This blog may contain not-so-strong languages and slightly strong ecchi pictures. Please proceed with caution.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Take Fivers: Comparison Between Thomas Ahn Jung-geun and Claus von Stauffenberg

Additional info: The relatives of these heroes, Paul Ahn Choon-saeng (nephew of Thomas Ahn) and Berthold Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (son of Herr Claus) appointed to the highest army rank of Lieutenant General of ROK Army and Major General of Bundeswehr Heer respectively.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Bulgwang Stream, Seoul Eunpyeong-gu: Dramatic Transformation of one of the Most Polluted Stream in Seoul

Bulgwang Stream (Hanja/Romanization/English: 佛光川/Bulgwang-cheon/The Stream of Enlightened Buddha) is a stream which spans 9.21 km long across three affluent districts in Upper Han River Sector of Seoul: Eunpyeong-gu, Mapo-gu and Seodaemun-gu. Bulgwangcheon is originated at the Precinct of Bulgwang-dong, Seoul Eunpyeong-gu where the temple of Bulgwangsa is located adjacently to the stream. It is a branch river of Hongjecheon (Hongje Stream), one of the branches of Han River.

Bulgwangcheon is previously notable as one of the polluted river in Seoul because there are many garbage floating on the river which produce bad smell. Fortunately, the stream was completely renovated for the 2002 World Cup, and 2007 saw the launch of the Public Art Project, creating dazzling spectacles and street arts along sections of the stream.

With a bike path from Bulgwangcheon, flowing alongside Digital Media City Station in Seoul Mapo-gu, to the Han River, there is good place to take a walk along a riverbank. At the public bike rental stations operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, you can rent a bicycle.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Aegibong Peak, Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province: The place where you required a Passport to access this RED Zone.

Aegibong Peak (Hanja: 愛妓峰) which is located at 139 Peace Parkway/PyeonghwaGongwonno, Gageum-ri san 59-13 beonji, Haseong-myeon, Gimpo City, Gyeonggi Province - about an hour’s drive from the downtown Gimpo. The mountain is where North and South Korea engaged in a fierce battle at the end of the Korean War; after the battle, Korea was divided into two nations. Since the peak is still a restricted area, visitors must present their passport in order to be admitted. From the peak, an open view of North Korean territory unfolds below and visitors can see South Korean territory as far as Mount Songhak in Southern Chungcheong. 

Even before the Korean War, Aegibong carried much historical significance as the setting of the sad love story between the governor of Pyongyang and his mistress. The two lovers were separated during the Byeongja Chinese-Qing Second Invasion a.k.a Byeongja Horan/병자호란 in 1636 and the peak (‘Ae, 애’ means love, ‘gi, 기’ mistress in Korean) was named in honor of their love. 

In 1968, president Park Chung-hee visited the peak and wrote a note by hand, saying the mistress' pain of being separated from her lover because of the war was much like those of families separated by the division of the two Koreas. The president’s writing was carved in a tablet and placed at the peak, where separated families still come every thanksgiving to perform an ancestral ritual and wish for reunification. 

Currently, the observatory at the peak is used for security training. Within the observatory is Mangbaedan Altar, which is where those originally from North Korea perform rites honoring ancestors in the North. Every year, there is a giant tree at Christmas and large lamps on Buddha’s birthday that are lit up here, their lights so big and bright that the even shine onto North Korean soil. The observatory also contains a naval war monument that commemorates naval personnel lost in battle. 

At the foot of the mountain, Han River empties into the ocean along the west coast, which is expressed by the term 'Jogang (조강)‘ (‘grandfather river’ in Korean). The scenery of the river with its boats, surrounding islands, and converging estuaries creates a unique and cozy scene that seems to be in harmony with the image of a kindly grandfather. 

1) Only those traveling by car will be admitted.
**Entrance will not be granted to those traveling on foot or by bike.
2) All visitors are required to show their passport.
**Korea citizens may show their government-issued ID instead of their passport.
3) Visitors must be fluent in Korean or accompanied by someone who can speak Korean fluently.
4) Fill in the tour request form and submit it to the office at the entrance.
**All visitors must show ID; choose 1 person to fill out the form on behalf of your party.

1) View of North Korean territory through telescope
2) Naval War Monument
3) Navy promotion video
4) Lecture on Aegibong (reservations required)

Namo Palbeon Daebosal, Part XXV: Beopgwangsa, Pohang Buk-gu, Northern Gyeongsang

The official mascots of Pohang City are bouncing on Hiryuu's BIG Boobies.
Beopgwangsa Temple (Hanja: 法廣寺) is located at the foot of Mount Bihak in 290 SangEup Street/SangEup-gil, SangEup-ri 875-beonji, Singwang-myeon, Pohang Buk-gu, Northern Gyeongsang Province. It was originally built during the reign of King Jinpyeong (579-631) of the Silla Kingdom by Great Monk Wonhyo upon the order of the king. Unfortunately, all of its original structures were burnt during the Japanese Imjin Invasions (1592-1598). There is also a stele erected during the reign of King Yeongjo of Joseon Dynasty (r.1724-1776) to commemorate repairs on the sarira pagoda, which indicates the temple remained important until that time.

The temple used to be large measuring 525 kan (kan is a traditional measurement of distance between two columns, about 1.8 meters), but most of its buildings burned down again in a fire in 1863. The current buildings were rebuilt in 1952. The site of the old temple is designated as Historical Site no. 493. Some of the remaining relics are a three-story pagoda, Bulsangyeonhwadaejwa/불상연화대좌 (Buddha on a lotus stand), and a twin Ssanggwibu/쌍귀부 (turtle-shaped stone base of a monument).

Monday, 8 December 2014

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Hongneung Arboretum, Seoul Dongdaemun-gu: Former Imperial Tomb of Empress Myeongseong of Yeoheung Min Clan now flourished with Arbors.

Hongneung Arboretum (Hanja: 洪陵樹木園) in 57 Hoegi Avenue/Hoegi-ro, Cheongnyangni 2-dong 207-beonji, Seoul Dongdaemun-gu is the first generation arboretum of Korea. It was established in 1922 when experiment forests were built on Hongneung burial model, which is the former imperial tomb of Empress Myeongseong of Yeoheung Min Clan - an empress who assassinated by Japanese Agents at Okhoru Pavilion, Gyeongbok Palace, Seoul Jongno-gu in 1895. 

On the 780 square meters area southwest of Mt. Cheonjang, there are 9 gardens such as a garden of conifers, a garden of broadleaf trees and an ornamental garden, 3 botanical gardens with edible & medicinal plants garden, an aquatic garden and a wetland garden. There are 6 resting places as well. 

Hongneung Arboretum has beautiful scenery for every season. The garden of broadleaf trees behind the main building is the one that shows the change of season most dramatically. The hundreds of broadleaf trees appear in their best in autumn. It is good for nature education walks in the arboretum because of good explanations on nameplates of species and characteristics of trees. There are also many things to see at the Forest Science Exhibition Hall which provides visitors with knowledge and information of the value of forests, forestry, and the forest industry. The building itself is an exhibition because the hall is made of Korean wood. Inside, there are three general exhibition rooms, a regular exhibit hall, a planning exhibit hall, and a special exhibit hall. 

