|Hwangsan Victory Monument
at Jiri-san's Hwasu-ri Village
Just East of the Baekdu-daegan Trail, just north of Jiri Park
in the Inner-Northwest Sector of Jiri-san
Hwasu-ri Village is a lovely sleepy village of Unbong-myeon District of Namwon City. It straddles National Highway 24
and the Ram-cheon Stream, west and southwest of Hwang-san, a 697-m peak that stands just north (across Ram-cheon)
from Jiri-san's Samjeong-bong Northern Spur. It is about 5kms east of Yeowon-jae Pass on the Baekdu-daegan.
This village has one of Korea's great historical-legend stories associated with it, in conjunction with another village to
its northwest (on the other side of the Baekdu-daegan) -- and impressive relics as a result. It goes roughly like this:
It is recorded that in 1380, a Japanese pirate-commander under the name "Ajibaldo" (or Aji Baldo) landed with his
brigand-brigade on Korea's south coast. They bypassed Jinju Castle but pilliged their way through Hadong up around
the east side of Jiri-san, taking the trouble to climb up to high-altitude Beopgye-sa to loot and destroy it. They swept
through Hamyang-gun County on their way towards Namwon to the west -- the Jeolla Province capital and biggest,
richest city in the area back then.
General Yi Seong-gye, serving the crumbling Goryeo Dynasty, rushed south with his army from Jeonju to Namwon
in its defense. More than halfway, in what is now the western side of Jangsu County (just north of Namwon), he
stopped to rest his men (and possibly sleep the night, figuring that they still had a day to get there in time to fight the
marauders) in what is now called Yonggye-ri Village (original name unknown; at the eastern foot of Mt. Palgong-san
1148m, 12 km west of Baekun-san 1279m on the Baekdu-daegan).
However, near midnight after he and his men had eaten dinner, village's roosters in the village started crowing as
if it were sunrise. General Yi believed this to be a message of urgency from the spirits, and so mustered his troops
to resume marching southwards at high speed. His scouts informed him that indeed, Ajibaldo's pirates had raced
through the night without resting towards Namwon, unexpectedly.
General Yi decided to attack them by surprise before they could reach their target. He crossed the Baekdu-daegan
at Yeowon-jae, on the track that is now NH-24. About 5 kms east of Yeowon-jae Pass on that road is Hwasu-ri
Village, just SW of little Hwang-san (697m), forming a narrow pass that proved good for defense. There, the
battalions clashed at sunrise; the Koreans were heartened to hear more roosters crowing encouragement to them.
General Yi shot the first arrow, and it knocked Ajibaldo's helmet askew or off, and Captain Lee Du-ryan shot a 2nd
arrow into his throat. The brigand-commander collapsed onto a large stream-bed rock, now called Pi-bawi, and
bled to death upon it. The pirate-army panicked and were routed; Namwon was saved.
On his way back north after defeating the Japanese forces, General Yi stopped again at the village in Jangsu that
his army had almost slept in, to praise the local roosters who had alerted him, declaring them to be heroic
incarnations of heavenly dragons. He therefore re-named that area as Yonggye-ri [Dragon-Rooster Village], which
they maintained with pride until this day. However, in the late 1920s the Japanese colonial authorities changed the
character for "rooster" into that for "stream" to try to erase the record of this legacy; it was changed-back after the
1945 Liberation. Yonggye-ri contains a small area called Anyang-dong [Peaceful Village], outside of Palgong-san
Palseong-sa Temple, which is reputed to have excellent Pungsu-jiri topographical characteristics. Protected in its
peacefulness by its mountain, it has never been devastated by violence, not even during the Korean War.
Just ten years later, of course, that same General Yi Seong-gye overthrew Goryeo and became "Taejo", founder-king
of the Joseon Dynasty. 200 years afterwards, Joseon King Seonjo (ruled 1567-1608) ordered construction of a stone
monument in the shrine pictured here for "The Great Victory at Hwang-san" just north of the highway, a couple km east
of the "Pi-bawi" [Bloody Rock] that is said to still be visibly stained with brigand-leader Ajibaldo's crimson-outflow.
The original biseok monument was erected in 1577, and refurbished with construction of this larger shrine-compound
to honor it in 1667 by the order of King Hyeonjong. It was again renovated in 1882 under King Gojong, with the
addition of the Eohwi-gak Shrine immediately to this compound's left. And of course the Japanese colonialists
destroyed these Shrines and broke the monuments in the 1930s when they threatened to become a local focal-point
of resistance against them. Authorities restored it in 1957 when the monument-stone was recovered and given a
fresh inscription. The site called "Hwang-san Dae-cheop Bi-ji" was refurbished and upgraded again in 1972, and is
now designated Provincial Relic #104.
Since 1986, Hwasu-ri has held an annual festival commemorating all this, called the "Hwang-san Dae-cheop Je"
every August 15th (the national "Liberation Day" holiday celebrating the American military's liberation of Korea from Japan).
Palgong-san and Yonggye-ri
Anyang-dong Village on a
cloudy summer day.
Yi (or Lee) Seong-gye
as King Taejo of Joseon
|Overall view of the main Shrine
|Signboard on the Front Gate reads simply Sam Mun or "Three Gate" --
because there are three royally-commissioned monuments inside.