You never know what might be lying around you. What looks like a normal, quiet park could actually turn out to be a war site or a burial ground. In the case of Mangu Park, almost everything in the area is a reminder of Koreans' strength and will to protect their land during the first Imjin Japanese Invasion of 1952. It lasted until 1598 (two invasions total) and it was a national crisis that had never happened before in the history of the country.
While lives were being brutally slaughtered and local establishments were being wiped out, the government’s inability to properly prepare for the Japanese assault led to the country’s resistance falling into the hands of ordinary citizens.
These citizens, the first righteous army, were led by Gwak
Jae-woo from the town of Uiryeong. With a small army of 17 men from his
village, they set out to battle against the Japanese. The commander, despite
being 40 years old, and his army slashed their way through numerous victories
including the Jeongamjin Battle, the Gigang Battle, and the Battle of Uiryeong
(the first recorded victory on Korean soil).
The voluntary military force
eventually grew to the thousands with multiple branches of righteous soldiers
being led by other representative commanders including Ko Gyeong-myeong, Cho
Heon, and Kim Cheon-il. Commander Gwak Jae-woo was never to be seen without his
white horse and bright red robe, thus giving him the nickname ‘General of the
red robe who descended from Heaven.’