You may look around from Garden 1 to Garden 9 in regular order or take the course from Garden 2, pass the Forest Science Exhibition Hall to the mountain ridge ending at Garden 1. Note that it takes approximately 3 hours whichever course you may take.

The arboretum is accessible by using SMRT Line 6 to Station 640: Korea University-Jongam Station (고려대역 [종암]/高麗大驛 [鐘岩]/GoryeoDae-yeok [Jong-am]) on the western side and KORAIL Jung-ang Line and Seoul Metro Line 1 to Station K118/123: Hoegi Station on the eastern side.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Yanghwajin Foreigners' Cemetery, Seoul Mapo-gu: The Foreigners' Final Voyage in Korea

Yanghwajin Foreigners' Cemetery (Hanja: 楊花津外國人宣敎師墓園), also known as the Hapjeong-dong International Cemetery, is a cemetery overlooking the Han River, located at 46 Yanghwajin Lane/Yanghwajin-gil, Hapjeong-dong 144-beonji, Seoul Mapo-gu. Designated in 1890 as a site for foreign missionaries by Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu, the site is currently open to the public from 9:00am to 6:00pm and is located next to Jeoldusan Martyr's Shrine. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 Koreans and 500 foreigners visit every year.

The first person buried in Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery was Dr. John Heron, the second director of Gwanghyewon Hospital. He passed away at the age of 34 from dysentery while treating patients in 1890. Due to the time of his death in late July, it proved impossible to move Heron's body to Jemulpo Foreigners' Cemetery in present-day Incheon Metropole, so it was decided to bury him in Yanghwajin. After Dr. Heron, other foreign missionaries and educators who passed away in Korea were also laid to rest in the Yanghwajin cemetery.

Dr. Horace Allen obtained the land rights of the bluff overlooking the Han River and called it Yanghwajin; so named for an old ferry crossing that once existed nearby. The site for the cemetery already had historical significance: in 1839, a number of French Catholic missionaries were put to death there and in 1866, a number of Korean Catholics were also killed in a mass execution on the nearby riverbank at Saenamteo.

The cemetery was also a victim of close quarters combat during the Korean War and war damage to many of the grave markers is quite evident. Attempts to repair the fractured markers are minimal at the request of community members.

Officially maintained by members of the Kyungsung European-American Cemetery Association, the 14,000 square meter (4000 Pyeong) grounds have been unofficially taken care by foreign diplomats, businessmen, volunteer groundskeepers and missionaries since its founding.

The “100th Anniversary Memorial Church” was established in Yanghwajin by the “Council for the 100th Anniversary of the Korean Church” to commemorate a century of missionary work in Korea. The church was built in a shape and style which reflects and blends well with the style of the cemetery.

Many of the foreigners who have contributed to the story of modern Korean history are buried in the Yanghwajin cemetery, such as Thomas Bethell, the founder of Daehan Maeil Sinbo (Newspaper); Mary Scranton, the founder of Ewha Hakdang (a mission school for girls, now Ewha Women’s University); and Henry Appenzeller, the founder of Chungdong First Methodist Church. Each grave and headstone has a unique appearance creating a distinctive and foreign atmosphere. Over 500 foreigners are buried here including Homer Hulbert, a supporter of Korean independence from Japan and highly respected among Koreans. The epitaph of Hulbert shows his great affection for Korea. It reads, “I would rather be buried in Korea than in Westminster Abbey.” Strolling around the path between the graves gives a feeling of solemnity. 

Originally built for the members of the foreign missionary community in Seoul, the Kyungsung European-American Cemetery Association maintained the grounds until a 1961 decree by President Park Chung-hee stating that foreigners were not allowed to own land. The grounds technically belonged to no one until the city of Seoul designated it a public park in 1965. In 1968, when the South Korean government passed a law requiring foreigners to register all land, the cemetery was curiously never officially registered. In 1985, a committee called the Council for the 100th Anniversary of the Korean Church was asked by Horace Grant Underwood III to register the cemetery on behalf of the Seoul Union Church with the understanding that the Seoul Union Church would be the unofficial caretakers. The committee agreed and a year later built a joint-use chapel nearby called the Memorial Chapel.

In 2005, the predominantly foreign congregation of the Seoul Union Church began sharing the Memorial Chapel with a Korean congregation composed of the former 100th Anniversary Memorial Church Committee. The two congregations coexisted amicably until the death of Dr. Horace Grant Underwood III in 2004. However, the two congregations then began to disagree about proper caretaking responsibilities as well as who officially takes care of the grounds. On August 5, 2007, the Seoul Union Church was officially removed from the grounds including the chapel. The church, cemetery and adjacent museum are since the property of the Memorial Church.

Conflicting reports from the Memorial Church further claim that some interments would be disinterred in the future Memorial church leader Lee Jae-chul referred to the change in cemetery caretakership similar to the "Chinese retaking Hong Kong".

Notable Foreigners who interred there:
  • Homer Hulbert (1863–1949) American missionary and journalist whose headstone proclaims "I would rather be buried in Korea than in Westminster Abbey."
  • Ernest Bethell (1872–1909) founder of Daehan Maeil Sinbo who died after being imprisoned by the Japanese army for exposing abuses against Korean civilians. Years after soldiers erased a defiant challenge to the Imperial Army on Bethell's grave marker, the words were replaced by officials from the Seoul Union Church.
  • Horace Grant Underwood (1859–1916) founder of the Seoul YMCA, Saemunan Presbyterian Church and what eventually became Yonsei University
  • Henry Gerhard Appenzeller (1858–1902) (cenotaph) who greatly contributed to the foundation of Pai Chai University
  • Douglas B. Avison (1893–1952) who was a founder of Severance Hospital.
  • Clarence Ridgeby Greathouse (1843–1899) supervisor to 1895 trial of the murder of Empress Myeongseong of Yeoheung Min Clan
  • Brevet Brigadier General Charles W. Le Gendre (1830–1899) French-born American general, diplomat and advisor to Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu from 1890 to 1899.
  • Albert Wilder "Bruce" Taylor (1875–1948) American gold mining executive and UPA (later UPI) correspondent, lived in Korea for the majority of his life with his wife, Mary Linley Taylor. He was actively involved in the Korean independence movement and infamously photographed Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu's funeral procession.

Parks around Han River in Seoul, Part XI: Nanji Hangang Park

As part of the Hangang Renaissance project, Nanji Hangang Park (Hanja: 蘭芝漢江公園) transformed into an eco-friendly theme park that should attract visitors from around the world. Located at 162 Hangang-Nanji Avenue/HangangNanji-ro, Sangam-dong 487-116 beonji, Seoul Mapo-gu, near to Seoul Sang-am World Cup Stadium - Nanji Hangang Park has recently been opened in commemoration of the new millennium as well as the first FIFA World Cup in Asia, together with Japan. This park which used as the former landfill in the past is equipped with various facilities for leisure let alone Ecological Wetlands as the park in the 21st century. 

The park consists of camping grounds, ferry cruise piers and waterfront plaza in the higher area and a Multifunctional pasture and lawn plaza at the center and Ecological Wetlands in the lower area. With camping grounds, lawn plaza, Korea traditional archery field and Parking lot, Nanji Park provides almost every need for the leisure activities of the citizens.

