Injong of Goryeo

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Injong of Goryeo
Hangul 인종
Hanja 仁宗
Revised Romanization Injong
McCune-Reischauer Injong
Birth name
Hangul 왕해
Hanja 王楷
Revised Romanization Wang Hae
McCune-Reischauer Wang Hae
Courtesy name
Hangul 인표
Hanja 仁表
Revised Romanization Inpyo
McCune-Reischauer Inp'yo

Injong of Goryeo (인종 仁宗 1109 – 1146, r. 1122-1146) was the seventeenth emperor of the Korean Goryeo dynasty. He was the eldest son of Emperor Yejong (예종 睿宗, the sixteenth emperor) and Empress Sundeok, the second daughter of Yi Ja-gyeom (李資謙), the head of the Yi clan of Incheon. The Yi clan had married their daughters into the royal family for almost a century, and Yi Ja-gyeom and his family had so much political power that he dominated the government. When Injong attempted to reclaim power, Yi launched a coup d'état in 1126, sacking and burning much of the palace. King Injong regained control in 1127, with help from the provincial governors. In 1135, he faced another rebellion led by the Buddhist monk Myocheong (묘청,妙淸), who advocated a return to a more “Korean” state and wanted to move the capital to Pyongyang. This rebellion split the aristocracy into Buddhist and Confucianist factions, but was eventually crushed by the scholar general Kim Busik.

Printing with movable metal type was developed during the reign of King Injong, to replace lost books after the palace and university libraries were burned by Yi Ja-gyeom. Injong also established schools in rural areas to train the sons of provincial aristocrats for positions in the central government. Injong commissioned the compilation of the Samguk Sagi, the oldest extant record of Korean history, by Kim Busik. It was completed in 1945, just before Injong’s death.

Background: Relations with China

In 1115, the Jurchen established the Jin Empire and came into conflict with Liao. Jin conquered Liao in 1125, and turned to an invasion of Song. By 1126 Jurchen had conquered the Northern Song, which fled south of the Yangtze River. Jin captured two Song emperors, and royal as well as private Song libraries came into Jin possession. [1]Goryeo, which had been a tributary of the Song Dynasty and had relied on Song for intellectual and cultural resources, remained neutral, but the political turmoil in China inevitably affected the stability of Goryeo.


Rebellion of Yi Ja-gyeom

Aristocratic families used marriage as a strategy to bring their families into greater political prominence. Marriage with the royal clan brought the greatest prestige and direct access to political power. In Korean history there were several families who acquired and held political power through marriages with members of the royal family. The Ansam Kim clan monopolized power for over 50 years by marrying their daughters to four successive kings. The House Yi of Inju (인주이씨; 仁州李氏) married six kings, from Munjong (1046 – 1083) until Injong, until eventually they had more political power than the king himself.[2] [3]

Injong’s father Yejong's power had been weakened by strong government advisors and other officials who often squabbled among themselves.[4] This, combined with the military difficulties with the Jurchen in the north, caused him to retreat further and further into his books and Daoist rituals.[5] Injong was the son of Yejong's queen, the second daughter of Yi Ja-gyeom (李資謙), the head of the Yi clan of Incheon.[6]

Injong ascended the throne at the age of 13, and during the early part of his reign, the government was dominated by Yi Ja-gyeom (李資謙), the father of two of his queens, and by other members of the Gyeongwon Yi (이; 李) clan. (The name is sometimes also transliterated as Yi, Ri, Rhie, or Rhee.) Yi Ja-gyeom used his influence over the throne to occupy several government posts concurrently and appoint members of his family to official posts. The Inchon Yi clan used their positions to accumulate vast amounts of land, often by seizing it directly from others. In time, their power and influence came to rival that of the king. Yi Ja-gyeom prevented a Jurchen invasion by negotiating a settlement which gave the Jurchens suzerainty over Korea. When Yi saw that the Jin would inevitably dominate the Chinese, he began plotting to usurp the throne, suported by Ch'ok Chun-gyong, a military officer who had served with distinction in the Jurchen campaigns. In 1126, Injong and a group of his closest advisers attempted to eliminate Yi from the court. Alerted to the plot, Yi launched a coup d'état. Ch'ok Chun-gyong led a contingent of heavily armed troops against the court, set fire to the palace, captured and beheaded Yi Cha-gyom's enemies, and arrested and imprisoned King Injong. Yi Cha-gyom flaunted his power even more audaciously, and even attempted to poison the imprisoned king. One year later, in 1127, the opportunistic Ch'ok Chun-gyong turned against Yi Cha-gyom and drove him out of Kaesong into banishment. With the aid of provincial leaders, Injong regained power in 1127. Though the coup had failed, the power of monarch was weakened and Goryeo underwent a civil war among the families of the nobility.[7]

When Yi Ja-gyeom set fire to the palace buildings, tens of thousand of books in the royal library and national academy were destroyed. There was no longer any way to obtain books from the Song Dynasty in China, which had been defeated by the Jurchen and forced to flee to the south. Printing new books with wood blocks was prohibitive in cost and extremely time-consuming. At that time the idea of printing with re-usable metal type was developed. The casting of bronze type began with the same technology used in casting coins. Goryeo printing with movable metal type was developed to print many titles in limited copies. [8]

Myo Cheong (묘청,妙淸) rebellion

In 1135, Injong faced another rebellion, led by the Buddhist monk Myocheong (묘청,妙淸). Myo Cheong argued that Korea had become too Chinese and too Confucian, and had lost sight of its Buddhist heritage. His claims represented the historical struggle between the Confucianist elements and Buddhist factions in Korean society. Myo Cheong proposed that the capital should be moved to Seogyeong (present day Pyŏngyang), splitting the Goryeo court into two factions. One faction, led by Myo Cheong, advocated moving the capital to Pyongyang and expanding into Manchuria. The other faction, led by the scholar Kim Bu-sik, disapproved and thought the capital should remain where it was. The king was at first sympathetic with Myo Cheong, but when the rest of the court and the bureaucracy did not approve of the move, he withdrew his support

Eventually, Myo Cheong rebelled against the government, moved to Pyongyang (which at the time was called Seogyeong (西京)), and declared a new state. Pyongyang had better geomancy than Kaesong and it was the capital of Gojoseon, making the area an ideal location for a more "Korean" state. In the end, the rebellion was crushed by the scholar/general Kim Busik (Kim Pusik).

