King Seocheon was the second son of his father and predecessor King Jungcheon. He was proclaimed Crown Prince in the year 255. He took the throne after his father’s death in the year 270 to become the 13th ruler of the Goguryeo Dynasty.
According to historical records, this intelligent and benevolent king was loved and respected by his people. When the nation suffered from a severe famine in 273, the king opened the state storehouse and distributed grains to people.
In the year 280, an ethnic tribe called Sushen, who lived in the present-day northeastern part of China, invaded Goguryeo to kill local people in the border areas. The king humbly asked his retainers to recommend smart and brave generals in order to defeat the Sushen forces and overcome the national crisis. They picked the king’s younger brother, Dal-ga. That turned out to be the right choice for the country. The courageous general employed smart strategies to take an enemy castle and kill the leader. He relocated some 600 Sushen households to a southern area and also subjugated six to seven villages that surrendered. King Seocheon was delighted and satisfied with the victory and he appointed Dal-ga to the post of Anguk-gun, which means the Prince of National Peace. The king also let him control the army and keep enemy tribes, including Sushen, in check.
Thanks to his heroic and reliable younger brother, the king successfully repelled the enemy forces from outside. But he also had to deal with domestic traitors, including his other younger brothers, who, unfortunately, were not as loyal as Dal-ga. In the year 286, the king’s brothers, Il-u and So-bal, plotted a rebellion. They pretended to be sick and refused to attend the royal court. They went to a local spring instead and led loose and dissolute lives there. They also spread false rumors about the king. Having already been informed of their scheme, the king promised that he would give them ministerial posts and told them to come to see him. Of course, that was a lie to get the betrayers to return to the court. Upon their arrival, the two men were captured and executed. As a result, their rebellion failed.
King Seocheon died in the year 292, ending his 22-year rule. Four years after his death, in 296, the king’s tomb was robbed by the invading forces of the ethnic Mongolian Xianbei tribe called Murong. According to a Korean history book called The History of Three Kingdoms, the robbers at the time suddenly died for no reason and strange music came out from the tomb, forcing the frightened Murong soldiers to retreat from Goguryeo.