Sunjong of Korea

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Emperor of Korea
Emperor Sunjong.jpg
Emperor of Korea
Reign 20 July 1907 – 29 August 1910
Predecessor Gojong of Korea
Successor I, son in law to Sejong the Great
Yi Eun, Crown Prince Euimin (as pretender)
Born (1874-03-25)25 March 1874
Changdeok Palace, Hanseong, Joseon dynasty, Korea
Died 24 April 1926(1926-04-24) (aged 52)
Changdeok Palace, Keijō, Japanese Korea
Burial Yureung
Spouse Empress Sunmyeonghyo
Empress Sunjeong
House House of Yi
Father Gojong of Korea
Mother Queen Myeongseong
Korean name
Revised Romanization Sunjong Yunghuije
McCune–Reischauer Sunjong Yung'huije
Pen name
Hangul 정헌
Hanja 正軒
Revised Romanization Jeongheon
McCune–Reischauer Chŏnghŏn
Birth name
Hangul 이척
Hanja 李坧
Revised Romanization I Cheok
McCune–Reischauer Yi Ch'ŏk
Courtesy name
Hangul 군방
Hanja 君邦
Revised Romanization Gunbang
McCune–Reischauer Kunbang

Sunjong, the Emperor Yunghui (Hangul융희제; Hanja隆熙帝; RRYunghuije; MRYunghŭije; 25 March 1874 – 24 April 1926),[1] was the second and the last Emperor of Korea, of the Yi dynasty, ruling from 1907 until 1910.


Sunjong was the second son of Emperor Gojong and Empress Myeongseong. When he was two years old, Sunjong was proclaimed the crown prince. In 1882, he married a daughter of the Min clan, who later became Empress Sunmyeonghyo (Hangul순명효황후; Hanja純明孝皇后).

The Korean Empire was established in 1897, and Sunjong became the imperial crown prince. In July 1907, Gojong was deposed as a result of Japanese coercion, and Sunjong was made emperor of Korea. He was proclaimed heir to the throne of Prince Imperial Yeong (Hangul영친왕; Hanja英親王), the younger brother of Sunjong, and moved from Deoksugung Palace to the imperial residence at Changdeokgung Palace.[2]

Sunjong's reign was limited by the gradually increasing armed intervention of the Japanese government in Korea. In July 1907, he was proclaimed emperor of Korea but was immediately forced to enter into the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1907 (Hangul한일신협약, 정미7조약; Hanja韓日新協約, 丁未七條約). This treaty allowed the Japanese government to supervise and intervene in the administration and governance of Korea, which also allowed for the appointment of Japanese ministers within the government.[3]

While under Japanese supervision, the Korean army was dismissed on the pretext of lack of public finance regulations. In 1909, Japan implemented the Japan–Korea Protocol (Hangul기유각서; Hanja己酉覺書) which effectively removed Korea's judicial power. Meanwhile, Japan dispatched Itō Hirobumi, Japanese Resident-General of Korea, to negotiate with Russia over problems involving Korea and Manchuria. However, Itō was assassinated by Ahn Jung-geun at Harbin, which led to the Japanese occupation of Korea. Pro-Japanese politicians, such as Song Byung-jun and Lee Wan-yong, defected, merging Korea with Japan by fabricating Korea's willingness and establishing the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty on August 29, 1910.[4][5]

Although still existent on paper, the intervention by the Japanese government effectively ended Sunjong's reign over the Korean Empire and he became essentially powerless within three years of ruling. Japan, in effect, abolished the Korean Empire on August 29 1910, ending 519 years of the Joseon dynasty.[6]

After abdication[edit]

After the annexation treaty, the former Emperor Sunjong and his wife, Empress Sunjeong, lived the rest of their lives virtually imprisoned in Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul.[7] Sunjong could not exercise any power as emperor because there were only pro-Japanese politicians in government. After the Korean Empire collapsed, Sunjong was demoted from emperor to king. Japan allowed him the title of King Yi of Changdeok Palace (Hangul창덕궁 이왕; Hanja昌德宮 李王) and allowed for the title to be inherited.[2]

Sunjong died on April 24, 1926, in Changdeokgung and is buried with his two wives at the imperial tomb of Yureung (유릉, 裕陵) in the city of Namyangju. His state funeral on June 10, 1926, was a catalyst for the June 10th Movement against Japanese rule.[8]


  1. Empress Sunmyeong of the Yeoheung Min clan (순명황후 민씨, 1872–1904) – born to Min Tae-ho, leader of the Yeoheung Min clan; relative of Empress Myeongseong. She died before her husband was enthroned.
  2. Empress Sunjeong of the Haepyeong Yun clan (순정황후 윤씨, 1894–1966) – daughter of Marquis Yun Taek-yeong.

His full posthumous name[edit]

  • His Imperial Majesty Emperor Sunjong Munon Muryeong Donin Seonggyeong of Korea
  • 대한제국순종문온무령돈인성경황제폐하
  • 大韓帝國純宗文溫武寧敦仁誠敬皇帝陛下
  • Daehan Jeguk Sunjong Munon Muryeong Donin Seonggyeong Hwangje Pyeha




Popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Korea. Choson. The Yi Dynasty Genealogy". Buyers, Christopher: The Royal Ark. Retrieved 2015-04-11.
  2. ^ a b "The Academy of Korean Studies(한국학중앙연구원) : 순종(Sunjong)".
  3. ^ "『고종시대사 6』(History of Gojong's Period 6) : 국사편찬위원회(National History Compilation Committee), 1969, 635p". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ "『고종시대사 6』(History of Gojong's Period 6) : 국사편찬위원회(National History Compilation Committee), 1969, 641p". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ Rhee, Song Nai. Beautiful as the Rainbow: Nashimoto Masako, a Japanese Princess against All ... p. 100.
  6. ^ "::: Cultural Heritage, the source for Koreans' Strength and Dream :::". Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  7. ^ "Emperor Sunjong of Korea". Asian History. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  8. ^ Yunghui Yi Cheok, Emperor Sunjong. Korea's Last Emperor's Goodbye: Korea Annexed by Japan. 1915.
  9. ^
Sunjong of Korea
Born: 25 March 1874 Died: 24 April 1926
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor of Korea
20 July 1907 – 29 August 1910
Empire dissolved
Titles in pretence
Loss of title — TITULAR —
Emperor of Korea
29 August 1910 – 24 April 1926
Reason for succession failure:
Empire abolished in 1910
Succeeded by
Crown Prince Euimin