Heungseon Daewongun

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Yi Ha-eung
이하응 李昰應
Heungseon Daewongun
흥선대원군 興宣大院君
A portrait of Daewongun around 1869.
Regent of Korea
Regency 13 December 1863 – 31 October 1873 (&100000000000000090000009 years, &10000000000000322000000322 days)
Predecessor Cheoljong of Joseon
Successor Empress Myeongseong
Spouse Yeoheung, Princess Consort to the Prince of the Great Court, of the Yeoheung Min clan
* Yi Jae-myeon 이재면 李載冕
* Yi Myeong-bok 이명복 李載晃
* Yi Jae-seon 이재선 李載先
* 3 daughters
Dynasty Joseon Dynasty
Father Prince Namyeon
Born 1820
Died 22 February 1898 (aged 78)
Heungseon Daewongun
Hangul 흥선대원군
Hanja 興宣大院君
Revised Romanization Heungseon Daewongun
McCune–Reischauer Hŭngsŏn Taewŏn'gun
Pen name
Hangul 석파
Hanja 石坡
Revised Romanization Seokpa
McCune–Reischauer Sŏkp'a
Birth name
Hanja 李昰應
Revised Romanization Yi Ha-eung
McCune–Reischauer Yi Ha-ŭng
Courtesy name
Hangul 시백
Hanja 時伯
Revised Romanization Sibaek
McCune–Reischauer Sibaek

Heungseon Daewongun (흥선대원군, 1820–1898) or The Daewongun (대원군), or formally Heungseon Heonui Daewonwang (흥선헌의대원왕) and also known to period western diplomats as Prince Gung, was the title of Yi Ha-eung, regent of Joseon during the minority of King Gojong in the 1860s and until his death a key political figure of late Joseon Korea.

Daewongun literally translates as "prince of the great court", a title customarily granted to the father of the reigning monarch when that father did not reign himself. While there had been three other Daewongun during the Joseon Dynasty,[1] so dominant a place did Yi Ha-eung have in the history of the late Joseon dynasty that the term Daewongun usually refers specifically to him.



[edit] Life

[edit] Regent

The Daewongun was the father of the penultimate Joseon monarch Gojong, and for many years during Gojong's minority, and even afterward, he effectively wielded royal power.

During the mid 1860s Heungseon Daewongun was the main proponent of isolationism and the instrument of the persecution of native and foreign Catholics, policies that led directly to the French Campaign against Korea, 1866 and the United States expedition to Korea in 1871. The early years of Heungseon Daewongun's 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, Seowon and power wielded by the Andong Kim clan completely disappeared.

[edit] Struggle with Empress Myeongseong

His political life was characterized by struggles with Empress Myeongseong of the Min clan, the wife of the king. He had himself chosen her as the bride for his son, wrongfully anticipating she would remain a docile figure indulgent to his own political ambitions.[citation needed] The Daewongun's period as regent came to an end in 1873 in the face of growing opposition by his mature son, his willful daughter-in-law and the Min clan, as well as by the country's powerful Confucian officialdom.

In 1882, however, the Daewongun was briefly restored to power in the Imo Incident. But the Qing general, Yuan Shikai soon had the Daewongun abducted by Chinese troops and taken to China, thus foiling his return to power. Four years later the Daewongun returned to Korea.

[edit] Return to Korea

After his return, he lived at his own private residence at Unhyeon Palace in central Seoul not far from the royal compound at Gyeongbok Palace.[citation needed] He made one more brief return to power in 1895, chosen by the Japanese to oversee the Gabo reform government, but he was soon removed from power when his commitment to the reform program became suspect. He died at Unhyeon Palace in 1898.

In 1908, he was raised to the rank of Imperial Prince by his grandson, Emperor Sunjong, with the title of Heungseon Heonui Daewonwang.[citation needed]

[edit] Family

  • Father: Prince Namyeon (남연군, 1788–1836)
  • Mother: Unknown
  • Wife: Yeoheung, Princess Consort to the Prince of the Great Court, of the Yeoheung Min clan (여흥부대부인 민씨, 1818–1898)
  • Son:
  1. Yi Jae-myeon (이재면, 1845–1912)
  2. Yi Myeong-bok (이명복, 8 September 1852 – 21 January 1919)
  3. Yi Jae-seon (이재선, ?-1881)[2]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ In chronological order: Seonjo's Father (Deokheung Daewongun), his son (Jeongwon Daewongun; Injo's Father), and Cheoljong's Father (Jeongye Daewongun). Gojong's Father is the fourth and last
  2. ^ He is an illegitimate son.

[edit] See also

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