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: Yeoju-Gun
Distance So Far: 1,733 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 with…

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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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