Jangsu of Goguryeo

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King Jangsu
King of Goguryeo
Reign 413-491 (78 years)
Predecessor Gwanggaeto the Great
Successor Munjamyeong of Goguryeo
Born 394
Died 491 (aged 96–97)
Issue Crown Prince Juda
Father Gwanggaeto the Great
Jangsu of Goguryeo
Hangul 장수태왕
Hanja 長壽王
Revised Romanization Jangsu-taewang
McCune–Reischauer Changsu-taewang
Birth name
Hangul 거련 or
Hanja 巨連 or
Revised Romanization Georyeon or Yeon
McCune–Reischauer Kǒryǒn or Yǒn

King Jangsu of Goguryeo (394–491) (r. 413–491) was the 20th monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three States of Korea. He was born in 394, the eldest son of Gwanggaeto of Goguryeo. He became crown prince in 408, and upon his father's death in 413, became King at the age of 19.

He reigned over the peak of Goguryeo's power, building on his father's territorial expansion. He is also noted for the Gwanggaeto Stele. His posthumous name means "long life."

Early reign[edit]

At first, Jangsu dedicated much of his efforts towards stabilizing an empire that had experienced great and sudden growth, a direct result of his father's conquests. Jangsu had built a magnificent tomb for his father, and along with it an imposing 4 meter tall tombstone engraved with his father's accomplishments (now known as the Gwanggaeto Stele). Of such imposing dimensions was the tomb and its grounds it needed 330 people to tend it at all times. Jangsu called for 330 men from different regions and tribal backgrounds to guard and clean the tomb in perpetuity, demonstrating the effective consolidation of the Goguryean Empire and monarch's power at the time of Jangsu's succession.

In 427, he transferred the Goguryeo capital to Pyeongyang from Gungnae Fortress (modern Ji'an on the China-Korean border). There were various reasons for this shift: to prepare for the offensive against Baekje and Silla in the south and to create a greater and more magnificent capital befitting an Empire that had experienced large-scale expansion. After moving the capital southward, King Jangsu decided to continue the conquests of his father.

Northwestern campaign[edit]

At the time China was invaded by five foreign races and divided into Sixteen Kingdoms. Later Yan Dynasty, which was based on present-day Liaoning Province, was defeated so heavily by Gwanggaeto the Great's forces and finally came to an end in 408. After the fall of Later Yan, Han Chinese drove Murong clan of Xianbei northward and established Northern Yan Kingdom in the area. However, Northern Yan was no match for Xianbei Northern Wei Dynasty, which unified most of northern China. Then Northern Yan began to seek alliances with Goguryeo, which had greater power than itself and which also can fight equally against Northern Wei. In 436 Goguryeo cavalry arrived in Northern Yan and eventually drove Xianbeis away.

Song Dynasty during the era, which was in the feud against Northern Wei, encouraged both Northern Yan and Goguryeo as rivaling nations of Northern Wei. However, the plan did not work out all right as Jangsu turned against them and destroyed Northern Yan in 438. He conquered the entire region and held its ex-king as captive. Song court was outraged and warned King Jangsu that the death of Yan king means the war between two nations; However Jangsu ignored the warning and executed the king. Song troops then attacked Goguryeo but were easily defeated. The peace resumed in the following year when Jangsu sent 800 horses as gift to the Song Emperor, to prepare for the war against Northern Wei, so Goguryeo can concentrate its forces against Baekje and Silla while two Chinese powers were in war against each other. Jangsu again encouraged Song to invade Wei in 459 when he sent loads of crossbows and provided gold and silver. Wei government was upset by his actions but had to keep peace with Goguryeo to continue war against Song and Rouran. Jangsu also sought a relationship with Wei to wage war against Baekje, so the two empires established formal relationship in 435.

Southern expansion[edit]

In 472, King Gaero of Baekje sent a letter to the emperor of Northern Wei. He stated that he was having trouble interacting with Wei because of frequent Goguryeo intervention, thus calling for military action against Goguryeo.

