40 miles later and we arrive in Buyeo County in South Chungcheong Province. Here we visit the statue of Ge Baek, a famous General from the 7th Century Baekje Dynasty, which stands on display in the county he was born in. Not a lot is known about Ge Baek’s early life, but plenty of stories have been passed down the generations, including one which tells of a tiger who suckled him when he was born after his mother fainted.
The Baekje Dynasty had flourished for many years but fell into disarray as King Uija neglected its running. In 660AD Baekje was invaded by 50,000 Silla troops led by General Kim Yoo Sin and 130,000 Tang troops led by General Su Ding Fang. King Uija promoted Ge Baek to Commander of the Baekje Armed Forces, but with a force of only 5,000 troops they were horrendously outnumbered.
Before going in to battle, Ge Baek is said to have killed his wife and children to protect them from being captured and tortured by the enemy following his inevitable defeat. We will cover the details of this historic battle at our next stop when we travel a short 11 miles from the statute to the actual battlefield.
Following the battle, the Baekje Dynasty fell, and Ge Baek’s astounding bravery was nearly completely erased from history. With Neo-Confucianism growing in popularity years later, Ge Baek was finally recognised as the Korean hero he was, with historians and scholars acknowledging his exemplary display of Confucian patriotism and loyalty. There was even a Korean drama series released in 2011 entitled “Gye-Baek” which depicts Ge Baek’s life.
We will be marking our arrival with 40 star jumps before continuing 11 miles south east to the battlefield where Ge Baek lost his life.