Jungjong of Joseon

  (Redirected from King Jungjong)

Jungjong of Joseon (16 April 1488 – 29 November 1544, r. 1506–1544), born Yi Yeok or Lee Yeok, ruled during the 16th century in what is now Korea. He succeeded his half-brother, Yeonsangun, because of the latter's tyrannical misrule, which culminated in a coup placing Jungjong on the throne.

Jungjong of Joseon
조선 중종
King of Joseon
PredecessorYeonsangun of Joseon
SuccessorInjong of Joseon
BornLee Yeok
16 April 1488
Joseon Dynasty
Died29 November 1544 (1544-11-30) (aged 56)
Joseon Dynasty
ConsortQueen Dangyeong
Queen Janggyeong
Queen Munjeong
IssueInjong of Joseon
Myeongjong of Joseon
Lee Yeok(Yi Yeok)
Regnal name
Posthumous name
King Gonghee Hwimun Somu Heumin Seonghyo the Great
Temple name
Jungjong (중종, 中宗)
HouseJeonju Yi
FatherSeongjong of Joseon
MotherQueen Jeonghyeon
Jungjong of Joseon
Revised RomanizationJungjong
Birth name
Revised RomanizationI Yeok
McCune–ReischauerYi Yŏk


Jo Gwang-jo's reformsEdit

On the day Yeonsangun was deposed, soldiers belonging to the coup leaders surrounded the house of his half-brother Grand Prince Jinseong. He was about to kill himself, thinking that Yeonsangun was finally going to kill him; but, dissuaded by his wife later known as Queen Dangyeong, Grand Prince Jinseong found himself becoming the eleventh king of Joseon Dynasty, or King Jungjong. Jungjong worked hard to wipe out the remnants of the Yeonsangun era by reopening the Seonggyungwan, royal university, and Office of Censors, which criticizes inappropriate actions of the king. However, during the early days of his reign, Jungjong could not exert regal authority freely because those who put him on the throne exercised immense power. When the three main leaders of coup died of old age and natural causes eight years later, Jungjong began to assert his authority and carried out a large-scale reformation of the government with help of Jo Gwang-jo and other Sarim scholars.

Jo Gwang-jo strengthened local autonomy by establishing a self-governing system called Hyang'yak, promoted Confucian writings by translating them into Korean hangul and distributing them widely, pursued a land reform that would distribute land more equally between the rich and poor, and introduced a supplementary system for recruiting talents to the government. He also believed that any talented people, including slaves, should be appointed as officials regardless of social status. As Inspector General, he enforced the laws strictly so that no official dared to receive a bribe or exploit the local populace during this time according to Annals of the Joseon Dynasty.[1]

However, the reforms faced much opposition from conservative nobles who led the coup in 1506 that placed Jungjong in power. After four years of reformist agenda, Jungjong abruptly abandoned Jo Gwang-jo's programs because he either lost confidence in Jo's programs or feared that Jo was becoming too powerful. While Jungjong and Jo Gwang-jo shared the reformist agenda, Jungjong was also chiefly interested in solidifying royal authority whereas the latter was more concerned with neo-Confucian ideology, according to which those who rule must be a virtuous example to the rest. Finally in November 1519, when conservative officials slandered Jo Gwang-jo to be disloyal by writing "Jo will become the king" (주초위왕, 走肖爲王) with honey on leaves so that caterpillars left behind the same phrase as if in supernatural manifestation, Jungjong executed Jo Gwang-jo on charge of factionalism and exiled many of his followers, abruptly abandoning his reforms. This incident is known as the Third Literati Purge of 1519 or Gimyo massacre of scholars.

Rule of in-lawsEdit

After Jo Gwang-jo's fall, King Jungjong never had the chance to rule on his own. His reign was marked by tumultuous struggle among various conservative factions, each of them backed by one of the King's queens or concubines. In 1524 the conservative factions collided with each other, one faction deposing the corrupt official Kim Anro. Kim Anro's followers took their revenge in 1527 by intriguing against Consort Park, one of the King's concubines, which led to her execution along with her son Prince Bokseong. Kim Anro came back to power and took revenge on his enemies until he was removed from government and then executed by the new queen's brothers, Yun Wonro and Yun Wonhyeong. However, Yun Im, ally of Kim Anro, was able to keep his nephew as crown prince since the new queen, Queen Munjeong, did not have a son until later. Injong would later be declared the crown prince. His uncle Yun Im competed for power with the Queen Munjeong 's brothers, Yun Won-hyeong and Yun Won-ro. Many officials and scholars gathered around the two centers of power and each group developed into separate political factions. Yun Im's faction became known as ‘Greater Yun’ and the Yun brothers' faction as ‘Lesser Yun’. Their conflict led to the Fourth Literati Purge of 1545 after Jungjong's death.

