본문내용 바로가기 상단메뉴 가기
About Song-pa

Historical Figures

  • About Song-pa
  • Cultural Remains
  • Historical Figures

Kim Gu

  • 1649 ~ 1704
  • Civil official of late Joseon
  • Clan seat: Cheongpung / Pen name: Gwanbokje
  • His father served as a provincial magistrate (Gwanchalsa)
  • He passed the state examinations held in 1669 (Samasi) and 1682 (Chundangdae Mungwa) which led him to various minor positions in the Six Ministries (Yukjo) and Offices of Inspectors (Saheonbu) and Censors (Saganwon). In this early phase of his career, he was mainly interested in relaxing the conflict and tension between, the Old Doctrine (Noron) and the Young Doctrine (Soron), two major political factions of his time. In the following phase, he continued to be promoted and given opportunities to serve as the Magistrates (Gwanchalsa) of four provinces, Censor-General (Daesagan), and in 1697 the Governor (Yusu) of Ganghwa. It was when he was heading the local administration of Ganghwa that he was denounced for the failure to implement the government policy to get over the national financial difficulty caused by widespread crop failures. However, his leadership with respect to the national controversy over the restoration of King Danjong (r. +82-2-1452-1455) and his consort Royal Lady Sin eventually guided him to the top ministerial positions, including Justice Minister (Hyeongjo Panseo) and, in 1703, Chief Minister of the Right (Uuijeong).
  • He held fast to the views he believed right and remained faithful to the Confucian virtues, receiving the adoration of not just ordinary people but his colleagues and even the king. He had expert knowledge about military strategies and Doism, and exhibited outstanding talent in writing and calligraphy. He spent his final years at an area protected by the earthen wall of Mongchontoseong in today’s Bangi-dong of Songpa-gu, Seoul. His influence remained strong even after his retirement, regularly receiving the homage of local administrators and deep respect from all his neighbors.
  • Also located within the Mongchontoseong site, his grave is protected by a “curved wall” and marked by a stone lantern, a pair of stone civil ministers, and a memorial monument set up in 1743. The monument, consisting of the pedestal, the body and the capstone, carries an epitaph written by Yi Ui-hyeon and calligraphed by Seo Myeong-gyun.

Kim Sang-heon

  • 1570~1652
  • Civil official of mid Joseon, Clan seat: Andong
  • Pen names: Sukdo, Cheongeum, Seoksil Sanin, and Seogan Noin
  • Place of birth: Seoul
  • Kim Sang-heon was born as a son of Kim Geuk-hyo who served the Joseon Dynasty as a mid-rank officer in Royal Household Administration (Donnyeongbu) and a brother of Kim Sang-yong who served in many important positions in the government, including Chief Minister of the Right (Uuijeong). Kim Sang-heon was adopted to his uncle Kim Dae-hyo at the age of three. His career in the government began to be conspicuous after the Coup of 1623 when he directly opposed to the opportunism supported by the meritorious liegemen by stressing the importance of telling right from wrong, His fundamentalistic position instantly led him to the leader of the Clear Westerners (Cheongseopa).
  • When he was appointed to work as Inspector General (Daesaheon) in 1635, he focused his full attention upon military preparations for the imminent invasion of the Manchu forces. When the latter invaded Joseon in the following year, he, as the Minister of Rites (Yejo Panseo) escorted King Injo to the Namhansanseong Fortress, and fiercely opposed to the idea of signing a humiliating peace agreement with the Manchus. Failing to persuade the king not to choose the idea of the doves, however, he retired from the government and left for his home in Andong.
  • His hardline position against the rising Manchus ended with the infuriated Manchu ruler taking him to the north as hostage.
  • A poem Kim Sang-heon left at the moment of departing home is still regarded as a symbol of his noble patriotism: “I am leaving you, my dear Samgaksan, and see you again, my dear Hangangsu. / Who would willingly leave the mountains and rivers of their motherland? / With the time being so wild, I am not sure if I can return.” His writings were later collected in a 40-volume book, Collected Wirings of Cheongeum. He was posthumous title is Munjeong.

Seo Geo-jeong

  • 1420~1488
  • Civil official during early Joseon / Clan seat : Dalseong / Other names: Gangjung, Jawon, Sagajeong
  • His great grandfather served the Joseon Dynasty as the Finance Minister (Hojo Jeonseo) and his father as a Gorvernor (Moksa). His mother is a daughter of Gwon Geun, a great Confucian scholar-statesman of Goryeo and Joseon
  • Seo Geo-jeong was a distinguished man of letters who made great achievement in a variety of academic areas such as astronomy, geography, medicine, divination, and Pungsu (or Feng Shui).
  • Also an outstanding prose writer and versifier, he wrote many books, including Collection of Writings by Seo Geo-jeong (Sagajip), Chronology of Successive Rulers (Yeokdae Yeonpyo), Author's Trivia (Pirwon Japgi), and Essays on Poetry (Donginsimun), and participated in various literary works such as Comprehensive Mirror on the Eastern State (Dongguk Tonggam), Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea (Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam), and The Great Code of the National Government (Gyeongguk Daejeon). He was given a posthumous title Munchung, and his spirit tablet was enshrined in a Confucian shrine-academy called Guamseowon.
  • It was when he was entering his 50s that Seo Geo-jeong arranged a new house attached with a farm in a village near the Han River. Located in today’s Gwangjang-dong under Achasan Mountain, the village was greatly helpful for the scholar to lead an idyllic life full of refreshment, reading and writing poetry about the riverside landscapes.
  • As his final hours approaching, however, he moved his home to a new place in today’s Bangi-dong where he would have his own grave. The grave had existed until the early 20th century but as the area became disrupted with urban development plans initiated by Japanese colonial rulers, his descendants moved it to the family cemetery near Guam Seowon in Daegu.

