Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Chong Mong-Chu

Chong Mong-Chu (pen name: Po-Eun) was born in 1337, at the time when the Goryeo dynasty ruled the Korean peninsula. At the age of 23, after taking three different Civil Service literary examinations and recieving the highest marks possible on all three, in 1367 he became an instructor in Neo-Confucianism at Songgyungwan University whilst simultanously holding a government position, and was a faithful public servant to King U. The king had great confidence in his wide knowledge and good judgement, and so he participated in various national projects and his scholarly works earned him great respect in the Koryo court. He was most knowledgeable about human behaviour, and visited China and Japan as a diplomat for the king, securing promises of Japanese aid in defeating pirates and managing to secure peace with Ming dynasty China in 1385. He also founded an institute devoted to the theories of Confucianism.

Chong was murdered by five men on the Sonjukkyo Bridge in Kaesong following a party held for him by his political rival Yi Seonggye (who became King Taejo of Joseon). This bridge has now become a national monument, and a brown spot on one of the stones is said to be a bloodstain of his which turns red when it rains.

The 474-year-old Goryeo Dynasty effectively ended with the death of Chong Mong-Chu, and was followed by the Yi Dynasty. His noble death symbolises his faithful allegiance to the king. He was honored in 1517, 125 years after his death, when he was canonised into the national academy alongside other Korean sages such as Yul-Gok and Toi-Gye.

Even if I may die, die a hundred times
Even if my skeleton may become dust and dirt,
And whether my spirit may be there or not,
My single-hearted loyalty to the lord will not change.
Chong Mong-Chu (Po-Eun)