Chilsong Gate [Chilsongmun, 칠성문], the name of which bears the meaning of northern gate located towards the Great Bear, is situated in Pyongyang. From olden times it was called “Gate to Happiness.”
Once upon a time there lived a girl named Sinae and a boy Tolbom, who were at the age of marriage, in the Walled Town of Pyongyang. Tolbom’s mother sent a matchmaker to Sinae’s house in order to marry her son to Sinae who was pretty and well-behaved. But, to her disappointment, the matchmaker, on returning, said, “I couldn’t mention it as her father flatly refused. He says he can’t offer his daughter to a man who has never passed Chilsong Gate even though her daughter may not marry forever.”
At that time a man who did not learn martial arts or had never been on duty for frontier defence was referred to as man who had never passed Chilsong Gate.
Tolbom’s mother was grieved that her son did not belong to the class of brave men. Thus she readily agreed to his decision to go to learn martial arts.
He trained himself for three years. One day a military officer came to see him and say that the foreign enemy invaded the country but that there were few who were able to lead the rank and file. Tolbom went to war to defend the frontier together with his soldiers, and fought bravely.
After victory in the one-yearlong war he became commander of a boarder garrison and was given a task to build a fortress. There were many Pyongyang people among the workers mobilized for the project, and he could luckily meet a man who knew Sinae. He said that Sinae had got married some time before. Tolbom would not believe him at first. But considering he had broken his promise and that her father had not liked him, he decided it was true. He was really sad.
When he returned to Pyongyang after he finished his task he went to his house under escort to see his mother. She was surprised unexpectedly to see her son wearing a uniform of a high-ranking officer. She called towards the inside of the house, “Come on, Sinae, come out quickly.”
To Tolbom’s surprise a woman walked out, whom he had been missing sorely. Now Tolbom was told that Sinae’s father, on learning what happened about Tolbom, had sent his daughter to Tolbom’s house to look after his mother.
Afterwards, Tolbom performed great feats in the defence of the Walled Town of Pyongyang as military commander and then spent happy life with his wife Sinae and mother.
The people in Pyongyang attributed the couple’s happiness to Tolbom’s passing of Chilsong Gate. They said young people who wanted to be happy should pass Chilsong Gate, entrance to happiness, and learn martial arts.
An Article by Ri Song Chol