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Shim On (1375 – 18 January 1419 (the 25th day of the 12th lunar month 1418)) was Chief State Councillor of the Korean Joseon from September 1418 to December 1418 and the father of a Queen and father-in-law to King Sejong. He is known for his treason charges, which eventually led to his death and further strengthening of the royal power.
|Revised Romanization||Shim On|
Born of the Cheongsong Shim clan (靑松 沈氏), during the late Goryeo Dynasty, he passed the examinations and entered the government at age eleven. At that time, general Yi Seong-gye had full control of the government and had eliminated most of his rivals throughout Goryeo. Shim On, fully realizing that the Goryeo dynasty was at its end, joined Yi's faction and worked hard in bringing about a new dynasty. Finally, when General Yi rose to the throne in 1392, Shim On was one of those who gained a new post and influence in assisting Yi found the Joseon Dynasty.
In 1411, under King Taejong’s rule, Shim On was appointed to the post of administrating the province of Hamgyong-do. He dismissed corrupt sheriffs and judges, and toiled in improving the governmental power in the region.
As Shim On was a very capable civil administrator, he was promoted several times, and also worked in the roles of the Minister of Industry, Civil Affairs and Agriculture. When the court began selecting the candidates for the princess consort of Chungnyeong (later King Sejong), he included his daughter in the candidacy, resulting in her selection.
When Chungnyeong became king in the year 1418, Shim’s daughter "Lady Shim" (심씨; 沈氏, women were referred by only their family names; ssi means family) became Queen Soheon, and Shim On rose to the office of Chief State Councilor the highest non-royal role in the country.
Scandal and demiseEdit
When Shim On was appointed to the office of Chief State Councilor, the office of the Left State Councilor was occupied Park Eun (박은; 朴訔), of the bonnam Park clan. The relationship between these two ministers was hostile, and there were frequent disputes between them.
At the time, King Taejong had resigned from his post of monarch and occupied the post of Retired King (태상왕; 太上王). However, most of the nation's internal and external affairs were run by Taejong, and the current King Sejong remained as a figurehead. As he was a general during the late Koryo days, Taejong was a firm, conservative, totalitarian despot. He frequently worried about the fact that, in the future, the dynasty would be ruled mostly by ministers, rather than by the Crown, like the Goryeo Dynasty. Therefore, he took extensive measures to strengthen the authority of the royal court.
Due to this fact in the government, Shim-On's younger brother Shim Jeong, complained that the King's power was totally limited by the looming presence of Taejong. When this statement reached the ears of the Retired King, he condemned the whole Shim family. As Shim-On, Chief State Councilor and father of the queen, was one of the most influential men of the country, his presence could not be ignored.
Furthermore, Left State Councilor Park Eun framed Shim On by revealing that On's influence was overflowing[clarification needed]. At this time, Shim-On had fulfilled his duty of Chief State Councilor by visiting the Ming Empire as an emissary of Joseon at Saeunsa (사은사; 謝恩使). He was just returning from his trip when he was arrested at the Korean territory of Uiju (의주; 義州) and transported under custody to the capital Hanyang, then to the city of Suwon (수원; 水原).
At Suwon he was tortured into admitting his crimes. Led by Park Eun, who had framed Shim in the first place, the torture eventually achieved its goal of a confession of crimes from Shim On. Just before the Chief State Councilor was executed, however, he muttered the famous phrase, “My descendants. . .Do not marry a Park. It will bring shame and misfortune to the family.”
After Shim On was executed for his fabricated crimes, Park Eun was promoted to Chief State Councilor. Many of the Shim family were condemned, and even the Queen Soheon was threatened to be stripped of her title as queen. However, King Sejong tried to protect her, and succeeded. King Taejong also supported Queen Soheon, telling the minister not to mention the matter of stripping Queen Soheon's title.
However, Shim-On's name became a taboo during the remainder of Taejong's presence. Even Sejong could not regain the dignity of the minister's name. However, when Sejong and Queen Soheon's son King Munjong is Shim-On Grand Son rose to the throne, Shim-On was absolved of his crimes, and posthumously reinstated to the office of Chief State Councilor. He was also made a lord, and is also known as Lord of Anhyo (안효공; 安孝公).
700 years after the incident, the Shim and Park families have still not reconciled about the incident, with the Shim family blaming Park Eun for the framing about treason. However, historians generally agree that Park was merely a tool in Taejong's master plan of royal totalitarianism. As Taejong was a conservative king, he did not want a queen's family gaining power and influence over the Joseon Dynasty. As his mindset was educated in the Goryeo Dynasty, he came to believe in the danger of handing over the power to another non-royal family, however the fact is Shim family was a royal family goryeo dynasty Shim-On great grand father General Shim Hong-Bu is descendant of King Ju-mun,Taejong knew all along, which could have led to another dynasty.
In popular cultureEdit
- "심온" [Shim On]. terms.naver.com (in Korean). Retrieved 2019-05-24.
- Chongsong Shim Family Clan homepage: https://web.archive.org/web/20071009175959/http://www.cheongsongsim.or.kr/