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Volume Two

Beomin, King Munmu

When the King first took the throne in the Xinyou year of Longshuo, a gigantic woman’s corpse washed up on the seashore south of Sabi. She was seventy-three chi (818.1 cm/322 in) tall. Her feet were six chi (181.8 cm/71.5 in) long. Her clitoris was three chi (90.9 cm/35.75) long. There are other sources that say she was only eighteen chi (545.4 cm/214.75 in) long and she washed up during the second year, Dingmao, of Qiangfeng.

In the Wumao year of Zongzhang, the King, alongside Inmun and Heumsun, led his army to Pyoyang. He rendezvoused with the Tang Army and conquered Goguryeo. The Tang general Li Ji captured the King Go Jang and escorted him back to China (because the King was of the Go clan, he was called Go Jang). According to the Tang official records, in the fifth year, Gengshen, of Jianqing, Su Dingfang, along with others, attacked Baekje. In December, the Emperor commissioned General Qi Ruhe as Commander of the Bui Passage, Su Dingfang into the Commander of the Liaodong Passage, and Liu Boying into the Commander of the Pyongyang Passage; he ordered the three of them to attack Goguryeo. In January of the next year, Xinyou, Xiao Siye was commissioned as the Commander of the Buyeo Passage and Zuo Yaxiang as the Commander of the Bui Lake Passage. They led an army of three-hundred-fifty-thousand to help attack Goguryeo. In the August of Jiaxu, Dingfang and the others fought at Goguryeo. They were defeated and fled.

In June of the first year, Pingyin, of the Qianfeng Era, Pang Tongshan, Gao Lin, Xue Rengui, and Li Jin were assigned to be reinforcements. In September, Pan Tongshan reached Goguryeo, fought, and was defeated. In the December of the Jiyou year, Su Dingfang was replaced as the Commander of the Liadong Passage by Li Ji. He led the combined army of the six commanders against Goguryeo. On September 1 of the first year , Wuchen, of Zongzhang, Li Ji defeated Goguryeo and captured King Go Jang. On December 29, he presented the captive before the Emperor. In February of the first year, Jiaxu, of the Shangyuan era, Liu Rengui was commissioned as the Commander of the Silla Passage and attacked Silla.

The Hyangguji states that the Tang sent the Army Commander Kong Gong and the Navy Commander Yu Xiang to destroy Goguryeo alongside Yushin. However, the Silla records only speak of Inmun and Heumsun and do not mention Yushin. It is unknown which version is true.

At the time, there were Tang soldiers and commanders who had remained after conquest and planned to attack our forces. The King heard of this and attacked them come the next year. Gaozon’s envoys summoned Inmun and the others and asked "Why do you betray our soldiers if you asked for them you help you destroy Goguryeo?"

He imprisoned Inmun. He then raised five-hundred-thousand troops and ordered Xue Bang to be their commander in an attack on Silla. At the time, a monk named Uisang had gone west to study under the Tang. He came to visit Inmun and Inmun told him of the Emperor’s intentions. Uisang reported the matters back to the King in the east. The King was extremely frightened and summoned his officials to consult them on defense plans. The Gakgang Kim Cheongson suggested "These days, a monk named Master Myeongnang has come into the Imperial Palace in order to teach his secret arts of warfare. Your Majesty should consult with him."

The Monk was consulted, and he replied "There is the Forest of Sinyu south of Nangsan. You should build a temple to the Four Heavenly Kings there and establish a training ground within its borders."

At this time, a messenger from Jeongju reported that a massive host of Tang soldiers were approaching Korea by way of the sea. The King called to Myeongnang and said "What shall I do now that we have been forced into desperate straits?"

Myeongnang replied "You must wrap the temple in colored brocades."

The King had the temple draped with colorful brocades and built a straw effigy of the five-faced god of the directions in the temple. Twelve enlightened Yogi Monks with Myeongnang at their head called upon the spirits with their secret mudras. Before the Tang Navy could land their ships, a tempest arose. All the Tang vessels sank beneath the sea. From then on, the temple was established as the Temple of the Four Kings. Even now, its structures are still standing (The Great Editing of the dynastic histories took place in the first year, Jimao, of Diaolu).