As the dynasty weakened as a consequence of the continual internal conflict, foreign powers driven away by earlier monarchs returned with much greater effect. Wokou pirates and privateers often plundered southern coastal regions, while the Jurchens attacked the northern frontier numerous times, bleeding the army dry.


Jungjong was a good and able administrator especially during the reform period led by Jo Gwang-jo. However, historians judge that he was a fundamentally weak king due to circumstances of his ascension to throne, too easily swayed by both Jo Gwang-jo and conservative ministers who placed him on the throne. Sometimes he was seen as a tragic figure who never wanted to be a king but was forced to become one and depose his loving queen under the pressure of the coup leaders, who killed her father during the coup. More recently, some historians have suggested that Jungjong was not actually manipulated by his ministers and in-laws, but rather used them to get rid of one another to strengthen regal authority albeit not so successfully. In either case, his reign was marred by much confusion, violence, corruption, and court intrigues. He has been especially criticized for allowing the Third Literati Purge of 1519 and executing Jo Gwang-jo and others on framed charges.

In the early days of reform, Jungjong encouraged the publishing of many books; but publications declined dramatically after the literati purge in 1519. He also tried to improve self-government of local areas and succeeded in reforming the civil service examination. In the latter days of his reign, he realized the importance of defense and encouraged military service.


  1. Queen Dangyeong of the Geochang Shin clan (7 February 1487 – 27 December 1557) (단경왕후 신씨) — No issue.
  2. Queen Janggyeong of the Papyeong Yun clan (10 August 1491 – 16 March 1515) (장경왕후 윤씨)
    1. Princess Hyohye (13 June 1511 – 6 May 1531) (효혜공주)[3][4]
    2. Crown Prince Yi Ho (10 March 1515 – 7 August 1545) (왕세자 이호)
  3. Queen Munjeong of the Papyeong Yun clan (2 December 1501 – 5 May 1565) (문정왕후 윤씨)[5]
    1. Princess Uihye (1521–1564) (의혜공주)[6][7]
    2. Princess Hyosun (1522–1538) (효순공주)[8][9][10]
    3. Princess Gyeonghyeon (1530–1584) (경현공주)[11][12]
    4. Yi Hwan, Grand Prince Gyeongwon (3 July 1534 – 3 August 1567) (이환 경원대군)
    5. Princess Insun (1542–1545) (인순공주)[13]
  4. Royal Noble Consort Gyeong of the Miryang Park clan (1492–1533) (경빈 박씨)[14]
    1. Yi Mi, Prince Bokseong (28 September 1509 – 18 June 1533) (이미 복성군)[15]
    2. Princess Hyesun (12 February 1512 – 1583) (혜순옹주)[16][17]
    3. Princess Hyejeong (27 October 1514 – 1580) (혜정공주)[18][19]
  5. Royal Noble Consort Hui of the Namyang Hong clan (1494–1581) (희빈 홍씨)[20][21]
    1. Yi Yeong, Prince Geumwon (1513 – 1562) (이영 금원군)[22][23]
    2. Yi Wan, Prince Bongseong (1528 – 1547) (이완 봉성군)[24][25]
  6. Royal Noble Consort Chang of the Ansan Ahn clan (2 September 1499 – 7 November 1549) (창빈 안씨)[26]
    1. Yi Geo, Prince Yeongyang (24 April 1521 – 27 July 1561) (이거 영양군)[27]
    2. Princess Jeongsin (1526 – 1552) (정신옹주)[28][29]
    3. Yi Cho, Prince Deokheung (2 April 1530 – 14 June 1559) (이초 덕흥대원군). To become the father (1552) of Seonjo of Joseon.[30]
  7. Royal Consort Gwi-in of the Cheongju Han clan (1500 – 1571) (귀인 한씨)[31]
    1. Unnamed son (1528)[32]
  8. Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Naju Na clan (1489 – 1514) (숙의 나씨) — No issue.[33]
  9. Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Gyeongju Yi clan (? – 1524) (숙의 이씨)[34]
    1. Yi Gi, Prince Deokyang (1524 – 1581) (이기 덕양군)[35][36]
  10. Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Namyang Hong clan (숙의 홍씨)
    1. Yi Hee, Prince Haean (15 June 1511 – 4 August 1573) (이희 해안군)[37][38][39]
  11. Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Kim clan (? – 1562) (숙의 김씨)[40]
    1. Princess Sukjeong (1525–1564) (숙정옹주)[41]
  12. Royal Consort Suk-won of the Lee clan (? – 1520) (숙원 이씨)[42]
    1. Princess Jeongsun (18 December 1517 – 22 September 1581) (정순옹주)[43][44]
    2. Princess Hyojeong (29 October 1520 – 19 February 1544) (효정옹주)[45][46]
  13. Royal Consort Suk-won of the Kwon clan (숙원 권씨) — No issue.

