Yeonsangun of Joseon or Prince Yeonsan of Joseon (23 November 1476 – 20 November 1506), personal name Yi Yung (Korean: 이융; Hanja: 李㦕), was the tenth ruler of the Joseon dynasty of Korea. Often considered the worst tyrant in Joseon's history and perhaps all Korean history, he is notorious for launching two bloody purges, seizing hundreds of women from all over the peninsula to serve as palace entertainers, and appropriating Sungkyunkwan as a personal pleasure ground. Yeonsangun's despotic rule provided a stark contrast to the liberal era of his father, and as a much-despised overthrown monarch, he did not receive a temple name.

Yeonsangun of Joseon
조선 연산군
King of Joseon
Reign20 January 1495 – 18 September 1506
Coronation25 January 1495 Injeongjeon Hall, Changdeok Palace, Hanseong, Kingdom of Joseon
PredecessorSeongjong of Joseon
SuccessorJungjong of Joseon
BornYi Yung (이융, 李㦕)
(1476-11-23)23 November 1476
Gyotaejeon Hall, Gyeongbok Palace, Hanseong, Kingdom of Joseon
Died20 November 1506(1506-11-20) (aged 29)
Ganghwa County, Gyeonggi Province, Kingdom of Joseon
Yeonsangunmyo Tombs,[1] Banghak-dong, Dobong District, Seoul, South Korea
(m. 1488)
ClanJeonju Yi clan
DynastyHouse of Yi
FatherSeongjong of Joseon
ReligionKorean Confucianism (Neo-Confucianism)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationYeonsan-gun
Birth name
Revised RomanizationI Yung
McCune–ReischauerYi Yung

Biography edit

Execution of his mother edit

Lady Yun, later known as the Deposed Queen Yun, served Yeonsangun's father, King Seongjong, as a concubine until the death of Queen Gonghye, Seongjong's first wife. With no heir, the king was urged by counselors to take a second wife to secure the royal succession. Lady Yun was chosen for her beauty and was formally married in 1476. Several months later, she gave birth to Yi Yung.

The new queen proved to be temperamental and highly jealous of the other concubines, even going as far as poisoning one of them in 1477. One night in 1479, she physically struck her husband and left scratch marks. Despite his efforts to conceal the injury, Seongjong's mother, Royal Queen Dowager Insu, discovered the truth and ordered Lady Yun into exile. After several attempts to restore the deposed queen to her former position, government officials petitioned that she be executed. Queen Yun died in 1482, after being ordered to commit suicide by drinking poison.

Literati purges edit

The crown prince grew up believing that he was the son of Queen Jeonghyeon, his father's third wife. He succeeded to the throne in 1495 and during his early reign, he was a wise and able administrator who strengthened the national defense and aided the poor. However, he also showed signs of a violent side when he killed Jo Sa-seo, one of his tutors, soon after becoming king.

Yeonsangun eventually learned the truth about his biological mother and attempted to posthumously restore her titles and position. However, government officials belonging to the Sarim faction opposed his efforts on account of serving Seongjong's will, and greatly displeased, Yeonsangun started looking for ways to eliminate them.

In 1498, Gim Il-son, a disciple of Gim Jong-jik, included a paragraph in the royal records that was critical of King Sejo's coup d'état (1455). Gim Il-son and other followers of Gim Jong-jik were accused of treason by a rival faction, giving the king cause enough to order the execution of many Sarim officials[2] and the mutilation of Gim Jong-jik's remains.[3] This came to be known as the First Literati Purge (Muo Sahwa; 무오사화, 戊午士禍).

In 1504, Im Sa-hong revealed to Yeonsangun the details of his mother's death and showed him a blood-stained piece of clothing, the blood allegedly vomited by her after taking poison.[4] Subsequently, Yeonsangun beat to death two of his father's concubines, Lady Jeong and Lady Eom, for their part in his mother's death. His grandmother, Grand Royal Queen Dowager Insu, also passed away soon after he pushed her during an altercation. He sentenced to death many government officials who had supported the execution of his mother, now posthumously honored as "Queen Jeheon" (제헌왕후, 齊獻王后), and ordered the grave of Han Myeong-hoe to be opened and the head to be cut off the corpse. Yeonsangun went as far punishing officials who were simply present at the royal court at that time, for the crime of not preventing the actions of those who abused his mother.[5] Meanwhile, Im Sa-hong and his allies were promoted and they received many important offices and other rewards.[6] This came to be known as the Second Literati Purge (Gapja Sahwa; 갑자사화, 甲子士禍).

