Ga Guk (Hangul: 가궄; Hanja: 佳國) is the central setting of the Twelve Nights series. The latest government is headed by King Jin Jeok, succeeding his half-brother Jin Won through a rebellion by Deung Ha Bul Myung. Ga Guk's capital is Hyang Ju, where the Jin Hee Palace is situated.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Government
- 4 Culture
- 5 Villages
- 6 Landmarks
- 7 Groups
- 8 Trivia
- 9 References
Ga Guk is located at the center of the continent, bounded by Ah Ri Sa in the north, Chang Hae and Hae Seo Rang in the east, Lado in the south, Nam Hyeon in the west, and Seo Seo in the northwest. Hae Seo Rang and Lado are both territorial domains of Ga Guk.
Ja Eui, previously a sovereign country, is located in the southeastern portion of Ga Guk's territory after it was colonized in the past. One of Ga Guk's harbors was Port Do Won, located in its northeast coast. However, foreign invaders possibly from Ah Ri Sa have claimed it, which made Ga Guk's ministers urge King Jin Won to order its reclamation.
Reign of Jin Hyul
In the past, Ga Guk was a small nation situated at the center of the continent. Ga Guk dreamt of a land where they could live in comfort and ease, away from the rugged mountains, barren soil, and cold climate. In order to find this land, they embarked on countless campaigns to expand their territory.
In the process, they strengthened the power of their nation. This war of expansion continued for one hundred years. Once they captured Ja Eui, Yoon Yeon Lee's mother country, they conquered the neighboring territories as well. As a result, Ga Guk, which had been regarded as a lesser power during King Jin Hyul's reign, was transformed into a powerful nation. Historically, this became known as the Hundred Years' War. After its expansion, Ga Guk became a powerful nation and enjoyed peace and prosperity. At some point, Ga Guk also signed a peace treaty with Seo Seo's king, Jang Ryun, which lasted until his successor's reign.
Some time later, Jin Hyul acquired an illness and eventually succumbed to his death. Following the monarch's death ten years prior to the series timeline, Yoon Yeon Lee orchestrated the Jeogwa Revolution, notably aided by Yoo Ja Gyeom and Baek Yoo Shin. This resulted to the purge of Bi Yeong Ship Mu, the assassination of Ahn Young, and the deposition of Crown Prince Yi Jeok and Prince Yi Hwi from the palace. Moreover, Jin Hyul's son Yi Won, no more than 10 years old then, succeeded him as the 13th King of Ga Guk. His mother, Yoon Yeon Lee, mostly controlled the affairs of the state as his regent until he turned 20 years old.
Reign of Jin Won
In the early stages of Jin Won's reign, the newly-instated Bi Yeong Pal Mu searched for the missing crown prince upon orders of the queen regent. Minister Seo In Seon Woo, a loyal minister of King Jin Hyul and Queen Ahn Young, devised a plan that would keep the crown prince's identity safe from the erstwhile government. Hwi, his twin brother (albeit unbeknownst to Jeok upon separation at birth), assumed the role of crown prince as Jin Yeon, while Jeok would serve as his loyal servant until he is to claim back the throne. Hwi then fabricated the persona of the Crimson Moon, a notorious vigilante and founder of the rebel army meant to reclaim the throne.
End of Yoon Yeon Lee's Regency
When Jin Won reached the age of 20 years old, Yeon Lee's regency ended. Generally, Jin Won's reign was characterized by his notable indolent, irresponsible, and tyrannical behavior along with his lowly lineage. These earned the disappointment of his ministers, making them lose confidence in the Royal Family. Furthermore, with the abdication of the 33rd king of Seo Seo, the Ga Guk–Seo Seo peace treaty received an unfavorable stance. Seo Seo's conservatives wished for the treaty and its resulting order to continue, while its reformers backed Crown Prince Jang Rok Ha's position, desiring for Seo Seo to end the parasitic treaty.
Rebel Army Suppression
Concurrent with the plague outbreak, physician Ma Mi Song made a deal with the chief state councilor to establish royal clinics throughout Ga Guk, especially plague-torn vicinities, in exchange for the location of the rebel army. With his newfound valuable knowledge of their enemy's whereabouts, Jin Won ordered the eradication of the rebel army, which resulted to a simultaneous operation executed by Bi Yeong Pal Mu of burning Bi Hwa Rim (the rebel army's headquarters) and Yu Hyang Ru (their center of finance and contact). Amounting to various casualties and arrests with less than a hundred survivors, the suppression led to the rebel army's complete defeat, only three days prior to their supposed revolt.
