Tour Through Time

So we thought it would be nice to expand on your theory and give you all a little bit more insight into the stories behind the pattern meanings. What better way than to take you with us on a virtual tour of Korea and beyond! We will visit the birthplaces of scholars, a restaurant that witnessed the start of a revolution, a railway assassination site, a heavenly lake atop an extinct volcano, memorial parks and tombs, battle grounds, temples and a great wall built to defend against a Tang invasion. We can’t be there in person but between myself, Mr Newman, and the rest of the NMA teaching team we will be running, walking and cycling the journey of over 2,000 miles, keeping you up to date with our progress and sharing virtual postcards as we reach each location.

Are you ready to join us on our Tour Through Time?

Current Stop: Sachon Bay
Distance So Far: 2,274 miles

Tour Through Time: Stop 1: Hwa Dae

And we’re off! Well, Nick is! Our journey starts in Hwa Dae, Myonchon County in what is now North Korea. This is the birthplace of Major General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of Tae Kwon-Do. He was born here on 9th November 1918 whilst it was under Japanese rule and left at the age of 15 when his father sent him away to study calligraphy under Hang Il Dong, who was also a master of Tae Kyon, an ancient Korean art of foot fighting. From Hwa Dae we will be travelling 109 miles North West to the border of North…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 2: Paektu Mountain

109 miles later and we are tired, soggy, and Rich is a little broken, but we are here at the highest peak in Korea; the Paektu (white-headed) Mountain. Atop this extinct volcano lies Lake Chon Ji, the “Heavenly Lake”, where the water is so clear and calm that you can literally see the heaven meeting the earth. This was also supposedly the home of Korea‘s legendary founder Dan Gun. To celebrate our arrival we will be completing a bonus exercise of 109 mountain climbers before continuing our journey 271 miles North into China to the city of Harbin, but who…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 3: Harbin Railway Station

In March 1909 12 patriots including Ahn Joong-Gun swore an oath to sacrifice themselves for “the restoration of independence and preservation of peace in the East” forming the Donguidanjihoe society. As part of this they all cut off the first joint of their ring finger to show their faith in the cause. When the Resident-General of Korea, Hiro-Bumi Ito arrived at Harbin on 26th October 1909 it was to meet with Russian Finance Minister General Kokotseff. Russia was starting to get nervous about the Japanese after they had gifted “territorial rights” to Kando, a Korean city, to the Chinese on…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 4: Nong’an County

After travelling 116 miles we arrive at the start of a great wall situated in present day China, but no it isn’t the great wall of China! This lesser known wall was built in 631AD by Governor Yong-Gae and is known as the “Cheolli Jangseong”, or Thousand Unit Wall, being a thousand “Li” (Chinese miles) long. The Li has varied over time but 1 Li is now known to be roughly 0.5km. The wall took 16 years to build and had numerous military garrisons posted along it. It was built by Governor Yong-Gae in response to a Tang invasion of…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 5: Gaizhou

So after travelling 314 miles along the Cheolli Jangseong (Thousand Unit Wall) we have now arrived at Geonan, one of the major military garrisons, in present day Gaizhou. The Cheolli Jangseong was a formidable defence built at a time of relative peace between the Goguryo Dynasty and Tang Empire. Some believe that the building of the wall and subsequent dethroning of the King of Goguryo by Yong-Gae was a simple lust for power, where others felt they were important steps to strengthen Goguryo at a time when it was submitting to the Tang in the interests of maintaining peace. Ancient…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 6: Lushunkou District

We have travelled 122 miles to the coast and the Lushunkou District (formerly known as Port Arthur) where Ahn Joong Gun was imprisoned for the assassination of Hiro Bumi Ito. Ahn claimed he was a Lieutenant General in the Korean Resistance Army and demanded to be treated by the Japanese as a prisoner of war not a common criminal. He listed 15 offenses he believed Hiro Bumi Ito had committed which justified his execution. He was shown sympathy by his Japanese captors, with public prosecutor Mizobuchi Takao reportedly telling him “From what you have told me, it is clear that…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 7: Chongchon River

Well that was a long stint! 230 miles of solely running since our last stop at the Lui Shung prison. A few of us have slowed due to injury but we are still going! We have now arrived at the Chongchon River and the site of the Battle of Salsu in 612AD. It began when Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty invaded Goguryo with well over 1 million men. It is said that the army was so large it took 40 days to depart and that the line of soldiers stretched back for 250 miles. King Yeong-Yang of Goguryo ordered…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 8: Mausoleum of Dan Gun