The theme of the park is energy conservation. In the summer months there is an outdoor swimming pool right on the banks of the Han River. Nanji Hangang Park is a haven for sports enthusiasts. There is a football field, 2 basketball courts, a volleyball court, 5 badminton courts, a swimming pool, exercise facilities, a  Korean traditional archery field, a bike trail / bike rental and a whole range of water activities including water skiing and wind surfing. Also there is a large camping area available with BBQ sets, toilets and showers, free of charge for campers.

The Park will feature the Nanji Eco-Wetland, Nanji Campground and a marina. Also, there will be a specially designed area where visitors can enjoy extreme sports such as inline skating and BMX. A riverside swimming pool, the Water Plaza, and a riverside stage will be set up as well. Visitors will be able to relax and take a leisurely stroll around the park. The park is accessible by using SMRT Line 6, either by stopping at Station 620: Seoul Mapo-gu Office Station or Station 619: World Cup Stadium-Seongsan Station.

Parks around Han River in Seoul, Part X: Mangwon Hangang Park

Located in northern end of the riverside between Yanghwa Bridge and Seongsan Bridge, Mangwon Hangang Park (Hanja: 望遠漢江公園) which stretches 8.8 km is located at 467 Maponaru Street/Maponaru-gil, Mangwon 1-dong 205-4 beonji, Seoul Mapo-gu. With a lawn in the riverside along Gangbyeon Highway, it gives a broad view. 

It offers lush grass perfect for picnics and promenades. Since it’s located close to the World Cup Stadium, this spacious park is often full of residents and visitors. There is a good recreational area like a walk path and various water sports going on the river such as wind surfing, water skiing, and motor boating. And there are Mangwonjeong Pavilion, Jeoldusanseongji (the site of the Jeoldu mountain fortress wall) and Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine near by. 

This place a particular to be a strategically important area in the northwest region of Seoul along with the Nanji Hangang Park that will be connected to the Seoul Sang-am World Cup Main Stadium, Gyeong-in canal, and the Incheon International Airport. The park is accessible by using SMRT Line 6 to Station 621: Mangwon.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, Part XII: Bukseoporu Blockhouse

Bukseoporu or Northwestern Blockhouse (Hanja: 北西砲樓) in Suwon Hwaseong Fortress is located adjacent to Bukseojeokdae Guard Platform. Made from black bricks, it is divided into three storeys internally by boards. The blockhouse is a part of Jangan Park (장안공원/長安公園), located at Suwon Paldal-gu

Firearms were secreted on these floors. The roof is unusual in design, being gabled on the inner side (towards the wall) and angled to the outer side (away from the wall). Bukseoporu Blockhouse consists of a wooden structure built above a chiseong or square turret.

There are five sentry posts at the Fortress. The posts are all constructed of brick and are positioned on turrets that protrude beyond the fortress walls. This position allowed for easy attacks by artillery on enemies below. The blockhouse is located between Janganmun Gate and Hwaseomun Gate.

By referring Daum Maps (다음지도), the blockhouse is located at Suwon Paldal-gu and Suwon Jangan-gu district border. The construction of the blockhouse was completed on September 24, 1794, 18th Reigning Year of King Jeongjo the Great of Joseon Dynasty.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Kings of Joseon Dynasty, Part XXVII (FINAL): Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui (Yi Cheok) - Last King of Joseon Dynasty and Emperor of short-lived Korean Empire

Yumi attends the Last Supper for Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui with her imperial-styled outfit.
Finally, the column of Joseon Dynasty Kings' Chronicles will be closed permanently by ending this column with the introduction of Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui, Final Ruler of Joseon Dynasty and Korean Empire. 

Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui, previously known as Imperial Crown Prince Gunbang (Hanja: 純宗隆熙皇帝, [君邦皇太子]; Born: 25 March 1874 – Died: 24 April 1926; Reigned: 1907-1910), born Yi Cheok (이척/李坧) was 27th and Final King of Joseon Dynasty as well as the Final Emperor of Korean Empire

When the Japanese forced the Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu, to abdicate his throne in 1907, they enthroned his oldest living son (actually the fourth-born) as the new Emperor Yunghui. The new emperor, Sunjong, was also the son of the Empress Myeongseong of Yeoheung Min Clan, who had been assassinated by Japanese agents when her son was 21 years old.

Sunjong ruled for just three years and his reign ended with the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty in 22 August 1910 and the Japanese abolished the Korean Empire, ending 519 years of Korean rule under the Imperial Family of Jeonju Yi Clan. After the annexation treaty the former emperor Sunjong and his wife, Empress Sunjeonghyo of Haepyeong Yoon Clan, lived the rest of their lives virtually imprisoned in Changdeok Palace at Seoul Jongno-gu.

Emperor Sunjong died on 24 April 1926 in Changdeok Palace and is buried with his two wives, Empresses Sunmyeonghyo and Sunjeonghyo at the Imperial Tomb of Yureung (裕陵), a part of the Imperial Tomb of Hongyureung in Geumgok-dong 141-2 beonji, Namyangju City, Gyeonggi Province. He was posthumously known as Emperor Sunjong Mun-on Mu-nyeong Don-in Seonggyeong, Emperor Hyo of Korean Empire (순종문온무녕돈인성경효황제(純宗文溫武寧敦仁誠敬孝皇帝).

Based on Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui's Last Will in 1926, he swore that the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty of 1910 was signed forcibly by the Korean Ministers who pressured and bribed by Japanese Imperialists. It was believed that Empress Sunjeonghyo hided the Imperial Seal of Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui at the first place but unfortunately, a particular person confiscated the seal. The party who signed and agreed the nullified treaty is the Korean Ministers who agreed with Japanese Imperialists silently before the Actual Signing Ceremony of that treaty. 

The Story of Joseon Kings Ends HERE.

Kings of Joseon Dynasty, Part XXVI: Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu (Yi Myeong-bok) - Founder of the Korean Empire

Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu, previously known as Prince Seongnim (Hanja: 高宗王, 光武皇帝 [聖臨君]; Born: 8 September 1852 – Died: 21 January 1919; Reigned: 1863-1897 [as Joseon State] and 1897-1907 [as Korean Empire]), born Yi Myeong-bok (이명복/李命福) was 26th King of Joseon Dynasty as well as the founder of Korean Empire. Gojong took the throne in 1863 when still a child. As a minor, his father, Regent Heungseon Daewongun (Grand Court Prince Heungseon), ruled for him until Gojong reached adulthood.

During the mid-1860s, Heungseon Daewongun was the main proponent of isolationism and the instrument of the persecution of native and foreign Catholics, a policy that led directly to the French invasion and the United States expedition to Korea in 1871. The early years of Daewongun's rule also witnessed a concerted effort to restore the largely dilapidated Gyeongbok Palace, the seat of royal authority. During Daewongun's reign, factional politics, the Seowon (learned academies that often doubled as epicenters of factional power), and the power wielded by the Andong Kim clan, completely disappeared as political forces within Korean state life.

In 1873, Gojong announced his assumption of direct royal rule. With the retirement of Heungseon Daewongun, Gojong's consort, Queen Min (later Empress Myeongseong), gained complete control over the court, placing her family members in high court positions. In the 19th century tensions mounted between Qing China and Japan, culminating in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). Much of this war was fought on the Korean peninsula. Japan, after the Meiji Restoration, had acquired Western military technology and had forced Joseon to sign the Treaty of Ganghwa in 1876. Japan encroached upon Korean territory in search of fish, iron ore, and natural resources. It also established a strong economic presence in the peninsula, heralding the beginning of Japanese imperial expansion in East Asia.

