In 180, Gogukcheon married Lady U, the daughter of U So of the Jena-bu, further consolidating central power. Lady U remained queen after her husband's death due to her marriage with Gogukcheon's brother and subsequent king Sansang. During his reign, the names of five 'bu', or powerful regional clans, become names of districts of the central kingdom, and rebellions by the aristocracy were suppressed.
In 182, Gogukcheon sent his son, Prince Gye-Su to fight Han Dynasty China's invasion force of the governor of Liaodong. Though Prince Gye-Su was able to block the army, the king later directly led his armies to repel Han forces in 184. In 191, King Gogukcheon adopted a meritocratic system for selecting government officials. As a result, he discovered many talented people from all over Goguryeo, the greatest of them being Eul Pa-So, who was given the position of Prime Minister.
The ancient text Samguk Sagi says that Gogukcheon went hunting one day in 194 and encountered a starving village. He gave some of his clothes and food to one of the villagers, and felt that the starvation of his people was his responsibility. Gogukcheon worked to improve the lives of farmers and peasants in his kingdom.