43 miles of running and we arrive in Kangdong at the site of the Mausoleum of Dan Gun on the slopes of Mount Taebak. The story of Dan Gun starts with the God Hwanin who sent his son Hwang-Ung to build a new country. Hwang-Ung settled on the slopes of the Paektu Mountain and one day met a tiger and a bear who asked to be transformed into human form. Hwang-Ung gave them 20 cloves of garlic and some mugworts and instructed them to eat only that and wait in a cave for 100 days. The tiger grew hungry and…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 9: Kangso-Kun County

33 miles later we arrive in Kangso-Kun County, Pyongyang, now part of North Korea. On 1st February 1883 Cho Man-Sik was born here. Cho Man-Sik, also known by his penname Ko Dang, was an activist within Korean’s Christian movement and an elder in the Presbyterian Church he attended in Pyongyang. From June 1908 to 1919 he studied law in Tokyo at Meiji University. He was influenced By the likes of Ahn Chang Ho and became involved with the Korean Independence Movement following Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910. Cho took part in the Sam Il marches of 1st March 1919…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 10: Mount Kumgang Checkpoint

It’s been a delightful 154 miles; the weather has been lovely (mostly) and Rich has finally found his trainers! We now arrive at the Eastern side of the North-South Divide, at the Mount Kumgang Checkpoint. When Japan withdrew from Korea in 1945 following their surrender at the end of World War II, the USA, Soviet Union, China and Great Britain decided to run Korea for 5 years under a Four Power Trusteeship, after which Korea would become independent again. The country was divided into two halves along the 38th parallel, from Mount Kumgang west across the country, with the Soviet…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 11: Kaesong Checkpoint

We have completed our 102 mile run along the North-South Divide and have reached the Westernmost checkpoint at Kaesong. General Choi always dreamt of seeing his country reunited; despite being born in North Korea he always saw himself simply as “Korean” and deeply hoped that the Tae Kwon-Do he developed would play a part in Korea’s unification. Pattern Tong Il was created in Malaysia in the early 1960’s as the final pattern of Ch’ang Hon Tae Kwon-Do, representing the unification of North and South Korea into one nation. Some of the movements of this pattern are said to be significant;…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 12: Sonjuk Bridge

After a brief 6 miles from the North-South Divide we arrive at Kaesong’s Sonjuk Bridge. This stone bridge was built in 1290, is 8.35m long and 3.36m wide. It was originally called the Sonji Bridge and is the assassination site of Jeong Mong-Ju. Jeong Mong-Ju was born in Gyeongsang in 1337 during the Goryeo Dynasty. His pseudonym “Po-Eun” means “hidden treasure”. In 1350 when he was 23 he became a civil servant, passing his exams with the highest marks achievable. In 1367 at the age of 30 he taught Neo-Confucianism at the Gukjagam as well as holding his position in…

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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…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 14: Taehwagwan Restaurant

We have now reached the Taehwagwan Restaurant in Seoul, but we aren’t here for the food! We are here to remember an event which happened here back in 1919. Koreans were fed up of the oppressive Japanese occupying their country and treating them like 3rd class citizens following the annexation of Korea in 1910. The suspicious death and suspected poisoning of Emperor Gojong on 21st January 1919 became the catalyst for Korean’s demanding their freedom. Korean media ran a series of articles based on American President Woodrow Wilson’s speech on The Fourteen Points at the Paris Peace Conference, where he…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 15: War Memorial of Korea

A short 1 mile later and we arrive at a military museum known as the War Memorial of Korea. It was opened in 1994 on the site of army headquarters for the purpose of preventing war, exhibiting a vast array of memorabilia from Korea’s long military history. One item on display is a full-sized replica of the famous Kobukson (turtle ship). It is commonly believed to be invented by Admiral Yi Soon-Sin, but he didn’t actually invent it, he merely improved on an earlier design. In 1592, after Yi Soon-Sin had been promoted to Commander of the Three Provinces by…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 16: Shinsa-Dong

After crossing the Han River we arrive in the Do San Memorial Park in Shinsa-Dong, Seoul. It was built in 1973 to mark the 95th anniversary of Ahn Chang-Ho’s birth. His body was exhumed from the Manuri Cemetery in Seoul and reburied in the park alongside his wife, Lee Hae-Ryon. Ahn was born on Torong Island on 9th November 1878 (not 1876 as most sources quote). He was born into a farming family and converted to Christianity as a teenager. In his early 20’s he established Cheomjin, the first co-educational elementary school in Korea. At 24 he emigrated to America…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 17: Yeoju-Gun

Se-Jong (born Yi-Do) was the grandson of King Taejo (Yi Seong-Gye) and the 3rd son of King Tae-Jong. He was born on 7th May 1397 and excelled in his studies, being named Grand Prince Choong-Nyung at the age of just 12. His older brother Yi-Je recognised his “kingly” qualities and in order to ensure Se-Jong became king, manoeuvred his own banishment from the royal court by behaving rudely to court officials. Se-Jong’s other brother also stepped aside for him, instead becoming a Buddhist monk. Se-Jong became King of Joseon at the age of just 21 and immediately began to revise…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 18: Ojukheon House

