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조선왕조 (朝鮮王朝)
Kingdom of Great Joseon

Taegukgi (after 1883) Royal emblem of Joseon
Territory of Joseon after Jurchen conquest of King Sejong
Capital Hanseong
Language(s) Korean
Religion Neo-Confucianism
Government Monarchy
 - 1392–1398 Taejo (first)
 - 1418–1450 Sejong the Great
 - 1776–1800 Jeongjo
 - 1863–1897 Gojong (last)1
Prime Minister
 - 1431–1449 Hwang Hui
 - 1466–1472 Han Myeonghoe
 - 1592–1598 Ryu Seongryong
 - 1793–1801 Chae Jegong
Historical era Early Modern Period
 - Coup of 1388 May 20, 1388
 - Coronation of Taejo July 17, 1392 1392
 - Promulgation of Hangul October 9, 1446
 - Seven-Year War 1592–1598
 - Manchu invasions 1636–1637
 - Treaty of Ganghwa February 27, 1876
 - Elevation to empire October 12, 1897 1897
 - 1500 [2] est. est. 6,510,000 
 - 1753 [2] est. est. 18,660,000 
1Became Emperor of Korea in 1897
Korea unified vertical.svgHistory of Korea

 Jeulmun period
 Mumun period
Gojoseon 2333–108 BC
 Jin state
Proto-Three Kingdoms: 108–57 BC
 Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye
 Samhan: Ma, Byeon, Jin
Three Kingdoms: 57 BC – 668 AD
 Goguryeo 37 BC – 668 AD
 Baekje 18 BC – 660 AD
 Silla 57 BC – 935 AD
 Gaya 42–562
North-South States: 698–935
 Unified Silla 668–935
 Balhae 698–926
 Later Three Kingdoms 892–935
  Later Goguryeo, Later Baekje, Silla
Goryeo Dynasty 918–1392
Joseon Dynasty 1392–1897
Korean Empire 1897–1910
Japanese rule 1910–1945
 Provisional Gov't 1919–1948
Division of Korea 1945–1948
North, South Korea 1948–present
 Korean War 1950–1953

Korea Portal
Monarchs of Korea
Joseon Dynasty
  1. Taejo 1392–1398
  2. Jeongjong 1398–1400
  3. Taejong 1400–1418
  4. Sejong the Great 1418–1450
  5. Munjong 1450–1452
  6. Danjong 1452–1455
  7. Sejo 1455–1468
  8. Yejong 1468–1469
  9. Seongjong 1469–1494
  10. Yeonsangun 1494–1506
  11. Jungjong 1506–1544
  12. Injong 1544–1545
  13. Myeongjong 1545–1567
  14. Seonjo 1567–1608
  15. Gwanghaegun 1608–1623
  16. Injo 1623–1649
  17. Hyojong 1649–1659
  18. Hyeonjong 1659–1674
  19. Sukjong 1674–1720
  20. Gyeongjong 1720–1724
  21. Yeongjo 1724–1776
  22. Jeongjo 1776–1800
  23. Sunjo 1800–1834
  24. Heonjong 1834–1849
  25. Cheoljong 1849–1863
  26. Gojong 1863–1907
  27. Sunjong 1907–1910

Joseon (July 1392 – August 1910) (also Chosŏn, Choson, Chosun), was a Korean sovereign state[3] founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo Kingdom at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul and the kingdom's northernmost borders were expanded to the natural boundaries at the Amnok and Duman rivers (through the subjugation of the Jurchens). Joseon was the last royal and later imperial dynasty of Korean history. It was the longest ruling Confucian dynasty.

During its reign, Joseon consolidated its absolute rule over Korea, encouraged the entrenchment of Confucian ideals and doctrines in Korean society, imported and adapted Chinese culture, and saw the height of classical Korean culture, trade, science, literature, and technology. However, the dynasty was severely weakened during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when invasions by the neighboring Japan and Qing virtually overran the peninsula, leading to an increasingly harsh isolationist policy for which the country became known as the Hermit Kingdom. After invasions from Manchuria, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace.

However, whatever power the kingdom recovered during its isolation further waned as the 18th century came to a close, and faced with internal strife, power struggles, international pressure and rebellions at home, the Joseon Dynasty declined rapidly in the late 19th century. In 1895, the Joseon Dynasty was forced to write a document of independence from the Qing Dynasty after the Japanese victory in the First Sino-Japanese War and its peace treaty, the Treaty of Shimonoseki. From 1897 to 1910, Korea was formally known as the Korean Empire to signify a sovereign nation no longer a tributary of the Qing Dynasty. The Joseon Dynasty came to an end in 1910, when the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty was enforced by the Empire of Japan.

The Joseon's rule has left a substantial legacy on the modern face of Korea; much of modern Korean etiquette, cultural norms, societal attitudes towards current issues, and even the modern Korean language and its dialects stem from the traditional thought pattern that originated from this period.




King Taejo's portrait

By the late 14th century, the 400 year-old Goryeo Dynasty established by Wang Geon in 918 was tottering, its foundations collapsing from years of war and de facto occupation from the disintegrating Mongol Empire. Following the wake of the Ming Dynasty , the royal court in Goryeo split into two conflicting factions: the group led by General Yi (supporting the Ming Dynasty) and the camp led by General Choe (standing by the Yuan Dynasty). When a Ming messenger came to Goryeo in 1388 (the 14th year of King U) to demand the return of a significant portion of Goryeo’s northern territory, General Choe seized the chance to argue for the attack of the Liaodong Peninsula (Goryeo claimed to be the successor of the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo; as such, restoring Manchuria as part of Korean territory was part of its foreign policy throughout its history).

Yi was chosen to lead the attack; however, he revolted and swept back to Gaegyeong and initiated a coup d'état, overthrowing King U in favor of his son, King Chang (1388). He later killed King U and his son after a failed restoration and forcibly placed a royal named Yo on the throne (he became King Gongyang). In 1392, Yi dethroned King Gongyang, exiled him to Wonju, and ascended the throne. The Goryeo Dynasty had come to an end after almost 500 years of rule.

