ears of the king he sent Gen. Yi Cha-sung to put down the insurrection. The slaves barricaded the road but the general dispersed them and at night gained admittance to the city by feigning to be a deserter. Once within, he caught the slave leader Yi T‘ong and the rest soon dispersed.

When the news of this exodus from the capital and the driving out of the Mongol governors reached the Mongol capital is caused a sensation. The emperor, in a white heat, sent a messenger post-haste to Song-do and behind him came a powerful army. The demand was “Why have you changed the capital? Why have our people been driven out?” The king replied that the capital was changed because all the people were running away, but he affirmed that although he had removed to Kang-wha his friendly feelings toward the Mongols had not changed. To this the Mongols made the 197only answer that was to be expected from them. They fell upon the northern towns and put them to indiscriminate slaughter. Men, women and children fell beneath their swords. Gen. Sal Ye-t‘ap himself came to attack Cho-im fortress. In that place there was a notable archer. He shot with unerring skill and every arrow found its victim. Aided by this man the garrison offered such a stubborn resistance that the Mongols at last fell back in disorder. It is said that Gen. Sal Ye-t‘ap himself was one of the victims of this man’s superb marksmanship. The king offered him official position but he would not accept it.

The spring of 1233 found the emperor’s anger somewhat abated and instead of sending another army he sent another envoy with four formulated charges. (1) No Koryŭ envoy had come to do obeisance. (2) Highwaymen had killed a Mongol envoy. (3) The king had run away from his capital. (4) The king had given false figures in the census of Koryŭ. We are not told whether these were answered but we may infer that they were, and in the humblest tone.

It would be singular indeed if, in such lawless times, there were not many insurrections in the country. A considerable insurrection was gotten up in Kyŭng-sang Province but was put down with a heavy hand, for the records say that after the battle between the rebels and the loyal troops the road for six miles was lined with dead. In P‘yŭng-yang likewise there was a rising led by one Pil Hyŭn-bo. The King sent Gen. Chöng I alone to settle the difficulty. He had already been a P‘yŭng-yang prefect and had put down one insurrection. He was feared throughout the whole section. As he approached the northern city his servant besought him not to enter it, but he replied that such were the king’s orders. So he went to his death, for the insurrectionists, failing to win him over to their side, gave him his quietus. The viceroy then sent 3,000 picked troops to the rebellious city. They took the rebel leader, cut him in two and sent the fragments of his body to the king. The second in command named Hong Pok-wŭn, fled to the Mongols, by whom he was warmly welcomed. He became their guide in many subsequent expeditions. These renegades were a source of constant trouble between Koryŭ and the Mongols; so much so that the King 198took pains to show favor to the parents and relatives of those who had fled to the Mongol flag. This same year a second wall was built about Kang-wha. The king sent asking the Mongols to recall the rest of their troops, and it was done.

With the opening of the following year, 1234, great numbers of people were summoned to help in the building of a palace on Kang-wha. At this time the utmost favor was shown to Buddhism. Sacrifices were offered on all the mountains and beside the streams with the hope of enlisting the sympathy of the gods. The viceroy also looked out for himself, for we are told, probably with some exaggeration, that he built himself a house twenty li in circumference. It was in this same year that the Kin dynasty became extinct.

With the opening of the next year the real occupation of the land by the Mongols commenced. The north was systematically occupied, scores of prefects being seized. The king ofof Kang-wha meanwhile was trying to secure a cessation of these hostilities by turning sun-worshipper, for every morning from seven to twelve the officials spent their time worshipping that very useful, but hardly divine, luminary. The year following increased the hopelessness of Koryŭ’s position a hundred fold, for the Mongols established seventeen permanent camps in P‘yŭng-an and Whang-hă Provinces. They came as far south as Han-yang, the present Seoul. They then proceeded southward to the very extremity of the peninsula, and camps were established through all that portion of the land. The only reverse the Mongols met in this triumphal march was at the hands of Son Mun-ju the prefect of Chuk-ju, now Chuk-san, who had learned the tactics of the Mongols while serving in the north. Every day he foretold successfully at what point the enemy would make the next attack. People said he was inspired.

It would seem that the Mongols, however, did not remain long in the south, for we read that when the standard of revolt was raised the following year at Na-ju, the Koryŭ forces, sent by the king, speedily overcame them. This would hardly have been likely had the Mongols been in force in that vicinity.

We must remember that the Mongols were continental people and knew nothing of the sea. Even the narrow strip 199of water between Kang-wha and the mainland daunted them. And so it was that the king from his island retreat defied the tremendous Mongol power.

By 1238, when the Mongols again flooded the country with their soldiery, the people had mostly found refuge among the mountains and on the thousands of islands which lie off the western coast of Korea. It would be impossible for anyone to imagine the suffering and distress entailed by these invasions. The records say that the people simply left their houses and fields and fled to these places of refuge. What did these hundreds of thousands of people live on as they fled, and after they reached their places of retreat? What breaking of old bonds of friendship and kinship, what rending of family ties and uprooting of ancient landmarks! It is a marvel that the land ever recovered from the shock. These Mongols were fiercer and more ruthless than the Japanese who overran the country three centuries later and they were far more numerous, besides. Plunder being their main motive, their marauding bands covered a much greater territory and mowed a much wider swath than did the soldiers of the great Hideyoshi, who kept to comparatively narrownarrow lines of march. Nor did these Mongols meet the opposition which the Japanese met. The Mongols made a clean sweep of the country, and never again do we read of those splendid armies of 200,000 or 300,000 men which Koryŭ was once able to put into the field, even when groaning under the weight of a corrupt court and a rampant priesthood. It is from these days that dates that utter prostration of Koryŭ’s power which left her an easy prey to every Japanese freebooter who had 100 good swords at his back.

After ravaging to their hearts’ content the Mongols withdrew in 1236 to their own territory but sent a messenger ordering the king to go to Peking and bow before the Mongol emperor. He refused, but sent instead a relative by the name of Chŭn with a letter asking the emperor to excuse him from attempting the difficult journey to the Mongol court. Again the next year the same demand was made, but this time the king simply declined to go. The Mongols then modified their demand and ordered the King to come out from his island retreat and return to Song-do. This the king had no intention 200of doing; but the next year he sent another relation named Sun as a hostage to the Mongol court asserting that this was his son. The emperor believed this and married Sun to one of his own near relatives.

The Mongol emperor Ogdai died in 1242 and the queen dowager took charge of affairs during anan interval of four years, until 1246, when Gayuk became emperor. This brought peace to troubled Koryŭ for a period of five or six years. During this time, all that was left of her resources was used up in sending five or six embassies to the Mongol court each year. The moment the pressure of war was raised the king followed once more the bent of his inclinations, and while the country was in the very lowest depths of distress he feasted royally in his island retreat, while the viceroy vied with him in the splendor of his entertainments. It is said that at one feast 1300 musicians performed. Meantime the people were slowly returning to their homes.

Gayuk Khan came to the Mongol throne in 1246, and it was the signal for the renewal of hostilities against Koryŭ. At first four hundred men came, ostensibly to catch sea-otter but in reality to spy out the country and learn the mountain passes of the north. The king was not expecting a renewal of hostilities, or else was too much taken up with his feasting to attend to the defenses of the north; so the people fled in panic before this handful of invaders. Many of them took refuge on Wi-do Island off P‘yŭng-an Province and there engaged in agriculture. They built a great dam across an estuary of the sea and reclaimed a large tract of cultivable land, but they suffered badly from lack of wells.

In 1249 Gayuk died and the regency again devolved upon the queen dowager. Peace again reigned for a time, broken only by a single attempted invasion by the Yŭ-jin people, which was unsuccessful. The king began the erection of a new palace at Song-do in order to make it appear that he intended to obey the standing injunction of his suzerain to go back to the capital.

The Mongol regency ended in 1251 and Mangu Khan became emperor. An envoy was immediately despatched to inquire whether the king had yet obeyed this command, but as the answer was unsatisfactory the Koryŭ envoy who appeared 201at the emperor’s court the following year was thrown into prison and a last envoy was sent with instructions toto settle the question definitely. If the king would come out and return to his capital the people might remain on Kang-wha, but if the king refused, the envoy was to return with all haste to the Emperor and war would be declared at once. A certain Korean, hearing about these instructions, hastened forward and informed the king and urged that he go out and meet the envoy. To this the king did not assent. When the envoy arrived the king set a great feast for him, in the midst of which the Mongol arose and, assuming a terrible aspect, demanded loudly why the king did not leave the island and return to Song-do. Without waiting for an answer to the question he strode out of the hall and posted back to the north. The people were in dismay and said to each other, “This means war again.”

When the lengthening vernal sun of 1253 had melted the northern snows this prophetic word was verified. The renegade Koryŭ general, Hong Pok-wŭn, told the emperor that the king had triple-walled the island of Kang-wha and would not move therefrom. War, ever welcome to these first Mongol emperors, was now afoot. The first detachment of 10,000 troops was led by the Emperor’s brother Song-ju. With many allies from the Yŭ-jin and other tribes he crossed the Yalu. Then the Mongol general, A Mo-gan, and the renegade Hong crossed and advanced as far as the Ta-dong River. Following these came Gen. Ya Gol-dă with sixteen chieftains in his train and with a formidable array of troops.

The envoy Sun who, we will remember, had married a Mongol princess, now wrote an urgent letter to the king saying “The emperor is angry because you persist in disobeying him and he is sending seventeen kings against you. But he says that if you will leave the island and follow out his commands he will even now recall the army. You have now an opportunity of giving your country a lasting peace. If you leave the island, send your son to the emperor and receive the Mongol envoy well, it will be a blessing to the kingdom of Koryŭ. If you will not do this, I beg of you to put all my family to death.”

Beneath this last appeal lay a terrible threat and the king 202realized it. A great council was convened and the universal voice was in favor of compliance; but a single voice was raised in opposition. It said “How much treasure have we squandered on this insatiable barbarian, and how many good men have gone as envoys and never returned. Let the king go out now from this place of safety and when we behold him a corpse our condition will be enviable indeed!” This word startles the assembly. Cowards that they are, they rise to their feet and with one voice applaud the stirring words and charge the king to stay in his island fortress and still defy the savage of the north.

Gen. Ya Gol-dă now sent a messenger to the King purporting to be from the Emperor saying “I have begun from the rising sun and I will conquer to its going down. All people rejoice but you, who do not listen. I now send Gen. Ya Gol-dă. If you receive him well, I will leave you in peace; if not, I will never forgive the offense.” Immediately putting his troops in motion the redoubtable general approachedapproached the strongest fortress in Whang-ha Province. It was surrounded by almost perpendicular precipices. The commandant laughed atlaughed at the Mongols and defied them, and feasted in their sight. But the Mongols, directing all their energy at a single point, soon battered down a portion of the wallwall, set fire to the buildings with fire arrows, and with scaling ladders effected an entrance. The commandant hanged himself, and 4,700 of the garrison were put to the sword. All children above ten years old were killed and all the women were ravished.

Gen. Ya Gol-dă, being at To-san in Whang-ha Province, received a plaintive letter from the king asking him to retire from the country. He told the bearer of this missive “The Emperor says the king is too old to bow. I am going to find out whether this is true. I will give him just six daysdays to get here.” The messenger argued the dangerous condition of the road and said it could not be done in that time. Then the Mongol forces turned eastwardeastward and began to destroy the fortresses and loot the store-houses, at the same time sending to the king saying “If every prefect in the land will send in a written surrender I will retire.” This was impossible in the present state of turmoil, and it probably was a mere pleasantry on the part of the Mongols.

203The town of Ch‘un-ch‘ŭn was a rather formidable place and its siege and fall offer some interesting indications of the method of Mongol warfare. First a double fence or stockade was built around the town and outside this a bank six feet high and a ditch correspondingly deep. Ere long the supply of water in the town gave out and the people killed their cattle and drank the blood. The distress was terrible. Cho Hyo-ip, a leading man, seeing that there was no escape, first burned up his family and then killed himself. The prefect fought until he was exhausted and then threw himself into a burning house and perished. A party of the strongest of the remaining soldiers made a fierce attack upon one portion of the stockade and succeeded in breaking through, but they could not force the bank and trench beyond. The enemy entered, razed the town and burned the grain, and the women were carried away. During this time the king was using the only means left for turning the tide of war. He was worshipping every spirit that he could think of, and before every large boulder. He raised all his ancestors several rounds in the ladder of apotheosis; but it all seemed to have little effect upon the progress of events. Another renegade, Yi Hyŭn, arose in the north and forced many districts into his following.

In the course of time Gen. Ya Gol-dă arrived before the town of Ch‘ung-ju in Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province, but being unable to reduce it without a regular siege, he left his main army there and came north to the vicinity of Kang-wha. He then announced, “If the King will come out and meet me here I will take my forces back across the Yalu.” With this message he sent ten Mongol generals to the king. The latter complied, and with a heavy guard came across the straits and met Ya Gol-dă at Seung-ch‘ŭn-bu. Gen. Mong Go-dă was present with Ya Gol-dă at the interview which followed. The Mongol general said “After we crossed the Yalu into Koryŭ, thousands of your people fell every day. Why should you think only of your own comfort while your people are dying thus by tens of thousands? If you had consented to come out sooner, many lives would have been saved. We now ought to make a firm treaty.” He added that Mongol prefects must be placed in each district and that a force of ten thousand in all must be quartered upon Koryŭ. To this the king replied that 204with such conditions it would be extremely difficult for him to return to Song-do. In spite of this the Mongol leader placed one of his men in each of the prefectures. The only question which was discussed in the royal councils was how to get rid of the Mongols. One man dared to suggest that the Crown Prince be sent to intercede with the emperor. The king flew into a rage at this but soon he was so far mollified as to consent to sending his second son, Chang, with rich gifts to the Mongol court, a course of procedure which once more drained the royal coffers to the last farthing. The king had promised the Mongols to go back to Song-do “gradually” as fast as preparations could be made, and also to destroy the palaces in Kang-wha. The Mongols kept their word and retired but as they went they plundered and ravaged. When they had gone the king caught the renegade Yi Hyŭn and killed him and his son, and banished all his adherents. This was a dangerous course, for this man had acted as guide to the Mongols and the latter were more than likely to resent his death. So it turned out, for an envoy came post from the Mongol court complaining that only the king alone had come out from Kang-wha, and that a man who had helped the Mongols had been slain for it. Whether the king answered these complaints satisfactorily we do not know, but soon the emperor developed a new plan. He sent Gen. Cha Ra-dă with 5,000 troops to become governor-general of Koryŭ. The emperor little knew what sort of a man he was letting loose upon Koryŭ. No sooner had this beast in human shape crossed the frontier than he began a systematic course of extermination. He killed right and left, every living thing. The king hastened to remonstrate but he answered “Unless all the people have their hair cut I shall continue to kill.” The records say that he carried into captivity the enormous number of 206,800 souls, both men and women, and that of the dead he left behind no estimate was ever made. When the emperor heard of this, even his fierce heart was touched, and the next year, 1255, he recalled the monster. The latter obeyed but on his way north he built fortified camps along the way, for future use.

In spite of the thanks which the Koryŭ king sent to the emperor for this deliverance, the latter allowed this same general to come back with a powerful force, and accompanied 205by the same former envoy, Sun, who had married the Mongol princess. The king had to go out and meet them and waste his remaining treasure in useless presents. So thoroughly was his exchequer depleted that his own table was but ill supplied.

The two countries were now nominally at peace, but as Gen. Cha seemed bent on fighting, there seemed to be nothing to do but to fight. Some of his soldiers were roughly handled at Chung-ju where a thousand were killed. Again in the east a large detachment of his troops were heavily defeated.

At last Gen. Cha came, in his sanguinary wanderings, to the vicinity of Kang-wha and displayed his banners in sight of that island, to the great uneasiness of its occupants. Sun, the renegade, was now a Mongol general and was as bitter against Koryŭ; as any of the northern savages.

The king, in despair, sent Kim Su-gan to the emperor to make a last appeal to his clemency, but the emperor replied “I cannot recall my troops, for your king will not come out from his retreat”. To this the envoy made the beautiful reply, “The frightened quarry will not come forth from its hole till the hunter has departed. The flower cannot spring from the frozen sod”. Upon hearing this the emperor immediately gave orders for the recall of the ruthless Gen. Cha.

Ch‘oe Hang the son of Ch‘oe U, had held the position of viceroy for eight years. His course had been one of utter selfishness and oppression. Many honorable men had met their death at his hands. He now died, leaving a son, Ch‘oe Chung, a young man of considerable power. When the viceroy died his retainers did not announce the fact until the household had been put in readiness for any emergency and a strong armed guard had been stationed at every approach. We can argue from this fact that the viceroyalty was anything but pleasing to the king and that in case the viceroy died the king would be glad of an opportunity to abolish the office altogether. Subsequent events proved the truth of this supposition. When everything was in readiness the death was announced and the young man Ch‘oe Chung was put forward as viceroy. The king was obliged to confirm him in 206the office. He had no power to refuse. Ch‘oe Jung was a son by a concubine and from this time the annals contain no mention of men’s birth on the mother’s side. This was because Ch‘oe Jung killed everybody who was heard speaking slightingly of his birth. If anyone had a spite against another he could always effectually vent it by charging him with having said that Ch’oe Chung was of common birth.

Disaster and distress followed each other thick and fast in these days. An insurrection arose in Kang-wŭn Province under the leadership of one An Yul, but was put down. A famine wasted the country and the poor were fed out of the government supplies. The Mongols though nominally at peace with Koryŭ seemed to consider the territory as their legitimate foraging ground, and now they came walking through the land, coming even to the gates of Song-do. The king sent Gen. Yi Eung and feasted the unwelcome guests in the hope of inducing them to leave the unhappy country. It was a vain hope. They turned southward and continued their thieving across the Han River even to Chik-san. The king feasted them again and asked them to desist. The leader replied that he would do so if the king would come out of Kang-wha and send the Crown Prince to the Mongol court. As this leader was that same Gen. Cha who had once been recalled by the emperor for cruelty, we may easily understand how anxious the king was to be rid of him, at any cost. He therefore consented to the conditions, and Gen. Cha retired as far as Yŭn-ju and ordered all the detachments of his army to desist from plundering. The king kept his word, in part at least, for he sent not the Crown Prince but his second son together with Ch’oe Chung.

Ch’oe Chung used his wits for the purpose of personal emolument and his credulity also led him into all kinds of difficulties. His grand mistake was in casting off an aged slave, Kim In-jun, who had served his father and grandfather faithfully and deserved better treatment at the young man’s hands. The worm, thus trodden upon, turned and bit to the bone. It was as follows. The aged servant, gaining access to the king, told him that the young viceroy was dead and in a moment secured another man as leader of the soldiers. Clad with his new power the vengeful old man caught 207and killed some of the most intimate friends of the viceroy and in the early morning gained access to the viceroy’s house and hunted him from room to room. He found him hidden in a disused chimney flue from which he was speedily drawn forth and dispatched. When the old slave announced this to the king the latter said “You have done me a great favor”, and could hardly refrain from tears. The king then destroyed the picture of Ch’oe Chung-heun who had founded the viceroyalty, and distributed the ill-gotten wealth of the Ch’oe family among the people. It is said that even the lowest citizen received at least three bags of rice or other grain. At the same time all Ch’oe’s following were banished.

The year 1258 had now come, the last that the aged king Ko-jang was destined to see. In this year the Mongols came again as usual. They began by building and garrisoning a fortress at Eui-ju. Then Gen. Cha Ra-dă with a small body of a thousand troops came southwards as far as Su-an in Whang-hă Province. It shows how utterly shorn of power Koryŭ was, that this general should dare to penetrate so far into the land with only a thousand men at his back. Hearing of this the aged king decided to try a little artifice. He came out of Kang-wha, across the straits to Tong-jin on the opposite bank, in order to make it appear that he had complied with the emperor’s command. Gen. Cha demanded that the crown prince also come out. He made a line of camps all the way from Song-do to Tong-jin and settled down as if he intended to stay and see his orders obeyed. The king had retired to the island again upon the near approach of the Mongols and now the latter redoubled their demands and ravaged more remorselessly than ever. They swarmed all about Kang-wha and nothing but a narrow strip of water lay between the king and that more than half savage army. The water proved, however, an effective barrier. All this time another Mongol force under Gen. San Gil-dă was wasting the northern and eastern districts, The people of Wha-ju and of fourteen other towns, led by one Sin Chip-pyŭng sought refuge on Cho-do island but finding this insecure, moved to another; but some Koryŭ renegades led Mongol troops there and overthrew the little colony.

The king now altered his tactics. Sending an envoy to 208China he said “I have desired to obey the emperor but hitherto I have been prevented by the powerful officials. Now that the viceroy has been put out of the way I will go back to Song-do and do as you shall direct. But we are surrounded by your soldiery and it is hard to move. We are like mice when the cat is about. Let them be ordered back home and I will do as you direct.”

Meanwhile two traitors in the north had overpowered the Koryŭ general and had gone over to the enemy. The whole north was therefore without a single defence and was being held by these two traitors under Mongol orders. Such was the unhappy condition of affairs when the year 1258 came to a close.

Chapter VII.

The Mongols a fixture.... a royal envoy.... his reception.... palaces on Kang-wha destroyed.... the regency.... Mongol troops ordered away.... standing complaint.... a singular custom.... pirates.... the prince finds Kublai Khan.... the prince returns to Korea.... Mongol policy conciliatory.... again suspicious.... tribute remitted.... king goes to China.... Sun silenced.... Chinese envoys to Japan.... accompanied by Korean envoys.... Kublai’s message to Japan.... specified charges against Koryu.... Mongol general murdered.... envoys to Japan shabbily treated.... Kublai orders Koryu to aid in the invasion of Japan.... Kim Ehun destroyed.... Japanese captives sent to Peking.... revolution.... the emperor threatens.... king reinstated.... king goes to China.... his requests.... returns.... sedition.... preparations to invade Japan.... officials’ wives restored.... a remarkable commissioner.... Kublai proclaims the Yuan empire.... Japanese envoy.... rebellion on Quelpart.... finances in bad shape.... Koryu falsely accused.... rebellion stamped out.... Koreans build boats for the Mongols.... the army of invasion.... the expedition sets sail.... attack.... driven back by storms.... the king’s Mongol queen.... Mongol coiffure and dress.... argument for plurality of wives.... women’s rights.... another envoy to Japan.

The year 1259 opened with the sending of an envoy to China but he was waylaid, robbed and killed by Koryŭ ruffians; thus Koryŭ was ever discredited in the eyes of China. The Mongols now began to make fields about P‘yŭng-yang with the intention of making that city a permanent Mongol center. They repaired the walls of the town and constructed new war boats on the river.

209The king came to the decision that there was no possibility of ridding himself of this incubus but by sending the crown prince to China. When Gen. Cha Ra-dă heard of this he was highly pleased. Of course it would appear that he had brought about this happy result. This was in the third moon and Gen. Cha expected the arrival of the prince the following month. When he heard that he was not to start till the fourth moon he was angry; the king therefore hurried the preparations and sent the prince off in the third moon. The escort consisted of forty men, and there were three hundred horse-loads of gifts. In good time all arrived at the court of the Mongol emperor. Gen. Cha however did not enjoy his triumph, for at this very time he sickened and died.

When the prince arrived at the Chinese court the emperor was away on a campaigncampaign against the Sung Empire in the south; so he announced himself to the official in charge at the capital, Song Kil. The latter asked if the king had as yet gone back to Song-do, to which the prince replied in the negative, but added that the king would go as soon as possible if the emperor demanded it. Song Kil rejoined “How can we recall the soldiers so long as the king does not leave Kang-wha?” The Prince replied “Gen. Cha said that if I came the troops would be recalled. If they are not recalled the people will have no hope except in flight.” When Song Kil heard this he countermanded an order which had been given for additional troops to be sent into the peninsula. Word was sent, instead, ordering the destruction of the palaces on Kang-wha. The order was obeyed and it is said that the fall of the buildings sounded like distant thunder. But the aged king who had suffered so many vicissitudes of fortune was not to survive this great shame, and in the summer of 1259 he passed away.

Koryŭ was now without a king and the crown prince was far away in China. It was decided to form a regency toto act until the return of the prince. At first it was conferred upon the second son of the deceased king but the officials, remembering that the dying king had said “Put my grandson in as regent until the prince returns”, made the change, and the crown prince’s son, Sun, became regent pending his father’s return.

210As the Mongol troops continued their depredations in the north an envoy was again dispatched to the emperor’s court. As the latter was still away campaigning in the south the envoy made bold to follow him up. He passed Chŭk-san and finally found the emperor at Hyŭp-ju and delivered his message. The emperor said “If you profess to be friendly with me why are you always talking about my troops being in the way? Yet since the crown prince has come to China I am willing to show you this favor”. He thereupon sent an order for the retirement of all Mongol troops from Korea.

Some busybody told the emperor that Koryŭ had no desire to hold faith with China and in consequence an envoy came in haste to Song-do demanding why the people who had fled to the islands did not return to their homes. The reply was that the detention of the prince in China was a cause of uneasiness and that even if he returned it would take at least three years to get the people back to their homes; how much less could it be done with the prince in China. This then became the standing complaint of the Mongols, that the Korean people would not come back to the mainland.

By this time the uncertainty of affairs and the fact that the central government was weak and the Mongols still numerous caused great instability in the north. The people were easily induced to revolt on the slightest provocation. It became a regular custom for the people, if they did not like their prefect, to kill him and transfer their allegiance to the Mongols. The central government did not dare to punish them, for this would provoke the Mongols, and reprisals would be in order. At the same time there was trouble in the south, for pirates from both Japan and the Sung kingdom of southern China kept ravaging the island of Quelpart. An official was sent from Song-do to take in hand the defense of the island but the people found him worse than the pirates had been.

It was in 1260 that the crown prince followed the emperor southward, but soon after reaching the emperor’s camp the latter died in the town of Hap-ju and Gen. A-ri Pal-ga took the reins of power arbitrarily. The prince knew that the great general Hol-p‘il-ryŭl (Kublai) would doubtless become emperor in spite of this seditious movement on the 211part of A-ri Pal-ga; so he secretly effected his escape from the latter’s camp and struck directly across the country to Kang-nam where he found Hol-p‘il-ryŭl in charge of an army, and, informing him of the emperor’s decease, they both hastened toward Peking. It was not till the crown prince returned to Peking that he learned of his father’s death and he hastened to assume the mourner’s garb.

The emperor, Kublai Khan, sent him back to Koryŭ with great honor, believing that, as he was to become king of Koryŭ, the vassal power would thus become more closely united to China. Two Mongol generals came with him as escort. These were Sok Yi-kă and Kang Wha-sang. On the way these generals were told by a Koryŭ renegade that the crown prince would change the capital to Quelpart. They asked the prince to face this man and deny the charge but he assumed a royal attitude and exclaimed “I would cut off my hair and become a slave before I would meet the villain”. The generals were ashamed to press the matter. As they approached Kang-wha the prince’s son, the acting king came with a great retinue to meet them at Che-jung Harbor, where they all took boat and crossed to the island. As the Mongol generals strongly urged the king to go back to Song-do, the latter sent many of the officials back there in order to make it appear as if he would follow shortly. All Mongol soldiers were now recalled from Koryŭ and all their prefects as well. The emperor likewise gave the king a present of seals, clothing, bows, arrows, silks and other articles of value. The king so far conceded to the wishes of his suzerain as to remove from Kang-wha to Tong-jin on the adjacent mainland, from which, however, it was but half an hour’s sail across to the island again. In addition to this the king sent the heir apparent to China with gifts, of which, in view of the depletion of Koryŭ’s treasury, the officials gave the greater part out of their private means. The main request preferred at Kublai’s court was that he would not listen longer to the representations of Koryŭ renegades whose one object was to stir up strife and keep the countries at war with each other. The emperor assented to this.

In 1261 the emperor made a requisition upon Koryŭ for a large amount of copper and lead. The king did not have 212the copper and yet did not dare to refuse; so he sent to A-t‘o in China and bought copper and delivered it as ordered, but told how he had procured it. The emperor charged him with lying and claimed that he was remiss in her duties as a vassal. He moreover ordered that the king take a census of Koryŭ, establish a horse relay system, train soldiers and prepare provisions for an army. The king was unable to comply and an estrangement grew up between him and the emperor which was unfortunate for both. Hong Ta-gu, a Koryŭ renegade, took advantage of this to charge the Koryŭ prince, who was then in Peking, with having insulted the Mongol crown prince. The emperor believed the charge and cut off the Koryŭ prince’s revenues and treated him with marked coldness. Hong also poisoned the emperor toward Koryŭ by intimating that she would soon attempt to throw off the yoke of China. But by the following year the relations seem to have become cordial again, for when the king asked that the tribute be remitted on the ground of the heavy expense of rebuilding palaces at Song-do, the emperor not only consented but sent a present of 500 sheep. Koryŭ was also fortunate in the sending of an envoy to Japan, for he returned with a large amount of rice and cloth from Tsushima, which had been stolen by Japanese corsairs.

In 1263 the king was ordered to repair to Peking. A long discussion followed, some of the courtiers advising one thing and some another. The monks at this time said, in effect, “I told you so”, for they had long ago promised the king that if he would favor them he would not be called to Peking. But go he did, leaving his son to administer the kingdom in his absence. Sun, whom we will remember as the Koryŭ gentleman who had married a Mongol princess and who was thoroughly Mongolized, told the emperor that there were 38,000 troops in Koryŭ and that someone should go and bring them to China where they could act as allies for the Mongols in their conquests. To this Yi Chang-yung, who was in the king’s retinue, answered. “Formerly we had that number of soldiers but many have died and few are left. If the emperor cannot believe this let him send Sun with me to Koryŭ and we will review all the troops and learn the truth.” This was a telling blow, for Sun knew that if he once crossed 213into Koryŭ territory his life would not be worth an hour’s ransom; so he discreetly held his peace. The king came back to Song-do in December of the same year.

In 1264 the Japanese pirates made another descent upon the shores of southern Koryŭ but were driven away by the royal forces under Gen. An Hong.

In 1265 the seed was sown that led to the attempted invasion of Japan by the Mongols. A Koryŭ citizen, Cho I, found his way to Peking and there, having gained the ear of the emperor, told him that the Mongol power ought to secure the vassalage of Japan. The emperor listened favorable and determined to make advances in that direction. He therefore appointed Heuk Chŭk and Eun Hong as envoys to Japan and ordered them to go by way of Koryŭ and take with them to Japan a Koryŭ envoy as well. Arriving in Koryŭ they delivered this message to the king and two officials, Son Kun-bi and Kim Ch‘an were appointed to accompany them to Japan. They proceeded by the way of Kö-je Harbor in Kyŭng-sang Province but were driven back by a fierce storm and the king sent the Mongol envoys back to Peking. The Emperor was ill satisfied with the outcome of the adventure and sent Heuk Chŭk with a letter to the king ordering him to forward the Mongol envoy to Japan. The message which he was to deliver to the ruler of Japan said “The Mongol power is kindly disposed toward you and desires to open friendly intercourse with you. She does not desire your submission but if you accept her patronage the great Mongol empire will cover the earth.” The king forwarded the message with the envoys to Japan, and informed the emperor of the fact.

Meanwhile the emperor was being worked upon by designing men who were seeking to injure Koryŭ. They succeeded so well in their designs that he sent an envoy bearing a list of specified charges against the king. (1) You have enticed Mongol people to Koryŭ. (2) You did not feed our troops when they were in Koryŭ. (3) You persistently refuse to come back to the capital. (4) When our envoy went to Koryŭ you had a spy watch him. (5) Your tribute has not been at all equal to the demand we made. (6) You brought it about that the Japanese did not accept our offer. The emperor’s 214suspicions continued to increase until finally he sent a general, U-ya Son-dal, to demand that Yi Chang-yong and Kim Chun, two of the most influential officials of Koryŭ, together with the father and son of the latter, be brought to Peking. Kim Chun, on learning of this, advised that the envoy be promptly killed and that the king remain in some island, out of harm’s way. But the king knew that such a course would be suicidal and firmly refused. So Kim Chun himself put Gen. U-ya Son-dal to death and then announced the fact to the court. The king and court were dumbfounded at his temerity but dared not lay hands on him, though they all felt sure they would suffer for his rash act. Fortunately for them, however, other events of great importance were happening which distracted the attention of the emperor and secured immunity from punishment. These events we must now relate.

The Mongol and Koryŭ envoys, upon reaching the Japanese capital, were treated with marked disrespect. They were not allowed to enter the gates, but were lodged at a place called T‘ă-jă-bu, outside the west gate of the city. There they remained five months, and their entertainment was of the poorest quality. And at last they were dismissed without receiving any answer either to the emperor or to the king.

Kublai Khan was not the kind of a man to relish this sort of treatment and when he heard the story he sent a messenger straight to Koryŭ telling the king “I have decided to invade Japan. You must immediately begin the building of one thousand boats. You must furnish four thousand bags of rice and a contingent of 40,000 troops.” The king replied that this was beyond his power, for so many of the people had run away that workmen could not be secured in sufficient numbers. The emperor, however, was resolute and soon sent an envoy to see if his orders were being carried out, and to make a survey of the straits between Koryŭ and Japan, in the vicinity of Heuk-san Island. The emperor could scarcely believe that the Japanese would dare to treat his envoy so disrespectfully as had been reported and he suspected that it was some sort of ruse that the king of Koryŭ had been playing on him; so he decided to send his envoy Heuk Chŭk once more to Japan. This time also he was accompanied by a Koryŭ envoy, Sim Sa-jŭn.

215Meantime Kim Chun finding that his foul murder of the Mongol envoy went unpunished, became prouder and more headstrong. His son stole two boatloads of vegetables intended for the king’s own table. This roused the ire of the king. Kim Chun might kill all the Mongol envoys he wished but when it came to stealing from the king’s table something must be done. There was only one official, Im Yun, who hated Kim Chun worse than he feared him and the king selected this man for the work in hand. Sending away all the other officials to a neighboring monastery to sacrifice to Buddha for his health, he summoned Kim Chun and, when he had him at his mercy, let Im Yun fall upon him with a club and take his life. Kim Chun’s brother likewise fell the same day and the household of the offender was broken up. The usual impotence of the king was illustrated here by the very trick to which he was forced in order to rid himself of his traitorous subject.

The spring of 1268 opened, and still the envoys had not returned from Japan. The Koryŭ people managed to capture some Japanese from Tsushima who had come near the Korean coast. They were sent to Peking together with an envoy. The emperor was delighted, showed the captives all over the palace and reviewed the army before them. After showing them all the grandeur of the Mongol court, he sent them back to tell their king about it and to urge him to make friends with the great Yuan empire. This same year the crown prince went to the Mongol court.

Im Yun, whom the king had used as an instrument for the removal of the obnoxious Kim Chun, did not intend to go without his reward. He began to plan how he might become a king-maker himself. He desired to depose the king and put another in his place who would be quite subservient to himself. To this end he began to banish those who might oppose him in this scheme, and at last when he had cleared the way and deemed the time ripe, he surrounded himself with a powerful guard and called all the officials to a council. He told them that the king desired to kill him, but rather than die tamely he was resolved to do something desperate. He asked them if they agreed, but no man dared to open his mouth. Then putting on his armor he led the way to the palace and proclaimed Chang as king. This Chang was a distant relative of 216the king. He also made all the officials bow to him. The records say that this deed was accompanied by a tremendous storm of rain in which the deposed king was driven forth on foot. Im Yun and his lewd followers then proceeded to loot the palace.

The parvenu Chang, at the instance of Im Yun sent an envoy to the Mongol court saying that the king had handed over the reins of government to him. The king’s son, who had gone but lately to the Chinese court, was now on his way home. He arrived at night on the farther bank of the Yalu River and was there met by a secret messenger who had crossed in the dark to tell him that Chang had usurped the throne and that soldiers had been stationed at Eui-ju to kill him when he arrived. So the Prince turned and hastened back to the emperor and a letter was immediately dispatched demanding the reinstatement of the rightful sovereign. After two such appeals had remained unanswered the emperor threatened to send an army to enforce the demand. The officials thereupon became afraid and reluctantly put the rightful king back upon his throne. The emperor then ordered both the king and the man who had deposed him to go to China in order that the matter might be investigated. The king went but Im Yun refused and sent his son instead. The emperor ordered the king to write out the cause of the trouble but the latter feared that if he did so it would make trouble for him when he went back, for Im Yun was a powerful and unscrupulous man. He therefore told the emperor that he was troubled with a lame hand that prevented his writing. Later however, in private, he made the matter bare before the emperor and as a consequence Im Yun’s son was thrown into prison. Before returning to Koryŭ the king asked the emperor to bestow upon his son, the crown prince, the hand of one of the Mongol princesses, to give him a Mongol escort back to Koryŭ, to place a Mongol governor at P‘yŭng-yang and to return to the control of Koryŭ the northern districts of the peninsula. The emperor consented to all but the last of these requests. When the king came back to Song-do, Im Yun attempted to oppose him but was speedily put down and decapitated.

Arriving at the capital the king went into camp outside 217the walls to await the completion of the palace which was in course of construction. The troops oppressed the people, and when the king ordered them to disband they marched out in a body and went by boat to Chŭl-la Province and began to act in a rebellious manner. A royal army, sent against them, chased them into the island of Chin-do where they forced the people to join their standards. Mongol and Koryŭ troops were sent against them, but the people hated the Mongols so heartily that this rather added to the difficulty than otherwise, and the disaffection, spreading with increased rapidity, began to assume serious proportions. The emperor learned of this and, believing that the king was hardly equal to the task of managing the affairs of the government, sent a commissioner to assume control at Song-do.

Matters stood thus when in 1270 the emperor determined to send another envoy to Japan. Cho Yong-p‘il and Hong Ta-gu were appointed to this important mission and they were joined in Koryŭ by the representative of that country, by name Yang Yun-so. This embassy was charged with the somewhat dangerous task of demanding the submission of Japan. The emperor did not anticipate success in this, as is shown by the fact that he had rice fields made in Pong-san, Koryŭ, to raise rice for an army of invasion which he intended to launch upon Japan. For this work he ordered the king to furnish 6000 plows and oxen, as well as seed grain. The king protested that this was quite beyond his power, but as the emperor insisted he sent through the country and by force or persuasion obtained a fraction of the number demanded. The emperor aided by sending 10,000 pieces of silk. The Koryŭ army had dwindled to such a point that butchers and slaves were enrolled in the lists. The rebel army had been driven out of Chin-do, but a remnant had crossed over to Quelpart where the kingdom of T‘am-na still flourished. Many of these rebels had been captured on Chin-do and had been taken as captives to China. Now at the request of the king they were sent back to Song-do for punishment. A curious complication arose in connection with this. These rebels, when they first went to Kang-wha had stolen the wives of many of the officials there and had carried them south. These women accompanied their newly acquired husbands to China; but 218now that they were all returned to Song-do many of them again met their former husbands. Some were received back gladly while others were not wanted, owing to new arrangements which were quite satisfactory. But the king commanded that all officials who found their former wives should take them back.

The emperor, influenced by evil-minded men who exaggerated the wealth of the peninsula, demanded that Koryŭ send a large amount of timber to China, but the king answered that he could not accomplish impossibilities. The commissioner who had been sent was a capable man and was well liked by the people in spite of his Mongol nationality. The commissioner fell ill and was fast approaching his end. The king sent him some medicine but he refused to take it, saying that if he took it and yet died the emperor might charge the king with having made away with him by poison. So the disease ran its course and the commissioner expired amid the lamentations of the people. Their appreciation of this Mongol’s kindness shows how badly they were accustomed to being governed. Their high appreciation of his mild and just government overcame even their prejudice against his birth.

It was in this same year that Kublai Khan proclaimed the name of his empire Yuan.

When the Mongol and Koryŭ envoys returned from Japan they were accompanied by a Japanese envoy. The king hurried them on to Peking where they were received by the emperor with great delight, who hoped that he had now gained his point. But he did not relax his preparations for an invasion, for he commanded the king to hasten the construction of boats and the collection of provisions. Everything however was hindered by the rebels on Quelpart who built there a strong fortress and made it a center from which to harry the southern islands and even parts of the mainland. The exchequer was exhausted and the people could not endure further taxation. Many of them fled from their homes to escape the exactions of the government. It is said that one day the king himself had to get along without any side dishes or condiments.

The land seemed doomed to misfortune. A marauding party of Japanese landed at Keum-ju and the people, in fear of their lives, treated them well and gave them whatever they 219asked for. This the renegade Hong Ta-gu told the emperor with embellishments of his own and averred that Koryŭ was making friends with Japan with a view to an invasion of China. The action of the people of Keum-ju made this seem probable. This fed the emperor’s suspicions of Koryŭ’s bad faith and added materially to the overwhelming difficulties under which the land was already staggering.

The matter of the Quelpart rebels came to an issue when they began ravaging the coast of Chŭl-la Province, burning at one place between twenty and thirty ships and carrying away a number of Mongol soldiers as prisoners. The following spring a strong body of Mongol and Koryŭ troops crossed to Quelpart, overthrew the stronghold of the rebels and placed there a garrison of 500 Mongol and 1000 Koryŭ troops.

The eventful year 1273 opened with a vigorous demand on the part of the emperor that the king prepare 300 vessels, for which he was to supply not only the labor but the materials as well. At the same time the vanguard of the army of invasion, 5000 strong, came to Koryŭ, perhaps to see that the commands of the emperor were promptly complied with. They brought 33,000 pieces of silk to use in purchasing supplies for their maintenance. Silk was the very last thing that the poverty-stricken people of Koryŭ wanted, but it was forced upon them and they had to buy whether they wished or not. The king in attempted obedience to the Emperor’s demands assembled 3500 carpenters and other artisans necessary to the building of the boats, and the work was begun.

The Mongol governor who had been placed at P‘yŭng-yang was a man of dark and fierce aspect and he was universally feared and hated. He also demanded the society of the fair sex and seized women right and left. Famine stared the capital in the face and the emperor was obliged to send 20,000 bags of rice to relieve the distress. In spite of the inauspiciousness of the times the crown prince who had been plighted to a Mongol princess was sent to Peking where the nuptials were celebrated. No sooner had this been done than the emperor sent to Koryŭ the main body of the army which was to cross the straits and attack Japan. It consisted of 25,000 men. Thus slightingly did the great conqueror gauge the prowess of the Island Empire.

220King Wŭn-jong died while the prince was in China and the emperor hastened to confer upon the latter the insignia of royalty and send him back to take charge of affairs at home. This prince’s name was Ko, posthumous title Ch‘ung-ryŭl. The princess, his wife, did not accompany him to Koryŭ at first but waited to follow at leisure. When the young king arrived at Song-do has first act was to send an escort to bring his Mongol queen to him.

The events above recorded had followed thick and fast upon each other and now the great and long contemplated invasion of Japan was about to become an accomplished fact. The entire army of invasion rendezvoused on the southeastern coast of Korea, opposite the islands of Japan. It consisted of 25,000 Mongol troops under Generals Hol Ton, Hong Ta-gu and Yu Pok-hyöng; and 15,000 Koryŭ troops under Gen. Kim Pang-gyŭng. The flotilla that was to carry this army across the straits consisted of 900 boats. Sailing from the shores of Korea the fleet made for the island of Iki near the mainland of Japan. Entering the harbor of Sam-nang they found a small garrison stationed there. Generals Kim and Hong attacked and routed this outpost, returning to the fleet, it is said, with 1000 heads. From this point they approached the mainland, landing at several points for the purpose of making a general advance into the country. The Japanese however attacked them briskly and checked the advance, but were themselves checked by a Koryŭ General, Pak, whom the Mongols praised highly for his valor.

It was a foregone conclusion that the allied Koryŭ and Mongol forces must retire sooner or later. Forty thousand men could do nothing on the Japanese mainland. So they retired slowly back to their boats. Nature aided the Japanese, for a storm arose which wrecked many of the boats and many more were scattered, so that the total loss to the allied forces was something over 13000. The scattered remnants of the fleet rendezvoused as best they could at the harbor of Hap and from there made their way back to Koryŭ. So ended the first attempt to subdue the Land of the Rising Sun.

Meanwhile events were not at a standstill in the peninsula. The king went as far as P‘yŭng-yang to meet his bride. Escorting her back to the capital he gave her a palace of her 221own, fitted up according to her fancy. The records say that she had sheep skins hanging in the doorways. This would probably be in accord with Mongol ideas. The former Queen was lowered to the position of second wife or concubine. The Mongolizing tendency had now gone so far that the king ordered the officials to adopt the Mongol coiffure. The order was not obeyed until after long and heated debate, but at last the conservatives were voted down and all submitted to the new style. At the same time the Mongol dress was also adopted.

