Yi Kang, Prince Imperial Ui (also known as Prince Uihwa, born 30 March 1877－15 August 1955), was the fifth son of Emperor Gojong of Korea and his concubine, Lady Jang, who was a court lady-in-waiting.
|Born||30 March 1877|
|Died||15 August 1955 (aged 78)|
Seongrak Manor, Seongbuk-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea
|Spouse||Kim Sudeok, Princess Imperial Ui
(m. 1892; died 1955)
|Prince Yi Geon (Kenichi Momoyama)|
Prince Yi U
Yi Ju (Yi Su-gil)
|Father||Emperor Gojong of Korea|
|Mother||Lady Jang of the Deoksu Jang clan|
|Revised Romanization||Uichinwang I Gang or Uihwagun|
|McCune–Reischauer||Ŭich'inwang I Kang or Ŭihwagun|
It was not until 1892 when he was recognized as a legitimate prince with the name of Yi Kang, and was titled Prince Uihwa with the style of Royal Highness, following a decree issued by his father. He married Lady Kim Sudeok, a daughter of an official in court, Kim Sajun. Prince Yi Kang was not the Crown Prince, even though he was older than his half-brother Prince Imperial Yeong, due to various reasons including the status of his mother.
Education and early lifeEdit
There is no much official records about his early life, which may be caused by being born by Lady Jang, a court lady-in-waiting of King Gojong but not the king's official consort or concubine during her lifetime. Lady Jang came from the Deoksu Jang clan, and Queen Inseon (Hyojong of Joseon's queen consort) was her distant relative.[i] According to the tradition, the half-brothers of the crown prince, in this case, Yi Cheok (future Sunjong of Korea), needed to move out from the palace until the latter reached the age 10; as the result, there were some years that Yi Kang lives with Pak Yung-hio, the son-in-law of King Cheoljong. During the Gapsin Coup in 1884, Yi Kang and his mother were taken by Pak Yung-hio to the palace; contemporary rumors claimed that the coup d'état tried to replace the king with Yi Kang; but after the coup ended, Yi left the palace again. During his young age, Yi Kang grew up with a bad reputation because of his behavior.
Later, Queen Min, Gojong's wife, asked her husband to grant Yi Kang a title, so Yi Kang became Prince Uihwa (의화군) in 1892. After three rounds of choosing in 1893, the daughter of an official Kim Sa-jun, Lady Kim (Kim Sudeok), was chosen to be the spouse of Yi Kang, which was arranged by Queen Min. Lady Kim, also known as "Lady Kim of Deokindang", was a distant relative to Queen Inmok, the queen consort of Seonjo of Joseon in early 17th century;[ii] Yi Kang never had an issue with his wife. Even after getting married, Yi Kang got involved into deft and lawsuit problems.
Prince Yi Kang was appointed special ambassador to the Empire of Japan for the celebration ceremonies for Japan's victory in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. The next year, he visited six European countries as an ambassador extraordinary: the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, Italy and Austria-Hungary. In 1899, he studied for a year at Keio University in Tokyo. While he was not in Korea, Yi Kang was promoted to the rank of Prince Imperial Ui, and styled His Imperial Highness in 1900; his late mother was also posthumously recognized as a concubine of the Emperor. By the same year, he went to the United States and began studies at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia from March 1901, where he majored in mathematics. After graduation, he spent a brief period at the Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, and then traveled to San Francisco and Hawaii, returning to Korea in 1905. While in the United States, he scandalized the Korean government with his profligate spending and playboy lifestyle. As the result, as well as the help from the Japanese, when childless Sunjong of Korea ascended to the throne in 1907, Yi Un, their younger half-brother, became the crown prince almost without any obstacles.
Prince Yi Kang served as the president of the Korean Red Cross from 1906 to 1910.
Under Japanese ruleEdit
Following the abdication of King Gojong in 1907, and the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910 by which Korea was annexed to the Empire of Japan, Prince Yi Kang grew increasingly dissatisfied with his status, even though the Japanese provided him with a huge annual allowance. At the same time, the title "Prince Imperial Ui" was abolished and he was known as the "Duke Yi Kang", a title given by Japanese.
In 1919, he collaborated with Choe Ik-hwan, a member of Daedongdan, who attempted to support him as the new leader of Korea. Prince Yi Kang then tried to escape to the Provisional Government of Korea based in Shanghai, only to be discovered in Dandong from Manchuria and returned to his home country. After this, the Japanese government claimed that Yi Kang was "abducted" and "wanted to escape to live profligately again". Later, Yi Kang asked to deprive his title multiple times but he wasn't approved. As of November 10, 1925, a law for defining the status of the former Korean imperial family was made; on June 12, 1930, Yi Kang officially retired and his eldest son Yi Geon succeeded him as duke, but Yi Kang's styles and allowances still remained until the end of World War II.
