Gwanghaegun or Prince Gwanghae (Korean광해군; Hanja光海君; 4 June 1575 – 7 August 1641), personal name Yi Hon (이혼; 李琿), was the 15th monarch of the Joseon dynasty of Korea. As he was deposed in a coup d'état, he did not receive a temple name.

King of Joseon
ReignMarch 1608 – 12 April 1623
Regent of Joseon
Born4 June 1575
Hanseong, Joseon
Died7 August 1641 (1641-08-08) (aged 66)
Jeju Island, Joseon
Gwanghaegunmyo Mausoleum, Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea
(m. 1587)
Issue4 sons, 1 daughter
Yi Hon (이혼; 李琿)
ClanJeonju Yi
FatherSeonjo of Joseon
MotherRoyal Noble Consort Gong
ReligionKorean Confucianism (Neo-Confucianism)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGwanghae
Birth name
Revised RomanizationI Hon
McCune–ReischauerI Hon

Biography edit

Birth and background edit

Gwanghaegun was the second son of King Seonjo, born to Lady Kim Gong-Bin, a concubine. When Japan invaded Korea to attack the Ming Empire, he was installed as Crown Prince. When the king fled north to the border of Ming, he set up a branch court and fought defensive battles. During and after the Seven Year War (1592–1598), he acted as the de facto ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, commanding battles and taking care of the reconstruction of the nation after the devastating wars, in the place of old and weak King Seonjo.[1]

Although it brought prestige to him, his position was still unstable. He had an elder but incompetent brother Prince Imhae (Imhaegun, 임해군, 臨海君) and a younger but legitimate brother Grand Prince Yeongchang (Yeongchang Daegun, 영창대군, 永昌大君), who was supported by the Lesser Northerners faction. Fortunately for Gwanghae, King Seonjo's abrupt death made it impossible for his favorite son Yeongchang to succeed to the throne.[citation needed]

Violence of Greater Northerner faction edit

Before King Seonjo died, he named Prince Gwanghae as his official successor to the throne and ordered his advisers to make a royal document. However, Lyu Young-gyong of the Lesser Northerners faction hid the document and plotted to install Grand Prince Yeongchang as king, only to be found out by the head of the Great Northerners faction (대북; 大北), Jeong In-hong. Lyu was executed immediately and Grand Prince Yeongchang was arrested and executed the following year.

After the incident, Gwanghae tried to bring officials from various political and regional background to his court, but his plan was interrupted by Greater Northerners including Yi I-cheom and Jeong In-hong. Then, Greater Northerners began to take members of other political factions out of the government, especially Lesser Northerners. In 1613, the Greater Northerners moved against Grand Prince Yeongchang; his grandfather Kim Je-nam was found guilty of treason and executed, while Yeongchang was sent into exile, where he too was executed. At the same time, Greater Northerners suppressed the Lesser Northerners; in 1618, Yeongchang's mother, Queen Inmok, was stripped of her title and imprisoned. Gwanghae had no power to stop this even though he was the official head of the government.[citation needed]

Achievements edit

Despite his poor reputation after his death, he was a talented and pragmatic politician. He endeavored to restore the country and sponsored the restoration of documents. As a part of reconstruction, he revised land ordinance and redistributed land to the people; he also ordered the rebuilding of Changdeok Palace along with several other palaces. Additionally, he was responsible for the reintroduction of the hopae identification system after a long period of disuse.[2]

In foreign affairs he sought a balance between the Ming Empire and the Manchus. Since he realized Joseon was unable to compete with Manchu military power, he tried to maintain friendly relationship with the Manchus while the kingdom was still under the suzerainty of Ming, which angered the Ming and dogmatic Confucian Koreans. The critically worsened Manchu-Ming relationship forced him to send ten thousand soldiers to aid Ming in 1619.[3] However, the Battle of Sarhū ended in Manchu's overwhelming victory. The Korean General Gang Hong-rip lost two-thirds of his troops and surrendered to Nurhaci. Gwanghaegun negotiated independently for peace with the Manchus and managed to avoid another war. He also restored diplomatic relationship with Japan in 1609 when he reopened trade with Japan through Treaty of Giyu, and sent his ambassadors to Japan in 1617.