In the following year, Xinwei, the Tang Dynasty once again attacked with a navy of five-hundred-thousand, this time under Zhao Huan. The monks used their magic again and the ships sank as before.

At the time, another Silla nobleman serving as an Imperial Scholar, Park Munjun, was imprisoned alongside Inmun. Gaozong summoned Munjun and asked him "What arcane magicks does your nation have that caused two great expeditions to fail, with not one returning survivor?"

Munjun replied "We have accompanied our prince in your great country for more than ten years. We are unfamiliar with the happenings of our native country. However, I have heard rumors saying that we were able to unite the three kingdoms due to the magnanimous aid of the Tang Emperor. In gratitude, the King built a new Sacheonwang (Four Heavenly Kings) Temple south of Nangsan Mountain so he could pray for the continued long life of the Emperor. Therefore, he has held long ceremonies there."

The Emperor was delighted. He sent his Vice-minister of Rituals Le Pengui as an ambassador to Silla so he could investigate the temple. The King heard of the Vice-minister’s arrival and realized that it would not be prudent if the Minister was allowed to see the real temple. He built a new temple to the south of the other and waited for the Ambassador there.

The Ambassador approached there saying "I want to first burn incense in the Heavenly Kings Temple that is devoted to the long life of the Emperor."

He was led to the doors of the new temple, but he stopped, saying "This is not the Sacheonwang Temple, but a temple of Mount Mangdeokyo."

He refused to enter. The people of the nation bribed him with one-thousand liang (ounces) of gold. When the Ambassador returned, he told the Emperor "The people of Silla have indeed constructed the Sacheonwang Temple so they may have a new temple to pray for Your Majesty’s health. "

Because of the Ambassador’s words, the new temple was now named the Mangdeok Temple (there are those who say that it occurred during the reign of King Hyoso, but they are mistaken).

The King heard that the Emperor wanted to pardon Munjin because of his eloquence. He had the eminent scholar Gang-su write a petition to have Inmun released as well. He sent his personal attendant Weonwu to deliver the message to the Emperor.

When the Emperor read the plea, he was so touched that tears flowed down his cheeks. He released Inmun and sent an escort to take him home. While Inmun had been imprisoned, his countrymen had constructed a Buddhist temple in his honor called Inyong Temple, and held Repentance Ceremonies celebrating Gwan-eum (Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara). When Inmun sailed for home, he died during the passage, after which the Repentance Ceremonies changed to celebrating Mireuk (Maitreya Buddha). The temple still stands.

The Great King ruled for twenty-one years, dying in the second year, Xinsi, of Yonglong. His will asked that he be buried on a crag in the Eastern Sea. The King had often said to the monk Master Jiui, "After my death, I wish to become a great dragon guarding the nation, so that I may worship the Buddha and protect my native land."

The Master replied: "But is becoming a dragon not a punishment that consigns you to a beast's form?"

The King stated, "I have long since tired of the splendors of the material world. If my miserable karma is to be reborn as an animal, then it shall suit my desires very well."

When the King first ascended the throne, he established the Great Granary of Namsan. It was fifty steps in length and fifteen steps wide, storing rice grain and weapons. It was called the Right-side Vault. The granary on the mountains northwest of Cheongeun Temple is the Left-side Vault. Another version says that he constructed the City of Namsan in the eighth year, Xinhai, of Jianfu. Construction actually started under King Seondeok, but it was renovated at that time. Construction also began on the City of Busan, to be completed in three years. The King ordered construction of Cheolseong city on the banks of the Anbuk River, and sought to fortify the walls of the Capital. Thus, he issued orders to conscript workers. When the monk Master Uisang heard of this, he wrote the King a letter saying, "If a king's reign is just, then even grassy knolls can serve as city walls, and the people will not dare pass over them unpermitted. Disasters will be averted and prosperity increased. Yet if a king's reign is unjust, then even if he builds a Great Wall, it will not keep out disasters." Reading this, the King cancelled the conscription. In March 10th of the third year, Bingyin, of the Linde era, a house slave named Gilyi had three sons at one birth. In January 7th of the third year, Gengwu, of Zhongzhang, in Hangi-bu, a slave woman belonging to Isam Geupgan (or Sengsam Hagan) gave birth to three sons and one daughter at the same time. The government gave her 200 dan of grain in reward.

