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|Jeongjo of Joseon|
|King of Joseon Dynasty|
|Reign||27 April 1776 - 18 August 1800|
|Predecessor||Yeongjo of Joseon|
|Successor||Sunjo of Joseon|
|Born||28 October 1752|
Changgyeong Palace, Kingdom of Joseon
|Died||18 August 1800 (aged 47)|
Changgyeong Palace, Kingdom of Joseon
|Issue||Sunjo of Joseon|
|House||House of Yi|
|Father||Crown Prince Sado|
|Mother||Princess Consort Hyegyeong|
|Jeongjo of Joseon|
|Revised Romanization||I San|
Jeongjo of Joseon (28 October 1752 - 18 August 1800) was the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea (r. 1776-1800). He made various attempts to reform and improve the nation of Korea. He was preceded by his grandfather King Yeongjo (r. 1724-1776) and succeeded by his son King Sunjo (r. 1800-1834).
Some say Jeongjo is one of the most successful and visionary rulers of the Joseon Dynasty ushering it into a Golden Age.
Born as Yi San (), he was the son of Crown Prince Sado (who was put to death by his own father, King Yeongjo) and Lady Hyegyeong (who wrote an autobiography, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong detailing her life as the ill-fated Crown Princess of Korea). His only elder brother Crown Prince Uiso died in childhood, he was secure of throne successions. His mother Lady Hyegyeong's collection of memoirs serves as a significant source of historical information on the political happenings during the reigns of King Yeongjo (her father-in-law), King Jeongjo (her son), and King Sunjo (her grandson).
In 1762, his father, Crown Prince Sado, was publicly executed by King Yeongjo, Sado's father and Yi San's grandfather, after long time conflicts and Sado's years of mental illness. Crown Prince Sado opposed the ruling party Noron party. Eight years later Yi San asked to visit Sado's living quarter but his Grandfather King Yeongjo refused. So he refused to attend Crown Prince Sado's funeral. In February 21, 1764, Yi San became the adoptive son of Crown Prince Hyojang and Princess Consort Hyosun by the order of King Yeongjo.Crown Prince Hyojang was the elder half-brother of his father, Crown Prince Sado. Crown Prince Hyojang though, had died during his childhood. King Yeongjo made Yi San a part of Hyojang's family because he was concerned that Yi San, who was Sado's son and successor. would be opposed. Noron would pose a problem, and say that Yi San was the Son of a prisoner or Son of a psycho and thus would become ineligible to succeed the throne, and rendered King Yeongjo worried for an extended period.
After 1762 to 1777, some members of Noron attempted to deport Jeongjo for his relation to Crown Prince Sado's title, thus succeeding the thrones, there was access to Prince Eunjeon and Prince Euneon, Prince Eunshin. They were his half-brothers. His grand uncle Hong In-han and Chung Hu-kyom, adopted son of Princess Hwa wan was one of them. When he was the Crown Prince, King Jeongjo met Hong Guk-yeong (, ), a controversial politician who first strongly supported Jeongjo's accession and toiled to improve the king's power, but ended up being expelled because of his desire for power. Another helper was Kim Jong-su(, ), he was one member of Noron but he was principled.
In 1775, one year before King Yeongjo's death, King Yeongjo was appointed regent for him, also Yeongjo gave o military power for him.
Jeongjo spent much of his reign trying to clear his father's name. He also moved the court to the city of Suwon to be closer to his father's grave. He built Hwaseong Fortress to guard the tomb. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The era before his rule was in disorder as his father was killed by royal decree of his own father, King Jeongjo's grandfather. King Yeongjo's ultimate decision to execute Crown Prince Sado was greatly influenced by other politicians who were against the Crown Prince. After King Yeongjo's death and on the day that Jeongjo became the King of Joseon, he sat on his throne in the throne room and looked at everyone and said, "I am the son of the late Crown Prince Sado..." This was a bold statement that sent shivers down the spines of all the politicians who were complicit in his father's death.
During his accession, he also issued a royal decree that his mother, Lady Hyegyeong, be a Dowager Queen since his father, her husband, was supposed to be the King before him. Thus, she became the Queen Dowager, the widow of Crown Prince Sado. From then on, King Jeongjo experienced many turbulent periods, but overcame them with the aid of Hong Guk-yeong, Kim Chong-su.
In 1776, Hong Sang-beom, Hong Kye-neung and other some member of Noron was attempted of a military coup d'etat and kill him, but their plans was exposed early. Some assassins were secretly in royal palace but Jeongjo repulsed assassins and personally arrested a suspect. Jeongjo executed Hong Sang-beom, Hong Kye-neung, other some member of Norons, but put to death Prince Eunjeon, Hong In-han, and Chung Hu-kyom.
In 1785 he erected Changyongyeong (, ), this is the King's royal bodyguards. Before In 1782, Jeongjo selected by competitive examination some officers, who were then organized into the unit of Changyongyeong. Before this time was the Naekeunwe, royal bodyguards of Joseon dynasties created by Taejong of Joseon in 1407. But Jeongjo mistrusted the Naekeumwi, so he personally created Changyonegyeong.
King Jeongjo led the new renaissance of the Joseon Dynasty, but was initially stopped by continuing the policy of Yeongjo's Tangpyeong rule. He tried to control the politics of the whole nation to advance and further national progress.
He made various reforms throughout his reign, notably establishing Kyujanggak (), a royal library. The primary purpose of Kyujanggak was to improve the cultural and political stance of Joseon and to recruit gifted officers to help run the nation. Jeongjo also spearheaded bold new social initiatives, including opening government positions to those who were previously barred because of their social status.
He had some knowledge of humanities and philosophy, Neo-Confucianism. One of the King's gentlemen, Kim Jong-su, imprinted onto the king and in tandem became a great father and a great teacher for him. He studied for a long time and read various books. Jeongjo had the support of the many Silhak scholars who supported Jeongjo's regal power, including Scholars Jeong Yak-yong, Pak Ji-won, Pak Je-ga and Yu Deuk-gong. His reign also saw the further growth and development of Joseon's popular culture.
He was opposed to new fashions in the composition style of Korean writing and personally taught composition to some intellectuals and bureaucrats called Munchebanjong(? ?).
In his final years, Jeongjo arranged for the marriage of his second son and successor Sunjo of Joseon to Lady Kim of the Andong clan, daughter of Kim Cho-sun, but did not live to see his son's marriage. In 1800, Jeongjo died suddenly under uncertain circumstances at the age of 47, without seeing much of his life's work come to fruition under his son, Sunjo. There are many books regarding the mystery behind his death, and speculation as to the cause of his death continues even today.
|Ancestors of Jeongjo of Joseon|
"Introduction." A Unique Banchado: The Documentary Painting, with Commentary, of King Jeongjo's Royal Procesion to Hwaseong in 1795, by Han Young-woo and Chung Eunsun, Renaissance Books, Folkestone, 2017, pp. 1-6. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1s17p7t.7.