Throughout the Japanese rule, there were only few members of Yi Kang family recognized by Japan: Yi Kang himself, his wife Kim Sudeok (Duchess Consort of Yi Kang), his eldest son Duke Yi Geon with his family, and his second son Duke Yi U (adopted as the heir to Duke Yi Jun-yong in 1917) with his family; for the rest of his children, they could either be adopted by various Korean nobles to retain fundamental rights including education, or be illegitimate children, living with their mothers without any titles or noble privileges.
After the independence of Korea, he continued to live in Seoul, but in increasing poverty. On 9 August 1955 he was baptized a Roman Catholic, given the Christian name "Pius"; Lady Kim was also baptized and had a name "Maria". Yi Kang passed way a week later on August 15, 1955, at the age of 78, in his mansion "Seongrakwon" Manor (now Seongnagwon Garden, in Seongbuk District, Seoul); he was buried in Hongneung and Yureung, where his father and brothers were buried in Namyangju near Seoul.
Prince Yi Gang married Kim Sudeok (22 December 1880 — 14 January 1964) in 1892; however, the couple had no children. Therefore, all children Yi Gang had, 12 sons and 9 daughters, were born by 13 of his various concubines.
|Name||Hanja and Korean||Birth||Death||Bon-gwan||Parents||Issue|
|22 December 1880||14 January 1964||Yeonan Kim clan||Baron Kim Sa-jun
Lady Hwang of the Changwon Hwang clan
|Lady Jeong of Sugwandang (수관당 정씨)||Lady Jeong (정씨)||
|Lady Kim of Suindang (수인당 김씨)||Kim Heung-in (김흥인)||
|Lady Jeong of Suhyundang (수현당 정씨)||Jeong Un-seok (정운석)||
|—||Cho Byeong-suk (조병숙)||
|Lady Yi of Sudeokdang (수덕당 이씨)||Yi Hui-chun (이희춘)||
|Lady Kim of Suwandang (수완당 김씨)||Kim Jeong-wan (김정완)||
|Lady Park of Sugildang (수길당 박씨)||Park Yeong-hui (박영희)||
|—||Lady Song (송씨)||
|Lady Kim of Sugyungdang (수경당 김씨)||Kim Chang-hui (김창희)||
|—||Kim Geum-deok (김금덕)||
|—||Ham Gae-bong (함개봉)||
|—||Kim Hye-su (김혜수)||
|—||Hong Jeong-sun (홍정순)||
|Name||Hanja||Birth Name||Registered Name||Birth||Death||Notes||Family|
|Name||Birth Name||Registered Name||Hanja||Birth||Death||Notes|
|李海琬||1918||1981||Adopted by Viscount Yi Ki-yong|
|Ancestors of Yi Kang|
- According to the Jang family genealogy book published in 1974, Lady Jang was recorded as daughter of Jang Seok-Jeong (장석정, 1736-1796) but the time didn't match; it's also conjectured that her father could be Jang Jwa-geun (장좌근, b. 1819), a grandson of Jang Seok-Jeong, and Lady Yi of the Jeonju Yi clan (b. 1821).
- Through her father, Kim Sudeok was a 8-great-grandniece of Queen Inmok.
- "Kim Suk" was her official name, while "Kim Sudeok" was her original name by birth, whereas the more known one.
- A 9-great-grandson of Deokheung Daewongun, the 7th son of Jungjong of Joseon.
- 덕수장씨족보 德水張氏族譜 (Page 548-550)
- "Records of the Japanese Embassy in Korea", p. 384-385.
- 清季中日韓關係史料-第三卷. Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. 1 January 1972. p. 1530. ISBN 9789860458626.
十月十九日辰刻，承旨李鳳九筆談：「關內環衛倭人，意欲立新王：王之庶子，張氏所生子，其母子本在於關外矣。日前其母子俱入來，朝臣中用事者洪英植也、金玉均也、朴泳孝也，入于關内之朝臣，殺盡無餘。」 (Around 7am to 9am on December 17, 1884, the Royal Secretaries [承旨] Yi Bonggu [李鳳九] wrote: 'The palace was surrounded by the Japanese and they wanted to replace the king with his illegitimate son, who was born by Lady Jang and the two were previously living outside the palace. Recently, Lady Jang and her son were in the palace, and the officials in charge were Hong Yung-sik, Kim Ok-gyun and Pak Yung-hio; the rest of officials in the palace were all killed.')
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仁穆大妃懲國婚之禍作，書遺本家，世世勿連姻王室，至是思濬上之，后愛金氏容德堅不許，……堈旣出閤，驕侈好貨賄，……干訟徵債如追贜…… (After the disastrous events due to her marriage, Queen Inmok left a note to her family, hoping them never marry the royalties again; the note was given by Kim Sajun to Queen Min, but she liked the virtue of his daughter and persisted her decision. ...After he married, Yi Kang started to live luxuriously and accept bribes,... lawsuits and those who came for debt collection appeared as if they were recovering loots... )
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