An amusing incident is reported as having occurred about this time. A courtier named Pa-gyu observed to the king, “The male population of the country has been decimated but there are still plenty of women. For this reason it is that the Mongols take so many of them. There is danger that the pure Koryŭ stock will become vitiated by the intermixture of wild blood. The king should let each man take several wives and should remove the restrictions under which the sons of concubines labor.” When the news of this came to the ears of the women they were up in arms, as least the married portion; and each one read to her spouse such a lecture that the subject was soon dropped as being too warm to handle. When the king passed through the streets with Pa-gyu in his retinue the women would point to the latter and say “There goes the man who would make concubines of us all.”

In spite of the failure of the plan of invasion, the emperor could not believe that Japan was serious in daring to oppose his will and so sent another envoy demanding that the Japanese sovereign come to Peking and do obeisance. We may well imagine with what ridicule this proposition must have been received in the capital of the hardy islanders.

Chapter VIII.

A Queen huntress.... general tax.... a jealous Queen.... tribute.... a thrifty Queen.... lack of filial piety.... a termagant.... Mongol influence at its zenith.... second invasion planned.... corrupt court.... preparations for the invasion.... expedition sets sail.... difficulties 222.... terrible catastrophe.... survivors.... retreat.... new preparations.... the plan given up.... corruption.... famine in China.... northern cannibals.... at last driven back.... a son’s rebuke.... Timur Khan makes changes.... king abdicates.... family difficulties.... an abject king.... new slave law.... king goes to Peking.... Ch‘ung-sŭn ascends the throne.... a disgusted courtier.... a kingless country.... eunuchs elevated.... reconstruction.... king of Mukden.... pander to the Mongol court.... king’s father banished.... silver coin.

The sporting proclivities of the Mongol queen of Koryŭ were an object of wonder and disgust to the people, for she was accustomed to accompany the king in his expeditions and was as good a horseman as any in the rout. It may well be imagined that the finances of the country were in bad shape, and it was found necessary to reconstruct the revenue laws to meet the constantly recurring deficit. For the first time in the history a general tax was levied on all the people, high and low alike. Hitherto taxes had been levied only on the better class of people. This tax was called the hop‘o which means “house linen,” for the tax was levied in linen cloth. This shows that although coin circulated, barter was as yet the main method of interchange of commodities.

The custom of dressing in white must be a fairly ancient one for we learn that at this time the government ordered the use of blue instead of white, as blue is the color that corresponds to east. The birth of a son to the king’s Mongol consort was the signal for great rejoicings and festivities. Everyone offered congratulations, even the discarded queen.

It is said that the king paid some attention to this former queen and that it aroused the fierce jealousy of the Mongol queen. She declared that she would write and complain to the emperor that she was being ill treated. She was dissuaded from this by the earnest entreaties of the officials. At the same time a further concession was made to the Mongolizing tendency by changing the names of official grades to those in use among the Mongols.

The emperor had not given up his plan of subduing Japan, and for this purpose he began the preparation of boats in the south of Korea, calling upon the Koreans to supply all the requisites. But this was not the only use to which he put his Koryŭ vassal, for he also demanded women and 223pearls; the former were taken from the men and the latter from the women; and both were sent to the Mongol court.

The Mongol queen of Koryŭ was a thrifty woman and let no small scruples stand in the way of the procuring of pin-money. She took a golden pagoda from one of the monasteries and melted it down. The bullion found a ready market. She also went into the ginseng raising business on her own account, taking people’s fields by force and marketed the crop of ginseng in Nanking, where it brought a good price. She thus turned an “honest” penny. But it all went against the aristocratic tendencies of the king. That the queen was not without a touch of superstition is shown by the fact that she desisted from accompanying the king to the grave of Wang-gön when told that the spirit of the founder of the dynasty was a strong one and that if she went she might be attacked by some dangerous disease.

When some one hinted to the queen that the former queen was plotting against her life she promptly had her seized and put to the torture, and it would have cost her her life had not the officials interfered and won the inquisitors over to clemency. But her oppression of the people went on unchecked and she sequestered so much of their property that hundreds of people were driven into actual mendicancy. Even when news of her mother’s death reached her she stopped feasting but a short time, to shed a few conventional tears, and then resumed her revels. This was perhaps her greatest offence in the eyes of the people of Koryŭ. But her affection for her husband was very real for we learn that when he was taken sick and she was told that it was on account of her lavish use of money, she stopped building, sent away her falcons and restored a gold pagoda to the monastery from which she had taken it. She had ideas of her own as to the proper treatment of women by the sterner sex, for when the king preceded her in one of the processions she turned back and refused to go. The king went back to pacify her but she struck him with a rod and gave him a round scolding. She was meanwhile doing a stroke of business in sea-otter skins. She kept a large number of men hunting these valuable animals, but when she found they were “squeezing” half the catch she imprisoned the offenders.

224It was not till 1279 that all the officials, high and low, military and civil, had adopted the Mongol coiffure and dress. It was now that the Mongol influence was at its zenith in the peninsula. In this year the whole royal family made a journey to Peking and it was the signal for a grand festival at that capital. It put an end once for all to the suspicions entertained by the emperor relative to the loyalty of the king of Koryŭ. The busybodies therefore found their occupation gone. On their return the queen resumed building operations, seized over 300 of the people’s houses and had a thousand men at work erecting a palace.

Meanwhile what of the Mongol envoy who had been sent to Japan with his daring demand that the Japanese sovereign go to Peking and do obeisance? He had been promptly killed, as might have been anticipated. When the king sent word to Peking that the emperor’s envoy had been killed, another invasion was immediately decided upon; and the king was charged with the duty of preparing 900 vessels to transport a great army of invasion across the straits. The king was hardly prepared for such an undertaking. He was spending his time in revelry and debauchery. He called to Song-do all the courtezans, sorceresses and female slaves and had them join in singing obscene songs for the delectation of his guests. His manner of life was in no sense worthy of his position. It is not surprising therefore that famine found its way to Koryŭ the following year, and the emperor had to give aid to the extent of 20,000 bags of rice.

The king wanted to lead the army of invasion, and so the emperor called him to Peking to discuss the matter. But Hong Ta-gu talked the emperor over and secured the post of general-in-chief himself. He raised 40,000 regular troops and another general raised 100,000 more among the vassal tribes. The king advised that only the men from the dependent tribes be sent, but that their number be increased. To this the emperor did not consent, and soon the king came back to his capital where he went to work preparing the 900 boats, 15,000 sailors and 10,000 bags of rice, together with many other things that would be needed. The emperor sent Hong to superintend these preparations and the king, being thrown completely into the shade, could do nothing but obey orders. 225Hong was so obnoxious to the king that he requested the emperor to remove him and let Gen. Kim Pang-gyŭng superintend the work of preparation. To this consent was given.


It was in the next year, 1282, that all the troops rendezvoused at Hap-p‘o, now Ch‘ang-wŭn, and prepared to embark. The king went down from the capital to review the whole array. There were 1000 boats in all. Of Koryŭ soldiers there were 20,070, of Mongols there were 50,000. The soldiers from the dependent tribes, of which there were 100,000, had not yet arrived. It is hard to say just who these 100,000 men were. The records say they were from Kang-nam but they are also designated by another character in the records which would imply a different origin.

Then the whole flotilla sailed away to the conquest of Japan. They made for Tă-myŭng Harbor where the first engagement with the Japanese took place. At first the invaders were victorious and 300 Japanese fell, but when the latter were reinforced the Mongols drew back with great loss. The allied forces then went into camp where it is said that 3000 of the Mongols died of fever. Gen. Hong was very anxious to retreat, but Gen. Kim said, “We started out with three month’s rations and we have as yet been out but one month. We cannot go back now. When the 100,000 contingent arrives we will attack the Japanese again.” Soon the reinforcements came.

The invading army now pulled itself together and sailed for the mainland of Japan. As they approached it a storm arose from the west and all the boats made for the entrance of the harbor together. As it happened the tide was running in very strong and the boats were carried along irresistibly in its grip. As they converged to a focus at the mouth of the harbor a terrible catastrophe occurred. The boats were jammed in the offing and the bodies of men and the broken timbers of the vessels were heaped together in a solid mass, so that, the records tell us, a person could walk across from one point of land to the other on the solid mass of wreckage. The wrecked vessels contained the 100,000 men from the dependent tribes, and all of them perished thus horribly, excepting a few who managed to get ashore. These afterwards told their story as follows: “We fled to the mountains and lay 226hidden there two months, but the Japanese came out and attacked us. Being in a starving condition, we surrendered, and those of us who were in fair condition were made slaves and the rest were butchered.”

In that great catastrophe 8,000 Koryŭ soldiers perished, but the remaining Koryŭ and Mongol forces, beholding the miserable end of the main body of the invading army, turned their prows homeward and furled their sails only when they entered a KoryŭKoryŭ harbor.

At first the emperor was determined to continue the attempt to subdue the Japanese, and immediately sent and ordered the king to prepare more boats and to furnish 3,000 pounds of a substance called in the records tak soé. The character tak means a kind of wood from whose pulp paper is made, and the character for soé means metal, especially such as is used in making money. Some have conjectured that this refers to paper money, others that it simply meant some metal.

A Koryŭ citizen, Yu Ju, advised the emperor to use only Koryŭ troops and the men from Kang-nam in his next invasion of Japan and to provide in advance 200,000 bags of rice in the peninsula. The emperor thereupon ordered the king to lay aside 40,000 bags with this end in view. The king answered that if all his officials could get but ten thousand bags, this greater number was surely out of the question. So he was told to set aside as many as he could.

The following year, 1283, changed the emperor’s purpose. He had time to hear the whole story of the sufferings of his army in the last invasion; the impossibility of squeezing anything more out of Koryŭ and the delicate condition of home affairs united in causing him to give up the project of conquering Japan, and he countermanded the order for the building of boats and the storing of grain.

The record of the next few years is hardly worth writing. The royal family went to Peking with 1,200 men as escort and remained there six months. Returning, they spent their time in trampling down good rice-fields in the pleasures of the chase and in seeking ways and means of making government monopolies of various important commodities, especially salt. On a single hunting expedition 1,500 soldiers accompanied 227the royal party afield. The queen developed a strange propensity for catching young women and sending them to her people in Peking. A law was promulgated that before a young man married he must notify the government. This was done for the purpose of finding out where marriageable girls lived so that they could be the more easily seized and sent to China. One official cut off his daughter’s hair when he found that she was to be sent to China. The king banished him for this and beat the girl severely. It is said that these girls upon arriving in China became wives, not concubines.

In 1289 a famine in China resulted in a demand for 100,000 bags of rice from Koryŭ. The king was at his wits end but by great exertion and self-sacrifice on the part of the officials 60,000 bags were collected. They were sent by boat, but 6000 were destroyed in a storm and 300 men were lost.

But now in 1290 a new element of danger appeared in the shape of the wild tribe of T‘ap-dan across the northern border who began to ravage the outlying Koryŭ towns. When they had penetrated the country as far as Kil-ju the king sent an army against them, but more than 20,000 came swarming down from the north and seized two districts in Ham-gyŭng Province. They ate the flesh of men and dried the flesh of women for future consumption. The Koryŭ troops held them in check at first. The emperor sent 13,000 troops to reinforce the Koryŭ army. In spite of this, however, the king felt obliged to take refuge in Kang-wha for fear of surprise. The following year the T‘ap-dan savages came as far south as Kyŭng-geui Province and all the officials and many of the people fled before them. It was a literary man of Wŭn-ju who was destined to be the first to bring them to a halt. Wŭn Ch‘ung-gap gathered about him all the strong men of the neighborhood and drove back the van of the invading force. Then the great body of the savage horde came and surrounded the town. Wŭn killed the messengers they sent demanding surrender, and sent back the heads as answer. A desperate attack was made but the little garrison held firm till by a lucky chance a rumor of some kind caused a panic among the attacking forces and in the stampede that followed every man’s sword was at his neighbor’s throat. While this 228was going on Wŭn and his fellows made a sudden sally and captured the savage chief To Cha-do, and sixty of his attendants were cut down. The rabble then took to their heels and from that day never dared to attack any considerable town. The spell of terror which had held the people of Koryŭ was now broken and they found no more difficulty in keeping these savages at arm’s length. Ten thousand Mongol troops arrived and began a campaign against these freebooters and in Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province had a splendid victory over them, leaving, it is said, a line of thirty li of dead as they pursued the flying enemy. When the Mongol troops went back home, their general told the emperor that the war had destroyed the crops of Koryŭ and that 100,000 bags of rice must be sent. The emperor consented, but when the rice arrived the officials and men of influence divided the rice among themselves, while the people went without.

All this time the crown prince was suffering a lively feeling of disgust at the sporting propensities of his father, and now that he was about to return from Peking he wrote his father a very sarcastic letter saying, “As all the public money has been used up in hunting tournaments you must not lay an extra expense upon the treasury by coming out to meet me.” The king was ashamed and angry but went as far as P‘yŭng-ju to meet his son and took advantage of the occasion to hunt along the way.

That Kublai Khan harbored no ill-will against the Japanese on account of his failure to conquer them is shown by his sending back to their country several Japanese whom the Koreans had caught and carried to Peking. Two Koryŭ men carried them back to Japan; but the Japanese did not return the courtesy, for the two Koryŭ messengers were never seen again.

The king and queen were both in China when the emperor Kublai died and they took part in the funeral rites, although the Mongol law forbade any outsider to participate in them. Timur Khan succeeded Kublai. He apparently had no intention of invading Japan, for of 100,000 bags of rice which had been stored in Koryŭ for that purpose, he sent 50,000 to the north to relieve a famine-stricken district. He also gave back to Koryŭ the island of Quelpart which had 229been in Mongol hands since the time when the Mongol and Koryŭ soldiers had put down the rebellion. From this time dates the use of the name Ché-ju, which means “District across the water,” and by which the island has ever since been known.

The king had now completed his cycle of sixty-one years and the soothsayers were appealed to to read the future. They said evils were in store and he was advised to give amnesty to all but capital criminals, repair the tombs of celebrated men, give rice to the poor and remit three years’ revenue. But gray hairs had not brought wisdom to the king. His time was spent in frivolity and sensuality. The crown prince looked with unfriendly eye on these unseemly revels and when, in the following year, 1297, his mother, the Mongol princess, died, he claimed that her death was due to one of the favorite concubines, and as a consequence the suspected woman was killed. The prince had married a Mongol princess in China and now at her summons he went back to China. The old man, bereft of both wife and concubine, wrote the emperor that he wished to surrender the reins of power into the hands of his son. The emperor consented and in the following year the prince was invested with the royal insignia, while his father was honored with the title “High King.” The new queen was a Mongol and as she came to the Koryŭ capital a new palace was constructed for her. But her royal husband saw fit to follow the example of his forebearsforebears and take to himself a concubine. The queen, by her frequent exhibitions of jealousy, lost what little love her lord had ever felt for her. She was not long in letting the state of affairs be known at Peking and soon an imperial mandate arrived consigning the concubine and her father to prison. Then another came remanding both to China. Then a high monk came to mediate between the king and queen. This proved ineffectual and the emperor commanded both king and queen to appear before him in Peking. It was done and the royal seals were put back into the hands of the aged king. The prince and his unhappy queen were kept in China ten years.

The close of the century beheld an old dotard on the throne of Koryŭ, so incapable of performing the duties of his 230high office that the emperor was obliged to send a man to act as viceroy while the old man spent his time trifling with mountebanks and courtesans. The records state that he had lost all semblance to a king.

The viceroy whom the emperor had sent was named Whal-yi Gil-sa, and one of his first proposals was to do away with slavery; but objection was raised that then a slave might become an official and use his influence to wreak vengeance upon his former master. So a law was made that only the eighth generation of a manumitted slave could hold office.

In 1301 an envoy was sent to Peking to make the audacious proposal that the crown prince’s wife should be made the wife of a Korean official named Chong. This was because the Koryŭ officials believed she had been criminally intimate with him and they were anxious to get the prince back on the throne. An official originated the scheme of having this Chong take the prince’s wife and ascend the throne himself, but the emperor ordered him thrown into prison. When this had been done the aged king sent an envoy pleading that the prince be sent back to him. As this was not granted the king himself went to Peking where he lodged at first at his son’s house, but after a quarrel with him moved to the house of the discarded princess, his daughter-in-lawdaughter-in-law. The emperor tried to mediate between father and son but without effect. Then he tried to send the old man back to Koryŭ; but rather than go back the aged king took medicine to make himself ill and so incapable of travel. He was fearful that he would be assassinated on the way by his son’s orders.

The emperor died in 1308 and was succeeded by Guluk Khan. This young man was the friend of the prince, and as a consequence the old king was thrown into prison, his nearest friends killed or banished and the young man was raised to a high position under the Chinese government and his friends, to the number of a hundred and eighty, were made officials. But it was the old man that the emperor finally sent back to Koryŭ to rule at the same time he making the prince king of Mukden. Though so far away from the capital of Koryŭ the prince was the one who really ruled Koryŭ, so the records say. The father soon died and the prince immediately 231proceeded to Song-do and assumed the throne in this same year 1308. His posthumous title was Ch‘ung-sŭn.

He had been kept out of his own so long that he now proceeded to make up for lost time, and vied with his father’s record in revelry and debauchery. It is said that a courtier took an axe and went to the palace, where he asked the king to decapitate him as the sight of these excesses made him hate life. The king was ashamed, though we are not told that he mended his ways.

In his second year he revived the government salt monopoly and put the money into his private purse. Heretofore it had been divided between certain monasteries and officials. The Mongol empress made him furnish large quantities of timber from Păk-tu Mountain, floating it down the Yalu. It was used in the building of monasteries. The whole expense was borne by the king. The latter was now spending most of his time in Peking. The Koryŭ officials earnestly desired him to come back to Song-do, but he refused. There was a constant flow of eunuchs and courtesans from Koryŭ to Peking and it would be difficult to imagine a more desperate condition of affairs in the king-deserted country. How it was being governed we do not know. It was probably governing itself. The rural districts, which had been laid waste by the Mongol armies and which had been deserted by their occupants, were probably being gradually occupied again and the less they heard of Song-do the better they liked it.

In the third year of his reign the king killed his son because some busybodies told him that the young man was conspiring to drive him from the throne. This shows the depths to which the court had sunk, when kings were not sure but that their own sons were their worst enemies. Orders kept coming from Peking to make certain eunuchs Princes. These orders could not be disregarded. These eunuchs had doubtless been in Peking and were known to be devoted to Mongol interests. All this time the king was in Peking where his presence began to be something of a bore. The mother of the Emperor urged him to go back to Koryŭ. He promised to go in the following autumn, but when the time came he changed his mind and abdicated in favor of his second son.

232The new king, named To, posthumous title Ch‘ung-suk, came to the throne in 1314. One of his first acts was to take a thorough census of the people. Unfortunately the result is not recorded. The revenue laws were also changed and a new measurement of the fields was ordered with a view to a more effective collection of the revenue. The king likewise had ambitions along religious lines, for he sent 150 pounds of silver to Nanking to purchase books; and 10,800 were secured. The emperor also gave 4,070 volumes. These were doubtless Buddhist books and it is more than likely that many of the books in the Sanscrit or Thibetan character, still found in the monasteries in Korea, are copies of the works introduced into Koryŭ during these times.

The king who had abdicated was sent back with his son, though he had abdicated solely for the purpose of being able to live permanently in Peking. He spent his time in attending Buddhist festivals, but when he saw into what ruins the palaces in Song-do had fallen he said, “If my father had feasted less I should have had better palaces.” He soon returned toto China where he devoted himself to letters. The emperor offered to make him his Prime Minister but he declined the honor. He mourned over the lack of letters in Koryŭ and came to realise that it was Buddhism thatthat had proved the curse of the dynasty. He accepted the post of King of Mukden and later became Prime Minister to the emperor.

The young king went to Peking in 1317 to marry a Mongol Princess, and like his father was very loath to come back. We infer that the position of king in Song-do was so hedged about by priestcraft that it wasit was much pleasanter for the king to reside at the Chinese court. Koryŭ must have been exceedingly poor after the desperate struggles she had been through and life in Peking with his hand in the imperial exchequer must have had its attractions.

At the end of a year however the king and his bride came back to Song-do. The records say that in order to induce him to come they had to bribe the soothsayers to tell him that if he did not come he would be involved in war. As soon as he arrived he began to search for unmarried women to send to Peking. He had turned pander to the Mongol court. The men of the upper classes hid their daughters and denied their 233existence for fear they would be seized and sent to Peking. He himself put in practice the principles he had imbibed at the Mongol court, and spent his days in hunting and his nights in high revelry.

The king’s father who had been made king of Mukden, made a trip into southern China, or at least as far south as Chŭl-gang and Po-ta San where he engaged in Buddhist worship. Two years later he asked permission to repeat the visit and the emperor consented. But he was suddenly called back to Peking and ordered to go straight to Koryŭ. He refused and the emperor compelled him to cut his hair and to become a monk. He was banished to T‘o-bŭn or San-sa-gyŭl in the extreme north. This was because one of the Peking eunuchs, who had formerly been a Koryŭ man and hated the king, told the emperor that the ex-king had on foot a scheme to raise a revolt in China.

At this time there was silver money in Koryŭ in the form of little bottle-shaped pieces of silver, but it was much adulterated by an alloy of copper. The king gave thirty of these bottles and the officials contributed a number more; and with them a silver image of Confucius was made, indicating a slight reaction against Buddhism.

1322 the emperor, being deceived by the lying representations of the king’s cousin who wished to secure the throne of Koryŭ, ordered the king to Peking. The latter was glad to go, but was obliged to get away secretly by night for fear of being prevented by his officials. When he got to Peking the emperor took away his royal seal and ordered him to remain there, which he doubtless was nothing loath to do. The officials of Koryŭ joined in a letter begging the emperor to send him back, but without success, till in 1324 the emperor died and his successor proclaimed a general amnesty, of which the aged ex-king took advantage to return to Peking from his place of banishment in the north. The king and Queen returned to Koryŭ in the following year. No sooner were they settled in their palace again than they went on a pleasure trip to the Han River; but the trip ended disastrously for while away on the journey the Queen was confined and died in giving birth to a son. This shows to what extremes the passion for the chase led the court.


Chapter IX.

Horrible excesses.... a royal desperado.... martial implements proscribed.... another scapegrace.... general suffering.... taxes increased.... emperor furious.... a general cleaning out.... the kings.... beginning of the great Japanese depredations.... king supplanted.... a memorial.... omens of the fall of the dynasty.... Buddhism ascendent.... a traitor falls.... costly festival.... trouble in China.... the rising Ming power.... restiveness under the Mongol yoke.... Yi Whan-jo appears upon the stage.... genealogy.... place of origin.... Mongol adherents try to make trouble.... Mongol power opposed.... coinage.... a new capital.... divination.... first mention of founder of present dynasty.... alarming Japanese raids....“the mighty fallen”.... a curious spectacle....“Red Head robbers”.... they invade Koryŭ.... a council.... P‘yŭng-yang taken.... panic at the capital “Red Heads” beaten.... king favors a Mongol pretender.... the dreaded Japanese.... king removes to Han-yang.

With the year 1329 begins a series of events that almost baffles description. The worst excesses of Rome in her decline could not have shown more horrible scenes than those which made the Koryŭ dynasty a by-word for succeeding generations. The king’s cousin, who was king of Mukden, was always slandering him to the emperor, for he was itching for the crown of Koryŭ himself. Meanwhile the king was buildingMeanwhile the king was building “mountains” and pleasure-houses without end and his hunters were his favorites by day and the courtezans his boon companions by night. His son was in Peking learning the ways of the Mongol court and preparing to prove as abandoned a character as his father. In 1331, at the request of the king, the Emperor made the young man king. The cares of office seem to have interfered with his debaucheries. The prince’s name was Chung, posthumous title Ch‘ung-hyé. He was sent to Song-do and his father called to Peking. This was well, for the young man hated his father intensely. No sooner had he assumed the reins of power then he ran to ten times the excess of riot that even his father had done. The whole of his newly acquired power was applied to the gratification of his depraved appetites and within a year so outrageous were his excesses that the emperor had to recall him in disgrace to Peking and send back the father to administer the government. 235This added fuel to the son’s hatred of his father.

The reinstated king continued his old courses and added to his former record another desperate crime, in that he frequently stopped a marriage ceremony and forcibly carried away the bride to become a member of his harem. It was a marvel that the people did not rise and drive such a villain from the country. When he made a trip to Peking in 1336 the emperor made him carry his son back to Koryŭ. He was such a desperate scapegrace that Peking itself was not large enough to hold him.

The following year the emperor promulgated a singular order and one whose cause it is difficult to imagine. It was to the effect that all swords, bows and other martial implements be put away from all Koryŭ houses and that no one be allowed to ride a horse; but all must go afoot. This may have been a precautionary measure to prevent the acquiring of skill in the use of weapons or in horsemanship, so as to render less probable the future use of such acquirements in an attack upon China.

At last, in 1340, the king died and it looked as if the desperate character who for one short year had played fast and loose with Koryŭ royalty would become king. A courtier, Cho Chŭk, surrounded the palace with soldiers with a view to assassinating the young man who had not yet received investiture from the emperor, and at the same time a message was sent to the deceased king’s cousin, the king of Mukden, summoning him to Song-do. The young Prince, bad as he was, had a considerable following, and a desperate fight ensued in which he was wounded in the shoulder. But Cho Chŭk’s forces were routed and he himself caught and beheaded. The emperor learning of this through the Prince’s enemies, called him to Peking and took him to task for killing Cho Chŭk, the friend of the king of Muk-den; but the facts soon came out, and the Prince was exhoneratedexhonerated and sent back to Song-do, having been invested with the royal insignia. Unlike his father and grand-father, he did not marry a Mongol Princess but took as his Queen a Koryŭ woman. He likewise took a large number of concubines. Not content with this he had illicit commerce with two of his father’s wives. The almost incredible statement is made in the records that on one occasion, feigning 236drunkennessdrunkenness, he entered the harem of his dead father and had the women seized and violated them. They tried to escape to China but he prevented them from securing horses for the purpose. His profligate life was the curse of the country. Nothing was too horrible, too unnatural, too beastly for him to do, if it afforded him amusement. He sent 20,000 pieces of cloth together with gold and silver to purchase many things of foreign manufacture, but what these were we are not informed. One of his amusements was the throwing of wooden balls at a mark but when this lost piquancy he substituted men for the target and frequently engaged in this truly humanehumane pastime. General distress prevailed. Many died of starvation and many ran away to distant places and many became monks in order to escape the king’s tyranny. Sons cut off their hair and sold it in order to secure food for aged parents. The prisons were full to overflowing. Suicide was a thing of daily occurenceoccurence.

The king sent to Kang-neung to levy a tax on ginseng, but as none could be found the messenger levied on the well-to-do gentlemen of the place and this was so successful that the king widened the scope of his operations and made it as hard to live in the country as at the capital. Everything that could possibly be taxed was put on the roll of his exactions. No form of industry but was crushed to the ground by his unmitigated greed. When amusements failed he tried all sorts of experiments to awaken new sensations. He would go out and beat the drum, to the sound of which the workmen were building the palace. This building had iron doors, windows and roof. If the king’s pander heard of a beautiful slave anywhere she was seized and brought to this palace which was also her prison and where she spent her time in weaving in company with many other women who had been similarly “honored.” Often by night the king would wander about the city and enter any man’s house and violate any of its inmates.

When this all came to the ears of the emperor he was furious. An envoy was sent to Song-do with orders to bring the wretch bound to Peking. The king came out to meet this envoy but the Mongol raised his foot and gave the wretch a kick that sent him sprawlingsprawling on the ground. He was then bound and locked up and after things had been put in some 237sort of shape in the capital the king was carried away to Peking to answer to the emperor. Many of the king’s intimates were killed and many fled for their lives. A hundred and twenty concubines were liberated and sent to their homes.

When the king was brought before the emperor the latter exclaimed “So you call yourself a king. You were set over the Koryŭ people but you tore off all their flesh. If your blood should become food for all the dogs in the world justice would still be unsatisfied. But I do not care to kill any man. I will send you to a place from which you will not soon return.” So he was placed on a bier, the symbol of humiliation, and sent away to Ké-yang “twenty thousand li away,” so the records say. No man went with him save his bearers. They carried him from village to village like a dead man. He died on the journey at Ak-yang before reaching his place of exile. When the people of Koryŭ heard of this there was general rejoicing; and a proverb was made which runs, Aya mangoji. The Aya refers to Ak-yang where he died and mangoji, freely translated, means “damned.”

The heir to the throne of Koryŭ was a lad of eight years. The emperor asked him, “Will you be like your father or like your mother?” The lad replied, “Like my mother,” and thereupon he was proclaimed king of Koryŭ. His posthumous title is Ch’ung-mok. Orders were sent to Song-do to discharge all the servants and officials of the late king, and to put an end to all the evils which had been fastened upon the people. The iron palace was turned into a school. The examination laws were changed. Heretofore the examination had been simply with a view to ascertaining the candidate’s knowledge of the classics. Now it was made to include an exegesis of obscure passages and exercises in penmanship. This was followed by an essay on “What is the most important question of the time.” The emperor also ordered the establishment of a new department, to be called the Bureau of General Oversight.

The empress of China at this time seems to have been a Koryŭ woman and her relatives, who abounded in the Koryŭ capital, expected to have their own way in all matters. This new department, however, arrested and imprisoned many of them and a number died in consequence. The 238empress therefore sent a swift messenger demanding the reasons for this. The reasons seem to have been good, for the matter was dropped. Of course the young king was not of an age to guide the affairs of state in person. We are left in ignorance as to what form of regency administered the government for him.

In 1348 the boy king died and the question as to succession arose. The king’s younger brother Chi was in Koryŭ at the time; but Keui, the son of Ch‘ung-suk, the twenty-seventh monarch of the line, was in China. The Koryŭ officials asked that Keui be made king, probably because he was of a proper age to assume the responsibilities of royalty; but the emperor refused, and the following year, 1349, Chi was made king at the age of twelve, posthumous title Ch‘ung-jong. Keui, the unsuccessful candidate, was married to a Mongol princess, perhaps as a consolation for his disappointment.

With the year 1350 begins a series of Japanese depredations on the coasts of Koryŭ which were destined to cover a period of half a century and which, in their wantonness and brutality, remind us strongly of similar expeditions of the Norse Vikings on the shores of western Europe. In the second year of the young king these corsairs came, but were driven off with a loss of 300 men. Soon, as if in revenge, over 100 Japanese boats were beached on the shores of Kyŭng-sang Province; the government rice was seized and many villages wantonly burned.

That same year a kingdom called Ul-lam sent an envoy with gifts to the king of Koryŭ.

In 1351 again the Japanese corsairs came and ravaged the islands off Chul-la Province.

The emperor, for some reason not stated, decided to make Keui, his son-in-law, king of Koryŭ. He was therefore proclaimed king at the Mongol court and started for Song-do. This was the distinct wish of the Koryŭ officials and of course the boy upon the throne was helpless. He fled to Kang-wha and the next year was killed by poison, but by whose hand administered or at whose instigation is neither known nor recorded. This new king’s posthumous title is Kong-min.

239The Japanese cared for none of these changes but steadily pursued their ravages, gradually creeping up the western coast.

A Koryŭ man, Yi Săk, who had studied profoundly and had passed the civil examinations in China, now returned to Koryŭ and memorialised the king in reference to five special points; to wit, (1) The necessity of having definite boundaries for the fields. (2) Defense against the Japanese corsairs. (3) Making of implements of war. (4) The fostering of study and learning. (5) The evils of Buddhism.

All during this reign, so say the records, there were signs and omens of the fall of the dynasty. There were earthquakes, eclipses and comets; worms ate the leaves of the pine trees in the capital, and as the pine tree was the emblem of the dynasty this was ominous; red and black ants had war among themselves; a well in the capital became boiling hot; there was a shower of blood; for many days a fog like red fire hung over the land; black spots were seen on the sun; there was a shower of white horse hair three inches long; hail fell of the size of a man’s hand; there was a tremendous avalanche at Puk-san, near the present Seoul. These ex post facto prophecies show the luxuriance of the oriental imagination.

In spite of the Confucian tendency which had manifested itself Buddhism had no intention of letting go its hold on the government, and we find that in his second year the king took a Buddhist high priest as his teacher, and thus the direction was given to his reign that tended to hasten it toward its fall. He also conferred high positions upon Buddhist monks and so alienated the good will of all the other officials. This hostile feeling took definite shape when Cho Il-si surrounded the palace with a band of soldiers, killed many of the leaders of the party in power together with many of the relatives of the Mongol empress, and announced himself prime minister. To screen himself he told the king that it was not he who had caused the execution, but two other men; and he even went to the extreme of putting to death two of his confiding friends in order to give color to this statement. But Cho Il-si had overestimated his strength and the king, by secret negotiations, was soon able to decorate 240the end of a pole with his head. Twelve of his accomplices were also killed.

As the Mongol empress was a Koryŭ woman, the maternal grandmother of the crown prince of China was of course a Koryŭ woman. She was living in state in Song-do when her grandson came from Peking to make her a visit. It is said that in the festivities which graced this unusual occasion 5,100 pieces of silk were used in making artificial flowers. Such a feast had never before been seen at the capital of Koryŭ, however frequent they may have been at Peking.

The records state that in 1355 there was a great rebellion in China. We must remember that between the years 1341 and 1368 affairs were in a chaotic state in China. The last Mongol emperor, Tohan Timur, came to the throne in 1333 and gave himself up to licentiousness and luxury. No attention was paid to the filling of offices according to the time-honored law of literary merit, but the best positions were given to Mongols by pure favoritism. This caused widespread dissatisfaction among the Chinese and from that time the doom of the Mongol dynasty was sealed. In 1355 the low-born but brilliant leader Chu Yuan-chang, at the head of the insurrectionary army, crossed the Yang-tse river and took Nanking. This was the great rebellion spoken of in the Koryŭ annals and soon an envoy arrived from Peking demanding aid in the shape of soldiers. Twenty-three thousand men were sent on this forlorn hope. In 1356 a Mongol envoy brought incense to be burned in all the Koryŭ monasteries, doubtless with a view to securing supernatural aid against the rising Ming power. At the same time great uneasiness was again caused by raids of the Japanese, which increased in frequency and extent. One gang of robbers alone carried out of Kyŭng-sang Province, at one time, 200 boat-loads of rice. This year also saw the Ming forces pressing on toward Peking and driving the Mongols back step by step. As the fortunes of the Mongols waned the loyalty of Koryŭ waned accordingly. For the mass of the Koryŭ people, the Mongol yoke had never been less than galling, and they hailed the signs of the times which pointed toward her overthrow.

241This tendency to restlessness under the Mongol yoke was shown when the Mongol envoy was carrying the incense about the country to various monasteries. Everywhere he treated the people like abject slaves and trampled on their prejudices and rights. When he came to Chul-la Province the governor promptly threw him into prison and put his son to death. The Mongols in Peking were of course too busy with their own troubles to attempt to chastise Koryŭ for this; and this very impunity added impetus to the anti-Mongol feeling.

In this same year, 1356, we see the first rising of the cloud that was soon to spread over the country and, breaking, clean the land of the corruption which had so long been festering at her core. This event was the coming to the capital of the father of the man who founded the present dynasty, on the ruins of Koryŭ. This man was Yi Cha-ch‘un whose posthumous title, given after the founding of this dynasty, was Whan-jo. As his son founded this dynasty it will be fitting to inquire briefly into his antecedents. His great-grandfather was Yi An-sa, a Koryŭ official who died in 1274, and who was afterwards given the title Mok-jo. His son was Yi Hăng-yi, born in Tŭk-wun in Ham-gyŭng Province, who was compelled by the Mongols to take office under them while they held possession of the north. His posthumous title is Ik-jo. His son was Yi Ch‘un, born in Ham-heung in Ham-kyŭng Province, who held rank under Koryŭ between 1340 and 1345. His posthumous title is To-jo. His son was Yi Cha-ch‘un of whom we are now speaking. He was born in 1315 and at the time of which we are writing he was made prefect of his native place, Sang-sŭng, in Ham-gyŭng Province. This part of Koryŭ had been held by the Mongols during the whole period of their occupation of Koryŭ until their loosening grasp let it fall back into the hands of Koryŭ and the king hastened to reorganise his government there.

The relatives of the Mongol empress still nursed the delusion that they could do as they pleased in Koryŭ, secure in the possession of such powerful friends at Peking. But they soon discovered their mistake, for their misdeeds met the same punishment as did those of others. Infuriated at 242this they planned an insurrection. They thought this newly acquired district of Sang-sŭng would be the most likely to co-operate with them in this scheme; so they opened negotiations with its people. The king therefore summoned Yi Whan-jo to Song-do and warned him against these traitors. Foiled here, the empress’ relatives appealed to the country to rise in defense of the Mongol supremacy, which was being thus rudely flouted. They learned what Koryŭ thought of Mongol supremacy when they were incontinently seized and put to death and their property confiscated. The next step was the sending back to China of the Mongol “resident.” This was followed by an expedition into trans-Yalu territory which seized all the land there which formerly belonged to Koryŭ. Fearing, however, that he was going a little too fast, the king sent an envoy to Peking to tell the emperor that the local governor of the north was responsible for these reprisals and not the central Koryŭ government. Troops were nevertheless stationed in each of these newly acquired districts and fields were cultivated to provide for their maintenance.

Not long after this the important question of coinage came up. We have already seen that the medium in Koryŭ was little bottle-shaped pieces, but as these were each a pound in weight they could be used only for large transactions. Each one of them was worth a hundred pieces of linen. It was decided to change to a system of regular coinage, and so the silver was coined into “dollars” each worth eight pieces of five-strand linen. It is probable that in all small transactions barter was the common method of exchange although there may have been a metal medium of exchange as far back as the days of ancient Chosŭn, a thousand years before Christ.

The question again came up as to the advisability of moving the capital to Han-yang, the present Seoul. Enquiry was made at the ancestral temple but what answer the spirits made, if any, we are not told. All dishes and implements as well as tile were made black because the peninsula is nearly surrounded by water and black is the color that corresponds to water according to Chinese and Korean notions. Black was substituted for the prevailing color in dress which was at 243that time blue-green, and men, women and monks all donned the sable attire.

It was at length decided to change the capital to the other site and palaces were ordered built there. They were, so some say, probably outside the present south gate of Seoul.

It is said that in order to decide about the removal of the capital the king had recourse to that form of divination which consisted in making scrawls at random with a pen and then examining them to see what Chinese characters the marks most resembled. At first they did not favor a change, but after several trials the favorable response was obtained.

The year 1359 beheld a recurrence of the dreaded Japanese incursions. At this time the robbers burned 300 Koryŭ boats at Kak-san. An official, Yi Tal-jung, was sent to govern the great north-eastern section of the land. He was a friend of Yi Whan-jo, the prefect of Sang-sŭng. As he approached that place his friend Yi Whan-jo came out to meet him, accompanied by his son Yi Song-gye who was to become the founder of the present dynasty, and whom we shall designate by his posthumous title T‘ă-jo. When Yi Whan-jo handed his friend a cup of wine he drank it standing, but when Yi T‘ă-jo handed him one, so the story runs, he drank it on his knees. When the father demanded why this greater deference was shown his son the guest replied, “This boy is different from us,” and, turning to the young man, he continued. “When I have passed away you must always befriend my descendants.”

The Japanese raids had now reached such alarming proportions that an extra wall was built about Song-do and all the government granaries along the coast were moved far inland to be out of the reach of piratical parties, who would naturally hesitate to go far from their boats.

The breaking up of the Mongol power was foreshadowed by the act of a certain Mongol district Hă-yang which, with its garrison of 1,800 men, now came and enrolled itself under the banner of Koryŭ. How had the mighty fallen! Less than eighty years before the world had trembled beneath the hoof-beats of the “Golden Horde.” This was followed by the submission of a wild tribe in the north called Pang-guk-chin, and a Mongol rebel sent a messenger with gifts to the 244court of Koryŭ. Meanwhile the Japanese were ravaging the southern and western coasts without let or hindrance. It was a curious spectacle, a country eaten up by its own excesses receiving humble deputations from former masters and at the same time being ridden over rough-shod by gangs of half-naked savages from the outlying islands of Japan.

There was one tribe in the north however, called the Hong-du-jŭk or “Red-Head Robbers,” who threatened to invade the country, but forces were sent to guard against it. In the case of the Japanese marauders the difficulty was to know where they were going to strike next. There was military power enough left in Koryŭ had it been possible to so place the forces as to intercept or bring to action the robber gangs. The Japanese had really begun to threaten Song-do itself and the king wished to move the capital to Su-an in Whang-hă Province. He went so far as to send a commissioner to look over the site and report.

The king was not blessed with an heir, and in 1360 he took a second wife, which was the cause of constant quarrelling and bickering.

The “Red-Head Robbers” were led by Kwan Sŭn-sang and P‘a Tu-ban. They now took the city of Mukden and entering Liaotung, sent a letter to the king of Koryŭ saying “We have now consolidated our power and intend to set up the Sung dynasty again.” The Mongols were thus beset on both sides and were in desperate straits. Three thousand of the “Red-Heads” crossed the northern border and carried fire and sword into the frontier towns. A Mongol general, deserting the banners of his waning clan, took service with these people. His name was Mo Ko-gyŭng. He collected 40,000 men and crossed the Yalu. Eui-ju fell forthwith and the prefect and a thousand men perished. Chöng-ju soon fell and In-ju was invested, but a stubborn resistance was here encountered. The prefect, An U, was the only prefect in the north who was not afraid of the invaders. He made light of their power and by swift counter-marches and brilliant manoeuvers succeeded in making them fall back to Chöng-ju. In the mean time Gen. Yi An was sent north to P‘yŭng-yang to take charge of the army of defense. The tide of fortune had turned again and the invaders were in full 245march on P‘yŭng-yang. A council of war was held at which it appeared that all the generals were about equally frightened. With a powerful force in hand and an easily defended town to hold they still considered only how best to make a retreat. Some were for burning everything behind them and retiring to some point more easy of defense; but Gen. Yi An thought they had better leave a large store of provisions in the city, for the enemy would pause and feed there until everything was gone, and this would give the Koryŭ army time to gain needed reinforcements. This course would also appear so foolish to the enemy that few preparations would be made to meet the Koryŭ troops later. This plan was adopted and the army retired into Whang-hă Province and left the gates of P‘yŭng-yang open to the invaders. This caused the greatest consternation in the capital, and every citizen was under arms. The king immediately sent and deprived Gen. Yi An of the office which he had so grievously betrayed and put the command into the hands of Gen. Yi Seung-gyŭng.

The invading host was now feasting in P‘yŭng-yang and the king and queen in Song-do were practicing horse-back riding with the expectation that they would be obliged to leave the capital. It was the beginning of winter and the cold was intense. The Koryŭ soldiers died by hundreds and the people were being wantonly killed by foraging parties of the “Red Heads.” The records say that they left “heaps upon heaps” of dead in their track.

As in duty bound the Koryŭ forces went north and engaged the invaders at P‘yŭng-yang. At first the latter were successful and a thousand Koryŭ troops were trampled under the hoofs of the enemy’s horses; but in the end the “Red Heads” were defeated and, retreating northwards, were hotly pursued as far as Ham-jŭng. There they were reinforced and attempted to make a new stand; but the Koryŭ troops, drunk with success, attacked them with such abandon that they were obliged to build a palisade within which they intrenched themselves. The Koryŭ generals surrounded this stockade and, by a simultaneous assault of horse and foot, broke through the barrier and put the occupants, numbering 20,000, to the sword. The leader, Whang Chi-sŭn was taken alive. A remnant fled to the Yŭn-ju River where the ice broke beneath 246them and 2,000 perished. The few survivors made a desperatedesperate stand on a hill but were starved out and compelled to continue their flight, in which hundreds more were cut down along the road; and at last, out of 40,000 men who had come across the Yalu, just three hundred recrossed it and were safe.

Hardly had this happened when seventy boat-loads of these same “Red Heads” arrived at P‘yŭng-ju and soon after a hundred boat-loads more disembarked at An-ak and scoured the surrounding country. They were, however, soon put to flight by Gen. Yi Pang-sil whom the king rewarded richly for his services.

It was at this time that the king first received an envoy from Chang Sa-sŭng, a pretender to the Mongol throne. The king made the first move toward breaking away from the Mongol yoke by sending an envoy in return. The Koryŭ court evidently was in great doubt as to just how matters were going to turn out in the struggle that was under way in China. By favoring these advances on the part of a Mongol, whether of the imperial family or not, it is probable that the king lost the good-will of the Mings who, as we shall see, looked with satisfaction upon the overthrow of Koryŭ and the founding of the present dynasty.

The alarming increase both in the frequency and the violence of the Japanese incursions gave scope for the development of the military genius of Gen. Yi Whan-jo, the father of the founder of this dynasty. He was appointed general of the west to guard against the freebooters. The people of Song-do were in dismay over the proximity of the dreaded Japanese and over the defeat of all the armies sent to put them down. Many civil officials took part in the martial preparations and even took the field in defense of their country. The Japanese were now penetrating Kyŭng-geui Province. In this year, 1360, they landed on Kang-wha, killed three hundred men and stole 40,000 bags of rice. So many men were in mourning that the king was obliged to curtail the period of mourning from three years to only a few days. The palace in Han-yang had now been completed and the king removed to that place, apparently because it was further from the sea shore and more difficult of access by the Japanese.


