|Injo of Joseon|
|King of Joseon|
|Predecessor||Gwanghaegun of Joseon|
|Successor||Hyojong of Joseon|
|Born||7 December 1595|
Haeju, Kingdom of Joseon
|Died||17 June 1649 (aged 53)|
Hanseong, Kingdom of Joseon
|Father||Wonjong of Joseon|
|Injo of Joseon|
|Revised Romanization||I Jong|
Injo of Joseon (7 December 1595 - 17 June 1649, r. 1623-1649) was the sixteenth king of the Joseon dynasty in Korea. He was the grandson of Seonjo and son of Grand Prince Jeongwon (). King Injo was king during both the first and second Manchu invasions, which ended with the surrender of Joseon to the Qing dynasty in 1636.
King Injo was born in 1595 as a son of Grandprince Jeongwon, whose father was the ruling monarch King Seonjo. In 1607, Grandprince Jeongwon's son was given the title, Prince Neungyang (?, ?) and later Grand Prince Neungyang (, ); and lived as a royal family member, unsupported by any political factions that were in control of Korean politics at the time.
In 1608, King Seonjo fell sick and died, and his son, Gwanghaegun, succeeded him to the throne. At the time, the government was divided by various political factions; and the liberal Eastern political faction came out strong after the Seven Year War, which most actively fought against Japanese. The Eastern faction split during the last days of King Seonjo in the Northern and Southern political factions. The Northern faction wanted radical reform, while the Southern faction supported moderate reform. At the time of Seonjo's death, the Northern faction, who gained control of the government at the time, was divided into left-wing Greater Northerners and less radical Lesser Northerners. As Gwanghaegun inherited the throne, the Greater Northern political faction, which supported him as heir to the crown, became the major political faction in the royal court. Meanwhile, conservative Western political faction remained a minor faction, far from gaining power; however many members of the Western faction continued to look for opportunities to return to politics as the ruling faction.
Although King Gwanghaegun (, ) was an outstanding administrator and great diplomat, he was largely unsupported by many politicians, scholars, and aristocrats because he was not the first-born and he was born of a concubine. Greater Northerners tried to stomp out those opinions, suppressing Lesser Northerners and killing Prince Imhae (, ), the oldest son of Seonjo, and Grand Prince Yeongchang (?, ?), the queen's son. It was not Gwanghaegun's plan to keep his throne; and in fact, he actually tried to bring minor factions into the government, but was blocked by opposition from members of the Greater Northerners, such as Jeong In-hong and Yi Icheom. The actions made Gwanghaegun even more unpopular among wealthy aristocrats, and they finally began plotting against him.
In 1623, members of the ultra-conservative Westerners faction, Kim Ja-jeom, Kim Ryu, Yi Gwi and Yi Gwal, launched a coup that resulted in the dethroning of Gwanghaegun, who was sent into exile on Jeju Island. Jeong In-hong and Yi Yicheom were killed, and followed suddenly by the Westerners replacing the Greater Northerners as the ruling political faction. The Westerners brought Injo to the palace and crowned him as the new King of Joseon. Although Injo was king, he did not have any authority since almost all of the power was held by the Western faction that dethroned Gwanghaegun.
Yi Gwal thought he was treated unfairly and received too small reward for his role in the coup. In 1624, he rebelled against Injo after being sent to the Northern front as military commander of Pyongyang to fight against the expanding Manchus, while other major leaders of the coup were rewarded with positions in the King's court. Yi Gwal led 12,000 troops, including 100 Japanese (who defected to Joseon during Japanese invasions of Korea (1592-1598)), to the capital, Hanseong, where Yi Gwal defeated a regular army under the command of General Jang Man and surrounded Hanseong in what is known as the Battle of Jeotan. Injo fled to Gongju, and Hanseong fell into the hands of the rebels.
On February 11, 1624, Yi Gwal enthroned Prince Heungan (, ) as the new king; however, General Jang Man soon came back with another regiment and defeated Yi Gwal's forces. The Korean army recaptured the capital soon after, and Yi Gwal was murdered by his bodyguard, which resulted in the end of the rebellion. Even though Injo was able to keep his throne, the rebellion displayed the weaknesses of royal authority, while asserting the superiority of the aristocrats, who had gained even more power by the fighting against the rebellion. The economy, which was experiencing a slight recovery from Gwanghaegun's reconstruction, was once again ruined and Korea would remain in a poor economic state for a few centuries.