Following the defeat of the rebels, Ga Guk regained some measure of superficial stability and peace. The royal clinics were greatly beneficial and vital in stopping the plague, and the people rejoiced in the birth of a prince. Furthermore, the king granted special pardons that reinstated many slaves into citizens. The people's attention also focused on the bridal selection.
When the Queen Mother reached a final decision for the official bridal statement, she collapsed thereafter and became paralyzed. As a result of her condition, Jin Won decided himself as to who his royal bride shall be, choosing his consort Hyun Bin. However, at dawn on the day of the supposed announcement of the official bridal statement, the king's baby prince was found dead in his sleep. As a result, the palace gates were closed, traffic in and out of the palace was severely restricted, and the security around the premises tripled.
Crimson Moon Rebellion
Sometime after the period of the king's bridal selection, the rebel army orchestrated its revolt in the palace. In the midst of the attack, climactic truths were uncovered: Won discovered Nabi's true identity, while Dan Ah found out about Hong's real identity and realized about Won's and Hwi's familial relationship. In the end, the rebellion resulted to the assassination of Jin Won at the hands of Jin Yeon (his half-brother Hwi), as well as the deaths of Yeon Lee, Ja Gyeom, Yoo Shin, and countless others.
Reign of Jin Jeok
With the success of the rebel army's rebellion, Crown Prince Jeok succeeded Jin Won, his half-brother, as King Jin Jeok, the 14th King of Ga Guk. Bi Yeong Ship Mu is assumed to be reinstated with Gil Mu Jin as its captain, and Seo In Seon Woo is presumed to be appointed as the chief state councilor. Due to her sustained injuries and trauma, Dan Ah became crippled and amnesiac, only remembering memories of Won whom she frequently referred Hwi as.
Ga Guk's government is highly based on the politics of Joseon dynasty in 14th century Korea. As such, the country is implied to be dominated by a Confucianist bureaucracy, where government officials were ranked and had corresponding responsibilities and capabilities (as mostly seen and implied in the king's royal court). As the highest-ruling individual in all of the country, the king was prone to multiple threats and potential dangers, especially given the fact that Ga Guk had waged wars and invaded multiple countries throughout its history. Earning countless enemies that made the king's life vulnerable and always at risk of assassination attempts, portraits of the reigning king were rarely created in order to prevent the monarch's face to be known to the public. Completed portraits were enshrined with utmost caution and protection in the Chamber of Eternal Life in the Jin Hee Palace. Notably, this is where King Jin Won frequented whenever he could not go outside the palace walls. Guests and even guards are not allowed inside, except for some cases or if someone of important status is allowed by the royal guards to do so.
The king is assisted by his state council, including the Chief State Councilor (Hangul: 영의정; Hanja: 領議政; RR: Yeonguijeong), the Left State Councilor (좌의정, Jwauijeong), the Right State Councilor (우의정, Uuijeong), the Left Minister (좌찬성, Jwachanseong), and the Right Minister (우찬성, Uchanseong). The councilors primarily advised the king regarding affairs of the state; in other cases, they also served as a tutor to the crown prince, a notable example of which was then Left Minister Seo In Seon Woo to erstwhile Crown Prince Yi Jeok (and later Prince Yi Hwi).
Though the king commanded absolute loyalty and esteem from his ministers and officials, the power of the ministers often clashed with the monarch's authority, as usually seen with King Jin Won during his reign. Throughout the series, his authority and decisions often clashed with his ministers and their controlling behavior towards him, primarily Chief State Councilor Yoo Ja Gyeom's personal desire to ascend to power, as well as his mother, Queen Mother Yoon Yeon Lee, who usually reprimanded him to act seriously for them not to lose their influence in the government. Despite this, the king still relatively holds higher power over them and therefore has absolute control over his subjects.
The symbol comprises a black dragon on the viewer's right and a floral pattern on the left, possibly a rose, that are enclosed in a black disc. In the rear is a set of rays emanating from a center point of an eight-petal flower. The emblem is also placed on a red background.
The emblem is seen throughout the palace, especially emblazoned on flags throughout the palace, especially in the monarch's throne room. It is also frequently seen on the king's dragon robe and on his other official outerwear, adopting a different color scheme (usually bronze or gold) instead of its original red-and-black color combination. The emblem is typically placed on each shoulder of the king's official robe, particularly his po.
As a royal symbol, it represents the country and its governing monarchy, possibly including its Royal Family. During the Jeogwa Revolution, when Ahn Young was queen dowager after King Jin Hyul's death, Yeon Lee purposely stripped down a flag that bore the emblem out of rage and spite, as if to mark an end on Ahn Young's reign on Ga Guk and the beginning of her own era as she usurped the throne for her and her son.
