Jeong Mong-ju

Last updated
Jeong Mong-ju
Jeong Mongju.jpg
Korean name
Hangul
정몽주
Hanja
鄭夢周
Revised Romanization Jeong Mong-ju
McCune–Reischauer Chŏng Mong-ju
Pen name
Hangul
포은
Hanja
圃隱
Revised Romanization Poeun
McCune–Reischauer P'oŭn

Jeong Mong-ju (Korean: 정몽주, Hanja: 鄭夢周, January 13, 1338 – April 26, 1392), also known by his pen name Poeun (Korean: 포은), was a prominent Korean scholar-official and diplomat during the late Goryeo period. [1] [2]

Contents

Biography

Jeong Mong-ju was born in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsang province to a family from the Yeonil Jeong clan. At the age of 23, he took three different civil service literary examinations (Gwageo) and received the highest marks possible on each of them. [2] In 1367, he became an instructor in Neo-Confucianism at the Gukjagam, then called Songgyungwan, whilst simultaneously holding a government position, and was a faithful public servant to King U. The king had great confidence in his wide knowledge and good judgment, and so he participated in various national projects and his scholarly works earned him great respect in the Goryeo court.

In 1372, Jeong Mong-ju visited Ming Dynasty, as a diplomatic envoy. Around the time, as Waegu (왜구/ 倭寇) (Japanese pirate)'s invasions to the Korean Peninsula were extreme, Jeong Mong-ju was dispatched as a delegate to Kyūshū in Japan, in 1377. [2] [3] His negotiations led to promises of Japanese aid in defeating the pirates. He traveled to the Ming Dynasty's capital city in 1384 [4] and the negotiations with the Chinese led to peace with the Ming Dynasty in 1385. He also founded an institute devoted to the theories of Confucianism.

Following a banquet held for him, Jeong Mong-ju was assassinated in 1392 by five men on the Sonjuk Bridge in Gaeseong. Politically motivated, the murder was ordered by Yi Bang-won (later Taejong of Joseon), the fifth son of Yi Seong-gye, who overthrew the Goryeo Dynasty in order to establish the Joseon Dynasty. Jeong Mong-ju was murdered because he refused to betray his loyalty to the Goryeo Dynasty. Yi Bang-won recited a poem (Hayeoga, 하여가 / 何如歌) to dissuade Jeong Mong-ju from remaining loyal to the Goryeo court, but Jeong Mong-ju answered with another poem (Dansimga, 단심가 / 丹心歌) that affirmed his loyalty. Yi Seong-gye is said to have lamented Jeong Mong-ju's death and rebuked his son because Jeong Mong-ju was a highly regarded politician by the common people. The bridge where Jeong Mong-ju was murdered, nowadays in North Korea, has now become a national monument of that country. A brown spot on one of the stones is said to be Jeong Mong-ju's bloodstain and is said to become red whenever it rains. Currently, his direct surviving descendants are his 28th and 29th generation, who reside in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The 474-year-old Goryeo Dynasty symbolically ended with Jeong Mong-ju's death and was followed by the Joseon Dynasty for 505 years (1392-1897). Jeong Mong-ju's noble death symbolizes his faithful allegiance to the king, and he was later venerated even by Joseon monarchs. In 1517, 125 years after his death, he was canonized into Sungkyunkwan (the National Academy) alongside other Korean sages such as Yi Hwang (Toegye, 1501-1570) and Yi I (Yulgok, 1536-1584).

The 11th pattern of ITF Taekwondo is named after Poeun. The pattern is performed as part of the testing syllabus for the level of 2nd-degree black belt. The diagram ( - ) represents Jeong Mong-ju's unerring loyalty to his king and his country towards the end of the Goryeo Dynasty.

