Munjong of Joseon

Munjong of Joseon (15 November 1414 – 1 June 1452) was the fifth King of the Joseon Dynasty, who ruled Korea from 1450 to 1452. He was the eldest son of King Sejong and succeeded him in 1450, but died of disease two years later. He was succeeded by his son, Danjong of Joseon.

Munjong of Joseon
조선 문종
King of Joseon
Reign18 May 1450 – 14 May 1452
PredecessorSejong of Joseon
SuccessorDanjong of Joseon
BornNovember 15, 1414
DiedJune 1, 1452(1452-06-01) (aged 37)
Gyeongbokgung, Hanseong
ConsortQueen Hyeondeok
IssuePrincess Gyeonghye
Danjong of Joseon
Posthumous name
King Gongsun Heummyung Insuk Gwangmun Seonghyo the Great
Temple name
Munjong (문종, 文宗)
HouseJeonju Yi
FatherSejong of Joseon
MotherQueen Soheon
Korean name
Revised RomanizationMunjong
Birth name
Revised RomanizationI Hyang
McCune–ReischauerI Hyang


Yi Hyang was the longest holder of the position of Crown Prince during the Joseon Dynasty, holding the position from 1421 to 1450, a record 29 years. In January 1421, Sejong instructed that the eight-year-old Yi Hyang be educated by ministers from the Hall of Worthies, then in October the same year, he was made crown prince and sent to study at the Sungkyunkwan.[1] From 1442 until his own accession to the throne in 1450, he served as regent to King Sejong.[2]

Most of Yi Hyang's achievements were performed during his life as crown prince. Although credit is primarily given to Jang Yeong-sil for inventing the water gauge, the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty state that it was the crown prince who found measures of water levels in the ground. Yi Hyang also contributed to the development of Korean vernacular script by his father.[3] He improved Hwacha as well-known type for nowadays, by himself and younger brother Yi Gu, Grand Prince Imyeong (임영대군 이구). Also, it was Munjong who took care of state affairs late during King Sejong's reign, as Sejong developed various illnesses and disorders.


Yi Hyang ascended the Joseon throne as King Munjong in 1450, and his reign marked the beginning of an imbalance of power at court. Kim Bi-hwan describes the, "interaction of the royal authority, administrative power, remonstrative power, and the collective authority of scholars outside the office," before Munjong as contributing to a situation that allowed the Joseon to function constitutionally. During Munjong's reign, however, the power balance collapsed, setting the stage for his brother to lead a coup d'etat in 1452, and was not corrected until the reign of Yeonsangun of Joseon.[4]


Munjong was first married to Crown Princess Hwi of the Andong Kim clan. She reportedly used witchcraft to gain Munjong's love. She burned the shoes of Munjong's mistress, and made her drink the ashes with alcohol. When King Sejong found out about this, he deposed her from her position.

Secondly, Munjong married Crown Princess Sun of the Haeum Bong clan (순빈 봉씨). She was deposed from her position when it was discovered that she drank alcohol, which was not accepted for a woman, and because she had a homosexual love affair with one of her maids named So-ssang (소쌍).

Lastly, Queen Hyeondeok became the third wife of Munjong. She was reportedly the only wife that Munjong loved, and she gave birth to Princess Gyeonghye and Danjong, but died in childbed. Danjong was the next king of Joseon after Munjong died.


  1. Crown Princess Hwi of the Andong Kim clan (1410–1429) (휘빈 김씨)[5][6][7] — No issue.
  2. Crown Princess Sun of the Haeum Bong clan (1414–1436) (순빈 봉씨)[8] — No issue.
  3. Queen Hyeondeok of the Andong Kwon clan (17 April 1418 – 10 August 1441) (현덕왕후 권씨)[9][10][11]
    1. An unnamed Daughter (? - 1433)[12]
    2. Princess Gyeonghye (1436 – 30 December 1473) (경혜공주)[13]
    3. King Danjong of Joseon (9 August 1441 – 7 November 1457) (단종)[14]
  4. Royal Noble Consort Suk of the Namyang Hong clan (1418 – ?) (숙빈 홍씨)
    1. An unnamed daughter (1441 - 1444)
  5. Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Nampyeong Mun clan (1426 – 1508) (숙의 문씨)[15][16]
  6. Royal Consort So-yong of the Munhwa Yu clan (소용 유씨)
  7. Royal Consort So-yong of the Andong Kwon clan (소용 권씨)
  8. Royal Consort So-yong of the Dongrae Jeong clan (소용 정씨)
    1. An unnamed son (died in childhood)
  9. Consort So-yong of the Paepyeong Yun clan (소용 윤씨)
  10. Consort Sa-chik of the Yang clan (사칙 양씨)
    1. Princess Gyeongsuk (1439–?) (경숙옹주)[17][18]
    2. An unnamed daughter (1450 - 1451)
  11. Court Lady Jang (상궁 장씨)
    1. An unnamed son (died in childhood)