Chapter X.

An unnecessary warning.... “Smoke-house Soldiers”.... Yi Whan-jo dies.... Yi T‘ă-jo takes his place.... new invasion by “Red Heads”.... Song-do evacuated.... the enemy revel in the capital.... cannibals.... plans for defense.... the “Red Heads.” badly beaten.... Gen. Yi distinguishes himself.... the monster Kim Yong.... Gen. Yi brings Nap-t‘ap-chul to terms.... Quelpart revolts.... “tax without reason”.... the Mongols proclaim a new king for Koryŭ.... a bold envoy.... a faithful eunuch.... Kim Yong destroyed... Mongol invasion.... order restored.... Gen. Yi drives back the Mongols.... Japanese advances.... a conscientious official.... the Japanese creep nearer to Song-do.... king inconsolable.... he meets Sin-don.... who becomes his favorite.... king’s oath to Sin-don.... disgraceful practices.... an heir to the throne.... Sin-don’s policy.... Japanese swarm along the coast.... Sin-don the “Tiger”.... he chides the king.

With the opening of the year 1361 Yi Whan-jo was appointed general of all the forces in the north and north-east. This was done against the advice of one of the officials who told the King that as Gen. Yi was from the north-east it was dangerous to appoint him general over the forces there, for untoward events were likely to happen. The king turned a deaf ear to this warning, which indeed was unnecessary, for the king had no more loyal subject that Yi Whan-jo. The king, having feasted the new appointee, sent him on his mission and himself returned to Song-do.

Ere long came reports of new and terrible ravages by the Japanese along the southern coast, especially at Nam-hă, Ko-sŭng, Kö-je and Ul-ju, while at Fusan they stole a large number of Korean boats. A garrison had been stationed in the south to be used in just such emergencies, but it had been used for so many different things that it could not be concentrated upon any given point; so levies were made on the common people. These levies went under the name of Yŭn-ho-gun, or “Smoke-house Soldiers” because from every house where smoke was seen arising a man was requisitioned. At the same time the governor of Chŭl-la Province advised the establishment of a horse relay system, but the suggestion was not acted upon.

248At this time the king lost the services of Gen. Yi Whan-jo who died at his post. His son, Yi Sŭng-gye, better known by his title Yi T‘ă-jo, stepped into his father’s place. At the very beginning of his martial career an opportunity presented itself for him to perform a signal service for the king. A certain Pak Eui deemed that the time was ripe for an insurrection and he began to take steps in that direction, but the king sent the young general, Yi T‘ă-jo, against him and the little blaze was promptly stamped out. As a consequence the young man was confirmed in the position of military governor of the north and east, and under his command was placed a large body of troops.

And now there burst upon the country another storm of fire and blood. The “Red Heads” had been gaining ground rapidly and were now ready to take their revenge for the terrible reverses they had suffered during the previous invasion. They crossed the Yalu 200,000 strong under the leadership of generals Pan-sŭng Sa-yu and Kwan Sŭng-săng. The king promptly sent Gen. Yi Pang-sil against them and hastened to swell the army to as high a point as possible, The officials and monks and other people of means brought horses or provisions, while the walls of Song-do were guarded with jealous care.

In the very first engagement the Koryŭ army was crumpled up like paper and one of the leading generals was killed. The “Red Heads” sent a letter to the king saying “We have ten million men and there is no escape for you except in prompt surrender.” It seemed true, for the invading army swept like a cyclone though the north, and in Song-do panic reigned. Flight seemed imperative. The women and children belonging to the royal household were sent away first and the king was about to follow, when the defeated Gen. Yi Pang-sil came hurrying in and implored the king not to run away but to rally the people about him and stand the siege. The king went to the center of the city, “Big Bell Street,” and submitted the question to the people, asking whether they would rally round him. Just two men responded. This settled the matter and the king and queen, each on horse-back, rode out the south gate, while behind them came a weeping crowd of old men, women and children. Such was 249the confusion that parents lost their children and families were scattered. The king’s escort consisted of only ten men. When he arrived at the Im-jin river he sent messengers in all directions summoning all loyal soldiers to rally round him.

The northern savages swept down upon the devoted city, sat down in its palaces and gave themselves up to every form of excess. They feasted upon the cattle and horses, hanging their hides upon the city wall and pouring water over them and letting it congeal, thus preventing the citizens from making their escape from the city clandestinely.

The king in his flight carried terror with him, for the people thought the enemy would be in hot pursuit; so they scattered in every direction. This displeased the king so much that when he arrived at the capital of Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province he imprisoned the governor. From that point he hurried southward as far as Pak-ju, now An-dong, in Kyŭng-sang Province.

Day by day the horrible orgies of the savages in Song-do increased in barbarity. It is said that they cooked and ate little children and that they cut off the breasts of women and fed on them.

In the midst of these vicissitudes the king appointed Chöng Se-un as general-in-chief of all the Koryŭ forces. He was a wise and loyal man and was ever thinking of ways and means of checkmating the invaders. He advised the king to send out a general letter encouraging the people and calling all the soldiers to rally to the defense of the country. The officials were also encouraged and made to feel that their utmost endeavors must be put forth in the good cause. The generals were all exhorted to do their best and were threatened with death in case they proved unfaithful. So the campaign was opened. The savages had looted all the towns about Song-do and had taken Wŭn-ju and killed its prefect. They also went north to An-byŭn in Ham-gyŭng Province where the people pretended to surrender, but, having gotten their conquerors intoxicated, they fell upon and killed them. The same tactics were tried in Kang-wha with equal success.

Gen. Chöng Se-un now appeared before Song-do with 200,000 troops. These figures must surely be an exaggeration 250for we can hardly suppose Koryŭ able at that time to put that number of men in the field. Snow and rain added to the difficulties of the situation. A spy returned and said that the troops of the enemy were massed inside the South Gate and that if a picked body of men could gain entrance somewhere and attack them from behind they could be easily overcome. At the dead of night a picked body of horsemen gained admittance somewhere in the rear of the city and fell with fury upon the garrison. At the same time the main body advanced to attack the South Gate. The savages, not knowing the size of the attacking force and being surprised from behind were thrown into confusion and attempted to run away. Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo distinguished himself by pursuing and capturing Kwan Sŭn-săng the leader of the hostile force. In this stampede the routed savages trod on and killed each other by hundreds. In the center of Song-do the dead were piled in heaps. It is said, though it must be an exaggeration, that 100,000 men perished miserably on that night. As a result of this battle several Mongol seals which the savages had taken in previous fights with the imperial armies, were recovered.

Some of the generals advised that a remnant of the enemy be spared; so the Sung-in and T‘an-hyŭng gates were thrown open and Pa Tu-ban and his remaining followers hastened out and made for the Yalu River.

It is related that during the fight on that eventful night a body of Koryŭ troops collided with a company of the enemy and a melée ensued near the East Gate, where the soldiers trod on each other. Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo was there and was stabbed in the back with a spear. Finding himself in extremely narrow quarters he drew his sword and, hewing a path through the enemy, leaped the wall, horse and all, for he was in the saddle. The spectators thought he was a spirit. A volume might be filled with the stories of the wonderful achievements of this man, but most of them are figments of the imagination, invented at a later period to add lustre to the name of the founder of the dynasty.

The capable leader Gen. Chöng Se-un, met the fate which has been the curse of Korean history from the beginning to the present time. Kim Yong-an, a jealous official, 251forged a royal order for his execution and sent it to Gen. An U who promptly carried it out. When the king learned of this he thought it was an incipient revolution but soon the other generals joined in a letter to His Majesty saying that it had been done because the murdered man was a traitor. The king accepted this as true and rewarded the murderers.

The fortress of Sang-sŭng near the Tu-man River had long been under Mongol control and was governed by a Koryŭ renegade Cho Whi and afterwards by his descendants as a hereditary fief. Now when Koryŭ once more assumed control, Cho So-săng, the then chief of this anomalous settlement, fled to Mukden where he joined the banners of a wild tribe under the lead of Nap-t‘ap-chul, and proposed to them to make a raid into Koryŭ. This they did, crossing the Yalu and ravaging as far as Puk-ch‘ung and Hong-wŭn. This promised to become a serious matter, but the difficulty of the situation for Koryŭ was increased tenfold by a fresh invasion of the south by Japanese. The king was on his way back to Song-do when news of these two disasters reached him. Things looked desperate, but to add to the hopelessness of the situation the same Kim Yong-an who had murdered Gen. Chöng now compelled the king to kill Gen. An U on the ground that it was he who had killed Gen Chöng. The monster then proceeded to killed his own brother, and induced the king to put to death generals Yi Pang-sil and Kim Teuk-pă, two of the best surviving generals. It is a wonder that Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo was spared. Song-do had been so roughly handled that the king feared the historical records would be lost or destroyed; so he now sent men to look them up and put them in a place of safety.

The wild Nap-t‘ap-chul having been so successful in their first venture, now once more entered Koryŭ territory and as the general sent against them was not able to check their advance Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo was appointed to this place. The enemy was encamped in Hong-wŭn in Ham-gyŭng Province. Gen. Yi attacked them there and routed them with a loss of 1,000 men. Near Ham-hung they made a stand and defended themselves desperately, but he soon had them in full flight once more. Taking 600 picked cavalrymen he pursued them to Ch‘a-ryăng Pass and secured another victory. Only one 252of the enemy fought well. This man fought awaysaways in front of Gen. Yi. The latter feigned flight to draw him on and then suddenly turning attacked his pursuer and laid him low with an arrow from his unerring bow. The women who followed the camp of the invading army came out and taunted the men saying “You have overcome everyone but these Koryŭ people; them you cannot conquer. You had better retreat and make for home.” The enemy called a truce and told Gen. Yi that they had come not to attack Koryŭ but the “Red Heads.” This was a mere ruse to save time. Gen. Yi knew this and drawing an arrow to the head shot one of the leaders of the enemy through the body. At last he gave orders to his archers to shoot the horses from under the enemy. This decided the battle and the Nap-t‘al-chul sued for peace. In recognition of these services the king appointed him general of all the forces in the north. The general then proceeded to annihilate all the colonies and settlements of the obnoxious Nap-t‘ap-chul throughout the entire north, and having placed them where they belonged, showed them that their only hope was in making a lasting treaty with Koryŭ. This they were quite willing to do.

As the king came slowly north toward the capital the officials urged that Song-do was too small for the capital and too near the sea to be well protected from the Japanese corsairs. They therefore urged him to remain for a time at Ch‘ŭng-ju, and he gave consent.

And now, strange to relate, Quelpart, at the instigation and under the leadership of Ho-dok-ko Pul-wha, who had been stationed there three years before to take charge of the horse-breeding industry, revolted from the sway of Koryŭ and became at least nominally a part of the Yuan empire.

In order to reward the soldiers who had done such good work in the north the king levied a special tax on the people which they gave with such poor grace that they called it the “tax without reason.”

In 1362 the emperor of China, led to it by the empress, whose seditious relatives had forfeited their lives in Koryŭ, proclaimed one Hye, called Prince Tok-heung, a relative of the king, as king in his place. But Koryŭ well knew that 253the old time power of the Mongols was gone and so prepared to resist the order.

Early in 1363 the king at last re-entered his deserted capital. A strong force was sent north to guard against the pretender and an envoy was sent to Peking to ask why there were two kings for Koryŭ. The emperor replied that the newly appointed one was the right one and that he must be received in Koryŭ. To this the envoy replied “Though you kill me and smear my blood upon my clothes I will not accompany the pretender back to Koryŭ.” The emperor praised the envoy’s bravery and did not insist upon the demand.

A Koryŭ official named Kim Yong-an, whose evil deeds we have already related, now desired to kill the king and bring in the pretender. A eunuch, An To-jok, knew of the plot and on the appointed night personated the king and was killed by the assassin’s hand. The plotter was forthwith seized, drawn and quartered and his limbs were sent throughout the land as a warning to other malcontents. The emperor was urged to send the pretender as a prisoner to Koryŭ but of course he refused. Not only so, but he also ordered the king to send the royal seals to Peking. The king refused and began preparations for defense against a possible invasion.

He did not have to wait long, for with the opening of the year 1364 a Mongol army 10,000 strong crossed the Yalu and besieged Eui-ju. In the fight at that point the Koryŭ forces were completely routed, though not till after great valor had been shown by Gen. An U-gyŭng against overwhelming odds. The Koryŭ forces retreated in disorder to An-ju. Panic prevailed among all the people of that section for they thought the horrors of the former Mongol invasion were about to be repeated.

The king sent Gen. Ch‘oe Yŭng with a considerable force to An-ju where he made all his generals swear to stand by the colors to the last. He executed a number of fugitives as an example to the rest and soon succeeded in restoring some semblance of order in the camp. Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo was ordered with 1,000 soldiers from the northeast province to An-ju. Also generals Yi Sun, U Che, and Pak Ch‘un were ordered to the same point, and the army thus consolidated 254assumed large proportions, but the men were miserably dressed and fed, and the death rate was high. Desertions were of frequent occurenceoccurence.

Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo’s influence in the northeast is proved by the commotion that followed when he left. The remnant of the Yŭ-jin tribe, led by Sam Seun and Sam Ka seized the whole of this northeast and the people were longing for the return of Gen. Yi. These two Sams were cousins of Gen. Yi and they had fled beyond the northern border and joined the wild Yŭ-jin folk.

The combination of the generals gave great confidence to the troops and when the battle was joined at Chöng-ju the Mongol forces were badly defeated. A Mongol general’s body was taken and sent all about that section to encourage the people and make them believe their troubles were near an end. Gen. Yi blamed the other generals for not following up their advantage and they became angry and said “If you are so brave, you had better try it yourself.” So the very next day he led the army out and surrounded the Mongol forces at Su-ju near the sea, where another glorious victory was won. That night the remnant of the Mongols fled back to the Yalu. Gen. Yi gave chase and it is said that only seventeen of the Mongol army got back in safety across that Rubicon of Korea. This done, Gen. Yi returned to his northeast province and drove back to their haunts the wild tribe who had taken advantage of his absence.

Gen. Yi T’ă-jo was steadily rising in favor although like Wang-gön he wisely stayed as far as possible from his royal master. The king now conferred upon him the title of Mil-jik-sa which means “The Messenger who Restores Confidence and Firmness.”

The Japanese had not ceased their incursions. Only a year had passed since 200 boat loads had ravaged the southern coast and now a like number swept the island of Kal-do in the south, so that from many a district no revenue rice was forthcoming. It is to be feared that this was the principal cause of uneasiness in Song-do—the loss of revenue. Troops were sent and a fleet of eighty war boats to guard the coast and to convoyconvoy the revenue junks, but these unexpectedly fell in with a Japanese fleet and were all lost. This disaster 255caused a panic among the people of Kang-wha and Kyo-dong Island. The governor of Chŭl-la Province came northward with troops guarding the revenue but he too met Japanese and lost all the rice and half his men.

This same year 1364 a Mongol official told the emperor that the king of Koryŭ ought to be allowed to retain his position; and the emperor listened to him. The renegade Ch‘oe Yu was sent back to Koryŭ where he was imprisoned and executed. The Koryŭ envoy Yi Kong-su also returned from Peking. A very neat story is told of him. As he was pursuing his way across a wide plain which seemed to have no inhabitants he was obliged to feed his animals with the standing grain. When he was preparing to resume his way he took a bolt of linen and wrote upon it “The price of grain,” and left it among the standing barley. His attendants said, “But the owner of the grain will never get it. Someone will steal it.” The envoy replied, “That is not my affair. I will have done my duty.” The king wished the emperor to send the would-be king to Koryŭ but to this consent was not given.

The Japanese crept nearer and nearer to Song-do with every new expedition. They went into the temple to the dead and carried away a picture of the king. It was with great difficulty that they were dislodged and driven away.

In 1365 when the queen was confined the king ordered the monks to worship on every mountain top and at every monastery to ensure a safe delivery, but all to no avail. She died in giving birth to the child and the king was inconsolable. Treasure was poured out like water to make the funeral the most imposing that had ever been seen in Koryŭ. For three years following the king ate no meat.

It was in this year that the king had that singular dream which led to such disastrous results. He dreamed that someone attempted to stab him, but a monk sprang forward and by intervening saved his life. The face of this monk remained stamped on his memory. Soon after this he met a monk, Sin-don, whose face was the same as that of the monk who had saved his life in the dream. He was the son of a slave in Ok-ch‘ŭn Monastery and he was looked down upon and despised by the other Monks. The king took this Sin-don 256to himself, raised him to high position and lavished upon him wealth and honors. As a fact this Sin-don was a most unprincipled, licentious and crafty man, but always when in the presence of the king he assumed the sedate demeanor of the philosopher and for many a year completely hoodwinked his royal master. The other officials expostulated in vain. In vain did they urge that this monk was a beast in human shape. The king considered him well-nigh inspired. He believed that it was jealousy that prompted their antagonism and rather enjoyed getting an outsider in and showing them that office and honors did not always go by inheritance. This new favorite soon began to urge the banishment of this or that official and the king always complied. On this account the feeling against him rose to such a pitch that the king was obliged to send him away for a time lest he should be killed. He remained in this retreat until the king had put to death some of his worst enemies. At last the king sent and recalled him; but the crafty man answered “I cannot go back. It is not right that I should hold office.” When the king reiterated his pressing invitation the monk replied “I am afraid that you will listen to my enemies.” To this the king made answer “I swear by the sun, the moon, the stars, heaven and earth that I will listen to no one but you.” So the wily man came back and from that day completely dominated the king. He exaggerated the faults of his enemies and so gradually supplanted them with his creatures. It is claimed of him that he built a dark vaultlike room where he indulged in almost incredible excesses. He gave out that he could cure barrenness, and by his evil practices brought down upon himself the maledictions of the whole people. The king alone would believe no ill of him. He said he was the greatest prodigy in the world.

At this time the Mongol empire was on the verge of its fall and Koryŭ envoys found it impossible to force their way through to Peking and so were compelled to desist. It is a noteworthy fact that though Koryŭ hated the Mongols she nevertheless held fast to them till the very last moment.

At this time it happened that the king was without an heir and both he and the court were anxious about the succession.

257The records say that he was so anxious to have a son that he committed an act almost if not quite unparalleled in the history of any land, civilized or savage. Having become prematurely old by his terrible excesses, he introduced a number of young men into the palace and gave them the entre into the queen’s apartments, hoping thereby that his hopes might be realised. In this he was disappointed. One day while passing an hour in the apartments of his favorite, Sin-don, he noticed there a new-born babe, the son of one of Sin-don’s concubines. He seemed pleased with the child and Sin-don asked him to adopt it as his own. The king laughed but did not seem averse to the proposition. Returning to the palace he summoned the officials and told them that for some time he had been frequenting the apartments of Sin-don and that he had gotten a son by one of the women there. He knew well enough that if he proposed to adopt Sin-don’s son the opposition would be overwhelming, so he took this means of carrying out the plan. Of course it is impossible to verify the truth of this statement. It may have been a fabrication of the historians of the following dynasty in order to justify the founder of the new dynasty in overthrowing Koryŭ. The annals of the Ming dynasty say that it was the king’s son and not Sin-don’s.

In 1366 the opposition to the favorite increased in intensity and the king was almost buried beneath petitions for his banishment or death. These the king answered by banishing or killing the senders and by this means the open opposition was put an end to. The wily monk knew that he needed more than the king’s favor in order to maintain his position of honor, and so he began to take away the fields and other property of high officials and distribute them among the people in order to curry favor with them. This brought from the officials a new and fiercer protest and they told the king that these acts would make his reign a subject of ridicule to future generations. While this did not move the king to active steps against Sin-don it caused a coolness to spring up between them. The favorite saw that he had been going too far and he tried to smooth the matter over by returning the property that had been sequestered. At the same time he secured the liberation of many slaves. Here, too, he was [...]Here, too, he was [...]

258All this time the Japanese were busy at the work of pillage and destruction. They took possession of an island near Kang-wha with the intention of fortifying it and making of it a permanent rendezvous. They landed wherever they pleased and committed the most horrible excesses with impunity. The Koryŭ troops were in bad condition. They had no uniforms and their arms were of the poorest kind and mostly out of order. They dared not attack the Japanese even when there was good hope of success. The generals showed the king the ways and means of holding the freebooters in check but he would not follow their advice, probably on account of the expense. He paid dearly for his economy in the end.

The mother of the king could not be brought to treat Sin-donSin-don with respect. When the king expostulated with her and told her that the favorite was the pillar of the state she declared that he was a low-born adventurer and that she would not treat him as her equal. From that time she incurred the deadly enmity of the favorite who used every means in his power to influence the king against her. He became suspicious of everyone who held any high position and caused many of the highest officials to be put to death. He was commonly called “The Tiger.” The depth of the king’s infatuation was shown when in this same year he went to a monastery to give thanks to Buddha for the cessation of famine, which he ascribed to his having taken Sin-donSin-don as counsellor. It is also shown in the impunity with which Sin-don took the king to task in public for certain things that displeased him. The favorite was playing with fire. The people sent to the king repeatedly asking if the rumors of the favorite’s drunkenness and debaucheries were correct. But the king’s eyes had not yet been opened to the true state of affairs and these petitioners were severely punished.


Chapter XI.

Sin-don’s pride.... Mongol Emperor’s plan of escape to Koryŭ.... Mongol Empire falls.... Japanese envoy snubbed.... an imperial letter from the Ming court.... ill treatment of Japanese envoy bears fruit.... more trouble in Quelpart.... census and revenue.... Gen. Yi promoted.... Koryŭ adopts Ming dress and coiffure.... Gen. Yi makes a campaign across the Yalu.... the Japanese come north of the capital.... Sin-don is overthrown.... popular belief regarding him.... trouble from three sources at the same time.... a Mongol messenger.... the Japanese burn Han-yang.... a new favorite.... a laughing-stock.... Chöng Mong-ju an envoy to Nanking.... plans for a navy.... useless army.... Ming Emperor demands horses.... Quelpart rebels defeated.... king assassinated.... Ming Emperor refuses to ratify the succession.... Mongols favored at the Koryŭ court.... a supernatural proof.... Japanese repulsed.... Japanese deny their responsibility for the action of corsairs.

The year 1367 saw no diminution of the symptoms that proclaimed the deep-seated disease that was eating at the vitals of Koryŭ. Sin-don even dared to flout the emperor by scornfully casting aside an imperial missive containing a notification of his elevation to an honorary position. The king continued to abase himself by performing menial duties in Buddhistic ceremonies at his favorite monastery. Sin-don added to his other claims the power of geomancy and said the king must move the capital to P‘yŭng-yang. He was sent to look over the site with a view to a removal thither, but a storm of hail frightened him out of the project. Returning to Song-do he refused to see the king for four days, urging as his excuse the fatigue of the journey. His encroachments continued to such a point that at last he took no care to appear before the king in the proper court dress but came in the ordinary dress of the Koryŭ gentleman, and he ordered the historians not to mention the fact in the annals.

The Mongol horse-breeders still ruffled it in high style on the island of Quelpart where they even saw fit to drive out the prefect sent by the king. For this reason an expedition was fitted out against them and they were soon brought to terms. They however appealed to the emperor. As it 260happened the Mongol emperor was at this time in desperate straits and foresaw the impossibility of long holding Peking against the Ming forces. He therefore formed the plan of escaping to the island of Quelpart and there finding asylum. For this purpose he sent large store of treasure and of other necessaries to this place. At the same time he sent an envoy to the court at Song-do relinquishing all claim to the island. In this way he apparently hoped to gain the good will of Koryŭ, of which he feared he would soon stand in need. The king, not knowing the emperor’s design, feared that this was a device by which to raise trouble and he hastened to send an envoy declaring that the expeditions to Quelpart were not in reference to the Mongols there but in order to dislodge a band of Japanese freebooters. The former prefects had always treated the people of Quelpart harshly and had exacted large sums from them on any and every pretext; but the prefect now sent was determined to show the people a different kind of rule. He even carried jars of water from the mainland rather than drink the water of Quelpart. So at least the records affirm. Naturally the people idolized him.

The year 1368 opened, the year which beheld the demolition of the Mongol empire. It had risen less than a century before and had increased with marvelous rapidity until it threatened the whole eastern hemisphere. Its decadence had been as rapid and as terrible as its rise. The Mongols were peculiarly unfit to resist the seductions of the more refined civilizations which they encountered. The Ming forces drove the Mongol court from Peking and the dethroned emperor betook himself northward into the desert to the town of Sa-mak.

This year also witnessed the arrival of a friendly embassy from Japan bearing gifts to the king. Here was Koryŭ’s great opportunity to secure the coöperation of the Japanese government in the work of putting down the pirates who were harrying the shores of the peninsula. Proper treatment of this envoy and a little diplomacy would have saved Koryŭ untold suffering, but the low-born but all-powerful favorite, Sin-don, took advantage of the occasion to make an exhibition of his own importance and he snubbed the envoy so 261effectually that the latter immediately returned to Japan. The foolish favorite went so far as to withhold proper food from him and his suite, and addressed them in low forms of speech. The same year, at his instigation, the whole system of national examinations was done away with.


Early in 1369 the first envoy, Sŭl Sa, from the Ming court arrived in Song-do. He was the bearer of an imperial letter which read as followsfollows:-

“After the Sung dynasty lost its power, a hundred years passed by without its recovering from the blow, but heaven hated the drunkenness and licentiousness of the Mongols and now after eighteen years of war the fruition of our labors has been reached. At first we entered the Mongol army and there beheld the evils of the Mongol reign. Then with heaven’s help we went to the west, to Han-ju and overcame its king Chin U-ryang. Then we raised the standard of revolt against the Mongols. In the east we overcame the rebel Chang Sa-sŭng and in the south the Min-wŏl kingdom. In the north the Ho-in fell before us and now all the people of China call us emperor. The name of our dynasty is Ming and the name of this auspicious year is Hong-mu. We call upon you now as in duty bound to render allegiance to us. In times past you were very intimate with us for it was your desire to better the condition of your people thereby.”

Such was the importance of this embassy that the king went out in person to meet it. Splendid gifts were offered which, however, the envoy declined.

In accordance with the summons contained in this letter the king formally put away the Mongol calendar and assumed that of the Mings instead. An envoy was immediately sent to the Ming court to offer congratulations and perform the duties of a vassal. The emperor responded graciously by sending back to Koryŭ all citizens of that kingdom who had been held in semi-durance by the Mongols.

The criminal neglect of opportunity in driving away the friendly Japanese envoy now began to bear its bitter fruit. Many Japanese had from time to time settled peacefully in southern Koryŭ and the king had given them a place to live at Nam-hă in Kyŭng-sang Province. They now broke their oath 262of fealty to the government, rose in open revolt and began ravaging the country right and left.

As the emperor of the Mongols had fled away north and his scheme for taking refuge in Quelpart had come to naught we would suppose the Mongol horse-breeders in that island would act with considerable circumspection; but on the other hand they kept up a continual disturbance, revolting and surrendering again in quick succession much to the annoyance of the central government.

In the latter part of the year 1369 the government again took a census of the arable land of the peninsula in order to make a re-estimate of the revenue to be received. This indicates that there had been a certain degree of prosperity in spite of all untoward circumstances and that the margin of cultivation had moved at least a little way up the hill-sides, and that waste land had been reclaimed. It is only by inferences from chance statements like this that we get an occasional imperfect glimpse of the condition of the common people. Oriental histories have not been written with reference to the common people.

The king had now handed over to Sin-don the whole care of public business and he was virtually the ruler of the land. Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo had shown his wisdom in staying as far as possible from the capital and in not crossing the path of the dangerous favorite. He was now appointed general-in-chief of all the north-eastern territory and at the same time Gen. Yi Im-in was appointed to a similar position in the north-west. There was some fear lest fugitive Mongols might cross the border and seek refuge in Koryŭ territory. The chief business of the army there was to guard all the approaches and see to it that such fugitives were strictly excluded. In the following year, 1370, Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo even crossed the Yalu, probably in the vicinity of the present Sam-su, into what was then Yŭ-jin territory, and took 2000 bullocks and 100 horses, but gave them all to the people to be used in cultivating the fields.

Now that the Ming dynasty was firmly established the emperor turned his attention to Korea. He began by investing the king anew with the insignia of royalty and presenting him with a complete outfit of clothes of the style 263of the Ming dynasty. He also gave musical instruments and the Ming calendar. The important law was promulgated that after a man had passed the civil examinations in Koryŭ he should go to Nanking and there undergo further examination. The king received all the emperor’s giftsgifts and commands with complacency and soon the Ming dress was adopted throughout by the official class and more gradually by the common people. It is the style of dress in vogue in Korea today, whereas the Chinese themselves adopted later the dress of their Manchu conquerorsconquerors. In this respect the Koreans today are really more Chinese thanthan the Chinese themselves.

With the opening of 1371 Gen. Yi led an army across the Yalu and attacked Ol-ja Fortress. The whole territory between the Yalu and the Great Wall was at this time held by the Yŭ-jin people or by offshoots of the Mongol power. The Ming emperor had as yet made no attempt to take it and therefore this expedition of Koryŭ’s was not looked upon as an act of bad faith by China. Just before the attack on Ol-ja began, there came over to the Koryŭ forces a general who, formerly a Koryŭ citizen, had long been in the Mongol service. His name was Yi In-bok. Gen. Yi sent him to Song-do where the king elevated him to a high position. A bridge had been thrown across the Yalu and the army had crossed in safety, but a tremendous thunder storm threw the army into confusion, for they feared it was a warning voice from a deity who was angered by this invasion of trans-Yalu territory. With great presence of mind one of the leaders shouted that it was a good sign for it meant that the heavenly dragon was shaking things up a bit as a presage of their victory. Their fears were thus allayed and the attack upon the fortress was successful. Gen. Yi then led his forces toward the Liao Fortress but cautiously left all the camp baggage three days in the rear and advanced, with seven days rations in hand. The advance guard of 3000 reached the fortress and began the assault before the main body came up. When the garrison saw the full army approach they were in despair but their commander was determined to make a fight. As he stood on the wall and in person refused Gen. Yi’s terms it is said that the latter drew his bow and let fly an 264arrow which sped so true that it struck off the commander’s helmet, whereupon Gen. Yi shouted, “If you do not surrender I will hit your face next time.” The commander thereupon surrendered. So Gen. Yi took the place and having dismantled it and burned all the supplies, started on the return march. Provisions ran low, and it was found necessary to kill the beasts of burden. They were in some danger from the detachments of the enemy who hung upon their rear but they were kept at a respectful distance by an ingenious strategem of Gen. Yi’s, for wherever he made a camp he compelled the soldiers to make elaborate preparations even to the extent of erecting separate cattle sheds and water closets. The enemy finding these in the deserted camps deemed that the army must be in fine condition and so dared not attack them. Thus the whole army got safely back to An-ju.

As the Japanese pirates, emboldened by the impunity with which they could ravage Korea, now came even north of the capital and attacked Hă-ju the capital of Whang-hă Province, and also burned forty Koryŭ boats, Gen. Yi was detailed to go and drive them away, which he speedily did.

The royal favorite was now nearing the catastrophe toward which his criminally corrupt course inevitably led. He was well known to all but the king whom he had infatuated. But now he began to see that the end was not far off. He knew that soon the king too would discover his knavery. For this cause he determined to use the little power he had left in an attempt to overthrow the government. What the plan was we are not told but it was nipped in the bud, for the king discovered it and arrested some of his accomplices and by means of torture learned the whole truth about the man whom he had before considered too good for this world. The revulsion of feeling was complete. He first banished Sin-don to Su-wŭn and then at the urgent advice of the whole court sent an executioner to make way with him. The messenger of death bore a letter with him in which the king said, “I promised never to move against you but I never anticipated such actions as those of which you have been guilty. You have (1) rebelled, (2) you have numerous children, though a monk and unmarried, (3) you have 265built yourself a palace in my capital. These things I did not agree to.” So Sin-don and his two sons perished.

It is said of Sin-don that he was mortally afraid of hunting-dogs and that in his feasts he insisted upon having the flesh of black fowls and white horses to eat. For these reasons the people said that he was not a man but a fox in disguise; for Korean lore affirms that if any animal drinks of water that has lain for twenty years in a human skull it will have the power to assume at will any form of man or beast. But the peculiar condition is added that if a hunting-dog looks such a man in the face he will be compelled to resume his original shape.

With the opening of 1372 troubles multiplied. Nap T‘ap-chul, a Mongol chieftain at large, together with Ko-gan, led a mixed army of Mongol and Yŭ-jin adventurers across the Yalu and began to harry the northern border. Gen. Chi Yun was sent to put down the presumptuous robbers. At the same time the Quelpart horse-breeders again revolted and when the king, at the command of the emperor, sent a man to bring horses as tribute to China the insurrectionists put him to death. But the common people of Quelpart formed a sort of militia and put down the insurrection themselves. The Japanese also made trouble, for they now began again to ravage the eastern coast, and struck as high north as An-byŭn, and Ham-ju, now Ham-heung. They also carried on operations at Nam-han near Seoul, but in both instances were driven off.

It is said that at this time the king was given over to sodomy and that he had a “school” of boys at the palace to cater to his unnatural passions. The people were deeply indignant and talk ran very high, but the person of the king was sacred, and his acts were not to be accounted for; so he went his evil way unchecked, each step bringing him nearer the overthrow of the dynasty which was now not far away.

Late in the year the king sent a present of fifty horses to the Ming emperor.

No sooner had the spring of 1373 opened than the remnant of the Mongols in the north sent to the king and said “We are about to raise a mighty force to overthrow the Ming empire, and you must cooperate with us in this 266work.” The messenger who brought this unwelcome summons was promptly clapped into prison, but later at the advice of the courtiers he was liberated and sent back home.

It would be well-nigh impossible to describe each successive expedition of the Japanese to the shores of Koryŭ, but at this time one of unusual importance occurred. The marauders ascended the Han River in their small boats and made a swift attack on Han-yang the site of the present capital of Korea. Before leaving they burned it to the ground. The slaughter was terrific and the whole country and especially the capital was thrown into a state of unusual solicitude. The Japanese, loaded down with booty, made their way to the island of Kyo-dong just outside the island of Kang-wha, and proceeded to kill and plunder there.

The boy whom the king had called his son but who was in reality an illegitimate son of Sin-don, was named Mo-ri-no, but now as he had gained his majority he was given the name of U and the rank of Kang-neung-gun, or “Prince who is near to the king.” As Sin-don was dead the king made Kim Heung-gyŭng his favorite and pander. Gen. Kŭl Săng was put in charge of the defensive operations against the Japanese but as he failed to cashier one of his lieutenants who had suffered defeat at the hands of the Japanese the testy king took off his unoffending head. Gen. Ch‘oe Yŭng was then put in charge and ordered to fit out a fleet to oppose the marauders. He was at the same time made criminal judge, but he committed so many ludicrous mistakes and made such a travesty of justice that he became a general laughing stock.

As the Ming capital was at Nanking the sending of envoys was a difficult matter, for they were obliged to go by boat, and in those days, and with the craft at their command, anything but coastwise sailing was exceedingly dangerous. So when the Koryŭ envoy Chöng Mong-ju, one of the few great men of the Koryŭ dynasty, arrived at the emperor’s court, the latter ordered that thereafter envoys should come but once in three years. In reply to this the king said that if desired the envoy could be sent overland; but this the emperor forbade because of the danger from the remnants of the Mongol power.

267The eventful year 1374 now came in. Gen. Yi Hyŭn told the king that without a navy Koryŭ would never be able to cope with Japanese pirates. He showed the king a plan for a navy which he had drawn up. His majesty was pleased with it and ordered it carried out, but the general affirmed that a navy never could be made out of landsmen and that a certain number of islanders should be selected and taught naval tactics for five years. In order to do this he urged that a large part of the useless army be disbanded. To all of this the royal assent was given. The quality of the army may be judged from the action of the troops sent south to Kyŭng-sang Province to oppose a band of Japanese. They ravaged and looted as badly as the Japanese themselves. And when at last the two forces did meet the Koryŭ troops were routed with a loss of 5,000 men. Meanwhile the Japanese were working their will in Whang-hă Province, north and west of the capital, and as to the details of it even the annals give up in despair and say the details were so harrowing that it was impossible to describe them.

The emperor of China was determined to obtain 2,000 of the celebrated horses bred on the island of Quelpart and after repeated demands the king sent to that island to procure them. The Mongol horse-breeders still had the business in hand and were led by four men who said, “We are Mongols, why should we furnish the Ming emperor with horses?” So they gave only 300 animals. The emperor insisted upon having the full 2,000 and the king reluctantly proceeded to extremities. A fleet of 300 boats was fitted out and 25,000 men were carried across the straits. On the way a gale of wind was encountered and many of the boats were swamped, but the following morning the survivors, still a large number, arrived at Myŭng-wŭl, or “Bright Moon,” Harbor where they found 3,000 men drawn up to oppose their landing. When the battle was joined the enemy was defeated and chased thirty li but they again rallied in the southern part of the island at Ho-do where they made a stand. There they were surrounded and compelled to surrender. The leader, T‘ap-chi was cut in two at the waist and many others committed suicide. Several hundreds others who refused to surrender were cut down. To the credit of the officers who led 268the expedition be it said that wherever they went the people were protected and lawless acts were strictly forbidden.

The king had now reached the moment of his fate. The blood of many innocent men was on his hands and he was destined to a violent death himself. He was stabbed by one of his most trusted eunuchs while in a drunken sleep. The king’s mother was the first to discover the crime and with great presence of mind she concealed the fact and hastily summoning two of the courtiers consulted with them as to the best means of discovering the murderer. As it happened the eunuch was detected by the blood with which his clothes were stained. Put to the torture he confessed the crime and indicated his accomplice. The cause of his act was as follows. One of the king’s concubines was with child. When the eunuch informed the king the latter was very glad and asked who the father might be. The eunuch replied that one Hong Mun, one of the king’s favorites, was the father. The king said that he would bring about the death of this Hong so that no one should ever know that the child was not a genuine prince. The eunuch knew that this meant his own death too, for he also was privy to the fact. So he hastened to Hung Mun and they together matured the plan for the assassination.

U, the supposed son of the king, now ascended the throne. His posthumous title is Sin-u. An envoy was sent to Nanking to announce the fact, but the emperor refused to ratify his accession to the throne. The reason may have been because he was not satisfied as to the manner of the late king’s demise, or it may be that someone had intimated to him that the successor was of doubtful legitimacy; and now to add to the difficultiesdifficulties of the situation the Ming envoy on his way home with 200 tribute horses was waylaid by Korean renegades who stole the horses and escaped to the far north. When news of this reached Nanking the Korean envoy there hastened to make good his escape.

A conference was now held at the Koryŭ capital and as the breach with the Ming power seemed beyond remedy it was decided to make advances to the Mongols who still lingered in the north; but at the earnest desire of Chöng Mong-ju this decision was reversed and an envoy was sent to 269Nanking to explain matters as best he could. The eunuch and his accomplice who had killed the king were now executed and notice of the fact was sent to the Chinese court.

There was great dissatisfaction among the Koryŭ officials for they all knew that the king was a mere usurper and it was again suggested that approaches be made to the Mongols. About this time also a Mongol envoy came demanding to know whose son the present king was. They wanted to put the king of Mukden on the throne, as he was of course favorable to the Mongols. A great and acrimonious dispute now arose between the Mongol and Ming factions in the Koryŭ court. But the Mongol sympathizers carried the day. This, however, came to nothing for when news came that the king of Mukden and many Koryŭ renegades were advancing in force on the Koryŭ frontier to take by force what the officials had decided to give unasked, there was a great revulsion of feeling and troops were sent to hold them in check. This was in 1376, and while this was in progress the Japanese were carrying fire and sword throughthrough the south without let or hindrance.

Pan-ya the real mother of the king came forward and claimed her position as such, but another of the former king’s concubines, Han, had always passed as the boy’s mother and she was now loath to give up the advantages which the position afforded. For this reason she secured the arrest and imprisonment of Pan-yu. It was decided that she must die and she was carried to the water’s edge and was about to be thrown in when she exclaimed, “When I die one of the palace gates will fall as a sign of my innocence and the truth of my claim.” The story runs that when she sank beneath the water this came true and all knew, too late, that she was indeed the mother of the king.

The Japanese now made their appearance again in Ch‘ung-Ch‘ŭng Province and took the town of Kong-ju. The Korean forces under Gen. Pak In-gye were there routed but not till their leader had been thrown from his horse and killed. Then an army under Gen. Ch‘oé Yŭng met them at Hong-san. The general rushed forward ahead of his men to attack the marauders and was wounded by an arrow in the mouth but he did not retire from the fight. The result was a glorious 270victory for the Koryŭ forces. The Japanese were almost annihilated.

Some time before this the king had sent an envoy Na Heung-yu to Japan to ask the interference of the Japanese Government against the pirates, and the reply was now brought by the hand of a Japanese monk Yang Yu. It said. “The pirates all live in western Japan in a place called Ku-ju and they are rebels against us and have been for twenty years. So we are not at fault because of the harm they have done you. We are about to send an expedition against them and if we take Ku-ju we swear that we will put an end to the piracy.” But the pirates in the meantime ravaged Kang-wha and large portions of Chŭl-la Province.

Chapter XII.

A Mongol proposal.... “The Revellers”.... friends with the Mongols.... Gen. Yi takes up arms against the Japanese.... victorious.... envoys to and from Japan.... gun-powder.... defeat turned into victory by Gen. Yi.... fire arrows.... vacillation.... prophecy.... Japan helps Koryŭ.... jealousies.... a reckless king.... Gen. Yi’s stratagem.... a triumphal return.... the emperor loses patience.... a coast guard.... stone fights.... heavy tribute.... the capital moved.... Japanese repelled.... lukewarm Koryŭ.... a disgraceful act.... Gen. Yi victorious in the north.... the emperor angry.... Japan sends back Koryŭ captives.... a skillful diplomat.... fine sarcasm.... a grave error.... victory in the northeast.... untold excesses.... “Old Cat”.... tribute rejected.

Toward the close of 1377 the Mongol chieftain In-puk-wŭn sent the king a letter saying, “Let us join forces and attack the Ming power.” At the same time he sent back all the Koryŭ people who had been taken captive at various times. The king’s answer was a truly diplomatic one. He said, “I will do so if you will first send the king of Mukden to me, bound hand and foot.” We need hardly say that this request was not granted.

The next attack of the Japanese extended all along the southern coast. The general who had been placed in the south to guard against them spent his time feasting with 271courtezans and he and his officers were commonly known as “The Revellers.” Fighting was not at all in their intentions. When the king learned of this he banished the general to a distant island. Affairs at the capital were not going well. Officials were so numerous that the people again made use of the term “Smoke House Officials,” for there were so many that nearly every house in the capital furnished one. They tampered with the list of appointments and without the king’s knowledge slipped in the names of their friends. So the people in contempt called it the “Secret List.”

The coquetting with the Mongols brought forth fruit when early in 1378 they invested the king of Koryŭ and he adopted the Mongol name of the year. It is said that this caused great delight among the Mongols and that they now thought that with the help of Koryŭ they would be able to again establish their power in China.

After the Japanese had ravaged to their hearts’ content in Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province and had killed 1000 men on Kang-wha and had burned fifty boats, the king did what he ought to have done long before, namely, appointed Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo as General-in-chief of the Koryŭ forces. He took hold of the matter in earnest and summoned a great number of monks to aid in the making of boats for coast defence. The pirates now were ravaging the east and south and were advancing on Song-do. The king wanted to run away but was dissuaded. The Japanese were strongest in Kyŭng-sang Province. Gen Yi’s first encounter with them was at Chi-ri Mountain in Chŭl-la Province and he there secured a great victory, demonstrating what has always been true, that under good leadership Koreans make excellent soldiers. When the Koryŭ troops had advanced within 200 paces of the enemy a burly Japanese was seen leaping and showing himself off before his fellows. Gen. Yi took a cross-bow and at the first shot laid the fellow low. The remainder of the Japanese fled up the mountain and took their stand in a solid mass which the records say resembled a hedge-hog; but Gen. Yi soon found a way to penetrate this phalanx and the pirates were slaughtered almost to a manto a man. But Gen. Yi could not be everywhere at once and in the meantime Kang-wha again suffered. Gen. Yi was next seen fighting in Whang-hă Province 272at Hă-ju, where he burned the Japanese out from behind wooden defenses and slaughtered them without quarter.