In the domestic sphere, Gwanghaegun implemented the Daedong law, which let his subjects pay their taxes more easily. However, this law was activated only in Gyeonggi Province, which was the largest granary zone at that time, and it took a century for the law to be extended across the whole kingdom. He encouraged publishing in order to accelerate reconstruction and to restore the kingdom's former prosperity. Many books were written during his reign, including the medical book Dongui Bogam, and several historical records were rewritten in this period. In 1616, tobacco was first introduced to Korea and it soon became popular amongst the Korean aristocracy.

Dethronement and later life edit

On April 11, 1623, Gwanghaegun was deposed in a coup by the Westerners faction. The coup directed by Kim Yu took place at night, Gwanghaegun fled but was captured later.[4] He was confined first on Ganghwa Island and then on Jeju Island, where he died in 1641.[5] He does not have a royal mausoleum like the other Joseon rulers. His and Lady Ryu's remains were buried at a comparatively humble site in Namyangju in Gyeonggi Province. The Westerners faction installed Neungyanggun as the sixteenth king Injo who promulgated pro-Ming and anti-Manchu policies, which resulted in two subsequent Manchu invasions.

Legacy edit

Gwanghaegun's tomb

Gwanghaegun is one of only two deposed kings who were not restored and given a temple name (the other one being Yeonsangun).

He remains a polarizing figure among historians. Historian Oh Hang-nyeong strongly criticized the king, writing that he "practically used up the country’s entire budget solely for the construction of palaces, his policies were flawed and moreover, he was absent in many of the cabinet meetings. Gwanghaegun failed to communicate with his servants and with his people." However, historian Lee Duk-il praised the king, did that he "indeed made some political errors, but during his reign, the famous oriental medical book 'Donguibogam' was published and he created the tax system 'Daedong law' that was enforced for the benefit of the people." Despite the controversy over the king's handling of domestic policies, most historians have a positive assessment of Gwanghae's acts regarding foreign affairs.[6]

Family edit

Consort(s) and their respective issue

In popular culture edit

Film and television edit

Music edit

  • Referenced in rapper Agust D's 2020 regnal march inspired Daechwita.[40][41] Both the song's lyrics and accompanying Lumpens music video draw further from the 2012 film Masquerade with Agust D portraying a scarred tyrant threatened by the arrival of his modern era doppelganger.[42][43]