The poems

portrait of Jeong Mong-ju Goryeo-Portrait of Jeong Mongju-01.jpg
portrait of Jeong Mong-ju

Yi Bang-won's sijo (poem) - Hayeoga(하여가, 何如歌)

          이런들 어떠하리 저런들 어떠하리                   此亦何如彼亦何如。                    (차역하여피역하여)

          만수산 드렁칡이 얽어진들 어떠하리               城隍堂後垣頹落亦何如。              (성황당후원퇴락역하여)

          우리도 이같이 얽어져 백년까지 누리리라       我輩若此爲不死亦何如。              (아배약차위불사역하여)

     (Based on the Hanja)

          What shall it be: this or that?

          The walls behind the temple of the city's deity* has fallen - shall it be this?

          Or if we survive together nonetheless - shall it be that?

     (* Yi Bang-won is declaring the death of the era - the Goryeo Dynasty.)

Jeong Mong-ju's sijo (poem) - Dansimga(단심가, 丹心歌)

          이몸이 죽고 죽어 일백 번 고쳐 죽어                此身死了死了一百番更死了。      (차신사료사료일백번갱사료)

          백골이 진토되어 넋이라도 있고 없고              白骨爲塵土魂魄有也無。              (백골위진토혼백유무야)

          임 향한 일편 단심이야 가실 줄이 있으랴         向主一片丹心寧有改理也歟。      (향주일편단심유개리여)


          Though I die and die again a hundred times,

          That my bones turn to dust, whether my soul remains or not,

          Ever loyal to my Lord, how can this red heart ever fade away?

Books

See also

Notes

  1. Kang et al. (2006), p. 191.
  2. 1 2 3 정몽주 鄭夢周 Archived 2011-06-10 at the Wayback Machine (in Korean) Nate / Encyclopedia of Korean Culture
  3. Titsingh, (1834). p. 313.
  4. Kang, p. 159.

Related Research Articles

Year 1392 (MCCCXCII) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar.

Yi Ja-chun or Lee Jachun was a minor military officer of the Yuan Dynasty and the father of Yi Seong-gye, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty. He was given the temple name Hwanjo by Taejong.

Neo-Confucianism

Neo-Confucianism is a moral, ethical, and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (772–841) in the Tang Dynasty, and became prominent during the Song and Ming dynasties under the formulations of Zhu Xi.

Taejo of Joseon

Taejo of Joseon, born 李成桂 was the founder and the first king of the Joseon dynasty of Korea. After ascension to the throne, he changed his name to 李旦. He reigned from 1392 to 1398, and was the main figure in the overthrowing of the Goryeo Dynasty.

Choi Young, also romanized as Choe Yeong, was a Korean general born in Hongseong or Cheorwon during the Goryeo period. He became a national hero after he put down the Jo Il-shin (조일신) rebellion. He also participated in the Red Turban Rebellions and later allied with the Ming dynasty to overthrow the Mongol Yuan dynasty. In his final years, General Choe was betrayed and executed by his former subordinate Yi Seong-gye, who founded the Joseon dynasty of Korea, bringing an end to the Goryeo period.

Taejong of Joseon

Taejong of Joseon was the third king of the Joseon dynasty in Korea and the father of King Sejong the Great.

Death poem Genre of poetry

The death poem is a genre of poetry that developed in the literary traditions of East Asian cultures—most prominently in Japan as well as certain periods of Chinese history and Joseon Korea. They tend to offer a reflection on death—both in general and concerning the imminent death of the author—that is often coupled with a meaningful observation on life. The practice of writing a death poem has its origins in Zen Buddhism. It is a concept or worldview derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically that the material world is transient and impermanent, that attachment to it causes suffering, and ultimately all reality is an emptiness or absence of self-nature. These poems became associated with the literate, spiritual, and ruling segments of society, as they were customarily composed by a poet, warrior, nobleman, or Buddhist monk.

Jeong Dojeon

Jeong Dojeon, also known by his pen name Sambong, was a prominent Korean scholar-official during the late Goryeo to the early Joseon periods. He served as the first Chief State Councillor of Joseon, from 1392 until 1398 when he was killed by Yi Bang-won, the fifth son of Yi Seong-gye, the founder of the Joseon dynasty. Jeong Dojeon was an adviser to Yi Seong-gye and also the principal architect of the Joseon dynasty's policies, laying down the kingdom's ideological, institutional, and legal frameworks which would govern it for five centuries.