Suppression of free speech and learning edit

Yeonsangun closed Sungkyunkwan, the royal university, as well as the Wongaksa Temple, and converted them into personal pleasure grounds, for which young girls were gathered from the eight provinces.[7] He also demolished a large residential area in the capital and evicted 20,000 residents to build hunting grounds.[8] People were forced into involuntary labor to work on these projects. Many commoners mocked and insulted him with posters written in hangul, and in retaliation, Yeonsangun banned the use of the script.

When court officials protested against his actions, he abolished the Office of Censors (whose function was to criticize any inappropriate actions or policies of the king) and the Office of Special Advisors (a library and research institute that advised the king with Confucian teachings).[9] He ordered his ministers to wear a sign that read: "A mouth is a door that brings in disaster; a tongue is a sword that cuts off a head. A body will be in peace as long as its mouth is closed and its tongue is deep within" (口是禍之門 舌是斬身刀 閉口深藏舌 安身處處牢).[10]

Chief Eunuch Gim Cheo-sun, who had served three kings, tried to convince him to change his ways, but Yeonsangun killed him by shooting arrows and personally cutting off his limbs. In addition, he also punished the eunuch's relatives down to the 7th degree, and when he asked the royal secretaries whether such punishment was appropriate, they did not dare to say otherwise.[11]

Dethronement edit

In 1506, the 12th year of Yeonsangun's reign, a group of officials — notably Park Won-jong,[a] Seong Hui-an, Yu Sun-jeong, and Hong Gyeong-ju[b] — plotted against the despotic ruler. They launched their coup in September 1506, deposing the king and replacing him with his younger half-brother, Grand Prince Jinseong. The king was demoted to "Prince Yeonsan" (Yeonsangun; 燕山君, 연산군) and sent into exile on Ganghwa Island, where he died after two months.[8] His concubine, Jang Nok-su, who had encouraged and supported his misrule, was beheaded. In addition, despite the new king's reluctance, Yeonsangun's four young sons were also forced to commit suicide only a few weeks later.[12]

Family edit

Consorts and their respective issue(s):[16]

  1. Deposed Queen Shin of the Geochang Shin clan (폐비 신씨) (15 December 1476 – 16 May 1537)[17][18][19][20]
    1. Yi Su-eok, Deposed Princess Hwisin (폐휘신공주 이수억) (2 September 1491 – ?), first daughter[21][22][23][24][25]
    2. Second daughter
    3. Crown Prince Yi Bin-i, first son (왕세자 이빈이)(1494 – 1494)
    4. Third daughter (1495 – ?)
    5. Deposed Crown Prince Yi Hwang (폐세자 이황) (10 January 1498 – 24 September 1506), second son
    6. Yi Seong, Deposed Grand Prince Changnyeong (폐창녕대군 이성) (18 June 1500 – 24 September 1506), fourth son
    7. Yi In-su (이인수) (1501 – 12 September 1503), sixth son
    8. Seventh son (1502 – ?)[26]
  2. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-ui of the Yangseong Yi clan (폐숙의 이씨)[27][28][29]
    1. Yi In, Deposed Prince Yangpyeong (폐양평군 이강수) (1498 – 1506), third son
  3. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-ui of the Haepyeong Yun clan (폐숙의 윤씨) (1481 – 1568)[29]
  4. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-ui of the Hyeonpung Gwak clan (폐숙의 곽씨)[29]
  5. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-ui of the Gwon clan (폐숙의 권씨)[30][29]
  6. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-ui of the Yeoheung Min clan (폐숙의 민씨) (? – 1519)[31][29]
  7. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-yong of the Heungdeok Jang clan (폐숙용 장씨) (? – 1506)[32][33][34][35]
    1. Yi Yeong-su (이영수) (1502 – ?), sixth daughter[36]
  8. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-yong of the Damyang Jeon clan (폐숙용 전씨) (? – 1506)[37][38]
    1. Ninth daughter[39]
  9. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-yong of the Jo clan (폐숙용 조씨)[40]
  10. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-won of the Choe clan (폐숙원 최씨)[41][42]
  11. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-won of the Gim clan (폐숙원 김씨) (? – 1506)[43][42]
  12. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-won of the Jang clan (폐숙원 장씨)[42]
  13. Deposed Royal Consort Sug-won of the Yi clan (폐숙원 이씨)[42]
  14. Palace Maid Jeong (나인 정씨)[44]
    1. Yi Ham-geum (이함금), eighth daughter[45]
  15. Palace Maid Choe (나인 최씨) (? – 1504)[46][47]
  16. Palace Maid Su (나인 수씨) (? – 1504)[48][47]
  17. Palace Maid Gim (나인 김씨) (? – 1506)[49][50]
  18. Yeowan Wolhamae (여완 월하매) (? – 1506)
  19. Yeowan Ahn of the Ahn clan (여원 안씨)
  20. Medical Lady Gang (의녀 강씨)[51][52]
  21. Lady Jang (장씨)
  22. Unknown
    1. Yi Bok-eok (이복억)(1499 - ?), fourth daughter
    2. Yi Bok-hak (이복합)(1501 - ?), fifth daughter
    3. Yi Dong-su (이돈수)(1501 - 1506), fifth son
    4. Yi Chong-su (이총수)(? - 1503), eighth son
    5. Yi Yeong-su (이영수)(? - 1503), ninth son
    6. Yi Jeong-su (이정수)(1505 -?), seventh daughter
    7. Yi Tae-su (이태수)(1506 - 1506), tenth son