77 Miles later we arrive at Ojukheon House in Gangneung where Confucian scholar Yi I was born on 26th December 1536. The house was built during the reign of King Jung-Jong (1506-1544) and was named after the black bamboo trees which surrounded it. It is now one of the oldest wooden residential buildings in Korea and was designated as national treasure no. 165 in 1963 for its historical value. It has been very well maintained by Yi I’s family through many generations and is a popular tourist attraction, now housing Mongryongsil (Yul-Gok’s Memorial Hall). Yi I himself was a child…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 19: Cheongju Si

It’s been a leisurely paced 110 miles as the weather has been very cold and we have been snacking on mince pies, but we have finally reached our next destination of Cheongju in Chungcheong Province. Here on 8th April 1861 Son Byong-Hi was born. Not a lot is known about his early life, but in the early 1880’s he was introduced to the religion of Donghak by his nephew. Donghak stresses equality of all human beings and training included extensive reading and reciting the “Incantation of Twenty One Letters” thirty thousand times a day. Son Byong-Hi did this for around…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 20: Buyeo Gun

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…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 21: Nonsan Si

11 short miles later and we arrive at the battle site of Hwangsanbeol where Ge Baek fought Kim Yoo Sin. We discussed at our last stop how horrendously outnumbered the Baekje army were, and how Ge Baek knew it was a suicide battle. It is said that as their 5,000 troops assembled before the 50,000 strong Silla army and 130,000 Tang troops, that he made the most heroic speech to his people, reminding them of an old tale of Chinese King Goujian of Yue who defeated an army of 700,000 with just 5,000 men. Ge Baek announced that he would…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 22: Dosan Seowon

94 miles later and we arrive at the Confucian Academy of Dosan Seowon, Andong. Yi Hwang was born near here in On’gye-ri on 25th November 1501, the youngest of 8 children. His Uncle taught him the Analects of Confucius at just 12 years old. He then moved onto writing poetry after admiring the work of Chinese poet Tao Qian; writing “Yadang” (Pond in the Wind) at 18 using the penname “Toi Gye” meaning “returning stream”. At the age of 20 he then studied the ancient Chinese text I Ching and at the same time Neo-Confucianism, travelling to Seoul at 23…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 23: Chunghyo Ri

37 miles later and we arrive in Chunghyo Ri, originally Seokjeo Village, where Kim Duk Ryang was born into a peasant family in 1567. He became a student of Neo-Confucian scholar Seong-Hon, and later joined the army with his brother Kim Duk Hong when Hideyoshi Toyotomi led Japan to invade Korea in the Imjin War. Kim Duk Hong was sadly killed at the battle of Guemsan, but Kim Duk Ryang assembled an army of 5,000 local volunteers and fought the Japanese again at Damyang. He was appointed a senior official of the Ministry of Justice by King Seonjo, and later…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 24: Pohang

17 miles later and we arrive in Pohang. On 13th October 1940 Hee Il Cho was born here; the man who would become the very first Senior Grading Examiner for the T.A.G.B. He started his Martial Arts training when he was 10 and got his Black Belt at just 13 years old. In a later interview he spoke of why he had started Martial Arts “Although they were not really gang members, young people used to roam from town to town and beat up kids and take away their toys. One time, I was beaten up by some boys around…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 25: Bunhwangsa Temple

14 miles later and we arrive at the Bunhwangsa Temple in Gyeongju. Bunhwangsa means “Fragrant Emperor/Imperial Temple” and it was first established in 634 AD under Queen Seondeok of the Silla Dynasty. Buddhism had been adopted by the Silla Dynasty in 527 AD by King Beop-Heung, and the temple was originally several acres in size, consisting of an inner gate, three golden halls, an assembly hall, a gallery and a stone pagoda; the stone pagoda is the only part still standing today. Buddhism however remained out of reach of the common people until Won Hyo came along. Won Hyo (meaning…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 26: Daewangam Park

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,…

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Tour Through Time: Stop 27: Sachon Bay

85 miles later and we arrive in Sachon Bay to celebrate the final battle of Yi Soon-Sin. Yi Soon-Sin was born on 28th April 1545 in Hanseong. From a young age he was proficient in reading and writing Chinese and making bows and arrows. At 31 he took his military exam, where he impressed the judges with his swordsmanship and archery skills but unfortunately failed when he broke his leg during the cavalry assessment. Once healed he retook the exam and passed, after which he was posted to Bukbyeong (Northern Frontier Army) where he defended the border villages against the…

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