The Japanese Government had not been able as yet to put down the pirates, but now an envoy, Sin Hong, a monk, came with gifts declaring that the government was not a party to the expeditions of the freebooters and that it was very difficult to overcome them. And so the work went on, now on one coast of the country and now on another. The king sent an envoy to the Japanese Shogun, P‘ă-ga-dă, to ask his interference, but the shogun imprisoned the envoy and nearly starved him to death and then sent him back. The king wanted to send another, but the courtiers were all afraid. They all hated the wise and learned Chöng Mong-ju and told the king to send him. He was quite willing to go and, arriving at the palace of the shogun, he spoke out fearlessly and rehearsed the friendly relations that had existed between the two countries, and created a very good impression. He was very popular both with the shogun himself and with the Japanese courtiers and when he returned to Koryŭ the shogun sent a general, Chu Mang-in, as escort and also 200 Koreans who had at some previous time been taken captive. The shogun also so far complied with the king’s request as to break up the piratical settlements on the Sam-do or “Three islands.”

A man named Im Sŭn-mu had learned among the Mongols the art of making gunpowder and a bureau was now formed to attend to its manufacture but as yet there were no firearms.

With the opening of 1379 things looked blacker than ever. The Japanese were swarming in Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province and on Kang-wha. The king was in mortal fear and had the walls of Song-do carefully guarded. Gen. Ch‘oe Yŭng was sent to hold them in check. The Japanese knew that no one but he stood between them and Song-do so they attacked him fiercely and soon put him to flight; but in the very nick of time Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo came up with his cavalry, turned the retreating forces about and attacked the enemy so fiercely that defeat was turned into a splendid victory. A messenger arrived breathless at the gate of Song-do saying that Gen. Ch‘oé had been defeated.

273All was instantly in turmoil; the king had all his valuables packed and was ready to flee at a moment’s warning. But lo! another messenger followed hard upon the heels of the first announcing that Gen. Yi had turned the tide of battle and had wrested victory from the teeth of the enemy.

The good will of the Japanese government was shown when a prefect in western Japan sent sixty soldiers under the command of a monk, Sin Hong, to aid in the putting down of the corsairs. They made some attempts to check their lawless countrymen but soon found that they had undertaken more than they had bargained for, and so returned to Japan. As the pirates were ravaging the west coast as far north as P‘yŭng-yang, the king sent against them Generals Na Se and Sim Tŭk-pu who had been successful before. By the use of fire-arrows they succeeded in burning several of the enemy’s boats at Chin-p‘o and of course had the fellows at their mercy, for they had no means of escape.

It is evident the king did not know his own mind in relation to Chinese suzerainty. Now he favored the Mongols and now the Mings. A year or so before this he had adopted the Mongol name of the year but now he turns about and adopts the Ming name again. It was this vacillation, this playing fast and loose with his obligations, that alienated the good-will of the Ming emperor and made him look with complacency upon the dissolutiondissolution of the Koryŭ dynasty.

Late in the autumn of 1379 the Japanese were again in dangerous proximity to the capital and the king wanted to move to a safer place. The geomancers’ book of prophecies indicated Puk-so San as “A narrow place and good for a king to live in,” but the courtiers opposed it, saying that there was no large river flowing near by, on which the government rice could be brought by boat to the capital. So it was given up.

There was a Mongol general named Ko-ga-no who had become independent of the main body of the Mongols and had set up a separate government on his own responsibility in Liao-tung. He was wavering between natural ties on the one hand, which bound him to the Mongols, and the dictates of common sense on the other, which indicated the rising fortunes of the Ming. He chose a middle course by coming 274with his 40,000 men and asking the privilege of joining Koryŭ. The records do not say whether permission was given or not, but we may easily believe it was.

In 1380 the Japanese government sent 180 soldiers under the command of Gen. Pak Kŭ-sa to aid in driving the pirates out of Koryŭ. In the midst of these dangers from freebooters, jealousy was undermining the government at Song-do. Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo had a friend named Gen. Yang Păk-yŭn who now under false charges, enviously made by officials near the king, was banished and then killed. It was wonderful that the fame of Gen. Yi did not bring about his murder.

The Ming emperor thought, and rightly, that the king was a very fickle individual and sent a letter asking him why it was that he had no settled policy but did everything as the impulse of the moment led. The king’s reply is not recorded but that he did not take to heart the admonitions of the emperor is quite evident, for he plunged into greater excesses than ever. His ill-timed hunting expeditions, his drunkenness and debauchery were the scandal of the country. The people thought he ought to be hunting Japanese pirates rather than wild boar and deer. Even while the Japanese were ravaging Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province the king was trampling down the people’s rice-fields in the pursuit of game. He stole the people’s cattle and horses whenever he needed them and if he chanced to see a good looking girl anywhere he took means to possess himself of her person by fair means or foul. He was indeed the son of Sin-don both by blood and by disposition.

This year the ravages of the freebooters exceeded anything that had been known before. The southern provinces were honeycombed by them. Generals Pă Keuk-yŭm and Chöng Chi were sent against them but without result. At last the Japanese laughingly asserted that they soon would be in the city of Song-do. They might have gone there if Gen. Yi had not been sent in person to direct the campaign against them. Hastening south he rallied around him all the available troops and came to Un-bong in Chŭl-la province. He ascended Chöng San which lay six miles from the camp of the enemy. From this point he perceived that there were two 275roads leading to this camp; one broad and easy and the other narrow and rough. With great sagacity he judged that the Japanese would take the narrow road, hoping to make a counter march on him. So he sent a considerable force by the broad road but selected a band of trusty men to form an ambush on the narrow one. The Japanese acted precisely as he had foreseen. When they learned that the Koryŭ army was approaching they hastened away by the narrow road and so fell into the ambush, where they were severely handled. Fifty of their number were left dead. The remainder sought safety in the mountains but were soon brought to bay. The whole Koryŭ army was called up and the attack upon the Japanese position was begun. It was necessary to attack up a steep incline and Gen. Yi had two horses shot out from under him, and an arrow pierced his leg; but he drew it out and continued the fight. Among the enemy was a man stronger and larger than the rest. He stood spear in hand and danced about, urging on his comrades. He was encased in armor and on his head was a copper helmet. There was no opening for an arrow to enter; so Gen. Yi said to his lieutenant, Yi Tu-ran, “Make ready an arrow and when I strike off his helmet do you aim at his face.” Gen. Yi took careful aim and struck off the man’s helmet and swift behind his arrow flew that of his lieutenant which laid the fellow low. This demoralized the enemy and they were soon hewn down. It is said that for days the stream near by ran red with blood. As the result of this victory 1600 horses were taken and a large amount of spoil, including implements of war.

When the victorious general returned to Song-do he was given a triumphal entry and fifty ounces of gold and other gifts were distributed among the generals who assisted him. It is said that, from that time on, whenever the news came that a Japanese band had disembarked on the southern coast the first word that was spoken was, “Where is Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo?”

The long-suffering emperor at last tired of the erraticerratic course of the Koryŭ king and decided to bring a little pressure to bear upon him in order to bring him to his senses. He ordered the king to send him each year a thousand horses, a hundred pounds of gold, five thousand ounces of silver and 276five thousand pieces of cotton cloth. This was beyond the means of the king, but he succeeded in sending three hundred ounces of gold, a thousand ounces of silver, four hundred and fifty horses and four thousand five hundred pieces of cotton. This large amount of tribute was delivered into the hands of the governor of Liao-tung to be sent to the imperial court, but the governor declared that as the tax was a penal one and not merely for tribute he could not accept less than the full amount required. So he drove the envoy away.

In 1382 the government adopted a new policy in the matter of coast defense. In all the larger seaport towns generals were stationed in charge of considerable bodies of troops and in the smaller towns garrisons of proportional strength. The constant coming and going of these troops was a terrible drain upon the resources of the people but there was no help for it. The piratical raids of the Japanese had now become so frequent that no attempt was made to keep a record of them. It would have been easier for the people to bear had the king showed any of the characteristics of manhood, but his feasts and revels saw no abatement. Frequently he was so intoxicated that he fell from his horse while hunting. He peopled the palace with dancing-girls and it may be said of him as it was of Nero that he “fiddled while Rome was burning.” As the king rode forth to hunt with falcon on wrist the eunuchs rode behind him singing ribald Mongol songs. When other pleasures cloyed he invented a sort of mock battle in which stones were used as missiles. It is believed by many that this was the beginning of the popular “stone-fight,” which is such a unique custom of Korea today. Once he amused himself by pretending that he was going to bury one of his officials alive behind the palace, and he hugely enjoyed the poor fellow’s shrieks and struggles. He made this same official put up his hat as a target, than which hardly anything could be a greater disgrace, for the hat in Korea is the badge of citizenship and is held in such esteem that no one will attend to the duties of nature without taking off his hat and laying it aside.

Being hard pressed by the emperor in the matter of tribute it is said that in 1383 he sent to the Ming court a hundred pounds of gold, ten thousand ounces of silver, ten thousand 277pieces of linen and a thousand horses. The records say the emperor refused to take it, for it fell short of his demands. It is probable that this means not that it was sent back but that the emperor refused to give a receipt in full of all demands.

In this same year, 1383, the capital was again moved to Han-yang. The reasons alleged were that so many misfortunes overtook the dynasty that it seemed as if the site of the capital must be unpropitious. It was also said that wild animals entered the city, which was a bad sign. The water in the wells had boiled, fish fought with each other, and a number of other fictions were invented, all of which made it necessary to move the capital. It was effected, however, in the face of great opposition. Meanwhile the Japanese were working their will in the south, for Gen. Yi was in the north repelling an attack by the Yŭ-jin forces.

In spite of the sending of tribute to the Ming court, Koryŭ was on good terms with the Mongols. In 1384 the Mongol chief Nap-t‘ap-chul came with gifts to the king and frequent envoys were exchanged. Koryŭ was neither hot nor cold but lukewarm and for this reason it was that the Mings finally spewed her out of their mouth. The capricious king now moved back to Song-do and the courtiers were put to no end of trouble and expense. When they returned to Song-do with the king they burned all their houses in Han-yang so as to make it impossible to return.

One of the most disgraceful acts of this king was his attempt to possess himself of his father’s wife, or concubine. Meeting her one day he commented on her beauty and said she was more beautiful than any of his wives. He tried to force his way into her apartments at night but in some way his plan was frustrated. When one of the courtiers took him to task for his irregularities he tried to shoot him through with an arrow.

Gen. Yi T‘ă-joYi T‘ă-jo was having a lively time in the north with the Yŭ-jin people. Their general was Ho-bal-do. His helmet was four pounds in weight. He wore a suit of red armor and he rode a black horse. Riding forth from the ranks he shouted insulting words to Gen. Yi and dared him to single combat. The latter accepted the gage and soon the two were 278at work striking blows that no ordinary man could withstand. Neither could gain the advantage until by a lucky chance the horse of Gen. Ho stumbled, and before the rider could recover himself Gen. Yi had an arrow in his neck. But the helmet saved him from a serious wound. Then Gen. Yi shot his horse under him. At sight of this Gen. Ho’s soldiers rushed up, as did also those of Gen. Yi, and the fight became general. The result was an overwhelming victory for Koryŭ. These flattering statements about the founder of the present dynasty are probably, in many cases, the result of hero-worship but the reader has the privilege of discounting them at discretion.

The Ming court knew all about Koryŭ’s coquetting with the Mongols and sent a severe letter warning her that the consequences of this would be disastrous. The king was frightened and sent an envoy in haste to the Ming court to “make it right,” but the emperor cast him into prison and sent demanding five years’ tribute at once. We may well believe that this demand was not complied with.

That there were two opinions in Japan as regards Koryŭ is shown by the fact that immediately after that government sent back 200 Koryŭ citizens, who had been carried away captive, a sanguinary expedition lauded on the coast of Kang-wŭn Province near the town of Kang-neung and ravaged right away north as far as Nang-ch‘ŭn.

The king, in partial compliance with the emperor’s demands sent, in the spring of 1385, 2000 horses to China. It was the faithful Chöng Mong-ju who accompanied this peace offering, and when he arrived in Nanking the emperor saw by the date of his commission that he had come in extreme haste. This mollified his resentment to such an extent that he gave the envoy a favorable hearing and that careful and judicious man made such good use of the opportunity that friendly intercourse was again established between China and her wayward vassal.

The state of affairs in Koryŭ was now beyond description. The kwaga, a literary degree of some importance, was frequently conferred upon infants still in their mothers’ arms. The people, with fine sarcasm, called this the “Pink Baby-powder Degree.” The king was struggling to pay up 279his arrears of tribute, but he could not secure the requisite number of horses. In lieu of these he sent large quantities of silver and cloth. The pendulum had now swung to the other extreme and a Mongol envoy was denied audience with the king.

In 1386, the year following the above events, the Ming emperor formally recognized the king of Koryŭ. This event was hailed with the greatest delight by the court. But it did not have the effect of awakening the king to the dignity of his position for he gave freer rein to his passions than ever. He seized the daughter of one of his officials and made her his concubine although she was already affianced to another. This is a most grave offense in the east, for a girl affianced is considered already the same as married.

It is a relief to turn from this picture and see what Gen. Yi was doing to free his country from Japanese pirates. He was in the northeast when a band of these men landed in his vicinity, near the mouth of the Tu-man River. When they found that Gen. Yi was near by they wanted to make their escape but he forced them into a position where they either had to fight or surrender. He informed them that immediate surrender was the only thing that could save them. They agreed to his terms but when they had thus been thrown off their guard he fell upon them and the slaughter was so great that it is said the plain was filled with the dead bodies. The records make no attempt to conceal or palliate this act of bad faith on the part of this great general. It was not an age when nice distinctions were made. The Japanese were not waging a regular warfare against the Koryŭ government but were killing helpless women and children and burning their houses. Their one aim was plunder and this put them outside the pale of whatever code of military honor prevailed.

The king’s vagaries now took a new turn. Like Haroun al Raschid he went forth at night and roamed the streets in disguise accompanied by concubines and eunuchs. Crimes that cannot be described and which would have brought instant death upon a common citizen were committed with impunity. No man’s honor was safe. Not only so, but other evil-minded people masquerading at night and in disguise committed like indescribable outrages under the cover 280of the king’s name. In his hunting expeditions the king rode forth preceededpreceeded by a host of harlots and concubines dressed in male attire and wherever he went the people lost their horses and cattle and whatever else the royal escort took a fancy to.

The continual trouble in Quelpart arising out of the horse-breeding business grew so annoying that the king finally sent Gen. Yi Hăng with instructions to bring away every horse and to do away entirely with the business. This was done and from that day Quelpart had peace.

Kim Yu the envoy to Nanking was closely questioned by the emperor as to the cause of the late king’s death and he told that potentate that it was done by Yi In-im, which indeed was true; but to the question as to whose son the king might be he returned an evasive answer. As a result of his frankness in telling who murdered the former king he was banished, for Yi In-im was all-powerful at court. The sentence of banishment meant death for he was sent to a distant place of banishment as such a break-neck pace that no man could live through it. He died of fatigue on the way as was intended. This Yi In-im and his following held the reins of power at the capital and they sold all offices and took bribes from all criminals. They thus succeeded in defeating the ends of justice and the people “gnashed their teeth” at him. He caused the death of so many good men that he earned the popular soubriquet of “Old Cat.”

The year 1387 was signalized by a closer union between Koryŭ and her suzerain. The Ming emperor sent 5000 pieces of silk to purchase horses but when the animals arrived at his capital they were such a sorry lot that he rejected them and charged the king with bad faith. The Koryŭ officials all adopted the dress and the manners of the Ming court. This they had done before but had dropped them again when they turned back to the Mongols. From that time on until the present day the clothes of the Korean have followed the fashions of the Ming dynasty.


Chapter XIII.

King determines to invade Liao-tung.... why unwise.... the emperor’s letter and the answer.... preparations.... Gen. Yi’s argument.... royal threat.... Gen. Yi marches northward.... the troops appealed to.... the Rubicon of Korea.... an omen.... advance toward Song-do.... the capital in Gen. Yi’s hands.... popular song.... Gen. Yi’s demands.... attempted assassination.... king banished.... a new king.... reforms.... the “Red Grave”.... envoy to China.... Koryŭ takes the offensive against the Japanese.... the emperor’s offer.... a real Wang upon the throne.... the banished kings executed.... unsuccessful plot.... Gen. Yi opposes the Buddhists.... capital moved to Han-yang.... people desire Gen. Yi to be made king.... he is reluctant.... his son active.... Chöng Mong-ju assassinated.... all enemies silenced.... the king’s oath.... the king abdicates in favor of Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo.

Koryŭ was now whirling in the outer circles of the maelstrom that was destined to engulf her. So long as the king revelled and hunted only and did not interfere with outside affairs he was endured as an necessary evil but now in the opening of the year 1388 he determined upon an invasion of Liao-tung, a plan so utterly foolhardy as to become the laughing-stock of reasonable men. It was an insane idea. The constant inroads of the Japanese demanded the presence of all the government troops, for the sending of any of them out of the country would be the signal for the Japanese to pour in afresh and with impunity. In the second place the king could not hope to cope with the great Ming power that had just arisen and was now in the first blush of its power. The kingdom of Koryŭ was essentially bound to the Mongols and she pursued her destiny to the bitter end. In the third place the Ming power had now obtained a firm foothold in Liao-tung and an invasion there would look much like a plan to finally attack that empire itself. In the fourth place the finances of the country were utterly disorganised and the unusual taxes that would be required to carry out the plan would take away all popular enthusiasm for it and desertions would decimate the army. But in spite of all these drawbacks the stubborn king held to his point and as a preliminary measure 282built a wall about Han-yang where he sent all the women and children for safety. By this act he acknowledged the extreme hazard of the venture. It is not unlikely that he was so tired of all other forms of amusement that he decided to plunge into war in order to make sport for himself.

The emperor seems to have been aware of the plan for he now sent an envoy to announce to the Koryŭ court that “All land north of Ch‘ŭl-lyŭng belongs to the Mongols, and I am about to erect a palisade fence between you and them.” When this envoy arrived at Song-do the king feigned illness and would not see him. A letter was sent in reply saying “We own beyond the Ch‘ŭl-lyŭng as far as Sang-sŭng, so we trust it will please you not to erect a barrier there.” He then called in all the troops from the provinces in preparation for the invasion. His ostensible reason was a great hunting expedition in P‘yŭng-an Province for he knew the people would rise in revolt if they knew the real purpose. The Japanese were wasting the south, the people were fainting under new exactions to cover the expense of the repairs at Han-yang and it is said the very planting of crops was dispensed with, so disheartened were the people.

Having made Ch‘oe Yŭng general-in-chief of the expedition, the king accompanied the army north to Pong-ju, now Pong-san. Gen. Ch‘oe never divulged the fact that this was an army of invasion but told all the troops that they must be strong and brave and ready for any work that might be given them to do. Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo was made lieutenant-general in connection with Gen. Ch‘oe. He made a powerful plea against the war and the main points of his argument are preserved to us. His objections were (1) It is bad for a small country to attack a powerful one. (2) It is bad to make a campaign in summer when the heavy rains flood the country, rendering the transporting of troops almost impossible and decimating them with disease. (3) It is bad to drain off all the soldiers from the country when the Japanese are so constant in their ravages. (4) The heat and moisture of summer will spoil the bows and make them break easily. To all these objections the king replied that having come thus far the plan must be carried out. Gen. Yi hazarded his neck by demurring; still asserting that it would 283mean the overthrow of the kingdom. The king in rage exclaimed “The next man that advises against this war will lose his head.” This was an end of the debate and as the council of war dispersed the officers saw Gen. Yi weeping, and to their questions he answered “It means the destruction of Koryŭ.”

The Yalu was quickly bridged and Gen. Yi in company with one other general started north from P‘yŭng-yang with 38,600 troops, 21,000 of whom were mounted. At the same time the king discarded the Ming calendar, dress and coiffure. The Mongol clothes were again adopted and the hair cut. The Japanese knowing that the troops had gone north, entered the open door thus invitingly left ajar and seized forty districts.

But we must follow the fortunes of the expedition that was to attack the empire of the Mings. When Gen. Yi arrived at the Yalu his plans were not laid as to what he should do. For one thing, he intended to make no invasion of China. So he crossed over to Wi-ha island, in the mouth of the Yalu, and there made his camp. Hundreds of his troops deserted and went back home. Some of these the king seizedseized and beheaded; but it did not stop the defection. From that island a general, Hong In-ju, made a dash into Liao-tung territory and was highly complimented by the king in consequence. But Gen. Yi remainedremained impassive. He sent a letter to the king imploring him to listen to reason and recall the army, urging history, the flooded condition of the country and the Japanese reasons for it. But the king was stubborn. Rumor said that Gen. Yi had fled but when another general was sent to ascertain whether this were true or false he was found at his post. The two generals wept together over the hopeless condition of affairs. At last they summoned the soldiers. “If we stay here we will all be swept away by the risingrising flood. The king will not listen to reason. What can we do to prevent the destruction of all the people of Koryŭ? Shall we go back to P‘yŭng-yang, depose the general-in-chief, Ch‘oe, who urges on this unholy war against the Mings?” The soldiers shouted out acclamations of glad assent. Nothing could please them better.

As Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo mounted his white steed and with his 284red bow and white arrows stood motionless upon a mound of earth watching his soldiers recross the Yalu to the Koryŭ side against the mandate of their king and his, we see a new Caesar watching his army cross the Rubicon, an army as passionately devoted to their leader as the Roman legions ever were to Caesar. And Caesar suffers in the comparison, for he went back not to restore the integrity of the state and prevent the waste of human life, but rather to carry out to its tragic end a personal ambition. We have seen how once and again Yi T‘ă-jo had plead with the king and had risked even his life to prevent this monumental folly; and we shall see how he used his power not for personal ends but with loyalty to his king, until circumstances thrust him upon the throne.

The records say that no sooner had Gen. Yi followed his army across the stream than a mighty wave, fed by mountain streams, came rolling down the valley and swept clean over the island he had just left. The people looked upon this as an omen and a sign of heaven’s favor, and they made a song whose refrain runs “The son of wood will become king.” This refers to the Chinese character for Gen. Yi’s name. It is the union of the two characters “wood” and “son.” The whole army then took up its march toward Song-do. A magistrate in the north sent a hasty message to the king saying that the army was in full march back toward the capital. The king was at this time in Song-ch‘ŭn, north of P‘yŭng-yang. He knew many of the generals were opposed to the war and thought that they would obey him better if he were near by, and so had come thus farfar north.

Hearing this startling news he immediately dispatched Gen. Ch‘oe Yu-gyŭng with whatever force he had, to oppose the march of the rebelliousrebellious Gen. Yi. The associate of the latter urged him to push forward with all speed and seize the person of the king, but he was no traitor, and he replied “If we hurry forward and encounter our countrymencountrymen many will fall. If anyone lays a finger on the king I will have no mercy on him. If a single citizen of Koryŭ is injured in any way I will never forgive the culprit.” So Gen. Yi came southward slowly, hunting along the way in order to give the king time to get back to Song-do in a leisurely manner as becomes a king. At last the king arrived at his capital and the recalcitrant 285army came following slowly. The people along the way hailed them as the saviors of the nation and gave them all manner of provisions and supplies, so that they lacked for nothing.

When Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo reached the neighborhood of Song-do he sent a letter to the king saying, “As General-in-chief Ch‘oe-yŭng does not care for the welfare of the people he must die. Send him to me for execution.” But Gen. Ch‘oe did not intend to give up without a struggle, however hopeless his case might be; so he took what troops were left and manned the walls of Song-do. It was a desperate move, for all saw what the end must be. Hundreds of soldiers who had deserted now flocked again to the standards of Gen. Yi.

When the attack came off, Gen. Yi stormed the South Gate and Gen. Yu Man-su the West Gate, and soon an entrance was effected. It is said that after entering the city the first attack upon the royal forces was made by Gen. Yu alone and that he was driven back. When this was told Gen. Yi he seemed not to care but sat on his horse and let it crop the grass along the path. After a time he partook of some food and thenthen leisurely arose, drew up his forces and in full view of them all took a shot at a small pine that stood a hundred paces away. The arrow cut it sheer off and the soldiers hailed it as a sign of victory, for was not the pine the symbol of Koryŭ? So they marched on the palace. The old men and boys mounted the city walls and cheered the attacking forces. Gen. Yi did not lead the attack in person and his lieutenant was beaten back by the royal forces under Gen. Ch‘oe. Gen. Yi thereupon took in his hand a yellow flag, crossed the Sön-juk bridge and ascended South Mountain from which point he obtained a full view of the interior of the palace. He saw that Gen. Ch‘oe and the king, with a band of soldiers, had taken refuge in the palace garden. Descending the mountain he led his troops straight through every obstacle, entered the palace and surrounded the royal party. Gen. Ch‘oe was ordered to come out and surrender but as there was no response the garden gate was burst open and the king was discovered holding the hand of Gen. Ch‘oe. As there was no longer hope of rescue the king, weeping, handed over the loyal general to the soldiers of Gen. Yi. 286He stepped forward and said “I had no intention of proceeding to these extremes, but to fight the Ming power is out of the question. It is not only useless but suicidal to attempt such a thing. I have come back to the capital in this manner because there was no other way open to me, because it was a traitorous act to attack our suzerain, and because the people of Koryŭ were suffering in consequence of the withdrawal of protection.” Gen. Ch‘oe was then banished to Ko-yang and Gen. Yi, as he sent him away, wept and said “Go in peace.”

The records say that long before this the evil-minded Yi In-im had foretold to Gen. Ch‘oe that one day Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo would become king, but at the time Gen. Ch‘oe laughed at it. Now he was forced to grant that the prophecy had been a true one. A popular song was composed at this time, whose refrain states that

“Outside the wall of P‘yŭng-yang there is a red light,
Outside the wall of An-ju a snake.
Between them comes and goes a soldier, Yi.
May he help us.”

When Gen. Ch‘oe had thus been disposed of, Gen. Yi turned to the king and said “It was impossible to carry out the plan of conquest. The only thing left was to come back, banish the man who gave such bad advice and make a new start. We must now be firm in our allegience to the Ming emperor, and we must change back to the Ming costume.”

The emperor, hearing of the threatened invasion, had sent a powerful army into Liao-tung, but now that the invaders had retired he recalled the troops.

We can easily imagine how the king, who had never been balked of his will, hated Gen. Yi. The moment an opportunity occurred he called about him eighty of his most trusted eunuchs, armed them with swords and sent them to kill the obnoxious dictator. But they found him so well guarded that the attempt proved abortive.

It will be remembered that this king was the son of Sin-don and was therefore not of the royal stock. So now the courtier Yun So-jŭng told Gen. Yi that they ought to find some blood relative of the Wang family, the genuine royal stock, and put him on the throne. To this the dictator assented. As a first move all arms were removed from the 287palace. The king was left helpless. He was ordered to send away one of his concubines who had formerly been a monk’s slave but he replied “If she goes I go.” The generals went in a body to the palace and advised the king to leave the capital and retire into private life in Kang-wha. This was a polite way of saying that he was banished. He pleadplead to be allowed to wait till the next day as it was now well along toward night. And so this evil king took his concubines, which he had always cherished more than the kingdom, and passed off the stage of historyhistory. He it was who most of all, excepting only his father, helped to bring about the fall of the dynasty.

Gen. Yi now, in 1388, was determined to put upon the throne a lineal descendant of the Wang family, but Cho Min-su with whom he had before conferred about the matter desired to put Chang, the adopted son of the banished king, on the throne. Gen. Yi demurred, but when he learned that the celebrated scholar Yi Săk had favored this plan he acquiesced. The young king wanted to give Gen. Yi high official position but he was not anxious to receive it and it was only by strong pressure that he was induced to take it. So the records say, but we must remember in all this account that hero worship and desire to show the deeds of the founder of the new dynasty in the best light have probably colored many of the facts which occurred at this time.

As this king was never acknowledged by the emperor nor invested with the royal insignia, his name is dropped from the list of the kings of Koryŭ. Neither he nor his foster-father were given the regular posthumous title, but were known, the father as Sin-u and the son as Sin Chang.

An envoy was dispatched to Nanking telling of the banishment of the king and the appointment of his successor. Cho Min-su who had been instrumental in putting this new king on the throne was not so modest as the records try to make us believe Gen. Yi was. He now held almost unlimited power. It spoiled him as it has spoiled many another good man, and he gave way to luxury and ere long had to be banished, a victim of his own excesses.

Reform now became the order of the day. First they changed the unjust and shameful manner of appointing 288officials that had prevailed under the banished king. The laws respecting the division of fields was changed, making the people more safe in the possession of their property. The defenses of the south were also looked to, for Gen. Chöng Chi went south with a powerful force and scored a signal victory over the corsairs at Nam-wŭn. Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo was now general-in-chief of all the royal forces. His first act was to have the banished king sent further away, to the town of Yö-heung; and at the same time the banished Gen. Ch‘oe Yŭng was executed. The old man died without fear, at the age of seventy. He was not a man who had given himself over to luxury and he had many good qualities, but he was unlettered and stubborn and his crime in desiring to attack China brought him to his death. The records say that when he died he said “If I am a true man no grass will grow on my grave,” and the Koreans say that his grave in Ko-yang is bare to this day and is called in consequence “The Red Grave.”

The emperor’s suspicions had been again roused by the new change of face on the part of Koryŭ. The celebrated scholar Yi Săk stepped forward and offered to go to the emperor’s court and smooth things over. Gen. Yi praised him highly for this act of condescension and he was sent as envoy. He took with him Gen. Yi’s fifth son who is known posthumously by his title T‘ă-jong. He was destined to become the third king of the new dynasty. He was taken to China by Yi Săk because the latter feared that Gen. Yi might usurp the throne while he was gone and the son would then be a sort of hostage for good behavior on the part of the father. The two great men of Koryŭ, when it fell, were Chöng Mong-ju and this Yi Săk. They were both men of education and experience and were both warm partizans of the Koryŭ dynasty. They were loyal to her even through all the disgusting scenes herein described, but their great mistake was their adherence to the Mongol power when it had plainly retired from active participation in the affairs of Asia. Yi Săk now sought the court of China not so much with a view to helping Koryŭ as to find means to get Gen. Yi into trouble. But to his chagrin the emperor never gave him an opportunity to say what he desired to say about the great dictator.

289The questions the emperor asked gave no opportunity to mention the topic nearest his heart. His chagrin was so great that when he got back to Koryŭ he spoke slightingly of the emperor, to the great displeasure of the court. The king himself desired to go to Nanking and do obeisance to the emperor but was forbidden by the latter.

The year 1389 beheld some interesting and important events. In the first place Gen. Yi decided to take the offensive against the Japanese; so a hundred boats were fitted out. The expedition arrived first at Tsushima where three hundred of the enemy’s boats were burned as well as many houses; and more than a hundred prisoners were brought away. Secondly, the emperor, being asked to let the king go to Nanking and do obeisance, replied, “This having a pretender on the throne of Koryŭ is all wrong. If you will put a real descendant of the royal family on the throne you need not send another envoy to my court for twenty years if you do not wish.” Gen Yi, to show his good will, sent a messenger to the banished king and gave him a feast on his birthday. The king of the Loo Choo Islands sent an envoy to Song-do with gifts, declaring his allegiance to Koryŭ. At the same time he sent back some Koryŭ captives who had fallen into his hands. Gen. Yi came to the conclusion that if the dynasty was to continue, a lineal descendant of the royal family must be put at the head of affairs. At this time Gen. Yi was of course the actuating spirit in the government and at his desire the young king, who had been on the throne but a year and who had not been formally recognised by the emperor, was sent away to Kang-wha and the seventh descendant of the seventeenth king of the line was elevated to the seat of royalty. His name was Yo and his posthumous title Kong-yang. He was forty-five years old. This move on the part of Gen. Yi was doubtless on account of the pronounced views of the emperor. A busybody named Kang Si told the newly appointed king that Gen. Yi did this not because he cared for the Wang dynasty but because he feared the Mings. When Gen. Yi learned of this the man’s banishment was demanded but not insisted upon. One of the first acts of the new sovereign was to banish Yi Săk and Cho Min-su who had insisted upon putting the parvenu Chang 290upon the throne. An envoy was also dispatched to China announcing that at last a genuine Wang was now on the throne of Koryŭ.

The officials urged that the two banished kings be killed but when the matter was referred to Gen. Yi he advised a more lenient policy, saying, “They have been banished and they can do no more harm. There is no sense in shedding useless blood.” But the king replied, “They killed many good men and they deserve to die;” so executioners were sent and the two men were executed at their places of banishment. It is said that the wife of the elder of the two took the dead body of her lord in her arms and said, as she wept, “This is all my father’s fault, for it was he who advised the invasion of China.” The records say that for ten days she ate nothing and slept with the corpse in her arms. She also begged rice and with it sacrificed before the dead body of the king.

In 1390 a dangerous conspiracy was gotten up with the view to assassinating Gen. Yi, but it was discovered in time and many men were killed in consequence and many more were put to the torture. Yi Săk and Cho Min-su were in some way implicated in this attempt though they were in banishment. It was advised to put them to death but after torture they were sent back to prison. The emperor in some way had the impression that Gen. Yi was persecuting these two men because they had prevented his invasion of China. Cho was executed but when the executioner approached the cell of Yi Săk, so the records say, a terrific clap of thunder was heard and a flood of water swept away part of the town in which he was imprisoned. For this reason the king dared not kill him but granted him freedom instead.

Under the supervision of Gen. Yi a war-office was established and a system of conscription which secured a rotation of military duty. The king, true to the instincts of his family, was a strong adherent of Buddhism and now proceeded to take a monk as his teacher. The whole official class decided that this must not be, and the monk was forthwith expelled from the palace. In spite of the suffering it entailed upon the people the king decided to move the capital again to Han-yang and it was done, but no sooner was the court transferred 291to that place than the king, with characteristic Wang fickleness, went back to Song-do. The law was promulgated that women must not go to visit Buddhist monasteries. This was without doubt because the looseness of the morals of the inmates rendered it unsafe for respectable women to go to them.

The people throughout the land looked to Gen. Yi as their protector and it was the almost universal wish that he should become king. His friends tried to bring this about but they were always thwarted by the aged Chöng Mong-ju, the only great man who now clung to the expiring dynasty. He was a man of perfect integrity and was held in much esteem by Gen. Yi himself though they differed in politics. Chong Mong-ju reallyreally believed it necessary for the preservation of the state that Gen. Yi be put out of the way and he was always seeking means for accomplishing this end.

When the crown prince came back from Nanking, whither he had gone as envoy, Gen. Yi went out to meet him. He went as far as Whang-ju where he suffered a severe fall from his horse which for a time quite disabled him. This was Chöng Mong-ju’s opportunity. He hastened to have many of Gen. Yi’s friends put out of the way. He had them accused to the king and six of the strongest partisans of the general were banished. Gen. Yi was at Hă-ju at the time and his son T‘ă-jong hastened to him and imparted the startling news. The old man did not seem to care very much, but the son whose energy and spirit were equal to anything and who foresaw that prompt action at this juncture meant life or death to all the family, had the aged general carried on the backs of men back to Song-do. When he arrived, attempts were being made to have the six banished men put to death, but the coming of the great dictator put a stop to this. T‘ă-jong urged that something must be done immediately to save the family name, but the father did not wish to proceed to extremities. The brunt of the whole business fell upon T‘ă-jong and he saw that if his father was to become king someone must push him on to the throne. The first step must be the removal of Chöng mong-ju. Nothing could be done until that was accomplished.

Gen. Yi’s nephew turned traitor to him and informed Chöng Mong-ju that there was danger. About this time Gen. 292Yi gave a dinner to the officials and Chöng Mong-ju was invited. The latter decided to go and, by watching the face of his host, determine whether the report was true. When T‘ă-jong saw Chöng Mong-ju come to the banquet he knew the time had come to make the master move. Five strong men were placed in hiding beside Sön-juk bridge which Chöng had to cross in going home. There they fell upon him and murdered him with stones, upon the bridge. Today that bridge is one of the sacred relics of the kingdom and is enclosed by a railing. On the central stone is seen a large brown blotch which turns to a dull red when it rains. This is believed to be the blood of the faithful Chöng Mong-ju which still remains a mute reproach to his murderers.

This dastardly deed having been committed, T‘ă-jong conferred with his uncle, Wha, and they sent Gen. Yi’s eldest living son, who is known by his posthumous title of Chöng-jong, to the king, to demand the recall of the banished friends of the general. The king was in no condition to refuse and the men came back.

Gen. Yi mourned sincerely for the death of Chöng Mong-ju for he held him to be a loyal and faithful man, but his son saw to it that the friends of the murdered man were promptly banished. Even the two sons of the king who had sided with the enemies of Gen. Yi were banished. Gen. Yi was asked to put some of the friends of Chöng Mong-ju to death but he sternly refused and would not even have them beaten. Yi Săk was again banished to a more distant point, the property of Chöng Mong-ju was confiscated and so at last all opposition was effectually silenced.

The energetic T‘ă-jong next proceeded to have the king make an agreement or treaty of lasting friendship with his father. The officials opposed it on the ground that it was not in keeping with the royal office to swear an oath to a subject, but the king who had doubtless been well schooled by the young intriguer agreed to it. Gen. Yi was very loath to go and receive this honor at the king’s hand and it was at last decided that the king should not attend the function in person but should do it by deputy. The oath was as follows;—

“If it had not been for you I never could have become king. Your goodness and faithfulness are never to be 293forgotten. Heaven and earth witness to it from generation to generation. Let us abjure all harm to each other. If I ever forget this promise let this oath witness to my perfidy.”

But soon the king began to see the ludicrousness of his position. His sons had been banished, himself without a particle of power and the voice of the people clamoring to have Gen. Yi made king. The pressure was too great, and one day the unhappy king handed over the seals of office to the great dictator Gen. Yi T‘ă-jo and the Wang dynasty was at an end. The king retired to private life, first to Wŭn-ju, then to Kan-Sŭng and finally to San-ch‘ŭk where he died three years after abdicating. The dynasty had lasted four hundred and seventy-five years in all.




Chapter I.

Beginning of the new kingdom.... name Cho-sŭn adopted.... prophecies.... a man hunt.... a royal dream.... the wall of Seoul built.... capital moved.... diplomacy in the north.... Buddhism.... three ports set aside for the Japanese.... plot discovered.... back to Song-do.... king T‘ă-jo retires.... death blow to feudalism.... Chöng-jong abdicates.... T‘ă-jong’s sweeping reforms.... copper type.... sorcerers’ and geomancers’ books burned.... T‘ă-jong’s claims to greatness.... Se-jong reigns.... his habits.... literary work.... Japanese islands attacked.... gradual suppression of Buddhism.... trials for capital offenses.... numerous reforms.... wild tribe punished.... the far north colonised.... Japanese settlement in the south.... origin of Korean alphabet.... king Mun-jong dies from over-devotion to Confucian principles.

It was on the sixteenth day of the seventh moon of the year 1392 that Gen. Yi ascended the throne of Koryŭ, now no longer Koryŭ. He was an old man, far past the age when he could hope to superintend in person the vigorous “house-cleaning” that the condition of things demanded. He called about him all the officials whom he knew to be personally loyal to himself and placed them in positions of trust and authority. Those who had contributed to his rise were rewarded, and a tablet was erected in the capital telling of their merits. He liberated many who had been imprisoned because of their opposition to the Wang kings and recalled many who had been banished.

It was not long before a message came from the emperor saying, “A man can become king only by the decree of Heaven. How is it then that the people of Sam-han have 296made Yi king?” In reply the king hastened to send an envoy to explain matters and to ask the emperor whether he would prefer to have the new kingdom called Cho-sŭn, “Morning Freshness” or Wha-ryŭng, “Peaceful Harmony.” The emperor probably thought there was a great deal more morning freshness than peaceful harmony in the peninsula; at any rate he ordered the former name to be adopted. It was the doubtful loyalty of the Wang kings to the Chinese throne that made it easy for king T‘ă-jo to smoothesmoothe over the displeasure of the emperor. The seals of the Koryŭ kings were then delivered over to China and new seals received for the new dynasty.

According to unwritten law, with the beginning of a new dynasty a new capital must be founded, and king T‘ă-jo began to look about for a new site. At first he determined to build his capital at Kye-ryŭng Mountain in Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province, and he went so far as to begin work on it; but it was found that in the days of Sil-la a celebrated priest, To-sŭn, had prophesied that in the days to come Yi would found a capital at Han-yang, and one of the Koryŭ kings had planted many plum trees at that place and as fast as they matured had them mutilated, hoping thus to harm the fortunes of the Yi family; for the Chinese character for Yi is the same as that for plum. Tradition also says that the king had a dream in which a spirit came and told him that Kye-ryŭng San was reserved for the capital of a future kingdom which should be founded by a member of the Chöng family. Two commissioners were thereupon sent to Han-yang to make surveys for a palace site. It is said that a monk, Mu-hak, met them at Ha-yang and told them that the palace should face toward Pă-gak Mountain and Mong-myŭk Mountain (the present Nam-san,) but they persisted in making it face the south. “Very well” the monk replied, “If you do not listen to my advice you will have cause to remember it two hundred years from now.” His words were unheeded but precisely two hundred years later, in the year 1592, the Japanese hordes of Hideyoshi landed on the shores of southern Korea. This is a fair sample of Korean ex post facto prophecy.

The courtiers urged the king to destroy the remaining relatives of the last Koryŭ kings that there might be no 297danger of an attempt at revolt. The royal consent was given and a considerable number of those unfortunates were put in a boat, taken out to sea and abandoned, their boat being first scuttled. The king thought better of this, however, before it had gone far and ordered this man-hunt to be stopped.

As the emperor still seemed to entertain suspicions concerning the new kingdom the king was fain to send his eldest son as envoy to the Chinese court where he carefully explained the whole situation to the satisfaction of his suzerain.

An interesting prophecy is said to have been current at the time. The king dreamed that he saw a hen swallow a silk-worm. No one could explain the meaning of the dream until at last an official more imaginativeimaginative than discreet averred that it meant that Kye-ryŭng would swallow Cham-du. Kye means “hen” and Cham-du means “silk-worm’s head.” But Kye-ryong was the site of the future capital of the next kingdom according to prophecy, while “silk-worm’s head” is the name of one of the spurs of Nam-san in Seoul. So the interpretation was that the new dynasty would fall before another founded at Kye-ryong, by Chöng. The poor fellow paid for this bright forecast with his life.

Cho Chin was charged with the work of building the wall of the new capital. To this end, in the spring of 1391, 119,000 men were brought from the provinces of P‘yŭng-an and Whang-hă and they worked steadily for two months. In the autumn 89,000 men came from Kang-wŭn, Chŭl-la and Kyŭng-sang Provinces and finished it in a month more. The whole circuit of the wall was 9,975 double paces. At five feet to the double pace this would give us about nine and a half miles, its present length. It was pierced by eight gates, the South Gate, or Suk-nye-mun, the East Gate or Heung-in-mun, the West Gate, or Ton-eui-mun, the Little West Gate, or So-eui-mun, the North-east Gate, or Chang-eui-mun, the Water Mouth Gate, or Kwang-heui-mun, also called the Su-gu-mun, and finally the Suk-chang-mun, a private gate at the north by which the king may pass in time of danger to the mountain fortress of Puk-han. At the same time a law was made that dead bodies could be carried out of the city only by way of the Little West or the Water Mouth Gates. Neither 298of these “dead men’s gates” were roofed at first but were simply arches.

Immediately upon the completion of the wall the court was moved from Song-do to the new capital and the new palace was named the Kyŭng-bok Palace. By this time the news of the founding of a new dynasty had spread, and envoys came from Japan, the Liu-kiu Islands and from the southern kingdom of Sam-na. It will be remembered that the Mongols had absorbed a portion of the northern territory of Korea, especially in Ham-gyŭng Province. This had never come again fully under Ko-ryŭ control, so that now the new kingdom extended only as far north as Ma-ch’ŭn Pass. Between that and the Tu-man River lived people of the Yŭ-jin tribe. The king sent Yi Tu-ran to give them a friendly introduction to the newly founded kingdom of Cho-sŭn, and he was so good a diplomat that soon he was able to form that whole region into 3 semi-independent districtsdistricts and in course of time it naturally became incorporated into Cho-sŭn. The Koryŭ dynasty left a heavy legacy of priest-craft that was not at all to the liking of the new king. The monks had far more power with the people than seemed consistent with good government. Monasteries were constantly in process of erection and their inmates arrogated to themselves large powers that they did not by right possess. Monks were not mendicants then as they are today. Each monastery had its complement of slaves to do all menial work and the law that declared that the grandson of a slave should be free was a dead letter. The first of a long list of restrictions upon the priesthood was a restatement and an enforcement of this salutary law which made hereditary serfdom impossible.

Before his accession to the throne he had succeeded in putting down the Japanese pirates, at least for the time. He now placed high military and naval officials at all the great southern ports, who offered the people still further protection. He also set aside the three ports of Ch’e-p’o, Yŭm-p’o and Pu-san-p’o (Fusan) as places where Japanese envoys and trading parties might be entertained. At these places he built houses for the accommodation of such guests.

