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King Gwanggaeto the Great (2011) Episode 1 Recap
Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo (374–413) (r. 391–413) was the nineteenth monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Under Gwanggaeto, Goguryeo once again became a major power of East Asia, having enjoyed such a status in the 2nd century CE. Upon Emperor Gwanggaeto's death at thirty-nine years of age in 413, Goguryeo controlled all territory between the Amur and Han Rivers (two thirds of modern Korea, Manchuria, and parts of the Russian Maritime province and Inner Mongolia). In addition, in 399, Silla submitted to Goguryeo for protection from raids from Baekje. Gwanggaeto captured the Baekje capital in present-day Seoul and made Baekje its vassal. Many consider this loose unification under Goguryeo to have been the only true unification of the Three Kingdoms. Gwanggaeto's accomplishments are recorded on the Gwanggaeto Stele, erected in 414 at the site of his tomb in Ji'an along the present-day Chinese-North Korean border. It is the largest engraved stele in the world.
Sitting in the Goguryeo throne room, King Gwanggaeto gives a brief summary of his life:
“King of Horror Damdeok. I fought many battles in my life. Many invaders were killed with the sword, many kings of enemy nations knelt before this sword. I had wanted peace, but I had to fight enemies who attacked Goguryeo.[...] I tried to make Goguryeo powerful. I only thought of Goguryeo. There were trials and hardships. But I advanced forward for my people.[...] I tried to expand Goguryeo's future and the dreams of my people. For everyone to be people of Goguryeo and live in peace. […] That is my destiny which I will follow if I am born again.”
In Zhongsan, the capital of Houyan, the emperor designates Murong Bao as the crown prince of Houyan and gives him military command with an order to conquer Goguryeo and rule the world. Murong Bao vows to to defeat Goguryeo and cut of the head of its king. Ko Un, the son of Goguryeo prime minsters is in Houyan tries to inform his father but is caught by a Houyan soldiers. They manage to disarm the Houyan guards and through interrogation he learns that the 20000 soldiers leaving with the crown price are just a ploy to deceive Goguryeo and that an army of over 100000 has already crossed into Goguryeo. He consequently informs his father.
“In year 342, Murong Huang invaded Goguryeo. King Micheon's grave was dug up and his remains were taken. Because of that Goguryeo had a grudge against the Xianbei people. Murong Chui, Murong Huang's son established Houyan. Goguryeo and Houyan fought over the ruling rights of the central plains. Murong Chui wanted to defeat Goguryeo because his father couldn't. He built a great army and attacked Goguryeo”.
Soldiers from Yodongseong fortress see a fire signal from Gaemoseong. Word reaches the Goguryeo court that Houyan has invaded and that Gaemoseong is under attack. The minister of defense Yeo Soi is confident to defeat the Houyan army because all his spies have informed him that the army is made up of 20000 soldiers. The prime minister who has received word from his son informs them that this is not the case and that the army is actually 150000 soldiers strong. He advices the king to send reinforcements from all regional forts to Yodongseong because Houyan have to pass through Yodongseong to reach the Goguryeo capital. Messengers arrive from the north and inform the court that Hyeodongseong has been captured.
Outside Hyeodongseong, Houyan soldiers are chasing Ko Chang, Hyeodongseong's lord. They capture him and Murong Bao orders his general, Fengba, to kill him. Fengba informs Murong Bao that Ko Chang is the son of the lord of Yodongseong and that they could use him. Murong Bao however gets infuriated and orders Fengba to kill him regardless asking, “Do you think I lack power that I have to take a lord’s son as a hostage?”. Just as Fengba is about to cut down Ko Chang, Damdeok and his soldiers come riding in and Damdeok kills a lot of Murong Bao soldiers on his own. Impressed by Damdeok's skill, Murong Bao inquires who Damdeok is. Damdeok informs them that he is the “Ghost General from the North” and that he will turn them all into ghosts. Damdeok starts fighting with Murong Bao and cuts part of his armour off. Seeing this, Fengba and other generals rushes to protect him. Damdeok learns that Murong Bao is the Houyan crown prince and tells him, “I’ll cut off your head to make you pay for attacking Goguryeo”. He adds that he will show Murong Bao just how scary his sword his. Their fight continues. Damdeok and Murong Bao have their swords locked, Damdeok pushes Murong Bao back and swings his sword upward. He comes close to cut Murong Bao’s head off but instead he just scratches Murong Bao’s helmet. Damdeok tells Murong Bao that he does not need to fight and that they should get out of his way. Despite resisteance, Murong Bao is pulled back by his generals. Damdeok rescues Ko Chang and they head back to Yodongseong. This marks the start of a very heated rivalry between Murong Bao and Damdeok.
They return to Yodongseong where they learn that the reinforcements that were sent have all been ambushed leaving Yodongseong isolated. The Houyan army finally make their move. General Fengba advances towards Yodongseong’s gate and orders the immediate surrender of the fortress stating that it is the the only way for them to live. Despite them having a white flag, Damdeok Shoots an arrow at Fengba's helmet and tells him that that was a warning to the Houyan emperor and if the Houyan army does not withdraw, none of them will leave Goguryeo alive. This angers Murong Bao who in turn orders an all out attack. The Houyan army seem to be overwhelming the Goguryeo army at first but Damdeok realizes that if they kill the generals issuing the orders, the Houyan ranks will be filled with confusion. Damdeok’s idea works and Murong Bao is forced to retreat.
