This article contains details from the manga that are not covered in the anime. Proceed with caution.
Lee Geun-Tae (イ・グンテ I Gunte?) is the general of the Earth Tribe and he is the husband of Yun-Ho. He serves under Soo-Won after acknowledging his strength during the Battle Game Festival held in Chi'Shin.
Geun-Tae is a bearded, dark-skinned man who is almost never seen without a proud snarl on his face. He has brown almond eyes (yellow in the anime) and long, untidy, dark brown hair that he ties in a ponytail using a rope-like ornament with tassels on both ends. His fringe covers most of his forehead and some of its strands hang to the sides of his face. Whenever he goes to the castle, he wears an outfit chosen by his wife: a brown leather overcoat with animal-prints atop a white robe with yellow-patterned hemlines, a two-layered purple beaded necklace, and a pair of black boots. While at home, he dons a simple robe where his scars can be visibly seen.
Like the people in the Wind Tribe, he likes to take everything easy. He never considers the hierarchy on his tribe and he lets his people talk to him as if he is just an ordinary citizen. He also likes picking fights, especially against Han Joo-Doh, who he never shares a stable relationship with. However, as a general who fought on Emperor Joo-Nam’s era, he believes that he belongs to the battlefield and has been eager to use his skills and fight on the frontlines again. Ever since the banning of war under Emperor Il’s reign, he grew rusty and has been looking for a capable king who he can lend his strength to. Because of this, he will threaten a king of rebellion if he sees him not fit for the position.
Geun-Tae is relaxing at the Chi’Shin Castle when his attendant, Chul-Rang, scolds him for lazing around while wearing nothing but a robe and compares him to the Wind Tribe Generals, Hak and Tae-Woo, who dress properly. His attendant expresses how much he wants him to act like a general and make the castle like what a proper place it should be. By that, Geun-Tae reminisces how the Earth Tribe used to be under Emperor Joo-Nam’s reign and how he can fight against enemies like a god. In the midst of his reverie, Chul-Rang cuts him off as he reminds him how he was defeated by the Thunder Beast, which makes him headlock the servant and reasons that he has been getting dull because of the banning of war. During their little fight, a servant shows up and tells them that the king has paid him a surprise visit.
At the entrance, he reluctantly welcomes Soo-Won, Han Joo-Doh and their companions, and wonders the reason for their stopover. Soo-Won suddenly asks him for a favor, which he thought that will be some kind of a special mission, but to his dismay, he is requested to give him a drink. Inside, he serves them the tea his wife is making from her plantation and comments how he doesn’t like its aroma. Soo-Won, however, likes the tea and praises it; Joo-Doh, on the other hand, insults his hospitality for serving such tea to the king. Not liking the snide remark, Geun-Tae points out the Sky Tribe General’s love life as a comeback and they quickly get into a fight. Soo-Won immediately stops them and eyes them both with a serious face, which he soon changes to happy one in an instant as he asks to see the plantation later. As Joo-Doh scolds the king for being an airhead, he examines Soo-Won and notes how he is nothing like his father, but more like Emperor Il.
After his visitors rested, he shows them around the palace and tells them how to refurbish it but can’t do so because of the lack of resources. Suddenly, an old man named Hee-Dae comes to him and reports that there was another cave in at the Udo Mines that resulted in ten injured people. He inquires more details out of the old man, and as he does, Chul-Rang questions the king on his appearance to the Earth Tribe. He overhears their conversation –which is consisted of Soo-Won’s sight-seeing to the palace and Chul-Rang’s concern for Awa– and butts in to them as he stops his attendant for talking casually to the king. He then asks Soo-Won about his thoughts of the previous king and admits that he would have rebelled against him as he dislikes his ruling. Joo-Doh and Chul-Rang tries to stop him, but he rephrases his words and says that he will be rebelling now as he sees that Soo-Won is just playing around. He asks him seriously about his credibility to his words during his coronation; however, Soo-Won replies that he is true to his words while smiling, which drains his energy as he can’t keep up with the naivety of the person he’s talking to. The king changes the topic by asking him about the enshrined stone he sees nearby, but as he is already feeling exhausted, he nonchalantly tells that it is from the mines and it’s not worth anything. He then bids farewell to them as he is “busy” while in truth he already had enough.
A little while later, Chul-Rang informs him that Soo-Won will be engaging a battle and becomes terribly excited. Much to his dismay again, it is only a mock battle and for that, he badly wants to hit the king for such a ridiculous idea. Irritated, he asks Soo-Won to return to the Hiryuu Palace as the Earth Tribe has no time playing with him. However, the villagers complain which leaves him no other choice but to continue the battle. After a week, the day of the battle game finally arrives and he is very displeased to the event. He found their outfits, which consisted of many stone accessories, to be annoying and not fit for battle and is about to remove them when his wife comes. Yun-Ho finds him adorable and tells him that he chose his outfit, which makes him a little bit mad as she decided things without his consent. His wife then greets Soo-Won and they converse with one another about tea. He finds their sudden friendship to be surprising as he hasn't introduced her to him, but Chul-Rang says that they met during the time he didn't meet the king. Geun-Tae sits down and still finds the event as a waste, but Soo-Won encourages him to fight as his people are watching him.