U of Goryeo 우, often written Woo, but pronounced "Oo" ruled Goryeo (Korea) from 1374 until 1388.

Yi Saek


Yi Saek, also known by his pen name Mogeun, was a Korean writer and poet. His family belonged to the Hansan Yi clan. Yi Saek played a crucial role in the introduction and localisation of philosophy of Zhu Xi. He studied Neo-Confucianism in Yuan Dynasty China and opened an academy after his return to Goryeo, and from his academy the founders of Joseon Dynasty were educated.

King Gongyang of Goryeo was the 34th and final ruler of the Goryeo dynasty of Korea. He was deposed by Yi Seonggye, who then established the Joseon Dynasty.

Yongbieocheonga

Yongbieocheonga literally means Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and was the first work written in hangul. It was compiled during the reign of Sejong the Great as an official affirmation of the Joseon dynasty and its ancestral heritage. The Songs, in the form of 125 cantos, were composed through the efforts of a committee of Confucian philologists and literati. This compilation was the first Korean writing to depart from a long history of reliance on Chinese characters and to be recorded in hangul, the first and official alphabet of Korea. Several important themes in addition to that of the establishment of the Joseon dynasty reflect the events that gave rise to the creation of these poems: historical events that took place in China, the apotheosis of virtuous Kings preceding the fall of the Goryeo dynasty in Korea, and the Confucian political and philosophical ideologies of an era that rejected Buddhism.

This article explains the history of the Joseon dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 to 1897.

Sonjuk Bridge

Sŏnjuk Bridge is a Koryo-dynasty stone bridge located in Kaesong, North Korea. Built in 1290, it is famous as the place where famed Confucian scholar and statesman Jeong Mong-ju was assassinated, allegedly on the orders of the Yi Bang-won, son of the first king of the Joseon Dynasty, Yi Seong-gye. The bridge was closed to all traffic in 1780 and has since been a national monument. It is 8.35m long and 3.36m wide. It was originally named the Sonji Bridge, but was renamed Sonjuk Bridge after the assassination of Mong-ju because bamboo grew where he was killed.

The Red Turban invasions of Goryeo occurred in the 14th century, when the Red Turban Rebellion spread to Goryeo on the Korean Peninsula. The Red Turban rebels, originating in the Zhejiang area, were opposed to the Yuan dynasty of China and the Mongolian plateau. After gaining control of Liaodong, the Red Turbans invaded Goryeo in 1359 and 1360.

Joseon missions to Imperial China were Joseon diplomatic ventures which were intermittently sent in the years 1392-1894. These represent a significant aspect of the international relations of mutual Korean-Chinese contacts and communication.

Goryeo missions to Japan represent a crucial aspect of the international relations of mutual Goryeo-Japanese contacts and communication, especially during the years in which there were no official contacts between the leaders of Goryeo and the leaders of Japan.

Gwon Geun (1352–1409) was a Korean Neo-Confucian scholar at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty, and a student of Yi Saek. He was one of the first Neo-Confucian scholars of the Joseon dynasty, and had a lasting influence on the rise of Neo-Confucianism in Korea.

<i>Jeong Do-jeon</i> (TV series)

Jeong Do-jeon (Korean: 정도전) is a 2014 South Korean television series starring Cho Jae-hyun in the title role as Jeong Do-jeon, a real-life historical figure (1342-1398) who was one of the most powerful scholars and politicians of his time and a close supporter of King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty. The period drama shows the crucial role Jeong had in the planning and founding of Joseon and the obstacles he faced in the process, as well as his lasting impact on Joseon's politics and laws. It aired on KBS1 from January 4 to June 29, 2014 on Saturdays and Sundays at 21:40 for 50 episodes.

References