What I’ve discovered
General Choi Yong (1316-1388) was born in Kangwon province, Koryo. From very modest beginnings living
by his father’s motto ‘Do not be covetous of gold’, Choi Yong (also Ch’oe Yong) did not seek fame or
fortune, though he did enough to earn both.
Choi Yong became a renowned army General at the end of the Koryo dynasty. His first great victory
was at the age of 36, when he defeated Cho Il-Shin who had proclaimed himself king with the aid of
his supporters. During this time Koryo was under attack from Japanese pirates looking for slaves and
also from a group of Chinese known as the ‘red turbans’. General Choi had great success against these
enemies and earned more respect from his King.
When a high military official, Yi In-im recommended a pro-Mongol policy as opposed to the pro-Ming
policy, he found himself opposed by both Gen. Choi Yong and Yi Song-Gye, who collaborated to cause
Yi In-im’s downfall.
By 1388 the Ming dynasty had announced its intention to again control Koryo.
General Choi wanted to counter Chinese plans to occupy part of Korea, so he proposed a counter
invasion of a Chinese held district, formerly part of Koguryo. King U was very pleased with this
plan and promoted Gen Choi to Comander in Chief of the armed forces.
Yi Song-Gye did not support this counter invasion and made plans of his own to overthrow both
his commander General Choi and his King. General Choi had nominated Yi Song-Gye as one of his
two commanders, Yi Song-Gye set out as ordered, but clearly knowing the main bulk of the army was
on its way to engage the Ming Chinese, he turned back towards Kaesong (was Kaegyong) with
his troops, where he knew his popularity would ensure he had support.
Yi Song-Gye had General Choi Yong executed (1388) and placed a puppet King on the throne,
he exiled the royal family for four years before having them put to death and eventually taking
the throne for himself and thus founding the Yi dynasty. (1392-1910)
King Gongmin ruled Koryo r.1351-1374
King U r.1374-1388
King Taejo (Yi Song-Gye’s posthumous title meaning ‘Great Progenitor’) ruled Chosun r.1392-1400
King T’aejong r.1400-1418
King Sejong r.1418-1450
In his encyclopaedia General Choi told us:
Choi Yong is named after General Choi Yong, Premier and Commander in Chief of the
Armed forces during the 14th century, Koryo Dynasty. Choi Yong was greatly respected
for his loyalty, patriotism, and humility. He was executed by his subordinate
commanders, headed by General Yi Sung Gae, who later became the first king of the
Yi (Lee) Dynasty.