Sunjong of Korea

Sunjong, the Emperor Yunghui (Korean융희제; Hanja隆熙帝; RRYunghuije; MRYunghŭije; 25 March 1874 – 24 April 1926), [a][1][2] was the second and the last Emperor of Korea, of the Yi dynasty, ruling from 1907 until 1910. Sunjong elevated to the throne after his predecessor, Gojong, was forced to abdicate by the Japanese Empire. Hence, Sunjong has been characterized by historians as being a powerless puppet emperor of the Japanese, reigning just over three years until Korea was officially annexed in 1910.

Sunjong of Korea
대한제국 순종
Emperor Sunjong.jpg
Emperor of Korea
Reign19 July 1907 – 29 August 1910
PredecessorGojong of Korea
SuccessorPosition abolished, Korea annexed by Japan
Crown Prince of Korean Empire
Reign13 October 1897 – 19 July 1907
PredecessorTitle established
SuccessorCrown Prince Euimin
Crown Prince of Joseon
Reign1876 – 13 October 1897
PredecessorCrown Prince Hyomyeong
SuccessorTitle abolished
Born(1874-03-25)25 March 1874
Changdeok Palace, Hanseong, Joseon
Died24 April 1926(1926-04-24) (aged 52)
Changdeok Palace, Keijō, Keiki-dō, Korea, Japanese Empire
(m. 1882⁠–⁠1904)
(m. 1907⁠–⁠1926)
Era dates
Yunghui (융희, 隆熙; 1907–1910)
Posthumous name
Emperor Munon Muryeong Donin Seonggyeong
(문온무령돈인성경효황제, 文溫武寧敦仁誠敬孝皇帝)
Temple name
Sunjong (순종, 純宗)
HouseHouse of Yi
FatherGojong of Korea
MotherEmpress Myeongseong
Korean name
Revised RomanizationSunjong Yunghuije
McCune–ReischauerSunjong Yung'huije
Pen name
Revised RomanizationJeongheon
Birth name
Revised RomanizationI Cheok
McCune–ReischauerYi Ch'ŏk
Courtesy name
Revised RomanizationGunbang


Crown Prince of KoreaEdit

Sunjong was the second son of Emperor Gojong and Empress Myeongseong. When he became two years old in 1876, Sunjong was proclaimed the Crown Prince of Joseon. In 1882, he married a daughter of the Yeoheung Min clan, who later became Empress Sunmyeonghyo (Korean순명효황후; Hanja純明孝皇后). She later died at the age of 31 on 5 November 1904 due to the severe depression, after trying to protect her mother-in-law (Empress Myeongseong, also a member of the Yeoheung Min clan) from her assassination on 8 October 1895 by the Japanese military.

When his father proclaimed Korean Empire in 1897, Sunjong was appointed as Crown Prince of Imperial Korea on 12 October 1897.[3] On 29 June 1898, he was appointed as Field Marshal of Imperial Korean Army.[4] Sunjong remarried again 3 years later to daughter of Yoon Taek-young, Yun Jeung-sun of the Haepyeong Yun clan, who was 20 years his junior, on 11 December 1906,[5] and became Crown Princess Consort Yun (later Empress Sunjeong).

Emperor of KoreaEdit

On 19 July 1907, Gojong was deposed as a result of Japanese coercion, and Sunjong was made Emperor of Korea. His coronation was proceeded in Don-doek-jeon.[6] He was proclaimed heir to the throne of Prince Imperial Yeong (Korean영친왕; Hanja英親王), the younger half-brother of Sunjong, and moved from Deoksugung Palace to the imperial residence at Changdeokgung Palace.[7]

Sunjong's reign was limited by the gradually increasing armed intervention of the Japanese government in Korea. In July 1907, he was proclaimed emperor of Korea but was immediately forced to enter into the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1907 (Korean한일신협약, 정미7조약; Hanja韓日新協約, 丁未七條約). This treaty allowed the Japanese government to supervise and intervene in the administration and governance of Korea, which also allowed for the appointment of Japanese ministers within the government.[8]

