Myeongjong of Joseon

Myeongjong of Joseon (3 July 1534 – 3 August 1567, r. 1545–1567) was the 13th king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. He was the second son of Jungjong, and his mother was Queen Munjeong, who was Jungjong's third queen.

Myeongjong of Joseon
조선 명종
King of Joseon
PredecessorInjong of Joseon
SuccessorSeonjo of Joseon
RegentQueen Munjeong
Born3 July 1534
Died3 August 1567 (1567-08-04) (aged 33)
ConsortQueen Insun
IssueCrown Prince Sunhoe
Posthumous name
King Gongheon Heonui Somun Gwangsuk Gyeonghyo the Great
Temple name
Myeongjeong (명종, 明宗)
HouseJeonju Yi
FatherJungjong of Joseon
MotherQueen Munjeong
Myeongjong of Joseon
Revised RomanizationMyeongjong
Birth name
Revised RomanizationI Hwan
McCune–ReischauerI Hwan

He became king in 1545 at the age of 12 following the death of his half-brother, Injong. Since he was too young to rule the kingdom, Queen Munjeong governed the nation in his name.


Political factionsEdit

There were two political factions at the time Myeongjong came to power; Greater Yun, headed by Yun Im, Injong's maternal uncle,[1] and Lesser Yun, headed by Myeongjong's maternal uncles, Yun Won-hyeong and Yun Wonro.[2] (Yun Im and Yun Brothers were close relatives by that period's standards - Yun Im was a third cousin once removed of Yun Brothers.) Greater Yun took power in 1544, when Injong succeeded Jungjong; but they failed to wipe out their opposition, since Queen Munjeong protected the Lesser Yun faction and other opposition officials.

After the death of Injong in 1545, Lesser Yun replaced Greater Yun as the majority in the royal court and brutally ousted their adversaries in the Fourth Literati Purge of 1545. Yun Im was executed, as were many of his followers.

Rise of Yun Won-hyeongEdit

The Lesser Yun faction continued to attack their opposition. In 1546, Yun Won-hyeong impeached his older brother, Yun Won-ro, who was executed a few days later along with his followers. Facing no opposition from the government, Yun Won-hyeong became Minister of Personnel 이조판서 in 1548, Left State Councilor in 1551 and ultimately Chief State Councilor 영의정 in 1563.

Despite Yun Won-hyeong's violent rule, Queen Munjeong was an effective administrator, distributing to the common people land formerly owned by the nobility. However, she held on to rule even after the king reached his majority at the age of 20.

Death of Queen MunjeongEdit

After the death of Queen Munjeong in 1565, the king decided to rule the kingdom by himself and had his uncle Yun Won-hyeong put to death, along with his second wife[3] Jeong Nan-jeong, who also rose to power due to her close friendship and being second sister-in-law to Queen Munjeong.[4][5] Yun Won-hyeong allowed corruption to flourish in the government; while the kingdom was unstable, Jurchens, Japanese, and rebellious troops rampaged at will and threatened the government itself. Rebel leader Im Kkeok-jeong was arrested and executed in 1552, but outside invasion continued; the Joseon Dynasty had to re-mobilize its army and navy along to protect its borders.

Death and successionEdit

Myeongjong tried to reform the government after taking power into his own hands by recalling and reinstating Sarim scholars who were exiled in the purge, but died only two years later without any male issue.[6] King Seonjo, his half-nephew, succeeded to the throne in 1567.


  1. Queen Insun of the Cheongsong Shim clan (27 June 1532 – 12 February 1575) (인순왕후 심씨)[7]
    1. Yi Bu, Crown Prince Sunhoe (1 July 1551 – 6 October 1563) (이부 순회세자)
  2. Royal Noble Consort Gyeong of the Jeonui Lee clan (1541 – June 1595) (경빈 이씨)[8][9]
  3. Royal Noble Consort Sun of the Jeong clan (? – 1593) (순빈 정씨)
  4. Royal Consort Gwi-in of the Geochang Shin clan (귀인 신씨)[10]
  5. Royal Consort So-ui of the Pyeongsan Shin clan (1533 – 1565) (소의 신씨)[11]
  6. Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Han clan (숙의 한씨) (? - 1594)
  7. Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Onyang Jeong clan (숙의 정씨)[12]
  8. Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Dongrae Jeong clan (숙의 정씨)[13]

Popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ Yun Im is the older brother of Queen Janggyeong (Injong's mother).
  2. ^ They were Queen Munjeong's older brother.
  3. ^ Originally his concubine, Chung Nanjung had the first wife, Lady Kim, poisoned to death.
  4. ^ She became a dictator; the real power behind the veil of Queen Munjeong's regency.
  5. ^ Actually, Jeong Nan-jeong committed suicide as a domino effect of misfortunes: Queen Munjeong's death, and her loss of control of the government.
  6. ^ His only son, the Crown Prince, died 4 years before his own death.
  7. ^ She is a maternal 5th great-granddaughter of Grand Prince Hyoryeong and a 6th great-granddaughter of Queen Wongyeong and King Taejong thru her mother
  8. ^ Daughter of Lee Cheom-jeong (이첨정, 李添貞) and Lady Yi of the Jeonju Yi clan (전주 이씨, 全州 李氏)
  9. ^ She is a second cousin of Royal Noble In of the Suwon Kim clan, the concubine of King Seonjo
  10. ^ Daughter of Shin Hong-je (신홍제, 慎弘濟) and Lady Ki of the Haengju Ki clan (행주 기씨, 幸州 奇氏)
  11. ^ Daughter of Shin Eon-suk (신언숙, 申彥淑) and Lady Choi of the Haeju Choi clan (해주 최씨, 海州 崔氏)
  12. ^ Daughter of Jeong Gwi-bong (정귀붕, 鄭龜朋) and Lady Yi of the Yangseong Yi clan (양성 이씨, 陽城 李氏)
  13. ^ Daughter of Jeong Su (정수 鄭銖) and Lady Hwang of the Jangsu Hwang clan (장수 황씨, 長水 黃氏)

External linksEdit

Myeongjong of Joseon
Born: 1534 Died: 1567
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Joseon
with Queen Munjeong (1545–1565)
Succeeded by