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Wangsukcheon where the spirit and soul of the Korean royal kings of the Joseon Dynasty flow

(조선 왕조들의 숭고한 정신과 영혼이 흐르는 왕숙천)

The section of Guri Wangsukcheon (王宿川) has well-developed walking paths, bicycle paths, and Wangsookcheon ecological wetlands. Wangsukcheon originates from the Suwonsan Valley in Sinpal-ri, Naechon-myeon, Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do. Wangsukcheon is a river that flows through Namyangju-si and Guri-si in Gyeonggi-do into the Han River. It has a length of 37.34 km2 and a watershed area of ​​270.79 km2. Upstream side flows across Pocheon and Namyangju City, but downstream side geographically acts as a natural boundary between Guri and Namyangju City.

In Naegak-ri, Jinjeop-eup, upstream of Wangsukcheon, there was a palace where the king of the Joseon Dynasty stayed on vacation or stayed after resignation. One of the four major detached palaces in the Joseon Dynasty was the Pungyanggeung (豐壤宮). When passing the palace, anyone had to get off the horse and pass by the courtesy of the king in front of Pung(豐plentiful)-yang(壤village)-geung(宮palace). According to The Veritable Records of King Sejong, Pungyang Palace was where King Taejong stayed.

The royal tomb of King Sejo (1417~1468), called Gwangneung (東九陵), is located in Gwangneung, Jinjeop-eup, upstream of Wangsukcheon. It is a UN World Heritage Site belonging to Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do. The Gwangneung is the first royal couple tombs in Korea, where both King Sejo (left) and Queen Jeonghee (right) were buried side by side.

Near the downstream side of Wangsukcheon, there is Donggureung Royal Tombs, which was also selected as a UN World Heritage Site in 2009. The Dong(東east)-gu(九nine)-reung(陵tombs) Royal Tombs means there are nine royal tombs for the nine kings who left their achievements in the Joseon Dynasty. Originally in the 8th year (1408) of King Taejong, King Taejong (1367~1422) built the royal tombs to serve King Taejo (1335~1408), the father and founder of Joseon Daynasty. The Donggureung Royal Tombs is now a cultural property belonging to Guri-si, Gyeonggi-do.

Upstream and downstream of Wangsukcheon, there are royal tombs for 10 kings who left their achievements in the Joseon Dynasty. The Wangsukcheon is the only place in South Korea, where so many kings' royal tombs exist along the river. According to old oral tradition, people say that this river was called ‘Wang(王king)-suk(宿sleeping)-cheon(川stream/river)’ because there were so many kings of the Joseon Dynasty buried along the river. People still take pride in Wangsukcheon because they believe that the kings are sleeping peacefully while looking at the streams of Wangsukcheon.

There are different views on the origin of the name for Wangsukcheon. According to their claims, the King Taejo, who founded Joseon, admired the river because it was so beautiful. And the king slept around the river for eight days. For this reason they believe that the river was called Wangsukcheon.

Although there is no historical evidence, the beauty and ecosystem of Wangsukcheon seems to be enough for King Taejo to sleep for eight days.

Two rivers containing the history and spirit of Joseon Dynasty: Wangsukcheon and Yangsu-ri (조선왕조의 역사와 정신이 깃든 왕숙천과 양수리)

In the northern part of Gyeonggi-do, two rivers containing the history and spirit of Joseon Dynasty flow. One is Wangsukcheon, where the kings of Joseon mentioned above are peacefully sleeping. The other is Yangsu-ri (兩水里), where the North and South Han Rivers flow and meet together.

Yang(兩both/two)-su-(水water/river)-ri(里area/way) means that two rivers flow and meet together. In this way, the two rivers met and formed one to become a large river. This is the origin of the Han River, the lifeline of Seoul.

The North Han River originates from Mt. Geumgang and flows southward, merging Geumseongcheon in Cheorwon, Gangwon-do. Afterwards, the North Han River flows south through Hwacheon-eup, Hwacheon-gun, and then joins the South Han River in Yangsu-ri, Yangpyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do.

The South Han River originates in Mt. Daedeok, Samcheok-si, Gangwon-do and merges with Pyeongchang River in Yeongwol. After passing Danyang, Chungcheongbuk-do, it flows west and enters Gyeonggi-do. The South Han River then joined the North Han River in Yangsu-ri.

In the middle of the Joseon Dynasty, during the reign of King Jeongjo, Jeong Yak-yong (1762~1836) was the greatest Korean Silhak (practical learning) scholar, architect, and inventor. He is often simply known as ‘Dasan’ (茶山, pen-names meaning ‘the mountain of tea’). He has written a number of valuable books on how the kings and politicians think and govern the people from the standpoint of the common people. Dasan Jeong Yak-yong's political and educational ideology has become one of the spiritual cornerstones of today's development of Korea as a democracy. He had been exiled in other areas for a long time because he had Catholicism, which was prohibited by the Joseon Dynasty. However, after his exile, he returned to his home in Yangsu-ri and lived and died until the age of 75.

Yangsu-ri, where the North and South Han Rivers flow and meet as one, still flows the spirit of Dasan Jeong Yak-yong, who was the greatest scholar of scholars of the time and the spiritual mentor of the common people of the Joseon Dynasty. In Wangsukcheon, on the other hand, the spirit and soul of the royal kings who led the political society of the Joseon Dynasty, are still flowing.

By Sang Jin Choi (Founder of Dosan Dream International School) 7/11/2020

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