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Yeon Gaesomun (603 - 665), was a powerful and controversial military dictator and Generalissimo in the waning days of Goguryeo--one of the Three Kingdoms
of ancient Korea.

Traditional Korean histories paint Yeon as a despotic leader, whose cruel policies and disobedience to his monarch led to the fall of Goguryeo. However, his
achievements in defending Goguryeo against Chinese onslaughts have inspired Korean nationalist historians, most notably the 19th century Korean historian
and intellectual Sin Chaeho, to term Yeon the greatest hero in Korean history. Many Korean scholars today echo Sin and praise Yeon as a soldier-statesman
without equal in Korean history, though other scholars strongly disagree. Chinese and Japanese scholars continue to hold an unfavorable view of Yeon.
Yeon Gaesomun was the first and eldest son of Yeon Taejo, the Mangniji during the reigns of Kings Pyeongwon of Goguryeo and Yeongyang of Goguryeo.
Information about Yeon Gaesomun comes largely from the Samguk Sagi's accounts of Kings Yeongnyu and Bojang (Goguryeo vols. 8-10) and its biography of
Yeon Gaesomun (vol. 49), surviving tomb engravings belonging to his sons Yeon Namsaeng and Yeon Namgeon, and the biographies of those same sons that
appear in the Xin Tangshu (New History of Tang).
Tang Chinese historical records give Yeon Gaesomun's surname as Cheon (Chinese, Quan, meaning "spring"), because Yeon (Chinese , Yuan, meaning
"riverhead") was the given name of Emperor Gaozu of Tang (Li Yuan), founder and first emperor of Tang, and thus taboo to apply to another by Chinese
tradition. He is also sometimes referred to as Gaegeum .
Very little is known of Yeon's early days, until he became the commander of the western district, where he oversaw the building of the Cheolli Jangseong, a
defensive wall against China.

Overthrow of the throne
Yeon Gaesomun's 642 coup d'etat came as the culimnation of a lengthy power struggle between the military and the executive officials. Traditional Chinese
and Korean historians believed that his motive was simply his thirst for power. With the rise of Korean nationalism, many revisionist Korean historians now
assert that his motive was to make Goguryeo take a tougher stance against Tang China (they have some trouble explaining why Yeon ordered invasions of
Silla rather Tang China after his assumption of power)

King Yeongnyu ultimately plotted to execute Yeon, allegedly due to his brutality by traditional Korean and Chinese sources, but Yeon struck first. In 642, Yeon
arranged a lavish banquet to which the most powerful nobles of the kingdom were invited. When all the invitees were present, Yeon's soldiers ambushed and
killed most of them. Yeon then proceeded to the palace where he murdered the king as well. According to traditional Chinese and Korean sources, the murder
was extremely gruesome and the king's body was desecrated afterwards; the brutal murder of the King and several hundred officials probably contributed
much to the almost unanimously unfavorable view of Yeon among traditional Korean and Chinese historians.

After placing Bojang Taewang, nephew of Yeongnyu, on the Goguryeo throne, Yeon appointed himself Dae Mangniji , the highest possible rank of Goguryeo
under the Taewang; associated with commander of military affairs, and leader of political affairs). Subsequently, in this role Yeon went on to assume de facto
control over Goguryeo affairs of state until his death around 666.

His role in the murder of the Goguryeo king was taken as the primary pretext for the failed Tang invasion of 645.

Wars with China
The series of wars between Goguryeo and the Tang is one of the most important conflicts in Northeastern Asian history, for many believe that they were the
main cause of the ultimate demise of once-powerful Goguryo. Yeon was a central protagonist in this important series of wars, as well as its chief cause.

In the beginning of his rule, Yeon was briefly conciliatory toward Tang China. For instance, he supported Taoism at the expense of Buddhism, and in 643 sent
emissaries to the Tang court to request Taoist sages, eight of whom were brought to Goguryeo. This gesture is considered by some historians as an effort to
pacify the Tang and buy time to prepare for a Tang invasion that Yeon thought inevitable, given Yeon's ambitions to annex Silla.

