King Jungcheon was the twelfth ruler of the Goguryeo kingdom. His name was Yeon-bul, and he became crown prince at the age of 20 in the year 243. He took the throne in 248 when his father, King Dongcheon, died. Historical records say that King Jungcheon was a good-looking and smart person.
Like many other rulers, the king initially carried out bloody purges in order to stabilize his royal power. As soon as he became king, his younger brothers, Ye-mul and Sa-gu, plotted a rebellion. But the king successfully repressed them to secure his crown. In the year 250, troops from the Chinese kingdom of Wei invaded Goguryeo. The king sent 5,000 horse soldiers to fend off the Wei forces, who were eventually defeated. Nothing particular was written about the king, except for his tragic relationship with one of his wives.
King Jungcheon had two wives. He married Lady Yeon, who is believed to have come from the Yeonna-bu region. But it was Lady Gwanna from the Gwanna-bu region who got all of the king’s love. It is said that Lady Gwanna was a very beautiful woman with long hair. Even after the king married Lady Yeon, who became queen, he adored Lady Gwanna and wanted to make her his second queen. It comes as no surprise that the two women were on bad terms and were bitterly jealous of each other. Lady Yeon once suggested to the king that he offer a beautiful woman with long hair to the Wei kingdom because long hair was considered valuable in the Chinese kingdom. She told the king that such an offer would help to build a good relationship with the Wei Dynasty. Obviously, she was referring to Lady Gwanna, and the king knew that Lady Yeon was attempting to get rid of his beloved woman. However, he did not respond.
When she heard about the rumor, Lady Gwanna decided to counterattack the queen. She begged the king, who was about to go hunting, to save her because the queen was going to kill her while he was out of town. Despite her earnest plea, the king never answered and simply went hunting. As soon as he returned from hunting, Lady Gwanna nagged the king again, with tears in her eyes. “Look, Your Majesty. The queen is going to put me in this sack and throw me into the sea. Please save me.” With these words, she showed him a big sack made of leather. But the king knew that the woman, blinded by jealousy, was telling a lie to entrap the queen. He was infuriated. He yelled at her, “Do you really want to enter the sea? Then I’ll let you do whatever you want.” He ordered officials to put her in the leather sack she had shown to him and throw it into the sea. That was the tragic end of Lady Gwanna.
Lady Gwanna had given birth to a baby boy, who is assumed to have been the king’s first son. Probably due to the ill-fated Lady Gwanna, however, the eldest son never succeeded the king. The second son, Yak-ro, was designated as crown prince instead. He later rose to the throne as the next king, Seocheon.
King Jungcheon died in the year 270 at the age of 46, ending his 22-year rule.