House of Yi
The House of Yi, also called the Yi dynasty (also transcribed as the Lee dynasty), was the royal family of the Joseon dynasty and later the imperial family of the Korean Empire, descended from the Joseon founder Yi Seong-gye. All of his descendants are members of the Jeonju Yi clan.
|House of Yi|
|Parent house||Jeonju Yi clan|
|Founded||17 July 1392|
|Founder||Taejo of Joseon|
|Final ruler||Sunjong of Korea|
(Annexed by Japan in 1910)
|Cadet branches||125 cadet branches (approximately 105 extant) including:|
After the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910, in which the Empire of Japan annexed the Korean Peninsula, some members of the Jeonju Yi clan were incorporated into the Imperial House of Japan and the Japanese peerage by the Japanese government. This lasted until 1947, just before the Constitution of Japan was promulgated. The treaty was nullified in the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea.
With the Constitution succeeding to the Provisional Government, the descendants of the Imperial Family continue to be given preference and constitute a favored symbol in South Korea. The July 2005 funeral of Yi Ku, former head of the royal household, attracted considerable media coverage. Yi Seok also caught attention as of the 100th anniversary of Korean independence on March 1, 2019.
Early Era (15th century)Edit
When Taejo of Joseon ascended to the throne in 1392, he continued to use the laws of Goryeo, and the noble titles he gave to his sons, nephews, and sons-in-law were all "prince" (군). After the coup d'état in 1398, the system of noble titles changed: "duke" for king's sons, "marquis" for royal descendants, and "earl" for officers of senior first rank. This system was abolished in 1401 to avoid "usurping" the existing title laws of the more powerful Ming dynasty.
As of 1412, Taejong of Joseon approved a new system for giving titles to the royalty: among the sons of a king, those who were born by the queen can acquire the title "grand prince" (대군), and the rest can be the "prince" (군); both princes have are of senior first rank and their male descendants as far as their great-grandsons can retrieve official positions as well. According to the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty, the title "prince" (군) was at first restricted to be given to sons or grandsons of kings, but these standards became looser over time. Generally, a royal eligible to be a prince could not receive the title automatically even if his rank raised him to the junior second rank. But such a hereditary title could be passed down to generations until it exceeds more than four generations (from the king).
Similar to male royals, female royals received titles according to their kinship to the kings. Despite all being called "princess" in English, daughters of the king and queen were called 공주 (gongju). Girls born to other consorts and fathered by the king were called 옹주 (ongju) to differentiate; some further distant female royalties also had different titles. If the above-mentioned females were stripped of titles due to various reasons, they would be referred to as a commoner; for instance, the eldest daughter of deposed Yeonsangun of Joseon was addressed as "Ku Mun-gyeong's wife" after 1506. Later, there were also so-called "Kim Se-ryung's wife" (former Princess Hyomyeong) and "Jeong's wife" (former Princess Hwawan).
In 1469, Seongjong of Joseon ascended to the throne as the adopted heir to his uncle, Yejong of Joseon. As of 1475, Seongjong asked the Ming dynasty government to ratify his biological father, Crown Prince Uigyeong, to have a posthumous status as a king, and a temple name "Deokjong" was made for the late crown prince. A similar event took place in 1568, when Seonjo of Joseon succeeded the throne as the adopted heir to his half-uncle, Myeongjong of Joseon. Based on official advice, instead of giving his biological father (Prince Deokheung) a title of "king" posthumously, Seonjo created a new title for him in 1569, Deokheung Daewongun (덕흥대원군), as an honor to the late prince. This action had a precedent in 1066, when Emperor Yingzong of Song promoted his biological father (Zhao Yunrang) without posthumously elevating him to the status of emperor.
Following the precedent by Seonjo, three more royals were designated as Daewongun throughout the Joseon history: Prince Jeongwon (1623, but later promoted to "King Wonjong" as of 1634"); Yi Kwang (Jeongye Daewongun, 1849); and Prince Heungseon (1864).
In 1650, Hyojong of Joseon, as requested by the prince regent Dorgon of the Qing dynasty, adopted a fourth cousin once removed as his daughter. Unusually, he gave her title, Princess Uisun, before she was about to leave Joseon to marry Dorgon.
Gojong and Sunjong (1863-1910)Edit
After the Meiji Restoration, Japan acquired Western military technology. With this power, it forced Joseon to sign the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876 after the Ganghwa Island incident. It established a strong economic presence on the peninsula, heralding the beginning of Japanese imperial expansion in East Asia. In the 19th century tensions mounted between China and Japan, culminating in the First Sino-Japanese War; much of this war was fought on the Korean Peninsula. The Chinese defeat in the 1894 war resulted in the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which officially guaranteed Korea's independence from China. However, the treaty effectively granted Japan direct control over Korean politics.