His full posthumous nameEdit

  • King Jungjong Gonghee Hwimun Somu Heumin Seonghyo the Great of Korea
  • 중종공희휘문소무흠인성효대왕
  • 中宗恭僖徽文昭武欽仁誠孝大王

Modern depictionEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Annals of Joseon Dynasty, October, 1520
  2. ^ More popularly known as "Dowager Queen Jasun" (자순대비)
  3. ^ Her name was Yi Ok-ha (이옥하, 李玉荷)
  4. ^ Married Kim Hui (김희, 金禧) (? - 1531), a son of Kim Ahn-ro. They had a daughter, Kim Seon-ok (김선옥, 金善玉) (1531 - ?), who married Queen Munjeong’s nephew, Yun Baek-won (윤백원, 尹百源) (1528 - 1589).
  5. ^ She is a third cousin of Queen Janggyeong
  6. ^ Her name was Yi Ok-hye (옥혜, 玉蕙)
  7. ^ Married Han Gyeong-rok (한경록, 韓景祿) and had 4 children (3 sons and 1 daughter)
  8. ^ Her name was Yi Ok-rin (옥린, 玉麟)
  9. ^ Married Gu Sa-ahn (구사안, 具思顔) (1523 - 22 April 1562) and had an adoptive son, Gu Hong (구홍, 具弘)
  10. ^ Her husband’s younger brother, Gu Sa-maeng (구사맹, 具思孟) (1531 - 1604), is the father of Queen Inheon of the Neungseong Gu clan (the wife of King Wonjong and mother of King Injo)
  11. ^ Her name was Yi Ok-hyeon (옥현, 玉賢)
  12. ^ Married Shin Ui (신의, 申檥) (1530 - 1584), and had a son, Shin Sa-jeong (신사정, 申士楨) (1546 - 1593). Her husband was the adoptive grandson of Princess Hyesuk (a daughter of King Seongjong)
  13. ^ Died at the age of 2-3
  14. ^ Biological daughter of Park Soo-rim; adopted daughter of Park Won-jong (the maternal uncle of Queen Janggyeong), one of the minority officials who helped Jungjong rise to the throne.
  15. ^ Married Princess Consort Yun of the Papyeong Yun clan (군부인 파평 윤씨, 郡夫人 坡平尹氏) (19 July ? - 10 August 1530), and had 3 children (1 daughter and 2 adoptive sons)
  16. ^ Her name was Yi Cheol-hwan (철환, 鐵環)
  17. ^ Married Kim In-gyeong (김인경, 金仁慶) (1515 - 1583) of the Gwangsan Kim clan (광산 김씨, 光山 金氏), and had an adoptive son, Kim Ho-su (김호수, 金虎秀)
  18. ^ Her name was Yi Seok-hwa (석환, 石環)
  19. ^ Married Hong Yeo (홍여, 洪礪) (? - 1533), and had a daughter, Hong Ok-hwan (홍옥환, 洪玉環) (1531 - ?), who married Yun Ho (윤호, 尹琥) (a grandson of Yun Im and a grandnephew of Queen Janggyeong)
  20. ^ Daughter of Hong Gyeong-ju (홍경주, 洪景舟) (? - 20 June 1521), one of the minority officials who helped Jungjong rise on the throne, and Lady Kwon of the Andong Kwon clan (안동 권씨, 安東 權氏)
  21. ^ Her mother, Lady Kwon of the Andong Kwon clan, is the maternal granddaughter of Jeong In-ji
  22. ^ Married Princess Consort Pajing of the Haeju Jeong clan (파징군부인 정씨, 波澄郡夫人 鄭氏) (1513 - 1560), and had 2 children (1 daughter and 1 adoptive son)