The French campaign against Korea of 1866, United States expedition to Korea in 1871 and the Incident of Japanese gunboat Unyo put pressure on many of Joseon's officials, including King Gojong. The Treaty of Ganghwa became the first unequal treaty signed between Korea and foreign country; it gave extraterritorial rights to Japanese citizens in Korea and forced the Korean government to open three ports, Busan, Incheon and Wonsan, to Japanese and foreign trade. With the signing of its first unequal treaty, Korea became easy prey for many imperialistic powers, and later the treaty led to Korea being annexed by Japan.

King Gojong began to rely on newer, rifle-equipped armies, who were paid. The old army, which used spears and old matchlocks, eventually revolted as a result of their mediocre wages and loss of prestige, and Heungseon Daewongun was restored to power. However Chinese troops led by the Qing Chinese general Yuan Shikai soon abducted Daewongun and took him to China, thus foiling his return to power. Four years later Daewongun returned to Korea.

On 4 December 1884, five revolutionaries initiated a coup d'etat by leading a small anti-old minister army to Empress Myeongseong's brother's house. The coup failed in 3 days. Some of its leaders, including Kim Okgyun, fled to Japan, and others were executed.

Widespread poverty presented significant challenges to the 19th century Joseon Dynasty. One indication of this poverty was the average life expectancy of Koreans around the close of the Joseon period: 24 years for males and 26 for females. A number of factors, including famine, poverty, high taxes and corruption among the ruling class, led to several notable peasant revolts in the 19th century. King Gojong's predecessors had suppressed an 1811–1812 revolt in the Pyeongan Province, led by Hong Gyeong-nae.

In 1894, another major revolt, the Donghak Peasant Revolution took hold as an anti-government, anti-yangban and anti-foreign campaign. To suppress the rebellion, the Joseon government requested military aid from Japan, thus deepening Japanese claims to Korea as a protectorate. In the end the revolution failed, but many of the peasants' grievances were later dealt with by the Gabo Reformation.

In 1895, Empress Myeongseong (referred to as "Queen Min" by the Japanese) was assassinated by Japanese agents. The Japanese minister to Korea, Miura Goro orchestrated the plot against her. A group of Japanese agents entered the Imperial palace in Seoul, which was under Japanese guard, and Empress Myeongseong was killed in the palace. The empress had attempted to counter Japanese interference in Korea and was considering turning to Russia or China for support.

Meanwhile, Japan won the Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), gaining much more influence over the Korean government. The Gabo reforms and the assassination of Empress Myeongseong also stirred controversy in Korea, along with anti-Japanese sentiments.Some Confucian scholars, as well as farmers, formed over 60 successive righteous armies to fight for Korean freedom. These armies were preceded by the Donghak movement and succeeded by various Korean independence movements.

On 11 February 1896, King Gojong and his crown prince fled from the Gyeongbokgung palace to the Russian legation in Seoul, from which they governed for about one year, an event known as Korea royal refuge at the Russian legation. In 1897, King Gojong, yielding to rising pressure from overseas and the demands of the Independence Association-led public opinion, returned to Gyeongungung (modern-day Deoksugung). There he proclaimed the founding of the Empire of Korea, officially redesignated the national title as such, and declared the new era name Gwangmu which means shining warrior. This effectively ended Korea's historic subordination to the Qing Chinese empire which Korea had acknowledged since the fall of the Ming Dynasty, and turned King Gojong into the Gwangmu Emperor, the first imperial head of state and hereditary sovereign of the Empire of Korea.

This marked the end of the traditional Chinese tributary system in the Far East. Adopting the status of empire meant that Korea was declaring independence from Qing China and, at least nominally, it implemented the "full and complete" independence of Korea as recognized in 1895. Gojong proclaimed the Korean Empire in 1897 to justify the country's ending of its traditional tributary subordination to China. He tried to promote the ultimately unsuccessful Gwangmu Reform.

In 1904-5, the Japanese military achieved a comprehensive victory in the Russo-Japanese War. Following the Protectorate Treaty of 1905 between Korea and Japan, which stripped Korea of its rights as an independent nation, Gojong sent representatives to the Hague Peace Convention of 1907 in order to try to re-assert his sovereignty over Korea. Although the Korean representatives were blocked by the Japanese delegates, they did not give up, and later held interviews with newspapers.

One representative warned forebodingly of Japanese ambitions in Asia: "The United States does not realize what Japan's policy in the Far East is and what it portends for the American people. The Japanese adopted a policy that in the end will give her complete control over commerce and industry in the Far East. Japan is bitter against the United States and against Great Britain. If the United States does not watch Japan closely she will force the Americans and the English out of the Far East."

As a result, Gojong was forced to abdicate by the Japanese and Gojong's son Sunjong succeeded to the throne. After abdicating, Emperor Gojong was confined to the Deoksu Palace by the Japanese. On 22 August 1910, the Empire of Korea was annexed by Japan under the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty.

Gojong died suddenly on 21 January 1919 at Deoksugung Palace. There is much speculation that he was killed by poison administered by Japanese officials, an idea that gained wide circulation and acceptance at the time of his death. His death and subsequent funeral proved a catalyst for the March First Movement for Korean independence from Japanese rule. He is buried with his wife, Empress Myeongseong of Yeoheung Min Clan at the Imperial Tomb of Hongneung, a part of Imperial Tomb of Hongyureung in Geumgok-dong 141-3 beonji, Namyangju City, Gyeonggi Province.

He was posthumously known as Emperor Gojong Tongcheon Yung-woon Jogeuk Dollyun Jeongseong Gwang-ui Myeonggong Daedeok Yojun Sunhwi Umo Tanggyeong Eungmyeong Ipgi Jihwa Shin-yeol Oehun Hong-eop Gyegi Seollyeok Geonhaeng Gonjeong Yeong-ui Honghyu Sugang Munheon Mujang Inik Jeonghyo, Emperor Tae of Korean Empire (고종통천융운조극돈륜정성광의명공대덕요준순휘우모탕경응명입기지화신열외훈홍업계기선력건행곤정영의홍휴수강문헌무장인익정효태황제/高宗統天隆運肇極敦倫正聖光義明功大德堯峻舜徽禹謨湯敬應命立紀至化神烈巍勳洪業啓基宣曆乾行坤定英毅弘休壽康文憲武章仁翼貞孝太皇帝).

Kings of Joseon Dynasty, Part XXV: King Cheoljong (Yi Byeon) - Look ma, this king is controlled by Andong Kim Clansmen!

King Cheoljong, previously known as Prince Deog-wan (Hanja: 哲宗王 [德完君]; Born: 25 July 1831 – Died: 13 December 1863, Reigned: 1849–1863), born Yi Byeon (이변/李昪) was the 25th king of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. He was a distant relative of King Yeongjo, son of Grand Court Prince Jeon-gye (전계대원군/全溪大院君) and Grand Court Lady Yeongseong of Yongdam Yeom Clan (용성부대부인 염씨/龍城府大夫人 廉氏). 