The Joseon court, pressured by encroachment from larger powers, tried to reinforce national integrity and declared the Korean Empire in 1897. King Gojong of Korea assumed the title of Emperor in order to assert Korea's independence; he gave himself the rank of the leaders of China and Japan. In addition, Korea sought modern military technology from other foreign powers, especially Russia, in order to fend off the Japanese. Technically, 1895 marks the end of the Joseon period, as the official name of the state was changed. But the dynasty continued, although Japan intervened in its affairs. For example, the 1895 assassination of the queen consort, Queen Min, is believed to have been orchestrated by Japanese general Miura Gorō. The queen had great influence on politics during the reign of her husband, and she tried to maintain the neutrality of the country by accepting the offers from the Russian Empire, allowing the later to have greater influence. After the death of the queen, the emperor honored her by posthumously promoting her status to empress (Empress Myeongseong).
As an emperor, Gojong granted higher titles to some of his close relatives, and so did his successor Sunjong of Korea. In 1900, Gojong designated his younger son Yi Kang as Prince Imperial Ui (의친왕) and Yi Un as Prince Imperial Yeong (영친왕). Yi Seon, their older half brother who died young in 1880, was posthumously designated in 1907 as Prince Imperial Wan (완친왕). Gojong designated his (biological) elder brother Yi Jae-myeon as Prince Imperial Heung (흥친왕) in 1910.
After a long-term process of controlling the puppet state, on 22 August 1910, Japan annexed the Korean peninsula effectively ended rule by the House of Yi, forcing the nation to accede to the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910. According to the treaty, some of the members of Yi family were incorporated into the royal family (王公族, Ōkōzoku) or made Korean nobles (朝鮮貴族, Chōsen-kizoku).
The Korean nobility titles granted by Japan in 1910, listing only those from Jeonju Yi clan, are as follows:
|The Royal Family and Yi Korean Nobles in 1910|
|Category||Empire of Japan||Korean Empire||Notes|
|Title||Name||Title||Belong to cadet branch||Genealogy||Years of birth and death|
|King Yi family||King Emeritus Yi of Deoksu||Yi Hui
(Gojong of Korea)
|King Yi of Changdeok||Yi Cheok
(Sunjong of Korea)
|Crown Prince of King Yi||Yi Un
|Imperial Crown Prince||－||
|Duke Yi||Duke Yi Kang||Yi Kang
|Prince Imperial Ui
|Duke Yi Hui||Yi Hui
|Prince Imperial Heung
|House of Prince Yeonryeong||1845-1912|
|Korean Nobles||Marquess||Yi Hae-seung
|House of Prince Euneon||1890-?|
|House of Prince Eunjeon||1874-1935|
|House of Prince Yeonryeong||1856-1922|
|House of Deokheung Daewongun||1865-1945|
|－||House of Prince Yeonryeong||1870-1928|
|－||House of Prince Murim||1864-1926|
|－||House of Prince Euneon||1872-1937|
|－||House of Prince Yeonryeong||1889-1961|
|－||House of Prince Gyeongchang||1859-1943|
|－||House of Prince Gyeongmyeong||1865-1919|
|－||House of Prince Murim||1843-1930|
|－||House of Grand Prince Hyoryeong||1839-1919|
|－||House of Grand Prince Neungchang||1864-1931|
|－||House of Prince Gyeongmyeong||1860-1923|
|－||House of Prince Gyeongmyeong||1874-1920|
|－||House of Prince Milseong||1854-1922|
|－||House of Prince Milseong||1832-1911|
|－||House of Grand Prince Muan||
Japanese colonial rule and Post-liberationEdit
This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2020)
Emperor Gojong had nine sons, but only three princes who survived to adulthood: the second son, Crown Prince Yi Cheok; the fifth son, Yi Kang, and the seventh son, Yi Un. The Crown Prince, Yi Cheok, became Emperor Sunjong, the last monarch of the Korean Empire. Since Emperor Sunjong never had issue, his younger brother, Yi Un, the Prince Imperial Yeong became the new Imperial Crown Prince. Yi Kang (Prince Imperial Ui), might have taken the position due to his seniority but was passed over - due to the low status of Yi Kang's biological mother, Lady Chang, as well as the notorious fame of Yi Kang himself known not only domestically but also internationally. Yi Kang fathered 13 sons and 9 daughters by 14 mistresses; the number can be different based on difference sources. With an extremely wide range of historical evaluations over him — womanizer, as well as a behind-the-scene leader of the independence movement — the Japanese authorities limited the activities of the prince throughout the occupation.
