In the Walled City of Pyongyang in ancient times, men had to go through the Chilsong Gate to go to the martial arts training site and soldiers also had to do so to go to the frontier on guard duty. Therefore, Pyongyang people coined the saying “He has never gone through the Chilsong Gate” referring to those who were ignorant of martial arts or did not do military service.
There is also a legend which goes that a young man, who had been unsuccessful in love since he failed to go through the gate, trained himself in martial arts at the training site by passing the gate and performed great feats in battlefields to become a general, before returning home to live happily with his love.
So people called the Chilsong Gate “gate of happiness”.
Located on Pyongyang’s Moran Hill, the gate was built during the period of Koguryo in the mid-6th century as the northern gate of the keep of the walled city, and the present gatehouse was rebuilt in 1712.
The name of Chilsong is derived from the constellation of the Great Bear and signifies the “northern gate”. Its lower part with the gateway almost preserves the appearance of that in the period of Koguryo.
As one of key gateways leading northward from the walled city, the gate is situated in a place which is hard to attack and advantageous for defence.
The walls on its both sides were erected to pass each other at intervals of about 10 metres and the gate was built horizontally to make a right angle with the two walls.
The embankment was built in good order with trimmed stones and had an archway.
The gatehouse on top of the embankment is a single-storey building with three bays (7.38 metres long) in the facade and two (4.36 metres long) on the flank on the stylobate. The gate has a gabled roof in a single layer of eaves and the gatehouse is painted in moderate colours to add to the imposing look of the building.
The gate is associated with the patriotic struggle of the Korean people who fought against foreign invaders.
When hundreds of thousands of foreign invaders attacked Koryo (the first unified state of Korea that existed between 918 and 1392) in 1010, its people made a clear sweep of enemies by relying on the gate and during the 1592-1598 Imjin Patriotic War, it was the major battlefield for recapturing the Walled City of Pyongyang from the Japanese invaders.
Today, the Chilsong Gate is under good protection as a historical relic.