King Jangsu sought for the chance to invade the southern kingdoms of Korea, Baekje and Silla, while the Chinese kingdoms of Northern Wei and the Song Dynasty were fighting each other. As a result, King Jangsu secretly planned to attack Baekje, which despite its losses against Gwanggaeto of Goguryeo's invasions, still held a significant powerbase in the peninsula. To disarm Baekje, he sent a Buddhist monk named Dorim. Dorim went to King Gaero's court, with the secret objective of corrupting the country before the invasion of Goguryeo. King Gaero began to favor Dorim, and played baduk (the board game) with him every day, and he was able to talk Gaero into spending large sums of money on construction projects, which weakened the national treasury.[1]

In 475, King Jangsu launched a full-scale invasion from both land and sea against the now politically unstable kingdom of Baekje. Dorim was successful in gaining information about Baekje[1] and consequently King Gaero was not at all prepared for the assault formulated by Goguryeo and King Jangsu. With momentum now in his favor, Jangsu then proceeded toward the capital and easily captured the city of Wiryesong, and slew King Gaero while Dorim safely escaped from the city. Soon after, King Jangsu burnt the capital to the ground, along with several cities that he conquered from Baekje (Baekje moved its capital to Ungjin (present day Gongju) to keep the kingdom alive). The war gave Goguryeo more or less total control of the Han River valley, the region essential to commercial and military power in the Korean Peninsula; Baekje was able to be a superior nation on the peninsula because it had the control of the region for almost 500 years, but since the ruler of the area changed, it lost the control of the peninsula.

After successfully concluding his campaign in Baekje, the Goguryean King then turned his attention toward the second peninsular kingdom of Silla and with its addition, erected a stone monument in present-day Chungju, praising the accomplishments of his father and himself. This monument marked the border between the southern kingdoms and Goguryeo and remains in the same site.

Relations with China and Rourans[edit]

In 479, Jangsu sent delegate to Rouran to establish friendly relationship. As a resuit, Rouran Khagan gave up the large territory which were spread in present-day Mongolia. After settling peace with Rourans, Jangsu attacked the Khitans, then a branch of Xianbei confederacy at the time.

After Khitans surrendered to Goguryeo, Jangsu sent gifts to both Northern Wei and Southern Qi, which took over southern half of China after overthrowing Song in 479. Both Qi and Wei tried to tighten Goguryeo's relationship with them; Wei emperors treated Goguryeo delegates equal to Chinese delegates. However, King Jangsu continued to keep good relationship with Qi; the attitude further outraged Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei again, and at last he gave order to kidnap the Goguryeo delegate before he gets to Qi capital. However Jangsu sent delegates again to Qi, and Northern Wei could not block Jangsu from causing Southern Dynasties to attack it.

While communicating with both nations, he also plundered gifts from Japanese to the Southern Dynasties. As well as King Gaero, who sent letter to Wei court asking for troops, rulers of Silla, Gaya, and Japan also grieved for Goguryeo's power in East Asia, which actually controlled entire foreign relations of the region.

The "Tomb of the General" in Ji'an, China, former capital of Goguryeo. Chinese scholars posit this to be the tomb of King Jangsu and his consort, though many Korean scholars argue Jangsu's tomb is in Pyongyang, where Jangsu had moved the capital in 427 (July 2010).

Death and legacy[edit]

King Jangsu died in 491, at the age of 97. His temple name means "long life" in hanja. During his reign, Goguryeo was at its golden age, stretching from Mongolia to Chungju.

Together with his father King Gwanggaeto the Great, he is also sometimes referred to as King Jangsu the Great.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Yi, I-hwa; Lee E-Wha; Ju-Hee Park (2005). Korea's pastimes and customs. Homa & Sekey Books. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-1-931907-38-5. 
Jangsu of Goguryeo
Born: 394 Died: 491
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gwanggaeto the Great
King of Goguryeo
Succeeded by
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Gwanggaeto the Great
King of Korea
Reason for succession failure:
Three Kingdoms of Korea
Succeeded by