Sejo of Joseon

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Sejo of Joseon
Hangul 세조
Hanja 世祖
Revised Romanization Sejo
McCune–Reischauer Sejo
Birth name
Hangul 이유
Hanja 李瑈
Revised Romanization I Yu
McCune–Reischauer I Yu
Courtesy name
Hangul 수지
Hanja 粹之
Revised Romanization Suji
McCune–Reischauer Suji

Sejo of Joseon (korean:조선 세조, 2 November 1417 – 23 September 1468, r. 1455–1468) was the seventh king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. Prime minister of Joseon Dynasty 1453 to 1455.

He was brother of Munjong of Joseon and uncle of Danjong of Joseon. He produced a coup d'état and became king himself in 1455.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1417 as Yi Yu, King Sejong the Great's second son, he showed great ability at archery, horseriding and martial arts. He was also a brilliant military commander, though he never went to the battlefront himself. He became Grand Prince Suyang in 1428, the name by which he was better known.

Following King Sejong's death, Suyang's ill brother, Munjong, took the throne but soon died. The crown passed to his 12-year-old son, Danjong. The new king was too young to rule the nation, and all political processes were controlled by then-premier Hwangbo In and General Kim Jongseo, who was vice-premier. As Kim Jongseo and his faction used the chance to extend the power of court officials against many royal family members, the tension between Kim and Suyang greatly increased; not only Suyang himself, but his younger brother, Grand Prince Anpyeong, also sought an opportunity to take control of the kingdom.

Suyang surrounded himself with trusted allies, including his famous adviser, Han Myung-hoi. Han advised Suyang to take over the government in a coup, and on 10 November (10th day of the 10th lunar month) 1453, he killed Kim Jongseo and his faction, thereby taking the reins of power into his own hands. After the coup he arrested his own brother, Anpyong, first sending him into exile, then putting him to death.


Finally in 1455 he forced his powerless young nephew, Danjong, to abdicate, declaring himself seventh king of the Joseon dynasty. Later he demoted Danjong to prince and ordered him to be poisoned after his younger brother, Grand Prince Geumsung, and later six scholars including Seong Sam-mun, Pak Paeng-nyeon, and Yi Gae plotted to remove the Suyang from power in an attempt to put Danjong back on the throne.

Despite having snatched the throne from his young nephew, killing many people in the process, he proved himself one of the most able rulers and administrators in Korean history. First, he strengthened the monarchy established by King Taejong, by weakening the power of the prime minister and bringing staff directly under the king's control. He also strengthened the administrative system, which had also been introduced by Taejong, enabling the government to determine exact population numbers and to mobilize troops effectively. Just like Taejong, he was a hardliner with regards to foreign policy, attacking Jurchens on the northern front in 1460 (오랑캐/兀良哈) and 1467 (호리개/胡里改). He also revised the land ordinance to improve the national economy. He executed scholars from King Sejong's era for plotting against him, but encouraged publication of history, economics, agricultural, and religious books.

Last years[edit]

Most importantly, he compiled the Grand Code for State Administration, which became the cornerstone of dynastic administration and provided the first form of constitutional law in a written form in Korea. He died in 1468, and the throne passed to his weak son, Yejong.


