House of Yi
The House of Yi, also called the Yi dynasty (also transcribed as Ri dynasty) is the former imperial family of Joseon and the Korean Empire, descended from Yi Seong-gye, the founder of Joseon, known by his temple name, Taejo (태조; 太祖; "grand progenitor"). All of his descendants are members of the Yi clan of Jeonju, including the imperial family of the Korean Empire (1897–1910).
|House of Yi|
|Parent house||Jeonju Yi clan|
|Founded||17 July 1392 – Joseon's founding|
|Founder||Taejo of Joseon|
|Final ruler||Sunjong of Korea|
|Religion||Confucianism (state ideology)|
|Deposition||1910 – Japan–Korea Treaty of 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 mediatised into the Imperial House of Japan and the Japanese peerage by the Japanese government until 1947, just before the Constitution of Japan was promulgated. Under the 11th Article of the Constitution of South Korea, the Korean government does not acknowledge any form of privileged caste since its promulgation in 1948.
However, with the Constitution succeeding to the Provisional Government, the descendants from the Imperial Family continues to exist as a favored symbol and attracts media attention in South Korea. This happened most recently with the July 2005 funeral of Yi Ku, former head of the royal household, in addition to Yi Seok in 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 remained adopting the laws of Goryeo, the noble titles he gave to his sons, nephews, son-in-laws 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; only to be abolished in 1401 to not to "usurp" the existing laws in the 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 the standards of which became looser over time. Generally, a royalty eligible to be a prince couldn't receive the title automatically even one's rank raises to the junior second rank; and such a hereditary title could be passed down to generations until it exceeds over four generations (from the king).
Similar to male royalties, female royalties received titles according to their kinship to the kings. Despite all called "princess" in English, daughters of king and queen were called 공주 (gongju) and those were born by other consorts 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 as wife of "their spouses"; for instance, the eldest daughter of deposed Yeonsangun of Joseon were called "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 posthumous name "Deokjong" was made for the late crown prince. Similar thing happened in 1568, when Seonjo of Joseon succeeded the throne as the adopted heir to his half-uncle, Myeongjong of Joseon; due to the advice from officials, instead of conferring his biological father (Prince Deokheung) a title of "king" posthumously, Seonjo created him a new title, Deokheung Daewongun (덕흥대원군), as an honor to the late prince in 1569. This was referenced from an precedent in 1066, about Emperor Yingzong of Song, who promoted his biological father (Zhao Yunrang) without posthumously elevating him to the status of emperor. Following the precedent from Seonjo, there are three more royalties becoming 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 (1863).
In 1650, Hyojong of Joseon, requested by the prince regent Dorgon of the Qing dynasty, adopted a fifth cousin once removed as his daughter and exceptionally made her Princess Uisun, and she became the new bride of Dorgon.
Gojong and Sunjong (1863-1910)Edit
Japan, after the Meiji Restoration, acquired Western military technology, and 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 led to the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which officially guaranteed Korea's independence from China. The treaty effectively granted Japan direct control over Korean politics.
The Joseon court, pressured by encroachment from larger powers, felt the need 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 by putting himself on the same level as the Chinese and Japanese Emperors. In addition, other foreign powers were approached for military technology, 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; however, the dynasty continued, albeit perturbed by Japanese interventions. For example, the 1895 assassination of the emperor's consort, Queen Min, apparently orchestrated by Japanese general Miura Gorō because the Korean empress was effective in keeping Japan at bay.
As an emperor, Gojong granted higher titles to some of his close relatives, and so did his successor Sunjong of Korea. In 1900, Gojong's younger sons, Yi Kang, became Prince Imperial Ui (의친왕) while Yi Un became Prince Imperial Yeong (영친왕), and Yi Seon, their older half brother who died young in 1880, posthumously became Prince Imperial Wan (완친왕) in 1907. And finally, Yi Jae-myeon, Gojong's (biological) elder brother became Prince Imperial Heung (흥친왕) in 1910.
After a long-term process of controlling the puppet state, on 22 August 1910, the Japanese annexation of the Korean peninsula effectively ended rule by the House of Yi as the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910 was made. According to the treaty, some of the members of Yi family were mediatised 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, if only listing those who came 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
Emperor Gojong had nine sons and four daughters, but only three princes, as well as one princess: 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), should have taken the position, 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.
After 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 member of the Miyake cadet family. 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 also had to shoulder the psychological and historical burden of their ancestors' responsibility for the "collapse of the nation". Stripped of most of their wealth and authority, some fled to the United States and Latin America, known descendants reside in New Jersey and New York. Meanwhile, the Jeonju Lee Royal Family Association was founded in 1957 and the members consist of the descendants of the royal family. It was only in 1963 that a new president, Park Chung-hee, allowed the imperial family, 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. Yi Un died seven years later after a long illness resulting from strokes. 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). 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.
Emperor Gojong's fifth son, Yi Kang (Prince Imperial Ui), fathered 13 sons and 9 daughters by 14 mistresses. 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. President Syngman Rhee's seizure of the imperial properties deprived the prince of most of his wealth. 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. 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, is a lecturer at the Jeonju University as of 2005. 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 hold an ancestral ritual two times a year for Prince Kang, but usually only two or three of the 11 surviving siblings attend the ceremonies. 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".
After the death of Yi Ku on 16 July 2005, a dispute about the head of the royal family occurred.
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 could complete.
Meanwhile, Yi Seok, the 10th son of Yi Kang and a half-uncle of Yi Won, didn't accept the validity of the association's decision. He claimed that "adopting a son after death doesn’t make any sense” and “[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'”.
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.
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.
- 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.
- After the death of Yi Ku in 2005, Yi Seok claimed to be the "first successor" appointed by Yi Bangja.
- 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 Won was named as the heir by Yi Ku.
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
- "CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA". Korean Legislation Research Institute. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
No privileged casts shall be recognized, nor be ever established hereafter.– 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.
- "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)
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- "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)
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- "무림군파 권2(茂林君派 卷之二)". (Volume 2; Page 32)
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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
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- "사신 장근과 단목예가 받들고 온 명나라 황제의 고명". Veritable Records of the Joseon dynasty. (King Taejo Year 01, Month 06, Day 12, Entry 1)
- "예종이 돌아가시니 대비의 명에 의해 경복궁에서 즉위하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Seongjong Year 00, Month 11, Day 28, Entry 1)
- "심기원·신경진·장만이 상의하여 흥안군 이제를 죽이다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Injo Year 02, Month 02, Day 26, Entry 7)
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- "총리대신 등이 왕실의 존칭을 새 규례를 갖추어 아뢰다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (King Gojong Year 31, Month 12, Day 27, Entry 1)
- "국호를 대한으로 하고 임금을 황제로 칭한다고 선포하다". Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. (13 October 1897, Entry 1)
- 小川原宏幸 (2010-01-28). 伊藤博文の韓国併合構想と朝鮮社会――王権論の相克. Iwanami Shoten. pp. 153, 163. ISBN 978-4000221795.
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[Article 14]……Peers and peerage shall not be recognized.– via
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House of Yi
Founding year: 1392
House of Wang
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