Dongcheon of Goguryeo

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Dongcheon of Goguryeo
Hangul 동천왕 or 동양왕
Hanja 東川王 or 東壤王
Revised Romanization Dongcheon-wang or Dongyang-wang
McCune–Reischauer Tongch'ǒn-wang or Tongyang-wang
Birth name
Hangul 우위거 or 위궁 or 교체
Hanja 憂位居 or 郊彘
Revised Romanization Uwigeo or Wigung or Gyoche
McCune–Reischauer Uwigǒ or Wigung or Kyoch'e
Monarchs of Korea
  1. Chumo 37–19 BCE
  2. Yuri 19 BCE–18 CE
  3. Daemusin 18–44
  4. Minjung 44–48
  5. Mobon 48–53
  6. Taejodae 53–146
  7. Chadae 146–165
  8. Sindae 165–179
  9. Gogukcheon 179–197
  10. Sansang 197–227
  11. Dongcheon 227–248
  12. Jungcheon 248–270
  13. Seocheon 270–292
  14. Bongsang 292–300
  15. Micheon 300–331
  16. Gogugwon 331–371
  17. Sosurim 371–384
  18. Gogugyang 384–391
  19. Gwanggaeto the Great 391–413
  20. Jangsu 413–490
  21. Munja 491–519
  22. Anjang 519–531
  23. Anwon 531–545
  24. Yangwon 545–559
  25. Pyeongwon 559–590
  26. Yeongyang 590–618
  27. Yeongnyu 618–642
  28. Bojang 642–668

King Dongcheon of Goguryeo (209–248, r. 227–248[1]) was the 11th monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.


He was the grandson of Goguryeo's eighth ruler, Sindae and the son of the tenth ruler, Sansang.[1] His mother was King Sansang's royal concubine, from the Jutong-chon of Gwanno-bu. He was made crown prince in 213, and rose to the throne upon Sansang's death.[2]


In 238, Dongcheon was able to ally with the Wei, one of the three Chinese kingdoms in northernwest area,[3] in order to destroy the Gongsun family and erase its influence over Liaodong Peninsula and other areas bordering Goguryeo. The war on the Gongsun was a victory, but Goguryeo's ally, Wei, eventually became a new threat.[2]

As Gogeryeo consolidated its power, it proceeded to act to conquer the territories on the Korean peninsula which were under Chinese rule.[4] Goguryeo initiated the Goguryeo–Wei Wars in 242,[3] trying to cut off Chinese access to its territories in Korea by attempting to take a Chinese fort. However, the Chinese Wei state responded by invading and defeated Goguryeo. Hwando was destroyed in revenge by the Chinese Wei forces in 244.[2][4]

Dongcheon sent an army to attack Wei's Yodong fortress in 242 to expand Goguryeo territory, but Wei retaliated in a most violent fashion two years later. In 244, Wei sent an invasion force of 10,000 to Goguryeo and took and burnt the capital city of Hwando,[5] forcing Dongcheon to flee the capital.[2] Staying in Okjeo, his forces managed to return long-standing capital of which structures were severely destroyed only to move its capital to current Pyeongyang in 246.[6] The exact location of the new capital has been still disputed.[2][5]

Then, according to the Korean book, the Samguk Sagi, a Goguryeo general named Yu Yu (유유, 紐由) approached the Wei encampment and fooled the Wei commander into thinking that Goguryeo had come to surrender. Yu Yu took this chance to murder the commander and then committed suicide, causing great confusion and discord in the Wei army.[7] King Dongcheon received news of Yu Yu's death and ordered that a memorial be made for Yu Yu the Patriot. Then, he led his armies in the attack to push the Wei forces out of Goguryeo territory. General Mil U (밀우, 密友) and Yu Okgu (유옥구, 劉屋句) also repulsed the Wei forces. The Goguryeo forces won this battle, and regained all of the territory that had been lost from defeats against the Wei.[8] This passage was not paralleled in Chinese records, and Hiroshi Ikeuchi points out its errors: the author of this passage in Samguk Sagi regarded the region of South Okjeo and Lelang as identical, while in fact they are on opposite sides of the peninsula;[9] also, the references to the "Eastern Department" for Yu Yu and Mil U are anachronistic, since Goguryeo did not divide the country into departments until the middle of the Goguryeo dynasty — that is, after Dongcheon's reign.[10] As such, Ikeuchi considered the Samguk Sagi stories of the Wei invasion unreliable.[11]

In 243, he named his son Yeonbul the crown prince and successor to the throne. He attacked Silla, another of the Three Kingdoms to its south, in 245 but made peace in 248. The records are found in Samguk Sagi under the annal of Isageum (Silla’s ruler) that Dongcheon invaded northern area of Silla but the validity of peace agreement has not been fully explained given that Goguryeo was under harsh attacks from the northern area, henceforth invasion of Goguryeo into Silla would be logically incomprehensibe. It is well accepted that this invasion indicated sudden inflow of refugees from Goguryeo into bordering area with Silla.[12]

Death and succession[edit]

Dongcheon fell ill and died during the fall of 248 after 22 years of rule. His tomb is said to be in South Pyongan Province near Pyongyang, North Korea. He is said to have been so loved that many people followed him in death. Crown Prince Yeon-Bul succeeded his father as King Jungcheon immediately after his father's death.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pae-yong, Yi (2008). Women in Korean history. Seoul: Ewha Womans University Pres. pp. 124–126. ISBN 9788973007721. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "King Dongcheon". KBS Radio. KBS. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Hong, Wontack (2006). Korea and Japan in East Asian history: a tripolar approach to East Asian history. 9788985567039. p. 77. 
  4. ^ a b Tennant, p. 22
  5. ^ a b Yi, Hyŏn-hŭi; Pak, Sŏng-su; Yun, Nae-hyŏn (2005). New history of Korea. Jimoondang. pp. 124–125. ISBN 9788988095850. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  6. ^ Kim, Bushik. Samguk Sagi. 
  7. ^ Hubert & Weems, p. 59
  8. ^ Kim, Bushik. Samguk Sagi. 
  9. ^ Ikeuchi, p. 116
  10. ^ Ikeuchi, p. 117
  11. ^ Ikeuchi, p. 118
  12. ^ Lee, Yoonsup (2014). 다시 읽는 삼국사1 (in Korean). 책보세. pp. 76–77. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  13. ^ Kim, Bushik. Samguk Sagi. 


  • Hubert, Homer B. & Weems, Clarence Norwood (Ed.) History of Korea Volume 1. Curzon Press, 1999. ISBN 0-7007-0700-X.
  • Ikeuchi, Hiroshi. "The Chinese Expeditions to Manchuria under the Wei dynasty," Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko 4 (1929): 71-119.
  • Tennant, Charles Roger (1996). A history of Korea (illustrated ed.). Kegan Paul International. ISBN 0-7103-0532-X. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
Dongcheon of Goguryeo
Born: 209 Died: 248
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Goguryeo
Succeeded by