Choe Woo

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Choe Woo
Revised Romanization Choe U
McCune–Reischauer Ch‘oe U

Choe Woo (Hangul : 최우 Hanja : 崔瑀) (1166 - 10 December 1249) was the second Choe dictator of the Ubong Choe Military regime. He himself went out on the battlefield to lead in fighting off the Mongolian invasions. Then he realized that the government was no longer safe at the capital city of Kaesong, and so he forced the king and his officials to flee to Ganghwa island. He took some of his armies and went to Ganghwa island with them. He did this because he knew that the Mongols would not attempt a naval assault against Ganghwa. Therefore, the Goryeo government was kept safe for several decades even after the Choe regime.


Choe Woo was the son of the Goryo Dynasty military regime's founder, Choe Chung-Heon (최충헌,崔忠獻), and grandson of the Grand General Choe Won-Ho (최원호,崔元浩). Choe Woo's birthdate is unknown, but it is known that the Choe family lived in the capital of Kaesong at the time when Choe Chung-Heon assassinated Yi Ui-Min. Choe Woo was around the age of seventeen when his father assassinated the tyrant Yi in 1196, and saw how his father amassed and wielded power. Choe Woo was said to have been a skilled general and fighter as well as an exceptional statesman.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

He joined the Imperial army at the age of eighteen and served for about twenty years, and continued to serve while he was dictator. Not much is known about Choe Woo's early life.[citation needed] There was the incident of succeeding his father. When the time came for Choe Chung-Heon to select a successor, he had two choices. He selected Woo because he was the first son, and he was the more talented and capable of the two.[citation needed] U's brother, Hyang, did not take this lightly and so the two brothers faced each other in a sword duel, and it ended in U's victory. U did not kill his brother, but put his fate in his father's hands. Choe Chung-Heon announced that U would be his successor, and U became the Royal protector/prime minister, and leader of the Imperial Council.


Choe Woo controlled the Goryeo government with King Gojong as his puppet. He was able to preserve the Goryeo empire by hiding the government on Ganghwa island. At the same time, Choe Woo did a better of appeasing the people than his father had done. He returned all of the treasures and that his father had taken and distributed it to the people. With this, the people of Goryeo became more willing to live under a dictatorship. Choe Woo's rule was mostly composed of Mongolian Invasions. He directly led Goryeo forces to fight off the first Mongol Invasion.

Death and Succession[edit]

Choe Woo died suddenly of disease during the first Mongol invasion attempt of Goryeo, and he was succeeded by his son Choe Hang.


  • Father: Choi Chung-heon (1149 - 29 October 1219) (최충헌)
    • Grandfather: Choi Won-ho (? - ?) (최원호)
    • Grandmother: Lady Yu (유씨부인)
  • Mother: Lady Song (송씨)[1]
  • Wife: Lady Jeong of the Hadong Jeong clan (? - 1231) (하동 정씨)[2]
    • Daughter: Lady Choi of the Ubong Choi clan (우봉 최씨)[3]
      • Son-in-law: Kim Yak-seon (김약선)
    • Daughter: Lady Choi of the Ubong Choi clan (우봉 최씨)
  • Wife: Lady Dae of the Hyeopgye Dae clan (? - 1251) (대씨부인)[5][6]
    • Stepson: Oh Seung-jeok (오승적)[7]
  • Concubine: Lady Choi of the Cheolwon Choi clan (철원 최씨)
  • Concubine: Seo Ryeon-bang (서련방)[8]
    • Son: Choi Man-jeong (최만종)
    • Son: Choi Hang (1209 – 17 May 1257) (최항)
  • Concubine: An Shim (안심)[9]

See also[edit]

Preceded by
Choe Chung-Heon
Military Leader of Goryeo
Succeeded by
Choe Hang
Preceded by
Choe Chung-Heon
Leader of Ubong Choe Military regime

(House of Choe)

Succeeded by
Choe Hang


  1. ^ Daughter of Song Cheong.
  2. ^ Daughter of Jeong Suk-cheom.
  3. ^ Her personal name was Choi Song-yi.
  4. ^ Was the wife of king Wonjong of Goryeo. She was the mother of king Chungnyeol of Goryeo.
  5. ^ Daughter of Dae Jip-seong (? - 1236).
  6. ^ A widow, her ex-husband died in the Battle of Daemon. She is later poisoned by Choi Hang.
  7. ^ Killed by Choi Hang.
  8. ^ A prostitute.
  9. ^ Later married to military dictator Kim Jun.