King Gwanghaegun, who was considered a wise diplomat, kept his neutral policy between the Chinese Ming Dynasty, which was Joseon's traditional ally, and the growing Manchus. However, following the fall of Gwanghaegun, conservative Westerners took hard-line policy toward the Manchus, keeping their alliance with Ming Dynasty. The Manchus, who had up until that time remained mostly friendly to Joseon, began to regard Joseon as an enemy. Han Yun, who participated in the rebellion of Yi Gwal, fled to Manchuria and urged the Manchu leader Nurhaci to attack Joseon; thus the friendly relationship between Manchu and Korea ended.
In 1627, 30,000 Manchu cavalry under General Amin () and former Korean General Gang Hong-rip invaded Joseon, calling for restoration of Gwanghaegun and execution of Westerners leaders, including Kim Ja-jeom. General Jang Man again fought against the Manchus, but was unable to repel the invasion. Once again, Injo fled to Ganghwa Island. Meanwhile, the Manchus had no reason to attack Korea and decided to go back to prepare for war against China, and peace soon settled. Later, Qing and Joseon were declared brother nations and the Manchus withdrew from Korea. The war is called first Manchu invasion of Korea.
However, most Westerners kept their hard-line policy despite the war. Nurhaci, who had generally good opinion toward Korea, did not invade Korea again; however, when Nurhaci died and Hong Taiji succeeded him as ruler of the Manchus, the Manchus again began to seek for chance for another war. King Injo provided refuge to Ming General Mao Wenrong and with his unit, after they fled from the Manchus and came to Korea; this action caused the Manchus to invade Korea once again.
In 1636, Hong Taiji officially called his nation the Qing dynasty, and proceeded to invade Joseon personally. The Manchu purposely avoided battle with General Im Gyeong Eop, a prominent Joseon army commander who was guarding the Uiju Fortress at the time. A Manchurian army of 128,000 men marched directly into Hanseong before Injo could escape to Ganghwa Island, driving Injo to Namhan Mountain Fortress instead. Running out of food and supplies after the Manchu managed to cut all supply lines, Injo finally surrendered to the Qing dynasty ceremoniously bowing to the Hong Taiji nine times as Hong Taiji's servant, and agreeing to the Treaty of Samjeondo, which required Injo's first and second son to be taken to China as captives.
After Qing conquered Beijing in 1644, the two princes returned to Korea. Injo's first son, Crown Prince Sohyeon, brought many new products from the western world, including Christianity, and urged Injo for reform. However, the conservative Injo would not accept the opinion; and persecuted the Crown Prince for attempting to modernize Korea by bringing in Catholicism and Western science.
The Crown Prince was mysteriously found dead in the King's room, bleeding severely from the head. Legends say that Injo killed his own son with an ink slab that Sohyeon brought from China; however, some historians suggest he was poisoned by the fact that he had black spots all over his body after his death and that his body decomposed rapidly. Many, including his wife, tried to uncover what happened but Injo ordered immediate burial and greatly reduced the grandeur of the practice of Crown Prince's funeral. King Injo even shortened the funeral period for his son.
King Injo appointed Grand Prince Bongrim as new Crown Prince (who later became King Hyojong) rather than Prince Sohyeon's oldest son, Prince Gyeongseon. Soon after, Injo ordered the exile of Prince Sohyeon's three sons to Jeju Island (from which only the youngest son, Prince Gyeongan, returned to the mainland alive) and the execution of Sohyeon's wife, Crown Princess Minhoe, for treason.
Today, Injo is mostly regarded as a weak, indecisive and unstable ruler; for he caused the Yi Gwal Rebellion, two wars with the Manchus, and a devastation of the economy. He is often compared to his predecessor, Gwanghaegun, who accomplished many things and was dethroned, while Injo had almost no achievements during his reign and was still given a temple name. Blamed for not taking care of his kingdom, many people regard King Injo as the model for politicians not to follow; yet, he is credited for reforming the military and expanding the defense of the nation to prepare for war, since the nation had several military conflicts from 1592 to 1636. Injo died in 1649. His tomb is located in Paju, Gyeonggi-do.