Eulji Mundeok was a noted military leader of early 7th century Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Often numbered among
the greatest heroes in Korean military history, he defended Goguryeo against the Sui Chinese.
Mundeok was born in the mid-6th century and died sometime after 618, although the exact date is unknown. At the time of his birth, the
kingdom of Goguryeo had grown to a powerful and belligerent empire, constantly warring with its neighbours, Chinese states to its north
and west, and its fellow Korean kingdoms Silla and Baekje to its southeast and southwest respectively.
A unbalance of power was maintained between these Three Kingdoms of Korea, until outside influence, namely the much larger Tang
Dynasty of China, finally tipped the advantage to Silla. In 589, the Sui Dynasty had reunified China for the first time since the fall of the
Han Dynasty over three centuries before. The Sui early on launched several large military campaigns against recalcitrant Goguryeo
unwilling to submit to Sui dominance.
in his name is some form of Goguryeo rank or title) was an educated man, skilled in both "mun" political and the "mu" military sciences.
He eventually rose to become Minister of Goguryeo.
The Battle of Salsu River
After the founding of the Sui dynasty in 589, a precarious peace obtained for several years between the new Chinese dynasty and
Goguryeo. In 597, however, the Goguryeo king launched raids across the Liao River (the traditional border with China). In response, the
Sui invaded Goguryeo, but the invasion failed as the invasion force was scattered by a typhoon.
In the early 7th century, however, the new Sui emperor Yangdi learned of secret Goguryeo correspondence with the Eastern Turkish
khanate. Yangdi took a hard stand and demanded the Goguryeo king come and submit personally to Sui or face an "imperial tour of his
territories". When the Goguryeo king failed to submit in this fashion, Yangdi prepared for war. He mustered an army of over 1,133,800
troops and more than 2 million auxiliaries and personally led them against Goguryeo in 612. They quickly overran Goguryeo's border
defenses, camped on the banks of the Liao River and prepared to bridge it. Eulji Mundeok, commissioned as a Field Marshal, was called
upon to assist in the defence of the nation, and prepared his troops to meet the superior Sui forces with a strategy of false retreat,
deception and attack. After the Sui forces crossed the Liao River, a small contingent was sent to attack the Goguryeo city of Liaodong,
but Field Marshal Eulji sent Admiral Gang Yi-sik and his forces to meet them there and drove them out. As the rainy season progressed,
the Sui forces launched other small probing attacks, but held off from making any large moves before the end of the rainy season. When
the rains stopped, Yangdi moved his forces to the banks of the Yalu River in northwestern Korea and prepared for a major battle. Fighting
only small engagements at times and places of his choosing, he drew the Sui forces further and further from their supply centers. A Sui
advance force of over 305,000 men was sent to take the city of Pyongyang. After allowing the force to approach the city, Field Marshall
Eulji ambushed it. His forces attacked from all sides, driving the Sui troops back in utter confusion. His troops pursued the retreating
army, slaughtering them at will; records claim that only 2,700 men of the massive force returned alive to the main Chinese army. This
battle, the Battle of Salsu, came known as one of the most glorious military triumphs in Korea's national history. (It was said that Eulji had
built a large dam upon the Salsu river which made the waterbed shallow, and as the Sui troops crossed the dam was broken down,
releasing a huge current of water upon the unsuspecting troops, thus wiping out nearly the entire fleet with one blow). After the battle,
winter began to set in and the Sui forces, short on provisions, were forced to return home.
Eulji Mundeok managed to protect Shin Fortress (신성) from a Sui invasion force, but he died not long after.
The Sui Dynasty was beginning to disintegrate and Yangdi decided that he urgently needed to expand his empire in order to regain
power, but two more attacks on Goguryeo by Yangdi the following spring met with similar disaster, and eventually internal rebellion in
China forced the Sui to abandon their desire for Goguryeo. By 618, the relatively short-lived Sui Dynasty was replaced by the Tang
Dynasty. Field Marshal Eulji Mundeok's strategy and leadership had protected Goguryeo from the Chinese expansion to the Korean
One of the most distinguished military leaders of the Goguryeo period and one of the most famous figures in ancient Korean history,
Eulji's leadership and tactical acumen was the decisive factor in sparing defeating the Sui invasion. Facing vastly numerically superior
forces, he developed a strategy that allowed him to secure a decisive victory. Such spectacular tactical success was sufficient to earn
him a permanent place among Korea's most famous leaders. That said, it was only in the early 20th century that Eulji Mundeok began to
acquire the veneration he enjoys today among Koreans. This reassessment of Mundeok may have begun with the Korean nationalist
historian Sin Chaeho 申采浩 (1880-1936), who published a biography of Mundeok in 1908 and held him out as an example of Korea's
traditional nationalist spirit at a time when Korea was suffering under the yoke of Japanese colonization. Eulji Mundeok is still celebrated
as a great Korean hero. One of the most preeminent Korean scholars of the 20th century, Lee Ki-baik, noted that Mundeok's efforts in
halting the Sui attempt at conquest stand as one of the earliest examples of Korean attempts to fend of foreign domination. Today a main
thoroughfare in downtown Seoul, Euljiro, is named after Eulji Mundeok. The second highest Military Decoration of South Korea, Field
Marshal Lord Eulji's Order of Military Merit, is also named in his honour. He is featured in the new Korean SBS drama Yeon Gaesomun
which is about the life of powerful prime minister of the same name.
