Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Story of Chosun, Part 7

For those who enjoy history, and who love North Korea, we continue this story of the ancient days of the Korean peninsula.

Now, as in the study of many histories of the region, we must confront the Mongols.

The empire of the Mong people sits to the north of China and Korea. It did not always occupy that far-away location. In course of time it was only natural that they would head south and see what was available. Yusuka and his son Genghis begin the conquest of the 40 small tribes in the vicinity in the beginning of the 13th century. By 1212 they have worked their way to Koryu and the Kin tribe mentioned before. The Kin, smaller, are threatened first. They turn to Koryu for help.

Meanwhile the remnant of the Khitans go south, likewise pursued by the Mongols, into the hands of rival Koryu. They brashly charge into Pyongyang and make it their headquarters. Then the advance to Song-bo.

So, the enemy is at the door, there is rebellion in the South, and in the capital, "a mountain of dead and rivers of blood." But the Khitans are defeated. In fact, Koryu sends a Khitan officer back to the Mongols, and there is talk of a treaty. The Mongols make short work of the Khitans and reward Koryu.

But not for long. In 1221, the Mongols demand revenue.

Enough trouble? It seems that Korea and its ancestors never have enough. Now re-enter the Japanese. From 1223 until around 1400, independent Japanese raiders ravage sections of Koryu.

Why have so many felt that Korea is up for grabs?

The northern Yujin tribes, now a part of the Mongols, also raid from the north. And in 1231 there is a massive Mongol invasion. The King of Koryu surrenders, the Mongols move in. Subjugation. Occupation. Not the first time, not the last. Such is the sad history of these people we study.

Soon there are rebellions throughout the land against the Mongol governors. There is outright insurrection and anarchy in the capital. But when the Mongols hear of this, they slaughter many in the North.

1234 marks the end of the "Kin" dynasty, and in the next year the Mongols occupy the entire Korean peninsula. In a last feeble effort to save the nation, the King of Koryu becomes a sun worshiper.

Henry Hulbert, the historian we follow through this fascinating history, on page 199 of his book says: " It would be impossible for anyone to imagine the suffering and distress entailed by these invasions. The records say that people simply left their houses and fields and fled to these places of refuge. What did these hundreds of thousands of people live on as they fled, and after they reached their places of retreat? What breaking of old bonds of friendship and kinship, what rending of family ties and uprooting of ancient landmarks! It is a marvel that the land ever recovered from the shock."

Reminds one of the NK refugee problem of our own day. The suffering, the distress, the fleeing, the hunger, the bond-breaking. When a land is so singularly cursed, only the blessing of God can make a difference. It is for that blessing that so many are crying out today, and I ask you to join us.

Next time, more of the Mongols, the Japanese, and self-destruction by the Koreans themselves.

Look for Bob Faulkner's home page on There you will find a combination of love for the Scriptures and a desire for North Korean believers to have their needs met. There are nearly 300 blogs , ovber 200 Bible teaching MP3's, lists of resources, NK picture albums, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together! Contact me any time at

And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Would love to fellowship with believers who respond .

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