Welcome to Korea
Upon their arrival, Prince Lý and his envoy received a warm welcomed by Kojong, the King of Korea’s Koryo (aka Goryeo) Dynasty. It seems that Lý Long Tường and his crew came to Korea at the right time, as they were handsomely accommodated by the people of Korea.
Whether Kojong knew it or not, he had been waiting for Lý Long Tường to land on the shores of Korea for a long time. News of the prince’s arrival came to King Kojong in a dream, could it be fate that brought Prince Lý to the distant land of Korea?
The Dream of King Kojong
Legends speak of how Kojong had foreseen the arrival of Lý Long Tường in a dream. Kojong dreamt of a majestic phoenix that flew all the way from the south to land on the shores of Korea. Prince Lý’s arrival was therefore perceived as this phoenix, a heavenly sign that was immediately accepted by Kojong and his people. Lý Long Tường was one of Đại Việt’s most talented generals, well versed in literature and the art of war.
Recognizing his talents, the Koreans quickly promoted Lý to the position of general. For the rest of his days, Prince Lý Long Tường would be known as Lee of Hwasan, a bright and heroic figure of the Koryo nation. With news of the Mongols’ impeding conquests on Korea, Lee of Hwasan, his Lý compatriots, and the Korean nation, mobilized their forces.
Ogodei and the First Mongol Invasion
Korea’s relationship with the Mongols tend to fluctuate at various times. The Koryo Kingdom and the Mongol Empire may cooperate at one instant, and become hostile at another. It all depends on the circumstances, and this time it’s war. With the momentum of countless successful military campaigns across the lands of Eurasia, the Mongols now prepared to capture the Kingdom of Koryo.
The earliest of the Mongol invasions on Koryo was ignited in 1231-32, under the orders of Ogodei Khan. Diplomacy between the two sides have failed, as a result the Mongol Empire prepared their assault against the Koryo Kingdom. Ogodei, the son of Genghis, would oversee this first invasion, as well as the defeat at the hands of Koryo and Lý Long Tường.
Ogodei’s forces bombarded Koryo in all directions, through naval and conventional assaults. Though they initially succeeded in capturing some Korean territories, Prince Lý (aka Lee of Hwasan) mobilized his forces and confronted the Mongols at Hwang-hae. Lý’s forces successfully warded off the Mongol advances, thus preserving Koryo’s sovereignty for the time being. The Korean forces also showed tremendous resistance to the Mongol threat, neutralizing their efforts of capturing Koryo.
30 Years Later: The Final Invasions
After 30 years of intense fighting with the Mongol Empire, Koryo would finally see an end to the bloodshed. Nearly three decades have passed since Ogodei Khan kick-started the Mongol invasion of Korea, and neither side wanted to let up. The Mongols had captured many of Koryo’s territories, only to lose it in the distant future. Treaties and agreements have come and gone, always resulting in military clashes between the two sides.
Lý Long Tường, now in his 70’s, has been fighting alongside the Korean forces. It has been three decades since the prince accepted the title Lee of Hwasan, helping the Koreans in their struggle to break from the Mongols’ grasp. After numerous battles, the Lee of Hwasan would engage in one final battle against the Mongols, playing a big role in their final defeat to the Kingdom of Koryo.
The Defeat of Mongke Khan
In the year of 1253, the Mongol army, under the fierce command of Mongke Khan, entered Koryo once again. As they tried to capture the province of Hwang-hae, the forces of Lý Long Tường was their to engage. After five months of armed combat, the forces of Lý Long Tường successfully eliminated the Mongol forces in that region, forcing them to surrender.
This victory would be the beginning of the full Mongol withdrawal from Korea. Finally, after 30 years of excruciating resistance against the Mongol Empire, Koryo was finally free from their grasp. Political actions taken by the patriotic rulers of Korea resulted in the Mongols abandoning their ambitions of capturing the Koryo Kingdom, leaving the country in 1259.
Lý Long Tường: The White Horse General
The fighting spirit of the Koreans helped them defeat the Mongols in numerous battles. Numerously courageous warriors joined the fight to ultimately expel them from the country. Fighting alongside these Korean generals was Lý Long Tường, Prince of Đại Việt, and descendent of the royal Lý family. Prince Lý, along with the remnants of the Lý family, joined in the fight against the Mongols, playing a big role in their final defeat to the Kingdom of Koryo.
Prince Ly was a valiant fighter and a fearless general who led a division of the Korean military. He arrived on the shores of Korea from Đại Việt in the 1220’s and will spend the rest of his life in Korea. The several thousand members of the Lý clan would stay there with him, becoming proud members of the Korean community. Besides the title Lee of Hwasan, Lý Long Tường was also known as the “White Horse General,” riding into battle on the back of a fierce white stallion.
It is said that throughout his life in Korea, Prince Lý would sit on the peak of a mountain and look southward in reverence of his former home. Little did Prince Lý know that the land he looked back on so fondly would become a battleground for the Mongols’ next conquest. His successor, St. Trần Hưng Đạo of the Trần Dynasty, would achieve a feat similar to Lý Long Tường. Next time however, he would do so in a fashion even grander than the Lee of Hwasan himself.