Momyeongjae Shrine: Ming Dynasty to Daegu

published by Devon Furbush

Over the centuries, the Korean peninsula has seen several inspirational immigrants contributing to the well-being of the land and people. Just to name a few, the Japanese farmer who built Suseong Lake, missionary James Adams from the USA, Kim Chung-seon from Japan (naturalized as a Korean citizen), and an emperor from China’s Tang Dynasty all respectively have some kind of influence whether architecturally, culturally, religiously, or morally. In the case of Momyeongjae Shrine, it commemorates General Du Sa-chung who came from China’s Ming Dynasty to help the Korean troops defend their land during the first Japanese Invasion in 1592.

A descendant of the great poet Du-bo, he was a firm believer in the theory of divination based on topography known as ‘feng shui’. When Japan invaded for the second time in 1597, Du Sa-chung didn’t waste any time defending against the enemy troops. Only now he was joined by his brother-in-law, Jin-rin, who was a naval force commanding officer. Despite the violence raging on the peninsula, Du Sa-chung was happy to have the opportunity to return to Korea for a second time after befriending his fellow troops during the first invasion. They drank together, had deep conversations, and showed respect to each other during their fight with Japan.

It was through Jin-rin where he was able to meet General Yi Sun-shin, one of the most recognizable figures in all of Korean history. Since Jin-rin had a high position in the naval forces, it was only a matter of time before he would meet another renowned general. The three men then began sharing advice and discussing military strategies that naturally made them form a close bond with each other. Later on, General Yi Sun-shin sent a poem to Du Sa-chung addressing him as his government name, Du Bok-ya.

 

The poem reads:

My poem to Du Bok-ya.

Go up North to be with the joys and sorrows of life.

Come to the East to be caught between life and death.

Under the moon of a far distant land,

today we spread love with a shot of liquor.” 

The Imjin Japanese Invasion went on until 1598 and General Yi-Sun Shin died that same year. Having survived the treacherous invasion, Du Sa-chung looked around at the aftermath to see the country in an urgent crisis. He couldn’t bring himself to just leave to go back home to China, so he became naturalized in Korea. While making the arrangements for becoming a citizen, he was told that he can live wherever he wanted to. He wasted no time choosing Daegu since he had already thought of it as his home. He then went on to set the grounds for some of the areas we see today: Gyesan-dong, Gyeongsang-gamyeong Park, Daemyeong-dong, Gosan-dong, Hyeongjae-bong, and the Momyeongjae Shrine.

Momyeongjae means “to long for one’s hometown, Ming Dynasty” and on the front gate, named Mandongmun, is a hanging board that reads “I will never forget my roots.” Behind the shrine are the tombs of General Du Sa-chung and his 7th generation descendant, Du Han-pil. While settling down in Daegu and starting a new life, he often missed his dear hometown. Whenever these feelings set in, he would hike up to the top of Daedeok Mountain (known today as Apsan Mountain). It was from here where he truly felt safe, so he built a home at the base, and that is where the area Daemyeong-dong got its name.

Address: Suseong-gu Dalgubeoldae-ro 525-gil 14-23


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