In the beginning of his reign, Yi Seonggye, now King Taejo, intended to continue use of the name Goryeo for the country he ruled and simply change the royal line of descent to his own, thus maintaining the façade of continuing the 500 year-old Goryeo tradition. However, after numerous threats of mutiny from the drastically weakened but still influential Gwonmun nobles, who continued to swear allegiance to the remnants of the Goryeo Dynasty, now the demoted Wang clan, and the overall atmosphere in the reformed court that a new dynastic title was needed to signify the change, he declared a new dynasty in 1393 under the name of Joseon (meaning to revive an older dynasty also known as Joseon, founded nearly four thousand years previously) and renamed the country the "Kingdom of Great Joseon". He also moved the capital to Hanyang.

Early strife

When the new dynasty was promulgated and officially brought into existence, Taejo brought up the issue of which son would be his successor. Although Taejo's fifth son by Queen Sineui, Yi Bang-won, had contributed most to assisting his father's rise to power, he harbored a profound hatred against two of his father's key allies in the court, the prime minister Jeong Do-jeon and Nam Eun. Both sides were fully aware of the mutual animosity that existed between each other and constantly felt threatened. When it became clear that Yi Bang-won was the most worthy successor to the throne, Jeong Do-jeon used his influence on the king to convince him that the wisest choice would be in the son that Taejo loved most, not the son that Taejo felt was best for the kingdom. In 1392, the eighth son of King Taejo (the second son of Queen Sindeok), Grand Prince Uian (Yi Bang-seok) was appointed Prince Royal, or successor to the throne. After the sudden death of the queen, and while King Taejo was still in mourning for his second wife, Jeong Do-jeon conspired to pre-emptively kill Yi Bang-won and his brothers to secure his position in court. In 1398, upon hearing of this plan, Yi Bang-won immediately revolted and raided the palace, killing Jeong Do-jeon, his followers, and the two sons of the late Queen Sindeok. This incident became known as the First Strife of Princes.

Aghast at the fact that his sons were willing to kill each other for the crown, and psychologically exhausted from the death of his second wife, King Taejo immediately crowned his second son Yi Bang-gwa, later King Jeongjong, as the new ruler. One of King Jeongjong's first acts as monarch was to revert the capital to Gaeseong, where he is believed to have been considerably more comfortable. Meanwhile, Yi Bang-won, not in the least discouraged by the fact that his elder brother held the throne, began plotting to be invested as Royal Prince Successor Brother. However, Yi Bang-won's plans were opposed by Taejo's fourth son Yi Bang-gan, who also yearned for power. In 1400, the tensions between Yi Bang-won's faction and Yi Bang-gan's camp escalated into an all-out conflict that came to be known as the Second Strife of Princes. In the aftermath of the struggle, the defeated Yi Bang-gan was exiled to Tosan, while those who urged him to battle against Yi Bang-won were executed. Thoroughly intimidated, King Jeongjong immediately invested Yi Bang-won as heir presumptive and voluntarily abdicated. That same year, Yi Bang-won assumed the throne of Joseon at long last as King Taejong.

Consolidation of power

In the beginning of Taejong's reign, the Grand King Former, Taejo, refused to relinquish the royal seal that signified the legitimacy of any king's rule. Taejong began to initiate policies he believed would prove his intelligence and right to rule. One of his first acts as king was to abolish the privilege enjoyed by the upper echelons of government and the aristocracy to maintain private armies. His revoking of such rights to field independent forces effectively severed their ability to muster large-scale revolts, and drastically increased the number of men employed in the national military.Taejong's next act as king was to revise the existing legislation concerning the taxation of land ownership and the recording of state of subjects. With the discovery of previously hidden land, national income increased twofold.

In 1399, Taejong had played an influential role in scrapping the Dopyeong Assembly, a council of the old government administration that held a monopoly in court power during the waning years of the Goryeo Dynasty, in favor of the State Council of Joseon, a new branch of central administration that revolved around the king and his edicts. After passing the subject documentation and taxation legislation, King Taejong issued a new decree in which all decisions passed by the Euijeong Department could only come into effect with the approval of the king. This ended the custom of court ministers and advisors in making decisions through debate and negotiations amongst themselves and with the king only as an onlooker, and thus, through the implication of the king in the actual administration of Korea, brought royal power to new heights. Shortly thereafter, Taejong installed a branch of the government, known as the Sinmun Office, to hear cases in which aggrieved subjects felt that they had been exploited or treated unjustly by government officials or aristocrats.

In August of 1418, following Taejong's abdication two months earlier, Sejong ascended the throne. In May of 1419, King Sejong, under the advice and guidance of his father Taejong, embarked upon the Gihae Eastern Expedition to remove the nuisance of Japanese pirates who had been operating out of Tsushima. In September of 1419 the Daimyo of Tsushima, Sadamori, capitulated to the Joseon court. In 1443, The Treaty of Gyehae was signed, in which the Daimyo of Tsushima was granted rights to conduct trade with Korea in fifty ships per year, in exchange for sending tribute to Korea and aiding to stop any Japanese coastal pirate raid on Korean ports.[4] [5][6][7]

On the northern border, Sejong established four forts and six posts (hangul: 사군육진 hanja: 四郡六鎭) to safeguard his people from the hostile Chinese and Manchurian nomads living in Manchuria. In 1433, Sejong sent Kim Jong-seo (hangul: 김종서, hanja: 金宗瑞), a prominent general, north to destroy the Manchu. Kim's military campaign captured several castles, pushed north, and restored Korean territory, roughly the present-day border between North Korea and China.[8]

During the rule of Sejong, Korea saw advances in natural science, agriculture, literature, traditional medicine, and so on. Because of such success, Sejong was credited the title "King Sejong the Great of Joseon".[9] The most remembered contribution of King Sejong is the creation of hangeul, the Korean alphabet, in 1443. Everyday use of hanja and hanmun in writing eventually came to an end in the latter half of the 20th century.

