Munjong of Joseon

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Munjong of Joseon
조선 문종
King of Joseon
Reign8 April 1450 – 10 June 1452
CoronationHwideokjeon Hall, Dongbyeol Palace,[1] Hanseong, Kingdom of Joseon
PredecessorSejong of Joseon
SuccessorDanjong of Joseon
Regent of Joseon
Tenure1 August 1442 – 8 April 1450
MonarchSejong of Joseon
Crown Prince of Joseon
Tenure1 December 1421 – 8 April 1450
PredecessorCrown Prince Yi Do
SuccessorCrown Prince Yi Hong-wi
BornYi Hyang (이향, 李珦)
15 November 1414
Grand Prince Chungnyeong's private residence, Hanseong, Kingdom of Joseon
Died10 June 1452(1452-06-10) (aged 37)
Gangnyeongjeon Hall, Gyeongbok Palace, Hanseong, Kingdom of Joseon
IssueDanjong of Joseon
Posthumous name
  • Joseon dynasty: King Heummyeong Insuk Gwangmun Seonghyo the Great
    • 흠명 인숙 광문 성효 대왕
    • 欽明仁肅光文聖孝大王
  • Ming dynasty: Gongsun (공순, 恭順)
Temple name
Munjong (문종, 文宗)
ClanJeonju Yi clan
DynastyHouse of Yi
FatherSejong of Joseon
MotherQueen Soheon
ReligionKorean Confucianism (Neo-Confucianism)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationMunjong
Birth name
Revised RomanizationI Hyang
McCune–ReischauerYi Hyang
Courtesy name
Revised RomanizationHwiji

Munjong of Joseon (15 November 1414 – 10 June 1452), personal name Yi Hyang (Korean: 이향; Hanja: 李珦), was the fifth ruler of the Joseon dynasty of Korea. As the eldest son of King Sejong the Great and Queen Soheon, he succeeded to the throne in 1450.


Yi Hyang was the longest serving heir apparent during the Joseon dynasty, holding the position for a record 29 years.

In January 1421, Sejong instructed that his eight-year-old son be educated by scholars from the Hall of Worthies, then in October the same year, he was invested as crown prince and sent to study at the Sungkyunkwan.[2] From 1442 until his own ascension to the throne in 1450, Yi Hyang served as regent and took care of state affairs during the final years of his father's reign, as Sejong developed various illnesses and disorders.[3]

Most of his achievements were during his time as crown prince. Although credit is primarily given to Jang Yeong-sil for inventing the water gauge, the Annals of the Joseon dynasty affirm that it was the prince who found measures of water levels in the ground. Yi Hyang also contributed to the development of the Korean vernacular script (today known as Hangul).[4]


Yi Hyang ascended to the throne as King Munjong in 1450, and his reign marked the beginning of an imbalance of power at the Joseon court. Gim Bi-hwan describes the "interaction of the royal authority, administrative power, remonstrative power, and the collective authority of scholars outside the office," before Munjong as contributing to a situation that allowed the country to function constitutionally. During Munjong's reign, however, the balance collapsed, setting the stage for his brother to lead a coup d'etat in 1452.[5]


Munjong was first married to Lady Gim of the (old) Andong Gim clan, between 1427 and 1429. She reportedly used witchcraft to gain his love. She also burned the shoes of Munjong's concubine, and made her drink the ashes with alcohol. When her father-in-law, King Sejong, found out about these actions, he deposed her.

The same year his first wife was ousted, Munjong remarried to Lady Bong of the Haeum Bong clan. She was deposed in 1436, when it was discovered that she had a homosexual love affair with one of her palace maids named So-ssang (소쌍).

Lastly, in 1437, Lady Gwon of the Andong Gwon clan became the third wife of Munjong, while he was still the crown prince. Originally a concubine, she gave birth to two daughters, one of whom was Princess Gyeonghye, and to Yi Hong-wi, Mujong's only surviving son, who later became King Danjong. Lady Gwon died in 1441, soon after the birth of her son, and when her husband took the throne, she was posthumously honored as "Queen Hyeondeok" (Hyeondeok Wanghu; 현덕왕후, 顯德王后).


Consorts and their respective issue(s):

  1. Crown Princess Hwi of the (old) Andong Gim clan (휘빈 김씨) (1410 – 1429)[6][7] — No issue.
  2. Crown Princess Sun of the Haeum Bong clan (순빈 봉씨) (1414 – 1436)[8] — No issue.
  3. Queen Hyeondeok of the Andong Gwon clan (현덕왕후 권씨) (17 April 1418 – 10 August 1441)[9][10][11][12]
    1. First daughter (1432 – 1433)
    2. Princess Gyeonghye (경혜공주) (1436 – 30 December 1473), second daughter[13][14][15]
    3. Crown Prince Yi Hong-wi (왕세자 이홍위) (9 August 1441 – 7 November 1457), first son[16]
  4. Royal Noble Consort Suk of the Namyang Hong clan (숙빈 홍씨) (1418 – ?)[17][18]
    1. Fourth daughter (1441 – 1444)
  5. Royal Consort Sug-ui of the Nampyeong Mun clan (숙의 문씨) (1426 – 1508)[19][20][21]
  6. Royal Consort So-yong of the Munhwa Yu clan (소용 유씨)[22][23]
  7. Royal Consort So-yong of the Andong Gwon clan (소용 권씨)[24][23]
  8. Royal Consort So-yong of the Dongnae Jeong clan (소용 정씨)[25][23]
    1. Second son[26]
  9. Royal Consort So-yong of the Papyeong Yun clan (소용 윤씨)[27][23][28]
  10. Court Lady Yang (사칙 양씨)[29]
    1. Princess Gyeongsuk (경숙옹주) (1439 – 1482), third daughter[30][31][32]
    2. Fifth daughter (1450 – 1451)
  11. Court Lady Jang (상궁 장씨)[33]
    1. Third son[34]


