General Ulmil and Ulmil Pavilion

Ulmil Pavilion

Ulmil Pavilion in Spring.

Ulmil Pavilion is situated on Moran Hill in Pyongyang. It was built in the mid-sixth century as northern command post of the inner wall of the Walled City of Pyongyang of Koguryo (277 BC-AD 668). It stands on an embankment piled vertically with well-trimmed stone pieces about 11 metres high. There are battlements at the top of the embankment.

The name of the pavilion was derived from the Korean word ulmirutho meaning upper hill. Legend has it that General Ulmil fought to defend the place during the period of Koguryo. The legend has been handed down by Pyongyangites who like it in particular.

They held the general in respect and affection as he always rendered distinguished services in battles to defend the Walled City of Pyongyang against foreign aggressors.

In his old age he taught martial arts to his son Narae and other young people. But things did not go well as he expected. So, after discussion with people in the city, he decided to send young men to a general in a mountain for 39 months' training in martial arts. Narae entrusted the care of his father to his love Kobi before leaving for the mountain.

One day, two years after the young people left, foreign aggressors invaded the city. Though not good in health as before, Ulmil led soldiers to turn out to defend the city. During the period of difficult battle Kobi and other people fighting close to the general repeatedly entreated him to send for the young men.

Then he said. "Should we give up our ambition for the purpose of getting through this momentary crisis? It is the disposition of us Koguryo people to consider the security and future of the country and the people more precious than our own lives. If you wish for the security of the country and posterity follow me!" And he unsheathed his sword and led the fighters.

Knowing that the general was seriously wounded by an arrow in a battle, the enemy pulled their forces together and rushed in again. Informed of this Ulmil wore his helmet and armour and went in a stretcher up to the command post on Moran Hill. He ordered that soldiers be deployed in accordance with the geographical features of the hill for a decisive battle.

When the battle was at its height enemy soldiers secretly approached the command post and rushed upon the general. Ulmil was fatally injured, and soon afterwards, his people came in haste and tried to awaken him but in vain.

At that critical hour Kobi left for the young men in the mountain.

At her urgent report Narae and other young men instantly rushed for the city. Early in the next morning they arrived there. Seeing the flag of the general fluttering and lances and swords flashing on the command post, they mowed down the enemy.

After the end of the battle they climbed the hill beating the drum for their victory. They, however, found the general dead. When they were looking at him dumbfounded, an elderly man said. "The general died two days ago. But before closing his eyes he told us to keep him here until the invaders retreated.”

Wailing for the general the young men and other people from Pyongyang pledged to carry on his ambition without fail.

From then on hundreds or thousands of generals like Ulmil grew up to defend the city.

It is said that the people in the walled city built the aforesaid pavilion on the command post and named it so after the general so as to convey his exploits to posterity.

The pavilion was also called Sahojong as it is situated on a scenic spot open to all directions. Colourfully painted the pavilion goes well with the surrounding scenery. So the scenery is called Ulmilsangchun—which means greeting spring on Ulmil Pavilion—as one of the eight famous views of Pyongyang.

The pavilion now serves as a recreation ground for the people.

(Uriminzokkiri - March 18, 2021)

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