Early Japanese invasions

The Turtle ship. The historical existence of the ironclad roof is disputed.[10][11][12]

Throughout Korean history, there were frequent pirates attacks on both the sea and land. The only purpose for the Koreans running a navy was to secure the maritime trade against the Wokou pirates. The Korean navy repel the pirates by using an advanced form of gunpowder technologies (i.e. cannons, fire arrows in form of Singijeon deployed by Hwacha, etc.).

During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, plotting the conquest of Ming China with Portuguese guns, invaded Korea with his daimyō and their troops in 1592 and 1597, intending to use Korea as a stepping stone. Factional division in the Joseon court, inability to assess Japanese military capability, and failed attempts at diplomacy led to poor preparation on Joseon's part. The use of European firearms by the Japanese left most of the southern peninsula occupied within months, with both Pyongyang and Hanseong (present-day Seoul) captured. According to the Annals of Joseon Dynasty, the Japanese were joined by rebelling Korean slaves, who burned down the palace of Gyeongbokgung and its storehouse of slave records.[13]

Admiral Yi Sunsin

Local resistance, however, slowed down the Japanese advance and decisive naval victories by Admiral Yi Sun-sin left control over sea routes in Korean hands, severely hampering Japanese supply lines. Furthermore, Ming China intervened on the side of the Koreans, sending a large force in 1593 which pushed back the Japanese together with the Koreans. During the war, Koreans developed powerful firearms and high-quality gunpowder and the Turtle ships. The Joseon and Ming forces defeated the Japanese at a deep price. Following the war, relations between Korea and Japan had been completely suspended.

Manchu invasions

After the war, the Korean Kingdom became increasingly isolationist. Its rulers sought to limit contact with foreign countries. In addition, the Ming Dynasty was weakened, partly because of the war in Korea against Japan, which led to the establishment of the new Qing Dynasty. The Koreans decided to build tighter borders, exert more controls over inter-border traffic, and wait out the initial turbulence of the Manchu overthrow of the Ming.

Korea suffered from two invasions by the Manchus, in 1627 (see the First Manchu invasion of Korea) and 1637 (see the Second Manchu invasion of Korea). Korea surrendered to the Manchus and agreed to pay tribute to the new Qing dynasty emperors as a Qing dynasty's protectorate, which at this time involved two way trade missions with China. The Qing rulers adopted a foreign policy to avoid the creation of foreign trading enclaves on Chinese soil. This policy limited the presence of the traditional entrepot of the foreign hongs to Macau. These entrepot handled the significant trade of Chinese silks for foreign silver. This arrangement relegated foreign trade to the southern provinces of China, leaving the more unstable northern region under careful regulation and limiting the influence of foreigners. This decision affected Korea since China was Korea's main trading partner.[citation needed]

Late Joseon period

Heungseon Daewongun

After invasions from Manchuria, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. King Yeongjo and King Jeongjo led a new renaissance of the Joseon dynasty. King Sukjong and his son King Yeongjo tried to solve the problems resulting from faction politics. Tangpyeong's policy was to effectively freeze the parties' disputes. Yeongjo's grandson, King Jeongjo made various reforms throughout his reign, notably establishing Kyujanggak, an imperial library. However, its purpose was to improve the cultural and political position of Joseon and to recruit gifted officers to run the nation. King Jeongjo also spearheaded bold new social initiatives, opening government positions to those who would have previously been barred because of their social status. King Jeongjo had the support of the many Silhak scholars, and in addition the Silhak scholars supported Jeongjo's regal power. King Jeongjo's reign also saw the further growth and development of Joseon's popular culture.

In 1863 King Gojong took the throne. His father, Regent Heungseon Daewongun, ruled for him until Gojong reached adulthood. During the mid 1860s he was the main proponent of isolationism and the instrument of the persecution of native and foreign Catholics, a policy that led directly to the French Campaign against Korea, 1866. The early years of his rule also witnessed a large effort to restore the largely dilapidated Gyeongbok Palace, the seat of royal authority. During Heungseon Daewongun's reign, faction politics and power wielded by the Andong Kim clan completely disappeared.

In 1873, King Gojong announced his direct royal rule. With the subsequent retirement of Heungseon Daewongun, the to-be Queen Min (later called Empress Myeongseong) gained complete control over her court, placing her family in high court positions.


In the 19th century tensions mounted between Qing China and Japan, culminating in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). Much of this war was fought on the Korean peninsula. Japan, after the Meiji Restoration, acquired Western military technology, had forced Joseon to sign the Treaty of Ganghwa in 1876.

Many Koreans despised Japanese and foreign influences over their land and the corrupt oppressive rule of the Joseon Dynasty. On January 11, 1894, by peasant leader Jeon Bong-jun defeated the government forces at the battle of Go-bu, after the battle Jo's properties were handed out to the peasants. Meantime, the Joseon government army attacked Jeonju and both the Joseon government and the peasant army concluded an agreement. However the urgent Joseon government asked the Chinese Qing Dynasty government for assistance in ending the revolt. After notifying the Japanese in accordance with the Convention of Tientsin Qing sent troops into Korea. It was the catalyst for the First Sino-Japanese War.

The empress[14] had attempted to counter Japanese interference in Korea and was considering turning to Russia or China for support. In 1895, Empress Myeongseong (referred to as "Queen Min"[14]) was directly assassinated by Japanese agents.[15][15]. The Japanese minister to Korea, Miura Goro orchestrated the plot against her. A group of Japanese agents along with Hullyeondae Army[15] entered the Royal palace in Seoul, which was under Japanese[15] and Empress Myeongseong was killed and her body desecrated in the North wing of the palace.