The King also invaded the area of Goguryeo, taking the grandson of the Goryeo king back to Silla and awarding him the same rank as a Prince of the Blood.

One day, the King called his illegitimate younger brother the Duke Geodeuk to his side and said: "My brother, you shall be my Grand Minister, organizing my officials and pacifying the four seas."

The Duke said, "Your Majesty, if you must make your humble servant the Prime Minister, then I wish to go around the kingdom disguised, so that I may learn the weight of statute labors and the cost of taxes upon the populace, as well as whether local officials are fair or corrupt. Only then shall I succeed to the post."

The King agreed, so the Duke donned black robes, took up a biwa, and left the Capital in the guise of a Buddhist devotee. He travelled the land, through Aseulla-ju (Myeongju County), Usu-ju (Chunju County), and Bukwongyeong (Chungju City), to Mujin-ju (Haeyang City). The Provincial Governor An Kil saw that the traveler was an extraordinary man, so he invited the traveler into his house and entertained him lavishly. That night, An Kil called his three wives to him, saying, "She who accompanies our guest tonight shall have my eternal gratitude."

Two of the wives exclaimed, "Rather we be divorced from you, than to share the bed of another man!"

The last one of the wives said, "If you swear to remain married to me forever, then I shall obey your orders and share our guest's bed."

An Gil agreed and his wife accompanied the guest that night. In the morning, when the devotee prepared to depart, he said, "I am from the Capital, my home is between the Hwangyong and the Hwangseong Temples. My name is Dano (another name for the Dano Festival is Geoyi). My dear host, if you ever come to the capital, seek out my home for a visit."

Then, the Duke returned to the capital and took up the post of Prime Minister. National Policy dictated that every time a provincial official was called to perform his alternate residential duties, the various departments would decide which man was to come. When it came time for An Kil's turn to go to the Capital, he asked for the residence of the Devotee Dano, between the two temples. No one knew of that address. An Kil stood dumbfounded on the left side of the road for a long while. An old man passed by, and, hearing his question, pondered the matter at length before replying, "The house between the two temples must refer to the Royal Palace, and Dano would be the lord Duke Geodeuk. Might you have become acquainted with him during his time investigating the provinces?" An Kil explained their meeting, and the old man said, "Go to the Bokjeong Gate, west of the Palace quarters, tell the palace maids coming and going who you are."

An Kil did as he said. The maids reported to their master that An Kil of Mujin-ju had arrived at the gate. Hearing this, the Duke went outside and, holding An Kil's hand, welcomed him into his official quarters. He called out his Consort and had her wait on An Kil in a feast with fifty courses. When the King heard of this, he designated the area under Seongbu Mountain as the Forest Land of the Capital Liaison, banning all others from cutting down the wood. No one dared trespass. All those far and near looked on in admiration. There are thirty mu of arable land, each planted with three dan of seed. Should those lands have a good harvest, then it shall be so for the rest of the province. If not, then so too for the rest of the province.

The Flute that Calms the Turbulent Waves

The thirty-first monarch, King Sinmun the Great had the personal name of Jeongmyeong and the family name of Kim. He ascended to the throne on July 7th in the first year, Xinsi, of Kaiyao. He established the Gameun Temple at the side of the Eastern Sea for his holy departed father King Munmu. (The temple's own ledgers record that King Munmu commissioned the temple to ward off Japanese invasions, but died and became a sea dragon before he could see it completed. It was completed in the second year of Kaiyao, during his son Sinmun's reign. Under the granite stairs of the temple's Golden Hall, he opened a hole facing the east to serve as a passage for the dragon to enter and coil around the temple, as well as to entomb King Munmu's remains in accordance with his will. The tomb is called Daewangam (Rocks of the Great King) and the temple is called Gameun (Gratitude) Temple. Later, the place where the dragon appeared before to his son was named Igyeondae.)

The next year, Renwu, on May 1st (another version is mistaken in saying the first year of Tianshou), the naval customs officer Pajingan (4th rank officer) Park Sukcheong reported, "There is a small mountain island on the Eastern Sea floating on the waves toward Gameun Temple."