Emperor Sunjong died in 1926, Crown Prince Yi Un was called "King Yi", a nominal title because the country had already lost its sovereignty to Japan. Yi Un married a Japanese princess, Princess Masako of Nashimoto, who was later known as Yi Bangja, a family member of the shinnōke (cadet branch from the Imperial House of Japan). After they married, Princess Masako gave birth to Yi Jin in 1921 (died young) and Yi Ku in 1931.
After Korea's liberation in 1945, President Syngman Rhee suppressed the imperial family, in order to prevent the restoration of the monarchy, as he feared that its return would challenge his emerging authority as the new republic's founding father. Rhee seized and nationalized most of the family's properties, and the imperial family was also blamed on being responsible for the "collapse of the nation". According to the prince's 11th son, Yi Seok, his mother, Hong Chongsun, was forced to sell noodles as a street vendor to make a living. Stripped of most of their wealth and authority, some family members fled to the United States and Latin America, known descendants reside in New Jersey and New York. For instance, Amy Lee (Yi Haegyeong), the fifth daughter of Yi Kang, migrated to the United States in 1956 and worked for 27 years as a librarian at Columbia University in New York City. In September, 2012, she was 82 years old and described as "one of the last survivors of the Korean royal court". Among Prince Yi Kang's surviving four sons and seven daughters, four lost touch with the family after they left for the United States. The other family members held an ancestral ritual twice a year for Prince Yi Kang, but usually only two or three of the 11 surviving siblings attended the ceremonies.
Meanwhile, the Jeonju Lee Royal Family Association was founded in 1957, and the members consist of the descendants of the royal family from various cadet branches of the clan. It was only in 1963 that a new president, Park Chung-hee, allowed some of the imperial family members, including Princess Deokhye, to return to Korea. However, they could only stay at Nakseon Hall, a small residence in a corner of Changdeokgung in Seoul; the place was previously reserved for widowed queen/empress dowagers. Yi Un also became the director of the Jeonju Lee Royal Family Association, on 29 July 1966; the title would later pass down to his son in 1973. Yi Un died seven years later, in 1970, after a long illness resulting from strokes.
Yi Un's son, Yi Ku, was forced by other family members to divorce his American wife, Julia Mullock, in 1982 due to her sterility (the couple, however, had an adopted daughter). In 1998, it was reported that Yi Kang's eighth son died alone in a social center in eastern Seoul. Yi Seok, as mentioned above, became a lecturer at the Jeonju University as of 2005. A series of business failures left Yi Ku out of support, and he died alone at the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka in Tokyo on July 16, 2005. The site of the hotel had been his birthplace 74 years prior. According to the Jeonju Lee Royal Family Association, the last meeting, on July 10, was made between the association and Yi Ku, who allowed Yi Won, his first cousin once removed (grandson of Prince Yi Kang and his father is Yi Gap, 9th son of Yi Kang), to be his heir, and he signed as the proof of his permission, through the process of traditional adoption to his line. Yi Ku had met Yi Won several times before the adoption, satisfied about his foreign language abilities, and Yi Won was therefore chosen to be his successor and the status was confirmed by the association as of 22 July 2005. Although, the adoption would be invalid by present Korean Law because Yi Ku died before the adoption process was completed.
After the death of Yi Ku, a dispute about the head of the royal family occurred. Yi Hae-won, second daughter of Yi Kang and a half-aunt of Yi Won, also made a counter-claim as the "Empress of Korea" in a private ceremony organized by her followers in a hotel room. She was enthroned as symbolic monarch of Korea on 29 September 2006 by a group called "Korean Imperial Family Association". She laid claim to the title of Empress of Korea and declared the restoration of Imperial House in her own succession ceremony in a hotel room. The private enthronement was not approved or supported by Korean politics. Yi Hae-won eventually died on 8 February 2020, aged 100.
Meanwhile, in 2005-06, Yi Seok, the 10th son of Yi Kang and a half-uncle of Yi Won, claimed that he was officially named heir apparent as [the late] Crown Princess Yi Bangja (the mother of Yi Ku and the wife of Yi Un) wrote a will, naming him as the "first successor”. As such, Yi Seok is referred as "king," "prince," and/or "last pretender" by some articles from mainstream media. Later, American Internet entrepreneur Andrew Lee, accepted a nomination by Yi Seok, on 6 October 2018, to become the "Crown Prince" of Korea.
