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Friday, 24 June 2016

Hamyang, Southern Gyeongsang: Ancestral Seat of Hamyang Yeo Clan, Home of Two National Parks in Korea and the Black History of Sancheong-Hamyang Massacre

Hamyang (Hangul/Hanja: 함양군/咸陽郡) is a county located at Western Bound of Southern Gyeongsang Province, Republic of Korea. Located at the Southeastern Region of Yeongnam, the county bordered with Namwon City and Jangsu County of Northern Jeolla on West (Honam Region), Geochang and Sancheong Counties of Southern Gyeongsang on East and Hadong County on South. It is the Ancestral Seat of Hamyang Yeo Clan, founded by Yeo Ja-jang and Yeo Jon-hyeok, sons of Yeo Im-cheong - brother of the progenitor of Yeo Clan, Yeo Eo-mae. The postal codes of Hamyang County start from 50000 [27~818-293 DeogYu-Wolseong Avenue/DeogyuWolseongno, Seosang-myeon] to 50057 [3~38 Hajeong Alley/Hajeong-gil, Macheon-myeon].

Located at the cragged terrain within Sobaek Range (Sobaek Sanmaek), Hamyang is flanked with three mountains which are Mount DeogYu (1,614m above sea level), Mount Jiri (1,915m - the second highest mountain in South Korea after Mount Halla in Jeju Island) and Mount Gibaek (1,331m). Only two mountains (Mount Jiri and Mount DeogYu) are gazetted as National Park by Korea National Park Service (국립공원관리공단/國立公園管理公團). Despite of mountainous terrain in this county, Anui Basin on North and Hamyang Basin on South are formed due to mountain erosion. There are two mountain passes that passing from the neighboring Northern Jeolla Province to Hamyang which are Pallyangchi Pass (520m above sea level) and Yuksipchi Pass (640m). Nam River and its tributaries - Wicheon and Imcheon Streams flow from NamdeogYu-san Mountain (1,507m above sea level).

Hamyang was founded during Silla Kingdom Period where it was known as Sokham County (속함군/速含郡) or Hamseong County (함성군/含城郡). During 16th reigning year of King Gyeongdeok (757CE), Hamseong County changed its name into Cheollyeong County (천령군/天嶺郡) and divided into two smaller prefectures, Unbong-hyeon and Ian-hyeon. During the 2nd Reigning Year of King Seongjong Wang Chi of Goryeo Dynasty (983), it changed its name into Heoju County (허주군/許州郡) and placed a magistrate who administered the county, known as Heojudodallyeonsa (허주도단련사/許州都團鍊使). The name of Heoju County was changed into Hamyang Prefecture (含陽縣) during the first reigning year of King Hyeonjong Wang Soon (1010), using different Hanja Notation. After that, the first Hanja notation of Hamyang (含 - Cherish in Sino-Korean) changed into which means 'united' in Sino-Korean Language.

Three years after Downfall of Goryeo Dynasty and foundation of Joseon Dynasty by King Taejo Yi Seong-gye (1395), Hamyang Prefecture elevated its status as County and the prefecture of Ian-hyeon changed its name into AnEum-hyeon during the reign of King Taejong Yi Bang-won (later as Anui-hyeon in 1767 - 43rd Reigning Year of King Yeongjo). However, Hamyang County was demoted into Hamyang Prefecture during the reign of King Injo (1629). Hundred years later - during the reign of King Yeongjo (previous-day Prince Yeon-ing Yi Geum), Hamyang elevated its status as Governorate, known as Hamyang-bu (咸陽府). In 1788 (12th Reigning Year of King Jeongjo Yi San the Great), the governorate restored its status into County. However in 1895 (22nd Reigning Year of Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu Yi Myeong-bok), Anui-hyeon was separated from Hamyang after elevated its status as County (Anui-gun). The short-lived 23 Governorates Administration System (부제/府制) ended in 1896 where Anui and Hamyang Counties were included in the present-day Southern Gyeongsang Province.

In 1914 - Japanese Colonization Period, Anui County was dissolved. Seven communes of Anui - Hyeonnae-myeon, Hwanggok-myeon, Chojeom-myeon, Daedae-myeon, Jidae-myeon, Seosang-myeon and Seoha-myeon annexed to Hamyang County while the other five communes - Dongni-myeon, Namni-myeon, Gohyeon-myeon, Buksang-myeon and Bukha-myeon annexed to Geochang County. Thus, Hamyang had 13 communes at that time (Wiseong-myeon, Seokbok-myeon, Jigok-myeon, Hyucheon-myeon,  Yurim-myeon, Sudong-myeon, Byeonggok-myeon, Macheon-myeon, Anui-myeon, Daeji-myeon, Seoha-myeon and Seosang-myeon). Then, Daeji-myeon was annexed to Anui-myeon and Wiseong-myeon changed its name into Hamyang-myeon in 1933. Twelve years after Korea gained independence from Japan (1957), Seokbok-myeon annexed to Hamyang-myeon and at the same time, Hamyang-myeon elevated its status as town (읍/邑/eup) and the administration of Hamyang County was focused on Hamyang-eup until today.

Hamyang County records the bleakest moment of Sancheong and Hamyang Massacre (Hangul/Hanja: 산청・함양 양민학살 사건/山清・咸陽良民虐殺事件), a massacre conducted by a unit of the South Korean Army 11th Division during the Korean War. On 7 February 1951, 705 unarmed and innocent citizens in Sancheong and Hamyang, Southern Gyeongsang Province of South Korea were killed. The victims were civilians and 85% of them were women, children and elderly people. The 11th Division also conducted Geochang massacre two days later. The division's commanding general was Choi Deok-sin who later defected to North Korea with his wife, Ryu Mi-young after their exile in the United States.

The County Office is located at 35 Goun Avenue/Gounno, Ullim-ri 31-2 beonji, Hamyang-eup with its postal code: 50036. The chief of this county is Lim Chang-ho (Saenuri). In the other hand, Kang Seok-jin (Saenuri) served as the assemblyman for Sancheong, Hamyang, Geochang and Hapcheon Counties in 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). Hamyang County contains a town (eup) and 10 communes (myeon) as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja).