King Bongsang was the fourteenth monarch of the Goguryeo Kingdom, who ruled the country for eight years from the year 292 to 300. Unfortunately, his relatively short reign was marred by tyranny and violence. From childhood, he was notorious for his arrogance and jealousy as well as wild living.
As soon as he became king, Bongsang killed all people who could possibly pose a threat to him in order to strengthen his royal power. His uncle, Dalga, for instance, was greatly popular with the people as he successfully defeated the invading forces of the Sushen tribe during the reign of the previous king. King Bongsang hated his uncle and charged him with treason before slaying him. The following year, in 293, the king also forced his younger brother, Dolgo, to commit suicide out of fear that the brother might betray him. The king attempted to kill Dolgo’s son, Eulbul, as well. But the king’s nephew escaped and managed to save his life to become the next king, Micheon.
In the year 296, the king named Chang Jo-ri as Prime Minister, who repelled the Murong Hui forces that invaded Goguryeo. Murong Hui was the ruler of the Former Yan Dynasty, and he was expanding his force further south. The repulse of the invading enemy from the north was the most outstanding achievement during King Bongsang’s reign.
But the king became increasingly corrupt and indulged in luxury. A severe famine hit the nation in 298, with a heavy frost and hail destroying crops. While people were starving, the king pressed ahead with his plan to rebuild a splendid palace to demonstrate royal authority. He mobilized men and women over 15 years of age and forced them to reconstruct the palace. This resulted in the resentment of the people toward their king. As the king did not care for his people, many residents chose to escape the country to avoid hunger and forced labor. Prime Minister Chang Jo-ri persuaded the king to scrap the reckless plan, but the king wouldn’t listen to him. On the contrary, the angry king thought that he should get rid of the defiant premier.
The ministers, including the premier, found no hope in the tyrannical king. In 300, they staged a coup and overthrew the unpopular king, who ended up taking his own life. His two sons also commit suicide with their father. The ministers found the king’s nephew, Eulbul, who was hiding out, and placed him on the throne. Prime Minister Chang Jo-ri also served the new king, Micheon.