The Chinese defeat in the 1894 war led to the Treaty of Shimonoseki between China and Japan, which officially guaranteed Korea's independence from China. It was a step for Japan to hold regional hegemony in Korea. The Joseon court, pressured by encroachment from larger powers, felt the need to reinforce national integrity and declared the Korean Empire in 1897. Emperor Gojong assumed the title of Emperor in order to assert Korea's independence. In addition, other foreign powers were sought for military technology, especially Russia, to fend off the Japanese. Technically, 1897 marks the end of the Joseon period, as the official name of the empire was changed; however the Joseon Dynasty would still reign, albeit perturbed by Japan and Russia.

In a complicated series of manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres, Japan pushed back the Russian fleet at the Battle of Port Arthur in 1905. With the conclusion of the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War with the Treaty of Portsmouth, the way was open for Japan to take control of Korea. After the signing of the Protectorate Treaty in 1905, Korea became a protectorate of Japan. Itō Hirobumi was the first Resident-General of Korea, although he was assassinated by Korean independence activist An Jung-geun in 1909 at the train station at Harbin.In 1910, Although Many Koreans opposed the annexation, Japanese Empire annexed Korea by force.

Provinces of Joseon Dynasty

During most of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea was divided into eight provinces (do; 도; 道). The eight provinces' boundaries remained unchanged for almost five centuries from 1413 to 1895, and formed a geographic paradigm that is still reflected today in the Korean Peninsula's administrative divisions, dialects, and regional distinctions. The names of all eight provinces are still preserved today, in one form or another.

Social and population structure

The population of Joseon Korea is controversial. Government records of households are considered unreliable in this period.[16] One recent estimate gives 6 million at the start of the dynasty in 1392, growing irregularly to a peak of as many as 18 million by about 1750. Between 1810 and 1850, the population declined approximately 10% and remained stable.[17] By the early 1900s, at the close of the Joseon Dynasty, the average life expectancy for Korean males was 24 and for females 26 years.[18]

Joseon Korea initially lacked a landed nobility in the usual sense. However, a centralised administrative system was installed controlled by Confucian scholars who were called Yangban. By the end of the eighteenth century, the yangban had acquired most of the traits of a hereditary nobility, except that status was based on a unique mixture of family position, the results of a Confucian-style competitive examination, and a civil service system. The yangban and the king, in an uneasy balance, controlled the central government and military institutions. The proportion of yangban may have reached as high as 30% by 1800, although there was considerable local variation.[19] As the government was small, a great many yangban were local gentry of high social status, but not always of high income.[20]

Another 30-40% of the population were slaves or "low borns". Slavery was hereditary, as well as a form of legal punishment. There was a slave class with both government- and privately-owned slaves, and the government occasionally gave slaves to citizens of higher rank. Privately owned slaves could be inherited as personal property. During poor harvests, many sangmin people would voluntarily become slaves in order to survive.[citation needed] During the Joseon Dynasty about 30% to 40% of the Korean population consisted of slaves.[21][22][23] However, Joseon slaves could, and often did, own property.[24] Private slaves could buy their freedom. Government-owned slaves were all emancipated in 1801, and the institution gradually died out over the next century.[25] The institution was fully abolished during the Gabo Reform at the end of the nineteenth century.

A Joseon painting which represents the Chungin (literally "middle people"), equivalent to the petite bourgeoisie.

Many of the remaining 40-50% of the population were surely farmers[26], but recent work has raised important issues about the size of other groups: merchants and traders, local government or quasi-governmental clerks (Chungin), craftsmen and laborers, textile workers, etc.[27] Given the size of the population, it may be that a typical person had more than one role. Most farming was, at any rate, commercial, not subsistence.[28] In addition to generating additional income, a certain amount of occupational dexterity may have been required to avoid the worst effects of an often heavy and corrupt tax system.[29]

During the Late Joseon, the Confucian ideals of propriety and "filial piety" gradually came to be equated with a strict observance to a complex social hierarchy, with many fine gradations. By the early 1700s the social critic Yi Junghwan (1690–1756) sarcastically complained that "[W]ith so many different ranks and grades separating people from one another, people tend not to have a very large circle of friends."[30] But, even as Yi wrote, the informal social distinctions of the Early Joseon were being reinforced by legal discrimination, such as Sumptuary law[31] regulating the dress of different social groups, and laws restricting inheritance and property ownership by women[32].

Yet, these laws may have been announced precisely because social mobility was increasing, particularly during the prosperous century beginning about 1710[33]. The original social hierarchy of the Joseon Dynasty was developed based on the social hierarchy of the Goryeo era. In the 14th–16th centuries, this hierarchy was strict and stable. Since economic opportunities to change status were limited, no law was needed.

But in the late 17–19th centuries, new commercial groups emerged, and the old class system was extremely weakened. Especially, the population of Daegu region's Yangban class was expected to reach nearly 70 percent in 1858.[34] The Joseon government ordered to set the official slaves in 1801 (공노비 해방). Finally, the class system of Joseon was completely banned in 1894 (사노비 해방).


The Joseon Dynasty presided over two periods of great cultural growth, during which Joseon culture created the first Korean tea ceremony, Korean gardens, and extensive historic works. The royal dynasty also built several fortresses, palaces.


Male dress of a Confucian scholar. A portrait painted by Yi Je gwan(1783-1837)

In Joseon Dynasty, jeogori of women's hanbok became gradually tightened and shortened. In the 16th century, jeogori was baggy and reached below the waist, but by the end of Joseon Dynasty in the 19th century, jeogori was shortened to the point that it did not cover the breasts, so another piece of cloth (heoritti) was used to cover them. At the end of 19th century, Daewon-gun introduced Magoja, a Manchu-style jacket, to Korea, which is often worn with hanbok to this day.