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
  • Father: King Sejong (세종)
  • Mother: Queen Soheon of the Cheongsong Shim clan (소헌왕후 심씨, 28 September 1395 – 24 March 1446)
  • Consorts and their Respective Issue:
  1. Queen Jeonghui of the Papyeong Yoon clan (정희왕후 윤씨), 8 December 1418 – 6 May 1483)[1][2]
    1. Yi Jang, the Prince Successor Uigyeong (이장 의경세자, 1438 – 2 September 1457), 1st Son[3]
    2. Yi Hwang, the Grand Prince Haeyang (이황 해양대군), 2nd Son
    3. Yi Se-seon, the Princess Uisook (이세선 의숙공주, 1442–1477), Only Daughter[4]
    4. An Apocryphal 2nd Daughter,[5] who were known through various names such as Yi Se-hui (이세희),[6] Yi Se-jeong (이세정), the Princess Uiryeong (의령공주), and the Princess Uihwa (의화공주)
  2. Royal Noble Consort Geun[7] of the Seonsan Park clan (근빈 박씨, 1425(?)–?)[8]
    1. Yi Seo, the Prince Deokwon (이서 덕원군, 1449–1498), 1st Son
    2. Yi Seong, the Prince Changwon (이성 창원군, 1458–1484), 2nd Son
    3. An Unnamed Son (1458–1463)
  3. Deposed Park So-yong (폐소용 박씨)
    1. An Unnamed Son (Died in childhood)
  4. Shin Suk-won (숙원 신씨)
  • No Issue.

Books compiled by Sejo of Joseon[edit]

Sejo of Joseon compiled a number of books based on his interests. One includes Seokbosangjeol, a biography of Gautama Buddha.[9] He also created two other books:

  • Wolilsukbo (월인석보, 月印釋譜)
  • Yukdaebyungyo (역대병요, 歷代兵要)

His full posthumous name[edit]

  • King Sejo Hyejang Sungcheon Chedo Yeolmun Yeongmu Jideok Yunggong Seongsin Myeongye Heumsuk Inhyo the Great of Korea
  • 세조혜장승천체도열문영무지덕융공성신명예흠숙인효대왕
  • 世祖惠莊承天體道烈文英武至德隆功聖神明睿欽肅仁孝大王

Depiction in arts and media[edit]

  • Portrayed by Nam Sung-woo in 1984-1985 television series 500 Years of Joseon: The Ume Tree in the Midst of the Snow.
  • Portrayed by Seo In-seok in 1994 television series Han Myung-hoi.
  • Portrayed by Im Dong-jin in 1998-2000 television series The King and the Queen.
  • Portrayed by Choi Bong-sik in 2007 television series Sayuksin.
  • Portrayed by Kim Byung-se in 2007-2008 television series The King and I.
  • Portrayed by Kim Yeong-cheol in 2011 television series The Princess' Man
  • Portrayed by Lee Jung-jae in 2013 film The Face Reader.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daughter of Yoon Beon (윤번), Lord Jeongjeong (정정공), Internal Prince Papyeong (파평부원군); and Lady Heungnyeong, Princess Consort to the Internal Prince, of the Incheon Lee clan (흥녕부대부인 이씨)
  2. ^ Married in 1428, originally as Sejo's Princess Consort
  3. ^ He was first known as Prince Dowon (도원군) when his father was still Grand Prince
  4. ^ Later married Jeong Hyeon-jo (정현조), son of Jeong In-ji (정인지), Lord Munseong (문성공), and later Chief State Councillor (영의정, 11 June 1455); created Prince Consort Haseong (하성군)
  5. ^ From the unofficial history (야사 野史), accurately from the "Geumgye Pildam" (금계필담 錦溪筆談; by Seo Yoo-yeong (서유영) in 1873), but unable to confirm from the official Annals. But in 1446 (Sejong's 28th year), the Annals recorded Grand Prince Suyang (as he was still known that time) as having "1 son & 2 daughters", but there is no record or possibility of her having existed
  6. ^ The name recorded down in said unofficial history
  7. ^ Originally of Gwi-in (귀인) rank (along with her title "Palace of Motherly Kindness and of Long Life" (자수궁 慈壽宮)), was elevated to Bin rank in 15 June 1483 (along with her title "Palace of Propriety and of Long Life" (창수궁 昌壽宮))
  8. ^ Elder sister of Park Paeng-nyeon (박팽년) (later one of the Six Martyred Ministers)
  9. ^ "Life History and Sermon of Buddha Abstracted from Buddhist Scriptures". World Digital Library. 1447. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
Sejo of Joseon
Born: 1417 Died: 1468
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Korea
Succeeded by