King T'ă-jo had a numerous family. By his first Queen, Han, he had six sons, of whom the second and the fifth later 299became Kings of Cho-sŭn, with the posthumous titles of Chöng-jong and T‘ă-jong respectively. By his second Queen, Kang, he had two sons, both of whom aspired to the crown but without hope. They were named Pang-sŭk and Pang-bon. Their ambition led them astray, for now in the sixth year of the reign they conspired to kill their two rival half-brothers and so prepare the way for their own elevation. They secured the services of two assassins who made the attempt, but being foiled they lost their heads. It was well known that the two princes were at the bottom of the plot, and the king, knowing that even he could not protect them from justice, advised them to make good their escape. They fled but were caught just outside the West Gate and put to death.

The courtiers were all homesick for Song-do and the king himself probably missed many of the comforts which he had there enjoyed. Merchants had not as yet come in large numbers to the new capital and the number of houses was comparatively small. It must be noticed that with the change of dynasty it was taken for granted that the citizens of the old capital were loyal to the fallen dynasty and so the people of Song-do were not allowed to move to Seoul in large numbers. That city was reserved as the residence of the friends of the new regime. Song-do has ever been considered less loyal than any other city in the country and the rule has been that no native of that city could hold an important office under the present government. But at first, the new capital was hardly as pleasant a place to live as the old, and so the king gave the word and the whole court moved back there for a time.

We are told that king T‘ă-jo was heartily tired of the constant strife among his sons as to who should be the successor and he decided to resign the office and retire to his native Ham-heung. His choice of a successor fell upon his oldest living son, Prince Yong-an, better known by his posthumous title Chöng-jong Kong-jŭng Tă-wang. The army and the people all desired that his fifth son, Prince Chöng-an, who is generally known as T‘ă-jong, who had been so active in helping his father to the throne and who was as energetic and enterprising as his brother was slow, should become theirtheir 300ruler. When they heard that they could not have their will there was an angry demonstration at the palace. This led the retiring king to advise that after Chöng-jong had ruled a while he had better resign in favor of his brother, the people’s choice.

King Chöng-jong’s first act was a statesman-like one. He commanded the disbanding of the feudal retainers of all the officials. A few who rebelled at this as an encroachment upon their rights were promptly banished, and the rest submitted. Thus the death blow was struck at feudalism in the peninsula. It never gained the foothold here that it had in Japan, for it was thus nipped in the bud. The weakness of the fallen dynasty had been that one or more of the officials had gathered about their persons such large retinues that they succeeded in overawing the king and making him a mere puppet. But this was not to be a feature of the new regime, for King Chöng-jong by this one decree effectually stamped it out.

The retired king seemed to be determined not to be disturbed in his well-earned rest, for when his sons sent and begged him to come back to the capital and aid the government by his advice, he answered by putting the messenger to death. Later, however, he relented and returned to Seoul.

T‘ă-jo’s third son, Prince Pang, was jealous because his younger brother had been selected to succeed king Chöng-jong, and so he determined to have him put out of the way. To this end he conspired with one Pak-po, but the plot was discovered, Pak Po was killed and the prince banished to T‘o-san in Whang-hă Province. T‘ă-jong himself, the prospective king, seems to have chafed at the delay, for we are told that King Chöng-jong’s Queen noticed his moody looks and advised her lord to abdicate in his favor without delay, before harm came of it. So King Chöng-jong called his brother and handed over to him the seals of office and himself retired to private life with the title Sang-wang, or “Great king.”


It was in the centennial year 1400 that T‘ă-jong, whose full posthumous title is T‘ă-jong Kong-jŭng T‘ă-wang, entered upon the royal office. He was a man of indomitable will, untiring energy and ready resource. It was he who really 301entered upon the work of reform in earnest. T‘ă-jo had been too old and Chöng-jong had lacked the energy. The year 1401 gave him an opportunity to begin these reforms. The land was suffering from famine, and the king said, “Why is so much grain wasted in the making of wine? Let it cease for the present.” When he found that the people would not obey he said. “It is because I myself have not desisted from the use of wine. Let no more wine be served in the palace for the present.” It is said that this practical appeal was successful and the people also desisted. From the earliest times it had been the custom for the monks to congregate and pray for the cessation of drought, but now by one sweep of his pen the king added another limitation to the prerogatives of the monks by forbidding the observance of the custom. Large tracts of land were also taken from the monasteries and given back to the people. The king hung a great bell in the palace gate and made proclamation that anyone who failed to have a grievance righted by the proper tribunals might appeal directly to the throne, and whoever struck the drum was given instant audience. This privilege was seldom abused for it soon became known that if a man did not have right clearly on his side his rash appeal to the king brought severe punishment.

For many a decade letters had languished in the peninsula, and now with a view to their revival the king ordered the casting of copper types and provided that, as fast as new characters were found in the leading Chinese works, they should be immediately cast and added to the font. The authenticity of this statement cannot be called in question. It is attested by all the great historical works both public and private. The method of use was such that the types were practically indestructible and large numbers exist and are in active use to this day. So far as the evidence goes these were the first metal type ever made, though xylography had been known since the very earliest time.

In 1406 the emperor sent an envoy asking that a copper Buddha on the island of Quelpart be brought to Seoul for the king to do obeisance to it, and that it then be forwarded to China. The king, however, refused to bow before it. During this same year the law was promulgated forbidding the imprisonment 302of criminals for long periods of time. It also beheld the execution of all the brothers of the Queen. We are not told the reason of this but we may surmise that it was because they had been implicated in seditious proceedings.

In 1409 the Japanese, Wŭn-do-jin, was sent to the Korean court to present the respects of the Japanese sovereign.

The kings of Koryŭ had set aside large tracts of land in Whang-hă Province for hunting purposes. These by order of king T‘ă-jong were now restored to the people and they were ordered to cultivate them. In 1413 the land suffered from a severe drought and the courtiers all advised that the monks and the female exorcists and fortune-tellers be called upon to pray for rain; but the king replied, “Buddhism is an empty religion and the exorcists and fortune-tellers are a worthless lot. If I were only a better ruler Heaven would not refuse us rain.” He thereupon ordered all the sorceresses, fortune-tellers, exorcists and geomancers to deliver up the books of their craft to the government and a great fire was made with them in front of the palace.

King T‘ă-jong’s great sorrow was his son the Crown Prince, Yang-yŭng. This young man was dissolute and worthless. He would not pursue the studies prescribed by his tutors but spent his time in hunting, gambling and in less reputable pursuits. The people cried out against him and made it known that it was not their will that he should reign over them. The father saw the justice of the complaint and the young man was banished to Kwang-ju and the fourth son, Prince Ch‘ung-nyŭng, was proclaimed heir to the throne.

King T‘ă-jong retired in 1419 in favor of this son Ch‘ung-nyŭng who is known by the posthumous title Se-jong Chang-hŭn Tă-wang.

T‘ă-jong had been a radical reformer and worked a revolution in Korean life similar to that which Cromwell effected in England. His greatness is exhibited in three ways. (1) He was the first king who dared to break away utterly from customs whose only sanction was their antiquity. (2) He was wise enough not to force all these radical reforms at once, but spread them over a period of nearly two decades. (3) He recognised that a king is the servant of the people. It may be in place here to call attention to a peculiar custom of the east. 303We refer to the custom of surrendering the throne to a successor before one’s death. The benefits of this custom are soon cited. The retiring sovereign becomes the tutor of the incoming one. The young ruler has the benefit of his practical suggestions and of his immense influence. He thus does away with much of the danger of revolution or rebellion which so often accompanies a change or rulers. If the new king proves inefficient or otherwise unsatisfactory it is possible, through the father’s influence, to effect a change. In other words the young ruler is on trial and he undergoes a probation that is salutary for him and for the people as well. It also helps greatly in perpetuating a policy, for in such a case the father, knowing that his son is to assume the reins of government while he still lives, takes greater pains to initiate him into the secrets of government and in forming in his mind settled principles which, while they may not always perpetuate the same policy, at least ensure an easy gradation from one policy to another. This perhaps was the crowning feat of T‘ă-jong’s greatness. He knew enough to stop while his success was at its height and spend some years in teaching his successor how to achieve even a greater success. Let us see how these principles worked in the case of this new king.

The young king began in a modest way by consulting with his father in regard to all matters of importance. The retired king had taken up his quarters in the “Lotus Pond District” where he was at all times accessible to the young king and where he took cognizance of much of the public business. The new ruler was characterized by great evenness of temper, great astuteness and untiring diligence. He is said to have risen each morning at dawn.

He ordered the making of musical instruments, including metal drums and triangles. Under his supervision a clypsehydraclypsehydra was made and a work on astronomy was published. It is said that with his own hand he prepared works on “The five rules of conduct,” “The duties of King, Father and Husband,” “Good Government and Peace,” and a work on military tactics. The custom of collecting rare flowers and plants and growing them in the palace enclosure was done away and it was decreed that no more of the public money should be squandered in that way. He built a little straw 304thatched cottage beside the palace and compelled the officials to attend him there in council. He put a stop to the evil practice of letting concubines and eunuchs meddle with state affairs, for when one of his concubines asked him to give one of her relatives official position he promptly banished her from the palace.

In the second year of his reign, 1420, the king showed his partiality for literature and literary pursuits by founding a college to which he invited thirteen of the finest scholars that the kingdom could furnish, and there they gave themselves up to the pursuit of letters. In the early summer the dreaded Japanese again began their ravages on the coasts of Korea. Landing at Pi-in, Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province, they easily overcame the local forces and marched northward along the coast into Whang-hă Province. They there informed the Korean generals that they did not want to ravage Korea but that they were seeking a way into China. They lacked provisions and promised to go immediately if the Koreans would give them enough rice for their sustenance, until they should cross the border into China. Forty bags of rice were given to them, but when the king learned of it he was displeased and said, “When they return we must destroy them.” The southern provinces were put into a state of defense and Gen. Yi Chong-mu was put at the head of a punitive expedition. It is said that a fleet of 227 war vessels and an army of 107,285 men rendezvoused at Ma-san Harbor. They were provided with two month’s rations. This powerful flotilla sailed away and soon reached the island of Tsushima. There it burned 129 Japanese boats and 1939 houses. Over a hundred Japanese were killed, twenty-one prisoners were taken and 131 Chinese and eight Korean captives were liberated. The fleet then sailed toward Japan and arrived at Ni-ro harbor. There, the records say, they lost 120 men and so abandoned the enterprise. This is good evidence that the numbers of the army are overestimated, for a loss of a hundred and twenty men from such an immense force would not have caused an abandonment of the expedition.

The emperor sent a messenger asking for the four jewels that are supposed to come from the bodies of good monks when they are incinerated.

305These were said to be kept at Heung-ch‘ŭn monastery at Song-do. King Se-jong replied that there were no such jewels in the peninsula. He ordered the discontinuance of the custom of building monasteries at the graves of kings, and the people were commanded not to pray to Buddha in behalf of the king. The great expense incurred in providing for the huge stone that covered the sarcophagus of a king made him change the custom and it was decreed that thereafter four smaller ones should be used instead of the one great one.

One of his most statesmanlike acts was to decree that every man charged with a capital offense should have three trials and that detailed accounts of each of these should be furnished for the royal inspection. Following out the policy of a gradual suppression of Buddhism, he interdicted the observance of the festival called the To-ak.

In the fourth year of his reign, his father died. It is said that at the time of his death there was a severe drought, and on his deathbed he said, “When I die I will go and ask Heaven to send rain,” and the story goes that on the very day he died the welcome rain came. To this day it is said that it is sure to rain on the tenth day of the fifth moon, and this is called the “T‘ă-jong rain.” We see that under that father’s tutelage he had continued the policy of reform, but what he had done was only the beginning. The law was made that if a prefect died the prefects along the road should furnish transport for his body up to the capital. The eunuchs were enjoined not to interfere in any way with the affairs of state. The term of office of the country prefects was lengthened, owing to the expense entailed upon the people by frequent changes. It was made a crime to delay the interment of a corpse simply because the geomancers could not find an auspicious spot for the burial, and all geomancers’ books were ordered burned. Every adult male was required to carry on his person a wooden tag bearing his name. This was for the purpose of identification to prevent the evasion of taxes and of military service. It is but right to say that this law was never strictly carried out. Korea has always suffered from the existence of armies on paper. The king edited a book on agriculture telling in what districts and in what kinds of soil different species of grains and vegetables would thrive best. He paid attention to penal laws as 306well. Beating was to be administered on the legs rather than on the back; no murderers were to be bound in prison who were under fifteen years or over seventy; no prisoner under ten or over eighty was to suffer under the rod; even the king’s relatives, if guilty of crime, were not to be exempt from punishment.

These important reforms occupied the attention of the king up to the year 1432, the fourteenth of his reign, but now the border wars in the north claimed his attention. At this time the wild tribes across the Ya-lu were known under the collective name of Ya-in. These savages were ravaging back and forth across the border, now successful and now defeated. King Se-jong decided that the peace of the north was worth the outlay of some life and treasure; so, early in the year 1433 an expedition under Gen. Ch’oé Yun-dok crossed the Ya-lu in six divisions, each consisting of a thousand men or more. These had agreed to make a common attack on Ta-ram-no, the stronghold of the robbers, on the nineteenth of the fourth moon. This was successfully done with the result that 176 of the enemy were left dead, and 236 captives and 270 head of cattle were taken. All of this was at the cost of just four men.

The northern portion of Ham-gyŭng province was as yet but sparsely settled, and reports came in that the Ming people were coming in great numbers and settling there; so the king felt it necessary to do something to assert his rights. A great scheme for colonization was made and people from the southern part of the province were sent north to occupy the land. But there were two powerful Yŭ-jin chiefs across the Tu-man river who were constantly crossing and harrying the people along that border line. These were Ol-yang-t’ap and Hol-ja-on. It was not until the year 1436 that they were really silenced and then only after repeated and overwhelming victories on the part of the Korean forces. During these years thousands of people from the southern provinces were brought north by the government and given land in this border country.

About this time a Japanese named Chŭng Seung was Daimyo of Tsushima. He sent fifty boats across to the Korean shore and the trade relations were revived which we may feel sure had been sadly interrupted by the long period of piratical 307raids. The government made these people a present of 200 bags of rice and beans. Sixty “houses” of people also came from that island and asked to be allowed to live in the three ports, Ch’ep’o, Yŭm-p’o and Pu-san-p’o. The king gave his assent and from that time until about the present day, with only temporary intermissions, the Japanese have resided in one or other of these three places, although Pu-san (Fusan) has always been the most important of them. In the year 1443 the custom of giving the Daimyo of Tsushima a bonus of 200 bags of grain a year was instituted. The number of trading boats that could come was strictly limited by the Korean governmentgovernment to fifty, but in extreme cases where sudden need arose through piratical raids or other cause the number could be increased. This custom continued without interruption until 1510.

The most striking feat that King Se-jong accomplished and the one that had the most far-reaching and lasting effect upon the people was the invention of a pure phonetic alphabet. This alphabet scarcely has its equal in the world for simplicity and phonetic power. He was not the first one to see the vast disadvantage under which the people labored in being obliged to master the Chinese character before being able to read. We will remember that in the days of Sil-la the scholar Sŭl-chong had invented a rough way of indicating the grammatical endings in a Chinese text by inserting certain diacritical marks, but this had of course been very cumbersome and only the ajuns or “clerks” were acquainted with it. Another similar attempt had been made near the end of the Koryŭ dynasty but it too had proved a failure so far as general use by the people was concerned. King Se-jong was the first man to dare to face the difficulty and overcome it by the use not of modifications of the Chinese characters but by an entirely new and different system, a phonetic alphabet. It can scarcely be said that he had the genius of a Cadmus, for he probably knew of the existence of phonetic alphabets, but when we remember that the Chinese character is considered in a sense sacred and that it had been in use in the peninsula exclusively for more than two thousand years we can place him but little lower than the great Phoenician.

Korean histories are almost a unit in affirming that the alphabet 308is drawn from the Sanscrit and from the ancient seal character of China. Where then did King Se-jong have access to the Sanscrit? Some have argued that his envoys came in contact with it at the court of the Emperor at Nanking. This is possible but it is extremely unlikely that they gained such a knowledge of it in this way to make it of use in evolving their own alphabet. On the other hand it is well known that the monasteries of Korea were filled with books written in the Sanscrit or the Thibetan (which is an offshoot of the Sanscrit) character. It is believed by some that Buddhism was entirely crushed in the very first years of the dynasty, but this is a great blunder. Buddhism had begun to wane, but long after the end of King Se-jong’s reign it was still the predominant religion in Korea. Most of the officials, following the lead of royalty, had given it up, but the masses were as good Buddhists as ever. The probabilities are therefore overwhelming that when the histories refer to the Sanscrit they mean the Sanscrit contained in these Buddhist books and which had been a common feature of Korean religious life for centuries.

Comparison reveals the fact that the Korean consonants are mere simplifications of the Sanscrit consonants. On the other hand there are no similarities between the Korean and Sanscrit vowels. King Se-jong’s genius lay in his recognition of the fact that the vowel lies at the basis of articulate speech, and in this he was in advance of every other purely Asiatic alphabet. Each syllable was made up of the “mother and child” the mother being the vowel and the child being the consonant. If we examine the ancient seal character of China with a view to ascertaining the source from which the Koreans drew their symbols for the vowels we shall find at a glance that they consist in the simplest strokes of those ideographs. Every Korean vowel is found among the simpler radicals of the Chinese. What more need be added to prove that the statements of the Korean histories are correct?

In this work the king made use of the two distinguished scholars Sin Suk-ju and Sŭng Sam-mun. Thirteen times the latter was sent with others to Liao-tung to consult with a celebrated Chinese scholar Whang Ch’an, who was in banishment in that place. For the prosecution of this literary plan and 309the work growing out of it the king erected a separate building in the palace enclosure. There he caused to be compiled and printed the dictionary of the Korean language in the new alphabet which was called the ön-mun. This celebrated dictionary is called the Hun-min Chöng-eum.

King Se-jong died in 1450 and was succeeded by his son Hyŭn whose posthumous title is Mun-jong Kong-sun Tă-wang. His brief reign of two years is a good sample of what Confucianism will do for a man if carried to excess. Upon his father’s death he refused to be comforted and neglected the necessary precautions for preserving his health. Long nights he lay out in the cold thinking that by so doing he was showing respect for the memory of his father. Such excesses joined with the lack of a proper diet soon made it clear that his health was permanently undermined. This was a source of great anxiety to the officials and to the people, for the heir to the throne was a young boy, and the king’s brother, Prince Su-yang, was a powerful and ambitious man. The king himself entertained grave fears for his son and shortly before he died he called together the leading officials and made them solemnly promise to uphold the boy through every vicissitude. Then he turned to the wall and died.

Chapter II.

Tan-jong becomes king.... “The Tiger”.... conspiracy.... king’s uncle virtual ruler.... sericulture encouraged.... king abdicates.... people mourn.... king banished.... a royal captive’s song.... king strangled.... the usurper’s dream.... character of the new king.... reforms.... trouble with the emperor.... policy in the north.... more reformsreforms.... official history of the land.... medicine.... hostility to Buddhism.... king’s concern for the people.... army cared for.... literary work.... a standing Buddha.... a voluminous work.... dangerous rebellion in the north.... emperor pleased.... king retires.... Great Bell hung.... The Pyo-sin.... a new king.... foreign relations.... Buddhists driven from Seoul.... examinations.... convents broken up.... war against Buddhism.... a termagant.... a prosperous land.... law against the marriage of widows.... military operations in the north.... celebrated history written.... king reproved.... a foe to Buddhism.... reform in music.

310It was in 1452 that king Mun-jong died and his little son Hong-wi ascended the throne. The title of the latter is Tan-jong Kong-eui Tă-wang, and of all the kings of Korea, whether of this dynasty or of any other, his fate is the most calculated to excite the pity of the reader.

His uncle, Prince Su-yang, was a bold, unscrupulous man with whom natural affection did not affect the balance by a feather weight. He was at the head of a powerful faction and it was only the jealous vigilance of the Prime Minister, Kim Chong-so, that the boy ever came to the throne at all. The people said that “The Tiger” must be killed before the boy could come to his rights. Prince Su-yang saw that the people were with the young prince to a man and he knew that he must brush from his path these powerful friends of the young king before he ever could come to the throne himself. To this end he conspired with Kwŭn Nam, Han Myong-whe and some thirty others. The Prime Minister was the first object of attack for he was the most strenuous supporter of the king. Prince Su-yang, in company with one Im Un, armed with iron bludgeons, went to the house of the Prime Minister and there the former feigned to have lost one of the wings from his palace hat and asked the Minister to lend him one for the day. The Minister could not refuse and sent his little son to bring one, but ere the lad returned the father was laid dead by a blow from the bludgeon in the hands of Im Un. The prince then hastened to the palace and told the boy-king that the Prime Minister had been conspiring against the government and so it had been necessary to put him to death. Boy though he was, King Tan-jong saw straight through this falsehood and his first words were, “I beg of you to spare my life.” From that moment all power slipped from the hands of the king and the Prince Uncle was virtual ruler of the land. Placing heavy guards at the palace gates, he sent messengers summoning the king’s best friends, and as soon as they appeared they were cut down. In this manner Whang Po-in, Cho Keuk-gwan, Yi Yang, Yun Cho-gong and Min Si were killed. Besides these many others were banished, so that soon the court was deprived of almost every supporter of the king except the aged Sŭng Sam-mun who was such a venerable man and held in such esteem by the whole nation that 311even this bold prince did not dare to lay hands on him. This done, Prince Su-yang began to center in himself all the high offices of the realm and became an autocrat, dispensing offices and regulating the affairs of the country according to his own ideas. Yi Cheung-ok, the governor of Ham-gyŭng Province, was a strong supporter of the king and so, though far from the scene of this intrigue, emissaries were sent who murdered him in cold blood.

The only important act of this short and unfortunate reign was the encouragement given to sericulture. The young king sent large numbers of silk worms to various districts and rewarded those who did well with them and punished those who made a failure of it.

All the time the wily prince had been urging upon the king the necessity of abdicating in his favor. We know not what threats and cajolery were used, but true it is that early in 1456, after all the other uncles of the king had been banished to distant parts to get them away from the person of the king, that unhappy boy, as yet but fifteen years old, bereft of every friend he had ever known, hedged in by the threats of his unnatural uncle, finally called the officials to a council and repeated the lesson he had been undoubtedly taught. “I am too young to govern the realm rightly and I desire to put the reins of government into the hands of my uncle, Prince Su-yang.” As in duty bound they all went through the formality of demurring at this but the king was firm and ordered the seals to be handed to the prince. Among these officials there were two who looked with disfavor upon this. They were Pak P‘ăng-yŭn and Sŭng Sam-mun. The former stepped forward as if to give the seals to the prince, but when they were once in his hands he made a dash for the door and tried to throw himself into a lotus pond. Sŭng Sam-mun caught him by the garments and whispered in his ear, “Wait, all this will be righted, but we must live to see it done.” So the young king Tan-jong stepped down from the throne. The usurper is known by his posthumous title Se-jo Hye-jang Tă-wang.

After King Tan-jong had abdicated he was held under strict surveillance in the palace and was practically a prisoner. It is said the people congregated at the Great Bell in the center 312of the city and wailed over this fulfillment of their worst fears.

But the dethroned king was not left entirely without help. Six of the officials conspired to assassinate the usurper at a dinner given to a Chinese envoy, but someone betrayed them to him and they were seized, tortured with red-hot irons, decapitated and dismembered. These six men were Pak P‘ăng-yŭn, Sŭng Sam-mun, Yi Gă, Ha Wi-ji, Yu Sŭng-wŭn and Yu Eung-bu. Their wives, parents and children perished with them.

Chöng In-ji, one of the new king’s creatures, memorialized the throne as follows:—“All this difficulty arose about the ex-king. He should therefore be put to death.” This was rather more than the king dared to do but the unfortunate boy was banished to Yong-wŭl in Kang-wŭn Province. His brother Yu was also banished at the same time. The banished king lived beside a mountain stream and is said to have sung this plaintive song to it:

A long, long road, a long good-bye.
I know not which way to turn.
I sit beside the stream and its waters, like me, mourn.
And together we weep without ceasing.

At last when the time seemed ripe, another of Tan-jong’s uncles memorialized the throne urging that the banished boy be put to death so that there might be no more cause for conspiracy on the part of any of the officials. With apparent reluctance the king gave orders that Gen. Wang Pang-yŭn be detailed to go and administer poison to the boy. When that official arrived at the place of banishment his hardihood failed him and instead of giving the boy the poison he prostrated himself before him. The ex-king exclaimed, “What brings you here?” but before answer could be given a man named Kong Sang came up behind the banished king and strangled him with a cord. The story runs that as the murderer turned to leave the room blood burst from his ears, eyes, nose and mouth and that he fell dead beside the body of his victim.

The few palace women who remained in the suite of the banished king threw themselves into the stream and perished. The body of the young king would have remained unburied had not a man named Om Heung-do taken pity on the 313murdered boy and buried him in Tong-eul-ji. The night the boy was murdered the usurper dreamed that the dead mother of his victim came from the grave, and, standing beside his couch, pronounced the following malediction: “You have stolen the throne and killed my son. Your’s too shall die.” It is said that when he awoke he found that the prophecy had already been fulfilled. He therefore dug up the bones of this prophetess of evil and scattered them upon the water of the river.

Tradition says that the next seven magistrates who were appointed to the district where this foul murder was perpetrated died on the very night of their arrival. The eighth made it his first duty to go to the grave of the murdered king and sacrifice before it and write an elegy upon him. From that time there was no more trouble.

In spite of the way in which King Se-jo obtained the throne he is not held in ill repute among the people of Korea. The unpardonable crime which attended his usurpation of the throne augured ill for the reign, but the truth is there have been few kings of the dynasty who have done so much for the advancement of the interests of the people as this same Se-jo. Tradition says that when a boy he was looked upon with wonder because of his skill with the bow, and he used to climb the mountains blindfold where others dared not follow with open eyes. One story tells how once, when he went to China with the embassy, eight elephants that stood before the palace gate knelt as he approached, thus foretelling his future greatness. He was a temperate man and hated luxury and effeminacy. He would not use gold upon his table and when his little son asked for a silver cup it was refused him.

He took up the policy of reform at the very point where his father, King Se-jong, had laid it down five years before. He established pleasant relations with the people of the Liu Kiu islands and of the wild northern tribes, by treating their envoys with special attention. Those who were obstinately unfriendly he crushed with a heavy hand. Among the latter was an able chieftain, Yi man-su, who had formerly lived in Seoul and had married a Korean woman but later had fled back to the Yŭ-in tribes and raised the standard of revolt. The Korean generals were in some trepidation on this account 314but Gen. Sin Suk-ju marched against him and soon drove him back to his retreat.

By giving rank to a man of the Keum-ju tribe in Manchuria without the previous permission of the Emperor the king came near getting into serious trouble with his suzerain, but as it was a first offense it was overlooked. The Emperor sent word however that a repetition of the offense would bring down upon the king serious trouble.

The power of the central government was but weakly felt along the northern border and so the king paid special attention to that portion of the country, founding prefectures all along the north-eastern border. It was doubtless because of this active policy that the Yŭ-jin tribe came the following year and swore allegiance to Cho-sŭn. Among the reforms which were effected during the early part of this reign the following suffice to show the energy and wisdom of this king Se-jo. Fruit trees were planted in the palace enclosure so that the people might not be burdened with the duty of providing the king’s table with fruit. Mulberry trees were planted in all available places in the grounds of the different government offices, and even in the palace, where the queen engaged in weaving, together with the palace women. Dress reform was carried on to the extent of shortening the skirts of women’s dresses so that they could be more easily distinguished from men in the street. A school was founded for the study of the Chinese vernacular. The criminal court was ordered to present the king each month with a written account of its proceedings. The king saw in person every official who came up to Seoul from the country on business. A hospital was founded for the dispensing of medicine for indigestion.

These were but the beginning of his reforms. He punished at one time over a hundred prefects who had been oppressing the people. The palace inclosure was sown with grain when there was prospect of scarcity. In this reign we find the first reference to the Kuk-cho Po-gam or the official annals of the dynasty. The great bell which hangs in the center of the city of Seoul today was cast in his reign and hung at first outside the South Gate. A medical government bureau was founded and medical works were published. The king 315was actively interested in military matters and called together all the soldiers who could wield a bow of 120 pounds weight. This was with a view to the invasion of the territory of the troublesome wild tribes of the north. A census of the people was taken for the purpose of making army estimates, and during the whole reign the soldiers were practiced in sham fights both in the palace enclosure and outside the city walls. His attitude toward Buddhism was one of distinct hostility. One of his earliest edicts was that no monk should attend or pray at a funeral. He invented the use of the split bamboo as a sign between himself and the general upon the field. He kept half and the general kept the other half and if it was necessary to send a messenger he would take the piece of wood, which, if it fitted the piece in the hands of the receiver of the message, showed that the messenger was properly accredited. He seems to have been much concerned for the welfare of the people for we find that in the fourth year of his reign he caused the publication of a book on weaving and had it extensively distributed among the people, together with another on military matters and another still on women’s manners.

King Se-jo was the first of the descendants of the great T‘ă-joT‘ă-jo to observe carefully the precept laid down by the founder of the dynasty—namely, to take good care of the army; this is evinced by the fact that at one timetime he distributed large quantities of medicine among the soldiers on the northernnorthern border and made generous gifts of land to the troops, thus fostering the military spirit among the people. As a result we see them successful on every side. The tribe of Ol-yang-hap was destroyed, the tribes of I-man-ju, Ol-jok-heup and Yan-ba-a-gan came and swore allegiance.

In his fifth yearyear he codified the laws and published them. He also extended his medical work and published a book on veterinary surgery, and he published works on astronomy, geology, music, writing, the signs of the times, agriculture, live-stock, foreign relations and arithmetic. In other words this versatile man was actively interested in military, political, social, scientific and artistic matters and caused books to be written about these subjects for the enlightenment of the people.

It is said that in 1465 he caused the erection of a monastery 316in Seoul but he made the Buddha a standing one rather than a sitting one. Evidently he had little faith in the inanity of the sleepy sitting Buddha, who with folded hands let the years slip by unheeded. He wanted something more lifelike. So he set the Buddha on his legs. This image was carried through the streets at periodic intervals accompanied by a crowd of musicians and monks. A Japanese envoy was horrified at what he called sacrilege and foretold that it could not endure. He was right, not because the Buddha had gotten on its feet but because the people of Korea had begun to cast off the shackles of Buddhism and, following in the wake of the court, were learning to take advantage of their emancipation. This making of a standing Buddha and the occasional festivals seem to have been more by way of sport than through any serious intentions on the king and this in itself accounts for the speedy downfall of the custom. Its novelty, which was all it had to recommend it, soon wore off.

In 1467 he ordered the two monks Sin Mi and Chuk Hŭn to cut wooden blocks for a book to be called the Tă-jang-gyŭng. The love of exaggeration in the Korean temperament finds play in the statement that this book contained 8,888,900 pages. The historian evidently did not have his abacus at hand, for he continues by saying that each of the fifty volumes contained 7,078 pages, while the above figure would require 167,778 pages to the volume.

The last year of King Se-jo’s reign, 1468, witnessed a serious disturbance in Ham-gyŭng Province. A man named Yi Si-ă gathered about him a strong body of soldiers and sent word to Seoul that it was simply with a view to defending his district from the incursions of the northern barbarians. The provincial general went in person to investigate, but he was murdered by the followers of Yi Si-ă who were aided by a courtezan who occupied the general’s room with him and who at dead of night opened the window and gave ingress to the revolutionists. A messenger, Sŭl Kyŭng-sin was then sent to Seoul to say that the general had been killed because he had been conspiring against the king. At the same time the king was asked to make Yi Si-ă the general of the northeast. This man told the king that the three Prime Ministers were implicated in the plot against him. The king was suspicious 317but did not dare to let matters progress without investigation. He put the Prime Ministers in prison and at the same time raised a large army to go and oppose the too ambitious Yi. Generals Yi Chun, Cho Sŭk-mun and Hŭ Chŭng were put in charge. The last of these three was one of the great soldiers of Korea. Tradition says that he was of gigantic stature, that he ate a bag of rice a day and drank wine by the bucketful. A doughty man indeed, at least by the trencher. But his feats on the battlefield were commensurate with his gastronomic prowess for we are told that the sight of his face struck fear into the stoutest enemy.

This army found the enemy before Ham-heung whose governor they had killed. The royal forces soon had the enemy on the run and at last brought them to bay on Man-nyang Mountain which projects into the sea and is impregnable from the land side. The royal forces took boat and stormed it from the sea while part of the force engaged the enemy from the landward side. The head of Yi Si-ă was taken and forwarded to Seoul. In this fight it is said that Gen. Hŭ Chŭng found his sword too small, so throwing it aside he tore up by the roots a pine tree twelve inches in girth (?) and swept all before him with this titanic weapon. Of course the king then set free the three Prime Ministers and confessed his mistake.

The emperor called upon Korea to help in the castigation of the Keum-ju tribe beyond the Ya-lu, so the king sent a large force and accomplished it without the help of Chinese arms. Having destroyed the tribe the Korean general cut a broad space on the side of a great pine and there inscribed the fact of the victory. The emperor was highly pleased and sent handsome presents to the generals engaged.

This same year the king resigned in favor of his son and retired to a separate palace to prosecute a line of study in which he was greatly interested, namely the art of estimating distances by the eye, a subject of importance to all military engineers and one in which Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have been an adept. But before the end of the year he died.

His successor, Prince Hă-yang, is known by his posthumous title Ye-jong Yang-do Tă-wang. He was so young at 318the time that his mother acted as regent. During the single year 1469 that this king reigned the Great Bell was brought into the city and hung at the central spot called Chong-no or “Bell Street.” He also made the law that the palace gates should never be opened at night unless the one so ordering showed the royal signet or token, called the su-gŭl. This was a round piece of ivory half an inch thick and three inches in diameter with the word sun-jun on one side and the king’s private mark on the other. To it are appended straps of deer skin and it is used when the king wishes to accredit a man to a certain work. The mere showing of this is accepted as the royal command. It is commonly called also the pyo-sin “The Sign to be Believed.”

This reign saw the division of the city into north, east, south, west and central districts. It also saw the promulgation of the Kyŭng-guk Tă-jŭn or “The Great Laws for Governing the Country.” The system had been inaugurated at the beginning of the dynasty but now for the first time it was definitelydefinitely adopted and written out in full for the guidance of the official classes. It dealt with the minute divisions of communities, each having an overseer.

This same year 1469 the young king died and his mother calling the Ministers together, nominated to the throne Prince Cha-sanPrince Cha-san the cousin of the deceased king. As he was only thirteen years old the Queen Mother acted as regent during the first years of his reign. HisHis posthumous title is Sŭng-jong Kang-jŭng Tă-wang.

Under the regency of the Queen Mother the first act was the abrogation of the law requiring the people to wear the ho-pă or wooden identification tag, which King T‘ă-jong had promulgated. It had become a mere matter of form and was found quite useless for the purpose intended, namely a preventative against the evasion of the taxes.

This reign was marked by increased activity in the field of foreign relations. First an envoy came from Quelpart with a gift of pearls. Another came from the town of Ku-ju Si-so in the province of Kwan-sŭ (Japan) and still another, Chöng Sŭng-hong from the town of Wŭn-jung on the islands of Tsushima. One embassy from the Liu Kiu Islands came with a gift of monkeys. The Japanese on the island of Sal-ma 319sent an envoy who presented gifts of red pepper, incense and white silk. He asked for Buddhist books but was refused. Envoys came also from the northern tribes swearing allegiance to Cho-sănCho-săn.

In 1472 all the sorceresses, fortune-tellers and Buddhist monks were driven from Seoul andand forbidden to enter it again. In the following year an envoy arrived from Japan saying “When Se-jo was king I painted his portrait and carried it to Japan, but at night a great light would stream from the picture’s face. So I brought it back and have left it at Che-p‘o in Chŭl-la Province.” The king immediately sent word to the governor to build an altar and burn the picture thereon, as it had been defiled by being carried to Japan.

Special attention was given by King Sŭng-jong to the matter of government examinations. He sent to the provinces and commanded the governors to hold preliminary examinations and to send the successful men up to Seoul to attend the grand examinations held on the third day of the third moon and the ninth of the ninth moon. Three men were to be sent up from each of the provinces except Kyŭng-sang, Chŭl-la and Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Provinces from which five each were allowed to come. This shows that then as today the largest part of the population of Korea was in the south.

An important change was effected in the matter of criminal procedure. The king commanded that all men of scholarly rank who offended against the laws should be arraigned not before the common tribunal of justice but before the college of scholars. Thus another barrier was built up between the common people and the nobility. King Sŭng-jong was also a patron of letters, for besides publishing a work called Che-wang Myŭng-gan or “The King’s clear Mirror,” and the O-ye-eui or “Five Rules of Conduct,” heConduct,” he also built a library and collected in it all the different books that could be found. He was the determined foe of Buddhism and, having driven out the monks, he now proceeded against the Buddhist convents in Seoul. He broke them up and made them remove to the country. There were twenty-three of these convents in Seoul at the time.

320The Queen Mother retired from the regency in 1477 and the king, assuming his full authority, continued the work of demolishing Buddhistic influence. He sequestered a monastery at Yong-san and made a school of it, after throwing out the image of Buddha. He seems to have been also a moral reformer, for he made a law against dancing-girls and commanded that boys be taught to dance and to take the place of those unfortunate women. It had been the custom on the king’s birth-day to have prayers offered in Buddhist temples for the safety and peace of the kingdom, but now this was abrogated, for the king said, “What does Buddha know? It is a worthless custom and must be stopped.” More than this, he compelled the monks in the country to refund to a man large sums of money which had been paid for prayers which were intended to ward off harm from the man’s son. The boy died and the father sued the monks for breach of contract, and the king upheld the claim.

In 1478 the queen died and a concubine named Yun was raised to the position of royal consort. This was destined to bring dire disaster to the realm. She was a woman of jealous disposition and violent temper and her hatred of the other concubines led her into trouble. On one occasion her passions overcame her and in an angry altercation with the king she scratched his face severely. The king desired to treat her offense leniently but he was overruled by the officials and the woman was driven from the palace. She had one son who is commonly known by his posthumous title Prince Yŭn-san. When the disgraced woman was dying she charged this son to avenge her disgrace, when he should come to the throne; for he was the heir apparent.

The reign saw many reforms of a social character. It was decreed that grave-plots must not be allowed to interfere with the making of fields. This indicates that during the years of prosperity the population had been rapidly increasing and that it was found necessary to increase the area of arable land in like proportion. The people were reaping the reward of many years of peace and good government. Nothing could show more plainly the relation between King Sŭng-jong and the people than the custom he inaugurated of helping those to marry who were too poor to do so.

321The only books he caused to be published were four; on marriage, funerals, ancestor worship and “On Reaching Manhood.” He seems to have been an ardent Confucianist for among other things he ordered that widows should not be allowed to re-marry. This striking feature of Korean life dates from the days of this king. Before this there had been a certain amount of sentiment against the practice but it had been common even among ladies of the higher classes up to this time. His refusal to give books to the Japanese envoys would also lead us to believe that he was an active Confucianist.

All these years we hear of no dealings with China on the part of Cho-sŭn, but at this point we are told that the wild tribe of Yŭ-jin was harrassingharrassing the people of northern China and the Emperor sent a message to Korea calling upon her to combine with China in an attack upon this obnoxious tribe. The military policy of his predecessors now stood the King in good stead, for he was able to put a strong army in the field immediately and the tribe of Yŭ-jin was speedily chastised. The Emperor was highly pleased and sent the King a present of silk, gold thread and cotton cloth.

In the latter years of his reign the King had the Kuk-cho Po-gam written up to date, and he successfully withstood an invasion of the wild tribes of the north. One of his last acts was to order that all impurity and obscenity should be dropped from the songs and poems.

In 1482 the King built two forts on the Ya-lu near the town of Kang-gye because of threatened outbreaks of tribes living on the further side. In 1484 he built the Ch‘ang-gyŭng Palace east of what is now known as the “Old Palace.” In this same year the great historical work called the Tong-guk T‘ong-gam or “Complete Mirror of the Eastern Kingdom,” probably the most celebrated of Korean histories, was published. It brought the annals of the peninsula down to the beginning of the present dynasty. Its author was Sŭ Sa-ga, better known by his pseudonym Sŭ Ko-gan. He was a thorough master of Korean history.

A little glimpse of this King’s disposition is given in a memorial addressed to him in 1486 when, after a certain royal tomb had been struck by lightning he, in terror, asked his 322officials to mention his faults that he might mend them and so ward off the judgment of Heaven. One official brought four charges against him. (1) Love of money; (2) The selling of offices; (3) Cruel beating of criminals; (4) Unwillingness to be reproved. Two years later he ordered a remeasurement of the fields in Ham-gyŭng Province as he believed there was much taxable property there that was yielding no revenue.

The year 1489 was marked by a terrible scourge of cholera and one of the officials advised that the King pray to Buddha to stop it. The King promptly banished him. This man apparently thought that because the King’s mother was an ardent Buddhist this advice would not meet with punishment. But in this case even filial duty did not stand in the way of stern opposition to Buddhism. Soon a still more striking example was given. The Queen Mother had a Buddha made and placed in a monastery outside the East Gate, called Chöng-ok-wŭn. A man named Yi Pyŭk, passing by, asked what they were doing with the image and when he learned that the Queen Mother had ordered it set up he struck it and broke it in pieces. He finished the good work by burning the fragments. It can be imagined how angry the Queen Mother was and how she urged the King to destroy the contumacious subject, but in reply the King said “Instead of death he deserves a gift”, and there the matter dropped.

In 1490 one Kwŭn Chu memorialized the throne declaring that the musical instruments in use were those made by the corrupt Sin-don and that they were destructive of good manners. At his advice the instruments were destroyed and others were made. The style of music also was changed and it became purer and more serious. At this time the instrument of war called the so-ni, a kind of catapult, was invented.

The years 1491 and 1492 were occupied in border wars in Ham-gyung province, Gen. Hŭ Chŭng at last succeeding in clearing the northern borders of the enemy. The King died in 1494.

Chapter III.

Consternation upon the accession of Prince Yŭn-san.... his character.... avenges his mother’s disgrace.... reign of terror.... concubines of 323former King killed.... sporting proclivities.... noble women dishonored.... carnival of crime.... plot against the King.... prisons opened.... King banished.... royal proclamation.... a sad parting.... abuses corrected.... revolt of Japanese residents in the south.... diplomatic relations with Japan severed.... reforms.... money for army made from Buddhist image.... literature.... mistake in a Chinese history.... puritan simplicity.... color of clothes.... military activity.... Japanese pirates captured.... the first compass.... caste.... a Korean-Chinese dictionary.... an extreme Confucianist.... a dangerous regency.... evil advisers.... good men murdered.... Japanese return to the southern ports ... omens ... a Buddhist regent.... conscription.... invasions north and south.... signal victory over the Japanese.... rebellion.

It was in 1494 that Korea had the misfortune to come under the baneful rule of Prince Yŭn-san. As we have seen, he was the son of the discarded Queen. He inherited her evil disposition and he had sworn to her that he would avenge the stigma that had been cast upon her name. He was twenty years old when the load of empire was placed upon his unworthy shoulders.

No sooner had his accession been ratified by the Emperor than the Prime Minister resigned his position and hastened away to his country home. When asked his reason for such precipitation he replied, “Look at the pupil of his eye; with such a King it is difficult to keep the head on the shoulders. So I have come to the country.” Many tales are told illustrative of his character. Some time before the last King’s death, while he was walking in the palace grounds with his son, a tame deer had come and rubbed its nose on his arm. The youth in wanton cruelty had brutally kicked the animal and was sharply reprimanded for it by his father. Now that he had become King he sent for the harmless beast and drove a spear through it with his own hand. Beholding this vindictive act, and rightly gauging the evil mind that lay behind it, a high official, Pak Yŏng, immediately left the court and retired to the country. The next act of this King was to behead his old tutor, Cho Chi-sŭ, whom he had learned to hate when a boy, because the faithful instructor had tried to curb his wild excesses.

The year 1496 began with a demand for more revenue from Chŭl-la Province, and a consequent remeasurement of the land under cultivation. It is said that his mother, dying, 324had left a napkin, dyed with her blood, and had said, “When my son becomes King, give this to him and tell him not to forget his vow to avenge my death.” In pursuance of this injunction the young King now gathered together all the men in any way connected with the banishment and death of his mother, all those who recorded the facts, all the messengers who carried the hateful commands. In all there were several hundred people. These he decapitated and dismembered. He also dug up the bodies of those who had been implicated but had died in the interval, broke their bones in pieces and flung them into the river or ground them to powder and scattered them to the winds. The King wanted to have his mother’s picture hung in the ancestral temple and when he proposed it all the officials assented to it but three, who said. “She was a criminal and died a felon’s death; her picture cannot hang in the ancestral hall.” The King in a rage ordered their instant execution. Their families like wise perished and their houses were razed to the ground.