Relations with Tang deteriorated, however, as Goguryeo launched new invasions of Silla, In the beginning, Taizong's noted military acumen enabled him to
conquer a number of major border city fortresses of Goguryeo. Eventually, however, Taizong's invasion was met with two major setbacks. First, Taizong's
main army was stymied and bogged down for several months at Ansi Fortress due to the resistance of the celebrated commander, Yang Man-chun. Second,
the elite marine force that Taizong sent to take Pyongyang, Goguryeo's capital, was defeated by Yeon who, according to the Joseon Sanggosa, then
immediately marched his legions to relieve Yang's Goguryeo forces at Ansi Fortress.

Taizong, caught between Yang's forces in the front and Yeon's counter-attacking forces closing in behind him as well as suffering from the harsh winter and
dangerously low food supplies Taizong was forced to retreat back home. (Zizhi Tongjian). During the retreat itself, a large number of Taizong's soldiers were
slain by Yeon and his pursuing army. However, Taizong and the bulk of the invading army survived. according to the Chinese history books, Taizong's first
invasion of Gogoryeo was not a complete defeat, as Taizong took a substantial part of the territory that was under Goguryeo influence before the invasion and
inflicted heavy casualties on Goguryeo's side (both soldiers and civilians). After the invasion, Goguryeo was never again able to launch attacks on China, as it
once did during the peak of its power.
It is speculated that after Taizong's failure of conquering Goguryeo the personal rivalry with Yeon became an obsession with Taizong and his son Gaozong.
They invaded Goguryeo two more times in 661 and 667 and were unsuccessful at both times--perhaps most notably during Yeon's defeat of the Tang forces in
662 at the Sasu River, Probably present-day Botong river) where the invading general and all 13 of his sons were killed in the battle. Yeon's victory in Sasu is
today considered by many Korean to be one of the three greatest military victories in Korean history. With increasing domestic issues in China, Tang was once
again forced to retreat. However, the population and economy were severely damaged after the three major invasions and never recovered. both Silla and
Tang continued their invasions for over 8 years, ultimately leading to the demise of Goguryeo. but at least while Yeon Gaesomun was alive, Tang and Silla was
not able to conquer the Goguryeo.
Death
The most likely date of Yeon's death is that recorded on the tomb stele of Namsaeng, Yeon Gaesomun's eldest son: the twenty-fourth year of the reign of
Bojang (665). However, the Samguk Sagi records the year as 666, and the Japanese history Nihonshoki gives the year as the twenty-third year of the reign of
King Bojang (664).
He apparently died of natural causes.
Yeon Gaesomun had at least three sons, (eldest to youngest) Yeon Namsaeng, Yeon Namgeon, and Yeon Namsan. After his death, the country was weakened
by a succession struggle between his brother and three sons, and in 668 fell relatively swiftly to the Silla-Tang armies. Some sources say the later would-be
king of Goguryeo, Anseung, was the son of Yeon Jeongto, the younger brother of Yeon Gaesomun.
Controversy and Legacy
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Yeon has been one of the most — if not the most — controversial figures in Korean history. The many controversies surrounding him revolve around two
issues: his character and his role in the fall of Goguryeo.

First, in terms of his character, later Confucian scholars have mercilessly criticized Yeon for the coup and the regicide that brought him to power. In their eyes,
he was a disloyal subject who sought personal power above all else. In particular, extant Tang and Silla sources have consistently portrayed Yeon as a brutal
and arrogant dictator. According to their testimony, for instance, Yeon would have men prostrate themselves so that he might use their backs to mount or
dismount his horse.

Yeon's modern-time defenders, however, dismiss these Tang and Silla sources as biased calumnies of enemy historians. Moreover, they argue that Yeon's
subsequent single-mindedness and success in defending Goguryeo testifies his genuine patriotism (though Taizong's first invasion was provoked by Yeon's
attacks on Silla, and subsequent attacks were possibly due to Taizong and his son's personal hatred against Yeon).

Second, in terms of his role in the downfall of Gogureyo, Yeon's detractors blame Yeon for needlessly provoking the Tang to attack Goguryeo (see above) and
thereby ensuring its downfall. They point out that, while Goguryeo remained a formidable regional power before Yeon assumed power, it was completely
destroyed by Silla and Tang within a short time soon after his death. They also point out that the population of Gogureyo decreased dramatically during Yeon's
rule, and much of the economy was destroyed due to constant wars with Tang China and Silla.