The King found this highly curious and ordered his Court Astronomer Kim Chunjil (also written Chunil) to divine its portents. The astronomer replied, "Your Majesty's holy departed father has become a sea dragon that protects the Samhan (three Koreas). However, Duke Yushin of the Kim clan is a Celestial Prince of the Thirty-third heaven, who had descended to become a civil servant. Now the two Holies are working together and wish to offer a treasure that will preserve the nation's sovereignty. If Your Majesty graces the seaside with your honored presence, then you shall receive a priceless treasure."

The King was overjoyed and graced the Igyeondae with his presence on the 7th of that same month. He saw the mountain island and sent an envoy to investigate it. The topography was like the shape of a turtle's head. One stalk of bamboo grew at the top, which split into two by day and fused into one by night (another version says that the mountain split and closed by day and night, just as the stalk of bamboo did). The envoy returned to the King and reported what he saw. The King quartered himself in Ganmeun Temple that night. At noon of the next morning, the bamboo stalk clapped together. The heavens and earth shook. Winds and storms and darkness raged for seven nights, until the 16th, when the gales and waves calmed.

The King sailed along the sea into the mountain, where a black dragon greeted him, presenting a black jade belt. The King invited the dragon to sit down next to him on the boat and asked, "Why does this mountain and this bamboo stalk open sometimes and close at others?"

The Dragon replied, "It is just as how one hand clapping makes no noise, but two hands clapping makes a sound. This bamboo, as an object, make a sound by clapping itself closed, an auspicious omen that Your Majesty will rule through harmonious sounds. If Your Majesty were to take this bamboo, carve it into a flute, and play it, then it will bring peace to the world. Currently, Your Majesty's departed father is a great undersea dragon and Yushin has returned to the heavens. These two Holies have cooperated to create this priceless treasure and ordered me to present it to you."

The King was shocked and pleased. He thanked the Dragon with offerings of rainbow colored brocades, gold, and jade. After he ordered an envoy to cut down the bamboo and set sail away, both island and dragon suddenly vanished. The King stayed at Ganmeun Temple, until setting out for the capital on the 17th. As he arrived by side of a stream west of Girim Temple, he stopped for lunch.

The Crown Prince Yigong (later King Hyoso), who had been left behind to watch over the Palace, heard of the news and rode over to congratulate his father. After examining the belt, he commented, "The buckles upon this jade belt are all real, living dragons."

The King asked, "How do you know?"

The Crown Prince said, "Take one of the buckles and submerge it in the water, then you will see."

The King removed the second jade buckle from the left side of the belt and threw it into the brook. Instantly, it became a dragon and flew away into the sky. On the ground, the stream had become a waterfall descending into a pool, which was called Yongyeon, or Dragon Pool.

The King returned to the palace. He had the bamboo made into a flute, which was stored in the High Heaven Vault at Wolseong Palace. Blowing this flute brought respite to armies, healed illnesses, ended droughts and storms, and pacified gales and waves. It was called Manpasikjeok, The Flute that Calmes the Turbulent Waves and designated as a national treasure. In the fourth year, Kuisi, of Tianshou, during the reign of King Shoucho, because of Puryerang's miraculous return, it was given the grander title of The Flute that Calmed the Multitudes and Multitudes of Waves upon Waves. For specifics, see Puryerang's entry.

Lord Taemara (also written as Jukji, Jukman, Jiban) in the time of King Hyoso

During the era of the thirty-second monarch King Hyoso, Lord Taemara (Jukman in modern Korean) had a subordinate named Siro (also called Tugosil) Geupgan. He was enrolled in the ranks of the P’ungnyu (Music) Division of Hwarang and devotedly showed up for his duties every day. One day, he stopped coming, and after ten days of not seeing him, Taemara called Siro's mother to him and asked, "Where is your son?"

Siro's mother replied, "Ikseon Agan, the Army Commander of Molyang, has appointed my son the warehouse keeper of Pusan Fortress. He was dispatched straightaway, so quickly that he had no time to report his departure to you, his Hwarang chief."

Taemara said, "If your son has left on a private errand, then there would be no need to search after him, but since he has gone on official business, I must give him a going-away present."

He prepared a box (size 180cm3) of snacks and a jug of wine and departed along with his jwain (colloquially called gyetakji, meaning servants). His 137 youthful Hwarang also followed, along with their servants, in stately procession. When they arrived at Pusan Fortress, Taemara asked the gatekeeper, "Where might I find Siro?"

