Gojongdari and the Horses of Jeju

A long time ago, after the death of the queen of China, the king, Qin Shi Huang, sent his vassals to search every corner of the kingdom to find him a beautiful woman to be his royal concubine. They selected fine women from many places, but when they presented them to the king, he just kept shaking his head in dissatisfaction. 

The king’s servants eventually came all the way to Jeju in their search. They were surprised to find a woman of matchless beauty on the island, and brought her back to the picky king, who beamed with joy upon seeing her. Though she was the daughter of a butcher, her beauty was unparalleled. Not long after becoming the king’s concubine, she showed signs of pregnancy. After ten months she gave birth to five huge eggs.

Day by day the eggs grew larger, until finally the shells cracked open and five hundred army generals came leaping out. They ran around every day play-fighting with their swords and bows and arrows. They were relatively harmless infant army generals at the time, but Qin Shi Huang thought they might ruin the country one day. He was greatly distressed, worried sick about what to do with these five hundred generals.

One day, a skilled fortune teller made a pronouncement, saying that the reason for the birth of the generals was the power of the ‘generals’ centers of vital energy’ on Jeju Island. The solution was to cut off the power concentrated in these spots. Soon after, Qin Shi Huang sent Gojongdari to Jeju with orders to do just that. His boat arrived in Jeju at the village of Jongdari.

Upon disembarking, Gojongdari went to the nearest house and asked what the area was called. Hearing that he was in “Jongdari,” he fumed “How dare these people use my name for their village?” Enraged, Gojongdari first went about stopping the flow of vital water energy in Jongdari. When he finished, the freshwater spring stopped flowing. He then headed west and destroyed every type of center of vital energy he could find. 

At one of those locations, Gojongdari stuck a skewer right into the very locus of power there. A farmer happened to be tilling his field next to that spot. Gojongdari sternly warned the farmer “No matter what happens, you must not pull this skewer out,” and left to cut off the power flowing through the next locus of energy in the area.

Not long after, a gray-haired old man appeared in front of the farmer. Crying as though he were in great anguish, he pleaded with the farmer to pull skewer out. The farmer had no idea what was going on, but considering the way the old man was begging him, he deemed it a matter of grave importance. He did as the old man asked and pulled the skewer out. Blood immediately began gushing out of the hole where the skewer had been. The gray-haired old man managed to quickly stop the blood, and everything returned to normal.

Pulling himself together after these strange events, the farmer looked around only to find that the old man had disappeared without a trace. The spot that had been pierced with a skewer was a ‘horses’ center of vital energy.’ Thanks to the old man having stopped the blood from flowing out of the hole, the horses on Jeju survived the incident. However, they shrunk in size due to the blood that had been lost before the hole was stopped up.

As recounted on August 27, 1962, by Mr. Jo () of East Gimhak-ri.

From 99 Legends of Jeju Island, a compilation based on accounts compiled by Hyun Yong-Joon.

Centers of vital energy

  In the traditional belief system known as geomancy or feng shui (풍수: 風水: wind-water), called pungsu (풍수: 風水) in Korea, the vital earth energy called qi in China and gi in Korea (기: 氣) is believed to flow through the landscape, and the areas where the energy is strongest are the most auspicious. Places with strong energy are called hyeol (혈: 穴) or hyeoljari (혈자리) in Korea. The exact center of such a place, the center or locus of vital energy, is called a jeonghyeol (정혈: 正穴) or jeongjari (정자리).

Five huge eggs

  The king was worried that once the boys had grown up and fulfilled their destiny of becoming army generals, they would pose a threat to his rule. A common theme in Korean myths is the birth of exalted or holy figures from eggs. Examples include Jumong (King Dongmyeong), the founding monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the ancient three kingdoms of Korea, Bak Hyeokgeose, the founder of the Silla Kingdom of the same period, and Kim Suro, the legendary founder and king of Garak (the Gaya Kingdom).

Generals’ center of vital energy : janggunhyeol : 장군혈 : 將軍穴

Horses’ center of vital energy : malhyeol : 말혈 : 馬穴

Qin Shi Huang

   Qin Shi Huang (romanized in Korean as Jinsihwang: 진시황: 秦始皇) became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC. He ruled until his death in 210 BC.

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