In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ The private residence of his uncle, Grand Prince Yeongeung.
  2. ^ Jung (2006), p. 139.
  3. ^ Jung (2006), p. 141.
  4. ^ Yeon (2010), p. 13.
  5. ^ Kim (2014), p. 253-254.
  6. ^ Daughter of Gim O-mun, Duke Anjeong (안정공 김오문); and Lady Yi (이씨). Granddaughter of Gim Gu-deok (김구덕). Niece of Royal Noble Consort Myeong (명빈 김씨), a concubine of King Taejong.
  7. ^ Munjong's first wife. They were married in 1427 and formally separated in 1429. She later committed suicide.
  8. ^ Munjong's second wife. They were married in 1429 and formally separated in 1436, after she was involved in a series of scandals (including a faked pregnancy and being caught sleeping with one of her palace maids).
  9. ^ Daughter of Gwon Jeon, Internal Prince Hwasan (화산부원군 권전) and Lady Choe of the Haeju Choe clan (해주 최씨, 海州崔氏).
  10. ^ Firstly known as Seunghwi (fourth junior rank concubine of the crown prince; 승휘, 承徽), then promoted to Yangwon (third junior rank concubine of the crown prince; 양원, 良媛). She became the crown princess upon Lady Bong's deposition.
  11. ^ Died before her husband succeeded to the throne and was given the posthumous name "Crown Princess Hyeondeok" (Hyeondeok Bin; 현덕빈, 顯德嬪). After Munjong's ascension, she was elevated to "Queen Hyeondeok" (Hyeondeok Wanghu; 현덕왕후, 顯德王后).
  12. ^ Several years after her son's deposition, she was posthumously demoted to the cheonmin caste. Her status was restored during the reign of King Jungjong.
  13. ^ As a legitimate daughter of the king, her title properly translates to "Royal Princess" (Gongju; 공주, 公主).
  14. ^ Married Jeong Jong (정종) (? – 1461), created Prince Consort Yeongyang (영양위); son of Jeong Chung-gyeong (정충경).
  15. ^ Her husband's older sister was the first wife of Yi Yeom, Grand Prince Yeongeung (영응대군 이염), the youngest son of King Sejong and Queen Soheon.
  16. ^ Known as "Grand Heir" (Wangseson; 왕세손, 王世孫) during King Sejong's reign.
  17. ^ Daughter of Hong Shim (홍심, 洪深) and Lady Yun of the Papyeong Yun clan (파평 윤씨, 坡平尹氏).
  18. ^ Concubine of the first senior rank (Bin; 빈, 嬪).
  19. ^ Daughter of Mun Min (문민, 文敏) and Lady Gwon of the Andong Gwon clan (안동 권씨, 安東權氏).
  20. ^ Concubine of the second junior rank (Sug-ui; 숙의, 淑儀).
  21. ^ Entered the palace in 1442.
  22. ^ Daughter of Yun Sang-yeong (유상영, 柳尚榮) and Lady Gim of the Andong Gim clan (안동 김씨, 安東金氏).
  23. ^ a b c d Concubine of the third senior rank (So-yong; 소용, 昭容).
  24. ^ Daughter of Gwon Gyeok (권격, 權格) and Lady Gim of the Gyeongju Gim clan (경주 김씨, 慶州金氏).
  25. ^ Daughter of Jeong Gab-sun (정갑손, 鄭甲孫) and Lady Gim of the Gangneung Gim clan (강릉 김씨, 江陵金氏).
  26. ^ Died in childhood.
  27. ^ Daughter of Yun Hwi (윤희, 尹熺) and Lady Shin of the Pyeongsan Shin clan (평산 신씨, 平山申氏).
  28. ^ Royal Consort So-yong's father and Royal Noble Consort Suk's mother were siblings.
  29. ^ Lady-in-waiting in the Eastern Palace (residence of the Crown Prince; Donggung; 동궁, 東宮) of the sixth junior rank (Sachik; 사칙, 司則). [Note] Sachik was later renamed Suchik (수칙,守則).
  30. ^ Married Gang Ja-sun (강자순), created Prince Consort Banseong (반성위).
  31. ^ She later killed her husband upon learning of his affair with a daughter of Yi Gil-sang (이길상).
  32. ^ Her daughter, Lady Gang of the Jinju Gang clan, married Yi Chong, Prince Songseon (숭선군 이총), a grandson of King Sejo.
  33. ^ Lady-in-waiting of the fifth senior rank (Sanggung; 상궁, 尙宮).
  34. ^ Died in childhood.


  • Kim, Bi-Hwan (2014). "A Constitutionalist Interpretation of Confucian Politics in the Early Joseon Dynasty". In Kang, Jung In (ed.). Contemporary Korean Political Thought in Search of a Post-Eurocentric Approach. London: Lexington Books. pp. 243–266.
  • Jung, Jae-Hoon (2006). "Royal Education of Princes in the Reign of King Sejong". The Review of Korean Studies. 9 (3): 133–152.
  • Yeon, Jaehoon (2010). "Was the Korean alphabet a sole invention of King Sejong?". Journal of Korean Culture. 14: 1–20.

External links[edit]

Munjong of Joseon
Born: 15 November 1414 Died: 10 June 1452
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Joseon
8 April 1450 – 10 June 1452
Succeeded by