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Kim Ung-u

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BornJune 17, 1848

Mangyongdae, Joseon

DiedOctober 4, 1878 (aged 30)


SpouseLady Lee (North Korea)
ChildrenKim Bo-hyon
  • Song-ryong Kim (father)
  • Hyon-jik Na (mother)
RelativesUi-guk Kim, Jong-su Kim, In-sok Kim
Korean name




Revised RomanizationGim Eung-u
McCune–ReischauerKim Ŭng-u

Kim Ung-u (Korean: 김응우; June 17, 1848 – October 4, 1878) was a Mangyongdae farmer who was the father of Kim Bo-hyon, grandfather of Kim Hyong-jik, and ancestor of the Kim family. In North Korea, he is a national hero.

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He was born on June 17, 1848, in the Mangyongdae settlement of Joseon (now part of Pyongyang) as the eldest child of Kim Song-ryeong (김송령, 金成瑛; 1810–1899) and Lady Lee (레이디 리, 李夫人; 1811–1897). He had three brothers: Kim Iguk (김의국; 1854–1947), Kim Jongsu (김종수; 1855–1943), and Kim Insok (김인석; 1863–1952). The first name of his wife is unknown, but it is certain that he married a lady from the Ri (리, 李) family. Only one son was born from their marriage, who was named Kim Bo-hyon.

Participation in the General Sherman incident[edit]

Contemporary writings and North Korean sources contradict each other regarding the participation and role of Kim Ung-u in the General Sherman incident, when an armed American merchant vessel ship sailed up the Taedong River with the intention of conducting trade, an illegal activity in an isolationist Korea ruled by the Joseon dynasty.

North Korean version of events[edit]

According đồ sộ North Korea, the incident occurred as follows:

The General Sherman arrived in Joseon in August 1866 (according đồ sộ the lunar calendar it was still July). The crew of the ship, which had originally arrived for trading purposes, decided đồ sộ take an unexpected step and sailed on towards the interior of Pyongyang. To prevent this, Kim and his companions stretched ropes across the Taedong River. When Kim Ung-u found out that the Americans were firing cannons at the Korean residents, looting, and even inquiring about the whereabouts of the royal tombs, he recruited an army of volunteers who loaded firewood into wooden boats and took them đồ sộ the American ship and phối it on fire. The American ship caught fire and sank. The Americans later sent another ship, the Shenandoah, as revenge, but the Koreans, again led by Kim Ung-u, sank it.

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Contemporary version[edit]

The Joseon described the incident as follows:

The American ship wanted đồ sộ trade with the Joseon people, who refused because it was forbidden by law đồ sộ trade with people from foreign countries. The Americans sailed on without permission from the Koreans, and in response, the Koreans attacked and sank the ship during days of fighting.

Death and legacy[edit]

Kim Ung-u died young, at the age of 30, of unknown causes. In North Korea, led by his successors, he is remembered đồ sộ this day as the leader of the attack on the General Sherman and a national hero.


External links[edit]

  • Kim Ung-u
  • Ardent Patriot Kim Ung U
  • KCNA News Archived 2019-11-24 at the Wayback Machine