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Saturday, 13 June 2015

General Shin Sung-gyeom: Progenitor of Pyeongsan Shin Clan who sacrificed himself behalf of Goryeo Dynasty

Shin Sung-gyeom (Hangul/Hanja: 신숭겸/申崇謙; died 927) was a Korean general during the turbulent Later Three Kingdoms period in the early 10th century. Born in Yongsanjae (Present-day: 226 Shin Sunggyeom Avenue/Shin Sunggyeom-ro, Guryong-ri 180-beonji, Moksadong-myeon, Gokseong County, Southern Jeolla Province), Shin became a general in the kingdom of HuGoguryeo-Taebong. He is the progenitor of Pyeongsan Shin Clan (평산 신씨/平山申氏), a clan which is originated from Pyeongsan County, Northern Hwanghae Province, North Korea.

Shin is a part of King Taejo Wang Geon's loyal guardians - along with his fellow generals, Hong Yu (홍유/洪儒), Bae Hyeon-gyeong (배현경/ 裵玄慶) and Bok Ji-gyeom (복지겸/卜智謙). He is remembered today for giving his life for Wang Geon in the aftermath of a rout of their forces by HuBaekje near present-day Jimyo-dong, Daegu Dong-gu. The event is known as the Battle of Gongsan-Dongsu (공산 동수 전투/公山棟藪戰鬪), occurred in the slope of Mount Gongsan (present-day Mount Palgong).

At the Dongsu battlefield (near Donghwasa Temple), General Shin pretended to run away in Wang Geon’s helmet and armor to lure HuBaekje’s soldiers to follow him at a time when Wang Geon faced a potentially fatal crisis. HuBaekje’s army took the bait, chased General Shin (assuming he was Wang Geon) and killed him. Meanwhile the real Wang Geon, disguised in a soldier’s uniform, returned to his kingdom of Goryeo safely. Later in life, Wang Geon achieved great work by unifying the post Three Kingdoms to a new era in Korean history, the Goryeo Dynasty in 936 CE.

According to the legend, the two exchanged armor so that the king would be able to escape the battlefield. While Wang Geon escaped the battlefield, Shin and the remaining army fought bravely against the HuBaekje army. But eventually his army was routed and in the woods Shin was shot with arrows and was killed by the enemy. He was beheaded and his head was sent to Gyeon Hwon, King of HuBaekje. He was later buried at Bangdong-ri san 816-1 beonji, Seomyeon, Chuncheon City, Gangwon Province. He was received posthumous name of Jangjeol (장절/壯節) due to his gallantry, service and sacrifice for the newly-born Goryeo Dynasty.