Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Princess' Man background

   A little background for the drama that starts tomorrow. From the cast we know that we'll see King Munjong, and since he died in 1452, we'll get a timeline. Or maybe this will be a mere flashback? The second option is more probable because in cast I couldn't see who will play King Danjong, and truthfully, I'm really interested in the life of this doomed boy, so I would love to see him. For those who are interested, I collected some info on the real characters. On korean wikipedia there is this Princess mentioned, as 의령공주 (official court name: Princess Ui Ryeong, called 세령: Se Ryeong) along with her sister (세정: Se Jeong), but unlike her, she doesn't have any page for herself, also the location of her tomb is unknown. So I think we all get the story now, right?
Oh yes, and she was "runaway bride" just to marry Seung-yu in secret.
Romeo and Juliet smells a mile.

First, King Munjong:

King Munjong (1414–1452) was the fifth King of the Joseon Dynasty, who ruled Korea from 1450 to 1452. He was the eldest son of King Sejong the Great, and succeeded him in 1450, but died of disease two years later. He was succeeded by his son, Danjong of Joseon.

Most of Munjong's achievements were performed during his princely life. Although most people know it as Jang Yeong-sil to have invented the water gauge, the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty states that the Crown Prince was the one that found out measures of water levels in the ground. Also, during Sejong's late reign, it was Munjong who took care of state affairs, as Sejong developed various illnesses and disorders.

King Danjong:

Danjong of Joseon (1441–1457, reigned 1452–1455) was the sixth king of the Joseon Dynasty.
Danjong succeeded his father, Munjong of Joseon (1414–1452, ruled Korea from 1450 to 1452), at the age of 12. Since he was too young to rule, the government of the kingdom fell to the premier, Hwangbo In, and his vice-premier, General Kim Jongseo.

In 1453, this government was overthrown in a coup led by the king's uncle, Sejo of Joseon, who persuaded a number of scholars and officials who had served in the court of Sejong the Great to support his claim to the throne. Hwangbo In and Kim Jongseo were seized and murdered in front of the gate of Gyeongbokgung; in 1455 Danjong was forced to abdicate and exiled.

The following year, six officials of the court attempted to restore him to power, but their plot was discovered and they were immediately executed. Perceiving that he would present a continuing threat to his rule, Sejo then accepted the advice of the court and ordered that Danjong be disposed of. He was murdered at his house in the place to which he was exiled. The men sent by Sejo locked Danjong's bedroom door and overheated the room, thus burning the boy to death. This happened in 1457.

Danjong had been stripped of his title at the time he was exiled, and was afterwards referred to as "Prince Nosan" (노산군). In the reign of King Sukjong, scholars at his court proposed that his title be restored, and in 1698, the demoted Prince Nosan was posthumously restored, receiving the posthumous name of "Danjong", and thereafter was referred to as King Danjong.

King Sejo (former Prince Suyang):

(1417 – 1468, r. 1455-1468) was the seventh king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea.
Born in 1417 as Yi Yu, King Sejong the Great's second son, he showed great ability at archery, horseriding and martial arts. He was also a brilliant military commander, though he never went to the battlefront himself. He became Grand Prince Suyang in 1428, the name by which he was better known.

Following King Sejong's death, Suyang's ill brother, Munjong, took the throne but soon died. The crown passed to his 12-year-old son, Danjong. The new king was too young to rule the nation, and all political processes were controlled by then-premier Hwangbo In and General Kim Jongseo, who was vice-premier. As Kim Jongseo and his faction used the chance to extend the power of court officials against many royal family members, the tension between Kim and Suyang greatly increased; not only Suyang himself, but his younger brother -Grand Prince Anpyong- also sought an opportunity to take control of the kingdom.

Suyang surrounded himself with trusted allies, including his famous adviser Han Myeong-hoe. Han advised Suyang to take over the government in a coup, and in October 1453, he killed Kim Jongseo and his faction, thereby taking the reins of power into his own hands. After the coup, he arrested his brother Anpyong, first sending him into exile, then putting him to death. Finally, in 1455, he forced his powerless young nephew Danjong to abdicate, declaring himself seventh king of the Joseon dynasty. Later he demoted Danjong to prince and ordered him to be poisoned after his younger brother, Grand Prince Geumsung, and later six scholars including Seong Sam-mun, Pak Pang-nyeon, and Yi Gae plotted to remove the Suyang from power in an attempt to put Danjong back on the throne.

Despite having snatched the throne from his young nephew, killing many people in the process, he proved himself one of the most able rulers and administrators in Korean history. First, he strengthened the monarchy established by King Taejong, by weakening the power of the prime minister and bringing staff directly under the king's control. He also strengthened the administrative system, which had also been introduced by Taejong, enabling the government to determine exact population numbers and to mobilize troops effectively. Just like Taejong, he was a hardliner with regards to foreign policy, attacking Jurchens on the northern front in 1460 (오랑캐/兀良哈) and 1467 (호리개/胡里改). He also revised the land ordinance to improve the national economy. He executed scholars from King Sejong's era for plotting against him, but encouraged publication of history, economics, agricultural, and religious books. Most importantly, he compiled the Grand Code for State Administration, which became the cornerstone of dynastic administration and provided the first form of constitutional law in a written form in Korea. He died in 1468, and the throne passed to his weak son, Yejong.