We have seen that Kim Chong-jik, the Prime Minister, had fled to the country. His enemies now accused him to the King asserting that he had said that, as King Se-jo had killed King Tan-jong, how could the son of the former become King. This story was believed and Kim and many of his friends were seized and beheaded. This was the signal for an exodus of the better class of the people from the city. The schools were all closed and a deadly silence reigned for the most part. No one knew who was to be taken next. As the years passed the reign of terror did not abate. Debauchery, oppression and theft were the daily practices of the court and the people were ground to the very lowest point. So much so, in fact, that in 1504 the people printed placards in the native character declaring the baseness of the King, and posted them throughout the city. “These must be the friends of the people whom I have banished” said the King. So he brought them back from exile and beheaded, poisoned or beat them all to death. The people of the eight provinces besought the King to do away with the native script which had brought such disaster.

Two concubines of the deceased King were still living and when they were accused to the King of having brought about his mother’s death, he sent for them and killed them 325on the spot. For this he was blamed by the widow of the dead King; so the wretch went into her apartments, ran at her and butted her with his head, knocking her to the ground. She said they might kill her if they wished; she did not care. Having stolen the beautiful wife of Whang Yun-hŭn the King could not induce her to smile upon him. So he said, “It is because her husband is still living.” He therefore sent and had the man killed.

The King placed dancing girls in all the 369 prefectures of the country and reserved three hundred of the fairest for the palace. For these he built sumptuous pavilions and a hospital for their treatment when ill. A special office was erected for the care of the dogs, falcons, nets and other instruments of the chase. The royal stables were in Chong-dong where the United States Legation now stands. Agents were sent into all the provinces to hunt for fair women and swift horses. Others were sent to wring from the people special taxes. The King thought the officials were blaming him behind his back, so he gave each of them a wooden tag on which was written, “The mouth is the avenue to misery. The tongue is a sword which may pierce the body. Watch the mouth and guard well the tongue; so shalt thou dwell in safety.” He changed the Confucian temple into a play-house, drove out all the students from the dormitories and put diviners and sorceresses in their places. When his grandmother died he did not assume mourning, but as two of the officials dared to do so he killed them. He wiped out the three districts of Ko-yang, P‘a-ju and Yang-ju to make a hunting ground and forbade anyone to settle there. Those who disobeyed were killed. This hunting park was then stocked with all manner of wild beasts. He stole the people’s boats to use in sport on the palace ponds and restricted the people to the use of a single ferry-boat on the river. This lessened the traffic to such an extent that the people of Seoul suffered severely and many inn-keepers were ruined. An aged eunuch remonstrated, but the King caught up a bow and shot him through. He taxed the people of the south a bolt of cotton a head, and they paid it only by taking the cotton out of their clothes and weaving it. He invited the wives of the courtiers to a feast and had each of them wear upon the breast the name of her 326husband. Of these he dishonored whom he would and gave the husbands official position. His uncle’s wife was enticed into his net, in consequence of which she committed suicide.

Such were a few of the acts of this depraved monarch. We need not multiply details of his execrable career. It was one long carnival of murder, lust and oppression. The people were simply the instrument by which the spendthrift King could fill his coffers.

It was in the twelfth year of his reign, 1506, that the people were brought to the limit of their patience. Three men. Song Heui-an, Pak Wŭn-jong and Yu Sun-jong, conferred together and agreed that unless there was a change the destruction of the kingdom was inevitable. They determined to drive the corrupt King from the throne and put in his place Prince Chin-sŭng, the second son of King Song-jong. One dark night they met at the Hun-yŭn-wŭn, near the East Gate, with a number of others who had been let into the dangerous secret. Not a light was to be seen, and they prepared to act. With a small band of picked soldiers whom they knew to be faithful they formed a line in front of the palace. The two Prime Ministers came out and joined them and soon a crowd of people gathered. Powerful men with iron bars soon forced an entrance and six of the King’s favorites were seized and beheaded. As a next move the prisons were all opened and crowds of innocent people were liberated. They thirsted for revenge and, finding weapons as best they could, joined the revolutionists. It soon appeared that there was to be no resistance for even the King’s friends were aghast at his enormities. The revolutionists proceeded to the Kyöng-bok Palace where the King’s step-mother lived, the one whom he had treated so brutally, and said to her, “The King is a wild debauchee. The people are scattered. The ancestral temple has been desecrated. The people desire to make your son King.” She modestly replied, “How can my son become King? The King’s son is old enough to assume the crown.” At this there was a general cry of dissent and all demanded that she comply and let her son become King. At last she consented and the youth was brought out. The assembled multitude bowed before him and swore fealty to him. They then crowned him and brought him to the 327palace. The deposed King was banished with his son to Kyo-dong Island. The honorary posthumous title was never conferred upon him but he is known as Yŭn-san-ju, or “Lord of Yŭn-san.”

Throughout the country there was universal holiday. The first proclamation of this new King who is known by his posthumous title Chung-jong Kong-eui Tă-wang, gave the keynote of his reign. “The most important thing in any country is the common people. If the people prosper the country prospers, if they suffer the country suffers. The late King was cruel and lawless, and so by the people’s will I have become King. I have ordered the discontinuance of the evil customs that have prevailed and I shall do all in my power for the people. Let everyone rejoice.”

But a sad event marred the happiness of the new King. His queen’s father had been on intimate terms with the deposed King and had been killed upon the day of his banishment. The officials therefore insisted that the Queen be put away and that another be selected. She was innocent of any crime, and the King said, “She is the wife of my youth and I cannotcannot put her away.” But they insisted until finally he was forced to comply and he tearfully parted from her.

One of his first acts was to do away with the “Dog and Falcon Bureau” which had in charge the implements of the chase. He abolished the “Woman Bureau” which looked after the procuring of concubines for the King. He gave back to their owners many houses that they had been despoiled of. He revived the law by which a written report of the proceedings of the criminal court should be submitted to him every ten days.

Years before this in the days of King Sŭ-jong Japanese had been permitted to settle in the three harbors, namely Ch’e-p’o, Yum-p’oCh’e-p’o, Yum-p’o and Pu-san-p’o. They were now having a difficult time. The prefects were oppressing them sadly, forcing them to work without wages and stealing their fish or game. This they could not endure; so two of their number, Ko-jo-mo and Ko-su-jang passed over to the islands of Tsushima and raised an expedition against the oppressive prefects. Two hundred boat loads of them crossed the straits and fell upon Fusan, killed its prefect, attacked Ch’èCh’è Harbor 328and took its prefect alive. They carried fire and sword into all that region. They ravaged the prefectures of Ung-ch’ŭn and Tong-nă. The King sent a strong force by land and sea who cut off the retreat of the invaders and then attacked them. Three thousand were soon put hors de combat and many hundreds were chased into the sea where they were drowned. From this time, 1512, until 1572 diplomatic relations with Japan were practically suspended, though an occasional envoy came. A small number of Japanese boats were however allowed to come to the three harbors for the purpose of trade. Access to the court was strictly denied them.

King Chung-jong was as active in matters of reform as had been his father or grandfather. He put an end to the cruel custom of houghing robbers. He limited the number of blows that could be administered in the cross-examination of criminals. He published 2940 volumes of the Sam-gang-hăng-sil and circulated them among the people as well as another work on filial piety. He made a foundling asylum, or at least made provision for the support of abandoned children. The custom of punishing by striking the legs with short, thick clubs was done away, for this process was almost sure to shatter the bone.

In the seventh year of his reign, 1512, he turned his attention to the army and sent out an edict that arms should all be put in good order and should be ready for use at an instant’s warning. We are not told whether this was because of any expedition that he was contemplating or any hostile invasion that he feared. Whichever it was it was unrealized, for the army under his rule engaged in no offensive or defensive warfare. It was probably with a view simply of carrying out the policy so wisely begun by his ancestors of keeping the army in good order. He sent down to the town of Kyöng-ju in the province of Kyŭng-sang, which had once been the site of the capital of Sil-la, and brought up a great copper Buddha and broke it up in order to use the metal in making new arms for the soldiers. It was the common belief that if anyone prayed to this image barrenness might be cured. The people cried out against its being broken up, but the King said “Do not fear. I will take the blame.” Nothing could show us more clearly the position that Buddhism held at this 329time. It had reached its low water mark in Korea, and while it can scarcely be said to have strengthened its position up to the present time, it is very doubtful whether an emergency could arise so great as to induce a King of Korea in these days to break up an image of Buddha.

The reign of this king was marked by severe disturbances at different times. In his thirteenth year, 1518, there were severe earthquake shocks extending over a period of four days and causing much loss of life and property.

During his reign literature was on the increase. He ordered the publication of various books and established a headquarters for books at Seoul, a sort of central depot or depository. The only relations that he had with outside countries was the reception of a Japanese envoy who brought a gift of mirrors. They were considered very valuable.

In 1518 a historical work came from China in which it was asserted that king T’ă-jo was not the son of Whang-jo but of Yi Im-in, a traitor, and that he had founded the new kingdom as a result of treachery. The king sent an envoy immediately to the court of China asking that the mistake be corrected. The Emperor replied that it would be done in the next edition.

The king’s teacher, Cho Kwang-jo, called “The Confucius of Korea,” told his master that Buddhism and sorcery were alike useless and urged him to do away with the headquarters of the diviners and sorcerers. It was done and the teacher was given the title of “Guardian of Public Morals.” We are told that this reign was the golden age of Korean morals. The people revolting from the excesses of the deposed king took on a puritan simplicity. Men and women walked on opposite sides of the street. If any article was dropped in the road no one would touch it, but would leave it for the owner to recover. No one had to lock his doors at night. When the wild Ya-in of the north ravaged the border and one advised that a force be sent disguised as laborers to chastise them, the king decided that it was beneath his dignity to have recourse to trickery, and so sent the troops openly. The important decennial examination called the Hyŭn-yang-gwa was now established.

At this time white clothes were not largely worn. That 330custom did not come in till about 1800. Blue, red and black predominated. The king now established the custom of wearing very light blue at the time of ancestral worship.

This reign saw some notable advances along certain lines. Bows were made which were shot by putting the feet against the bow and drawing the string with both hands. They were to be used by women in defending walls while the men might be away. A small powerful bow was made which shot metal arrows called “needle arrows.” They carried four times as far as the ordinary bow, and an arrow from one of them would penetrate three men. A kind of bomb was also invented. It was probably projected from a catapult of some kind. A spring trap was made whose arrow weighed aa hundred and twenty pounds.

In 1521 a Japanese So I-jön sent an envoy named Song-gong Pu-su-choa with a curious gift of three stones that resembled mirrors. The king, however, declined to accept them. The following year a Japanese named Teung Wŭn-jung went to the Chinese district of Yŭng-p’a and ravaged, and on his way home landed with his booty on the coast of Whang-hă Province in Korea. He was there captured by a Korean and his whole company were sent to China much to the delight of the Emperor.

In 1524 P‘yŭng-yang was decimated by the cholera. It is said that there were 7700 deaths. The following year the envoy to Nanking, Yi Sun, brought back with him the first compass ever seen in Korea. In 1532 a royal concubine desired to have her son become king instead of the Crown Prince. In order to accomplish the destruction of the latter she took a dead rat, wrote his name on its belly and put it under the Prince’s room. This is a common way of attempting to do an enemy to death by witchery. She was discovered in the act and she and her son were put to death. Some three years later a great mock naval battle was fought on the river and the king went out and witnessed it.

The year 1536 beheld an important event in the bringing of the official history of the dynasty up to date. In the next year an important law was made, the one which commanded that the people of the upper class should be distinguished from the lower class by a difference in the clothes. Heretofore 331the style had been the same for both classes, but from this time on the lower class was not allowed to wear the long flowing sleeves which until recent years have distinguished the Korean gentleman.

In 1541 Chu Se-bung a noted scholar of Kyŭng-sang Province founded a school at P‘ung-geui in honor of a noted sage An Yu who had lived there during the Koryŭ dynasty. In digging the foundations he had found a bar of copper of three hundred pounds weight. With the profits of the sale he bought books for the school library.

The last recorded act of this monarch casts into the shade all his other work and tells us more by implication about the condition of the people than any other words could do. That act was the making of the Ok-pyŭn or Korean-Chinese dictionary, arranged in the order of the Chinese radicals. This important publication shows first a great advance all along the line of literature. The demand for such a work argues a constant pressure along literary lines that finally made it an absolute necessity. In the second place it showed that the native character, whatever may be said to the contrary, had taken a firm hold upon the people and had begun to bring forth substantial fruit. A standard for transliterating Chinese characters was demanded and the demand could have sprung from nothing less than a large and constant use of the native character. The publication of this work marks an era in the literary life of the peninsula. It fixed the native character firmly upon the people and made it a factor that can neither be ignored nor evaded. The Chinese character is still a favorite in Korea but it will go out before the native phonetic character as surely as the Latin tongue went out from England before the English.

It was in 1544 that King Chung-jong closed his long and eventful career. Forty years upon the throne had seen the country lifted out of the mire into which it had been trodden by his predecessor, and brought to the highest point of morals, of literature and of general culture that it has ever reached. He was succeeded by his son Yi-ho who is known by his posthumousposthumous title In-jong Yŭng-jŭng Tă-wang.

The career of this monarch affords another illustration of what Confucianism in its extremer moods can do. When his 332father died he fasted six days and became so weak that he could hardly stand even with the aid of a staff. He continued to refuse sufficient food and mourned continually for his father. He would sit on the bare ground all night long even in winter, asking Heaven to kill him or else give him back his father. He refused medicine saying that his trouble was one that drugs could not reach. Seeing that his end was approaching he asked that his half brother Prince Kyön-wŭn be made king after him. When he died the whole land resounded with wailing. It is said that in a single day the news travelled by the sound of wailing caught up from village to village, even to the limits of the kingdom. The new king is called Myŭng-jong Kong-hön Tă-wang.

This king at his accession was a lad twelve years old and consequently the regency devolved upon his mother. This was most unfortunate for she was a wholly unscrupulous woman and ere the king was old enough to assume the duties of his high office inflicted serious injuries upon the state. She had a brother, Yun Wŭn-hyŭng, who was her equal in daring and intrigue. Yun Im the uncle of the deceased king In-jong was holding office at this time. He was a faithful and honest man. Being the brother of the late king’s mother he formed a natural as well as moral antithesis to the brother of the new king’s mother. Yun Wŭn-hyŭng had a younger brother Yun Wŭn-no who was his equal in chicanery. They could not but be enemies and so the elder banished the younger to Hă-nam in the south.

From the time when King Chung-jong died the two rival leaders Yun Wŭn-hyŭng and Yun Im, the trickster and the statesman, had been wooing fortune for the premiership. The people called Yun Im the “Big Yun” and Yun Wŭn-hyŭng the “Little Yun.” The people are not seldom the best judges of their rulers. During the short reign of King In-jong the friends of Yun Im had been in power and they had sedulously kept all evil-minded men, including Yun Wŭn-hyŭng, out of office. For this reason it was that when the latter came into power he found himself at the head of a crowd of malcontents who thirsted first for the sweets of office and secondly for the sweets of revenge. Before King In-jong died “Little Yun” had poisoned the mind of the incoming 333king’s mother against “Big Yun” by asserting that he and his friends were conspiring to prevent the accession of her son. The Queen Mother, as soon as she came to the regency sent word to “Little Yun” to put “Big Yun” and his associates to death. He called the Chief of Police and gave orders to that effect but that careful individual said that the men he was ordered to kill were honest men and that he would have nothing to do with it. “Little Yun” then sought audience with the boy king and urged the matter, the Queen Mother adding her voice to his arguments. The courtiers said that it was mere hearsayhearsay and so long as the new king had ascended the throne without any attempt at sedition the matter ought to be dropped; whereupon the Queen Mother flew into a passion and screamed, “Do you want my son to sit here and be murdered? I will have those men killed like snakes in the fire.” She then ordered the courtiers to retire, and the bowl of poison was sent to “Big Yun” and his friends. A relative of the king, whom the Regent believed they intended to make king instead of her son, fled to Sŭ-gwang Monastery and hid in a cave behind it, but he was tracked down and seized. They brought him to Seoul and killed him by searing his body all over with red hot irons. “Little Yun” was now the royal favorite, or at least the Regent’s favorite, and the men who had opposed the appointment of himself and his friends to official position were banished right and left or else killed.

We will remember that the Japanese settlers had been driven from the three southern ports during the reign of King Chung-jong. An envoy now came saying that the Japanese settlers were not to blame for that uprising but that it was done by a band of ruffians from the islands, and they asked to be allowed to resume the old friendly relations. Consent was given but on condition that twice a year tribute should be brought to Fusan from Tsushima. The Japanese who headed this embassy was called So-i Jön-sa. This occurred in the year 1548. The same year saw the famous books Kang-mok Chŭn-p‘yŭng and Sok-kang-mok, dealing with Chinese history, and the military works Pal-myŭng Kang-eui, and Mu-gyŭng Ch‘ong-yo copied in Korea and disseminated throughout the country. These are among the 334best known works in Korea today. The common people execrated the favorite Yun Wŭn-kyŭng and chafed under the regency of the Queen Mother. They went so far as to put out posters stating that “We are ruled by a woman, and her creatures are fattening off the revenues of the land. It means the destruction of the kingdom.” So far from learning a lesson from this, the Regent said, “It is because we did not make thorough work with the followers of ‘Big Yun’.” She therefore seized and killed above seventy more of them, all good and honest men.

It is generally believed that the hardships endured by the people during this reign, because of famines, pestilences and other calamities, were a forerunner of the terrible cataclysm that swept over the land during the following reign, in the great Japanese invasion. These calamities had begun in the very first year of the reign when a pestilence swept the province of Ham-gyŭng. The same year an enormous mass of rock became detached from the side of Sam-gak mountain back of Seoul and fell with such a tremendous crash that it was heard and felt in all the adjoiningadjoining prefectures. This was followed by disastrous floods in various parts of the country whereby thousands of people perished and vast amounts of property were destroyed. In the city of P‘yŭng-yang alone 720 houses fell and 209 lives were lost.

It was in 1550 that an astronomical instrumentan astronomical instrument was made, called the Sŭn-gi-ok-hyŭng or “Heaven Measure.” We are not told the exact nature of the instrument, but it implies a considerable degree of intellectual activity and an inclination toward scientific pursuits that is rare in Korea.

The Queen Mother, as seems to have been common with women of high degree in Korea, became a confirmed Buddhist. This tendency became so strong that in 1552 she had a law made requiring government sanction for a man to enter the priesthood, and special examinations were also required. A monk named Po U, an unscrupulous but capable man, exercised immense influence at the palace. The courtiers besought the king to drive him away but as yet the Regent was too strong.

The following year the custom of filling the ranks of the army by conscription was inaugurated. All men over fifteen years of age were supposed to give two or three years’ service. 335But it was not a success. The military spirit has never been really strong in Korea since the downfall of ancient Ko-kuryŭ. The profession of arms has always been looked down upon as an inferior calling and so long as a living could be gained some other way the army has been shunned. The law of conscription was soon modified so that the payment of a modest sum, three hundred and fifty cash a year, bought exemption from service. Later the sum was raised to 10,000 cash and even to 20,000 in some cases, but this included a large “squeeze” on the part of the officials.

The Queen Mother’s power came to an end in 1554 when the king reached his twenty-first year. From that point matters began to mend. The ex-Regent and her minions lost a large part of their power, but other difficulties came up which took the place of those which were thus overcome. The wild tribe of Kol-gan-bul crossed the northern border and harried the border towns. When sixty of them had been caught and beheaded the remainder retired. A Japanese marauding band, returning from the coast of China laden with booty, landed on the Korean coast and were there captured and sent to Nanking. The next year seventy boat-loads of Japanese landed on the Chul-la coast and killed several prefects but the governor called about him a band of soldiers and routed the invaders. A hundred and twenty Japanese were killed and all their arms were captured.

One of the most signal victories the Koreans ever scored over the pirates occurred in 1556. A thousand or more of these unwelcome neighbors landed at Tal-yang in Chŭl-la Province and besieged the town. Government troops were sent against them but were driven back with great loss. The O-ran, Ma-do and Ka-ri harbor forts were besieged and taken and the towns of Chang-heung and Kang-jin were swept by the remorseless foe. Kim Pin the admiral of Chul-la Province, and the prefect of Kwang-ju were both badly defeated in their attempts to check this hostile advance.

Yi Yun-gyŭng, the prefect of Chŭn-ju raised a force of 2000 men and marched toward the seat of war. An experienced general warned him that he could do nothing but he replied “Then let my head pay the price.” He gave a written promise that if any of his men deserted he would forfeit 336his life, so great was his confidence in the quality of his soldiers. Pushing rapidly forward he first encountered the Japanese at Hyang-gyo where he threw up breastworks. He was to have been reinforced by his brother but the latter sent, warning him that it was a hopeless case and urging him to retreat. He replied by decapitating the messenger and attacking the enemy single-handed. He warned his men that the first one to retreat would lose his head.

The leader of the Japanese rode a powerful white horse and bore in his hand a yellow flag, and he kept beating his sword against the flagstaff with terrible clamor. Gen. Yi began the attack not by shooting at the Japanese themselves but by shooting fire arrows into their camp and among their baggage. When this was seen to be well ablaze he ordered a charge and singling out the conspicuous Japanese leader soon laid him low with one of the famous “needle arrows.” The enemy was soon in full retreat but their progress was stopped by a high ledge of rocks and there they were brought to bay. It is said that 1800 Japanese perished at this point. This is but another sample of what Korean soldiery can do when properly led. The brilliant young leader was made governor of the province. The Japanese who escaped made their way across the straits into the island of Quelpart, where they demanded arms of the prefect, for they had cast away theirs in their precipitate flight. Instead of complying the prefect attacked them, brandishing an enormous battle-club. The victory was complete and the plain was strewed with the dead bodies of the foe.

When the king heard of these victories he praised the troops and remitted all the revenue from the prefectures where the Japanese had created the disturbance.

A serious rebellion occupied public attention in the year 1563. A butcher of Yang-ju named Im Ko-jung gathered about him a band of desperate highwaymen and began to plunder and burn in that and the neighboring prefectures. Government troops chased them into Ku-wŭl Mountains where they were tracked with difficulty owing to the fact that they wore their shoes reversed in order to deceive their pursuers. But the army surrounded the whole mountain and, gradually working their way up, at last brought the offenders to bay and cut them down.

337In 1566 the Queen Mother died, and no sooner was it announced than the monk who had been such a favorite with her was banished to Quelpart and there beaten to death. This done, the officials demanded the death of Yun Wŭn-hyŭng. The King refused to kill his uncle but deprived him of all official position and drove him away from the capital.

Chapter IV.

King Sŭn-Jo takes the throne.... a memorable reign.... reforms.... northern invasion.... a prophecy.... mourning costume.... rise of the political parties.... party strife.... literature.... border war.... condition of affairs in Korea.... charge of effeminacy untrue.... condition of Japan.... Japanese envoy.... Hideyoshi.... his demands refused.... second envoy.... delay.... Korea’s condition acceded to.... renegades executed.... conspiracy.... a coward envoy.... Hideyoshi’s ultimatum.... Korea refuses.... Tairano.... the King’s answer to Hideyoshi.... the King informs the Emperor.... preparations for war.... generals commissioned.... the army of invasion.... lands on Korean soil.... Japanese firearms.... the cowardly provincial general.... the fall of Tong-nă.... a faithful defender.... cowardly officers.... the Japanese move northward.... a martinet.

In 1568, as King Myŭng-jong lay dying, his Queen summoned the officials to consult about the succession but ere they arrived the King expired. They asked her to nominate a successor and she named Prince Hă-sŭng a youth of seventeen, second cousin to the deceased King. He is known by his posthumous title Sŭn-jo So-gyŭng Tă-wang. The Queen who nominated him acted as regent until he should reach his majority.

This reign is perhaps the most memorable of any in this dynasty, for in it occurred the great Japanese invasion which brought the land to the verge of destruction and which has ever since colored the Korean conception of the Japanese.

The first years of the reign were spent in correcting the abuses brought about by “Little Yun” and in removing from office all those who had been connected in any way with him. The whole kingdom was canvassed for wise and scholarly men to put in the places of those who had been removed. Books 338intended for the instruction and elevation of the people were published and distributed far and wide.

The wild Ya-in across the Ya-lu were crossing that river and taking possession of fields in Korea proper, near the town of Kang-gye. The King sent a force under Gen. Kim Tong-yung to dislodge them. The intruders were chased across the river and into a narrow defile where they turned on their pursuers. Taken thus by surprise the Korean forces were thrown into confusion and were put to flight, but not till after their general had fallen. A second expedition chased the intruders to their villages, and burned them out.

In the following year the Prime Minister Yi Chun-gyŭng died, but before he expired he gave voice to a prophecy which has become historic. He said:—“Since I have begun to examine men’s minds I find that opposing factions will arise and that in their train great evils will follow. The king should studiously avoid showing favoritism to either of these factions. The first symptom of the rise of such factions should be met with stern resistance.”

In the year 1572, the relations with the Japanese were as follows:—Since the seventh year of King Chöng-jong, when the Japanese in the three ports revolted, there had been little communication between the two countries, but a few Japanese had been allowed to live in the three settlements by sufferance. But now the Japanese sent a friendly message asking that the old relations be resumed. The prefect of Fusan added his influence in favour of granting the request, and the Japanese were allowed to resume operations at Fusan alone, three li below the prefecture, which means about half way down the bay from the present village of Fusan. From that time the former relations seem to have been renewed, but no envoys went from Korea to Japan. It was decreed by the Korean government that should a Japanese land anywhere upon the coast except at Fusan he should be dealt with as a pirate. Officials were set to watch the Japanese and see to it that they did not overstep the strict regulations.

It had not been customary for the people to assume mourning on the death of a royal personage, but when the Queen Regent died in 1575 the custom was begun, and each citizen wore a white hat, belt, and shoes.

339This year, 1575, was signalized by another event of far-reaching importance and one which exerted a powerful influence over all subsequent Korean history. It was the formation of the great political parties. At first there were only two, but soon they split into four, which are known as the No-ron, So-ron, Nam-in, and Puk-in. These mean “The Old Men’s Party,” “The Young Men’s PartyParty,” “The Southerners,” and “The Northerners.” These terms are not at all descriptive of the composition of the various parties but arose from trivial circumstances. These parties have never represented any principles whatever. They have never had any “platforms,” but have been, and are, simply political clans each bent upon securing the royal favour and the offices and emoluments that go therewith. The story of their rise shows how frivolous were the causes which called them into being, and the remainder of these annals will show how they have cursed the country.

During the palmy days of the odious “Little Yun” of the preceding reign, a man by the name of Sim Eni-gyŭm happening to see a blanket in the reception room of the universally hated favorite, asked to whom it belonged. When he was told that it belonged to one Kim Hyo-wŭn, he exclaimed “He is called a good man, but if so how can he sleep in the house of such a man as Little Yun.” So he opposed this Kim with all his might and was opposed by him in like manner. The matter grew into a family feud and kept on increasing until at the time of which we are writing two hostile clans had arisen, the one called Sŭ-in or “Westerners,” because their leader lived in the western part of Seoul. The other was at first called Tong-in or “Easterners,” perhaps because their leader lived in the eastern part of the city. The two men through whom the quarrel first arose had now left the field of active politics and the Sŭ-in and Tong-in parties were led respectively by Pak Sun and Hŭ Yŭp. It is said that from this time impartiality in the distribution of offices was a thing unknown in Korea. A Sŭ-in would help a Sŭ-in and a Tong-in would help a Tong-in, right or wrong.

The long fight was immediately begun. A slave in Whang-hă province was accused of murder and was held in prison waiting the decision of Pak Sun, the leader of the party 340in power. He did not believe the man guilty and delay followed. Hŭ Yŭp, the leader of the opposition, took advantage of this and accused his rival of neglect of duty. Then followed a running fire of charge and counter-charge between the leaders and between their partisans. The Tong-in, or So-ron as it soon came to be called, won in this first encounter and two of the opposing faction were banished. The Prime Minister urged that this fight was utterly useless and would cause endless trouble. The king agreed and determined to stamp out the cause of the disturbance; so he banished the two men Kim and Sim who had originated the factions. This had no effect however upon the now thoroughly organized parties and affairs kept going from bad to worse.

In 1579 Păk In-gŭl said to the king, “All the people have taken sides in this senseless war and even though a man be a criminal there are plenty who will defend him. This means the ultimate destruction of the kingdom, and the King should act as a peacemaker between the factions.” Others urged the same point before the king, but they were unaware that it was beyond the power of any king to lay the evil spirit of factional strife. In the fifteenth year of his reign the king threw himself into the cause of literature. He believed that neglect of the classics was the cause of the factional strife in his kingdom. He ordered the publication of the “Religion in the Mind,” “Picture of the Good and Evil Will,” and “The Legacy of Kim Si-seup.” He called together a large congress of scholars, and in company with them threw himself into the study of the classics.

The year 1583 beheld a fierce invasion on the part of the northern savages under Pon-ho. The prefecture of Kyöng-wŭn, in Ham-gyŭng Province, was taken by them, but Sil-Yip, the prefect of On-sŭng, went to its succour, and after a desperate fight before the town, broke the back of the invasion, drove the marauders back across the Tu-man and burned their villages.


A novel method was adopted for raising recruits for the army on the borderborder. A law was made that sons of concubines, who had always been excluded from official position, might again become eligible by giving a certain amount of rice or by going themselves and giving three years’ time to border guard 341duty along the Ya-lu or Tu-man. Two chieftains, Yul Po-ri and Yi T’ang-ga, advanced by separate roads upon Kyöng-sŭng with 10,000 mounted followers, but the little garrison of 100 men fought so stubbornly that the siege was raised and the two chieftains marched on to attack Pang-wŭn. Fortunately government troops arrived just in time to drive the invaders back.

The Minister of War was working faithfully forwarding troops as fast as they could be gotten ready, but the opposition made charges against him on the ground of the neglect of some trifling technicality and he forthwith laid down his portfolio and retired in disgust. When the king asked the Prime Minister about it, that careful individual, fearing to compromise himself, would give no definite answer and the king consequently said, “If my Prime Minister will not tell me the facts in the case it is time he retired,” so he too lost footing and fell from royal favor.

Having reached now the threshold of the great Japanese invasion of Korea it will be necessary for us to pause and examine the state of affairs in Japan and institute a comparison between that country and Korea in order to discover if possible the causes of Japan’s early success and subsequent defeat.

Korea and Japan may be said to have been at two opposite poles. Beginning with Korea, we notice, first, that her relations with the Ming dynasty were eminently peaceful. Unlike the Mongols of an earlier date and the Manchus of a later date the Mings did not have their origin in the north, and therefore were brought less into contact with Korea along her northern border. They belonged to central China and were not a horde of brutal pillagers as were the Mongols and Manchus. Hence it was that so long as Korea was friendly and held her own way quietly the Ming emperors concerned themselves very little about her. To this day Korea looks back to the Ming dynasty as her true patron and realizes that the Manchu supremacy is an alien one. Korea had been strongly unified by the statesmanship of the first kings of the Cho-sŭn dynasty, the present one, and had been ruled so well as a general thing that there was no sense of insecurity and no particular fear from the outside except 342such as arose from the occasional irruption of a northern tribe or a piratical raid of a few boatloads of Japanese. The only need of a standing army was to guard herself from such attacks. The arts of peace flourished, the country was peaceful, there is little reason to believe that she was sunken, as many have averred, into a state of shameful effeminacy. In fact there is much to indicate the opposite, for almost up to the very year in which the invasion occurred the policy of reform instituted by king Se-jong was adhered to and the rulers, however unwarlike they may have been, surely did much for the sake of literature, art and public morals. You will scarcely find in the annals of history that the kings who ruled during times of great public degeneracy, when luxury sapped the vital power of the nation, spent their time in giving to the people treatises on moral, scientific, social and literary topics as these kings unquestionably did even up to the day when the Japanese cataclysm swept the country. It had not been a hundred years since an unworthy king had been driven from the throne by his disgusted people and been refused the posthumous title. That king was succeeded by one who made the land even puritanic in the severity of its morals, who fostered the arts and sciences as hardly any other had done and who crowned his work by publishing the Ok-pyŭn, which marked an era in the literary life of the people. He had been followed in turn by a king who continued the work of progress and among other things caused the construction of a complicated astronomical instrument. The following reign was the one in which the invasion occurred. No candid reader can believe that the country was steeped in such absolute degeneracy as the Japanese annalists would have us believe, and which other writers who had not access to the Korean annals have described. But some may say that the good work of Korean kings does not necessarily argue a good people. This again is a mistake, for there could scarcely be found a people that has taken their cue more directly from the court than have the Korean people. When the kings have been lax the people have followed the example and when the kings have been true men the people have been brought back to honest living. The refutation of this calumny then needs but a 343careful perusal of the Korean annals; not those which have been written under government sanction and are therefore unreliable but those which, like these, have been drawn from the private and popular histories of the dynasty and are presumably reliable. For centuries Korea had been at peace, except for insignificant uprisings on the border, and the arts of peace had gradually taken the place of martial prowess. A man is not an object of contempt simply because he is not a warrior. If he is, then let us go back to the peat-smoke of our ancestral hovels.

Having shown this reason for Korea’s inability to hold thethe Japanese in check to have been a false one it will be necessary to account for it in some other way. This can easily be done. The reason was three-fold. In the first place the Korean people, having no use for a large standing army, had not been trained in large numbers to military life. Secondly the Japanese were armed with firearms while the Koreans had absolutely none. The first firearm that was ever seen in Korea was given the king by a Japanese envoy just at the outbreak of the invasion, as we shall see. This alone would account for Korea’s inability to cope with the islanders. In the third place the rise of the political parties had brought in a spirit of jealousy which made it impossible for any man to reach celebrity without calling down upon himself the hatred of the opposing party and his consequent ruin. This we deem the main cause of Korea’s weakness. The following pages will show whether this view is upheld by facts or not. It was the mutual jealousies of opposing parties that proved the bane of the land and not the supineness and effeminacy of the people.

We must now glance at Japan and see of what stuff the invaders were made. Unlike the Korean people, the Japanese had never been welded into a homogeneous mass. Feudalism was the most marked feature of Japanese life. It has been but thirty years since Japan became a unit. It was feudalism and its consequent spirit of liberty (for feudalism is liberty in embryo) that made possible Japan’s phenomenal development during the past three decades. Her feudalism is therefore not to be decried, but one of its necessary evils was a state of almost continual civil war. For two centuries 344preceding the invasion of Korea Japan had been one great battlefield. War was the great occupation of the people. While Korea had been busy producing Japan had been busy destroying and when at last Hideyoshi, the great Shogun, found himself the virtual ruler of a temporarily quiet kingdom he had on hand an enormous army which must either be given occupation or must be disbanded. The latter he dared not do and the former he could not do without finding a fielda field of operation abroad. But we are anticipating.

It is well known that the governmentgovernment of Japan was not administered by the emperor in person but by an official called the Taiko, or Kwan-băk as the Koreans say. For about two centuries this office had been in the hands of a family named Wŭn. Hideyoshi had been a retainer in the family of the Taiko. Being a bold and successful fighter he won his way to a generalship and from this pointpoint of vantage killed the Taiko and assumed that title himself. It had been the dream of his life to strike at China. He had tried it once unsuccessfully by boat, attacking her at Chŭl-gang. He now changed his plan and decided to make Korea a stepping stone to the conquest of the Ming empire. His initial move was based on his statement “Year after year our envoys have gone to Korea but they never send one in return.”

In pursuance of this policy a Japanese envoy named Yasuhiro appeared at the Korean court in 1587 bearing a harshly worded and insulting letter demanding that the king send an envoy to Japan. The only noticean envoy to Japan. The only notice taken of this demand was a polite note in which the king stated that as the journey by sea was a long one and the Koreans were not good sailors he would have to be excused from complying with the demand. WhenWhen Yasuhiro placed this missive in the hands of his master he was promptly ordered into the hands of the executioner.

The opening of the year 1588 found Korea still suffering from outbreaks of the far northernnorthern border and Gen. Yi Il took a small force of men, crossed the Tu-man River on the ice and attacked the Chin-do tribe. Being successful in this hehe took 2000 men, crossed the same river at four different points simultaneouslysimultaneously and attacked the Si-jun tribe by night, burning 200 houses and killing 300 people.

345In the spring of this year there arrived from Japan a second envoy, or rather three envoys, Yoshitoshi, Tairano Tsuginobu and a monk Gensho. Of these Yoshitoshi was the chief. He is described by the Koreans as being a young man, but coarse and violent and of such a fierce nature that the other members of his suite dared come into his presence only on their knees. They dared not look him in the face. Yoshitoshi and his suite were comfortably quartered at the Tong-p‘ŭng-gwan near the present Japanese settlement in Seoul, and having renewed the demand that Korea send an envoy to Japan, he waited month after month hoping that the king would accede to the demand and fearing to go back without success lest he should meet the same fate that Yasuhiro the former envoy had suffered.

At last the king announced that he would send an envoy to Japan on one condition, namely that the Japanese government seize and send back to Korea a number of Korean renegades who, under the leadership of one Sa Wha-dong, had run away to Japan and had since led marauding bands of Japanese against the southern seaboard of Korea. To this condition the Japanese envoy gladly consented and Tairano was despatched to Japan to carry it out. But it was not till the seventh moon of the following year, 1589, that the pirate Sa Wha-dong and three Japanese freebooters together with certain other Koreans were brought back from Japan and delivered up to justice. With them came a letter from the Japanese government saying “We are not responsible for the evil deeds of these men. The Korean Sa Wha-dong is the cause of this trouble; so we send them all to you and you must mete out to them such punishment as you see fit.” The culprits were immediately decapitated outside the West Gate. This seems to have thawed somewhat the reserve of the king and Yoshitoshi was called to the palace for the first time, where he was presented by the king with a handsome steed while he in turn gave the king a peacock and some firearms, the first that had ever been seen in Korea.

Late in the year a dangerous conspiracy was discovered, the prime mover being Chöng Yo-rip of Chŭl-la Province. He had arranged a plan by which he and several friends of his in Whang-hă Province should rise simultaneously and 346overthrow the government. A certain monk in Ku wŭl mountain in Whang-hă Province discovered that a certain man, Cho Ku, was working diligently among the people, taking names, sending numerous letters and in other ways acting in a suspicious manner. He believed the man was a traitor and told the prefect of An-ak to be on the lookout. The latter arrested the man and examined him. It was then elicited that a widespread rebellion was being gotten up. When the news was told the king secretly he called together his officials and asked “What sort of a man is this Chöng Yo-rip?” Some said they did not know but the Prime Minister said that he was a good scholar and an exemplaryexemplary man. The king thenthen threw upon the floor the letter telling about the plot and exclaimed “Read that and see what sort of a man he is.”

The traitor Chöng had gotten wind of the discovery and had fled with his son to Chi-nan Mountain in Chŭl-la Province but he was pursued and surrounded. Rather than be taken he cut his own throat and expired. His son and his nephew were taken back to Seoul and executed. The nephew under torture affirmed that the Prime Minister and a large number of other officials were privy to the plot. This was the more easily believed because the Prime Minister had insisted that Chöng was a good man. So he and two others were banished. It is affirmed on good authority that the Prime Minister and the other who suffered were innocent of the charge, and that it was simply one of the deplorable results of party jealousy and strife. We here have a striking instance of the cause of Korea’s weakness.

All momentous events in Korea are believed to be foretold in some way. It is said that in this year 1589 a good man named Cho Hön went to the monastery at Kom-san and when rice was set before him said “Whoever eats with me will die next year, for the Japanese are coming with 200,000 men. Those here who do not eat with me will live.” Three only are said to have taken up the challenge and eaten with him.

In the third moon of the following year 1590 the king redeemed his promise by sending to Japan three envoys, Whang Yun-gil, Kim Sŭng-il and Ho Sŭng. They were accompanied 347by the Japanese envoy who had waited a year for them. Whang Yun-gilYun-gil was chief of the Korean embassy, but he was a weak, timid man who hardly dared speak when a Japanese addressed him. The other members of the embassy realizing howhow such action would bring Korea into contempt at the Japanese court, tried to stir him up and make him speak out fearlessly, but to no avail. After wasting a year at the Japanese court the embassy returned, accompanied by Tairano who was charged with an important mission to the king but the minute this embassy landed at Tong-ăn Whang Yun-gil the cowardly envoy sent a letter post haste to Seoul saying that war with Japan was certain. When they all arrived at Seoul the king called them into audience and questioned them about their experiences in Japan. His first question was “Did you see Hideyoshi? How did he look?” Whang replied “His eyes flashed fire. He is a fearsome man.” but Kim Sŭng il said “There is nothing fearsome about him. His eyes are like rats’ eyes.”

The important letter of which Tairano was the bearer was now handed to the King and it lay bare the mind of Hideyoshi. It read as follows:—

“Our country consists of sixty-six kingdoms. They all revolted from the Emperor but for four years I fought them and succeeded in bringing them all to their knees until even the remote islands lay mastered in my hand. When my mother conceived me it was by a beam of sunlight that entered her bosom in a dream. After my birth a fortune teller said that all the land the sun shone on would be mine when I became a man, and that my fame would spread beyond the four seas. I have never fought without conquering and when I strike I always win. Man cannot outlive his hundred years, so why should I sit chafing on this island? I will make a leap and land in China and lay my laws upon her. I shall go by way of Korea and if your soldiers will join me in this invasion you will have shown your neighborly spirit. I am determined that my name shall pervade the three kingdoms.”

At a feast given in honor of the Japanese embassy, Hyŭn So, the Japanese monk who seems to have accompanied Tairano to the Korean court, whispered to Whang Yun-gil and said, “The reason why Hideyoshi wants to attack China 348is because the Emperor refuses to receive a Japanese envoy. If Korea leaves us but a clear road to China we will ask nothing else. No troops need be given.” To this Whang replied. “That can never be. China is our Mother Country and we cannot so desert her as to give a road to an invading army.” The monk returned to the attack but this time from another standpoint. “Long ago the Mongol hordes desired to invade Japan and you gave them a road through Korea for that purpose. Now when we seek revenge you should do the same by us.” This was considered too preposterous a thing to be even discussed and the matter suddenly dropped and the Japanese envoys started straight back to their own country. It was this envoy Tairano who while on his way up from Fusan insulted the aged governor of Tă-gu by saying, “For ten years I have followed war and thus my beard is gray; why should you grow old?” Also calling for a Korean spear he said, “Your spears are too long,” meaning that only cowards use long spears. He it was also who threw the basket of oranges to the dancing girls and, when they scrambled for them, uttered his ironical criticism. “Your nation is doomed. You have no manners.”

When this embassy went back to Japan he carried an answer to Hideyoshi’s letter, in which the King said:—

“Two letters have already passed between us and the matter has been sufficiently discussed. What talk is this of our joining you against China? From the earliest times we have followed law and right. From within and from without all lands are subject to China. If you have desired to send your envoys to China how much more should we. When we have been fortunate China has rejoiced and when we have been unfortunate she has helped us. The relations which subsist between us are those of parent and child. This you well know. Can we desert both emperor and parent and join with you? You doubtlessdoubtless will be angry at this and it is because you have not been admitted to the court of China. Why is it that you are not willing to admit the suzerainty of the emperor instead of harboring such hostile intents against him? This truly passes our comprehension.”

The emperor hearing a rumor of a Korean Japanese alliance sent and enquired about it but the king replied 349through an envoy telling the facts of the case exactly as they had occurred. It was well understood in Korea that an invasion was all but inevitable and active preparations were going on all the year in view of this contingency. Three able men were sent as the governors of Kyŭng-sang, Chŭl-la and Ch‘ung-chŭng Provinces respectively, namely Kim Su, Yi Kwang, and Yun Sŭng-gak. They were so energetic in repairing fortresses and accumulating arms that the people complained loudly. Someone told the king that Yi Sun-sin, a man as yet unknown, had in him the making of the greatest general in the world, and for this reason the king made him admiral of all the naval forces of the kingdom.

Chapter V.

The army of invasion.... lands on Korean soil.... Japanese fire-arms.... fall of Fusan.... a cowardly provincial governor.... the fall of Tong-nă.... a faithful defender.... cowardly officers.... the Japanese move northward.... a martinet.... braver soldiers than leaders.... the news reaches Seoul.... the three roads guarded.... a comical predicament.... a good shot.... Cho-ryŭng (Pass) left undefended.... an army disbands for lack of leaders.... Gen. Yi Il’s fiasco.... Gen. Sil Yip wants to fight in the plain.... reconnoitering.... the Korean army in a trap.... overwhelming defeat.

We have now arrived at the year 1592 A.D. the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of the dynasty, the year that was destined to see the country swept by the Japanese hordes. The Koreans call it the Im-jim year and the mere pronunciation of that word today brings up in the Korean’s mind the tales of horror and suffering which his mother told him when a boy, and which have determined the whole attitude of the Korean mind toward Japan.

