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Thursday, 10 September 2015

Confucian Confusions in Korea, Part XXVIII: Chungnyeol Seowon, Yongin Cheoin-gu, Gyeonggi Province


The Chungnyeol Seowon (Hanja: 忠烈書院) is a seowon located at 9-19 Chungnyeol Avenue/Chungnyeollo, NeungWon-ri 118-1 beonji, Mohyeon-myeon, Yongin Cheoin-gu, Gyeonggi Province. Built in 1576 (9th Reigning Year of King Seonjo of Joseon Dynasty), this lecture hall is dedicated to Po-eun Jeong Mong-ju (포은 정몽주/圃隱 鄭夢周; 1337-1392), a scholar and Civil Officer of Goryeo Dynasty who expressed his loyalty to Goryeo against Yi Bang-won (later King Taejong of Joseon Dynasty) before he perished at Seonjukgyo Bridge, Kaesong on King Taejong's hands. 

Chungnyeol Seowon is gazetted as Gyeonggi Provincial Tangible Cultural Property No. 9 in May 4th 1972. It housed the portraits of Jeong Mong-ju, enshrined inside the lecture hall. According to the documents 'Po-eun Series' and 'Hwa-sang Series', these portraits were painted in 1390, the 2nd year of King GongYang's reign during the Korea Dynasty, when he was appointed to Jwa-myeong Vassal. 

In 1555, the 10th year of King Myeongjong's reign, the portrait enshrined in Yeongdang of a family shrine, was copied and kept in Imgo Seowon in Yeongcheon City, Northern Gyeongsang Province. In 1575, the 8th year of King Yeongjo's reign, the portrait at the family shrine was again copied and enshrined in SungYang Seowon in Kaesong in the present-day DPRK. According to a document, there were 3 copies of the portrait, however they were destroyed during Japanese Imjin Invasion (1592-1598) and only the copied portrait at Imgo Seowon survived. 

Afterwards, in 1619, the 11th year of King Gwanghae's reign, Ga Gyeong-shin ordered the painter Gwon-eung to copy the portrait at Imgo Seowon. The copy was kept in a family shrine by Son Jun. 

When the only surviving portrait at Imgo Seowon was destroyed during Byeongja Chinese-Qing Invasion, King Injo, during the 8th year of his reign, ordered the painter, Kim Yuk to make a copy of the portrait. The copy was enshrined and the original piece was kept in a box. Later in 1654, the 5th year of King Hyojong, one of his descendant, Gan enshrined the original piece in Chungnyeol Seowon. In 1677, the 3rd year of King Sukjong, 3 copies of the portrait were ordered to be painted by the painter Han Si-gak. Each of them was enshrined in Yeong-dang, Chungnyeol Seowon in Yongin and SungYang Seowon in Kaesong.

The copies which were painted by Han Si-gak were destroyed after a while and other copies were again made. The one at Chungnyeol Seowon was copied by the painter Jang Gyeong-ju, the one at SungYang Seowon, by Han Jong-yu and the one at the family shrine by Han Jong-yu. 

The copy made during the 10th year of King Myeongjong's reign is kept in the family shrine. The one at Chungnyeol Seowon Lecture Hall is of a full-length figure sitting on a chair wearing a hat which belongs to the end of the Korea dynasty. He is wearing a green uniform and is leaned to the left. Both of his hands are hold together inside the sleeves and over them a golden belt is placed. Beneath the uniform a white cloth is shown. Even though it is a copy, it is a precious material representing the style of painting during the latter period of the Korea Dynasty.