In Houyan , Ko Un, who is following the Houyan Emperor sends a message informing Goguryeo that there are over 200000 soldiers and that the emperor, Murong Chui is leading them. His servant informs him that they are headed toward the northern plain at Seoksan. However, Ko Un is suspicious and orders his servant Wonbong to follow the emperor back to Goguryeo.
The Goguryeo court is shocked when they learn that Murong Chui left Houyan three days earlier and is close to Yodongseong. The prime minister advises the king that they could use this as an opportunity to capture Murong Chui. The king asks how can they know which direction he is coming from. The prime minister informs him that according to intelligence, Murong Chui is taking the northern route. This is also confirmed by the defense minister who has recieved similar reports from his spies. The king is however skeptical stating that “They (Houyan) are very good at plotting schemes”. The prime minister however reminds the court that all enemy countries that have attacked from the south have all been defeated and that this also included Murong Chui’s father. Therefore, unless Murong Chui is a fool, he will not use the southern route. This convinces the court and the King issues the order.
Commander Ko Mu and his soldiers in Yodongseong are shocked to learn that Murong Chui is headed to Yodongseong with an army of 200000 and that the king wants them to capture him. Ko Mu inquires if there has been any fire signals from the south and learns that there hasn’t been any. Damdeok tells them that they cannot rely solely on fire signals and that they need to send scouts to confirm. Ko Chang however says that it is too late to send scouts. Mo Doyeong agrees with Ko Chang saying that the Houyan army should be very close to Yodongseong since it left Houyan six days earlier. He adds that if they are to ambush them, they needed to leave Yodongseong immediately. Ko Mu tells Damdeok that he understands the need for caution but they had to trust the information they recieved from the court.
Murong Chui, who is using the southern route, is doing so covertly. His sends a unit of soldiers to carefully kill Goguryeo soldiers manning the southern beacons. Once his soldiers have successfully taken over a beacon mound, they signal Murong Chui who continues with his advance. Knowing that Goguryeo is blind to his approach, Murong Chui decides to advance at a faster pace.
In Yodongseong, Damdeok tells Ko Mu that something is strange about the whole situation stating that Murong Chui would not make his path known so easily. Damdeok advises that Ko Mu should split the army in order to cover both southern and northern route but Ko Mu rejects the idea stating, “We don’t have enough soldiers to fight 200000 as it is”. Damdeok requests 1000 soldiers to cover the southern route but Ko Mu refuses and tells Damdeok that he will not hear anymore of his pestering. As Ko Mu is about leave an injured scout from Baegamseong arrives and confirms that the Houyan emperor is using the northern route. Ko Mu orders Damdeok to stay behind and defend Yodongseong.
In the Houyan army camp outside Yodongseong, Fengba arrives with news that a detachment of the Goguryeo army has left Yodongseong and are headed towards the northern plains. Murong Bao is ecstatic because Goguryeo has fallen for his father's scheme and vows to capture Yodongseong before his father arrives. He orders his generals to leave the path to the northern plains open. He also orders his generals to prepare to attack Yodongseong.
Murong Bao’s army is arrayed in battle formation outside Yodongseong. Damdeok’s suspicions have grown more so because the Houyan army camped out Yodongseong did not contend Ko Mu's departure from Yodongseong. Wonbong is captured while attempting to climb over the wall into Yodongseong. Ko Chang, suspecting him to be a Houyan spy, orders his execution. Damdeok however recognizes him. Wonbong informs them that the Houyan emperor is coming from the south and that the one coming from the north is a fake. Damdeok asks Ko Chang for 200 soldiers to go and kill Murong Chui. Ko Chang refuses and instead sends a messenger to Ko Mu with the update. Yak Yeon, Ko Chang's sisters, tells Damdeok that if he is confident, she will find a way around the blockade.
That night, Damdeok gathers 200 soldiers and they disguise themselves as Houyan soldiers. Before they leave Damdeok tells them:
“We are going to kill the Houyan emperor. We did not recieve the commander’s approval and we don’t have reinforcements. [. . .] We could probably die the minute we go out that gate. But, who will fear for their life if it means saving our country? . . .”
The slip out of Yodonseong and with Yak Yeon's help they cross the blockade undetected and arrive at a bridge where the Houyan emperor will cross.
They quitely take care of the Houyan soldiers guarding the bridge and take their positions. Before they start rigging the bridge, Damdeok tells them that even if he is caught, the mission to kill the Houyan Emperor takes precedent. He also vows that even if he turns into ashes, he must kill Murong Chui. They pour oil onto the bridge and place pouches filled with oil underneath the bridge. They finish rigging the bridge but before Damdeok and a couple other soldiers who were placing the pouches under the bridge can withdraw, Murong Chui and his soldiers arrive. When the Houyan emperor is crossing, Damdeok and some soldiers hiding under the bridge are discovered. Houyan archers come forward and kill the two of the soldiers hiding with Damdeok, forcing him to jump into the river. Three Houyan soldiers are sent after him but he easily kills them. Finally the Houyan soldiers throw chains with hooks and this time they manage to capture Damdeok.
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