Yeon's defenders rejoin by claiming that the Tang would have invaded Goguryeo, regardless of Goguryeo's attitude vis-a-vis Tang (although a major reason
for Taizong's first invasion of Goguryeo was Yeon's invasion of Silla, another Korean kingdom that allied with Tang). They add that continuing to appease the
Tang--as King Yongnyu had done--is tantamount to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler.

For many modern Korean nationalists, Yeon is a symbol of that magic historical juncture where the pinnacle of Korean history and its Chinese counterpart
violently collided, and the Koreans unambiguously triumphed over the Chinese (it should be kept in mind, however, that Tang China was also simulatneously
engaging in military ventures on its Western and Southern frontiers). It is no wonder in this age of renascent conflict between South Korea and China over the
historical ownership of part of Manchuria, Yeon has undegone a dramatic rehabilitation, and he is for the first time by a large number of South Koreans, most of
them descendants of the people of Silla, the greatest hero in their history per Sin Chae-ho's words.

Another huge controversy that arises is the sources actually used to support the defeat of the Tang Dynasty. Some sources such as Sin's Joseon Sangosa
claim that Taizong was forced into the outskirts of Beijing, but Sin's account has been challenged on the basis that it lacked support in traditional Korean and
Chinese sources. For example, he stated that 100,000-200,000 Tang soldiers died, but both the ancient Korean history Samguk Sagi[2] and ancient Chinese
histories Book of Tang, New Book of Tang, and Zizhi Tongjian put the figure at 20,000, stating that there were only 100,000 Tang soldiers used total. The
modern Chinese historian Bo Yang has speculated that the Yeon had the records altered so that he could claim credit for Yang Manchun's victory over Tang.

Media
Yeon is being the chief subject of new historical drama Yeon Gaesomun released in 2006 by SBS in Korea. He was also featured in the KBS drama Dae Jo
Young which is about the founding monarchy of Balhae. The latter depicts him somewhat as a cruel ruthless dictator, while Yeon shows otherwise.
YON-GAE
Movements - 49
Ready Posture - WARRIOR READY STANCE A
Pattern Meaning
YONG-GAE is named after a famous general during
the Koguryo Dynasty, Yon Gae Somoon. The 49
movements refer to the last two figures of 649
A.D., the year he forced the Tang Dynasty to quit
Korea after destroying nearly 300,000 of their
troops at Ansi Sung.
Ready Posture - WARRIOR READY STANCE A

1. Slide to C to form a right L-stance toward D while executing a low guarding block to D with a reverse knife-hand.
Perform in a circular motion.

2. Execute a high punch to D with the right long fist while forming a left walking stance toward D pivoting with the left
foot. Perform in slow motion.

3. Slide to C forming a left L-stance toward D while executing a middle guarding block to D with the forearm.

4. Execute a middle outward strike to D with the right knife-hand while flying to D and then land to D forming a left
L-stance toward D with the right knife-hand extended to D.

5. Shift to C maintaining a left L-stance toward D while executing a checking block to D with an X-fist.

6. Execute a high outward cross-cut to D with the right flat finger tip while forming a right walking stance toward D,
slipping the right foot.

7. Execute a downward thrust with the right straight elbow while forming a left rear foot stance toward D, pulling the
right foot.

8. Jump to D forming a left X-stance toward AD while executing a high side strike to D with the left back fist.

9. Move the right foot to C to form a left walking stance toward D while executing a low outward block to D with the
right knife-hand.

10. Move the right foot on line AB to form a parallel stance toward D while executing a middle hooking block to D with
the left palm.

11. Execute a middle punch to D with the right fist while maintaining a parallel stance toward D.

12. Slide to C forming a left L-stance toward D while executing a low guarding block to D with a reverse knife-hand.
Perform in a circular motion.

13. Execute a high punch to D with the left long fist while forming a right walking stance toward D, pivoting with the
right foot. Perform in slow motion.

14. Slide to C forming a right L-stance toward D while executing a middle guarding block to D with the forearm.

15. Execute a middle outward strike to D with the left knife-hand while flying to D and then land to D forming a right
L-stance toward D with the left knife-hand extended to D.