Chima was full-skirted and jeogori was short and tight in the late Joseon period. Fullness in the skirt was emphasized round the hips. Many undergarments were worn underneath chima such as darisokgot, soksokgot, dansokgot, and gojengi to achieve a desired silhouette. Because jeogori was so short it became natural to expose heoritti or heorimari which functioned like a corset. The white linen cloth exposed under jeogori in the picture is heoritti.

The upper classes wore hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other high-grade lightweight materials in warm weather and of plain and patterned silks the rest of the year. Commoners were restricted by law as well as resources to cotton at best. The upper classes wore a variety of colors, though bright colors were generally worn by children and girls and subdued colors by middle-aged men and women. Commoners were restricted by law to everyday clothes of white, but for special occasions they wore dull shades of pale pink, light green, gray, and charcoal. Formally, when Korean men went outdoors, they were required to wear overcoats known as durumagi which reach the knees.


A late Joseon painting. It shows some influences of the Western painting techniques introduced to Joseon.

The Mid-Joseon dynasty painting styles moved towards increased realism. A national painting style of landscapes called "true view" began - moving from the traditional Chinese style of idealized general landscapes to particular locations exactly rendered. While not photographic, the style was academic enough to become established and supported as a standardized style in Korean painting.

The mid to late Joseon dynasty is considered the golden age of Korean painting. It coincides with the shock of the collapse of Ming dynasty links with the Manchu emperors accession in China, and the forcing of Korean artists to build new artistic models based on an inner search for particular Korean subjects. At this time China ceased to have pre-eminent influence, Korean art took its own course, and became increasingly distinctive to the traditional Chinese painting.


Geunjeongjeon (Throne Hall)

The history of Joseon architecture would be described in three periods of the early, the middle, and the late period, in accordance with the cultural and architectural development. In the early period, the architecture developed as a succession from the cultural inheritance of the previous dynasty with the new political guiding principles of Confucianism that took the place of Buddhism.

Through the influence of Confucianism, a refined aristocratic taste of the previous era was replaced by the characteristics of unsophisticated, simple and humble beauty with the qualities of commonness and steadiness. The intercolumnar bracket set system was used in building the most important edifice on the premises. The columnar bracket set system and the eclectic bracket system, which consists of architectural elements from both columnar and intercolumnar systems, were also used for temples and other important buildings. In the period of the Joseon dynasty, Korean architecture developed further with a unique will to manifest the expression of the ideas and values of the period.

The bracket cluster system, structurally and visually important elements of the buildings, were developed to follow structural function and to express the unique formal beauty of Korean architecture. Architectural ornaments and their symbolic connotation had more variety and richness. Architects of the period intended to express a strong will to form an indigenous style in architecture, and tried to use decorative elements of all kinds. This achieved a kind of symphonic quality with the methods of architectural organization by strong contrast of light and dark, of simplicity and complexity, and then finally reached the definite climax of architectural ingenuity. This tendency of architectural expression of the later period might remind us somewhat similar impressions of the Western Baroque and Rococo style.


Korean celestial globe first made by the scientist Jang Yeong-sil during under the reign of King Sejong

The Joseon Dynasty under the reign of Sejong the Great was Korea's greatest period of scientific advancement. Under Sejong's new policy Cheonmin (low-status) people such as Jang Yeong-sil were allowed to work for the government. Jang is one of Korea's most famous inventors. When he was very young he built machines to help make worker's jobs easier and he also supervised the building of aqueducts and canals. Jang eventually was allowed to live at the royal palace where he led a group of scientists to work on advancing Korea's science.

Some of his inventions were an automated (self-striking) water clock (the Jagyeokru) which worked by activating motions of wooden figures to indicate time visually (invented in 1434 by Jang Yeong-sil), a subsequent more complicated water-clock with additional astronomical devices, and an improved model of the previous metal movable printing type created in the Goryeo Dynasty. The new model was of even higher quality and was twice as fast. Other inventions were the sight glass, and the udometer.

Also during the Joseon Dynasty Heo Jun, a court physician, wrote a number of medical texts, his most significant achievement being Dongeui Bogam, which is often noted as the defining text of Traditional Korean medicine. The work spread to China and Japan, where it is still regarded as one of the classics of Oriental medicine today.

The highpoint of Korean astronomy was during the Joseon period, where men such as Jang created devices such as celestial globes which indicated the positions of the sun, moon, and the stars[35] Later celestial globes (Gyupyo, 규표) were attuned to the seasonal variations.

The apex of astronomical and calendarial advances under King Sejong was the Chiljeongsan, which compiled computations of the courses of the seven heavenly objects (five visible planets, the sun, and moon), developed in 1442. This work made it possible for scientists to calculate and accurately predict all the major heavenly phenomena, such as solar eclipses and other stellar movements.[36] Honcheonsigye is an astronomical clock created by Song I-yeong in 1669. The clock has an armillary sphere with a diameter of 40 cm. The sphere is activated by a working clock mechanism, showing the position of celestial objects at any given time.

Kangnido, a Korean-made map of the world was created in 1402 by Kim Sa-hyeong (김사형, 金士衡), Yi Mu (이무, 李茂) and Yi Hoe (이회, 李撓). The map was created in the second year of the reign of Taejong of Joseon. The map was made by combining Chinese, Korean and Japanese maps.

The first soft ballistic vest, Myunjebaegab, was invented in Joseon Korea in the 1860s shortly after the French campaign against Korea. Heungseon Daewongun ordered development of bullet-proof armor because of increasing threats from Western armies. Kim Gi-Doo and Gang Yoon found that cotton could protect against bullets if thick enough, and devised bullet-proof vests made of 30 layers of cotton. The vests were used in battle during the United States expedition to Korea, when the US Navy attacked Ganghwa Island in 1871. The US Army captured one of the vests and took it to the US, where it was stored at the Smithsonian Museum until 2007. The vest has since been sent back to Korea and is currently on display to the public.