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Andong Kim clan, who had provided the Joseon state with several queens, had seized power almost everywhere in Korea. The social stagnation that resulted was a breeding ground for unrest. Corruption and embezzlement from the treasury and its inevitable exploitation were taken to extreme levels, and reached staggering proportions. One rebellion after another was accompanied by natural disasters. Indeed it was one of the most gloomy periods in the country’s history.

The only aim of the Andong Kim clan was the preservation of their influence. Their fierce campaign truly to dominate the royal house had led to a situation in which almost all of the representatives of the royal family fled from Seoul. When the royal family produced intelligent and appropriate candidates for the accession, they were either accused of treason and executed or sent into exile, so when Heonjong died, leaving no son, no acceptable candidate could be found to succeed to the throne.

Cheoljong ascended to the throne in 1849 at the age of 19 after King Heonjong died without an heir. As a distant relative of King Yeongjo, the 21st king of Joseon, Cheoljong was selected for adoption by the Dowager Queen at the time and to allow him to ascend to the throne. The future Cheoljong was found on Ganghwa Island, Incheon Metropole where his family had fled to hide from oppression.

When the envoys (dispatched in order to seek for the future king) arrived on Ganghwa Island, they found the remaining clan of the Yi's barely surviving in wretched poverty. In 1849, at the age of 18, Yi Byeon (the future Cheoljong), the 3rd son of Prince Jeon-gye (great-grandson of King Yeongjo), was proclaimed King, amidst obvious degradation and poverty. Though from the start of the Joseon Dynasty Korean kings had given top priority to the education of their sons, Cheoljong could not even read a single word on the notice delivering congratulations to him on his elevation to the royal throne.

For the Andong Kims, Cheoljong was an excellent choice. His illiteracy made him manipulable and vulnerable to their control. Proof of this was that even though Cheoljong ruled the country for 13 years, until his very last days he had not yet learned how to move with dignity or how to wear royal clothes, so that in even the most luxurious of robes he still looked like a fisherman.

As part of the Andong Kim's manipulation of Cheoljong, in 1851, the clan married Cheoljong to Queen Cheor-in, daughter of Kim Mun-geun, Internal Prince Yeong-eun (영은부원군 김문근/永恩府院君 金汶根). He died without a male heir at the age of 32 in December 1863, by suspected foul play by the Andong Kim clan, the same clan that had made him king. Despite having five sons and six daughters, only one child, a daughter, lived past infancy. 

King Cheoljong was buried at the Royal Tomb of Yereung (睿陵), a part of Seosamneung Royal Tomb Cluster in Wondang-dong san 37-1 beonji, Goyang DeogYang-gu, Gyeonggi Province. He was posthumously known as King Cheoljong Huiryun Jeonggeuk Sudeok Sunseong Munhyeon Museong Heon-in Yeonghyo the Great (철종희륜정극수덕순성문현무성헌인영효대왕/哲宗熙倫正極粹德純聖文顯武成獻仁英孝大王). In 1908, Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui promoted King Cheoljong into Posthumous Emperor with his new Posthumous Imperial Name, which is known as Emperor Cheoljong Huiryun Jeonggeuk Sudeok Sunseong Heummyeong Gwangdo Donwon Changhwa Munhyeon Museong Heon-in Yeonghyo, Emperor Jang of Korean Empire (철종희륜정극수덕순성흠명광도돈원창화문현무성헌인영효장황제/哲宗熙倫正極粹德純聖欽明光道敦元彰化文顯武成獻仁英孝章皇帝).

Kings of Joseon Dynasty, Part XXIV: King Heonjong (Yi Hwan) - A King who suppressed Korean Catholics and Last King to be buried at the Donggureung Royal Tomb Cluster

King Heonjong, previously known as Prince Moon-eung (Hanja: 憲宗王 [文應君]; Born: 8 September 1827 – Died: 25 July 1849), born Yi Hwan (이환/李奐) was the 24th king of the Joseon Dynasty. He was the grandson of King Sunjo. His father was Crown Prince Hyomyeong (posthumously named as Emperor Munjo-Ikjong, Emperor Ik of Korean Empire), who died at the age of 21 before becoming king and his mother was Queen Sinjeong of the Pungyang Jo clan. Heonjong was born three years before Hyomyeong's death.

Heonjong ascended to the throne in 1834 at the age of 8 after his grandfather, King Sunjo, died. Like King Sunjo, Heonjong took the throne at a young age and his grandmother, Queen Sunwon served as regent. Although King Heonjong ascended to the throne, he had no political control over Joseon. When Heonjong reached adulthood, Queen Sunwon refused to give up control. In 1840, the control over the kingdom was then handed down to the Andong Kims, the family of his grandmother Queen Sunwon, following the anti-Catholic Gihae Persecution of 1839.

King Heonjong died after reigning for 15 years in 1849 at the young age of 21. He was buried at the Royal Tomb of Gyeongneung within the Donggureung Tomb Cluster in 197 Donggureung Avenue/Donggureungno, Inchang-dong san 9-2 beonji, Guri City, Gyeonggi Province, where several kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty was buried. As King Heonjong died without an heir, the throne passed to a distant descendant of King Yeongjo, King Cheoljong.

As was customary with the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, the chronicle of Heonjong's reign was compiled after his death, in 1851. The compilation of the 16-volume chronicle was supervised by Jo In-yeong. King Heonjong is the last king to be buried at the Royal Tomb Cluster of Donggureung.

He was posthumously known as King Heonjong Gyeongmun Wimu Myeong-in Cheolhyo the Great (헌종경문위무명인철효대왕/憲宗經文緯武明仁哲孝大王). In 1897, Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu promoted King Heonjong into Posthumous Emperor during the Foundation of the Korean Empire. Thus, King Heonjong granted his Posthumous Imperial Name, which is known as Emperor Heonjong Chegeon Gyegeuk Jungjeong Gwangdae Jiseong Gwangdeok Hong-un Janghwa Gyeongmun Wimu Myeong-in Cheolhyo, Emperor Seong of Korean Empire (헌종체건계극중정광대지성광덕홍운장화경문위무명인철효성황제(憲宗體健繼極中正光大至聖廣德弘運章化經文緯武明仁哲孝成皇帝).

Kings of Joseon Dynasty, Part XXIII: King Sunjo (Yi Gong) - When his Governmental Reformations went KAPUT...

King Sunjo, previously known as Prince Gongbo (Hanja: 純祖王 [公寶君]; Born: 29 July 1790 – Died: 13 December 1834, reigned: 1800–1834), born Yi Gong (이공/李玜) was the 23rd king of the Joseon Dynasty. He was the second son of King Jeongjo which King Jeongjo had with Lady Subin of Bannam Park Clan, one of King Jeongjo concubines.

Sunjo ascended to the throne in 1800 upon the death of his father, King Jeongjo, at age 11. In 1802, King Sunjo married Lady Kim of Andong, known posthumously as Queen Sunwon, daughter of Kim Jo-sun, Internal Prince Yeong-an (영안부원군 김조순/永安府院君 金祖淳) who was a leader of Andong Kim clan.