Before spring opened the king took an inventory of all the arms that were available, and appointedappointed Gen. Sil Yip to the command of the forces in Kang-Wŭn and Ham-gyŭng Provinces, and Gen. Yi Il to the command of those in the south. In the third moon the officials worshiped at the tomb of King T‘ă-jo the founder of the dynasty. Korean tradition 350says that wailings were heard proceeding from this tomb for three or four days preceding the landing of the Japanese.

Hideyoshi had gotten together an enormous force from all parts of the kingdom and the expedition rendezvoused at the islands of Iki. They were led by thirty-six generals, the general-in-chief being Hideyi.

As to the numbers in the invading army the Korean account agrees so well with the Japanese that there can be little doubt of its correctness. The Korean accounts say that the regular army consistedconsisted of 160,000 men, that there was a “body-guard” of 80,000 men, perhaps meaning the personal body-guard of Hideyoshi, and that there were 1500 heavy armed cavalry. This says nothing about a reserve force of 60,000 men which is mentioned by some authorities, and from this we conclude that these did not come with the main army but waited and came later as reinforcements. The best Japanese accounts make the total 250,000 while the Korean records say 241,500. Either of these numbers is approximately correct, but the Japanese accounts divide the estimate differently, saying that the main army was 150,000 while Hideyoshi’s personal command was 100,000. But this discrepancy is of course unessential.

As to armament we find that this army was provided with 5000 battle axes, 100,000 long swords, 100,000 spears, 100,000 short swords, 500,000 daggers, 300,000 firearms large and small, and that there were in the whole army 50,000 horses.

The flotilla which brought this immense army to the shores of Korea consisted of between three and four thousand boats. This gives us an intimation as to the capacity of the boats used in those days. According to this enumeration each boat carried sixty men. They were probably undecked, or at most but partially decked, boats of about forty or fifty feet in length by ten in breadth.

We learn from Japanese sources that the whole fleet did not weigh anchor from Iki at the same time. Kato, who was in command of one division of the army, managed to give the rest of the fleet the slip and was away with his command by night, while his rival Konishi was compelled to wait several days longer at anchor because of adverse winds. 351These two men, Kato and Konishi figure so prominently in the first years of the war that a word of description is necessary. Kato was an old warrior who had fought for many years beside the great commander. He was an ardent Buddhist and a firm believer in the old regime. Konishi on the other hand was a young and brilliant general who had gained his place not so much by long and faithful service as by his uncommon skill in military affairs. He was a convert to Roman Catholicism, having been baptized by the PortugesePortugese missionaries in 1584. He seems to have been a personal favorite with the great Taiko. It is in the Korean accounts that we find the statement that Hideyi was made the General-in-chief of all the army of invasion. From the Japanese accounts which naturally would be supposed to be more reliable in this matter it would seem that Kato and Konishi divided between them the honor of supreme command. But we must remember that Hideyoshi was an old soldier and well acquainted with the natural jealousies that spring up between officers in an army, and it is almost inconceivable that he should have put this army in joint command of two men whom he must have known to be bitter enemies and who would doubtless work at cross purposes in the peninsula. We incline therefore to the opinion that the Koreans were right and that there was a nominal head in the person of Hideyi, but it is quite true that the brunt of the work fell upon the two rivals, Kato and Konishi.

When day broke on the morning of the thirteenth of the fourth moon of 1592 a dense fog rested on the sea and hid from the eyes of the Koreans the vast fleet that was working across the straits. Curiously enough, the commander of the Korean forces in Fusan happened to be hunting that day on Deer Island at the entrance to the harbor. He was the first to descry the invading host. Hastening back to the fortifications he prepared for the worst. Before many hours had passed the Japanese host had landed, surrounded the fort and poured in upon its doomed defenders such a destructive fire that it is said the bullets fell like rain. The garrison fought till their arrows were gone and then fell at their post, not one escaping.

It would be difficult to overestimate the immense advantage which the Japanese enjoyed in the possession of firearms, 352a weapon with which the Koreans were not acquainted and to whose natural destructiveness as a machine of war must be added the terror which it naturally inspired. It was Cortez and the Mexican over again, only in somewhat lesser degree. What seemed to the Japanese and what has passed down in history as cowardice can scarcely be called by so strong a term when we consider that bows and arrows were pitted against muskets and men who were trained in their use.

Without delay the invaders marched around the bay to the ancient city of Tong-nă, the remains of whose ancient fortress still greet the eye and interest the imagination of the traveller. Its prefect, Song Sang-hyŭn, hurriedly gathered all the town-people and what soldiers he could find. Gen. Yi Kak, the commander of all the forces in the province, was approaching from the north; but, hearing of the fate of the garrison of Fusan, he halted abruptly and said “As commander of all the provincial forces I must not risk my life in actual battle but must stand outside where I can direct affairs.” So he turned about and put six miles between his precious person and the beleagueredbeleaguered town of Tong-nă, encamping at So-san. The next day the Japanese completed the investment of the town and prepared to storm the fortress. The brave prefect took up his position in the upper storey of the great gate of the fortress where, in accordance with the Korean custom, he beat upon a great drum and urged on his soldiers in the fight. For eight hours the gallant defenders fought before the enemy effected an entrance over their dead bodies. Seeing that all was lost, the prefect called for his official robes and seated himself in state in the upper gateway. The ruthless Japanese rushed in and seized him by his garments and attempted to make him bow before them, but the first one received such a kick in the stomach that he rolled over on the floor. An instant laterlater the prefect was struck down by their swords. Just before the enemy entered he had bitten his finger till the blood came and with it he wrote on his fan “The duty of a subject to his King comes before that of a son to his father, so here I die without seeing you again.” This he delivered to a trusty servant to give to his father. To his trusty friend, Sin Yŭ-go, he said, “There is no need of your staying here to die, make good your escape while you can.”

353But Sin replied, “I have enjoyed pleasures with you and now I prefer to suffer with you.” So the two died together. The Japanese general in command was so impressed with the bravery of this prefect Song Sang-hyŭn that he had his body decently buried and erected over his grave a wooden monument on which he wrote “A Loyal Subject,” an epitaph than which none could be more grateful to a true Korean gentleman. Tradition, which delights to embellishembellish such accounts, avers that for two years a red light could be seen glimmering at night above the gate where this man met his end.

When Gen. Yi Kak, the cautious, and Gen. Pak Hong who was with him, heard of the fall of Tong-nă, they took to their heels and consequently their forces did likewise. And here it should be noted that cowardice evinced itself almost exclusively in the generals and other officers. We shall find that in almost every instance the soldiers stood by their officers to the last man.

As the forces of the Japanese moved northward the prefects fled to right and left. The governor of the province, Kim Su, hearing of the battle at Tong-nă, advanced toward that place with all the forces at his command, but his determination seems to have wavered, perhaps on account of the growing rumors of the prowess of the Japanese; for before he came in sight of the invading army he turned to the west and south, alarming all the prefects as he went; and so it is said that this whole portion of the province was practically depopulated.

When the Japanese arrived at Yŭng-san they found it empty. They swarmed over Chak-wŭn Pass like ants and filled the plain beyond. Pak Chin the prefect of Mi-ryang burned all the provisions and arms and fled to the mountains. Not so with Sŏ Yi-wŭn the prefect of Kim-hă. He stayed inside his fortressfortress and defied the invaders. The latter could not effect an entrance until they went and cut down a large field of barley in the neighborhood, which they tied in bundles and heaped against the wall till they were able to scale it. Having done his best and failed the prefect made good his escape. U Pok-yong, prefect of Yong-gung, as in duty bound, called in his retainers and started to join the banner of his chief, Yi Kak, whose whereabouts at that time was 354rather uncertain as we have already seen. During a halt for dinner two hundred soldiers from the town of Ha-yang passed them on their way to join the forces of the governor. U Pok-yong seems to have had so large an opinion of himself that he was enraged because these soldiers did not dismount when they passed him. They were of course ignorant of his rank, but he had them all seized and executed and sent a note to the governor saying that he had destroyed a band of two hundred robbers. For this meritorious service he was elevated to the rank of district-general.

Meanwhile Gen. Yi Kak, the provincial general, was flying from place to place in momentary fear of encountering the enemy. His troops were disgusted at this, for they had made some rude guns that would throw pebbles and they thought if they could have a fair chance at the Japanese they could give them a whipping.

On the seventeenth, four days after the landing of the Japanese, the startling news reached Seoul. The city was thrown into a sort of panic. The ministers hastened to the palace to consult about ways and means for defense. Yi Il was the highest actual field officer in the country. He was of the third military rank but the two above him were simply the minister and vice-minister of war and always stayed with the king. Gen. Yi Il may then be said to have been the General-in-chief of all the armies of Korea at the time.

There were three main roads leading up from the south to the capital, any one of which might be chosen by the Japanese. The most direct of these was the central one leading over the mountain chain at the celebrated Cho-ryŭng (Pass). Another to the east crossed the mountains at Chuk-nyŭng (Pass) and a third to the west led through the center of Ch’ung-ch’ŭng province. To guard these three approaches the king ordered Gen. Yi Il to go south by the middle road and station a garrison at Cho-ryŭng, the most important strategic point in the Japanese line of march. Gen. Pyŭn Keui was to be stationed in charge of this garrison. The eastern road was to be guarded by Gen. Yu Keuk-nyang and Pyŭn Eung-sŏng was made prefect of the important southern town of Kyŏng-ju. All these men were ordered to start for their respective posts immediately. At a late hour of that same day 355came the news of thethe fall of Fusan, for someone from the summit of a neighboring hill had seen the red banners of the Japanese swarming over the walls into the doomed town.

These generals who had been ordered to start in such hot haste were practically without forces. When the military rolls were lookedlooked up it was found that the army was mostly on paper and that a large majority of the men were either “sick” or were “in mourning.” So the whole force that Gen. Yi Il could muster amounted to just three hundred men. Even these could not be mustered at an hour’s notice, and so in order to obey the king’s command, the unfortunate general had to start off alone, trusting that this pitiful handful of men wouldwould follow him. The sight of the General-in-chief of the armies of Korea starting out alone to meet the mighty army of invasion would be comical were it not so pathetic. Of course the intention was to gather troops as he went, and we shall see that he did succeed in getting together at least the semblance of an army.

The Prime Minister Yu Sŭng-nyong was made Minister of War and charged with the duty of gathering a competent force to cope with the dreaded Japanese. Sil Yip was also appointed Vice-minister of War. He seems to have been specially trusted by the king for the latter gave him a splendid sword and sent him south with the injunction to kill anyone who should prove unfaithful, even though it be Gen. Yi Il himself. Here we see another grievous mistake, in thus giving a man an independent command over the head of the General-in-chief. It well illustrates a defect that has brought disaster to many an army—namely the confusing of authority. As Sil Yip came out from this audience with the king he slipped on the stone steps and his court hat fell from his head. The attendants looked upon this with dismay for it was considered an omen of ill-success. The general went south only eighty li and stopped at Yong-in.

Kim Sŭng-il whom we will remember as the man who accompanied the cowardly envoy Whang Yun-gil to Japan and who had so severely censured him for his craven conduct, was now made commander of all the forces in the western part of Kyŭng-sang Province. He started for his post immediately and in a few days arrived at the important town of Chin-ju, 356just as the Japanese were approaching. His escort had become somewhat scattered, but he was not going to take a backward step even to save his life. Dismounting he seated himself in the official chair having with him only a corporal and a dozen soldiers. It was a common custom for the Japanese to wear hideous masks for the purpose of terrifying the Koreans. On this occasion, when the van of the Japanese army entered the town it was led by a burly fellow wearing an extremely large and extremely ugly mask. The corporal strung his bow and let fly a shaft which pierced the mask and laid its wearer low. His followers beat a hasty retreat supposing that no one would be shooting arrows about like that unless there was a considerable force of soldiers in the immediate vicinity. We are not told as to the fate of the bold general. In this part of the province the prefects seem to have been made of better stuff than those further south, for they sent to each other urging the necessity of standing at their posts and offering whatever resistance they could to the advance of the enemy.

By this time Gen. Yi Il had collected a considerable force, had crossed the great Cho-ryŭng (Pass) and was stationed at Sŭng-ju, in the very path of the invading army. It did not take long to measure his calibre, for no sooner did the rumor of the approach of the Japanese reach him than he turned and fled up the pass. This was bad enough, but his next act was little less than traitorous; he made no attempt to block the pass, even though a mere handful of men could have held it against thousands. It was his one great opportunity to distinguish himself and that he did not improve it speaks as poorly for his generalship as it does for his patriotismpatriotism.

Meanwhile an equally reprehensible event was happening in the south. Governor Kim Su, who had turned aside from meeting the enemy had sent letters to all the prefects ordering them to have soldiers from all the districts rendezvous at Tă-gu and await in camp the arrival of generals from Seoul. The order was obeyed and a large force was congregated at the appointed place; but day after day passed and no generals came. The Japanese were sweeping northward and would soon be upon them. Under the circumstances it should cause little surprise that the camp broke up, 357each man returning to his own district. This is but one of many cases which go to show that in almost every instance the blame rested not on the soldiers but on the generals and other officers. The soldiers were always willing to go where the generals would lead them.

When Gen. Yi Il fled in panic over Cho-ryŭng and left it undefended his followers naturally objected to remaining under the command of a man who was not only no commander but was a coward to boot. So at last the doughty general found himself stranded in the town of Sang-ju without a soldier at his back. He had hoped to find some troops there under the command of the prefect, Kwŭn Chong-gil. When he found that there were none he flew into a rage and was about to decapitate the prefect, but let him off on condition that he find some troops immediately. This the poor fellow tried to do, but as the whole population was a farming one not a man could be found who had ever borne arms or who knew anything about fighting. Nevertheless, to save his head, he got together some nine hundred raw recruits. At this juncture a messenger came post haste from Ka-ryŭng saying that the Japanese were coming and were already near. Gen. Yi replied: “You lie, this is only a scheme to get me to leave, so that I will not levy any more troops here. Off with his head.” So off it came. That very night the JapaneseJapanese encamped at Chang-ch‘ŭn-li a few miles away, but Gen. Yi knew nothing about it, as he had no pickets out. The next morning Japanese scouts were seen on the opposite bank of the river reconnoitering. The Koreans saw these scouts but as one man had been beheaded for telling of the approach of the Japanese no one dared to tell the general, and it was not till he heard the firing of guns that he became aware of the proximity of the foe. Then he rushed out and formed up his little garrison as best he could behind the fortifications. Ere long his attention was called to several columns of smoke arising from the town. He sent some of his aides to discover the cause but they fell into the hands of the Japanese and were immediately cut down. When Gen. Yi learned of this he was genuinely alarmed, and his anxiety was added to by seeing two long files of Japanese deploying to right and left and rapidly inclosing him and his forces. There was only 358one thing to do. Mounting his steed he fled by the only way that was not already blocked. Being hotly pursued he abandoned his horse and the greater part of his clothing and fled into the mountains where he managed to elude his pursuers. In a day or so he appeared at the town of Mun-gyŭng where he wrote a letter telling of his defeat and sent it to Seoul. Hearing that Gen. Sil Yip was at Ch‘ung-ju he hastened to that point and joined him.

Gen. Sil Yip had some time since arrived at his post in Ch‘ung-ju and had prosecuted his work of collecting soldiers with such zeal that he had mustered a force of some eight thousand men. It was his intention to push straight for Cho-ryŭng, the key to the whole situation, but when he heard of the flight and defeat of Gen. Yi Il he fell back to his strong position in Ch‘ung-ju. One of his lieutenants, Kim Yŭ-mul, expostulated with him and said, “We cannot cope with them except in such a place as Cho-ryŭng where the roughness of the land will be of material aid to us,” but the general replied, “No, they are infantry and we are cavalry. If we can once get them into the plain we can use our battle-flails on them with deadly effect.” One of hishis captains told him that the Japanese had already crossed the Cho-ryŭng, and that night he left the camp secretly and went on a long tour of inspection in order to ascertain whether this was true. When he came back he ordered the instant execution of the captain. This midnight expedition speaks well for his courage and his loyalty.

A few days after the fugitive general, Yi Il, joined the forces of Gen. Sil Yip, the Japanese forces approached. In order to carry out his pet scheme of fighting the Japanese in an open plain where his soldiers could make good use of their battle-flails, Gen. Sil selected a spot that seemed to him most suitable. It was a great amphitheater made by high mountains. Along the other side, like the chord of an arc, flowed the river T‘an-geum da. The only approaches to this plain were two narrow passages at either end where the mountains came down to the river bank. In this death trap, then, Gen. Sil drew up his entire command and awaited the coming of the invaders. It is easy to imagine the glee with which the Japanese saw this arrangement, for it meant the extermination 359of the only army that lay between them and Seoul. Strong detachments were sent to block the passage at the ends of the plain while the main body scaled the mountains and came down upon the doomed army as if from the sky. The spears and swords of the descending legions flashed like fire while the roar of the musketry made the very earth to tremble. The result was an almost instantaneous stampede. The Koreans made for the two narrow exits but found them heavily guarded by the Japanese. They were now literally between “the devil and the deep blue sea,” for they had the appalling spectacle of the hideously masked Japanese on the one hand and the deep waters of the river on the other. The whole army was driven into the river or mercilessly cut down by the swords of the Japanese. Gen. Sil Yip himself made a brave stand and killed with his own hand seventeen of the enemy before he fell. Out of the whole army only a handful escaped, and among them we are almost sorry to say was the coward Yi Il who managed to get across the river.

Chapter VI.

News of defeat reaches Seoul.... panic.... divided councils.... lack of troops.... general exodus.... indescribable confusion.... straw shoes at a premium.... Princes sent away.... the king leaves Seoul.... Yi Hang-bok attends the Queen.... riotous citizens.... slaves burn the deeds.... palaces in flames.... royal party dwindles.... drenching rain.... the king goes without dinner.... welcome relief.... Japanese approach Seoul.... the race between Kato and Konishi.... no resistance.... the Han left undefended.... an empty victory.... Hideyi’s quarters.... the Japanese in Seoul.... the king orders the Im-jin River guarded.... the king enters P‘yŭng-yang.... a coward.... the Im-jin guarded.... the Japanese impetus checked.

Meanwhile the city of Seoul was waiting breathless for news of a victory by Gen. Sil Yip. The terrors of the horde of half-savage soldiers from the islands of Japan had passed from mouth to mouth and all, from the king to the humblest coolie, knew that Gen. Sil Yip alone stood between them and that dreaded host. One morning a naked soldier was seen approaching the South Gate on a run. He bore the marks of 360battle and as he passed under the great arch of the gate a hundred hands were stretchedstretched out to greet him and a hundred voices demanded news of the battle. He cried, “I am one of the followers of Sil Yip and I come to tell the city that yesterday he fell at the hand of the Japanese. I have escaped with my life and I am come to tell you that flight is your only hope.” The people were fearfully agitated. The evil news spread from mouth to mouth and a great wailing arose from the multitude that thronged the streets.

It was the last day of the fourth moon and that night the king, not knowing at what moment the enemy might be thundering at his gates, took up his quarters in a secluded part of the palace, “The Old Palace” as it is now called, and gathered about him all his courtiers and officers and held a great council. The only question was, “Where shall wewe go?”

Yi San-ha the Minister of War said “The Court should remove to P‘yŭng-yang,” but Yi Hang-bok, an official who was destined to figure prominently in the war, said, “It will not be enough to go to P‘yŭng-yang. We must send and ask aid of China.” On the other hand Kim Kwi-yŭng and a host of other officials said, “No, the king should stay right here and defend his capital.” The king himself, after listening to all that had to be said, agreed with the majority that it would be best to stay and defend the city. He said, “The ancestral temple with all the tablets of my illustrious ancestors is here. How can I go and leave them? Let the Minister of War immediately detail troops to man the walls.” But it was just here that difficulty arose and it showed clearly why the Minister of War had counselled flight. The city wall has thirty thousand battlements and each battlement has three embrasures, but in the whole city there were only seven thousand troops. This was not a tenth part the number that would be required to man the walls. This lack of soldiers was due to the fact that in the long centuries of peace it had become customary for the governmentbecome customary for the government to receive a money equivalent in place of military service. As a result only the very poorest of the poor were enrolled in the army, and the service consequently suffered. This bad custom, while it argues corrupt practices among the officials, does not prove the absence of courage or faithfulness among the people, and 361we shall find that the people were as a rule true to their duty when they were properly led.

To add to the difficulty of the situation, on that very night there was an overwhelming exodus of the people. High and low, rich and poor, young and old, thronged out of the city by every gate and made for some place of fancied safety in the country. The very warders of the gates fled and left them wide open. The great bell at Chong-no remained silent that night for lack of someone to ring it. Very many took refuge in the palace enclosure and men and women, horses and cattle and goods of all kinds were mixed together in indescribable confusion. Wailing and shouting and crying on all sides added to the confusion. The king could do nothing to quiet the disturbance, so he sat down in his private apartments attended by two eunuchs. Meanwhile the lawless element among the people was trying to make capital out of the confusion, and all night long the palace was being looted by these vicious characters, while palace women fled half naked and screaming with terror from room to room.

The king’s relatives all gathered at his doors and begged with tears and imprecations that he would not go and leave them. An order went forth from the palace that all the straw shoes and sandals that could be found should be brought in. When the officials saw these they said to the king “This great pile of straw shoes looks as if flight was being prepared for. We had better take them and burn them all and then shut the city gates so that the people cannot escape and leave the place undefended.” This advice was probably not followed, for by this time the king himself began to see that flight would be the only possible plan, and it was probably at his order that the shoes had been prepared.

Minister Yu Sŭng-nyŭng said, “Let us send the two Princes to the provinces where they will be safe and let the different governors be instructed to collect troops and send them on as fast as possible.” This seemed sound advice and the king’s oldest son, by a concubine, for the Queen had borne no sons, was sent to the province of Ham-gyŭng, and Prince Sun-wha went into Kang-wŭn Province.

362When night came the king, who saw that it was useless to attempt to hold the city, sent to the keeper of the Ancestral Temple and ordered him to send the ancestral tablets on toward P‘yŭng-yang. All night long the preparations for departure were pushed and just at day break the king called for his horse and, mounting, rode out the New Gate attended by his personal following, a host of the officials and a crowd of terrified citizens who well knew that his going meant perfect anarchy. The Queen was aided in making her escape by Yi Hang-bok who under cover of the darkness led her by the light of a torch to the palace gate. She asked his name and being told she said, “I have to thank you, and I am sorry to have put you to this trouble.” It is said that he had all along felt sure the Japanese would enter Seoul and that he had sat for days in his house refusing food and drink. At the end of that time he roused himself and called for food. Having eaten he prepared for a long journey and then went to the palace. One of his favorite concubines followed him and asked what they were to do at home, but he did not answer. She plucked him by the sleeve but he drew his sword and cut the sleeve off leaving it in her hands. He felt that his first duty was at the palace. We have seen that he did good work there in looking after the welfare of the Queen. He secured her a chair at the palace gate and they joined the royal cavalcade on its way northward.

As the king and his escort passed through “Peking Pass” day was breaking in the east and a last look at the city showed it to be on fire in many places. The populace had thrown off all restraint and had looted the treasure houses and the store houses. In one of the latter were kept all the deeds of the government slaves. Each slave was deeded property, the same as real estate, and the deeds of the government slaves were deposited in the Chang-yé-wŭn. At that time there was nominally no lower middle class at all. Society was composed of the upper class and their retainers. Almost every man in the lower stratum of society was nominally the slave of some nobleman though in many places it was a nominal serfdom only. At the same time the master had the right to sell them at will and they were in duty bound to assume mourning at his death. It was this class of people, then, that arose and burned 363the store-house which contained the deeds and thereby secured liberty. Another building contained deeds of all private slaves. This too was made an objective point the moment the restraint of government was taken off. They also saw the royal granary in flames where the rice, cloth and money were stored. The king’s private treasure house inside the palace grounds was also burning. The Kyŭng-bok Palace, the Chang-dŭk Palace and the Chang-gyŭng Palace were all in flames. It must have been a depressing sight to the king and his court but there was no time to waste in mourning over the desolation in Seoul. No one knew at what moment the enemy might appear over the southern hills; and so the royal party pressed on toward the north. When they arrived at Sŭk-ta-ri in the district of Ko-yang it was raining furiously and by the time they arrived at Pyŭk-je-yŭk the entire party were dripping wet.

Up to this point the cavalcade had kept together very well but there were many among them who had not intended to keep on with the royal party and there were probably many more whose good intentions were so dampened by the elements that they gave it up. From this point on the royal escort was much reduced. The king here dismounted, entered a hostelry and sat down and began to beat upon the ground with his whip and to weep. As the Ministers gathered around him he said, “What shall we do in this terrible haste?” Yi Hang-bok answered, “When we get to Eui-ju, if we find it impossible to stop there we must push on into China and seek aid from the Emperor.” The king was pleased with this and said, “That is just what I want to do.” But Yu Sŭng-nyŭng said, “Not so, for if the king leaves Korean soil the dynasty will be at an end and Korea will be lost. The soldiers of Ham-gyŭng Province are still to be heard from and those from Kang-wŭn Province as well; so there is no call for such talk as this about leaving Korean soil.” He likewise administered a sharp reproof to Yi Hang-bok who confessed himself to have been too hasty.

After a short rest they took the road again, ever goaded on by the dread of pursuit, and as they passed He-eum-nyŭng the rain came down again in torrents. The palace women were riding horses that were small and weak and they could 364go but slowly. The riders went along with their hands over their faces, weeping and wailing loudly. By the time they reached the Im-jin River it was dark, and a more wretched company can hardly be imagined. The horses were up to their knees in mud and were well-nighknees in mud and were well-nigh exhausted. All were nearly famished. It was pitchy dark and the party had become scattered. The case looked about as hopeless as it well could; but Yi Hang-bok was a man of tremendous energy, and he realised the gravity of the situation. So halting the cavalcade he dismounted and managed after great exertions to collect the entire party once more. It was so dark that it was impossible to think of crossing the river by ferry, until someone thought of the happy plan of setting fire to some of the buildings on the bluff beside the stream. By this baleful light the sorry and bedraggled multitude somehow effected a crossing and from that point on the fear of pursuit was greatly lessened. By this time food and rest had become imperative both for man and beast. Those who had been accustomed to no greater hardship than lolling on divans in palaces found a ride of thirty miles in the mud and rain, without rest or nourishment, a severe test. When the cavalcade came at midnight to the hostlery of Tong-pa-yŭk in the prefecture of P’a-ju they found that the prefect Hŭ-jin and the prefect of Chang-dan, Ku Hyo-yŭn, had provided an excellent supper for the king and the Ministers, but before these worthies could get settled in the apartments provided for them, the grooms and coolies and others, rendered desperate by hunger, rushed into the kitchen to find what had been provided for them, and finding that they had been forgottenforgotten they began to help themselves to the food that had been prepared for the royal table. An attempt was made to stop them but they were in no mood to be stopped. The result was that the king and his Ministers went hungry. His Majesty asked for a cup of wine but none could be found. He asked for a cup of tea but that too had disappeared. One of the servants of the party happened to have a cake of Chinese sugar tucked under his head-band. This he drew out and it was dissolved in some warm water and formed the repast of the king that night.

In the morning when it became time to resume the journey it was found to the dismay of all that the coolies had 365decamped and left the royal party high and dry. But even while they were discussing this sorry plight the governor of Whang-hă province and the prefect of Sö-heung appeared on the scene with two hundred soldiers and fifty or sixty horses. They had come expressly to escort the king northward, and truly they came in the very nick of time. They had with them a few measures of barley and this was doled out to the hungry people. As soon as possible a start was made and at noon they arrived at Cho-hyŭn-ch’an forty li from Sŭng-do where they found plenty of food, as the governor had ordered it to be prepared. This was the second day of the fifth moon. That night they entered the welcome gates of Song-do, which, almost exactly two centuries before, had witnessed the overthrow of the Koryŭ dynasty. This was the first time the royal party could really breathe freely, for they could be easily warned of the approach of the enemy, now that soldiers were on the lookout. So it was decided that they should rest a day at this place.

The king came out and seated himself in the upper story of the South Gate and all the people gathered before him. He said to them “Now that this war is upon us, if there is anything that you would say, say on.” Without hesitation they replied, “This war has been caused by Yi San-han (one of the Ministers), and by Kim Kong-yang,” (the father of a favorite concubine). The people were very angry with them. They also said, “You should recall the Minister Chöng.” This man had been banished because of factional rivalry. To the latter proposition the king readily assented, glad probably to find some way to please the populace.

It was on this day, the third of the fifth moon, that the Japanese entered Seoul.

It will be necessary for us to pause here and note the method of the Japanese approach to the capital. A glance at the map of Korea shows that there are three great highways leading up from Fusan to Seoul. One is the main or middle road leading by Yang-san, Mi-ryang, Ch’ŭng-do, Tă-gu and soon up the valley of the Nak-tong River, over the great Cho-ryŭng (Pass). The division led by Konishi came up the peninsula at double-quick by this road. It was before this division that Gen. Yi Il had fled. A second road is to the east of 366this, proceeding by way of Choa-p‘yŭng, Ul-san, Kyöng-ju, Yong-jin, Sil-yăng, Kun-wi, Pi-on and Mun-gyŭng. Kato led the division which took this road, but his forces joined those of Konishi below Cho-ryŭng and the two crossed it together. The forces of both Kato and Konishi were in the battle which witnessed the massacre of Sil Yip’s forces in the cul de sac which we have described. After this battle the two rival leaders again separated and hastened toward Seoul by different routes. Konishi kept on by the main road by way of Chuk-san, Yong-in, crossing the Han River just below Han-gang and entering the city by the South Gate. Kato took a more easterly road and came via Yŭ-ju and Yang-geun crossing the Han seventy li above, at Yang-jin. But a third division under Kuroda and other generals had branched off to the west at the very start. They proceeded by way of Kim-hă and U-do and then, leaving Kyung-sang Province they crossed over to Chi-re and Kim-san in Chŭl-la Province. Then crossing the Ch’u-p’ung Pass they entered Ch’ung-ch’ŭng Province and then made for Seoul by way of Yong-dong, Ch’ung-ju and so up by the main road.

The reason for the different divisions taking different routes may have been because of the necessity of obtaining forage, but it was also in part due to the jealousy which existed between Kato and Konishi, for each of these men was desirousdesirous of getting to Seoul before the other.

This great tripletriple army met with no real resistance on its way to Seoul. The country was utterly unprepared for war, the principal lack being in competent leaders rather than in number of troops. It was the first quick, sharp stroke on the part of the Japanese which seems to have paralysed the Koreans. The banners of the great host of the invaders spread out over a thousand li and at intervals of twenty or thirty li they built fortifications from which they signalled to each other at night. The only aggressive move on the part of the Koreans up to this time was the effort of Captain Wŭn Ho to prevent or at least delay the passage of the Han by Kato’s forces, at Yang-jin, by destroying all the boats. But the Japanese were not delayed long by this, for the neighboring hill-sides furnished them with logs for rafts on which they soon crossed and hastened on to anticipate the troops of Konishi in the occupation of Seoul.

367It was on the fourth day of the fifth moon that the eager forces of Konishi swept down to the banks of the Han River opposite the town of Han-gaug. This river is a real barrier to an army unprepared with pontoon or other boats and the Japanese troops might have been held in check for some considerable time. But the whole make-up of the Japanese warrior was calculated to inspire terror, and no sooner did this countless horde show itself on the opposite shore than Gen. Kim Myŭng-wŭn, who had been put in charge of the river defenses, came to the conclusion that he would have more than a mere river between himself and that gruesome array. He therefore threw all his engines of defense into the Han and fled with all his following to the Im-jin river, the next natural barrier between the Japanese and the king. At first thought this flight of Gen. Kim would seem to be an act of pure cowardice, but when we remember that he had only a few hundred men under him while on the opposite bank a hundred thousand men were clamoring for a passage across, we cannot wonder that he found it necessary to retreat. He did it in proper style by first destroying his military engines lest they should fall into the hands of the enemy.

The king before leaving Seoul placed Gen. Yi Yang-wŭn in charge of the city and its defenses, but when he learned of the flight of Gen. Kim from the river he rightly judged that the city could not bebe held by any such force as was at his command; so he in turn beat a retreat and went north to the town of Yang-ju. The result was that when the Japanese succeeded in crossing the river and pushed on to the gates of Seoul they found only an undefended and half depopulated city of which to take inglorious possession. It is said that only a few hours elapsed after the entry of Konishi’s forces beforebefore those of Kato hastened in from the east, disappointed and chagrined to find that they had been beaten in the race; but they were probably consoled by the fact that long before the goal had been reached the prize had taken wing.

Hideyi, the General-in-chief of the Japanese forces, took up his quarters in the Ancestral Temple from which the tablets of the royal line had been removed. This was looked upon by the Koreans as an act of sacrilege and queer tales are told of how during that first night, while the burning of the 368city was going on, a Japanese soldier would drop dead every few minutes without visible cause. It is for this reason, as some say, that Hideyi removed to the Nam-pyul-gung, known as the place where Chinese embassies have been lodged, and now the site of the Imperial Altar.

Before many days had elapsed the people found out that the coming of the Japanese did not mean universal slaughter as they had supposed, and gradually they returned to their homes in the city. They reopened their shops and so long as they attended to their own affairs they were unmolested by the Japanese. Indeed they adapted themselves readily to the new order of things and drove a lucrative trade with the invaders. The latter were strict in the watch of the city and no one could go out or come in without showing a passport. When the Japanese had exhausted the supplies in Seoul they pushed out into the country and laid the surrounding villages under contribution. Koreans were even found who would tell them where they could go with the hope of finding booty, and acted as guides to them. Among the more loyal citizens a plot was gotten up to assassinate the guard, but it was betrayed to the enemy and the plotters were seized and burned to death after indescribable tortures. ItIt is said so many perished in that holocaust that their collected bones made a huge mound.

When Gen. Kim Myŭng-wŭn fled from the defenses of the Han and came to the Im-jin he immediately sent a letter to the king at Song-do telling him of the arrival of the Japanese, his own retreat and the entry of the Japanese into Seoul. The king did not censure him, for retreat was the only way open to him; so a messenger was dispatched ordering him to make haste and get together as many soldiers of Kyŭng-geui and Whang-hă Provinces as possible and make a firm stand at the Im-jin River. Gen. Sin Kil was sent to aid in this work. No sooner were these orders given than the royal party resumed their journey northward in haste, and at night they reached the village of Keum-gyo in Keum-ch’ŭn district. Here the escort of the king bivouacked in the open air. It was discovered with dismay that the ancestral tablets had been overlooked in the haste attendant upon the departure from Song-do. So one of the king’s relatives started back after them and succeeded in bringing the precious relics on.

369On the seventh of the moon the royal party crossed the Tă-dong River and entered the gates of P’yŭng-yang. Here there was food and drink in plenty and all the other luxuries of life. For the first time since the flight began the king enjoyed a season of real rest. The royal cortège was escorted into the city by the governor, Song Wŭn-siu, who came out with three thousand troops and met him on the way.

Two days later a messenger was seen approaching at a rapid pace. He was swiftly ferried across the river and hurried into the king’s presence where he said, “Yi Yang-wŭn, the defender of Seoul has fled, and the city is in the possession of the enemy.” The king exclaimed, “This is bad news indeed, we must appoint someone whose work it shall be to continually attempt to retake the capital.” He thereupon appointed Gen. Yu Hong to that arduous and dangerous position. He was to go with three thousand men and do what he could to stop the progress of the Japanese and if possible regain control of the capital. Gen. Yu received the appointment with the worst possible grace. After the headlong flight with all its hardships and privations, to be told that he must go back with three thousand men and meet what he supposed was a blood-thirsty horde of savages was too much for his patriotism; so he stayed in his rooms and sulked. Two days passed and still he did not start. The king called him up and said, “How is it that you let the time slip by like this when you ought to be on the way to Seoul with troops?” The mighty warrior replied, “I fear Your Majesty will have to excuse me from this duty as I am suffering from a boil on my leg.” One of the courtiers, Yi Han-guk took him to task saying, “How is it that after receiving such favors at the hand of the king you shrink from this duty? You are a coward and are afraid to go. You are like a sulky dancing-girl who refuses either to dance or sing. You are not only not brave but you are not even clever. Do you suppose you can impose on His Majesty with any such story as this about a boil on your leg?” The king was immensely pleased with this well merited rebuke and laughed long and loud at the discomfitted general, but finally said, “Well, then, since our doughty Gen. Yu cannot go let Gen. Han Eung-in go instead.” The next day Gen. Han started south with 5000 troops picked from 370the northern borderborder guard, and in good time he arrived at the banks of the Im-jin River, midway between Song-do and Seoul. This was the great strategic position that must be held at any cost. It was the key to the north, the gate-way to Whang-hă Province and to P‘yŭng-an Province beyond.

Now that the king and the court were in comparative safety, an attempt was made to bring together the loose ends of things and make some sort of headway against the Japanese. Gen. Yi Hang-bok who had so gallantly escorted the Queen from the palace, the night of the exodus from Seoul was made Minister of War. A council was called to discuss the demands made by the people of Song-do in reference to the punishment of certain officials whom they had accused. The result was that Yi San-ha was banished to P‘yŭng-ha but the king refused to punish the father of his favorite concubine.

We notice that the military prowess of the Japanese, their thorough equipment and their martial spirit took Korea by surprise. It caused a universal panic, and for the first few weeks it was impossible to get the soldiers to stand up and fight the enemy, to say nothing of the generals. The troops and the generals were mutuallymutually suspicious of each other and neither seemed to have any faith in the courage or loyalty of the other. But now the time had come when the impetuous sweep of the Japanese was stopped, for the time being, by their occupation of Seoul. The fall of the capital was looked upon by the king and the people as a great calamity, but in reality it was the very thing that saved the king from the necessity of crossing the border and perhaps it saved Peking itself. If the Japanese had kept up that impetuous, overwhelming rush with which they came up from Fusan to Seoul, and, instead of stopping at the capital, had pushed straight for the Yalu River they would have swept everything before them and would have been knocking at the gates of NankingNanking before the sleepy celestials knew that Hideyoshi dreamed of paying back in kind the haughty summons of Kublai Khan four hundred years before. The stop at Seoul gave the Korean forces a breathing space and an opportunity to get into shape to do better work than they had done. The people came to see that 371instead of painted devils, as they had at first appeared, the Japanese were flesh and blood like themselves and the terror which their fierce aspect at first inspired gradually wore off and in-so-far lessened the discrepancy between the two combatants. On the side of the Japanese there was only one favorable factor, their tremendous fighting power in battle. There they had it all their own way. But on the other hand they were in a thickly populated and hostile country, practically cut off from their base of supplies and dependent entirely upon forage for their sustenance. Under these circumstances their position was sure to become worse rather than better and the real strength of the Koreans was sure to show itself. If a Korean regiment was swept off in battle there were millions from which to recruit, while every Japanese who fell caused just so much irreparable injury to the invading army. We shall see that it was the abandonment of the “double quick” that eventually drove the Japanese back across the straits.

Chapter VII.

Mutual jealousies.... first Korean victory.... successful general executed.... people disgusted.... another general executed.... operations in the south.... troops mass in Kong-ju.... unfortunate engagement.... troops scattered.... naval engagement in the south under Admiral Yi Sun-sin.... a great Japanese defeat.... Japanese army cut off from reinforcements.... the tortoise boat.... another naval victory.... and another.... naval campaign closes.... Admiral Yi is decorated.... the fall of Yŭng-wŭn Fortress.... Japanese checked at the Im-jin River.... they seemingly prepare to retreat.... jealousies among the Koreans.... divided counsels.... Koreans cross and attack.... defeated.... Korean army retreats.... the Japanese cross.... Japanese jealousies.... they separate.... the news of defeat reaches the king.... a trifling Korean victory.... a great council.... the king decides to go to Ham-heung.

The wretched party strife among the Koreans was the cause of their weakness. No sooner did a capable man arise than he became the target for the hatred and jealousy of a hundred rivals, and no trickery or subterfuge was left untried whereby to have him degraded and disgraced. A particular 372incident will illustrate this. Gen. Sin Kak had been associated with Gen. Kim Myŭng-wŭn in the defenses of the Han River, but when Gen. Kim fled after throwing into the river the engines of defense, there was nothing to do but fall back. Gen. Sin retreated to a place of safety but immediately began collecting troops from Kyŭng-geui Province, and he was also joined by a contingent from Ham-gyŭng Province. While the Japanese held Seoul, large bands of them scoured the surrounding country for booty. One of these bands was trying to make its way across the hills to Ka-p’yŭng and Ch‘un-ch‘un, and had gotten as far as the Kye Pass in the town of Yang-ju when they found themselves face to face with the troops of Gen. Sin Kak. A fierce fight took place, in which the Japanese, who were probably largely outnumbered, were severely defeated, leaving sixty heads in the hands of the Koreans. This promised to be the beginning of a series of such little engagements in which the Japanese army would be gradually weakened without being able to draw the Koreans into a large general engagement; the more so because the Japanese were dependent upon forage for their supplies.

But note the sequel. While all Kyŭng-geui was ringing with the praises of the successful general and the people were beginning to see that all was not yet lost, a swift messenger was on his way southward from P‘yŭng-yang bearing a sword and a letter ordering the instant execution of the traitor Sin Kak. The alleged reason for this was as follows: When Gen. Kim fled from the defenses of the Han, in order to cover his infamy, he wrote a letter to the king accusing Gen. Sin Kak of having deserted him in his hour of need. Gen. Yu Hong also recognised Gen. Sin as a powerful rival and so added his prayers to those of Gen. Kim that the traitor Sin be killed. The king knew no better than to comply with this request, preferred as it was by two of his leading generals, and the message of death was sent. But before the day was done came the news of the defeat of the Japanese by the forces under this same Sin Kak. The condemned “traitor” had stood up before a Japanese force and had taken sixty heads. The king was filled with remorse and a swift messenger was sent to stay the hand of the executioner. He took the road an hour after the death messenger and arrived at the camp of Gen. Sin 373Kak an hour after that loyal man had bowed his head to the axe of his royal master. Who knows but the feet of the second messenger had been made heavy by the gold of Sin Kak’s rivals? History is silent as to this but the suspicion is inevitable. This wanton act was looked upon by the people with horror and detestation, who saw their first successful champion cut down in the very hour of his success.

But another sword, this time of pure justice, was also prepared for Gen. Yi Kak who had fled from before the Japanese at Tong-nă. He made his appearance at the Im-jin River, doubtless thinking himself safe from criticism, but in this he was mistaken, for as he was the one who first set the example of cowardice, he was arrested and put to death.

And now as the Japanese are revelling in Seoul and the king is resting in P‘yŭng-yang and the Korean generals are busy massing troops at the Im-jin to dispute the passage of the Japanese, let us turn southward and witness some of the events that are transpiring there, for we must not think that the provinces of Chŭl-la and Ch‘ung-ch’ŭng are at peace all this time.

When the Japanese army separated soon after leaving Tong-nă one army division under Kuroda swept like a whirlwind westward across the north-western corner of Chul-la Province and through the entire length of Ch‘ung-chŭng Province on its way to Seoul. Yi Kwang the governor of Chŭl-la got together some 8000 men and hastened north to Kong-ju the capital of Ch‘ung-chŭng Province. Finding there that the king had fled from Seoul, he gave up all hope of effecting anything and, turning about, made for the south again. But on the way he was met by Păk Kwang-ön who upbraided him severely, urging that if the king had fled northward all the more need of keeping on and offering him whatever support was possible. The governor humbly confessed that he had been hasty in his action, and turned about and went back to Kong-ju where he joined the forces of the governors of Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭngCh‘ung-ch‘ŭng and Kyŭng-sang Provinces who had arrived at that place. There were also Gen. Yi Ok, the military governor of Ch‘ung-ch’ŭng, and Gen. Kwak Yŭng, the military governor of Chŭl-la. Each of the provinces had both a civil and a military governor. These three civil and 374two military governors met, then, in Kong-ju and joined forces. It is commonly reported that they had between them 100,000 men, but probably about half that figure would be nearer the truth. They formed a gallant array with their flaunting banners, and the people of the adjoining districts caught up arms and came and joined what seemed to them an invincible host. A Japanese force was found to be intrenched on Puk-du-mun Mountain and Governor Yi Kwang was for making an immediate attack, but one of his aides said, “We are now so near Seoul there is no use in turning aside to attack so small a force. We had better push on to the defense of the Im-jin River.” Păk Kwang-ön who had upbraided the governor for retiring also said, “The road is very narrow which leads up to this position of the Japanese and the woods are very dense. We had better be cautious.” Being opposed thus the second time was more than his temper could endure, so the governor ordered Păk bound and whipped. The latter thinking that it was an imputation on his bravery, after receiving a severe beating, seized his weapons and rushed headlongheadlong up the slope and attacked the Japanese. Many followed and the engagement became general. From morning till noon it continued but the Japanese could not be driven out of their strong position in the woods. The Koreans began to lose in the battle and finally the Japanese, creeping down toward the Koreans in the underbrush and grass, suddenly rushed out upon them and cut them down by scores. Păk and several other notable men fell in the fight, but the main body of the Korean troops under Governor Yi Kwang moved on to Kwang-gyo Mountain near the town of Su-wŭn, only eighty li from Seoul. Expecting that the day would be a busy one, Governor Yi had his soldiers fed very early in the morning and when day broke, sure enough, there was the Japanese force ready to engage him, and every few moments one or other of the Japanese braves would rush out from the lines, brandish his weapons and challenge the Koreans to come out and fight. So Gen. Sin Ik of the province of Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng advanced with his force and engaged the enemy. In a few moments the superiority of the Japanese arms became evident. The panic-stricken Koreans fled before them like sheep before wolves. After an hour’s time 375this considerable army which was to have succored the king was thoroughly scattered, but it is probable that many of the soldiers figured later in the defense of the Im-jin River.