Trade and commerce

During the Goryeo Dynasty, Korea had a healthy trade relationship with the Arabians, Japanese, Chinese, and Manchurians. An example of prosperous, international trade port is Pyongnam. Koreans offered brocades, jewelries, ginseng, silk, and porcelain, renowned famous worldwide. But, during the Joseon Dynasty, Confucianism was adopted as the national philosophy, and, in process of eliminating certain Buddhist beliefs, Goryeo Cheongja porcelains were replaced by white Baekja, which lost favour of the Chinese and the Arabians. Also, commerce became more restricted during this time in order to promote agriculture. In addition to this, constant Chinese request for tribute pushed the Korean policy of ceasing to produce various luxury item elements (i.e. gold, silver), and importing only the necessary amounts from Japan.[citation needed]Because silver was used as currency in China, it played an important role in Korea-China trade.

The last imperial family

This photo, taken about 1915 (actually a compilation of individual photographs taken since the Japanese did not allow them to all be in the same room at the same time, and some were forced to leave Korea) shows the following royal family members, from left: Prince Ui (Ui chinwang 의친왕), the 6th son of Gojong; Sunjong, the 2nd son and the last monarch of Joseon; Prince Yeong (Yeong chinwang 영친왕), the 7th son; Gojong, the former King; Queen Yoon (Yoon daebi), Queen Consort of Sunjong; Deogindang Gimbi, wife of Prince Ui; and Yi Geon, the eldest son of Prince Ui. The seated child in the front row is Princess Deokhye (Deokhye ongju 덕혜옹주), Gojong's last child.)

After the invasion and de facto annexation of Korea by Japanese in 1910, the Princes and Princesses of the Imperial Family were forced to leave for Japan to be re-educated and married. The Heir to the Throne, Imperial Crown Prince Uimin, married Princess Yi Bang-ja née Nashimoto, and had two sons, Princes Yi Jin and Yi Gu. His elder brother, Imperial Prince Ui had twelve sons and nine daughters from various wives and concubines.

The Crown Prince lost his status in Japan at the end of World War II and returned to Korea in 1963 after an invitation by the Republican Government. He suffered a stroke as his plane landed in Seoul and was rushed to a hospital. He never recovered and died in 1970. His brother, Imperial Prince Ui died in 1955 and the Korean people officially considered this to be the end of the Royal line.[citation needed]

Presently Prince Yi Seok is one of two pretenders[citation needed] to the throne of Korea. He is a son of Prince Gang of Korea, a fifth son of Gojong of Korea and currently a professor of history lecturing at Jeonju University in the Republic of Korea.

Furthermore, many descendants live throughout the United States, Canada and Brazil, having settled elsewhere, outside of Korea.

Today, many tombs of the descendants still exist on top of the mountain in Yangju. According to the pedigree written on the tombstone, it is believed that these descendants are from the great king of Joseon, Seongjeong(The 9th ruler of Joseon Dynasty). It was discovered that this mountain belongs to the member of the royal family named Yi Won (Born in 1958). More details of current descendants of the House of Yi.

The imperial family

  • Emperor Gojong (1852–1919) – 26th head of the Korean Imperial Household, adoptive great-great-great-grandson of King Yeongjo of Joseon
    • Emperor Sunjong (1874–1926) – 27th head of the Korean Imperial Household
    • Prince Gang (1877–1955)
      • Prince Geon (1909–1991) – renounced the Imperial title and heritage by becoming a Japanese citizen in 1947
      • Prince Wu (1912–1945)
        • Yi Chung (1936–) – de jure genealogical heir of Emperor Gojong
      • Prince Gap (1938–)
        • Hereditary Prince Imperial Won (1962–) – claims to be the 30th head of the Korean Imperial Household
          • 1st son (1998–)
          • 2nd son (1999–)
        • Yi Jeong
      • Haewon, Princess of Korea (1919–) – claims to be the 30th head of the Korean Imperial Household
      • Prince Seok (1941–)
        • Yi KiHo (1959–)
        • Yi Hong (1976–)
        • Yi Jin (1979–)
        • Yi Jeonghun (1980–)
    • Crown Prince Uimin (1897–1970) – 28th head of the Korean Imperial Household
    • Princess Deokhye (1912–1989)
      • Jong Jeonghye