Jungjong of Joseon 

(중종) (1488 – 1544, r.1506–1544), born Yi Yeok, was the eleventh ruler of the Joseon dynasty in what is now Korea. He succeeded to the throne after the erratic misrule of his half-brother, Yeonsangun (연산군 燕山君), culminated in a coup. In the events leading up to the coup, Yeonsangun had conducted two violent purges against Confucian officials in his court, setting up a backlash that affected Joseon politics for the next half-century. Though King Jungjong was a capable administrator and wished to enact reforms, he could not accomplish them because he was unable to dominate the conservative Confucian factions in his government. He also made efforts to improve self-government of local areas and succeeded in reforming the civil service examination. Political confusion in the court during Jungjong’s reign made Joseon vulnerable to attacks from the Jurchen and from Japanese pirates.

Jungjong is famous for appointing Jang Geum, the only known female royal physician in Korean history, as one of his personal doctors.
King Seongjong of Joseon was succeeded by his son, Yeonsangun, in 1494. Yeonsangun was a cruel and ruthless ruler, and many attributed his cruelty to the extreme jealousy and bad temper of his mother, Yoon. When Seongjong’s first Queen died after five years of marriage and left him without an heir, he married Yoon and made her his second Queen. Soon after the birth of Yeonsangun, Queen Yoon became wildly jealous of the King’s concubines. One night in 1479, she physically struck the king, leaving scratch marks on his face. Despite efforts made to conceal the injury, Seongjong's mother, Queen Insu, discovered the truth and ordered Lady Yun into exile. After several popular attempts to restore Lady Yun to her position at court, government officials arranged for her to be poisoned.

When Yeonsangun succeeded Seongjong in 1494, he did not know what had happened to his biological mother until the truth was revealed to him by several officials, including Lim Sahong and You Ja Gwang. The king was shocked. He arrested many officials who had supported the idea of executing his mother and put all of them to death; this incident in 1498 is called the First Literati Purge (무오사화). In 1504, he killed two of his father's concubines as well as his grandmother, Queen Insu. In the same year he killed many more Confucian scholars who had urged King Seongjong to depose his mother, in the Second Literati Purge (갑자사화). After this massacre, many commoners mocked and insulted the king in posters written in Hangeul. This provoked the anger of Yeonsangun and he banned the use of Hangeul forever. He closed Seonggyungwan, the national university, and ordered people to gather young girls and horses from the whole Korean Peninsula for his personal entertainment. Many people were afraid of his despotic rule and their voices were quelled, in stark contrast to the liberal Seongjong era.

In 1506, a group of officials, notably Park Won Jong, Sung Hee-Ahn, You Soonjeong and Hong Kyung Joo, plotted against the despotic ruler. They launched their coup in 1506, deposing the king and replacing him with his half-brother, Jungjong. The king was demoted to prince, and sent into exile on Ganghwa Island, where he died that same year.

Shin Suk-ju (신숙주 申叔舟), one of the prominent scholars who participated in creating Hangul. Unlike his colleagues (later called Sayuksin) who had all pledged allegiance to King Danjeong, Shin Suk-ju betrayed them in favor of Danjeong's uncle, Grand Prince Suyang (later King Sejo), who usurped the throne from his nephew and had him killed.

And some other informations:

Monarchy versus yangban:
King Munjong's death in 1452 brought an 11-year-old Crown Prince to the throne.   State affairs were left in the hands of state councilors, and monarchical power declined.  In 1455, the unscrupulous Prince Suyang taegun, uncle of the child-king Danjong, usurped the throne by murder and regicide after quelling the opposition; he also ruthlessly suppressed attempts to restore Tanjong as king.
King Sejo (r. 1455-1468), as Prince Suyang Taegun is officially known, closed the Hall of Worthies, abolished some posts in the Censorate Offices, and crippled the Office of Royal Lecturers (Kyong-yon), all measures designed to loosen the ideological restraints on the monarchy.  The Office of Study Promotion was instituted, ostensibly as a means of promoting Confucianism.  In fact, it was used merely as a royal library rather than as an organization designed to promote and propagate Confucian ideals.  Further, he initiated the practice of giving private audiences to individual officials, flouting the regulation which made the presence of historians and censorate officials mandatory at royal audiences.
An attempt to raise the status of the monarchy was, however, justified, as the Korean monarch had formerly been vulnerable to inordinate yangban pressure.  Yang Song-ji, a talented scholar under King Sejong, advocated the monarch's cause in his memorials.  Yang stressed Korea's unique position, asserting the need to preserve indigenous traditions.  Tan-gun, according to him, was the "Son-of-Heaven Ruler." He formulated the proposition that Joseon, like China, was a nation upon which the "Mandate of Heaven" was bestowed.  This argument strengthened King Sejo's hand visa-vis the bureaucracy.
None of the Joseon kings had been strong enough to defy the yangban officials by praying in person at the Temple of Heaven, where the Song of Heaven along was qualified to converse with the Heavenly God.  King Sejo, however, in his sacrificial ode to the Heavenly God at the Temple of Heaven, used the phrase "the founder of the dynasty, the imperial great-great grandfather, T'aejo (founder king Yi Song-gye)."
King Sejo ordered the compilation of a detailed map of Korea to provide further control of outlying areas.  Census-taking of all soldiers and reserves in the various districts was enforced, and the Civil Register Act required all citizens to carry identification tags.  He installed large military garrisons in each province and ordered every town to produce arms.
By arranging generous land grants and medicine, King Sejo showed his concern for the welfare of the army.  He also ordered the migration of people to the sparsely populated northern border areas.
The monarch acted decisively in matters relating to the recruitment of new officials, increasing the number of military graduates to further strengthen the monarchial power.  He also gave the title of "Meritorious Subject" to various officials on three different occasions to widen the base of loyal support.  With the increase of inheritable land grants to meritorious subjects, however, land available for the newly appointed officials decreased. To solve this problem and to limit the economic power of the officials and yangban, King Sejo instituted the official land system, which allowed land grants in terms of rent for office tenure only.  Thus the status land system by which the yangban enjoyed lifetime tenure was discontinued, and those parties who refused to compromise lost their land holdings altogether.  This limitation of land grants to incumbent officials meant that the old landed yangban class changed to either an employed bureaucracy with land or landless yangban with prestige only.
King Sejo offered interim civil and military service examinations more often, in addition to the time-honored examinations given every three years.  Since the number of successful candidates in the interim examinations exceeded those from fixed examinations by a ratio of two to one, this virtually brought the civil examination system under the monarch's sway.
To divert the attention of the Neo-Confucian scholars, King Sejo defied Confucian orthodoxy by support Taoism and Buddhism.  An Office for Publication of Buddhist Scriptures was established, where the compilation of Buddhist literature and Korean translation of such literature became active.  Fifty copies of the bulky Tripitaka Koreana were printed for distribution.  To equip the often Sinocentric scholars with a comprehensive history of their own country, the compilation of Tonggukt'onggam (Comprehensive Mirror of the Eastern Kingdom) began in 1458 and was completed after the king's death.
During this time, the compilation of the Kyongguk taejon (Grand Code for State Administration) was initiated.  The Kyongguk taejon became the cornerstone of the dynastic administration and provided the monarchial system with a sory of constitutional law in a written form.
(source: Asian Info)

The 44th Danjong Culture Festival in Yeongwol
The 44th Danjong Culture Festival, a major festival of Yeongwol-gun in Gangwon-do, is scheduled to be held for three days from April 23, 2010 to April 25, 2010 under the theme ‘Danjong's Smile’
Organized at the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites of Jangneung Royal Tomb, Cheongnyongpo Cape, and Gwanpungheon House, the Danjong Culture Festival is a historic cultural event held annually since 1967. The memorial event is held in memory of Danjong, the 6th king of Joseon Dynasty, who lost the throne to Suyang Daegun (the 7th king, Sejo), his uncle, and was exiled to Yeongwol where he died.
The most interesting event is the Gukjang, or state funeral, of the Joseon Dynasty to be reenacted on April 24, 2010 at Gwanpungheon House. Based on Gukjangdogamuigwe, a historical record specifying the protocol and procedures of Gukjang during the period of King Yeongjo (reign from 1724 to 1776), the reenactment will highlight a Gukjang parade of the early Joseon Dynasty. Through extensive historical research, the ceremonial rituals, costumes, and ritual utensils are reenacted to give the ceremony its utmost historical significance.
On April 23, 2010, the first day of the festival, there will be a folk art contest, Queen Jeongsunwanghu Pageant, classic poem contest, and an invitational performance by the National Center for the Korean Traditional Performing Arts. On the second day, the memorial service for King Danjong, a memorial parade, reenactment of Danjong’s exile, and Jeryeak and nongak music will be organized in Jangneung and Donggang riverside. The last day will close with a goblin performance, a tug-of-war, and hanmadang performance.
During the festival, a special photo exhibition of royal records will be organized at the Donggang Photo Museum. Other side events include rituals at Jangneung Tomb, hanging wish lanterns, a photo exhibition of past Danjong culture festivals, traditional lantern making, and the wearing of royal costumes.

* A gukjang is a state funeral sponsored by the government. It is held in memory of those of high merits and services to the country.
Source: Korea.net (April 13, 2010)

Additional reading:
My Another background (newer)
Gyeongbokgung info in English -- this is a Grand Palace in Seoul^^

picture from wikipedia