Pseudonym of the great monk Choi Hyong Ung (1520-1604) during the Lee Dynasty. He organized a corps of monk soldiers with the assistance of his pupil Sa Myung Dang. The monk soldiers helped repulse the Japanese pirates who overran most of the Korean peninsula in 1592.
Little is known of the early life of Seosan other than that he was born in 1520 and that he became a monk. As was common for monks in this time, he travelled from place to place, living in a succession of monasteries. Buddhist monks had been forced to keep a low profile since General Yi Seonggye had been forced to eject Buddhism from its state of total permeation of government, in order to gain the support of Neo-Confucian scholar-officials to consolidate his position against his Buddhist political opponents when he overthrew King Gongyang in 1392 to become King Taejo of Joseon.
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