Every year on the day of the first full moon, a festival is held in Hyang Ju when people would make wishes whilst stepping on water reflecting the moon. Those of illustrious birth and nobility use the ponds within their homes or goblets as a substitute to make their wishes. Though they considerably spend the holiday in elegance, the common people of the capital spend the holiday more merrily and with much noise, typically all gathered together.
So far in the series, there are two villages mentioned in Ga Guk. They are:
Bi Hwa Rim
Bi Hwa Rim is a ravine located beyond mountains where most members of the Royal Family, prior to the coup d'état, spent their time for leisure. This place is where the major characters encounter one another frequently. Eventually, Bi Hwa Rim served as the headquarters of the rebel army after being relatively forgotten by the Royal Family.
Hae Hoo Bridge
Hae Hoo Bridge (해후다리, lit. "Sunset Bridge") is a bridge in Ga Guk that is supposedly where Dan Ah and Won are to meet for their supposed elopement. Interestingly, hae hoo (해후) may also mean "reunion", a reference to their planned meeting.
Hwa Gwi Cheon
Hwa Gwi Cheon (화귀천, lit. "Perennial River") is a river that encircles Hyang Ju. There is a local legend that floating a lotus lantern down the river with someone dear would make the bond between the two people circle around the water, ensuring that they will someday meet again even if they get separated.
Jin Hee Palace
Jin Hee Palace serves as the seat of the crown of Ga Guk. It is the official residence of the reigning monarch and the Royal Family. Within the palace, it houses many areas and rooms either for function or for leisure of its users and inhabitants.
Ju Wah Ae Rim
The marketplace is where Won, during his excursions, usually plays the water beetle game (물방개놀이, mul bang gae nori). A roulette-type game using living beetles, it is a primarily a betting game: if the number matches where the beetle swims to, ten times the bet's amount is won by the player. If the color is also guessed correctly, twice the amount is also won by the player. The marketplace also houses a store where Hong's paintings are sold.
Physician Kim's Clinic
During the outbreak of the plague, people living in Moon's End Village rushed over to this clinic to receive medication. To their dismay, Physician Kim has left the place.
Physician Ma's Clinic
After retiring as a royal physician, Ma Mi Song built his own clinic (possibly where he also lives) in service of the people. This is also the place where Won brought Nabi when she was gravely injured.
Port Do Won
The prison is where fugitives and criminals are imprisoned, sometimes before their execution. This is also where Sa Baek Hwa, her mother, and her brother are imprisoned after the arrest of their father Sa Hwa Hyeon for treason. Ex-Left Minister Seo In Seon Woo was also imprisoned here alongside numerous rebels who surrendered or were captured after the rebel army suppression by the Royal Army. Moreover, following Hyun Bin's son's poisoning incident and death, suspected criminals were jailed and interrogated in the prison, including Nabi and, later, the chief state councilor.
Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings is mentioned by Hyun Bin where she and the queen mother went to make an offering to their ancestors. Because of the infrequent visits by the Royal Family, bandits are frequently seen in the valley.
Yeon Wol Jung
Yeon Wol Jung is a pavilion near a river where Won and Dan Ah stayed together, with the latter treating Won a drink as compensation for "hiding" Dan Ah from her servants.
This house is where Ja Gyeom, Dan Ah, and their servants reside. This is also where the compact was transferred from the queen mother's quarters, only for it to be stolen by the Crimson Moon and his men.
Upon taking her duty as Dan Ah's teacher, Nabi frequented the chief state councilor's residence to mentor the latter's daughter before entering the palace as one of the king's bridal candidates.
Yu Hyang Ru
Yu Hyang Ru was the main gisaeng house in Ju Wah Ae Rim. It was owned by Wol Young Hwa and where key members of Deung Ha Bul Myung convened for meetings, including Nabi, Jeok, Baek Ho, Mu Jin, Seol Hwa, and Young Hwa. Nabi also frequently stayed in a pavilion near a pond located in Yu Hyang Ru which are said to be built by So Wang Ya of Seo Seo to gain her favor, only to leave empty-handed.
Some time during Jin Won's reign, Yu Hyang Ru was razed to the ground after getting information of the gisaeng house's alleged affiliation with rebels.
Within Ga Guk, there are various groups formed with different purposes and functions. Among these are the following:
- Its name in Hanja means "beautiful country" (佳國).
- However, "Ga Guk" is a homonym for "fake country".