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Cheoljong of Joseon

Cheoljong of Joseon

King Cheoljong (1831 - 1863 r. 1849-1863) was the 25th king of the Korean Joseon Dynasty.

Background

Power had been almost universally seized in the beginning of the 19th century by the tyrannical Andong Kims, a clan which had provided several queens. The social stagnation that resulted was a breeding ground for unrest. Corruption and embezzlement from the treasury and its inevitable exploitation were taken to extreme levels, reaching staggering proportions. Rebellion after another was accompanied by natural disasters. Indeed it was one of the most gloomy periods in the country’s history.

Only the goal of preserving influence existed for the Andong Kim clan. Their fierce campaign to truly dominate the royal house had led to a situation in which almost all of the representatives of the royal family fled from Seoul. When the royal family produced intelligent and appropriate candidates for the accession, they were either accused of treason and executed or sent into exile, so when Heonjong died, leaving no son, no accept­able candidate could be found to succeed to the throne.

Life

After a long search, the future Cheoljong was found on Kanghwa Island where his family had fled to hide from oppression.

When the envoys (dispatched for finding the future king) arrived on Kanghwa Island, they found the remaining clan of the Yi's barely surviving in wretched poverty. In 1849, at the age of 18, Yi Byeon/Seong(the future Cheoljong), the 3rd son of Prince Jeon-gye (great-grandson of King Yeongjo), was proclaimed King, amidst obvious degradation and poverty. Though from the start of the Joseon Dynasty Korean kings had given top priority to the education of their sons, Cheoljong could not even read a single word on the notice delivering congratula­tions to him on his elevation to the royal throne.

For the Andong Kims, Cheoljong was an excellent choice. His illiteracy made him manipulatable and vulnerable to their control. Proof of it is that even though Cheoljong ruled the country for 13 years, until his very last days he had not yet learned on how to move with dignity or on how to wear royal clothes, so that in even the most luxurious of robes he still looked like a fisherman.

As part of the Andong Kim's manipulation of Cheoljong, in 1851, the clan married Cheoljong to Kim Mun-geun (a member of the clan)'s daughter (known posthumously as Queen Cheonin).

Death

He died at the age of 32 in January 1864 (by suspected foul play by the Andong Kim clan, the same clan which made him king), without a male heir.

Family

  • Father: Jeongye, Prince of the Great Court (전계대원군, 1785-1841)
  • Mother: Eunyang, Princess Consort of the Prince of the Great Court, of the Choi clan (완양부대부인 최씨)
  • Consorts
  • Queen Cheolin of the Andong Kim clan (철인왕후 김씨, 1837-1878)
  • Park Gwi-in (귀인 박씨)
  • Jo Gwi-in (귀인 조씨)
  • Lee Gwi-in (귀인 이씨)
  • Bang Suk-ui (숙의 방씨)
  • Beom Suk-ui (숙의 범씨)
  • Palace Lady Kim (궁인 김씨)
  • Palace Lady Park (궁인 박씨)
  • Issue:
  • A Son of Lee Gwi-in
  • 2 Daughters of Lee Gwi-in
  • Princess Yeonghye (영혜옹주, 1859-July 04, 1872), Only Daughter of Beom Suk-ui.

Hanja name

The King's name in Hanja is 李昪. In Korean, it is Yi Byeon. However, in most Chinese materials, his name is often misrecognized as 李昇, which is pronounced as Yi Seong. This is a very serious yet very popular error, as the character is a very rare word. , however, is a very common one. Therefore, we need to take care when searching.

Titles

His full posthumous name

  • King Cheoljong Huiyun Jeonggeuk Sudeok Sunseong Heummyung Gwangdo Donwon Changhwa Munhyeon Museong Heonin Yeonghyo the Great of Korea
  • 철종희윤정극수덕순성흠명광도돈원창화문현무성헌인영효대왕
  • 哲宗熙倫正極粹德純聖欽命光道敦元彰化文顯武成獻仁英孝大王

References

  • Byeon Tae-seop (변태섭) (1999). 韓國史通論 (Hanguksa tongnon) (Outline of Korean history), 4th ed.. ISBN 89-445-9101-6.
  • Cummings, Bruce. (1997). Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History. New York. ISBN 0-393-04011-9

See also

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