King Sansang(山上王)

King Sansang

Headword

산상왕 ( 山上王 , Sansangwang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer ChoHyunseol(趙顯卨)

The legend of Sansangwang narrates the story of the enthronement of King Sansang, the tenth king of Goguryeo who reigned from 197 to 227, and the birth of his son. King Sansang, as the younger brother of the ninth king Gogukcheonwang, took the throne only after immense political complications, from which a significant number of narratives were developed. A partial account of the events is recorded in Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms).

When King Gogukcheon passes away, Queen U does not reveal his death immediately, heading instead to the king’s brother Balgi and tells him that he should inherit the throne. Balgi, however, declines, citing heavenly fate and propriety. The deceased king’s other brother, Yeonu welcomes the queen and eventually follows the queen to the palace. The following day, Queen U announces that Yeonu will inherit the throne in accordance with the king’s will, and Balgi leads the military to seize the palace. When the people did not offer him support, however, he flees to the Yodong (Liaodong) peninsula, where he borrows troops from the governor and launches another attack on Goguryeo, but Yeonu’s younger brother Gyesu defeats them and Balgi kills himself while fleeing the battle. Yeonu ascends the throne and takes Queen U as his queen, since it is due to her that he was able to become king.

On the twelfth year of King Sansang’s reign (208), a pig that was to be offered as sacrifice at the ritual for the celestial god (cheonje) runs away all the way to the village of Jutongchon, where a beautiful maiden about twenty years of age catches the pig. The king, thinking it strange, goes to see the maiden and after promising her that he would not abandon her, takes her to bed. The following year, the queen learns of his affair and sends troops to the village, but upon finding out that the king’s offspring is growing inside her, the queen does not dare kill her. Rumors of the pregnancy reach the king, who goes to confirm that the child is indeed his, and when in the ninth lunar month a son is born, the king accepts the child as a gift from the heavens and names him Gyoche and makes the mother his concubine. In the seventh year of his reign (213), King Sansang appoints Gyoche as the crown prince.

The narrative of King Sansang’s enthronement focuses on justification, which is also evident in the emphasis of propriety and loyalty in the depiction of Balgi’s death.

Succession of the throne in ancient kingdoms was the result of political dynamics between different power groups, but in the course of developing narratives and historical records, the discourse of heavenly appointment emerges, which can be observed in this legend as well. This story also shows that rituals of the Buyeo people involved using divine pigs as a means to read heavenly intent.

King Sansang

King Sansang
Headword

산상왕 ( 山上王 , Sansangwang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer ChoHyunseol(趙顯卨)

The legend of Sansangwang narrates the story of the enthronement of King Sansang, the tenth king of Goguryeo who reigned from 197 to 227, and the birth of his son. King Sansang, as the younger brother of the ninth king Gogukcheonwang, took the throne only after immense political complications, from which a significant number of narratives were developed. A partial account of the events is recorded in Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms).

When King Gogukcheon passes away, Queen U does not reveal his death immediately, heading instead to the king’s brother Balgi and tells him that he should inherit the throne. Balgi, however, declines, citing heavenly fate and propriety. The deceased king’s other brother, Yeonu welcomes the queen and eventually follows the queen to the palace. The following day, Queen U announces that Yeonu will inherit the throne in accordance with the king’s will, and Balgi leads the military to seize the palace. When the people did not offer him support, however, he flees to the Yodong (Liaodong) peninsula, where he borrows troops from the governor and launches another attack on Goguryeo, but Yeonu’s younger brother Gyesu defeats them and Balgi kills himself while fleeing the battle. Yeonu ascends the throne and takes Queen U as his queen, since it is due to her that he was able to become king.

On the twelfth year of King Sansang’s reign (208), a pig that was to be offered as sacrifice at the ritual for the celestial god (cheonje) runs away all the way to the village of Jutongchon, where a beautiful maiden about twenty years of age catches the pig. The king, thinking it strange, goes to see the maiden and after promising her that he would not abandon her, takes her to bed. The following year, the queen learns of his affair and sends troops to the village, but upon finding out that the king’s offspring is growing inside her, the queen does not dare kill her. Rumors of the pregnancy reach the king, who goes to confirm that the child is indeed his, and when in the ninth lunar month a son is born, the king accepts the child as a gift from the heavens and names him Gyoche and makes the mother his concubine. In the seventh year of his reign (213), King Sansang appoints Gyoche as the crown prince.

The narrative of King Sansang’s enthronement focuses on justification, which is also evident in the emphasis of propriety and loyalty in the depiction of Balgi’s death.

Succession of the throne in ancient kingdoms was the result of political dynamics between different power groups, but in the course of developing narratives and historical records, the discourse of heavenly appointment emerges, which can be observed in this legend as well. This story also shows that rituals of the Buyeo people involved using divine pigs as a means to read heavenly intent.