Since he ascended the throne at a young age, Queen Dowager Jeongsun, the second queen of King Yeongjo, ruled as queen regent, which allowed her to wield power over state affairs. Despite King Sunjo’s efforts to reform politics, the fundamental principles of government deteriorated. The state examination became disordered and corruption in the government personnel administration prevailed. This resulted in disorder in society and various kinds of riots broke out among the people, including the revolt by Hong Gyeong-nae. The Ogajaktongbeop (五家作統法, a census registration system to group five houses as one unit) was also carried out in this period, and oppression against Roman Catholicism began in earnest.

King Sunjo died after reigning for 35 years in 1834 at the age of 44. He was first buried next to Royal Tomb of Paju Jangneung in 90 Jangneung Avenue/Jangneungno, Galhyeon-ri san 25-1 beonji, Tanhyeon-myeon, Paju City, Gyeonggi Province, where King Injo and Queen illyeol laid to rest but later moved to Royal Tomb of illeung (仁陵) - a part of Royal Tomb of Heon-illeung in 34 Heon-illeung Drive/Heonilleung-gilNaegok-dong san 13-192 beonji, Seoul Seocho-gu; as the Feng Shui (Korean: Pungsu/풍수) at the old site was deemed to be unfavorable.

He was posthumously known as King Sunjong Yeondeok Hyeondo Gyeong-in Sunhui Mun-an Mujeong Heon-gyeong Seonghyo the Great (순종연덕현도경인순희문안무정헌경성효대왕/純宗淵德顯道景仁純禧文安武靖憲敬成孝大王). In 1897, Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu promoted King Sunjo into Posthumous Emperor during the Foundation of the Korean Empire. Thus, King Sunjo granted long and tongue-twisted Posthumous Imperial Name, which is known as Emperor Sunjo Yeondeok Hyeondo Gyeong-in Sunhui Cheseong Eungmyeong Heumgwang Seokgyeong Gyecheon Baegeuk Yung-won Donhyu Uihaeng Soryun Huihwa Jullyeol Daejung Jijeong Honghun Cheolmo Geonsi Taehyeong Chang-woon Honggi Gomyeong Bakhu Ganggeon Sujeong Gyetong Suryeok Geon-gong Yubeom Mun-an Mujeong Yeonggyeong Seonghyo, Emperor Sook of Korean Empire (순조연덕현도경인순희체성응명흠광석경계천배극융원돈휴의행소륜희화준렬대중지정홍훈철모건시태형창운홍기고명박후강건수정계통수력건공유범문안무정영경성효숙황제/純祖淵德顯道景仁純禧體聖凝命欽光錫慶繼天配極隆元敦休懿行昭倫熙化峻烈大中至正洪勳哲謨乾始泰亨昌運弘基高明博厚剛健粹精啓統垂曆建功裕範文安武靖英敬成孝肅皇帝).

AGAIN, my tongue hurts.

Kings of Joseon Dynasty, Part XXII: King Jeongjo the Great (Yi San) - King Yeongjo's Grandson who become the Great King of Joseon

King Jeongjo the Great, previously known as Crown Prince Hereditary Hyeong-woon (Hanja: 正祖大王 [亨運世孫] Born: 28 October 1752 – Died: 18 August 1800), born Yi San (이산/李祘) was the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty (Reigned: 1776-1800). He made various attempts to reform and improve the nation of Joseon. He was preceded by his grandfather King Yeongjo (r. 1724–1776) and succeeded by his son King Sunjo (r. 1800–1834). Some historiographers say that King Jeongjo is one of the most successful and visionary rulers of the Joseon Dynasty. But it is also pointed out that he was overestimated.

He was the son of Crown Prince Sado-Jangheon (who was put to death by his own grandfather, King Yeongjo) and Lady Hyegyeong (who wrote an autobiography, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong detailing her life as the ill-fated Crown Princess of Joseon). Lady Hyegyeong's collection of memoirs serves as a significant source of historical information on the political happenings during the reigns of King Yeongjo (her father-in-law), King Jeongjo (her son), and King Sunjo (her grandson).

When he was the Crown Prince, King Jeongjo met Hong Guk-yeong (홍국영/洪國榮), a controversial politician who first strongly supported Jeongjo's accession and toiled to improve the king's power, but ended up being expelled because of his desire for power.

Jeongjo spent much of his reign trying to clear his father's name. He also moved the court to the city of Suwon to be closer to his father's grave. He built Suwon-Hwaseong Fortress to guard the tomb which is now become as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The era before his rule was in disorder as his father was killed by royal decree of his own father, King Jeongjo's grandfather. King Yeongjo's ultimate decision to execute Crown Prince Sado was greatly influenced by other politicians who were against the Crown Prince. According to the Chronicles of Joseon Dynasty (조선왕조실록/Joseon Wangjo Sillok), Jeongjo became the King of Joseon after the death of King Yeongjo. On that day, he sat on his throne in the throne room, looked at everyone and said, 
"I am the son of the late Crown Prince Sado..." 
This was a bold statement that sent shivers down the spines of all the politicians who were complicit in his father's death.

During his accession, he also issued a royal decree that his mother, Lady Hyegyeong, be a Dowager Queen since his father, her husband, was supposed to be the King before him. Thus, she became the Queen Dowager Heon-gyeong, the widow of Crown Prince Sado. From then on, King Jeongjo experienced many turbulent periods, but overcame them with the aid of Hong Guk-yeong.

King Jeongjo led the new renaissance of the Joseon Dynasty, but was initially stopped by continuing the policy of Yeongjo's Tangpyeong rule. He tried to control the politics of the whole nation to advance and further national progress.

He made various reforms throughout his reign, notably establishing Kyujanggak (규장각), a royal library. The primary purpose of Kyujanggak was to improve the cultural and political stance of Joseon and to recruit gifted officers to help run the nation. Jeongjo also spearheaded bold new social initiatives, including opening government positions to those who were previously barred because of their social status.

Jeongjo had the support of the many Silhak scholars who supported Jeongjo's regal power, including Scholars Dasan-John Jeong Yak-yong, Yu Deuk-gong, Park Ji-won, Park Je-ga and Yu Deuk-gong. His reign also saw the further growth and development of Joseon's popular culture.

King Jeongjo was known as an innovative person despite his high political status in Joseon. In 1800, he died suddenly under mysterious circumstances at the age of 48, without seeing his lifelong wishes that were later realized by his son, Sunjo. There are many books regarding the mysterious death of Jeongjo, and speculation as to the cause of his death continues even today.

King Jeongjo the Great was buried at the Royal Tomb of Geolleung (健陵), a part of the Royal Tomb of Yunggeolleung in 21 Hyohaeng Avenue 481st Street/Hyohaengno 481beon-gil, Annyeong-dong 187-1 beonji, Hwaseong City, Gyeonggi Province. His tomb is located near to his father's tomb, Royal Tomb of Yungneung (Tomb of Posthumous King Jangjo, Crown Prince Sado-Jangheon).

He was posthumously known as King Jeongjong Munseong Muyeol Seong-in Janghyo the Great (정종문성무열성인장효대왕/正宗文成武烈聖仁莊孝大王). In 1897, Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu promoted the great king into Posthumous Emperor during the Foundation of the Korean Empire. Thus, King Jeongjo the Great granted the Posthumous Imperial Name, which is known as Emperor Jeongjo Gyeongcheon Myeongdo Hongdeok Hyeonmo Munseong Muyeol Seong-in Janghyo, Emperor Seon of Korean Empire (정조경천명도홍덕현모문성무열성인장효선황제/正祖敬天明道洪德顯謨文成武烈聖仁莊孝宣皇帝).

