Mausoleum of King Wang Kon

Mausoleum of King Wang Kon
(Photo Credit KCNA)

This Mausoleum is for King Wang Kon (877–943), the founder of Koryo (918–1392).

He was a powerful feudal magnate in the area of Kaesong, the then Songak.

He performed meritorious deeds in a number of battles. In 913 he was appointed as Sijung, the highest government position of Thaebong State (901–918). In 918 he staged a military coup against the repressive governance of Kung Ye (?–918), king of Thaebong, and founded a new kingdom.

He named his country Koryo to the effect that it succeeded Koguryo. Then he enforced a policy for territorial integrity while ensuring political security of the country. At the same time he secured old territory of Koguryo north of the Taedong River, while pursuing the policy of accepting the ruined people of Palhae (late 7th century–early 10th century).

Thus, he accomplished the cause of territorial unification by annexing Silla (mid-first century–935) in 935 and Later Paekje (900–936) in 936.

The Mausoleum of King Wang Kon, located in Haeson-ri, Kaesong, was constructed in 943 for the first time and reconstructed in 1994.

It is on a small ridge of Mt. Mansu, a stretch of Mt. Songak.

On one side of the gate stands the Monument to the Reconstructed Mausoleum of Founder King of Koryo Wang Kon with President Kim Il Sung’s autograph engraved on it.

On the back of the monument is to be seen a poem dedicated to exploits of President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il for the reconstruction of the mausoleum.

Just pass the gate, and you can see a memorial house and a pavilion for a monument.

Pass the house and pavilion, and you will find the mound in the style of an earth-covered stone tomb that used to be prevalent in Koguryo.

Around the mound there stand 12-angled stone screens and they are encircled by a stone fence.

The mound is eight metres high and the stone screen is 19 metres in diameter.

In each of the four corners of the mound there is a stone tiger, and in front are an altar, stone posts and stone lanterns.

In the second and third terraces that are a little lower than the mound area, there are stone images of eight aides of the king, who accomplished great feats in founding the unified state of the Korean nation.

The mound is divided into a stone door, a passageway and a burial chamber.

In the centre of the chamber there is a big stone bier. At the foot of the right and left walls there is a long shelf of relics.

Murals are painted on the three walls that face the north, east and west— where bamboos, pine trees and blue dragon and white tiger are painted.

The paintings are powerful in their structure, line and colour, and retain techniques of interpretation of Korean painting which is peculiar and vivid.

In and around the mausoleum area there have been unearthed different kinds of relics— jewel buckles, a bronze kettle and gilt-bronze ornaments.

A gilt-bronze sedentary statue of King Wang Kon is a typical example.

At the time of its unearthing it had thin silk fabrics and gilt-bronze pieces attached on its body.

There remained vestiges of gold-plating on some parts of the statue including its head. The statue was topped with a crown divided into the inner and outer parts. The outer part depicted a mountain in its front centre and clouds on the right and left sides. The inner part is higher than the outer one, with numbers of strings hung like a waterfall. Along the edges on the inner part were carved eight circular decorations on a regular basis, six of which remain now. The decorations are patterned on the sun and the moon.

On June 23, 2013 the Mausoleum of King Wang Kon was registered in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage as it is a valuable historical and cultural relic carrying the history of the building of the unified state.

(Uriminzokkiri - December 12, 2020)

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