Yi Saek (Korean: 이색, Hanja: 李穡, 17 June 1328 – 17 June 1396[1]), also known by his pen name Mogeun (Korean: 목은), was a Korean writer and poet. His family belonged to the Hansan Yi clan.[2] Yi Saek played a crucial role in the introduction and localisation of philosophy of Zhu Xi. He studied Neo-Confucianism in Yuan Dynasty China and opened an academy after his return to Goryeo, and from his academy the founders of Joseon Dynasty were educated.

Yi Saek
Yi Saek
Revised RomanizationI Saek
McCune–ReischauerI Saek
Pen name
Revised RomanizationMogeun
Courtesy name
Revised RomanizationYeongsuk

Many of his disciples, such as Jeong Do-jeon and Gwon Geun, used Neo-Confucianism as the ideological basis for overthrowing the Buddhist kingdom of Goryeo and establishing Confucian Joseon. However, Yi Saek himself remained loyal to the Goryeo Dynasty and didn't believe the wiping out of Buddhism, as Jeong Do-jeon insisted, would be of any benefit. Yi Saek believed in the co-existence of the "Three Disciplines": Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. Yi Saek resigned from all political positions after the founding of the Joseon Dynasty.

Not much is known about how he died, but some say that he was murdered while crossing a bridge, like Jeong Mong-ju (four years earlier in 1392). When he was offered the position of Prime Minister by Yi Seong-gye, Yi Saek turned the offer down and told him that he could not serve two kings (of Goryeo and Joseon). Yi Seong-gye subsequently ordered his men to kill him if he was not able to cross the bridge in time, and if he does cross it in time, to let him go. He died because he didn't cross the bridge in time.

Yi Saek left various poetry, essays and letters compiled in The Collected Works of Mogeun.


  • Grandfather
    • Yi Ja-seong (이자성, 李自誠)
  • Grandmother
    • Lady Yi of the Wolsan Yi clan (울산 이씨, 蔚山李氏)
  • Father
    • Yi Gok (이곡, 李穀) (25 August 1298 - 28 January 1351)
  • Mother
    • Lady Kim of the Hamchang Kim clan (함창 김씨, 咸昌金氏)
      • Grandfather - Kim Taek (김택, 金澤)
  • Wife and children
    • Lady Gwon of the Andong Gwon clan (안동 권씨)
      • Son - Yi Jong-hak (이종학)
      • Son - Yi Jong-seon (이종선)
        • Daughter-in-law - Lady Gwon (권씨); daughter of Gwon Geun (권근)
          • Grandson - Yi Gye-ju (이계주)
            • Great-Grandson - Yi Gae (이개) (1417 - 1456)
          • Grandson - Yi Gye-rin (이계린) (1401 - 1455)
            • Granddaughter-in-law - Lady Yi of the Cheongju Yi clan (정경부인 청주 이씨, 貞敬夫人 淸州 李氏)[3]
          • Grandson - Yi Gye-jeon (이계전)
          • Grandson - Yi Gye-won (이계원)

In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ In Lunar Calendar, Yi was born on 20 May 1328 and died on 20 May 1396
  2. ^ "이색(李穡) - 한국민족문화대백과사전". encykorea.aks.ac.kr.
  3. ^ She is the daughter of Princess Jeongsun (정순공주, 貞順公主) (1385 - 1460) and Yi Baek-kang (이백강, 李伯剛) (1381 - 1451). Princess Jeongsun was the eldest daughter and child of Queen Wongyeong and King Taejong