Yejong of Goryeo
|Yejong of Goryeo|
|Revised Romanization||Wang U|
|Monarchs of Korea
- This article is about the 16th monarch during the Goryeo Dynasty in Korea. For the 8th Korean monarch during the Joseon Dynasty, see Yejong of Joseon.
He was a great promoter of Daoism, preferring its precepts over those of the previously ascendant court religion of Buddhism. During his reign, Daoist court rituals were introduced from Song Dynasty China; many Daoist practices and institutions were established and began to flourish.
Although the early 12th century was a relatively stable period for Korea, Yejong did have to deal with Jurchen incursions in the northern part of the kingdom. He refused the diplomatic overtures of the Jin Dynasty, a rival to China that had been founded in 1115 by the Jurchens, instead sending a large army to repel Jin attacks in Korea's northern regions.[unreliable source?]
He is also noted for his sponsorship of the arts. In 1114 Yejong sent a request to the Song Dynasty Emperor Huizong asking for Chinese musical instruments to be sent to his palace in the Goryeo capital of Gaeseong, so that he could conduct Confucian rituals in the Goryeo court. Huizong, apparently misunderstanding the request, sent a set of musical instruments to be used for royal banquet music. (Huizong had, in 1110, for political reasons, granted Yejong the status of "genuine king," and Goryeo had since then conducted itself with great deference to China.) Two years later, in 1116, Yejong sent another petition in which he reiterated his request for ritual instruments, whereupon Huizong sent an even larger gift of musical instruments (this time yayue instruments, numbering 428 in total), as well as ritual dance regalia and the appropriate instructions, beginning Korea's tradition of aak.
In order to promote government education, Yejong established a foundation called the Yanghyon'go (Foundation for the Training of Talents) and stationed seven specialized lecturers at the Gukjagam who faithfully carried out this education. He also added a seventh division to the institution in 1104, providing military training. This was the first recorded occasion of a Korean dynasty providing formal training in the military arts. Due to tensions between the aristocracy and the military, it was removed from the curriculum soon after his death, in 1133.
Yejong was also interested in botany, gathering rare plants from all over Korea and sending them to China in exchange for many Chinese plants. Also during his reign, the ceramic industry flourished, with Korean designs predominating over Chinese ones for the first time.
Yejong's reign was characterized by a dilution of his power by strong government advisors and other officials who often squabbled among one another. This, combined with the military difficulties with the Jurchen in the north, caused him to retreat further and further into his books and Daoist rituals. Yejong was succeeded upon his death by his son, Injong. Injong was the son of Yejong's queen, who was the second daughter of Yi Cha-gyom, the head of the Yi clan of Incheon.[unreliable source?]
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|Rulers of Korea