House of Yi family treeEdit
|House of Yi/Joseon Kings family tree|
– – – – – – - The dashed lines denote the adoptions
- Taejong was the first reigning Joseon king to be recognized by the Ming dynasty.
- Queen Jeonghui appointed him to be the heir to Yejong.
- Unlike other Joseon monarchs, who could receive a temple name after their death, Yeonsangun and Gwanghaegun never had one due to being overthrown and "gun" denotes "prince" instead of king.
- The anti-king during the rebel (Yi Gwal's rebellion) in 1624.
- Proclaimed to be the anti-king during the Musin Revolt in 1728.
- Gojong became the first emperor of the Korean Empire in 1897 and abdicated in 1907; he was demoted to "King Emeritus Yi" in 1910.
- Sunjong abdicated in 1910 and became "King Yi" at the same time.
- Yi Un became the Imperial Crown Prince of the Korean Empire in 1907, only to be demoted to the "Crown Prince of King Yi" in 1910. He succeeded the title King Yi in 1926 and lost it in 1947 according to the new constitution in Japan. His posthumous name, Crown Prince Euimin (의민황태자), was made by the Jeonju Lee Royal Family Association.
- Director of the Jeonju Lee Royal Family Association.
- Yi Hae-won held a coronation ceremony and claimed to be an "empress" on 29 September 2006. Meanwhile, Yi Seok claimed to be the "first successor" appointed by Yi Bangja after the death of Yi Ku in 2005.
- Yi Ku became the "Crown Prince of King Yi" after his birth and he lost the title in 1947. His posthumous name, Prince Imperial Hoeun (회은황세손), was made by the Jeonju Lee Royal Family Association.
- On 10 July 2005, Yi Ku named Yi Won to be his heir.
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan will accord to their Majesties the Emperor and ex-Emperor and His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Korea and their consorts and heirs such titles, dignity, and honor as are appropriate to their respective ranks, and sufficient annual grants will be made for the maintenance of such titles, dignity and honor.– via
前韓國皇帝ヲ册シテ王ト爲シ昌德宮李王ト稱シ……皇太子及將來ノ世嗣ヲ王世子トシ太皇帝ヲ太王ト爲シ德壽宮李太王ト稱シ……(in Japanese) – via
- Wikisource. (in Japanese) – via
- "여러 왕자를 군으로 봉하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Taejo Year 01, Month 08, Day 7, Entry 2)
- "김정준을 전농 판사로 삼다. 친왕자를 공으로, 종친을 후로, 정1품을 백으로 봉하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Taejo Year 07, Month 09, Day 1, Entry 5)
- "공·후·백의 작호를 부원 대군·부원군·군으로 고치다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Taejong Year 01, Month 01, Day 25, Entry 4)
- "원윤 이덕근의 졸기. 원윤·정윤을 장사지내는 예를 예조로 하여금 상고하게 하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Taejong Year 12, Month 04, Day 15, Entry 1)
- "원손의 시호를 효소로 하고 인성군으로 추봉하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Sejo Year 09, Month 11, Day 5, Entry 1)
- "호조가 종실로서 곡식을 바쳐 봉군된 일을 상고하여 아뢰다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (Gwanghaegun Year 1, Month 07, Day 29, Entry 3)
- "종실 관제를 이정하는 별단". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Gojong Year 06, Month 01, Day 24, Entry 5)
- "덕흥군을 대원군으로 삼고, 하원군 이정에게는 작위 1급을 가하고 전토와 장획을 주다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Gojong Year 02, Month 11, Day 1, Entry 1)
- "외조부모를 위하여 거애하는 의주를 예조에서 아뢰다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Sejong Year 06, Month 10, Day 07, Entry 3)
- "종실녀의 관제를 정하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Sejong Year 22, Month 04, Day 15, Entry 2)
- "정광필·박수문이 조례와 나장, 휘신 공주의 이혼, 학교의". (King Jungjong Year 03, Month 10, Day 7, Entry 1)
- "이징·이숙을 선원록에서 작호를 삭제하고 이름만 기록하게 하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Hyojong Year 03, Month 01, Day 15, Entry 2)
