Government Official Kang

There once lived an ancestor of the Kang family of Gamsan Village known as Government Official Kang. His family was wealthy, so they built a house with round pillars and a tiled roof, and hung wind-chimes from each of the four corners. The family lived in great comfort. Although he was a man of outstanding talent, he was also cantankerous and very greedy. One day, a monk came around to Government Official Kang’s house to ask for a donation to his temple. Greedy Mr. Kang did not want to spare any rice for the monk, so he ordered his servant to get a shovelful of manure, and gave him that instead. The monk accepted the manure, thanked him for it, and left.

Not long after, a strange rumor started to circulate. People were saying that if one of the peaks of Twin Peaks Mountain, where the Kang family’s ancestors were buried, were leveled off, then his family would have a greatly favorable change in fortune. Government Official Kang went out to find the source of the rumor, and discovered that it was the monk who had started it. The greedy man went straight over to him to ask if it was true. The monk’s story sounded plausible. He said that the topography of the area around the Kang family’s gravesite resembled a dog. Twin Peaks Mountain has two large peaks sitting next to each other, and people thought that they looked like the ears of a dog. The monk said that the placement of the grave would bring bad luck, since one of the peaks was higher than the other. However, he explained that if the higher peak were to be leveled off to the height of the shorter one, the Kang family’s luck would greatly improve. He added that he felt it was a real shame they found themselves in such a situation.

Government Official Kang replied that leveling off the mountain peak would be no problem for someone with such vigor as he. “Indeed,” he continued, gaining steam, “if it meant that my family’s lot would further improve, I’d get rid of the entire mountain!” However, he was completely blind to the fact that the monk was trying to bring ruin to the Kang household as a way of getting revenge for the terrible way in which he had been treated. The following day, Government Official Kang mobilized a huge labor force, and they started to level off the higher of the two mountain peaks. Day after day, they worked on and on, until crimson blood started to flow out of the mountain. Eventually a heavy rain began to fall. It mixed with the blood to form what people say was a red torrent flowing down the mountain. That is why on Twin Peaks Mountain, which looks as though it has been half leveled off through human effort, the dirt is still red today.    

The daily efforts of Mr. Kang to level off the mountain peak were reported to the royal court in Seoul. The court was certain that he was a rebel, so they sent a government official to Jeju to arrest him. When the official arrived, he found that Mr. Kang was living in a house with round pillars and wind chimes hanging from each corner of the tiled roof. Since round pillars were only used at the royal palace, the official said that there was no doubt the man was planning some sort of traitorous rebellion, and brought him up to the capital. Government Official Kang was tortured for days. Since he would not say what the court wanted to hear, his buttocks were seared with a shovel that had been heated up until it glowed red. Never submitting, he roared out, over and over, “The metal has gotten cold. Heat it up and sizzle me again!”

Government officials captured Mr. Kang’s younger son, and then they seized his eldest son. They brought them to the capital for interrogation, hoping that this would be the key to getting a confession. When Government Official Kang saw that they had brought his eldest son up to the capital, he lamented, crying out “I was able to bear it when they took my younger son, as my household would still have been blessed with good fortune, but now that they’ve brought my eldest son here, my family will be ruined!” He said this because his younger son was smart and strong of will, but his eldest son was fainthearted and soft in the head. Mr. Kang feared that his eldest son would easily give in to the torture and say whatever the government wanted to hear. That would mean death for Mr. Kang, and his family would no longer be able to live in luxury.  

Government Official Kang and his elder son were continuously subjected to interrogation in turns, during which they were beaten with a club. Neither of them gave in, so the interrogators came up with a trick. “Your father has already confessed everything,” they told the boy while torturing him, “so why bother to continue resisting?” He finally gave in when he heard this, not knowing what else to do. Then the same trick was used while torturing Mr. Kang, but he never admitted to the allegations, saying “How could my son have known what I was or was not doing?” With no other options, the government executed Government Official Kang’s son and banished Kang to a deserted island. It is said that he died alone on that island from starvation after eating handfuls of dirt.  

As recounted on March 3, 1975, by Mr. Go Yeong-Hong (67) of Jungmun-ri.

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

Gamsan Village : Gamsan-ri : 감산리 : 柑山里

Government Official Kang

   Government Official Kang is called Kang Byeoljang, where Kang (or Gang) (강: 彊) is a Korean family name, and byeoljang (별장: 別將) is a kind of government official. The duties assigned to a byeoljang changed over time, and we cannot be sure what position this individual held. His descendants referred to him as Government Official Kang as a term of respect.

Twin Peaks Mountain : Byeongsan : 병산 : 並山 or 竝山

   This is a pair of volcanic cones on the border of Sangcheon-ri and Sangchang-ri known today as Byeongak (並岳 or 竝岳) and Jageun Byeongak (also Daebyeongak and Sobyeongak), standing at 490 meters and 473 meters high, respectively.

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