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Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Great, Glamorous and Glorious Goguryeo (4G), Part IV: King Chumo-Dongmyeong, the Founder of Goguryeo Kingdom

In this column, we are risking ourselves to go to the Northern Commie Neighbour, the DPRK in order to introduce the Founder of Goguryeo Kingdom, King Chumo-Dongmyeong. Indeed, we're going to Pyongyang.

King Dongmyeong of Goguryeo (Born: 58 BC – Died: 19 BC, Reigned: 37 BC – 19 BC) or Dongmyeong-seongwang (동명성왕/東明聖王), which literally means Holy King of the East, also known by his birth name Jumong (주몽/朱蒙), was the founding monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. In the Gwanggaeto Stele, he is called Chumo-wang (King Chumo). In the Samguk Sagi and the Samguk Yusa, he is recorded as Jumong, with the surname Go. The Samguk Sagi states that he was also known as Chumo or Sanghae (상해/象解). The name is also transcribed in other records as Chumong (추몽/鄒蒙), Jumong (중모/中牟 or 仲牟), or Domo (도모/都牟).

The founding myths of Goguryeo are related in ancient Korean texts, including the Gwanggaeto stele. The best-known version is found, with slight variations, in the "Samguk Sagi", "Samguk Yusa", and the "Dongmyeong Wangpyeon" (동명왕편/東明王篇, Volume of King Dongmyeong) of the "Donggukyisanggukjip" (동국이상국집/東國李相國集, Collected Works of Minister Yi of Korea) by Yi Gyu-po.

There have been disputes over who the father of Jumong really was. In one legend Jumong is son of Hae Mo-su (해모수/解慕漱) and Yuhwa (유화/柳花), daughter of the river god named Habaek (하백/河伯). Hae Mo-su met Yuhwa by a river where she was bathing, but the river god disapproved of Hae Mo-su, who returned to heaven. The river god chased Yuhwa away to Ubal river (우발수/優渤水), where she met and became the concubine of King Geumwa of Dongbuyeo. Yuwha was impregnated by sunlight and gave birth to an egg. Geumwa tried to destroy the egg, and tried to feed it to animals, who instead protected the egg from harm. Geumwa returned it to Yuhwa. From the egg hatched a baby boy, who was named Jumong, meaning "skilled archer" in the ancient Buyeo language.

Leaving Dongbuyeo, Jumong was known for his exceptional skill at archery . Eventually, Geumwa's sons Daeso and Yongpo became jealous of him, and Jumong left Buyeo to follow Hae Mo-su's dream to unify Gojoseon territories which had been broken up as a result of the Han Dynasty's corrupt government and rescue Gojoseon's population that had been left in Dongbuyeo. According to legend, as he fled on his horse, he approached a fast-running river. Turtles and creatures of the water rose up and formed a bridge. He entered the land south of the river. In 37 BC, Jumong became the first king of Goguryeo, and reunited all of the five tribes of Jolbon into one kingdom. So Seo-no, who was a Jolbon chief's daughter, became his second wife. So Seono was previously married to Wutae and gave birth to his son Onjo (who eventually established the kingdom of Baekje).

In 37 BC, Jumong established Goguryeo, and became its first king. During that same year, King Songyang (송양/松讓) of Piryu surrendered to him after receiving assistance in defeating the Malgal tribe's invasion. In 34 BC, along with the palace, Goguryeo's first capital city Jolbon, was completed. Four years later, in 28 BC, Jumong sent General Bu Wi-yeom (부위염/扶尉厭) to conquer the Northern Okjeo. During that same year, Jumong's mother, Lady Yuhwa, died in the palace of Dongbuyeo, and was given the burial ceremony of a Royal Queen even though she was only a concubine and not a Royal Wife.

Jumong sent a messenger and numerous gifts to King Geumwa in gratitude for King Geumwa's generosity. In 19 BC, Jumong's first wife Lady Ye, fled Dongbuyeo with their son Yuri and settled in Goguryeo. Ye became the queen, causing tension as Jumong's second wife, So Seono, feared for her sons' positions in Goguryeo. So Seo-no left Goguryeo with her two sons and some of her subordinates and headed further south into the Korean peninsula, into what is now South Korea. There she established Baekje. Jumong elected his first son Yuri-myeong as the successor to the throne.

Jumong died in 19 BC at the age of 40. Crown Prince Yuri-myeong buried his father in a pyramid tomb and gave him the posthumous name of Chumo Seongwang.

Jumong's kingdom of Goguryeo eventually evolved into a great regional territory with considerable power and influence. Goguryeo stood for 705 years and was ruled in total by 28 consecutive emperors in the Hoengseong Go Royal Family until it was conquered by the Silla-Tang alliance in 668. Balhae and Goryeo succeeded it, and the modern descendants of Jumong still bear his family name "Go." In Goguryeo, Jumong was deified into an ancestor deity, and he was worshipped in his temple, next to his tomb.

From 2006 to 2007, MBC aired a highly popular 81 episode drama, Jumong, to mark their anniversary. The series took elements from historical records and mythology, and retold the story in a more down to earth manner than found in the myths, recounting how Jumong, the spoiled step-child of the Buyeo royal family, embarks on a journey of self-discovery, becoming a leading figure of Buyeo, but retreating from Buyeo after his step-brothers' betrayal. Relaunching the armed and militarily capable guerrilla fighters' force his biological father Hae Mo-su once headed, Jumong goes on a life-mission to rescue and band together the refugees of the ancient Joseon peoples, leading the fight against the oppression of Imperial China, finally establishing himself as the king of the new nation Goguryeo.

From 2010 to 2011, KBS1 aired King Geunchogo, also known as The King of Legend. In this series, Jumong is portrayed as a tyrant, who could not accept sharing the power over his kingdom Goguryeo with So Seo-no and the Jolbon faction. After Yuri's arrival, the declared crown prince and successor to Jumong's throne and Seono decide to leave "their beloved Goguryeo" with all her subordinates and servants to establish a new kingdom - one "much more powerful than Goguryeo ever was."