Yi Ui-min

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Yi.
Yi Ui-min
Revised Romanization I Ui-min
McCune–Reischauer Yi Ŭimin

Yi Ui-min (Hangul: 이의민, Hanja: 李義旼, (died 7 May 1196) was a military general that dominated the Goryeo government prior to the Mongol Invasions. When his rival, Commander Gyeong Dae-seung, died, Yi Ui-min rose to power in the supreme military council, Chungbang. His tyranny came to and end in 1196 on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month when he was assassinated by General Choe Chung-heon.[1]



Yi Ui-min was born of slave status,[2] and his father Yi Seon (이선, 李善) was a salt trader and his mother a temple servant. According to the History of Goryeo, he was as tall as 1m 90 cm and possessed remarkable physical strength.[citation needed]


Yi entered the capital defense command (경군, 京軍), where his outstanding Subak technique was noticed by the King Uijong and he was promoted to the byeoljang (별장, 別將). In 1170, He got a position of the jungrangjang (중랑장, 中郎將) by the reward of joining the Goryeo warrior rebellion (무신정변).[citation needed]

In 1173, Kim Bo-dang had attempted to reinstate Uijong who had been dethroned against the grasping political power of Jeong Jung-bu. As a result, Yi had been ordered to return Uijong from his place of exile, Geoje, by rebel forces, only to kill him on his way back in Kyungju. Yi killed Uijong by snapping off his spine with his bare hands. He was said to have burst into a big laughter upon hearing the sound of Uijong's spine breaking. He then rolled up the dead body of Uijong in a blanket and dumped it in a lake. Afterwards, Yi Ui-min was promoted to general (장군, 將軍) in recognition for killing Uijong.[citation needed]

He then made it to the top post, chief captain (상장군, 上將軍), for the credit of putting down the Revolt of Jo Wi-chong, Governor of Pyongyang in 1174.[citation needed]

At 1179, when Gyeong Dae-seung, who had an opposite political position against Jeong Jung-bu took the government and pushed away Jeong's people, Yi's power in the government significantly decreased, and his past murder of Uijong became the pretext that Gyeong would use to eliminate him.[citation needed]

Yi had been in fear of an assassination attempt by Gyeong, thus he had placed guards everywhere in around his house. One day, he heard a pleasing rumor that Gyeong was killed. This rumor proved to be wrong though as in fact it had been Heo Seung, a close friend of Gyeong, who had died, not Gyeong himself. As a result of aware of it, Gyeong gave warning of Yi still more, Yi who was seized with fear, run away to Kyungju on the pretext of illness.[citation needed]


When Gyeong died by disease in 1183, Yi returned from the countryside where he had lived in self-exile and seized power in the supreme military council.[3]

Yi who was commissioned as a susagongjwabokya (수사공좌복야, 守司空左僕射) by Myeongjong had gotten a position of a dongjungseomunhapyeongjangsa panbyeongbusa (동중서문하평장사 판병부사, 同中書門下平章事判兵部事) in 1190 additionally.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Lee, Ki-baek. "A New History of Korea", Ilchokak, Seoul, 1984. ISBN 0-674-61576-X
  2. ^ Lee, pg.141
  3. ^ Lee, pg.141
Preceded by
Gyeong Dae-seung
Military Leader of Goryeo
Succeeded by
Choe Chung-heon