Crown Prince Sado

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Crown Prince Sado
Hangul 장조
Hanja 莊祖
Revised Romanization Jangjo
McCune–Reischauer Changjo
Posthumous name
Hangul 사도 세자
Hanja 思悼 世子
Revised Romanization Sado Seja
McCune–Reischauer Sado Seja

Crown Prince Sado (13 February 1735 – 12 July 1762) was born as the second son of the Korean king Yeongjo (1694 – 1776). Due to the former death (1728) of his older brother Prince Hyojang, the new born child was the probable royal heir. However Prince Sado was not given an opportunity to reign. At age of 27, he was executed by order of his father, and died of starvation while being by confined in a rice chest.[1]


History indicates Sado suffered from mental illness; accused of randomly killing people in the palace and being a serial rapist.[citation needed] By court rules King Yeongjo could not kill his son by his own hands. As a result, Yeongjo, with the consent of Sado's mother, Lady Yi, issued a royal decree that ordered Sado climb into and be sealed within a large wooden rice chest on a hot July day in 1762. After eight days, Sado died.[2]

Conspiracy theory[edit]

During the 19th century, there were rumors that Prince Sado had not been mentally ill, but had been framed; however, these rumors are contradicted by his wife, Lady Hyegyeong, in The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong. Sado's death remains an issue of debate as to whether his death was a retribution for his actual misconduct or if he was the victim of a conspiracy by his political opponents.


Crown Prince Sado was buried on Mt BaebongSan in Yangju. In 1789, his body was moved by his son King Jeongjo, to its current location, then called Hyeollyungwon near Suwon, 30 kilometers south of Seoul. Five years later, the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was built by King Jeongjo, specifically to memorialize and honor his father's tomb (the construction lasted 1794-1796, while the official reception was 1795). In 1816, Lady Hyegyeong died and was buried with her husband.

In 1899, Prince Sado and Lady Hyegyeong were posthumously elevated in status and given the titles Emperor Yangjo and Empress Heonyeong. Their tomb was upgraded accordingly and renamed Yungneung.

Taboo and Reinstatement[edit]

Prince Sado was reinstated fifteen days after he died. To even say the name of Sado was banned by King Yeongjo during the period of his reign. Because of this decision, prince Sado's son, Jeongjo, who ascended the throne following the passing of the King Yeongjo, was added to prince Hyojang's family register. However, Jeongjo had scarcely said that "I'm son of prince Sado." when he mounted the throne. Jeongjo always missed his father, Prince Sado, and named Prince Sado Prince Jangheon newly and highly.


  • Father: Yeongjo of Joseon (영조), the 21st King
  • Mother: Royal Noble Consort Yeong of the Jeoneui Yi clan (영빈 이씨, 1696–1764)[3][4]
  • Consorts:
  1. Lady Hyegyeong of the Poongsan Hong clan, 혜경궁 홍씨, 1735–1816). Daughter of Hong Bong-han (홍봉한) —great-great-grandson of Princess JeongMyoung (1603-1685), the only legitimate daughter of King Seonjo— and Lady Yi of the Hansun Yi clan. Dignified as Queen Heongyeong 헌경왕후 in 1899 by emperor Gojong of Korea.
    1. Prince Successor Uiso (의소세자, 1750–1752)
    2. Jeongjo of Joseon (1752-1800), Prince Successor Descendant (왕세손), the 22nd King (정조)
    3. Princess Cheongyeon (청연공주, 1754-1821)
    4. Princess Cheongseon (청선공주, 1756–1802)
  2. Royal Noble Consort Suk of the Im clan (숙빈 임씨)
    1. Prince Euneon (은언군, 1754–1801). Grandfather of Cheoljong, the 25th King (철종)
    2. Prince Eunshin (은신군, 1755–1771). Posthumous step-father of Prince Namyeon and, therefore, ancestor of Gojong, the 26th King (고종)
  3. Royal Noble Consort Gyeong of the Park clan (경빈 박씨)
    1. Prince Eunjeon (은전군, 1759–1778)
    2. Princess Cheonggeun (청근옹주, 1758–1792)

His full posthumous name[edit]

  • Prince Successor Sado Sudeok Dongyeong Hongin Gyeongji Jangryun Ryungbeom Kimyeong Changhyu Jangheon
  • 사도수덕돈경홍인경지장륜륭범기명창휴장헌세자
  • 思悼綏德敦慶弘仁景祉章倫隆範基命彰休莊獻世子

His imperial posthumous name[edit]

  • Ui Emperor Jangjo
  • 장조의황제
  • 莊祖懿皇帝

In popular culture[edit]

  • Portrayed in 1956 film The Tragic Prince
  • Portrayed in 1963 film Mangbuseok (A Wife Turned to Stone)
  • Portrayed in 1972 television series The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong
  • Portrayed by Jeong Bo-seok in 1988 television series O, Heaven
  • Portrayed by Choi Soo-jong in 1988 television series 500 Years of Joseon: The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong
  • Portrayed in 1994 film The Eternal Empire
  • Portrayed by Im Ho in 1998 television series The Great King's Road
  • Portrayed by Lee Chang-hoon in 2007 television series Yi San
  • Portrayed by Oh Man-seok in 2011 television series Warrior Baek Dong-soo
  • Portrayed by Lee Je-hoon in 2014 television series Secret Door
  • Portrayed by Yoo Ah-in in 2015 film The Throne[5]



  1. ^ The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong, translated Haboush Jahyun Kim, p. 321
  2. ^ The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong (한중록, 閑中錄)
  3. ^ Daughter of Yi Yoo Beon (이유번) and Madame Gim
  4. ^ Also known as Lady Seonhui
  5. ^ Jin, Eun-soo (15 October 2015). "The ever-changing history of Prince Sado". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 

External links[edit]