Tour Through Time: Stop 13: Goyang-Si

Well, we overshot that… a lot! We arrived in Goyang-Si about 50 miles ago and have had a lovely long run around the city! Goyang is situated in Northern South Korea and is one of the satellite cities of Seoul with a population of over 1 million.

We are here to visit the tomb of General Choi-Yong, who was born in 1316, the son of a government official. He lived his life by the motto his father gave him “look at gold as if it were stone” and always lived a simple lifestyle despite his wealth. He was a strong young man who diligently studied martial arts and military strategies. He inevitably moved quickly up the ranks of the Korean Army, famously fighting off Japanese pirates from the Korean coastline in 1350. Just two years later he helped crush a rebellion by Jo Il-Shin; and in another 3 years a second rebellion by a group known as the Red Turbans. Choi-Yong was at this point a national hero and very popular with King Gong-Min.

Later a rebellion in the Yuan Dynasty of China spilled into Goryeo Dynasty, and General Choi-Yong along with General Yi Seong-Gye were sent to help the Yuan forces as well as reclaim the areas of Goryeo which had been overrun by rebels. Following his victories here Choi-Yong reported back to King Gong-Min on the weakened state of the Yuan Dynasty. The King decided that now would be a good time to reclaim some of the northern territories Goryeo had lost to the Mongols, and dispatched General Choi-Yong who was successful in reclaiming many of the territories on the Korean side of the Yalu river. After becoming Mayor of Pyongyang, increasing crop production and ending a famine he returned to the military when court official Kim Yon-An tried and failed to overthrow the Goryeo Government with a Mongol force of over 10,000.

A Buddhist monk named Shin-Don was promoted to a high position in the Court by King Gong-Min. After having a dream in which a Buddhist monk saved his life, Choi-Yong thought the dream was coming true. The monk became a personal advisor to the King and worked hard to improve the lives of Goryeo peasants; but the power soon went to his head and he became corrupt. Choi-Yong joined many officials who vocally opposed him but Shin-Don engineered false allegations of misconduct against Choi-Yong and had him exiled. Choi-Yong was only able to return 6 years later when the King finally saw Shin-Don’s corruption and had him executed, restoring Choi-Yong’s position. Choi-Yong was tasked with driving Mongol forces from Goryeo owned Jeju island, but whilst he was winning here, Japanese pirates had managed to take the Goryeo city of Gongju. After being introduced to gun powder weapons by scientist Choe Mu-Seon, Choi-Yong returned and easily defeated the pirates.

Meanwhile, the Ming Dynasty had replaced the Yuan Dynasty of China and in 1388 sent an envoy to Goryeo to demand the territories previously taken were returned. As we discussed on our last stop at Sonjuk Bridge, Choi-Yong convinced the King to send Yi Seong-Gye and his troops to attack the Ming, only for Yi Seong-Gye to turn around and return to capital, storm the palace, de-throne the King and banish Choi-Yong to Goyang. He executed him by beheading a short while later in 1388. Choi-Yong is famously known to have said that grass would never grow on his grave due his unjust end, and in over 600 years since his death it never did.

Opinions of General Choi-Yong are as varied as they are General Yi Seong-Gye; both viewed by some as great devoted Generals, others as usurpers to the throne. His loyalty to the Kings may have varied but his loyalty to Goryeo never once wavered.

We will be marking our arrival here with 27 V Ups before continuing 11 miles south to a restaurant in Seoul.

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