Monday, October 11, 2010

#444 Korea...Thanks Park!

This set of 4 stamps, as a part of the effort to "establish our cultural identity in a precise way", was issued in Sept. 2010 depicting story of "Jumong": King Dongmyeong of Goguryeo (58-19 BC) or Dongmyeongseongwang (東明聖王),who was the founding monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

According to “Samgukyusa” (the historic chronology of the Three Kingdoms written by the Venerable Ilyeon) and “Samguksagi” (the historical record of the Three Kingdoms written by Kim Busik), the story of Goguryeo’s Jumong can be summarized as follows: King Geumwa met a woman at Ubalsu in Mt. Taebaek and asked who she was. She replied, “I am Yuhwa, a daughter of Habaek, the god of rivers. Haemosu, the son of the Lord of Heaven, seduced me into making love with him. Then, he left and never returned. My parents scolded me for marrying even without a matchmaker, and exiled me to Ubalsu.”
King Geumwa locked her into a room only to see the sun following and shining on her. After this, she showed signs of pregnancy and laid an egg. The king discarded the egg, but it was protected by animals. The king retrieved the egg but when he was unable to break the egg, the king gave it back to Yuhwa. She wrapped it with a cloth and put it in a warm spot. Out of this egg, a boy hatched. This boy was named Jumong and he was clever and boasted a sturdy build and commanding presence. At the age of only 7, he was far ahead of other common people. He himself made bows and arrows and he invariably hit the targets 100% of the time. King Geumwa had 7 sons, who played with Jumong all the time but all of them lagged behind Jumong in their skills and talents. As the sons and servants of King Geumwa were intent on harming Jumong, he fled with three people including Oi. They reached Eumhosu but found that they wouldn’t be able to cross the water. Jumong shouted toward the water that he was the son of the lord of heaven and the grandson of Habaek, asking for a way to cross. In response, numerous fish and soft-shelled turtles formed a bridge, allowing them to cross to safety. Jumong and his followers reached Jolboncheon. Charmed by this area’s fertile land and rugged mountain terrain, he set up his capital there. Too busy to build a palace, he built a thatched cottage instead and lived there. He named his country Goguryeo and took “Go” as his surname.

Goguryeo was the largest country among those ever built on Korea. And it was a powerful country that boldly stood up against Su and Dang ? two Chinese dynasties that unified China during the era concurrent to Goguryeo, rather than a mere regional government established by a minority race, as claimed by China. Faced with Chinese-led global order, Goguryeo warded off China’s ambition to enter into Eastern lands, and by securing the Yodong Peninsula, provided the time and space for Silla and Baekje to grow. Overall, Goguryeo served as a shield against China, ensuring that the Korean people could live safely on the Korean peninsula.

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