The Grand Assembly of the Moonhwa Ryu Clan (GAMRC) is the one and only
representative institution of the Moonhwa Ryu clan.
Historically, the Moonhwa Ryu clan began when its progenitor Cha-Dal Ryu raised
the family in a town called Moonhwa located at the southern foot of Mt. Goowol,
which is one of the most famous five mountains in Korea. That happened during
the transition period that ranged from the end of the Unified Silla Dynasty to
the establishment of the Koryo Dynasty. As you might know, the current English
name of our nation "Korea" has its etymology in Koryo.
When the Silla Dynasty became weak, several kingdoms had risen to take over the
country. One of them was Koryo, which was opened by King Wang-Gun (actually Wang
is his last name). Our progenitor Cha-Dal Ryu helped the king during his war
against the other kingdoms. The story goes like that, in one of the final wars
on the road to a unified nation, the king suffered from severe shortage of
military provisions, mainly food. In Korea, when you talk about food, it is
readily translated into the talk of rice. Suddenly, a god-like figure appeared
before the king in great worry of his predicament. Then this god-like figure
introduced himself humbly as a hermit dwelling in Mt. Goowol, and offered a
help. Within a moment, there suddenly appeared a thousand carriages, each loaded
with a huge amount of rice. The king was very delighted and with that kind of
holy provisions, it was a piece of cake to win the hearts of the people and
finally vanquish all of his antagonists.
There's no need to mention that the god-like figure was Cha-Dal Ryu. In fact,
his given name "Cha-Dal" reflects this story well. "Cha"
means "a carriage" in its meaning of the chinese character, while
"Dal" means "proficiency" or "skill". So
"Cha-Dal" may mean a person who has done something great with
The great Cha-Dal Ryu was given a title of "Vassal of Merit at the Founding
of the Kingdom", and out of sincere gratitude, the king had his portrait
drawn on the wall of a Memorial Temple, so that the nation won't forget his
great wonders for ever. Also he was appointed as Dae-Seung which was one of the
prestigious ranks. So we, his descendants, always refer to him as "His
Highness Dae-Seung", not daring to call his name out of reverence.
It is said that Cha-Dal Ryu was a man of great wealth and the patriarch of a
powerful family in the province. When he died, he was buried in the heart of Mt. Goowol. His
grave has been called the Ryu Mausoleum or Ryu's Royal Tomb among the people. It
even used to appear on the maps drawn during the Chosun Dynasty.
History often tells of a person in terms of his deeds, hiding his personal
backgrounds. This is the case for Cha-Dal Ryu, and as a result everything we
know for certain stops here -- except one thing: his only begotten son, Hyo-Geum
Ryu. We can get a glimpse of him in a book published by the Chosun's royal
palace. According to an interesting story there, it was on his way back from a
ritual at a Buddhist temple when he suddenly met a giant tiger. However,
strangely enough, he noticed that the tiger was weeping. On close inspection,
Hyo-Geum could see a white and glittering thing stuck in the throat of the
tiger. He mustered up his courage to pull it out, and found out it was a big
silver hair stick, one of those worn by married women. The tiger bowed down to
the ground many times before he left.
That night in dream, the tiger appeared to Hyo-Geum, and revealed that he is the
mountain god and thanked him again and again. He told Hyo-Geum that he was
suffering from the hair stick which was stuck in his throat when he devoured a
woman in a village called Seong-Dang. In appreciation of the great benevolence
of Hyo-Geum that he showed risking his life, the mountain god offered his
sincere blessing that his descendants will always be among the most highest
ranks in office from generation to generation.
Next day, the bewildered Hyo-Geum felt the urge to confirm what the tiger-god
told him in his dream. So he visited the Seong-Dang village and heard people
crying in a house. When he asked the head of the house about the reason of the
crying, the latter explained that, three days ago, his wife was taken by a tiger
while sleeping on the floor. Hyo-Geum asked him again what she was wearing on
her hair, and learned that it was none other than the silver hair stick. Now he
fully realized that his dream was as real as it got, and told the details of his
wondrous experience to the head of the house.
This story about Hyo-Geum's ultimate altruistic act toward the sacred tiger is
even inscribed on a tombstone built during the days of the Koryo Dynasty. So we
know that it is truly what happened, and that the tiger-god is always with the
descendants of Hyo-Geum that comprises the Moonhwa Ryu clan, blessing and
guarding them for ever. And this blessing is only justified not by just being
the descendants of Hyo-Geum Ryu and his great father Cha-Dal Ryu, but by the
presence of goodwill in their blood and truly turning the benevolence into
action for the benefit of people, the society, the nation, and the world.