Ancestry edit

In popular culture edit

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ His adoptive daughter (biological daughter of Park Su-rim) will later become Royal Noble Consort Gyeong, a concubine of King Jungjong.
  2. ^ His daughter will later become Royal Noble Consort Hui, a concubine of King Jungjong.

References edit

  1. ^ As a deposed king, his tomb is called myo (묘, 墓) instead of neung (릉, 陵).
  2. ^ (in Polish) Joanna Rurarz (2009). Historia Korei. Dialog. ISBN 978-83-89899-28-6. P.234
  3. ^ In traditional East Asian culture the corpse has to be complete in order for the soul to survive in the afterlife and be reincarnated, to mutilate the corpse was seen as not only a punishment in this life but as in the next too
  4. ^ (in Polish) Joanna Rurarz (2009). Historia Korei. Dialog. ISBN 978-83-89899-28-6. P.234-235
  5. ^ (in Polish) Joanna Rurarz (2009). Historia Korei. Dialog. ISBN 978-83-89899-28-6. P.234-235
  6. ^ (in Polish) Joanna Rurarz (2009). Historia Korei. Dialog. ISBN 978-83-89899-28-6. P.234-235
  7. ^ Rurarz, Joanna (2009). Historia Korei [History of Korea] (in Polish). Dialog. pp. 234–35. ISBN 978-83-89899-28-6.
  8. ^ a b Rurarz 2009, p. 234–35.
  9. ^ Annals, July 14, 1506
  10. ^ 연산 52권, 10년(1504 갑자 / 명 홍치(弘治) 17년) 3월 13일(갑술) 8번째기사. The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (in Korean). National Institute of Korean History. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  11. ^ Annals, April 1, 1505
  12. ^ "조선왕조실록".
  13. ^ Widely known as "Crown Prince Uigyeong" (Uigyeong Seja; 의경세자, 懿敬世子).
  14. ^ Known as "Royal Queen Dowager Insu" (Insu Wangdaebi; 인수왕대비) and "Grand Royal Queen Dowager Insu" (Insu Daewangdaebi; 인수대왕대비), during the reigns of her son and grandson, respectively.
  15. ^ Known as "Queen Jeheon" (Jeheon Wanghu; 제헌왕후, 齊獻王后) during her son's reign.
  16. ^ Yeonsangun had seven more children, whose birth mothers are unknown. They were Yi Bok-eok (fourth daughter; 이복억, 李福億) (1499 – ?), Yi Bok-hab (fifth daughter; 이복합, 李福合) (1501 – ?), Yi Don-su (fifth son; 이돈수, 이李敦壽) (1501 – 1506), Yi Cheong-su (eighth son; 이총수, 李聰壽) (? – 1503), Yi Yeong-su (ninth son; 이영수, 李榮壽) (? – 1503), Yi Jeong-su (seventh daughter; 이정수, 李貞壽) (11 March 1505 – ?), and Yi Tae-su (tenth son; 이태수, 李泰壽) (1506 – 1506).
  17. ^ Daughter of Shin Seung-seon, Internal Prince Geochang & Duke Jangseong (거창부원군 장성공 신승선); and Princess Jungmo of the Third Senior Rank (Jungmo Hyeonju; more literally translates to "Princess of Jungmo County"; 중모현주, 中牟縣主), also known as Internal Princess Consort Heungan (Heungan Bubuin; 흥안부부인, 興安府夫人).
  18. ^ Maternal granddaughter of Yi Gu, Grand Prince Imyeong (임영대군 이구), the fourth son of King Sejong and Queen Soheon.
  19. ^ The only daughter of her older brother, Shin Su-geun (신수근, 愼守勤), married Grand Prince Jinseong (Queen Shin's brother-in-law and the future King Jungjong), and was posthumously honored as Queen Dangyeong (단경왕후).
  20. ^ After her husband's deposition, she was known as "Princess Consort Geochang" (Geochang Gunbuin; 거창군부인, 居昌郡夫人).
  21. ^ Her personal name was Yi Su-eok (이수억, 李壽億).
  22. ^ Also known as Princess Hwisun (휘순공주).
