Soldier Mountain and Changgo Stream

There is a small mountain next to Changcheon Village that was named Gunsan, or Soldier Mountain, because it looks like a soldier’s tent. Gun, pronounced goon, means soldier. A san is a mountain. While it is an impressive, prominent sight for miles around, the mountain was not there in the distant past. Nor was there a large village like the present Changcheon. 

There used to be just a small hamlet of merely ten or so houses in part of the large flat area where the mountain now lies. In those days, a teacher with the last name Kang lived in the area. Master Kang was a great scholar whose name was widely known and respected. He taught groups of students how to read and write Chinese characters, and people came from far away to learn from the renowned teacher. 

One day, Master Kang had seated his pupils in a circle around him and was beginning the lesson when a very strange thing happened. Having told them to repeat the meaning and pronunciation of the character for sky (天), saying “This character means sky, and it’s pronounced cheon,” they heard an echo of the students’ response coming from outside. “Sky, cheon.” Thinking it quite odd, the teacher searched around outside but there was nobody there. 

He came back in and began to speak to another group of students, beginning with “Confucius says…” when again they heard his words repeated from somewhere outside. “Now, that really is strange,” he said, and went back out to see who was there. Again, there was nobody to be seen and he could not figure out where the sounds were coming from.  

For three years, things continued in this way, with some untraceable voice participating in Master Kang’s lessons. One time in the middle of the night around the Hour of the Rat or the Ox, the voice called out “Teacher, are you sleeping?” “Why, who’s there?” Master Kang replied, still half asleep. “I’m the son of the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea and for three years I’ve been learning how to read and write Chinese characters from you. I must take my leave and return home now, but before I do, if there is anything at all you would like from me, just ask. I will do my utmost to bestow some blessing upon you in return for your lessons.”

The teacher hesitated, not sure what to say. Once he had gathered his thoughts, he replied “I eat food given to me by others, I wear clothes received from others and I smoke tobacco gotten from others. I lack nothing at all. What more could I possibly want?” “In that case,” said the son of the Dragon King, “how about I get rid of the sound of the stream that you always complain about?” 

Image: Naver

The stream known today as Changgo Stream used to flow directly to the east of Master Kang’s house, and when it rained heavily it overflowed its banks. The sound of the rushing water in the background made it difficult for the students to hear the pronunciation of the Chinese characters. 

“Of course, not having the sound of that stream would be most welcome, but can you really make that happen?” asked Master Kang. The son of the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea promised that he would take care of it. “After I leave, there will be a great divine disturbance of the wind and clouds for seven days. No matter what happens, keep the doors to your room tightly shut and do not look outside,” he said firmly. “Otherwise, you will be greatly harmed.” Then he bid farewell to the teacher and departed.

Not long after, thunder and lightning began to rage across the sky and shake the ground. It seemed as though heaven and earth were being clashed and slammed against each other. The teacher shut the door tight and threw himself flat on the floor. The great storm continued for seven days straight, until finally the thunder slowly started to die down and the sky, which had been pitch black the whole time, began to soften up and brighten.

After lying face down on the floor for seven long days, Master Kang’s joints were so stiff he thought they would harden in place. He couldn’t endure it any longer. “I think it’s safe to get up and take a look around outside now,” he thought. He pulled himself up and peeked through a chink in the door. At that moment a spark came whizzing towards the house, and happened to hit Master Kang directly in one eye, leaving him half blind. On the eighth day there was no more thunder to be heard, the thick fog had lifted, and the heavens and earth finally quieted down.

This was in the time of King Mok-Jong, during the Goryeo Dynasty. When the news that there had been a great natural calamity on Jeju reached the palace, the king sent a government official down to the island. He eventually learned that a mountain had appeared in Changcheon Village during the seven days of turmoil, in which the wind and clouds had displayed such power. But the official was not able to discern the direct cause of this mountain’s sudden appearance.

Then Grandmother Mago, the goddess of Cheontae Mountain, appeared and told him “This mountain you wonder about is the left peak of Gollyun Mountain in China, which got torn off and carried over here in a cyclone during the great calamity, landing where it now stands.” The mountain landed in such a way that the course of Changgo Stream changed; it started flowing around the far side of the mountain away from Master Kang’s house. He never again had to put up with the noisy sound of rushing water.

According to a different account, Soldier Mountain is actually Seo Mountain, which got moved over to Jeju. The mountain was originally in China but one day it suddenly disappeared. Sometime later, someone from China happened to visit Jeju, and when he passed by Changcheon Village, he saw Soldier Mountain and exclaimed “Seo Mountain, which disappeared from China, is right here!”

Based on the account given on March 4, 1975, by Mr. Gang Mun-Ho of Anseong-ri, and the account given on August 23, 1972, by Mr. Gang Tae-Ok (75) of Changcheon-ri.

From 99 Legends of Jeju Island, a compilation based on the work of Professor Hyun Yong-Joon.

Image: Google Earth

Changcheon Village

   창천리 : 倉川里 : Changcheon-ri. Cheon rhymes with sun.

Changgo Stream

   창고내 Changgonae or 창고천 Changgocheon

Chinese characters

    Korean was written solely using Chinese characters until the creation of Hangeul in 1443 under the direction of King Sejong.

Cheontae Mountain

   Cheon rhymes with sun, tae rhymes with day. There are several mountains in Korea called Cheontae Mountain, and a mountain in Zhejiang Province in China that has the same Chinese characters, 天台山, in its name, which is romanized as Tiantai Mountain.

Gollyun Mountain

   Gollyun Mountain (Gollyunsan: 곤륜산: 崑崙山) is a mythological mountain in the Taoist belief system.

King Mok-Jong

   King Mok-Jong (목종: 穆宗) was the seventh king of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). He ruled from 997 to 1009.


   The seo in Seosan (서산: 瑞山) means lucky or auspicious. San means mountain.

Soldier Mountain

   Gunsan: 군산 (軍山) 

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