The reply came, "In Ikseon's fields, laboring among the ranks as usual."

Taemara went down to the fields, where he used the wine and snacks he brought along to entertain Ikseon, requesting a leave of absence for Siro. However, just as they tried to leave, Ikseon adamantly refused, as he had been abusing his power to turn the soldiers under his command into forced labor.

At the time, there was an imperial courier named Kanjin responsible for collecting 30 dan of rice in rents at Nuncheol, Milhwa County, for transport into the fortified city. He admired Taemara's chivalry, while reviling Ikseon's obstinacy. He offered the 30 dan of rice he collected to Ikseon in exchange for Siro's release, but Ikseon still would not agree. Only when Kanjin added the gift of a splendid saddle did Ikseon allow Siro and Taemara to return home. When the Hwaju, the Supreme Master of the Hwarang, serving in the royal court heard of this, he dispatched an envoy to arrest Ikseon and dunk him into water to wash away the shame of his dirty deeds. When they arrived, they found Ikseon had gone into hiding, so they instead seized his eldest son and inflicted the purification ritual upon him. It was in the middle of the winter, in freezing temperatures, so the accuse froze to death upon his bath in a pool on the fortress's property.

When the King heard of this, he dismissed all government officials from Molyang from their positions, and barred the natives of the area from every again accepting government positions or becoming monks. If any were already serving as monks, then they could not enter temples or sound temple bells. At the same time, the descendants of Kanjin were awarded the hereditary office of village chief in their respective villages. At the time, Master Woncheuk was one of the greatest holy men of Korea, but because he was from Molyang, he was not acknowledged as a monk.

Previously, Taemara's father, Duke Suljong had been appointed as Admiral of Jukju. Because the Samhan were at war, he had to be protected by an armed escort of 3000 cavalry as he headed to his new headquarters. As they arrived at Taemara Pass, they found a single Hermit guarding the pass against rebel armies. Upon seeing this, the Duke esteemed the hermit's patriotism very much, and the hermit also looked well upon the Duke's might. They became heartfelt friends. The Duke continued on to take up his post. A week later, he dreamt the hermit had entered his room. His wife had a similar dream. Upon waking, they were greatly shocked and perturbed. The next day, Suljong sent a servant to ask about the hermit's welfare. The locals reported that the hermit had been dead for a day. The servant returned and reported that the hermit had died on the very day the Duke had his dream.

The Duke said, "The it must mean the honorable hermit will be reborn in my family." He sent some soldiers to bury the hermit on the north peak of the pass, with a stone statue of Mireuk standing before the grave.

Since the night of the dream, Suljong's wife became pregnant and gave birth to a son. He was named Taemara due to his past life. When he reached adulthood, he entered into government service and acted as Duke Yushin's lieutenant, helping him unite the Three Koreas. He served as Grand Minister and secured the borders under four consecutive kings: Jindeok, Daejong, Munmu, and Shinmun.

The Song of Longing for Lord Taemara composed by Siro reads thus:

Original hanja and hangul transliteration

去隱春皆理米 거은춘개리미
毛冬居叱沙哭屋尸以憂音 모동거질사곡옥시이우음
阿冬音乃叱好支賜烏隱 아동음내질호지사오은
兒史年數就音墮支行齊 모사년수취음타지행제
目煙廻於尸七史伊衣 목연회어시칠사이의
逢烏支惡知作乎下是 봉오지오지작호하시
郞也慕理尸心未 行乎尸道尸 랑야모리시심미 행호시도시
蓬次叱巷中宿尸夜音有叱下是 봉차질항중숙시야음유질하시

English Transliteration

Geoeun chun gaerimi
Modong geojilsa gok-oksiyi ueum
Adong-eum naejil hoji sao-eun
Mosa nyeonsu chwieum taji haengje
Mog-yeon hoeeosi chil saiui
Bong-oji oji jagho hasi
Lang-ya molisi simmi haenghosi dosi
Bongchajil hangjung sugsi ya-eum yujil hasi


The Spring has gone and shall not return
My heart aches with longing for you
Your face that was once so beautiful
Is now wrinkled by the ravages of time
Perhaps, for just an instant
I can glimpse you again
Ah, my lord! My love for you spurs me on
To a restless night on that grassy mound

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