  23. ^ As a legitimate daughter of the king, her title properly translates to "Royal Princess" (Gongju; 공주, 公主).
  24. ^ Married Gu Mun-gyeong (구문경), created Prince Consort Neungyang (능양위); son of Gu Su-yeong (구수영), and Yi Eok-cheon, Princess Gilan of the Third Senior Rank (길안현주 이억천).
  25. ^ Her husband's maternal grandfather was Yi Yeom, Grand Prince Yeongeung (영응대군 이염), the eighth son of King Sejong and Queen Soheon; while his maternal grandmother was Lady Song of the Yeosan Song clan (여산 송씨), also known as Grand Princess Consort Daebang (대방부부인), a first cousin of Queen Jeongsun.
  26. ^ It is unclear if he might have been Yi Cheong-su (이총수, 李聰壽) or Yi Yeong-su (이영수, 李榮壽).
  27. ^ Her personal name was Yi Jeong-yi (이정이, 李貞伊).
  28. ^ Daughter of Yi Gong (이공).
  29. ^ a b c d e Concubine of the second junior rank (Sug-ui; 숙의, 淑儀).
  30. ^ Great-granddaughter of Yi Je, Grand Prince Yangnyeong (양녕대군 이제), the eldest son of King Taejong and Queen Wongyeong.
  31. ^ Her brother, Min Yeo-jun (민여준), eventually became the great-great-grandfather of Queen Inhyeon (second wife of King Sukjong) and the 7th great-grandfather of Empress Myeongseong (wife of Gojong, Korea's first emperor).
  32. ^ Her personal name was Jang Nok-su (장녹수, 張綠水).
  33. ^ Daughter of Jang Han-pil (장한필, 張漢弼).
  34. ^ Before becoming one of Yeonsangun's concubines, she was a slave in Grand Prince Jean's residence.
  35. ^ Known as Sug-won (fourth junior rank; 숙원, 淑媛), before being promoted to Sug-yong (third junior rank; 숙용, 淑容).
  36. ^ Married Gwon Han (권한, 權翰).
  37. ^ Her personal name was Jeon Jeon-bi (전전비, 田田非).
  38. ^ Known as Sug-won (fourth junior rank; 숙원, 淑媛), before being promoted to Sug-yong (third junior rank; 숙용, 淑容) on 18 April 1505.
  39. ^ It is highly like that this daughter is actually Yi Jeong-su (이정수, 李貞壽), as Lady Jeon was suddenly promoted one month after her birth (11 March 1505), for no apparent reason.
  40. ^ Concubine of the third junior rank (Sug-yong; 숙용, 淑容).
  41. ^ Her personal name was Choe Bo-bi (최보비, 崔寶非).
  42. ^ a b c d Concubine of the fourth junior rank (Sug-won; 숙원, 淑媛).
  43. ^ Her personal name was Gim Gwi-bi (김귀비, 金貴非).
  44. ^ Her personal name was Jeong Geum (정금, 鄭今).
  45. ^ Possibly married Shin Geo-hong (신거홍).
  46. ^ Her personal name was Choe Jeon-hyang (최전향, 崔田香).
  47. ^ a b Palace Maids Choe Jeon-hyang (최전향) and Su Geun-bi (수근비) were executed in 1504, during the 10th year of Yeonsangun's reign.
  48. ^ Her personal name was Su Geun-bi (수근비, 水斤非).
  49. ^ Her personal name was Gim Suk-hwa (김숙화, 金淑華).
  50. ^ Beheaded in 1506, after Jungjong's coup.
  51. ^ Her personal name was Gang Geum (강금, 姜今).
  52. ^ During Yeonsangun's reign, nurses (uinyeo; literally "medical woman"; 의녀, 醫女), who were usually government slaves, were forced to perform at royal banquets alongside courtesans.
  53. ^ "E-Annals Bring Chosun History to Everyman". Chosun Ilbo. 27 January 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
Yeonsangun of Joseon
Born: 23 November 1476 Died: 20 November 1506
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Joseon
25 January 1495 – 18 September 1506
Succeeded by