Kim Busik

Kim Busik (김부식; 金富軾; 1075-1151) was an official and a scholar who practiced Buddhist, but supported Confucianism over Buddhism as the guiding principle of governance, and advocated presenting tribute to the Chinese emperors to prevent conflict. In 1121, Kim was appointed as Royal Diarist, or ji, to the court of Emperor Yejong. In 1123, after Yejong’s death, Kim, along with two other historians, was charged with preparing Yejong's Veritable Records (sillok).[9].

King Injong ordered him to undertake the compilation of the Samguk Sagi, the oldest extant record of Korean history, which was completed in 1145. The Samguk Sagi was a chronicle of events in the Three Kingdoms and Unified Silla periods. The purpose of the history was to educate scholars and officials of the Confucian bureaucracy about their native heritage, and to illustrate Confucian virtues using Korean historical figures. It was also intended to legitimize the Goryeo dynasty by promoting Silla as the orthodox ruling kingdom of the Korean peninsula, and the Goryeo state as Silla’s rightful successor.

Establishment of rural schools

The National University (国子監), established in 992 by King Songjong, had become to the basis of the Goryeo educational system. It had grown to encompass a number of colleges, including the University College, High College and Four Portals Colleges which taught the sources of Chinese tradition to the sons of the aristocracy, and the Law College, College of Calligraphy and College of Accounting which trained the sons of low-ranking officials and commoners. King Songjong originally brought young students from rural areas to study in the capital, but later began sending scholars to the countryside to teach. King Injong set up schools in rural areas where the sons of provincial aristocracy could study and gradually become absorbed into the central bureaucracy.[10]

Injong was succeeded by Uijong of Goryeo.

See also


  1. Goryeo Dynasty, Korea.Net. Retrieved October 18, 2007.
  2. Carter J. Eckert, and Ki-baek Yi. 1990. Korea, old and new: a history. (Seoul, Korea: Published for the Korea Institute, Harvard University by Ilchokak. ISBN 0962771309), 69
  3. Korean Ringtones, "Goryeo." spiritus Retrieved October 18, 2007.
  4. Koryo Dynasty, Gyeongsangbuk-do province. Retrieved October 18, 2007.
  5. Ham Sok Hon. Queen of Suffering: A Spiritual History of Korea, Translated by E. SANG YU Edited and abridged by JOHN A. SULLIVAN. (Friends World Committee, 1985) THE NORTH: PRIZE AND PERIL.
  6. Koryo and the Mongols, Bill Caraway, Korean History Project.
  7. Koryo and the Mongols, Bill Caraway, Korean History Project. Retrieved October 18, 2007.
  8. Goryeo, Oneness Commitment. Retrieved October 18, 2007.
  9. Daniel C. Kane, personal website AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SAMGUK SAGI- A HISTORY OF THE THREE KINGDOMS. Retrieved October 18, 2007.
  10. Eckert and Yi. Korea Old and New: A History, 73

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Eckert, Carter J., and Ki-baek Yi. 1990. Korea, old and new: a history. Seoul, Korea: Published for the Korea Institute, Harvard University by Ilchokak. ISBN 0962771309
  • Grayson, J. H. 2001. Myths and legends from Korea: an annotated compendium of ancient and modern materials. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon. ISBN 9780700712410
  • Ham Sok Hon. Queen of Suffering: A Spiritual History of Korea, Translated by E. SANG YU Edited and abridged by JOHN A. SULLIVAN. Friends World Committee, 1985. online THE NORTH: PRIZE AND PERIL. Retrieved October 18, 2007
  • Kang, Jae-eun, and Suzanne Lee. 2006. The land of scholars: two thousand years of Korean Confucianism. Paramus, NJ: Homa & Sekey Books. ISBN 9781931907309
  • Lee, Gil-sang. 2006. Exploring Korean history through world heritage. Seongnam-si: Academy of Korean Studies. ISBN 8971055510
  • McBride, Richard D., II. 1988. "Hidden Agendas in the Life Writings of Kim Yusin." in Acta Koreana 1: 101-142.
  • Pratt, Keith L. 2006. Everlasting flower: a history of Korea. London: Reaktion. ISBN 186189273X
  • Yi, Hong-Bae. 1996. Korean Buddhism. Seoul, Korea: Korean Buddhist Chogye Order. ISBN 8986821001
  • Yi, Ki-baek. 1984. A new history of Korea. Cambridge, MA: Published for the Harvard-Yenching Institute by Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674615751

List of Goryeo Monarchs
Taejo | Hyejong | Jeongjong | Gwangjong | Gyeongjong | Seongjong | Mokjong | Hyeonjong | Deokjong | Jeongjong | Munjong
Sunjong | Seonjong | Heonjong] | Sukjong | Yejong | Injong | Uijong | Myeongjong | Sinjong | Huijong | Gangjong
Gojong | Wonjong | Chungnyeol Chungseon | Chungsuk | Chunghye | Chungmok | Chungjeong | Gongmin | U | Chang | Gongyang


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