  23. ^ His adoptive son, Yi In, Prince Hareung (하릉군 이인, 河陵君 李鏻), is the older brother of King Seonjo.
  24. ^ Married Princess Consort Jeong (군부인 정씨) and two children (1 adoptive son and 1 daughter)
  25. ^ His daughter married Sim Chong-gyeom (심충겸, 沈忠謙) (1545 - 1594); who was the younger brother of Queen Insun and the nephew of Yi Ryang. They eventually became the 5th great-grandparents of Queen Danui (the wife of King Gyeongjong)
  26. ^ Daughter of Ahn Tan-dae (안탄대, 安坦大) and Lady Hwang (정경부인 황씨, 貞敬夫人 黃氏)
  27. ^ Married Princess Consort Gyeongyang of the Sunheung Ahn clan (경양군부인 순흥 안씨, 景陽郡夫人 順興安氏) (10 August 1522 - 25 July 1594), and had an adoptive son
  28. ^ Her name was Yi Seon-hwan (선환, 善環)
  29. ^ Married Han Gyeong-woo (한경우, 韓景祐) (1522 - ?) of the Cheongju Han clan, and had 4 children (1 son, Han Jin (한진, 韓璡); 1541- ?) and 3 daughters, Han Yeong-suk (한영숙, 韓英淑); 1545 - ?), Han Gyeon-suk (한견숙, 韓堅淑); 1547 - ?), and Han Jong-suk (한종숙, 韓終淑); 1552 - ?).
  30. ^ See Heungseon Daewongun for another example of a Daewongun.
  31. ^ Daughter of Han Sun (한순, 韓恂) (1453 - 1541), who was the younger brother of Queen Ansun, and Lady Lee.
  32. ^ Died prematurely
  33. ^ Daughter of Na Suk-dam (나숙담, 羅叔聃) and Lady Shin of the Yeongwol Shin clan (영월 신씨, 寧越 辛氏)
  34. ^ Daughter of Yi Hyeong-shin (이형신, 李亨臣)
  35. ^ Married Princess Consort Yeongga of the Andong Kwon clan (영가부부인 권씨, 永嘉郡夫人 權氏), and had a son, Yi Jong-rin, Prince Pungsan (풍산군 이종린, 豊山君 李宗麟) (1538 - 8 September 1611).
  36. ^ With a concubine, he had 4 children (3 sons and 1 daughter)
  37. ^ Married Lady Ryu of the Jinju Ryu clan (진주 류씨) (1506 - 1532); no issue
  38. ^ Remarried to Lady Shin of the Geochang Shin clan (거창 신씨) (1514 - 1567), and had a daughter
  39. ^ With a concubine, he had 6 sons.
  40. ^ Known before as Royal Consort Suk-yong (숙용 김씨, 淑容 金氏)
  41. ^ Married Gu Han (구한, 具澣) (1524 - 1558), and had 6 children (3 sons, 3 daughters)
  42. ^ Daughter of Lee Baek-seon (이백선, 李白先)
  43. ^ Her name was Yi Jeong-hwan (정환, 貞環)
  44. ^ Married Song In (송인, 宋寅) (1517 - 1584) of the Yeosan Song clan, and had a son, Song Yoo-ui (송유의, 宋惟毅). She eventually adopted two more sons from her husband’s concubine.
  45. ^ Her name was Yi Sun-hwa (순환, 順環)
  46. ^ Married Jo Ui-jeong (조의정, 趙義貞) of the Hanyang Jo clan, and had a son, Jo Cheon-gye (조천계, 趙天啓)

External linksEdit

  • 중종 (in Korean). Doosan Encyclopedia.
Jungjong of Joseon
Born: 1488 Died: 1544
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Joseon
Succeeded by