Indeed, the Moonhwa Ryu clan flourished very much during the Koryo period, starting from
Gong-Gwon Ryu, who was a great scholar and loyal subject to the king. Also his
grandson Gyeong Ryu was called a savior of the kingdom when he defeated a
military regime that was tyrannizing her. That greatness of the clan was fully
extended to the Chosun Dynasty which followed the Koryo Dynasty. This is clearly
evidenced by the fact that it was none other than the Ryu clan that compiled and
published the first formal family pedigree book in Korea during the King
Sejong's reign. As you might know, Sejong is the great king who created the
Korean alphabet Hangeul. Although that pedigree book is not extant, we know that
it was historically proven to have existed because its preface is well preserved
in the second family pedigree book of the Ryu clan.
Though there have been numerous great families that served the country at this
or that moment throughout the history of Korea, the Moonhwa Ryu clan has always
been among the first and foremost to save and serve its mother country in war
and in peace. The spirit of service and benevolence is our inheritance beyond
price from the progenitor Cha-Dal Ryu, his only son Hyo-Geum Ryu, and a myriad
of our great ancestors after them.
On the other hand, from late 16th century, a claim was raised saying that the
Moonhwa Ryu and another clan called the Yeon An Cha's Family share the same
blood line. This claim was so convincing that even many prominent scholars had
believed it, even until quite recently. However, by rigorous studies of
historians and other individuals, it was proven that the claim was forged by a
few men or a man from the Cha family. Also one of the leading history institutions
in Korea, the Academy of Korean Studies(http://www.aks.ac.kr/), officially
confirmed this (in an official letter to the author). The forgery had its background in the mere
fact that the chinese characters "Cha" in the Cha family and in the
name of our progenitor Cha-Dal Ryu happen to coincide. We now know that the
Moonhwa Ryu clan and some other Ryu clans are the only descendants of Cha-Dal
Ryu and his only son Hyo-Geum Ryu.
Now there are 14 sectors or branches in the lineage of the Moonhwa Ryu clan. The
Grand Assembly of the Moonhwa Ryu Clan (GAMRC) is an organization repesenting
all the 14 sectors. Its headquarters and office building is currently located in
Daejeon which is geographically located at the center of South Korea.
GAMRC hosts two times of grand assembly sessions in a year, once in Spring and
once in Fall. During those sessions, many important discussions and decisions
are made on the impending issues. In fact, the disquiet raised by the Cha family
was evidently one of the most difficult issues to resolve because the belief
that the Ryu clan and the Cha family share the same blood line had been so
deeply rooted into the hearts of many members. Through the GAMRC's great effort
over several years, along with the help of the works of historians and others,
this issue is now deemed completely cleared up.
Another example of accomplishment by GAMRC concerns the Korean spelling of
the surname Ryu. For some nonsensical reasons, it had been legally forbidden to
spell it as Ryu in Korean and only the spelling of "Yu" had been
allowed. The Ryu clans, not only the Moonhwa Ryu clan but also all the other Ryu
clans, believe that our ancesters have always pronounced their names
"Ryu". One of the evidences is that, in all the chinese character
dictionaries published till as late as mid 20th century, the Korean spelling for
the chinese character Ryu has always been only Ryu in Korean. Many years of
troublesome litigations followed but GAMRC and its members persisted, and finally
in 2007, it became legally and officially possible to spell our surname as Ryu in
Korean. Then people lauded the accomplishment as the "Victory of the
GAMRC also publishes journals and books including family pedigree books. The
latter works often involve many hundreds of thousands of the members and are
obviously quite demanding tasks. In 2008, the most recent genealogy publication
was successfully carried out after several years of toils and labors. It is
consisted of 23 volumes and a CD-ROM and covers about half of the current
members of the Moonhwa Ryu clan and almost all of the the ancestors.
Also GAMRC continually pays a kin attention to the younger generation. Because
our future is only in them, to raise them to become indispensable people to the
society as valuable and proud as their ancestors is one of the most important
tasks of the Grand Assembly. In this regard, GAMRC is doing its best to raise
scholarship funds and distribute them to those talented and deserving young
members in need of scholarships.
There are many yearly rituals, hosted by the GAMRC, for the remembrance of the
ancestors, especially those who are located around the root and trunk of the
family tree. These rituals are generally held at the individual grave sites and
memorial shrines at different dates.
As time goes, the family system tends to develop further toward one centered on
modern nuclear families and the economic and monetary values of daily life gain
more impetus. So it is natural that there always lingers a cloud of doubt about
the role and necessity of a family assembly which is sometimes felt to be
attached to old and out-dated values. However, in Korea, the surname of a person
is surely an extension of his or her identity. As a family assembly is the
collective superset of individual families sharing the same surname, an
organization like GAMRC can effectively play an important role as the bridge
between every single member and the society.
Whether you are a member of the Moonhwa Ryu clan or not, please join us in
exchanging and sharing the ideas and efforts to serve for the well-being of the
individuals and for the betterment of the society through the extension of the
identities of the separate individuals and families.