The Yi Dynasty


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1864 - 1907 H.M. Emperor Kwangmu-je [Kojong T’ongchŏn Yungwun Chogŭk T’onyun Chŏngsŏng Kwangŭi Myŏnggong T’aedŏk Yojun Sunhwi Wumo Tanggyŏng Ŭngmyŏng  Ipkŭi Chihwa Shinnyŏl Ŏhun Hongŏp Kyegi Sŏngyŏk Kŏnhaeng Konjŏng Yŏngŭi Honghyu Sugang Munhŏn Mujang Inik Chŏnghyo T’ae-Hwang-je] [Konyang], Emperor of Korea, GCIE (17.12.1900). b. at the Unhyŏn Palace, Seoul, 8th September 1852, as Yi Chae-wang [Hyong], youngest son of H.I.H. Prince Yi Ha-ŭng, Great Prince Regent of Hŭngsŏn, by his wife, H.I.H. Princess Yŏhŭng, educ. privately. Adopted by the Great Queen Cho, to be the son of her late husband King Ikjong, and given the personal name of Yi Myŏng-bok. Succeeded 16th January 1864. Crowned at the Injŏng-jon, Ch’angdŏk Palace, Seoul with the reign name of Kojong, 21st January 1864. Reigned under the Regency of his father until he came of age, 1873. Assumed the titles of Ŭng-Myŏng Ip-Kŭi Chi-Hwa Sin-Yŏl 18th July 1892, and Ta-gun-ju Pye-ha January 1895. Proclaimed the full independence of Korea, changed the name of the country to and assumed the title of Emperor of the Great Han Empire (T’ae-han Hwang-je Pye-ha), 12th October 1897. Crowned at the Hwangudan, Seoul with the reign name of T’ae-han Cheguk Kwangmu (shining warrior), 14th October 1897. Narrowly escaped death in the “Coffee Poisoning Plot” believed to have been instigated by the Japanese in September 1898. Deposed by the Japanese in favour of his son and heir and entitled T’ae-Hwang-je (Great Emperor), 20th July 1907. Following the annexation of Korea by Japan on 29th August 1910, his ranks and titles were further reduced to Tŏksu-gung Yi T’ae-wang Ch’ŏn-ha (translated by the Japanese as Retired “Great Prince” Yi of the Toksu Palace, even though T’ae-wang actually means Great King). Field Marshal and Supreme C-in-C of the Imperial Korean Army, Admiral of the Fleet Imperial Korean Navy. Founder of the Grand Orders of the Golden Measure, the Auspicious Stars and the Plum Blossoms and the T’aeguk Order of Merit on 17th April 1900, and the Orders of the Purple Falcon and the Eight Trigrams on 16th April 1901. Rcvd: the Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum of Japan (8.4.1897), the Imperial Order of the Double Dragon 1st class (1st grade) of China, Knt of the Orders of St Stanislas of Russia, the Elephant of Denmark (1.12.1903), and the Black Eagle of Prussia (20.3.1904), GC of the Orders of the Legion of Honour of France, SS Maurice & Lazarus of Italy (23.7.1895), Carlos III with collar of Spain (29.11.1900), and Leopold of Belgium (mil 23.3.1901). m. (first) 1864, Lady Yi, Yŏngbo-dang Kwi-in [Sanggung] (b. 14th February 1843; d. at Seoul, 17th December 1928 n.s., bur. Kwiin-myo, So-sam-nŭng, Koyang), granted the rank and title of Suk-won 29th January 1880, and prom to Kwi-in 27th May 1906. m. (second) 1865, Lady Yi, Naean-dang Kwi-in (b. 6th August 1847; d. at the Sumundong, Seoul, 13th February 1914 n.s., bur. Kwiin-myo, So-sam-nŭng, Koyang), granted the rank and title of So-ŭi 3rd August 1900, and prom to Kwi-in 27th May 1906. m. (third) at the Injŏng-jon, Ch’angdŏk Palace, Seoul, 21st March 1866, H.I.M. Empress Min Cha-yŏng [Myŏng-sŏng Wun-song Sun-kiung Tuk-sung Hwang-hu] (b. at at Hunghyon, Yŏju, Kyŏnggi, 17th November 1851 n.s.; k. by Japanese agents at the Okhoru Pavilion, Kŏnchŏng-jŏn, Kyŏngbok Palace, Seoul, 8th October 1895 n.s., bur. Hong-nŭng, Kŭmgok), raised to the title of Hap-Tjén 18th July 1892, degraded to a Concubine of the first rank 10th October 1895 (rescinded 26th November 1895), and raised to the posthumous rank of Empress as Myŏng-sŏng Wun-song Sun-kiung Tuk-sung Hwang-hu 14th October 1897, only daughter of H.E. Min Ch’i-rok, Prince Yŏ-sung (Yeo-sung Pu-won-gun), of Yŏju, by his wife, Lady Yi, Princess Consort Hanchang. m. (fourth) Lady Chang Kwi-in (bur. Chang-myo, So-o-nŭng), granted