Kings of Joseon Dynasty, Part XXI: King Yeongjo (Yi Geum) - A King who executed King Jeongjo's father, Crown Prince Sado-Jangheon

King Yeongjo, previously known as Prince Yeon-ing (Hanja: 英祖王 [延礽君]; Born: 31 October 1694 – Died: 22 April 1776, reigned 16 October 1724 – 22 April 1776), born Yi Geum (이금/李昑) was the 21st king of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. He was the second son of King Sukjong and Royal Noble Consort Suk of the Haeju Choi clan a.k.a Dong Yi, and succeeded his older brother Gyeongjong as Crown Prince after considerable controversy.

Yeongjo's reign lasted 52 years and was marked by his persistent efforts to reform the taxation system of Joseon, rule by Confucian ethics, minimize and reconcile the factional fighting under his "Magnificent Harmony" Policy (Tangpyeong/蕩平/탕평), and for the highly controversial execution of his son, Prince Sado. In spite of the controversies, Yeongjo's reign has earned a positive reputation in Korean history due to his sincere efforts to rule by Confucian virtue.

In 1720, his father King Sukjong died and Crown Prince Yi Yoon, Sukjon's eldest son, ascended to the throne as King Gyeongjong, at the age of 33. When Sukjong died in 1720, he supposedly told Yi I-myoung to name Prince Yeon-ing as King Gyeongjong's heir, but in the absence of a historiographer or scribe, there was no record.

During his time there was infighting and resentment for his low-born origins. The Noron faction (노론/老論) of the bureaucracy pressured King Gyeongjong to step down in favor of his half-brother Prince Yeon-ing (the future King Yeongjo). In 1720, two months after the King's enthronement, Prince Yeon-ing was installed as Royal Prince Successor Brother (wangseje/왕세제/王世弟). This aggravated the power struggle and led to a great massacre, namely the Shin-im Literati Purge (辛壬士禍). The Norons sent messages to the king to no effect while the opposing Soron faction (소론/少論) used this to their advantage – claiming the Noron faction were trying to usurp power and subsequently getting their rival faction removed from several offices.

Members of the Soron faction then came up with an idea to assassinate the heir (Prince Yeon-ing) under the pretence of hunting for a white fox said to be haunting the palace, but Prince Yeon-ing sought shelter with his stepmother, Queen Dowager Inwon, who protected him and he was able to stay alive. Afterwards, he told his half-brother the king that he rather would go and live as a commoner.

On 11 October 1724, King Gyeongjong died. Soron then accused Prince Yeon-ing of having something to do with his brother's death due to the earlier attempt by the Noron faction to have him replace Gyeongjong on the throne. But historians now agree that he could have died of eating contaminated seafood, as to the symptoms of the illness that caused his death. Homer Hulbert described this in his book The History of Korea where he said, "But we may well doubt the truth of the rumor, for nothing that is told of that brother indicates that he would commit such an act, and in the second place a man who will eat shrimps in mid-summer, that have been brought 30 miles from the sea without ice might expect to die." On 16 October 1724, Prince Yeoning ascend the throne as King Yeongjo, the 21st ruler of Joseon.

King Yeongjo was a deeply Confucian monarch, and is said to have had a greater knowledge of the classics than his officials. During the reign of Yeongjo and his grandson Jeongjo, Confucianization was at its height, as well as the economic recovery from the wars of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His leadership has been called one of the most brilliant reigns of all the Joseon Dynasty.

Yeongjo worried deeply for his people. Annals of Joseon record that one day in the 4th year of his reign, King Yeongjo woke up to the sound of early morning rain and said to his courtiers,
Oh dear! We have had flood, drought and famines for the past four years because of my lack of virtue, and this year we even went through an unprecedented revolt by a traitor named Yi In Jwa. How can my poor people manage their livelihood under such hardship? There is an old saying, 'War is always followed by a lean year.' Fortunately, however, we haven’t had a big famine for the past two years and we pin our hopes on a good harvest this year. Yet I am still nervous because, while the season for harvesting is around the corner, there is no way of knowing if there will be a flood or drought before then. Nobody knows whether a cold rain will pour suddenly and flood the fields awaiting harvest. My lack of goodness might bring upon us such awful things as I fail to win the sympathy of heaven. How can I earn the sympathy of heavens if I do not self-reflect and make efforts myself? I should start with reflecting on myself.

Yeongjo worried that rain would ruin the harvest forcing his unfortunate people to starve. The King ordered his courtiers to reduce taxes on the people and decrease the number of dishes in his own meals. Reducing the range of foods he ate was a decision made out of concern for his starving people.

One early morning 25 years later circa 1753, the continuous rain reminded Yeongjo of the flood during the 4th year of his reign, when he had eaten less food: 
"Oh! Floods and droughts really happen because I lack virtue. I am much older than that year, but how can my compassion for the people and will to work hard for them be less than back then?"

Yet again, Yeongjo ordered a reduction in the number of dishes on his dining table. People around him described him as an articulate, bright, benevolent and kind King. He was penetrating in observation and quick of comprehension.

Yeongjo realizing the detrimental effect on state administration of factional strife during the latter half of the 17th century, attempted to end factional strife as soon as he ascended the throne. Yeongjo reinstated the short-lived universal military service tax, then he even went beyond the palace gate and solicited the opinion of officials, literati (scholars), soldiers and peasants. Yeongjo reduced the military service tax by half and ordered the variance be supplemented by taxes on fisheries, salt, vessels and an additional land tax. Yeongjo also regularized the financial system of state revenues and expenses by adopting an accounting system. His realistic policies allowed payment of taxes on grain from the remote mountainous areas Gyeongsang do province, to the nearby port, with payment in cotton or cash for grain. The circulation of currency was encourage by increasing coin casting.

Yeongjo's concern for improvement of the peasant’s life was manifest in his eagerness to educate the people by distributing important books in the Korean script (Hangul), including the Book of Agriculture. The pluviometre was again manufactured in quantity and distributed to local administration offices and extensive public work projects were undertaken. Yeongjo upgraded the status of posterity of the commoners, opening another possibility for upward social mobility and inevitable change. Yeongjo policies were intended to reassert the Confucian monarchy and a humanistic rule, but they couldn't stem the tide of social change that resulted.

Mercantile activities rapidly increased in volume. The accumulation of capital through monopoly and wholesales expanded through guild organisations and many merchants were centered in Hanyang. The traditional division of government chartered shop, the license tribute goods suppliers and the small shopkeepers in the alley and streets were integrated and woven into a monopoly and wholesale system.

Regardless of status, many yangban class aristocrats and commoners engaged in some kind of merchant activities. Thus Hanyang made great strides as a commercial and industrial city in the 18th century. The popular demand for handicrafts and goods such as knives, horse hair hats, dining table and brassware was ever-increasing. Restrictions on wearing the horse hair hat originally denoting a Yangban class status, virtually disappeared

Even pirating of books became commercialised as competition developed among the well-to-do Yangban engaged in publication of collected literary works of their renowned ancestors. This also led to printing popular fiction and poetry. The people especially appreciated satire and social criticism. One example is the Chunhyangjeon (Tales of Chunghyang) about the fidelity of the Gisaeng’s (entertainer's) daughter was widely read as a satire aimed to expose the greed and snobbery of government officials.

