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Seo Hui
Hangul 서희
Hanja 徐熙
Revised Romanization Seo Hui
McCune–Reischauer Sŏ Hŭi

Seo Hui (942-998, Korean pronunciation: [səː hi]) was a Korean politician and diplomat during the early days of the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea (918-1392). Seo is best remembered for his diplomatic skills that led 800,000 Khitan troops to withdraw from Goryeo without a battle.[1][2][3]



Seo Hui was of the Icheon Seo clan and was the son of Seo Pil (徐弼) who, during the King Gwangjong's reign, served as Naeuiryeong (內議令), the highest official post of Naeuiseong (內議省), the advisory council for the King. Until the time of his grandfather, Seo Sin-il (徐神逸), the Seo clan was a hojok (豪族) or a powerful local gentry based in what is now the Icheon areas, in the southeast of the Gyeonggi Province.[2]

Like his father, Seo Hui became a jaesang (宰相), the collective term referring to officials with a high rank in ancient Korea. His sons, Seo Nul (徐訥) and Seo Yu-geol (徐惟傑) also followed their father's footstep by serving respectively as Munha sijung (門下侍中), the title of the highest minister of state, and Jwabokya (左僕射), the second rank of Sangseoseong (尙書省), Secretariat for State Affairs of Goryeo. As one of Seo Nul's daughters later became a queen by marrying King Hyeonjong, Seo Hui's clan was related to the King on the King's mother´s side. With this background and his own talent, Seo Hui managed to establish a successful career.[2]


After Seo Hui passed gwageo, the state examination, with a high grade, in March of 960, the 11th year of King Gwangjong's reign, he served for the government as the Gwangpyeongwon eorang (廣評員外郎) and Naeui sirang (內議侍郎) posts. In 983, Seo became Byeonggwan eosa (兵官御事), the official in charge of military affairs. Soon after that, he was appointed to important positions like Naesasirang pyeongsangsa (內史侍郎平章事), the second rank of Naesaseong (Supreme Council during the period), and finally he was raised to the highest position of Taebo Naesaryeong, the head of Supreme Council.[2]

In addition to his successful political career, Seo performed remarkable achievements in diplomatic affairs. In 972, Seo went to China and played an important role in re-establishing the diplomatic relationship between Goryeo and the Chinese Song Dynasty, which had been broken off over a decade earlier. However, the greatest achievement in his diplomatic career was his direct negotiations with General Xiao Sunning of the Liao Dynasty, which prevented an invasion by a host of Khitan troops:[2] when Xiao Sunning invaded Goryeo in 993, Seo Hui was sent to him as Korean representative, and he obtained Khitan consent to allow the region up to the Yalu River to be incorporated into Goryeo territory. Seo Hui's brilliant diplomatic maneuver underscored his correct understanding of both the contemporary international situation and Goryeo's position in the region. He died in 998.[2][3][4]

See also


  • Kang, Jae-eun; Lee, Suzanne. (2006) The land of scholars, Homa & Sekey Books, pp. 100 - 101, ISBN 1931907374
  • Kim, Chun-gil, (2005), The history of Korea, p. 57, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0313332967
  • Lee, Ki-baek; Wagner, Edward W. (1984) A new history of Korea, p. 125, Harvard University Press, ISBN 067461576X
  • Lee, Peter H.; William Theodore De Bary, (2000), Sources of Korean Tradition: From early times through the sixteenth century, Columbia University Press, pp.171 - 174, ISBN 0231105673
  • Rossabi, Morris. (1983), China among equals, University of California Press, pp. 154 - 157, ISBN 0520045629

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