Pak Paengnyeon

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Pak Paengnyeon (1417–1456) was a scholar-official of the early Joseon Dynasty, and is known as one of the six martyred ministers. He was born to a yangban family of the Suncheon Pak lineage, and was the son of high minister Pak Jeongrim. He passed the lower national service examination at a royal visitation in 1434, and was later appointed to the Hall of Worthies by Sejong. In the 1440s, he participated with other members of the Hall of Worthies in the creation of the Hunminjeongeum and the creation of the Hangul alphabet. He passed the higher literary examination in 1447, and rose to vice-minister of justice under Danjong in 1454.

Pak Paengnyeon
Revised RomanizationBak Paengnyeon
McCune–ReischauerPak Paengnyŏn
Pen name
Revised RomanizationChwigeumheon
Courtesy name
Revised RomanizationInsu

In 1455, Danjong was overthrown by Sejo, arising the ire of Pak and many other officials. Pak continued to serve in high office; he was appointed as governor of Chungcheong in 1455, and again as vice-minister of justice in 1456. He joined in a plot to overthrow Sejo and restore Danjong in 1456, but the plot was uncovered through the betrayal of fellow plotter Kim Jil. Sejo admired Pak's abilities and offered to pardon him if he were to deny his involvement and acknowledge Sejo as his king. When he refused to repent from his deeds, Sejo argued that it was useless to deny his authority now since Pak had already called himself a "royal servant" and received royal grains from him. Pak, however, denied this and it was indeed discovered that Pak purposefully misspelled words "royal servant" in all of his reports (He wrote word meaning "huge"(巨) instead of "royal servant", 臣)and never used royal grains but instead stored them unused in a storage. Pak died in prison from torture. All the males in his family were executed and females were enslaved.

A shrine to Pak is located in Sinni-myeon, Chungju City, Chungcheongbuk-do. It was established in the 18th century, when Pak and his fellows had come to be viewed as model subjects. Another memorial dating to 1688 stands in Jayang-dong, Dong-gu, Daejeon, at the former site of his official residence. A few of Pak's sijo poems have survived.

In popular cultureEdit

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