- "김상로·문녀·정후겸 모자·홍인한에 대한 백관의 토죄에 비답을 내리다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Hyojong Year 00, Month 04, Day 03, Entry 1)
- "주문사 김질, 부사 이계손이 북경에서 돌아오다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Seongjong Year 06, Month 01, Day 29, Entry 2)
- "회간왕의 묘호를 덕종(德宗)으로 정하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Seongjong Year 06, Month 10, Day 09, Entry 4)
- "덕흥군을 대원군으로 삼고, 하원군 이정에게는 작위 1급을 가하고 전토와 장획을 주다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Seonjo Year 02, Month 11, Day 01, Entry 1)
- "안 소용을 빈으로 추봉하고 정세호를 영의정으로 추증하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Seonjo Year 10, Month 03, Day 24, Entry 1)
- "예조 판서 이정구를 불러들여 사묘에 대한 전례에 대해 논의하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Injo Year 00, Month 05, Day 07, Entry 7)
- "대제학 최명길이 원종의 옥책을 지어 올리다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Injo Year 12, Month 07, Day 14, Entry 2)
- "대원군에게 추상할 작호를 전계로 정하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Cheoljong Year 00, Month 06, Day 17, Entry 2)
- "흥선 대원군과 여흥 부대부인의 임명장이 내리다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Injo Year 00, Month 12, Day 09, Entry 2)
- "혼인할 여자인 금림군 이개윤의 딸을 의순 공주로 삼고 상을 내리다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Hyojong Year 01, Month 03, Day 25, Entry 2)
- Pae-Yong Yi; Ted Chan (2008). Women in Korean History 한국 역사 속의 여성들. Ewha Womans University Press. p. 190. ISBN 978-89-7300-772-1. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Sugimura, Yotaro (1932). 明治廿七八年在韓苦心錄 (Meiji nijushichi hachinen zaikan kushinroku). p. 169-170.
- "중화전에 나아가 황자를 책봉하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (17 August 1900, Entry 1)
- "완화군 이선을 완왕으로 추후하여 봉하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (1 October 1907, Entry 2)
- "이재면을 흥왕으로 책봉하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (15 August 1910, Entry 1)
- "日韓併合並朝鮮王公貴族ニ関スル詔勅及法令". 國立國會図書館デジタルコレクション.
- "官報. 1910年08月29日". 國立國會図書館デジタルコレクション. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
- "이재완, 이재각, 이해창 등에게 귀족의 칭호를 주다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. Retrieved 2020-06-17. (7 October 1910, Entry 1)
- "덕흥대원군파 권3(德興大院君派 卷之三)". (Volume 3; Page 13, 21)
- "덕흥대원군파 권5(德興大院君派 卷之五)". (Volume 5; Page 23)
- "월산대군파, 인성대군파 단권(月山大君派, 仁城大君派 卷之單)". (Page 38)
- "선조자손록 권3(宣祖子孫錄 卷之三) 慶昌君派". (Volume 3; Page 24, 36)
- "무안대군파 권11(撫安大君派 卷之十一)". (Volume 11; Page 43)
- "璇源續譜卷之四（定宗大王子孫錄·茂林君派）". (Volume 4; Page 84)
- "덕흥대원군파 권3(德興大院君派 卷之三)". (Volume 3; Page 52)
- "인조대왕자손록, 숙종대왕자손록, 장조의황제자손록 권7(仁祖大王子孫錄, 肅宗大王子孫錄, 莊祖懿皇帝子孫錄 卷之七)".
- "원종대왕자손록 권1(元宗大王子孫錄 卷之一)". (Page 15, 16)
- "全州李氏世譜卷之二十二（景明君派）". (Page 45)
- "무림군파 권2(茂林君派 卷之二)". (Volume 2; Page 32)
- "효령대군파 권37(孝寧大君派 卷之三十七)". (Volume 37; Page 87)
- "학초전(鶴樵傳)" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-06-17.
- "밀성군파 권2(密城君派 卷之二)". (Volume 2; Page 42, 49)
- "무안대군파 권11(撫安大君派 卷之十一)". (Volume 11; Page 32)
- "英親王垠을 皇太子로 封함". Retrieved 8 July 2020.
朝野皆知新皇帝不慧，且無嗣屬望，……嚴貴妃方專寵，欲貴其子，厚賂博文，冀得其力；義親王堈，年雖長，多失儀、無人望，且孤立援少……由是衆議自歸於垠，援定宗朝故事，立爲皇太子。 (The people by the time knew that the new emperor was not exactly smart and there's no hope for him to produce an heir,... Lady Eom, the Imperial Noble Consort just gained much love from the Emperor [Emeritus] and she wanted to promote her son's position, so she bribed Itō Hirobumi for his support; the Prince Imperial Ui, despite being elder, had many scandals and lost reputation, making him lack to support... and so, people eventually agreed to make Yi Un the crown prince, following the precedent from King Jeongjong of Joseon.)《매천야록》卷之五·隆熙元年丁未第2條
- AP (September 14, 2012). "SKorea regains old embassy in US, snipes at Japan". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
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