The only significantly dismal incident during Yeongjo's reign was the death of his son, Crown Prince Sado-Jangheon (Posthumous King Jangjo). History indicates Sado suffered from mental illness; accused of randomly killing people in the palace and being a sexual deviant. By court rules King Yeongjo could not kill his son by his own hands, so Sado was ordered to climb into a large wooden rice chest on a hot July day in 1762. After eight days, Sado died of suffocation. During the 19th century, there were rumors that Prince Sado had not been mentally ill, but had been framed; however, these rumors are widely contradicted by his widow in The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong.

Yeongjo was the first to take action against Roman Catholic activities in the country. By the 18th century, Catholicism was beginning to acquire a following especially in the Gangwon and Hwanghae provinces. In 1758, Yeongjo officially outlawed Catholicism as an evil practice.

When 14 years later King Yeongjo died, Sado's son, Yeongjo's grandson Jeongjo, became king. The early part of the new King's years were marked by political intrigues and fear of court officials who were afraid that Jeongjo would seek revenge on them for petitioning the punishment that caused the death of his father, Crown Prince Sado.

King Yeongjo was buried at the Royal Tomb of Wolleung (元陵),a part of Donggureung Royal Tomb Cluster in 197 Donggureung Avenue/Donggureungno, Inchang-dong san 8-2 beonji, Guri City, Gyeonggi Province. This controversial King received long and tongue-twisted posthumous name, posthumously known as King Jihaeng Sundeok Yeongmo Uiyeol jang-ui Hongnyun Gwang-in Donhui Checheon Geongeuk Seonggong Shinhwa Daeseong Gwang-woon Gaetae Giyeong Yomyeong Suncheol Geon-geon Gonnyeong Baemyeong Sutong Gyeongnyeok Honghyu Junghwa Yungdo Sukjang Changhun Jeongmun Seonmu Huigyeong Hyeonhyo the Great (지행순덕영모의열장의홍륜광인돈희체천건극성공신화대성광운개태기영요명순철건건곤녕배명수통경력홍휴중화융도숙장창훈정문선무희경현효대왕/至行純德英謨毅烈章義弘倫光仁敦禧體天建極聖功神化大成廣運開泰基永堯明舜哲乾健坤寧配命垂統景曆洪休中和隆道肅莊彰勳正文宣武熙敬顯孝大王). 

Oh crap, my tongue sprained a lot....

Friday, 21 November 2014

Parks around Han River in Seoul, Part IX: Seonyudo Hangang Park

Seonyudo Hangang Park (Hanja: 仙遊島漢江公園) is located on Seonyudo (SeonYu Island), one of the islands situated on Han River. The park used to be a filtration plant, but was converted into an ecological park. Seonyu literally means "a place of scenic beauty". Seonyudo Park utilizes the previous filtration plant to a great extent. It contains four parks and many walking trails. Apart from these, the park has other facilities such as Seoul Design Gallery, and a botanical garden. Seonyudo Park is a much loved place where visitors can experience nature and relax with beautiful views of the river.

Once upon a time, Seonyudo island (also known as Seonyubong) had a small peak and picturesque, jagged cliffs. This beautiful setting inspired wandering Confucian gentleman scholars, or seonbi (선비), who came here during the Joseon Dynasty to paint and compose poetry.

But in a dramatic shift of fortune, this small island on the west side of the Han River (not to be confused with the island of the same name in Northern Jeolla Province) had its mountain and cliffs removed during the Japanese occupation of Korea, and in 1978, it became the site of a sewage treatment plant. Twenty-three years later, the plant was shut down, and after two years of planning and restoration, Seonyudo island was transformed into a gorgeous, eco-consciousness park that opened in 2003.

In recent years, “eco-consciousness” has become a popular buzzword around Seoul. A few years ago the city government unveiled an ambitious 30-year “Han River Renaissance Master Plan.” A kiosk near Seonyudo Park‘s entrance promoted the city’s environmental strategic plan for the Han River and the metropolis that surrounds it.

In 1998, a concept known as “New Seoul” was unveiled with the goal of making Korea’s 600-year-old capital a more livable place for its 10 million inhabitants. The initiative’s major goals were: 
  1. Create easily accessible parks
  2. Restore the Han River’s fragile ecosystem
  3. Offer more public cultural events.

The 110,000-square-meter Seonyudo island park seems to do all three. Described by the Seoul Metropolitan Government as a “postmodern space,” the award-winning park harmoniously combines the organic with the industrial by preserving the former treatment plant’s structures and integrating them into a series of gardens. Water is the island’s principle theme. For example, bygone settling basins for water treatment chemicals are now home to small fish and many species of aquatic plants that naturally purify water.

Seonyudo Park used to be a filtration plant that supplied drinking water. The park opened in 2002 and the existing infrastructure has been turned into a water purification park, an aqua botanical garden and an ecological water playground. This ecological park acts like an oxygen tank offering fresh air to Seoul citizens and has now become a very popular tourist destination with over 300 visitors daily.

The old site of Filtration Plant is now used as the cafeteria which is called Cafeteria “Naru”. This cafe has a transparent glass wall so visitors can enjoy a relaxing time as they sip on tea or coffee and take in peaceful views of the Han River. The ivy-covered cafeteria has beautiful surroundings including three willow trees. The cafe offers simple snacks and beverages and was built on the site of the former pumping station.

The park is accessible via Yanghwa Bridge, en route to Seoul Mapo-gu on the northbound side by using taxi, after stopping at the Station 912: Seonyudo Station on Seoul Metro 9

Parks around Han River in Seoul, Part VIII: Yanghwa Hangang Park

Situated on the southern part of Hangang (Han River), Yanghwa Hangang Park (Hanja: 楊花漢江公園) which is located at 221 Nodeul Avenue/Nodeullo, Dangsan-dong 6-ga 98-1 beonji, Seoul Yeongdeungpo-gu, stretches 11.7km along between the mouth of Yeouido Saetgang Tributary and the Gayang Bridge in Seoul Gangseo-gu. This spacious park is lush with vegetation and offers a spectacular view of the river.

The park is located nearby a number of other attraction including Seonyudo Park (an island in the river, which has been transformed into an ecological park), Seonyu Bridge, and the World Cup Fountains (with jets 202m in height).

There is a wide bike trail that runs through the park that connects this park with the other Hangang River Parks. Every May, the bike trail is flanked by lush green grass and beautiful roses, making it the ideal picture-taking spot for friends, couples, and families.

Like all the other Hangang Parks there are plenty of sports facilities including a soccer field, volleyball and basketball courts. If you are interested in water activities you can find plenty to do here as water skiing and wind surfing are quite popular. There is also a long bike course, the world’s biggest world cup fountain and a common reed forest trail.

Same as Banpo and Yeouido Hangang Parks, Seoul Metro 9 runs around the Yanghwa Hangang Park, there are two stations to choose by stopping at the park; Stations 913 and 912: Dangsan=Interchange to Seoul Metro Line 2: Station 237 - Seonyudo.