26 miles later and we arrive in Daewangam Park, the burial place of Moon Moo.
Prince Kim Beom-Min (Moon Moo) was born in 626 AD the son of King Muyeol and Queen Mun-Myeong (the sister of Kim Yoo Sin). During King Muyeol’s reign, Prince Kim Beom-Min was responsible for Silla’s navy. We learnt at Nonsan-Si how it was King Muyeol’s friendship with Tang Emperor Gaozong which brought the Chinese to the aid of the Silla Dynasty at the Battle of Hwangsanbul. King Muyeol died shortly after the battle of Hwangsanbul, in 661 AD, and Prince Kim Beom-Min took the throne, taking the name King Moon Moo.
King Moon Moo continued with his father’s plans to defeat Goguryo and attacked it the same year, but was unsuccessful. He tried again in 667 AD, and a year later finally succeeded, making him the first King of “Unified Korea”.
Although allied with Silla, the Tang were keen to control Korea, and placed a protectorate general’s office in Silla territory with General Xue Li. King Moon Moo resisted their attempts and the alliance fell apart. By 674 AD they were frequently battling, as Moon Moo tried to defend the new Unified Korea. Moon Moo then sought the help of a resistance group in Goguryo led by Geom Mojam and An-Seung (believed to be an illegitimate son of Goguryo’s last King). Moon Moo gifted An-Seung land to rule as “King of Bodeok” and told him to gather his former people to live as brothers to Silla. However, the territory wasn’t in Goguryo but former Baekje, and was set up as a deliberate buffer between Silla and the Tang.
Emperor Gaozong grew frustrated at Moon Moo’s resistance, and proclaimed his brother Kim In-Mum as the true King of Silla. King In-Mum had worked for Emperor Gaozong at the request of his father King Muyeol for 23 years. He marched on Silla with a Tang Army, ready to claim the throne, when Moon Moo apologised to Emperor Gaozong. The apology was accepted and the Tang forces recalled, but peace didn’t last long. In 676 AD Tang sent General Xue Li across the sea with a naval fleet to invade Silla. Moon Moo defeated the Tang fleet and upon General Xue Li’s return home he was stripped of his rank and exiled by Emperor Gaozong, who then ordered all Tang forces withdraw from Silla, moving the protectorate general’s office to China.
Eventually, following a revolt against the Tang Empire by Eastern Turks, Emperor Gaozong renounced all claim to Unified Korea to focus on problems at home. This would be the last time China would invade Korea.
In 681 AD King Moon Moo sadly fell very ill. On his deathbed he abdicated his throne to his son saying “A country should not be without a King at any time. Let the Prince have my crown before he has my coffin. Cremate my remains and scatter the ashes in the sea where the whales live. I will become a dragon and thwart foreign invasion.” As per his wishes, his ashes were indeed scattered into the sea here at Daewangam (the Rock of the Great King), about 100 metres off the coast. His son, King Sin-Moo built Temple Gomun-sa in memory of his father, which he connected to the sea by a waterway so that the sea dragon could visit. It is said that King Sin-Moo had a dream in which Moon Moo and Kim Yoo-Sin appeared and told him “blowing on a bamboo flute will calm the heavens and the earth.” Upon visiting the sea, Sin-Moo found a flute and blew it, invoking their spirits so that they could defend the nation and control the rains.
We will be marking our arrival here with 26 spinning outward crescent kicks before continuing 85 miles south west to a famous battle site.