Hwarang Komgun

According to the Samguk Sagi, in the year 627 there was a horrible famine, and the palace  secretaries plotted to steal grain to feed themselves.  One of them, a Hwarang named Komgun, would not take part.

When confronted as to the reason, he replied, “I am a follower of the Hwarang Kollang, and my heart is cultivated in the garden of wind and moon. I would not commit such an act even for 1,000 gold pieces.”

The other secretaries praised him and held a banquet in his honor, swearing they would follow his lead and abandon their plan.

Unwilling to expose the plot and disgrace his associates, Komgun attended the banquet.  But when he arrived at the sumptuous meal their mood had changed.  It was a trap, and it was clear his cup was poisoned. Knowing that if he did not drink he would be butchered, he willingly drank the cup and fell dead.

I disgree with the sage who said, “Komgun chose death to preserve his righteousness. By comparison, Mt. Tai is nothing!”

The cowardly man makes pretty words and drinks the poison cup.

The proud man reveals a wrong to the authorities.

The brave man takes up arms even though death is certain.

But the clever man graciously invites the sons and brothers of his hosts to share the meal — just in case.

2 responses to “Hwarang Komgun

  1. Rachel Izabella

    May I become more clever! I’m reading the works of Robert Greene now — 48 Laws of Power, The 50th Law, etc. And of course my favorite, the Hagakure (tho’ it doesn’t address the same issues in quite the same way, I plug the Hagakure whenever I can). So I’m getting a clue. Now to convert head knowledge into habit: not as easy as sitting and reading a book!

  2. Pingback: My Vote for President Goes To… | Robert Mitchell Jr.

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