At the same time events were happening further south which were far more creditable to the Korean arms and which were the forerunner of the final expulsion of the Japanese from the peninsula.

A fleet of Japanese boats, bringing as is supposed the reserve of 60,000 men, arrived off the island of Ka-dok on the coast of Kyŭng-sang Province. At that time Admiral Wŭn Kyun had charge of all matters along the coast of that province. When he saw this vast fleet of ships his heart sank and without more ado he prepared to scuttle his ships and flee by land, but fortunately there was good advice at hand, for one of his staff said, “Do not abandon all hope at once but send and ask Yi Sun-sin the Admiral of Chŭl-la to come and aid you.” A swift messenger was sent and the missive was placed in the hands of Admiral Yi. One of his staff said “No, let him guard his own coast and we will look after ours. Why should we go and help him?” But Admiral Yi said, “Is not Kyŭng-sang Province as much the country of our king as Chŭl-la? How can we refuse to go to his aid?” So eighty boats were gotten ready in haste and sailed away co the island of Han-san where the two admirals met and joined forces. The whole fleet sailed out of harbor together and made for the island of Ok-po where the hostile fleet was moored. As soon as the enemy hove in sight Admiral Yi Sun-sin made directly for them and soon was grappling them. The Koreans had the advantage of the wind at their backs for they shot fire arrows among the boats of the Japanese and soon had twenty-six of them in flames. It is said the sea was covered with the wreckage and with struggling human forms. So the remaining ships of the enemy turned about and crowded on all sail in flight, but Admiral Yi gave chase and cut down many more and scattered the rest so that the expedition was an entire failure. This was the first of this great admiral’s successes and it illustrates the fact that the Korean warrior was not a coward when well led. The Japanese armies in Korea were thus cut off from their source of supply and reinforcement and thus a tremendous blow was dealt them. This 376victory may be said to have been the decisive point in the war.

It is probable that the soldiers in the Japanese army had been accustomed to short though sanguinary campaigns and had spent the intervals of leisure at home. But now this vast army was quite cut off from their home and were among strange scenes. It cannot be wondered at therefore that after time discontent arose in spite of all successes, a discontent which, combined with other causes, finally drove them back to Japan.

Tradition says that about this time Admiral Yi had a dream in which a robed man appeared and cried, “The Japanese are coming.” He arose, assembled his fleet and sailed forth as far as the town of No-ryang where he found a large fleet of the enemy. He used the same tactics as before, burning twelve of them and chasing the rest away. The main reason for his unparalleled successes on the sea was the possession of a peculiar war vessel of his own invention and construction. It was called the Kwi-sŭn or “Tortoise Boat,” from its resemblance to that animal. There is no doubt that the tortoise furnished the model for the boat. Its greatest peculiarity was a curved deck of iron plates like the back of a tortoise, which completely sheltered the fighters and rowers beneath. In front was a hideous crested head, erect, with wide open mouth through which arrows and other missiles could be discharged. There was another opening in the rear and six on either side for the same purpose. On top of the curved deck there was a narrow walk from stem to stern and another across the middle from side to side, but every other part of the back bristled with iron pikes so that an enemy who should endeavor to board her would find himself immediately impaled upon a score of spear-heads. This deck, being of iron, rendered the ship impervious to fire arrows and so the occupants could go into action with as much security as one of our modern battle ships could go into engagement with the wooden war vessels of a century ago. In addition to this, she was built for speed and could easily overtake anything afloat. This made her doubly formidable, for even flight could net avail the enemy. She usually did more execution after the flight commenced than before, for she could overtake and ram them one by one, probably better 377than she could handle them when drawn up in line of battle. It is said that the ribs of this remarkable ship lie in the sand today in the village of Ko-sŭng on the coast of Kyŭng-sang Province. They are believed to have been seen there by Lieut. Geo. C. Foulk, U. S. N., in 1884. The people of the town have an annual festival, when they launch a fleet of boats and sail about the harbor in honor of the great Yi Sun-sin and his “Tortoise Boat.”


In the engagement last described the Japanese in their flight were so terrified by this craft, which pursued them and sank them one by one, that they stamped their feet and cried out that it was more than of human workmanship. And indeed it was almost more than the human of that century, for it anticipated by nearly three hundred years the iron-clad war ship. In this battle Admiral Yi was wounded in the shoulder but made no sign. He urged on his men to the very last and finally when they drew off, weary of slaughter, he bared his shoulder and ordered the bullet to be cut out.

Having thus brilliantly begun, and perhaps fearing lest, if he should delay, some jealous rival might induce the king to take off his head, he pushed straight on to Tang-hang Harbor where he encountered another fleet, among which was an immense three-decked ship, on which sat the admiral of the fleet, clad in silk and wearing a golden head-piece. The intrepid Yi made straight for this craft with his tortoise boat and when near it called to one of his best marksmen to let fly a shaft at the man in silks. The arrow flew straight to its mark and pierced the man’s throat. Seeing the fall of their chief, the whole fleet showed their rudders and made off as fast as they could go, but with the usual result. The next day saw Admiral Yi in Pyŭk-hang Harbor where he lay at anchor while he sent out ships to reconnoitre and find out the position of the enemy. If anything was seen of the foe, guns were to be fired as a signal. Ere long the signal shot was heard far out at sea. The fleet put out in two long divergent lines “like a fish-trap,” as the Koreans say, and soon on the horizon twenty-six hulls appeared rising and sinking on the swell. As they neared they entered the two lines of the Korean fleet and were surrounded. As the result 378of this fight every one of the Japanese boats was burned and two hundred heads were taken as trophies. This remarkable naval campaign closed with the destruction of a few remaining Japanese boats that were overtaken near Yong-deung Harbor.

The reputation of Admiral Yi Sun-sin spread over the whole south and his praises were on everyon every lip. His followers would go anywhere with him and scarcely seemed to know what fear was. Soon the report of these splendid victories came to the ears of the king, and though Admiral Yi was not without detractors at court the king conferred upon him a lofty title.

In the fifth moon the Japanese resumed active operations in the north and east. A powerful force were sent to the province of Kang-wŭn which was straightway overrun. The governor, Kim Che-gap, hastily collected all the soldiers that could be found, together with arms and ammunition, and went to the almost impregnable fortress of Yŭng-wŭn. The natural defenses of this place were unexcelled by any in Korea. On three sides the approach was almost precipitous and a handful of men could hold an army at bay. Here the governor collected provisions in abundance and dug a well. Stones were piled on the top of the wall to be thrown down upon anyone who should attempt to scale the height. The Japanese recognised the strength of the position and tried to get the governor to surrender without a struggle. A letter was sent up the steep slope and handed over the wall. It said “You are doomed. Even if you hold out for two months you will then be taken. You must come out and surrender at once.” The only answer was the headless trunk of the Japanese messenger, rolled down the precipice before the eyes of the invading army. The next day the assault began. The besiegers swarmed up the sides of the slope, so that, to use the Korean figure, the mountain-side was clothed with them. The garrison though only 5000 strong found no difficulty in driving them back. That night the Koreans, wearied by the labors of the day and deeming it impossible that the Japanese should try to attack at night up those steep slopes, failed to set a guard; and in the early morning, before light, a little band of the enemy worked its way up the face 379of the precipice until they reached the base of the wall. A few stones were displaced until a small aperture was made and the little band effected an entrance. They rushed into the camp with a terrific yell cutting down the half-awakened and wholly terrified garrison. The gates were thrown open and in an hour the victory was complete. Gov. Kim Che-gap refused to do obeisance and was cut down.

And now all eyes were turned toward the Im-jin River where the king and the people fondly hoped to be able to stop the invading host. Troops had been coming continually and massing on the northern bank of the stream at the point where the main road from Seoul to P‘yŭng-yang crosses it by ferry. Its great strategic importance was due to the fact that it was the only good place for a large force to cross. The troops massed here were nominally under the command of Gen. Kim Myŭng-wŭn who had so promptly deserted the defenses of the Han, upon the arrival of the Japanese. The Koreans had everything in their favor. The southern bank where the Japanese must embark is a high bluff pierced only by a narrow gully which would allow of only a few hundred approaching the immediate brink of the water at once and consequently the army would have to cross little by little. The opposite bank, on the other hand, is a long flat stretch of sand, an ideal place for drawing up a defensive force, and every boat-load of the enemy would be the mark for a thousand arrows.

The Korean forces were numerous enough, they were brave enough and their leaders were individually capable enough; but note the sequel. All the boats had been brought over to the Korean side and so, when the Japanese arrived on the southern bank and looked down the high bluff upon the assembled hosts of the Koreans and marked the difficulty of embarkation, the swiftness of the current and the utter absence of boats or craft of any kind, they found themselves for the first time completely checked. An hour’s resistance was all they had ever met before, but here was evidently a serious obstacle.

For ten long days these great armies sat facing each other across the waters of the Im-jin. They were ten days of exultation for the Koreans and every day that passed 380raised the courage, or rather the self-confidence, of the Koreans, who forgot that it was nature and not they who held the foe in check. They did not dream for an instant that the Japanese were about to make them the instruments of their own destruction. When the eleventh morning broke something was seen to be going on among the Japanese, a great running about and the carrying of bundles from place to place. In a short time the reason became apparent. The Japanese had given up further advance and were preparing to retreat toward Seoul. Smoke and flame showed that they were burning their camp and soon the whole force was seen to be on the move back toward the south. To imagine the revulsion of feeling in the minds of the Koreans we should have to realize the deep humiliation to which they had been subjected, the heaps of slain they had seen, the losses in property, in homes, in relatives, in friends which they had sustained at the hands of the ruthless invaders. Instead of being pursued they were to pursue. They would dog the footsteps of the retreating army, cut off the stragglers, worry the life out of the “dwarfs,” as they called the Japanese, and finally give them a farewell kick as they left the port of Fusan on their ignominious homeward flight. Such must have been the common thought and purpose of the Koreans, and the thirst for revenge was simply unbearable. And here again comes to the front the fatal weakness of the Koreans. We have before remarked that the rise of the political parties lay at the bottom of the failure of the Korean arms against the Japanese. It has already been illustrated in the case of Gen. Sin Kak who was executed through jealousy on the very day of his great victory. Here again it is to become apparent. While Gen. Kim Myŭng-sŭn was nominally in charge of the defenses of the Im-jin he was far from being in full command of the troops massed there. A number of other generals were there and each held his own troops in hand and each wished to distinguish himself and so step over the heads of the rest into the good graces of the king. This would mean preferment and wealth. There was absolutely no supreme command, there was no common plan, there was nothing but mutual jealousy and suspicion. A young general, Sin Kil-i, who knew nothing of war, was sure that the 381enemy had decamped, and he wanted to cross immediately in pursuit. But this was so manifestly absurd that even the common soldiers cried out, “You had better examine carefully and see whether the enemy has actually gone.” For answer the young general had a few heads struck off, which shows he was something of a disciplinarian if nothing more. Then Gen. Yu Keuk-yang expostulated with the young man, warning him that it was surely a trick to lure them across, but the young fellow drew his sword and made a lunge at the old general and charged him with cowardice. This no one could endure, so the aged general said, “Coward, am I? Well I speak only for the good of my king; but I will be the first to cross and fall into this trap, and when you see me fall you will know that my advice was sound.” So calling his soldiers he ordered them into the boats and, throwing all caution to the winds and forgetting the best interests of his king for a petty vindication of his own bravery, he dashed across the river and up the heights. The young Sin Kil-i could do no less than follow, and when he had gained the heights beyond he found the words of the aged general true. A short distance away a half dozen naked Japanese were dancing on the border of a wood, but when the Koreans rushed at them a countless multitude of Japanese who had lain concealed in the wood poured out, and in an instant the Koreans were surrounded. The aged general having thus proved his claim to bravery, or rather foolhardiness, sat down and said, “Now has come the time for me to die.” And die he did. It was only of himself that he thought, and it was this all-pervading selfishness, bred of party strife, that neutralised every good quality in the Korean army. It was not because they were not brave nor because luxury had sapped the vitality of the noble classes but it was because no one would work with anyone else. It was because they saw in war nothing but the chance of personal advancement. And so each one deplored the successes and rejoiced in the failures of every other.

When the old general fell, the Koreans found themselves again, as in the battle in which Gen. Sin Yip fell, between the Japanese and the river. Back they rushed only to find that some of the boats had drifted away and others, being overcrowded, had sunk. Hundreds were driven into the 382water while others, preferring a soldier’s death, presented their necks to the swords of the Japanese.

But even yet all was not lost. A little wisdom and care might still have left the day unwon by the Japanese. They had a few boats, to be sure, but not enough to be of any use in the face of the still large Korean force on the opposite bank. But here occurred the greatest mistake of all. The generals on the northern bank, witnessing the terrible slaughter of their confreres, and not stopping to reckon the chances still remaining of successful defense, mounted their horses and gave themselves to flight. This was not only cowardice. It was thoughtlessness, carelessness in large part, and if there had been one man in command of the whole defensive force who could witness the loss of a large fraction of his force without losing his head, the Japanese would still have been as far from the northern bank as ever. The moment the soldiers saw the flight of their generals they raised a derisive shout, “The generals are running away,” and forthwith they followed the example, as they had a perfect right to do.

The Japanese leaders seeing the defenses of the river broken up by their successful strategem, immediately crossed with their entire force which Korean accounts reckon at about a quarter of a million. The Korean accounts tell us but little about the rivalry of the two Japanese leaders, Kato and Konishi, but among the Japanese it was notorious. It was impossible for them to march together for any length of time. It was this rivalry which had made them take different roads to Seoul and it was now necessary for them to part again. This jealousy was another of the potent causes of the final failure of the Japanese. Had these two men worked together they could have marched straight on to the walls of Nanking without meeting an enemy worthy of their steel. As it was they separated and scattered over the country, dissipating their power and thus frustrating the design of Hideyoshi—the conquest of China. They cast lots as to their routes and fortune favored the younger man, Konishi, who drew as his lot the straight path north where glory lay if anywhere. Kato had to be content with a dash into the province of Ham-gyŭng in the northeast. Another general, 383Kuroda, led a force into the western part of Whang-hă Province. All this took place in the fifth moon.

The king was resting secure in P‘yŭng-yang, trusting in the defense of the Im-jin River, when a messenger rushed in breathless, announcing that the Im-jin had been deserted and that the invaders were coming north by leaps and bounds. The town was thrown into a panic of fright and, as the Koreans truly put it, “No man had any color in his face.” Gen. Yi Il came hurrying in from the seat of war disguised as a coolie and wearing rough straw shoes. The king put him in command of the forces guarding the fords of the Ta-dong River which flows by the walls of P‘yŭng-yang.

We must note in passing a trifling success on the part of Captain Wŭn-ho who had been in charge of the ferry across the Han at Yö-ju. He had been called away into Kang-wŭn Province but returned just in time to form an ambush at Yö-ju and spring out upon a company of Japanese whom he routed, securing some fifty heads. The Koreans say that from that time the Japanese avoided the Yö-ju ferry.

Chapter VIII.

A great council.... the king decides to move to Ham-heung.... the news in China.... the king finds difficulty in leaving P‘yŭng-yang.... a parley in the channel of the Ta-dong.... the king leaves the city.... the Koreans reveal the position of the ford.... the Japanese enter P‘yŭng-yang.... the Crown Prince goes to Kang-wŭn Province.... the king pushes north.... Koreans in despair.... the indefatigable Yu Sŭng-nyong.... Song Ta-ŭp brings the queen to the king.... Kato pushes into Ham-gyŭng Province.... fight at the granaries.... Korean reverses.... a Korean betrays the two Princes.... a traitor punished.... brave defenders of Yŭn-an.... the king goes to Eui-ju.... conclave in the south.... “General of the Red Robe”.... his prowess.... he retires.... disaster at Köm-san.... a long chase.... Japanese defeated at Keum-nyŭng.

On the second day of the sixth moon the king called a great council to discuss the advisability of his staying longer in P‘yŭng-yang or of moving further north. One said, “If someone is left to guard this city it will be well for the king 384to move north,” but another said, “P‘yŭng-yangP‘yŭng-yang is a natural fortress. We have 10,000 soldiers and plenty of provisions. If the king goes a step from here it will mean the destruction of the dynasty.” Another voice urged a different course; “We have now lost half the kingdom. Only this province and that of Ham-gyŭng remain to us. In the latter there are soldiers and provisions in abundance and the king had better find there a retreat.” All applauded this advice excepting Yun Tu-su who said, “No, this will not do. The Japanese will surely visit that province too. Ham-heung is not nearly so easy of defense as P‘yŭng-yang. If the king is to leave this place there are just three courses open to him. First, he can retire to Yung-byŭn in this province and call about him the border guard. If he cannot hold that place he can go to Eui-ju on the border and ask speedy help from China. If necessary he can go up the Yalu to Kang-gye, still on Korean soil. And if worse comes to worst he can cross into Chinese territory and find asylum at Kwan-jun-bo although it is sure that he could hold out for a few months at Kang-gye before this would be necessary. I know all about Ham-heung. Its walls are of great extent but they are not high and it is open to attack from every side. Besides if he retreats northward from that place he will find nothing but savage tribes. Here he must stay.” But all cried out as with one voice that the king must go to Ham-heung. Gen. Yi Hang-bok insisted upon the necessitynecessity of going north to the Yalu and imploring aid from China even if it became necessary for the king to find asylum on Chinese soil. But in spite of all this advice the king on the sixth of the month sent the queen on toward Ham-heung and gave orders to Yun To-su to hold P‘yŭng-yang against the Japanese. His Majesty came out and seated himself in the Ta-dong summerhouse and addressed the people saying, “I am about to start for Ham-heung but I shall leave the Crown Prince here and you must all aid him loyally.” At this the people raised a great outcry. It looked as if they would all follow the king from the city. They did not want the Prince to stay, they wanted the king.

By this time the rumors of these things had gone ahead into Liao-tung.

385The form which the news assumed across the border was that the king had fled north to P‘yŭng-yang, but that it was only a blind, as the Japanese and Koreans had formed an agreement to invade China together and the king had made a pretense of flight so as to keep the Chinese unsuspecting until the Japanese should reach the Yalu. This report caused a great deal of anxiety in the Chinese capital and the Emperor sent Gen. In Se-dŭk, who was stationed in Liao-tung, to investigate. He immediately set out for P‘yŭng-yang, and on his arrival sought an audience with the king. It was granted, and the general, having learned the exact state of affairs, started post haste back toward Nanking to report to the Emperor.

On the eighth day of the sixth moon the van of the Japanese army arrived on the southern bank of the Ta-dong River opposite P‘yŭng-yang, but there were no boats and no way of crossing; so they went into camp to await the arrival of the main body of the army. No Chik was ordered by the king to take the Ancestral tablets and start north. The people were enraged at this, for they thought it would mean the immediate pillage of the city by the Japanese, and consequent hardships and dangers for themselves. So the crowd armed itself with clubs and stones and as the tablets were being carried out of the gate they struck the bearers down and loudly insulted No Chik, who was in charge. They cried “In times of peace you are ready enough to steal the government revenues, and it is for this reason that all these troubles have arisen. You call upon us to protect the city and then you run away yourself when danger approaches.” Lashing themselves into a fury by their own words, they threw off their clothes and prepared to strike down every man who should try to escape from the city. Meanwhile the old people and children besieged the palace with their prayers, saying, “We are all here to protect the city, and if the king leaves it will be the same as handing us over to slaughter.” In the eagerness of their importunity they even pressed into the outer court yard and were stopped only by the statement that the king was not about to leave. Yu Sŭng-nyong came out and sat before the crowd and addressing an old man said, “You say that you desire to protect the city and the king’s person 386and you say well, but how is it that you so far forget your duty as to come in this bold manner into the king’s apartments and raise this disturbance?” The people, partly because it seemed evident the king was not about to leave, returned to their homes.

That night the Japanese caught a Korean and sent him across the river with a letter to the king, in which they said “We wish to meet Yi Tŭk-hyŭng and have a parley with him.” This seemed to be a proper thing to do, so Yi entered a small boat and was sculled out to the middle of the river where he met Konishi. Without wasting any words in mere formalities the latter said, “The cause of all this trouble is that Korea would not give a safe conduct to our envoys to Nanking, but if you will now give us an open road into China all the trouble for you will be at an end.” To this Yi replied, “If you will send this army back to Japan we can confer about the matter, but we will listen to nothing so long as you are on Korean soil.” Konishi continued, “We have no desire to harm you. We have wished such a conference as this before, but have not had a single opportunity until today.” But the only answer the Korean made was, “Turn about and take your troops back to Japan.” The Japanese general thereupon lost his temper and cried, “Our soldiers always go ahead, and they know nothing about going backwards.” And so the conference waswas broken up, each returning to his own side of the stream.

The next day the king succeeded in getting away from the city and made his way towards Yŭng-byŭn, generals Yun Tu-su, Kim Myŭng-wŭn and Yi Wŭn-ik being left to guard the city and oppose the passage of the enemy. The Japanese camped beside the Ta-dong and waited, as they had waited beside the Im-jin, “for something to turn up.” They did not have to wait as long as they did beside the Im-jin. The Korean generals, Kim Myŭng-wŭn and Yun Tu-su were not without courage and skill, and they conceived the scheme of crossing the river at night at the fords of Neung-na-do a little above the city and falling upon the enemy with a picked body of troops. It would be difficult to disprove that in the face of such odds and such a vast disparity in equipment this plan showed the highest courage not only in the generals but 387in the common soldiers. The fact that the attempt failed and failed disastrously may reflect upon the judgment of the leaders but it can never impeach their bravery. The fording of the river, always a difficult and slow operation at night, consumed more time than had been anticipated and by the time the devoted men reached the Japanese outposts it was already dawn. They were now in a desperate situation. There was nothing to do but to retreat, but the retreat was itself a cause of disaster, for it revealed to the foe the position of the fords; and thus it happened that a miscalculation as to time made the Koreans the instrument of their own destruction, even as they had been at the Im-jin.

The Japanese now knew that they had everything their own way. After a hearty breakfast they shouldered their arms and made for the ford. They swarmed across in such crowds that the defenders were driven back before they had shot a dozen arrows. The two Korean generals, making a virtue of necessity, opened the Ta-dong Gate on the river side of the town and told the people to escape for their lives. The soldiers threw all their heavier arms into the pond called P‘ung-wŭl-su and fled by way of the Po-dong Gate. The Japanese did not pursue, but took quiet possession of the town and settled down. Here again they made a grand mistake. Their only hope lay in pushing on at full speed into China, for even now the force that was to crush them was being collected, and every day of delay was lessening their chances of success.

The king was at Pak-ch‘ŭn when the news of the fall of P‘yŭng-yang reached him, and he was in feverish haste to get on to Eui-ju, saying that if worst came to worst he would cross into Chinese territory. But he added, “As I am told that by leaving Korean soil I shall abdicate my royal right I wish the Crown Prince, in care of Gen. Ch‘oe Heung-wŭn, to go to Yi-ch‘ŭn in Kang-wŭn Province and there gather about him an army and hold the fortress as long as he can.” This order was immediately carried out and the Prince started for Kang-wŭn Province, while the king pushed on northward to Ka-san. He arrived at that place in the middle of the night. It was pitchy dark and there were no lights and the rain was falling in torrents. The royal escort had dwindled 388to less than twenty men. Here the report was received that a Chinese force was to cross the Ya-lu, and so the king stopped at Ka-san waiting their approach. Yu Sŭng-nyong was hurrying from town to town trying to get together provisions for the Chinese army that was coming to Korea’s aid, but as fast as he got them together the people rose in revolt and stole them all. Some days passed and still the expected army did not appear, so Yi Tŭk-hyŭng was despatched as envoy to China to solicit aid from the Emperor, and His Majesty called together his little court and said, “If necessary I shall cross the Ya-lu and find asylum on Chinese soil. If so, which of you will go with me?” For some moments there was a dead silence and then Yi Hang-bok, the same who had aided the Queen in her flight from the palace, spoke up and said, “I will go with you.” The truth of the matter is that when the king left P‘yŭng-yang the courtiers all gave up the kingdom for lost and were ready to desert the king the moment there was a more favorable opening.

With tremendous toil Yu Sŭng-nyong succeeded in getting some provisions together and transported them all to Chöng-ju, but when he arrived at that place he found a crowd of people assembled in front of the royal granary armed with clubs. He charged the mob and scattered it, caught eight of the leaders and beheaded them on the spot. He then went to Kwak-san and secured further supplies, and also at Kwi sŭng, and held them in readiness for the Chinese army when it should appear.

We will remember that the king had fully determined to go across into Ham-gyŭng Province, but at the last moment he had been dissuaded because of the difficulties that might arise if he were compelled to retreat further still. Being now urged to go on to Eui-ju he replied, “Yes, I must do so, but what about the queen whom I sent forward into Ham-gyŭng Province?” The brave Prefect of Un-san made answer, “I will go and bring her to Your Majesty.” So he set out across the country to find the queen, and all the records tell us is that he brought her faithfully to him at Pak-ch‘ŭn. This short mention does this brave man scant justice, for even in these days a journey across the northern part of the peninsula is an arduous undertaking especially in summer. 389But not only so; he was to find a queen, beset perhaps by enemies, and bring her safely across that wilderness to the king, who by that time might be far across the Chinese border, while the country behind him swarmed with a half-savage enemy. This prefect, whose name is Song Ta-ŭp, must have been a brave, energetic, tactful man whose will was as strong as his patriotism was deep.

The Japanese were now settled in P‘yŭng-yang and as they were destined to remain there some time it may be well for us to leave them there and follow the fortunes of Kato, who, as we will remember, had branched off eastward into Ham-gyŭng Province after casting lots. He pushed on rapidly across the country toward Wŭn-sin, but as he was not on one of the main thoroughfares of the country he found it difficult to keep to the road; so he captured a Korean and forced him to act as guide. Arriving at the town of Kok-san in the eastern part of Whang-hă Province they crossed the mountains by the No-ri-hyŭn Pass and pushed on until they struck the Seoul-Wünsan road not far from the latter place.

Gen. Han Keuk-sŭng was in charge of the government forcesforces in Ham-gyŭng Province. He advanced immediately to engage the Japanese, and a fierce fight took place at the government storehouses at Ha-jong. At first the Japanese had decidedly the worst of it but at last they retired to the shelter of the granaries and barricaded themselves behind bags of rice from which position they poured a destructive fire upon the Korean troops who were drawn up four deep, and who therefore suffered the more severely. Not being able to dislodge the enemy the Koreans decided to withdraw and fortify the passes both in front and behind the Japanese, supposing that in this way they would be entrapped. The Japanese learned of this and when night came they knew they must make a bold strike for liberty. So they scaled the mountains in the darkness and succeeded in completely surrounding the defenders of one of the passes. When morning came there was a heavy fog and the Koreans were utterly unsuspicious of danger. Suddenly the surrounding party of Japanese opened fire on them and it took but a few moments to have them on the run. It came on to rain and the roads were heavy with mud. 390The Koreans who were entirely unused to such a prolonged strain, fell exhausted along the way and were butchered by the pursuing enemy. Gen. Han made his escape to Kyŭng-săng but was there captured by the Japanese. The governor of the province, to the disgust of the people, fled and hid among the hills, but the populace arose and dragged him out and forced him to resume his duties. Gen. Yi Hon also fled northward toward Kap-san, and the people consequently seized him and took off his head. It was hard work for generals in that province, for they had the Japanese on the one hand and the people on the other. The people of the north are made of sterner stuff than those of the south and the punishment they meted out to these cravens is a good indication of their quality.

While these events were happening the two princes who had taken refuge in this province fled northward and stopped not till they reached the border town of Whe-ryŭng on the Tu-man River. As it proved, this was the worst thing they could have done, for the ajun or constable of that district was either in the pay of the Japanese or was so terrified by their approach that he was willing to go to any extreme to gain their favor. So he seized the two young princes and carried them to the Japanese camp. The latter received them gladly, unbound them, placed them in their midst and carried them wherever they went. They were a prize worth watching. To the traitor, Kuk Kyŭng-in, who had betrayed the two princes, they gave a position equivalent to the governorship of the province, and he was formally installed in that office. But justice soon overtook him. A loyal general, Chöng Mun-bu, in the northern part of the province, arranged a plan to effect the capture of the traitor. But in some way the news got out and the pseudo-governor sent and seized Gen. Chöng, intending to take his head off the next morning; but during the night another loyal man named Sin Se-jun, gathered a band of men, armed them as best he could and addressed them thus: “Our district has become disloyal through the treachery of this villain. If we do not hasten to make it right we will all have to suffer for it in the end. If you do not agree with me, take your swords and strike me down.” They answered as one man, “We will listen to you and obey you.” They 391immediately sallied out, broke into the governor’s house and beat him to death. The Japanese knew that it was Gen. Chöng who had originated the plot and they searched for him everywhere, but he hid in private houses in different places and so they failed to apprehend him.

Chi Tal-wŭn of Kyŭng-sang gathered a band of men and tried to make head against the Japanese but not being a soldier he could make but little impression; so Gen. Chöng was hunted up and put in command. There were only two hundred soldiers in all, but soon they were joined by the prefects of Chöng-sŭng and Kyŭng-wŭn and their contingents, and the little army made its headquarters at Kyŭng-sŭng.

As the Japanese were overrunning the country, many events of interest happened, many episodes that history will probably never record, scenes of cruelty and rapine that are perhaps better left undiscovered; but a few of the more important of these events are necessary to a correct understanding of the way in which the Koreans met their fate at the hands of the invaders.

When the Koreans fled from Seoul a high official by the name of Yi Chong-ŭm fled to the walled town ofof Yŭn-an in Whang-hă Province. Its prefect had fled, and when a Japanese force of 3000 men under Nagamasa approached, the people besought this Yi to take charge of the defense of the town. He consented and made proclamation, “The Japanese are all about us and we are in jeopardyjeopardy of our lives. All that wish to live must now run away and the rest of us will remain and die together.” To this they replied with one voice, “How can we let our leader die alone?” The next day the Japanese arrived and invested the town, but on attempting to storm it they were met by buckets of boiling water thrown downdown. on their heads. They drew off, but renewed the attack at night. This time they were met by piles of burning straw which again drove them back. Again they came on, this time with broad planks over their heads to protect them from the novel weapons of the Koreans, but these were not proof against the huge stones which the defenders threw down upon them. The fight lasted three days and finally theupon them. The fight lasted three days and finally the Japanese withdrew after burning their dead.

392In the seventh moon the king moved northward to Eui-ju. But we must turn again to the south to witness another loyal attempt to stem the tide of invasion. In the province of Chŭl-la there were men who longed to take up arms in defense of their homes, but all the regular troops had been drafted away northward and nothing could be done on regular lines. So Ko Kyöng-myŭng and Kim Ch’ŭn-il of that province and Kwak Chă-u and Chöng In-hong of Kyŭng-sang Province held a conference to devise ways and means for prosecuting a geurillageurilla campaign. These men had all been connected with the army at some previous time and were not utterly lacking in knowledge of military affairs. Kwak Chă-u was in the prime of life and was appointed leader. Gathering the people of the countryside to a great conclave, he addressed them thus, “The whole country is being overrun by the Japanese and soon we will become their prey. Among our young men there must be many hundreds who are able to bear arms. If we take our stand at Chöng-jin on the river we shall be able to prevent the Japanese from crossing and they will thus be held in check.” This brave leader then turned his whole patrimony into ready money and spent it in equipping his little army, which amounted to 5000 men.

A Japanese general attempted to enter this portion of the province but was met all along the line of the river by a determined soldiery, and was not able to affect a crossing. The Korean leader Kwak has become famous in Korean story for his valiant deeds. He is said to have worn a fiery red cloak and he was dubbed Hong-eui Tă-jang or “General of the Red Robe.” His particular skill lay in rapid changes of base and he appeared now at one point and now at another with such bewildering rapidity that he earned the reputation of being able to transport himself by magic to incredible distances in a moment of time. These reports he did not contradict. The Japanese came to dread his approach and the report that he was near, or a glimpse of the flaring red robe was enough to send them scurrying off. From his central camp he sent out spies in all directions who kept him informed of every move of the enemy, and whenever the Japanese encamped the Koreans gathered on the surrounding hills at night, each carrying a framework that supported five 393torches, and so the Japanese supposed they were surrounded by great numbers of Koreans, and anxiety kept them always awake. The best of the Korean soldiers were detailed to watch mountain passes and look for opportunities to cut off small bodies of the enemy’s forces. Traps of various kinds were set, into which they occasionally fell, and they were so harrassedharrassed and worried that at last they were compelled to withdraw entirely from the three districts of Eui-ryŭng, Sam-ga and Hyŭp-chăn, and quiet was restored.

But this useful man’s career was cut short in a manner similar to that in which Gen. Yi Kak’s had been. We will remember, after the Japanese had taken Tong-nă and were sweeping northward, that Kim Su, the governor of Kyŭng-sang Province, not daring to meet them, turned to the west and fled from their path. It was just about this time that the “General of the Red Robe” was having his victories over the Japanese that had pressed westward after the fall of Tong-nă. When this successful leader heard of the craven flight of Gov. Kim Su he was filled with scorn and with righteous indignation. He considered the cowardly governor to be worse than the Japanese themselves. He sent the governor a message naming seven valid reasons why he deserved execution. Kim Su replied, “As for you, you are a robber yourself,” and he also sent a letter to the king charging Gen. Kwak with disloyalty. At the same time Gen. Kwak sent a letter to the king saying, “Gov. Kim ran away from his post of duty, and when I upbraided him for it he called me a robber. I have killed many of the ‘rats’ but as I have been called a robber I herewith lay down my arms and retire.” Despatching this letter to the king, Gen. Kwak dismissed all his followers and retired to a hermitage of Pi-p‘a Mountain in Kyŭng-sang Province and “lived upon pine leaves for food.” So the records say. Thereafter, though offered the governorship of Ham-gyŭng or Chŭl-la province he refused to come out of his retreat. He changed his name to Mang U-dang or, “House of Lost Passions,” and he thus acquired great sanctity. Here is another instance in which the king lost an able leader through mere wanton caprice. Wounded pride made the famous leader forget country, king, kindred, honor—all.

394Another attempt was made by Ko Kyŭng-myŭng, a native of Chang-heung in Chul-la Province. Hearing that the king had fled to P‘yŭng-yang he, together with Yu P‘ang-no, gathered a large force at Tam-yang. Sending letters all over the province he succeeded in getting together 6000 men, and made the central camp at Yŭn-san. The king, bring informed of this, sent a gracious letter giving his sanction and urging the faithful men to do all in their power for the people and the country. Gen. Kwak Nyŭng was also sent from the north to coöperate with this army in their loyal attempts.

Hearing that the Japanese had arrived at Köm-san, the Korean forces advanced against them, but, for some reason not stated, when they appeared before the town their number had dwindled to eight hundred. Whether the rest had run away or whether a small detachment was deemed sufficient is not known, but at any rate a blunder had been committed, and when the Japanese saw the smallness of the attacking party they sallied out and soon scattered the Korean forces under Gen. Kwak Nyŭng. The other troops, seeing this, also took to their heels, but Gen. Ko would not run away, though urged to do so by his lieutenants. He told them to make good their escape, but that he would remain and meet his fate. So they all stood and fought it out to the bitter end and fell side by side. Gen. Ko’s son, learning of his father’s death burned for revenge and so he collected a band of soldiers in the south, which he named “The Band that Seeks Revenge.”

A more successful attempt was made by Chöng In-hong of Hyŭn-p‘ung in Kyŭng-sang Province. He was joined by Kim Myön, Pak Song, Kwak Chun, Kwak Il and Son In-gap. These men organized a force and drove the Japanese out of Mu-gye and burned their supplies. Hearing that the enemy had fled toward Cho-gye and knowing that a river intervened, they gave chase. The Japanese came to the river but could find no boats to cross. They spent so much time looking for a ford that when at last they found one and were starting to cross, the pursuers came up. The ford was a bad one, the bottom being composed of soft sand, something like quick-sand. Soon the horses and men were floundering 395about in mid-stream. Chöng and his men, who knew the ford, rushed in upon them, while so entangled, and cut them down by hundreds. Those that escaped fled towards Song-ju, but one of Chöng’s lieutenants took a thousand men and gave chase. Pressed beyond endurance the Japanese turned and came on to fight. One huge fellow on a magnificent charger came dashing out ahead of the rest, brandishing his sword and yelling at the top of his voice. A hideous gilt mask added to the picturesqueness of his appearance, but it did not frighten the pursuers. Their leader aimed at the horse’s legs and soon he came crashing to the ground, where he was speedily despatched. The other Japanese thereupon turned and resumed their flight. Japanese troops who were in force in Song-ju and Ko-ryŭng came out to intercept the pursuers, but Chöng and his men formed an ambush and springing suddenly upon the Japanese threw them into confusion and chased them as far as Pyŭl Pass. In this flight the Japanese threw away their baggage, weapons and all superfluous clothing. Chöng and his men chased them six miles and then turned back.

The last adventure of this nature which we shall mention is that of Kim Ch‘ŭn-il a man of Na-ju in Chŭl-la Province. Hearing of the king’s flight he sat down and wept, but suddenly springing up he exclaimed, “I might far better be trying to aid my sovereign than sit here bewailing his misfortune.” In company with his friends Song Che-min and Yang San-do, he got together a goodly band of men whose avowed purpose was the succor of the king. Before commencing operations the leader slaughtered horses and oxen and made each man taste the blood and take an oath of allegiance to the cause in which they were embarked. Kim addressed them in these words, “Of course this means death to us all. We cannot expect to come out of it alive. We can only go forward. There must be no retreat. If any one of you desires life more than the accomplishment of the work in which we are engaged let him turn back now.” They fortified Tok-san in Ch‘ung-ch‘ŭng Province. Koreans who had sold themselves to the Japanese as spies came to this camp to gain information, but were apprehended and put to death. The Japanese camp was at Keum-nyŭng not far away. One 396moonless night Kim, by a forced march came and surrounded this camp, and at a given signal his forces descended like an avalanche upon the unsuspecting enemy. Those that escaped the edge of the sword found safety in flight. In the seventh moon this force, consisting of several thousand men, crossed the Han River below Yang-wha-do intending to go and join the king, but instead of doing so they entered the island of Kang-wha and fortified it. When the king heard of these deeds of Kim Ch‘ŭn-il, he was highly pleased and gave him the title of “Defender against Invaders.”

These incidents of Korean success against the Japanese cannot be taken as typical cases for, as a rule, the Japanese went where they wished and did what they wished, but they are inserted here rather to show that it was no craven submission on the part of the Koreans; that there were strong, brave and faithful men who were willing to cast their fortunes and lives into the scales and strike as hard blows as they knew how for their homes and for their king. It was of course a geurillageurilla warfare and it was only small detachments of the main army of the Japanese that they could successfully withstand, but the utter pusilanimitypusilanimity of the Koreans, as sometimes depicted, is not a true picture of them. Their worst fault was that they were unprepared for war. This together with the strife of parties was the reason why the Japanese for a time worked their will upon the peninsula.

Chapter IX.

Attempts to secure aid from China.... divided counsels in Nanking.... an army sent.... a desperate envoy.... Gen. Suk Sŭng’s love for Korea.... the Emperor gives orders for the king’s entertainment.... great Korean victory in the south.... Japanese army of reinforcement defeated and destroyed by Admiral Yi Sun-sin.... Gen. Yi honored.... the back of the invasion broken.... a vainglorious Chinese general.... severely beaten.... the monks begin a Holy War.... a sharp answer.... various Korean forces.... a night adventure.... Japanese reverses in the south.... China awakens.... a grand conference.... a truce.... the time expires.... a celebrated soldier tracked down.... attempt to retake Seoul.... brave defense of Chin-Ju 397... the first mortar and bomb ... various Korean attempts ... Korean victory in Ham-gyŭng Province ... another in the south ... Japanese confined almost entirely to P‘yŭng-yang.

The efforts that Korea put forth before she obtained aid from China make an entertaining story, and they show that China delayed it as long as possible and then complied, not so much because she wished to help Korea as because she desired to check the Japanese before they crossed the Ya-lu and began ravaging the fruitful plains of the Liao-tung peninsula. Before the Japanese ever landed in Korea the king had sent an envoy to Nanking telling the Emperor that an invasion was next to certain; and that envoy was still in Nanking. After the king’s flight to the north he sent Min Mong-nyŭng and Yi Tŭk-hyŭng as special envoys to ask aid again. On the arrival of these men with their urgent request there was a great council of war in Nanking. Some of the leading generals said, “There is no need for China to help those wild people. Let them fight it out themselves.” It would appear that the policy by which China disclaimed responsibility for Korea, when such responsibility involved sacrifice, is several centuries old. Other generals said, “No, that will not do. We must send troops and at least guard our own territory from invasion.” But the Chinese General-in-chief, Sŭk Sŭng, said, “We must, without fail, render Korea the assistance for which she asks. We must immediately despatch 2000 troops, and the Emperor must appropriate 2,000,000 cash for their maintenance.” The upshot of it all was that Gen. Nak Sang-ji took a small body of troops and marched eastward to the banks of the Ya-lu where he went into camp without attempting to render the Koreans any assistance.

In the seventh moon the king sent another envoy to Nanking on the same errand but with the same lack of success. Then the king called to him one of his most trusted officials and appointed him envoy to Nanking and said, “The salvation of the kingdom lies in your hands. Go to Nanking and leave no efforts untried whereby the Emperor may be induced to help us.” Charged with this important mission, this envoy Chöng Kon-su hastened to Nanking and, entering the enclosure of the war office, sat in the courtyard for seven 398days weeping; but the officials all turned a deaf ear to his entreaties, excepting the General-in-chief Sŭk Sŭng. Indignant at the apathy of his colleagues and in spite of the fact that his duty as general-in-chief demanded his presence in Nanking, he arose and said, “If none of you gentlemen will go to the aid of Korea I will go myself.” There were special and personal reasons for this man’s interest in Korea. In years gone by a Korean merchant, while in Nanking, had met in an inn a beautiful slave girl and upon inquiry had discovered that she was of noble family but had sold herself into slavery to obtain money wherewith to deliver her father from prison. The merchant was so touched by the sacrifice which she had made—for it meant the sacrifice of honor itself—that he gave all his patrimony and bought her and set her free. In after years she became the wife of this same Gen. Sŭk Sŭng, and thus it was that he was an ardent admirer of Korea and was determined to see that Korea received aid in her present extremity.

At this point the king sent a message to the prefect of Liao-tung saying, “The Japanese have come as far north as P‘yŭng-yang and I fear I shall have to cross the Ya-lu and take refuge in your district.” This the prefect immediately reported to the Emperor, who answered, “If the king of Korea enters your district, provide him with a fine house, give him food out of the imperial stores, each day four ounces of silver, a pig, a sheep, vermicelli and rice. Give him also an escort of a hundred men and let twenty women be detailed to wait upon him.”

We have now arrived at the threshold of the Chinese counter-invasion which was destined to be one of the main causes of the Japanese retreat, but before entering upon this narrative we must turn again to the south and witness some events which did far more to effect the withdrawal of the Japanese than did the coming of the Chinese armies.

The first of these was the utter defeat of a large body of Japanese who were scouring the province of Chŭl-la. Entering the town of I-ch‘i they were met by such a fierce attack on the part of Whang-jin the prefect of Tong-bok that they turned back and, crossing the Ung-ch‘i Mountain entered the prefecture of Chŭn-ju. Yö Pong-nam, the prefect of Na-ju, 399and Whang Pŭk, a volunteer general, lay in ambush with a large body of volunteer troops, and succeeded in driving the Japanese back, but the next day the invading host came fiercely to the attack and the Koreans had to give way. The Japanese in their exultation now thought they could go back to I-ch‘i and avenge themselves for their defeat there. Gen. Kwŭn Yŭl and the prefect of Whang-jin heard of this in time to fortify one of the mountain passes. The Japanese attacked in a desperate manner, creeping up the steep mountain sides on their hands and knees, sh