Literature edit

  • Gwanghae's Lover, a 2013 novel written by Euodia. Originally posted on web portal Naver, it is a love story about Gwanghae and a time traveling high school girl.[44]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Quartermain, Thomas (December 2019). "State Symbols, Group Identity, and Communal Memory in Jeong Gyeong-un's Godae illok, 1592-1598" (PDF). The Review of Korean Studie. 22 (2): 77. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  2. ^ Rutt, Richard; Pratt, Keith L.; Hoare, James (1999). Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary. United Kingdom: Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-0463-9. (p252)
  3. ^ "The lament of Prince Gwanghae". Dong A Ilbo. 26 November 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  4. ^ "승정원일기 1책(탈초본 1책) 인조 1년 3월 12일 임인". 승정원일기. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  5. ^ Woo, Jiwon. "[Jeju Playbook] Banished to the Island!". Korea Foundation. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  6. ^ "Controversy reignited over King Gwanghae". Korea JoongAng Daily. 16 September 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  7. ^ Was honored as "Queen Gongseong" (공성왕후; 恭聖王后) and was given the posthumous title “자숙단인공성왕후, 慈淑端仁恭聖王后” during her son’s reign.
  8. ^ Was given the royal title of “Internal Prince Haeryeong” (해령부원군; 海寧府院君)
  9. ^ She was posthumously referred to as "Queen Hyejang" (혜장왕후).
  10. ^ Married Deposed Crown Princess Park of the Miryang Park clan (폐빈 밀양 박씨; 廢嬪 密陽 朴氏; 1598–1623) and had a daughter (died prematurely).
  11. ^ With an unnamed concubine, he had a daughter, Yi Ah-gi (이아기; 李娥其; 1618 – ?).
  12. ^ His second concubine, Consort So-hun of the Yangcheon Heo clan (소훈 허씨; 昭訓 許氏), was the daughter Heo Gyun (the younger brother of Heo Nanseolheon).
  13. ^ Daughter of Heo Gyeong (허경, 許儆; 1566–1617) and Lady Shin of the Pyeongsan Shin clan (평산 신씨; 平山 申氏). Niece of Heo Jeok.
  14. ^ Her personal name was Heo Jeong-sun (허정순; 許貞純)
  15. ^ Heo Gyeong’s mother, Min Yeon-hyang, Lady Min of the Yeoheung Min clan (민연향; 閔蓮香; 1540 – ?), was the granddaughter of Princess Gyeongsuk (daughter of King Seongjong), the aunt of Royal Noble Consort Jeong of the Yeoheung Min clan (concubine of King Seonjo), and a first cousin thrice removed of Queen Inhyeon.
  16. ^ Before being promoted to the rank of Bin, Lady Heo was given the rank of Royal Consort Suk-ui (숙의)
  17. ^ Daughter of Yun Hong-yeop (윤홍업; 尹弘業) and Lady Yu of the Changwon Yu clan (창원 유씨).
  18. ^ Her personal name was Yun Yeong-shin (윤영신; 尹永新).
  19. ^ Lady Yun was firstly promoted to Suk-ui (숙의; 淑儀) and then to So-ui (소의; 昭儀). She was lastly promoted to Gwi-in (귀인; 貴人)
  20. ^ Due to her father’s deposition, she was known as Lady Yi of the Jeonju Yi clan (전주 이씨). “Danin” (단인; 端人) is a rank given to wives whose husband have a government position of 8th rank.
  21. ^ Married Park Jing-won (박징원; 朴澂遠).
  22. ^ Daughter of Hong Mae (홍매; 洪邁) and Lady Seo of the Yicheon Seo clan (이천 서씨; 利川徐氏).
  23. ^ Entered the palace with Royal Consort Gwi-in of the Papyeong Yun clan (at the time So-ui) in 1617
  24. ^ Daughter of Gwon Yeo-gyeong (권여경; 權餘慶) and Lady Kim of the Sangsan Kim clan (상산 김씨; 商山 金氏).
  25. ^ Daughter of Won Su-shin (원수신; 元守身) and sister of Won Yu-hyeong (원유형; 元有亨).
  26. ^ Entered the palace with Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Andong Kwon clan in 1618
  27. ^ Personal name was Won Hui (원희; 元姬)
  28. ^ Was known before as Royal Consort Suk-won (숙원; 淑媛), and then as Royal Consort So-won (소원; 昭媛)
  29. ^ Daughter of Jeong Sang-heon (정상헌; 鄭象獻) and an unnamed slave concubine, niece of Jeong Ji-san (정지산; 鄭之産; ? – 1617), and granddaughter of Jeong Sa-ryong (정사룡; 鄭士龍; 19 December 1491 – 2 October 1570/1573).
  30. ^ Daughter of Im Mong-jeong (임몽정; 任夢正) and his concubine. Niece of Im Choi-jeong (임취정; 任就正; 1561–1628).
  31. ^ Her personal name was Im Ae-yeong (임애영; 任愛英).
  32. ^ Was first known as Royal Consort So-won (소원 임씨), then as Royal Consort Suk-won (숙원 임씨).
  33. ^ Daughter of Shin Gyeong (신경; 辛鏡) and Lady Kim of the Suwon Kim clan (수원 김씨; 水原 金氏).
  34. ^ She is a maternal niece of Royal Noble Consort In of the Suwon Kim clan (a concubine of King Seonjo).
  35. ^ Her personal name was Han Bo-hyang (한보향; 韓保香).
  36. ^ She is said to have been his father's concubine.
  37. ^ Her personal name was Kim Gae-si.
  38. ^ Daughter of Jo Ui (조의; 趙誼).
  39. ^ Daughter of Byeon Chung-gil (변충길; 邊忠吉).
  40. ^ Agust D (22 May 2020). "D-2" (in Korean). Big Hit Music. Archived from the original on 22 May 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  41. ^ Agust D (22 May 2020). "'D-2'" (in Korean). Big Hit Music. Archived from the original on 22 May 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  42. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Agust D '대취타' MV, retrieved 11 April 2021
  43. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Agust D 'D-2' Mixtape Interview, retrieved 11 April 2021
  44. ^ Baek, Byung-yeul (31 May 2013). "Recent Book: Gwanghae's Lover". The Korea Times. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
Gwanghaegun of Joseon
Born: 1575 Died: 1641
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Joseon
Succeeded by