While under Japanese supervision, the Korean army was dismissed on the pretext of lack of public finance regulations. In 1909, Japan implemented the Japan–Korea Protocol (Korean기유각서; Hanja己酉覺書) which effectively removed Korea's judicial power. Meanwhile, Japan dispatched Itō Hirobumi, Japanese Resident-General of Korea, to negotiate with Russia over problems involving Korea and Manchuria. However, Itō was assassinated by Ahn Jung-geun at Harbin, which led to the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910. Pro-Japanese politicians, such as Song Byung-jun and Lee Wan-yong, defected, merging Korea with Japan by fabricating Korea's willingness and establishing the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty on 29 August 1910.[9][10]

Although still existent de jure, the intervention by the Japanese government effectively ended Sunjong's reign over the Korean Empire de facto and he became essentially powerless within three years of ruling. Japan, in effect, officially abolished the Korean Empire on 29 August 1910, ending 519 years of the Joseon dynasty.[11]

After abdicationEdit

After the annexation treaty, the former Emperor Sunjong and his wife, Empress Sunjeong, lived the rest of their lives virtually imprisoned in Changdeokgung Palace in Keijō.[12] Sunjong could not exercise any power as emperor because there were only pro-Japanese politicians in government. After the Korean Empire collapsed, Sunjong was demoted from emperor to king. Japan allowed him the title of King Yi of Changdeok Palace (Korean창덕궁 이왕; Hanja昌德宮 李王) and allowed for the title to be inherited.[7]

Sunjong died on 24 April 1926, in Changdeokgung and is buried with his two wives at the imperial tomb of Yureung (유릉, 裕陵) in the city of Nanyōshū. His state funeral on 10 June 1926, was a catalyst for the June 10th Movement against Japanese rule. He had no children.[13]


  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Yi Hyeok, Prince Eui (이혁 의원군, 義原君 李爀) (13 June 1661 – 12 November 1722)
      • Adoptive-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather: Yi Hwan, Prince Yang (이환 양원군, 李煥 陽原君) (April 1658 – March 1724)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Princess Consort Kwon of the Andong Kwon clan (군부인 안동권씨) (27 August 1664 – 7 April 1735)
      • Adoptive-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother: Princess Consort Min of the Yeoheung Min clan (군부인 여흥 민씨)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Yi Suk, Prince Anheung (이숙 안흥군, 李俶 安興君) (9 October 1693 – 7 April 1768)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Princess Consort Ryu of the Munhwa Ryu clan (군부인 문화류씨) (3 January 1696 – 13 January 1755)
  • Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Yi Jin-ik (이진익, 李鎭翼) (25 September 1728 – 26 April 1796)
  • Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Jo of the Hanyang Jo clan (본관: 한양조씨); (조도건의 딸) daughter of Jo Do-gyeon (조도건, 趙道健)
  • Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Yi Byeong-won (6 April 1752 – 11 November 1822) (이병원, 李秉源)
      • Adoptive-Great-Great-Grandfather: Yi Jin, Prince Eunsin (이진 은신군, 李禛 恩信君) (11 January 1755 – 29 March 1771)
  • Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Jeong of the Yeonil Jeong clan (본관: 연일 정씨); (정의환의 딸) daughter of Jeong Eui-hwan (정의환, 鄭義煥)
      • Adoptive-Great-Great-Grandmother: Princess Consort Namyang of the Namyang Hong clan (남양군부인 남양 홍씨, 南陽郡夫人 南陽 洪氏) (1755 – 21 March 1829)
  • Great-Grandfather
    • Yi Gu, Prince Namyeon (22 August 1788 – 19 March 1836) (이구 남연군, 南延君)
  • Great-Grandmother
    • Princess Consort Min of the Yeoheung Min clan (26 June 1788 – 1831) (군부인 여흥민씨, 驪興府大夫人 閔氏)
  • Grandfather
  • Grandmother
  • Father
  • Mother
  • Brothers
    • Older half-brother: Yi Seon, Prince Wanhwa (16 April 1868 – 12 January 1880) (이선 완화군)
    • Unnamed older brother (born 4 November 1871 – 8 November 1871)
    • Unnamed younger brother (born 5 April 1875 – 18 April 1875)
    • Unnamed younger brother (born 18 February 1878 – 5 June 1878)
    • Younger half-brother: Yi Kang, Prince Uihwa (30 March 1877 – August 1955) (이강 의화군)
    • Younger half-brother: Yi Eun, Crown Prince Uimin (20 October 1897 – 1 May 1970) (이은 의민태자)
    • Younger half-brother: Prince Yi Yuk (3 July 1914 – 22 January 1915) (이육)
    • Younger half-brother: Prince Yi U (20 August 1915 – 25 July 1916) (이우)
  • Sisters
    • Unnamed older half-sister (born 1871–1872)
    • Unnamed older sister (born 13 February 1873 – 28 September 1873)
    • Unnamed younger half-sister (born 1879–1880)
    • Younger half-sister: Princess Deokhye (25 May 1912 – 21 April 1989) (덕혜옹주, 德惠翁主)
  • Consorts:




In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sunjong was born on 8 February 1874 in the lunar calendar. However, in 1908, when the emperor's birthday was made into a public holiday called geonwonjeol (乾元節), the date has been converted to a solar calendar.
  2. ^ The order was established by the emperor's orders in 1907.


  1. ^ "건원절(乾元節) - 한국민족문화대백과사전".
  2. ^ "순종(純宗) - 한국민족문화대백과사전".
  3. ^ 사료 고종시대사. "고종, 황태자를 책봉한 뒤 신하들에게 문안 인사를 받음". Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  4. ^ 사료 고종시대사. "광무 황제, 직접 대원수가 되어 육해군을 통솔하고 황태자를 원수로 삼겠다는 조령을 내림". Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  5. ^ Veritable Records of Joseon Dynasty. "총서". Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  6. ^ Veritable Records of Joseon Dynasty. "황제 즉위식 장소와 규례에 관하여 조서를 내리다". Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  7. ^ a b "The Academy of Korean Studies(한국학중앙연구원) : 순종(Sunjong)".
  8. ^ 『고종시대사 6』(History of Gojong's Period 6) : 국사편찬위원회(National History Compilation Committee), 1969, 635p.
  9. ^ 『고종시대사 6』(History of Gojong's Period 6) : 국사편찬위원회(National History Compilation Committee), 1969, 641p.
  10. ^ Rhee, Song Nai. Beautiful as the Rainbow: Nashimoto Masako, a Japanese Princess against All ... p. 100.
  11. ^ "::: Cultural Heritage, the source for Koreans' Strength and Dream :::". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  12. ^ "Emperor Sunjong of Korea". Asian History. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  13. ^ Yunghui Yi Cheok, Emperor Sunjong. Korea's Last Emperor's Goodbye: Korea Annexed by Japan. 1915.
  14. ^ "서봉장(瑞鳳章) - 한국민족문화대백과사전".
  15. ^ 刑部芳則 (2017). 明治時代の勲章外交儀礼 (PDF) (in Japanese). 明治聖徳記念学会紀要. pp. 149, 150.
  16. ^ "자료일람 | 한국사데이터베이스". Retrieved 4 July 2022.

External linksEdit

Sunjong of Korea
Born: 25 March 1874 Died: 24 April 1926
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of Korea
19 July 1907 – 29 August 1910
Empire dissolved
Royal titles
New title
King Yi

29 August 1910 – 24 April 1926
Succeeded by
Titles in pretence
Loss of title — TITULAR —
Emperor of Korea
29 August 1910 – 24 April 1926
Reason for succession failure:
Empire abolished in 1910
Succeeded by