Before the battle game begins, Geun-Tae tells to Joo-Doh how he is not pleased with the king, seeing that he is just a rabbit compare to his childhood friend, Hak. Joo-Doh, however, tells him that he is being blind to the true form of Soo-Won. The match then starts, and after a while, his team garners a huge lead against Soo-Won’s team by defeating his members. He confronts Joo-Doh, but unknown to him, Soo-Won is already making his way to his camp to save his teammates. As the king launches his attack to the soldier guarding their camp, he notices the short moment Soo-Won looks at him sharply. His teammate’s sword flips away and it dashes an inch away from his face before landing. While the spectators believe that the sword just coincidentally drops near him, he believes that it is intentional and he begins to doubt the nature of the king. The battle goes on and soon after, he is the only one left standing on his team. Soo-Won proposes a plan to him and says that he can release his members so that he won’t be defeated in front of his people. However, he denies his offer as he realizes that Soo-Won is actually a falcon testing him to see if he is fit to be serving under him. As the two of them about to enter an exciting climax of their game, the king trips himself to his clothing and he defeats him. Soo-Won congratulates him, but he sees through him and asks him to stand up so that they can fight again. Eventually, the match ends after he has been defeated.
The following day, Geun-Tae asks Soo-Won the real purpose of his visit, but his question is ignored as the king quickly compares him to Joo-Doh. Yun-Ho comes and announces that her tea has been offered to be sold on the Kai Empire. Moments later, Hee-Dae shows up too and reports that the mines are lacking manpower now because the stones mined from there are discovered to be of high value. The old man also adds that ever since the game, many people want the stones as they have seen it being worn by him and considers it a charm that can bring victory. With all the good news coming, Geun-Tae praises his wife for being able to negotiate to the Kai Empire about the tea and the stone. However, Yun-Ho notes that she didn't do anything. She tells him that she only served a tea to a guest Soo-Won brought with him and the idea of wearing the stones was all Soo-Won’s idea. Realizing the king’s intentions for his visit, he searches for the king, but is told that he already left. Geun-Tae calls him a moron for what he has done for Chi’Shin and finds him far more formidable and promising than Yu-Hon.
He visits Soo-Won as per his invite and he is ordered to prepare his men for battle against the Fire Tribe and Sen Province. On the day of war, he shows up as reinforcements for the Sky Tribe and corners Kan Soo-Jin and Li Hazara’s men as they lower their morale. He soon follows Soo-Won and Joo-Doh after they received a report about a strong unknown group who has joined the fray. To their surprise, they see the princess and Hak alive. He questions Joo-Doh about their existence, but he quickly takes it back and instead asks if they should capture them. Soo-Won tells him to let them be as their priority is Soo-Jin. Shortly after, he runs towards Soo-Jin to prevent him from killing the king. His duty, however, is snatched by a Fire Tribe soldier who permanently stops Soo-Jin by killing him.
After the battle, he prepares the army while Soo-Won and Joo-Doh take Soo-Jin’s son to his younger brother. Once the two returns back, they head out to the Sen Province to meet Hazara. In there, the two heads discuss about how the Sen will compensate for what they did by agreeing to the three things that the Kouka demands: payment of the damage expenses, a non-aggression pact and a village. In the end, they reach an agreement, though mostly because of how Soo-Won threatened them. As they head home, he asks Soo-Won why he made such light conditions instead of taking lands or money. The king explains that by such demands, there won’t be any worries about burdens that will bite them back and they will be able to make the Fire Tribe’s land fertile again because of a seed that can be found on the village he asked. He gets curious as to where Soo-Won gets this information, but soon he switches their topic as he talks about Soo-Jin. He admits that he doesn’t get along with him; however, he thinks that he was a reliable person during their battles under Emperor Joo-Nam’s time. He feels bad for what has happened to him and Joo-Doh tells him that this is the more reason why the five tribes must unite in order to avoid such thing from happening again.
Geun-Tae shares a close relationship to his wife. Even though he finds her enthusiasm towards him (especially when she corners him) not pleasing, he still listens to her as he has no strength to defy her decisions even if he isn't given a notice about it. He dislikes the fragrant tea she makes, but nevertheless, he is proud of her hard work.
In chapter 180 it was revealed that he has a one month old son with his wife Yun-ho.
Initially, he didn’t like Soo-Won and judged him based on his appearance. However, as soon as the king shows his dual personality and his prowess in fighting, he changed his mind and placed his loyalty to him. He also urges him to find a wife, and is eager to tease him about possible romantic endeavors, for example, having feelings for a girl in Awa, and later on feelings for Lili during the mission to rescue her, and even about adopting a beauiful daughter for Soo-Won to marry. However, Soo-Won always dodges his suggestions, and Geun-tae finds himself disappointed and puzzled over if Soo-Won even has interest in women.
Joo-Doh is his junior before he became the Sky Tribe General. The two of them are always at each other’s throat –with him initiating these scenarios by dropping insults at him– and their meetings always end up with petty fights. Though they bicker here and there, they respect each other’s strength.
He considers Lili an appropriate bride for Soo-Won and takes part in the mission to rescue her. He is unaware that Lili has a huge crush on him despite the fact that he is happily married.
- (To Soo-Won) "If this were a battlefield, the dead would not come back. I would fight, even if were a thousand enemies before my eyes. Can this country be saved if I worry about things like saving face?"
- (To Joo-Doh) "Someone who was once a comrade in arms becoming an enemy… It’s disgusting."
- He placed 17th in the character popularity poll conducted by Hana to Yume in December, 2014. He scored 28 votes in total.
- The name 'Geun Tae' directly translates to 'time and attendance' in Korean, when spelled '근태'.
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 48, Page 33
- Akatsuki no Yona Fanbook
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 44, Page 16
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 44, Page 12
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 44, Page 25
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 44, Page 19
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 62, Page 3
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 48, Page 33
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 44, Page 7
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 45, Pages 11-12
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 46, Pages 12-14
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 46, Pages 29-30
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 75, Page 14
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 45, Page 6
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 45, Page 7
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 44, Page 11
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 46, Pages 13-14
- Hana to Yume (花とゆめ), 2015/1 edition