His full posthumous nameEdit

  • King Munjong Gongsun Heummyung Insuk Gwangmun Seonghyo the Great of Korea
  • 문종공순흠명인숙광문성효대왕
  • 文宗恭順欽明仁肅光文聖孝大王

Popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ Jung (2006), p. 139.
  2. ^ Jung (2006), p. 141.
  3. ^ Yeon (2010), p. 13.
  4. ^ Kim (2014), p. 253-254.
  5. ^ Given as a temple name upon her death in 1429
  6. ^ Daughter of Kim O-mun (김오문), Lord Anjeong (안정공), Magistrate Pandon-ryeong (판돈령부사); and Lady Yi (이씨 부인). Granddaughter of Kim Gu-deok (김구덕). Niece of Royal Noble Consort Myeong (명빈 김씨), thru her relationship as Kim Oh-mun's elder sister
  7. ^ First Princess Consort to the Royal Prince Successor, married in 1427. Formally separated in August 18, 1429, then later committed suicide
  8. ^ Second Princess Consort to the Royal Prince Successor, married in October 15, 1429. Formally separated in October 26, 1436 (instigated by Sejong himself), due to a series of scandals, involving her lie of her pregnancy, and her being caught in a lesbian act (sleeping with one of her palace maids) by Sejong himself, in 1435
  9. ^ One of Munjong's former concubines; Seung-hwi rank. Became Lady Hyeondeok, the Princess Consort to the Royal Prince Successor (현덕빈) upon her marriage
  10. ^ Was demoted in June 26, 1457, as Lady Hyeondeok, following her son's deposition and demotion as Deposed Prince Nosan (노산군) in June 21, 1457. Was posthumously restored back in March 12, 1513, and finally in July 15, 1699
  11. ^ Daughter of Kwon Jeon (권전), Internal Prince Hwasan (화산부원군); and Lady Haeju, Princess Consort to the Internal Prince, of the Choi clan (해주부부인 최씨)
  12. ^ Eldest offspring
  13. ^ Later married Jeong Jong (정종, ?–1461), son of Jeong Chung-gyeong (정충경); created Military Officer Yeongyang (영양위)
  14. ^ Firstly ranked as "Royal Prince Successor Descendant" (왕세손), when Munjong was still "Royal Prince Successor" (왕세자) during Sejong's reign. Became the Royal Crown Prince when his father became King
  15. ^ Daughter of Mun Min-ji (문민지)
  16. ^ Married in 1442
  17. ^ Later married (April 16, 1454) Kang Ja-sun (강자순), created Military Officer Banseong (반성위); which she later killed upon learning of his affair with Lee Gil-sang (이길상)'s daughter.
  18. ^ Her daughter, Lady Kang of the Jinju Kang clan, married Yi Chong, Prince Songseon (이총 숭선군, 嵩善君) (a half-grandson of King Sejo)


  • Kim, Bi-Hwan (2014). Kang, Jung In (ed.). A Constitutionalist Interpretation of Confucian Politics in the Early Joseon Dynasty. London: Lexington Books. pp. 243–266.
  • Jung, Jae-Hoon (2006). "Royal Education of Princes in the Reign of King Sejong". The Review of Korean Studies. 9 (3): 133–152.
  • Yeon, Jaehoon (2010). "Was the Korean alphabet a sole invention of King Sejong?". Journal of Korean Culture. 14: 1–20.
Munjong of Joseon
Born: 15 November 1414 Died: 1 June 1452
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Sejong the Great
King of Joseon
May 18, 1450 – May 14, 1452
Succeeded by