Titles and styles

During the kingdom

  • King (王 왕 wang), the king, with the style of His Majesty (殿下 전하 jeonha) or, not as correct but yet still quite commonly, His Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 mama). Before the style of "jeon ha" were used a variety of titles for the king. Native names such as "naratnim" (나랏님) and "Imgeum" (임금) were also used colloquially. For references to late monarchs the title was Great Predecessor King (先大王 선대왕 seondaewang) or Great King (大王 대왕 daewang); for foreign envoys the title used was State King (國王 국왕 gugwang); and for those in the court who needed to mention the king outside his presence, and thus more formality was required in addressing the monarch, the title was Current King (今上 금상 geum-sang),Sovereign (主上 주상 jusang or 上監 상감 sanggam), or Grand Palace (大殿 대전 daejeon). The style remained the same for all titles with the exception of queens dowager and the relatively few kings who abdicated, who simply addressed or mentioned the king without using his style.
  • Queen consort (王妃 왕비 wangbi), the queen consort, with the style of Her Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 mama). The title used in the court language was Center Palace (中宮殿 중궁전 junggungjeon or 中殿 중전 jungjeon). Queens consort that remained married to the king until their death were generally given a title consisting of two Hanja in the front and the customary suffix Queen (王后 왕후 wanghu) in the back.
  • King Former (上王 상왕 sangwang), a king who has voluntarily abdicated for his son to take his place. They usually remained influential or even powerful through the remaining years of their lives. The style of His Majesty (殿下 전하 jeonha) or, less frequently but yet still quite commonly, His Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 mama) was used.
  • Queen Dowager (大妃 대비 daebi), the current incumbent of the throne's mother, with the style of Her Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 mama). Queens dowager often exercised a great deal of influence on the king's influence through their regencies, which took place when the king was too young to rule in his own name, or simply through their role as the mother or even a senior female relative of the monarch.
  • Grand King Former (太上王 태상왕 taesangwang), an abdicated king whose relinquishment of power precedes that of another former king. The style of His Majesty (殿下 전하 jeonha) or, less frequently but yet still quite commonly, His Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 m-ma) was used.
  • Royal Queen Dowager (王大妃 왕대비 wangdaebi), a former consort preceding the least senior queen dowager or current king's aunt or grandmother, with the style of Her Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 mama).
  • Grand Royal Queen Dowager (大王大妃 대왕대비 daewangdaebi), a former consort senior to two other queend dowagers or the current king's great-grandmother, with the style of Her Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 mama).
  • Grand Internal Prince (大阮君 대원군 daewongun), the father of a king who was unable to take the throne himself as he was not part of the generation following that of the last incumbent of the throne (kings who are honored at the royal Jongmyo Shrine must be senior generation-wise for the current incumbent to pay homage there). There have been cases when grand chief princes acted as regents for their sons, the last person to do so having been the Regent Heungseon.
  • Grand Internal Princess Consort (府大夫人 부대부인 budaebuin), the mother of a king whose father himself never reigned.
  • Internal Prince (府院君 부원군 buwongun), the queen consort's father.
  • Internal Princess Consort (府夫人 부부인 bubuin), the queen consort's mother.
  • Prince (君 군 gun), a son born to the match between the king and a concubine or a descendant of a grand prince. The style used is His Young Highness (아기씨 agissi) before marriage and the style His Excellency (大監 대감 daegam) afterward.
  • Princess Consort (郡夫人 군부인 gunbuin), the consort of a prince.
  • Grand Prince (大君 대군 daegun), a prince born to the official match between the king and queen with the style of His Young Highness (아기씨 agissi) before marriage and the style His Excellency (大監 대감 daegam) afterward. The title of a grand prince is not inherited and his sons are generally referred to as mere princes.
  • Grand Princess Consort (府夫人 부부인 bubuin), the consort of a grand prince.
  • Prince Royal (元子 원자 wonja), the firstborn son of the king before being formally invested as heir apparent, with the style of His Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 mama). Generally, princes royal were the son who was born first between the king and his official wife, but there were exceptions when the title of Prince Royal was given to the firstborn son of the king through a concubine, the most notable case having occurred in the reign of King Sukjong.
  • Royal Prince Successor (王世子 왕세자 wangseja) the heir apparent to the throne, with the eldest son of the king given precedence over his brothers given that there were no major problems with his conduct, with the simplified title Prince Successor (世子 세자 seja) being frequently used instead of the full name with the style of His Royal Highness (邸下 저하 jeoha). In less formal but still official court language, the title Eastern Palace (東宮 동궁 donggung) or Spring Palace (春宮 춘궁 chungung) and the style His Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 mama) was used intermittently with "Prince Successor," although the style was frequently dropped by more senior members of the royal family.
  • Royal Princess Successor Consort (王世子嬪 왕세자빈 wangsaejabin), the consort of the heir apparent, or simply Princess Successor Consort (世子嬪 세자빈 saejabin), with the style of Her Royal Consort Highness (마노라 manora or 마누라 manura). Later, as the distinction between "Her Royal Highness" and "Her Royal Consort Highness" became unclear due to the influence of the Andong Kim clan, the style Her Royal Highness (媽媽 마마 mama) also came to apply to the consort of the heir apparent. The style ~ Royal Highness also came to apply to grand princes, princes, and princess as well for the same reason.
  • Princess (公主 공주 gongju), the daughter of the official match between the king and his official wife, with the style of Her Young Highness (아기씨 agissi) before marriage and Her Excellency (자가 jaga) afterward.
  • Princess (翁主 옹주 ongju), the daughter of the king and one of his concubines, with the style of Her Young Highness (아기씨 agissi) before marriage and Her Excellency (자가 jaga) afterward.
  • Royal Prince Successor Brother (王世弟 왕세제 wangseje), the younger brother of the king who has been formally invested as heir presumptive as the king has no offspring.
  • Royal Prince Successor Descendant (王世孫 왕세손 wangseson), the son of the prince successor and the princess successor consort, and the grandson of the king, with the style of His Highness (閤下 합하 hap-a).

During the empire

  • Hwangje (皇帝 황제), the emperor, with the style of His Imperial Majesty (陛下 폐하 pyeha)
  • Hwanghu (皇后 황후), the empress (consort), with the style of Her Imperial Majesty
  • Hwangtaehu (皇太后 황태후), the empress dowager
  • Taehwangtaehu (太皇太后 태황태후), the empress dowager, current Emperor's living grandmother
  • Hwangtaeja (皇太子 황태자), the crown prince of the Empire, the eldest son of the emperor, with the style of His Imperial Highness (殿下 전하 jeonha)
  • Hwangtaeja-bi (皇太子妃 황태자비), the crown princess (consort) of Empire, with the style of Her Imperial Highness
  • Chinwang (親王 친왕), the prince (imperial), son of Emperor, with the style of His Imperial Highness
  • Chinwangbi (親王妃 친왕비), the princess (imperial) (consort), with the style of Her Imperial Highness
  • Gongju (公主 공주), the princess of the Empire, the daughter of the emperor and his empress consort, with the style of Her Imperial Highness
  • Ongju (翁主 옹주), the princess of the Empire, the daughter of emperor and one of his concubines, with the style of Her Imperial Highness