Eulji Mundeok's literary work, the Eulji Mundeok Hansi, is one of the oldest surviving poems in Korean literature.
One of the annual Combined Forces Command Exercise between South Korea and the United States is called Ulchi Focus Lens (UFL) in
honor of Eulji Mundeok. Ulchi Focus Lens is a Command Post Exercise (CPX) with the tactical situation portrayed through the use of
computer simulation models and master scenario events list. Ulchi Focus Lens is the world's largest computerized command and control
exercise. The exercise focuses on how U.S. and South Korean forces would defend against a North Korean attack.
|Movements - 42
Ready Posture - PARALLEL STANCE WITH AN X-BACK HAND
UL- JI is named after general Ul-Ji Moon Dok who successfully
defended Korea against a Tang's invasion force of nearly one
million soldiers led by Yang Je in 612 A.D., Ul-Ji employing hit
and run guerrilla tactics, was able to decimate a large
percentage of the force. The diagram represents his surname.
The 42 movements represent the author's age when he
designed the pattern.
Ready Posture - PARALLEL STANCE WITH AN X-BACK HAND
1. Move the left foot to C forming a right walking stance toward D while executing a horizontal strike with twin side fists.
2. Move the right foot to C to form a left walking stance toward D while executing a pressing block with an X-fist.
3. Execute a rising block with an X-knife-hand while maintaining a left walking stance toward D.
Perform 2 and 3 in a continuous motion.
4. Execute a high front strike to D with the right knife-hand bringing the left palm on the right elbow joint while
maintaining a left walking stance toward D.
5. Move the left foot to C to form a sitting stance toward B while executing a horizontal strike to C with the left back
6. Execute a middle crescent kick to the left palm with the right foot.
7. Lower the right foot to C, forming a sitting stance toward A while striking the left palm with the right front elbow.
8. Thrust to B with the left back elbow placing the right side fist on the left fist while maintaining a sitting stance toward
9. Execute a side back strike to B with the right back fist and extending the left arm to the side-downward while
maintaining a sitting stance toward A.
10. Bring the left foot to the right foot, forming a close stance toward D, at the same time thrusting with a twin side
11. Cross the left foot to the right foot, forming a close stance toward D while turning the face to A, Keeping the
position of the hands as they were in 10.
Perform in a fast motion.
12. Execute a middle side piercing kick to A with the right foot keeping the position of the hands as they were in 11.
13. Lower the right foot to A, and then cross the left foot over the right foot, forming a right X-stance toward D while
executing a horizontal thrust with a twin elbow.
14. Move the right foot to A to form the sitting stance toward D while executing a right horizontal punch to A.
15. Execute a high front strike to D with right knife-hand, bringing the left back hand in front of the forehead while
standing up toward D.
16. Execute a twin knife-hand block to B while forming a right L-stance toward B, pivoting with the right foot.
17. Jump to execute a mid-air kick to B with the right foot while spinning clockwise.
18. Land to B forming a right walking stance toward B while executing a middle block to B with the right double forearm.
19. Bring the left foot to the right foot to form a closed ready stance B toward D.
20. Jump to D forming a right X-stance toward BD while executing a high side strike to B with the right back fist
bringing the left finger belly to the right side fist.
21. Move the left foot to C to form a right walking stance toward D while executing a rising block with the left forearm.
22. Execute a middle front snap kick to D with the left foot keeping the position of the hands as they were in 21.
23. Lower the left foot to D forming a left walking stance toward D while executing a high punch to D with the right fist.
24. Move the right foot to D to form a right walking stance toward D while executing a middle thrust to D with the right
25. Move the left foot to D turning counter-clockwise to form a sitting stance toward A while executing a high side
strike to D with the left back fist.
26. Move the right foot to F turning counter-clockwise to form a right walking ready stance toward F.
27. Jump to execute a flying high kick to F with the right foot.
28. Land to F to form a right fixed stance toward F while executing a checking block to F with an X-knife hand.
29. Move the left foot to F forming a right L-stance toward F while executing a pressing block with an X-fist.
30. Execute a middle side front snap kick to F with the left foot while executing a middle wedging block with the inner
31. Lower the left foot to F forming a left walking stance toward F while executing a high vertical punch to F with a twin
32. Move the right foot to F to form a right fixed stance toward F while executing a middle outward block with the right
knife hand and a middle pushing block with the left palm.
33. Slide to F forming a right L-stance toward F while executing a middle punch to F with the left fist.
34. Move the left foot to the side rear of the right foot and the right foot to E to form a right L-stance toward F and then
jump to E maintaining a right L-stance towards F while executing a middle guarding block to F with the forearm.
35. Execute a middle turning kick to DF with the right foot.
36. Lower the right foot to F and then execute a middle back piercing kick to F with the left foot.
37. Lower the left foot to F to form a right L-stance toward F while executing a middle guarding block to F with the
38. Move the left foot to E forming a left l-stance toward F while executing an upward block to F with the right palm.
39. Move the right foot to E forming a right walking stance to E while executing a circular block to ED with the left inner
40. Execute a circular block to DE with the right inner forearm while forming a right walking stance toward DF.
41. Move the left foot on line EF to form a sitting stance toward D while executing a middle punch to D with the left fist.
42. Execute a middle punch to D with the right fist while maintaining a sitting stance toward D.
END: Bring the left foot back to a ready posture.