16. Shift to C maintaining a right L-stance toward D while executing a checking block to D with an X-fist.

17. Execute a high outward cross-cut to D with the left flat finger tip while forming a left walking stance toward D,
slipping the left foot.

18. Execute a downward thrust with the left straight elbow while forming a right rear foot stance toward D, pulling the
left foot.

19. Jump to D forming a right X-stance toward BD while executing a high side strike to D with the right back fist.

20. Move the left foot to C to form a right walking stance toward D while executing a low outward block to D with the
left knife-hand.

21. Move the left foot on line AB to form a parallel stance toward D while executing a middle hooking block to D with
the right palm.

22. Execute a middle punch to D with the left fist while maintaining a parallel stance toward D.

23. Move the right foot to A to form a sitting stance toward D while executing a W-shape block with the reverse
knife-hand.

24. Cross the left foot over the right foot to form a right X-stance toward D while executing a horizontal thrust with a
twin elbow.

25. Move the right foot to A forming a sitting stance toward D while executing a checking block to D with a twin
straight forearm.

26. Cross the left foot over the right foot to form a right X-stance toward D while executing an upward punch with the
right fist, pulling the left side fist in front of the right shoulder.

27. Execute a high reverse hooking kick to B with the right foot.

28. Lower the right foot to B and then execute a high side piercing kick to B with the left foot pulling both hands in
front of the chest while turning clockwise.

29. Lower the left foot to B in a jumping motion to form a left X-stance toward BD while executing a downward strike to
B with the left backfist.

30. Move the left foot to B to form a sitting stance toward D while executing a W-shape block with the reverse
knife-hand.

31. Cross the right foot over the left foot to form a left X-stance toward D while executing a horizontal thrust with a
twin elbow.

32. Move the left foot to B forming a sitting stance toward D while executing a checking block to D with a twin straight
forearm.

33. Cross the right foot over the left foot to form a left X-stance toward D while executing an upward punch with the
left fist, pulling the right side fist in front of the left shoulder.

34. Execute a high reverse hooking kick to A with the left foot.

35. Lower the left foot to A and then execute a high side piercing kick to A with the right foot pulling both hands in
front of the chest while turning counter clockwise.

36. Lower the right foot to A in a jumping motion to form a right X-stance toward AD while executing a downward strike
to A with the right backfist.

37. Move the left foot to C forming a left L-stance toward D while executing a middle guarding block to D with the
forearm.

38. Move the left foot to D turning counter clockwise to form a left rear foot stance toward C while executing a waist
block to C with the right inner forearm.

39. Move the right foot to C slightly and then the left foot to D in a stamping motion to form a right L-stance toward D
while executing a high outward strike to D with the left knife-hand.

40. Shift to C maintaining a right L-stance toward D while executing a middle guarding block to D with the forearm.

41. Move the right foot to D turning clockwise to form a right rear foot stance toward C while executing a waist block
to C with the left inner forearm.

42. Move the left foot to C slightly and then the right foot to D in a stamping motion to form a left L-stance toward D
while executing a high outward strike to D with the right knife-hand.

43. Move the right foot to C turning counter clockwise to form a right L-stance toward D while executing a middle
guarding block to D with the forearm.

44. Jump to execute a mid-air kick to D with the right foot while spinning clockwise and then land to D to form a left
L-stance toward D while executing a middle guarding block to D with a knife-hand.

45. Jump to execute a mid-air kick to D with the left foot while spinning counter clockwise and then land to D to form a
right L-stance toward D while executing a middle guarding block to D with a knife-hand.

46. Execute a low inward block to D with the right reverse knife-hand pulling the left side fist in front of the right
shoulder while forming a left walking stance toward D, slipping the right foot to C.

47. Slide to C to form a left L-stance toward D while thrusting to C with the left side elbow.

48. Execute a low inward block to D with the left reverse knife-hand pulling the right side fist in front of the left
shoulder while forming a right walking stance toward D, slipping the left foot to C.

49. Slide to C forming a right L-stance toward D while thrusting to C with the right side elbow.
END: Bring the right foot back to a ready posture.