See also


  1. ^ Lee, Jun-gyu (이준규) (2009-07-22). "(세상사는 이야기) 왜색에 물든 우리 말-(10)" (in Korean). Newstown. "1392년부터 1910년까지 한반도 전역을 통치하였던 조선(朝鮮)은 일반적으로 조선 왕조(朝鮮王朝)라 칭하였으며, 어보(御寶), 국서(國書) 등에도 대조선국(大朝鮮國)이라는 명칭을 사용하였었다. (translation) Joseon which had ruled from 1392 to 1910 was commonly referred to as "Joseon Dynasty" while "Kingdom of Great Joseon" was used in the Royal Seal, national documents and others." 
  2. ^ a b 아틀라스 한국사 편찬위원회 (2004). 아틀라스한국사. 사계절. p. 108. ISBN 8958280328. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Richard Rutt. et al. (September 1999). Korea. Routledge/Curzon. ISBN 0700704647. 
  5. ^ John W. Hall. et al. (April 27, 1990). The Cambridge history of Japan [Medieval Japan]. 3. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521223547. 
  6. ^ (Korean) 계해약조 癸亥約條Nate / Britannica
  7. ^ (Korean)계해조약 癸亥約條 Nate / Encyclopedia of Korean Culture
  8. ^ 박영규 (2008). 한권으로 읽는 세종대왕실록. 웅진, 지식하우스. ISBN 890107754X. 
  9. ^ "King Sejong the Great And The Golden Age Of Korea". 19 August 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  10. ^ Hawley, Samuel: The Imjin War. Japan's Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China, The Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch, Seoul 2005, ISBN 89-954424-2-5, p. 195f.
  11. ^ Turnbull, Stephen: Samurai Invasion. Japan’s Korean War 1592–98 (London, 2002), Cassell & Co ISBN 0-304-35948-3, p. 244.
  12. ^ Roh, Young-koo: "Yi Sun-shin, an Admiral Who Became a Myth", The Review of Korean Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3 (2004), p. 13.
  13. ^ 宣祖實錄二十五年 (1592) 五月壬戌 (May 3) “危亡迫至, 君臣之間, 何可有隱? 大抵收拾人心爲上。 近來宮人作弊。 內需司人, 假稱宮物, 而積怨於民。 今日生變之由, 皆緣王子宮人作弊, 故人心怨叛, 與倭同心矣。 聞賊之來也, 言: ‘我不殺汝輩, 汝君虐民, 故如此。’ 云我民亦曰: ‘倭亦人也, 吾等何必棄家而避也?’ 請誅內需司作弊人, 且免平安道積年逋欠。” “慶尙道人皆叛云, 然耶?”—The annals of the Choson DynastyNational Institute of Korean History
  14. ^ a b Characteristics of Queen of Corea The New York Times Nov 10, 1895
  15. ^ a b c d Park Jong-hyo (박종효), former professor at Lomonosov Moscow State University (2002-01-01) (in Korean). “일본인 폭도가 가슴을 세 번 짓밟고 일본도로 난자했다”. Dong-a Ilbo. pp. 472 ~ 485. 
  16. ^ Ch'oe YH, PH Lee & WT de Bary (eds.) (2000), Sources of Korean Tradition: Volume II: From the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Centuries. Columbia University Press, p. 6
  17. ^ Jun SH, JB Lewis & H-R Kang (2008), Korean Expansion and Decline from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century: A View Suggested by Adam Smith. J. Econ. Hist. 68: 244–82.
  18. ^ "...before the introduction of modern medicine in the early 1900s the average life expectancy for Koreans was just 24 for males and 26 for females." Lankov, Andrei; Kim EunHaeng (2007). The Dawn of Modern Korea. 384-12 Seokyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea, 121-893: EunHaeng Namu. pp. 47. ISBN 978-89-5660-214-1. 
  19. ^ Oh SC (2006), Economic growth in P'yongan Province and the development of Pyongyang in the Late Choson Period. Korean Stud. 30: 3–22
  20. ^ Haboush JHK (1988), A Heritage of Kings: One Man's Monarchy in the Confucian World. Columbia University Press, pp. 88–9.
  21. ^ Korean Nobi
  22. ^ Nobi: Rescuing the Nation from Slavery
  23. ^ Peterson MA (2000), Korean Slavery. Int. Forum Series David M. Kennedy Center Discussion Paper
  24. ^ Haboush (1988: 88); Ch'oe et al. (2000: 158)
  25. ^ Ch'oe et al., 2000:7.
  26. ^ Haboush, 1988: 89
  27. ^ Jun SH & JB Lewis (2004), On double-entry bookkeeping in Eighteenth-century Korea: A consideration of the account books from two clan associations and a private academy. International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, Netherlands (080626)
  28. ^ Jun et al. (2008).
  29. ^ Ch'oe et al. (2000: 73).
  30. ^ 이중환, "총론" in 택리지, p. 355, quoted in translation in Choe et al. (2000: 162).
  31. ^ Haboush (1988: 78)
  32. ^ Haboush JHK (2003), Versions and subversions: Patriarchy and polygamy in Korean narratives, in D Ko, JHK Haboush & JR Piggott (eds.), Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea and Japan. University of California Press, pp. 279-304.
  33. ^ Haboush (1988: 88-89); Oh (2006)
  34. ^ 아틀라스 한국사 편찬위원회 (2004). 아틀라스한국사. 사계절. pp. 132–133. ISBN 8958280328. 
  35. ^ 백석기 (1987). 웅진위인전기 #11 장영실. 웅진출판사. p. 56. 
  36. ^ Korea And The Korean People
  • A Cultural History of Modern Korea, Wannae Joe, ed. with intro. by Hongkyu A. Choe, Elizabeth NY, and Seoul Korea: Hollym, 2000.
  • An Introduction to Korean Culture, ed. Koo & Nahm, Elizabeth NJ, and Seoul Korea: Hollym, 1998. 2nd edition.
  • Noon Eu Ro Bo Neun Han Gook Yuk Sa #7 by Jang Pyung Soon. Copyright 1998 Joong Ang Gyo Yook Yun Goo Won, Ltd, pp. 46–7.

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