the rank and title of Suk-won 17th September 1900, and prom to Kwi-in 27th May 1906. m. (fifth) at the Russian Legation, Seoul, 1897, Lady Ŏm Sŏn-yŏng, Sunhŏn Hwang-kwi-bi (b. at Yŏngwŏl, 5th November 1854; d. from enteric fever, at Toksu Palace, Seoul, 20th July 1911, bur. Yŏnghwi-wŏn, Ch’ongnyang-ni), educ. privately, granted the title of Kwi-in together with the designation of Sunhŏn (the Noble Lady Sunhon, i.e. royal concubine of the second rank) 25th October 1897, raised to the title of Sunhŏn-bi (Royal Consort Sunhon) 18th September 1901, Sunhŏn Kwi-bi (Royal Consort of the First Rank Sunhon) November 1902, and Sunhon Hwang-kwi-bi (Principal Imperial Consort Sunhon) 20th December 1903, founder of the Yang County High Sch in 1905, Myungshin Girl’s Sch and Jinmyeong County Girls’ High Sch in 1906, rcvd: GC of the Order of the Auspicious Phoenix (1907), sister of Lieutenant-General H.E. Ŏm Chun-wan, and eldest daughter of Ŏm Chin-sam, from the Ŏm clan of Yŏngwŏl, by his wife Lady Chŭng Chan-ch’ŏng. “Emily Brown” of New York Times fiction! m. (sixth) 1906, Lady Yi Wan-hŭng, Kwanghwa-dang Kwi-in (b. 1885; d. at Kyŏngbok Palace, Seoul, 10th November 1967, bur. Kwiin-myo, Kŭmgok), raised to the rank of Kwi-in 11th May 1914. m. (seventh) 1911, Lady Yang, Pongyŏng-dang Kwi-in (b. 27th September 1882; d. at the Pongyŏng-dang, Ch’angdŏk Palace, Seoul, 22nd April 1929, bur. Kwiin-myo, So-sam-nŭng, Koyang), raised to the title of Pongyŏng-dang Kwi-in 1912. m. (eighth) Lady Chŏng, Pohyŏn-dang Kwi-in (b. at Hansung, 23rd February 1882; d. at Seoul, 1904, bur. Kwiin-myo, So-sam-nŭng, Koyang). m. (ninth) 1911, Lady Kim Ok-ki, Samch’uk-dang Kwi-in (b. 1889; d.s.p. at Kyŏngbok Palace, Seoul, 23rd September 1970, bur. Kwiin-myo, Namyang-ju, Kŭmgok), raised to the rank of Samch’uk-dang Kwi-in 1945. m. (a) Lady Kim, Chŏnghwa-dang Sang-kung (b. 1871; d.s.p. at Seoul, 19xx, bur. Kwiin-myo, So-sam-nŭng, Koyang), a lady married for political reasons but unwanted by Ko-jong. m. (b) Lady Yŏm, Sang-kung. m. (c) Lady Sŏ, Sang-kung. m. (d) Lady Kim Chung-yŏn, Sang-kung. He d. at the Hamnyong-jon, Tŏksu Palace, Seoul, 21st January 1919 (bur. Hongyu-nŭng, Kŭmgok, Namyang-ju) (succ. by his fifth son), having had issue, nine sons and four daughters:
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* All but the two eldest sons of Prince Ui were considered illegitimate, and their names not recorded in the Yi Family Register (Chonju Yi-ssi chokpo) when born. Princess Consort Yonwon subsequently arranged for their adoption by distant collateral relatives of the Imperial Family and the wider Yi clan. The princess could have adopted one or more of these sons herself, thereby retaining them within the Imperial Family and conferring certain rights of succession. However, for her own reasons, she seems to have avoided this option entirely.
The consequence of the adoptions is that the natural children of Prince Ui belong to their adopted families and not to the Imperial line. They do not enjoy rights of succession to the throne. They are also ineligible for adoption again during their own lifetimes, and cannot regain entry into the Imperial line by such means. This effectively rules out any legitimate claim to the throne by Yi Seok or his siblings. On the other hand, their children and descendants remain eligible for adoption into the principal Imperial family line, so long as they have also not previously been adopted once during their own lifetimes.
Prince Yi Kang may also have had additional natural issue to those listed here. Included amongst them, possibly two sons born to an American woman, while he was a student at the Ohio Wesleyan University. The mother and sons arrived in Tokyo ca. 1919 claiming his paternity, but their subsequent history remains unknown.
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Copyright©Christopher Buyers, August 2000 - September 2010