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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Confucian Confusions in Korea, Part XI: Simgok Seowon, Yongin Suji-gu, Gyeonggi Province

Simgok Seowon (Hanja: 深谷書院) in 16-9 Simgok Avenue/Simgok-ro, Sanghyeon-dong 203-2 beonji, Yongin Suji-gu, Gyeonggi Province was established in 1650 (1st year of King Hyojong in Joseon Dynasty) in remembrance to Jeongam Jo Gwang-jo, a civil minister during the era of King Jungjong, and received a hanging board from the king in the year of establishment. It was renovated in 1673 (the 14th year of King Hyeonjong). 

This seowon is one of 47 Seowons that were not closed down by Heungseon Daewongun's order to eliminate Seowon during the era of Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu. it is designated as the 7th Gyeonggi Provincial Tangible Asset in May 4th 1972. 

Jo Gwang-jo was appointed by King Jungjong to remove the tyrannical rule of King Yeonsan the Terrible and pushed for drastic reforms in cluding distribution of Hyangyak, elimination of Banjeonggongsinwihun and introduction of Hyeolyanggwa.

However, his reformative policies were so radical that his political rivals including Nam Gon and Sim Jeong raised a riot called Gimyo Literati Purge a.k.a Gimyo Sahwa (1519). In the wake of the riot, Jo Gwang-jo was sent into exile in Neungju, Jeolla Province and killed there.

He was reinstated and appointed as Prime Minister in the early era of King Seonjo and introduced to a Confucian shrine in 1610 (the 2nd year of Gwanghaegun) in addition to many other Seowons and shrines nationwide.

There is Hongsalmun in the front of Simgok Seowon, and there are Oesammun, Ilsodang, Naesammun, Sau and Jangseogak in a slope. Its East Room and West Room were restored in 2008. Ilsodang (auditorium) is being used as an event venue and a place for meetings and discussions by scholars. A memorial service is held every February and August in Simgok Seowon. The tomb of Jeongam Jo Gwang-jo is located in a hill opposite the seowon.