Eo Hyo-cheom

  • 1405~1475
  • Eo Hyo-cheom was born as a son of Eo Beon-gap, a civil official of early Joseon, and given a courtesy name Manjong and a pen name Gwicheon. His clan seat is Hamjong and posthumous title, Munchung. It was in 1430 after he passed a state examination that he started his career in the government, serving in various positions including the top ministerial posts and Inspector-General (Daesaheon). He was appointed to work as the head of the Ministry of Civil Affairs (Ijo Panseo) in 1463 and to chair the Central Advisory Council (Pan Jungchubusa) in 1474.
  • Eo Hyo-cheom was widely admired by his contemporaries for the lifestyle decoted to Confucian virtues and learning. He fiercely opposed ‘unscientific’ ideas and practices such as the yin-yang concept and Pungsu (or Feng Shui) and, according to Eminent Officials of the Eastern State (Haedong Myeongsillok), he refused inviting professional Pungsu practitioners to his father’s funeral although traditionally their involvement was crucial in the process of finding auspicious sites for the burials. His principle has been carefully observed by his descents as shown by several hundred graves of the Hamjong Eo clan facing west or north to avoid sizzling sunlight. Houses in their clan village also tend to face west and north rather than south. Eo Hyo-cheom wrote a book, Daily Quotations from the Classics of Rites (Yegi Ilcho).

O Dal-je

  • 1609~1637
  • One of the Three Scholars who opposed the humiliating peace agreement with the Manchus in 1639
  • He was born as a son of O Yun-hae in the Haeju O Clan and given a courtesy name Ihwi and a pen name Chudam. His career as a government official after he passed the state examinations held in 1627 (Samasi) and in 1634 (Byeolsi Mungwa) at the age of 19 and 26 respectively. He had served in various mid and low-ranking positions until 1636 when he was appointed to work Junior Fifth Counselor (Bugyori) in Hall of Extensive Learning (Hongmungwan).
  • It was during this period that Later Jin grew rapidly, changed its name to Qing, and began to threaten Joseon. From the start, O Dal-je opposed the unequal diplomatic relationship between Joseon and Qing and kept on pleading with the king not to follow the advice of the doves represented by Choe Myeong-gil. When the Manchu forces invaded Joseon in 1636, he followed the king to the Namhansanseong Fortress, struggling to persuade the king not to surrender. His effort, however, came to nought as the king found the surrender only option available. The Qing ruler put the responsibility for the war to the hardliners in the Joseon government and insisted on taking them with him as hostages. O Dal-je volunteered to be a hostage and was taken to Shenyang, the capital of the Manchus. Here, he and his fellow hostages were either conciliated or threatened by the Manchu leaders to change their mind and support Qing rather than Ming which had already been seriously failing. He and his two fellow hostages, Yun Jip and Hong Ik-han, however, refused to betray justice and faith and chose to be executed outside the West Gate of Shenyang. The three Confucian scholars have since then been widely admired among the Korean people.
  • O Dal-je was good at ink wash painting, and his favorite subject was plum blossom. His plum paintings show an influence from the works of Eo Mong-nyong, Jo Suk and Heo Mok as well as the style of some Ming artists. His two remaining works also show that his style and composition was followed by a group of artists such as Jo Ji-un, Hong Su-ju, Bak Dong-jin, Jo Hui-ryong and Yi Gong-u.
  • He was posthumously given the titles of the Second Royal Secretary (Jwaseungji) and Prime Minister (Yeonguijeong) and his spirit tablets are enshrined in several Confucian shrines across Korea, including Hyeonjeolsa in the Namhansanseong Fortress, Pouisa in Pyeongtaek, Changnyeol Seowon in Hongsan, Jeongeom Seowon in Yeongcheon, and Uncheon Seowon in Goryeong. His writings were later collected together and published under a title, Posthumous Collection of Writings by Chungyeolgong (Chungyeolgong is one of his posthumous titles.).

Yun Jip

  • 1606~1637
  • A civil official of late Joseon
  • Yun Jip was born in the Namwon Yun Clan as a son of Yun Hyeong-gap who was serving as the Prefectural Administrator (Hyeongam) of Gosan and as a brother of Yun Gye who served as the Mayer (Busa) of Namyang. He is also known by his courtesy name Seongbaek and pen name Imgye
  • He started his career in the government of the Joseon Dynasty in 1632 after he passed the state examinations held in 1627 and 1631. It was in 1636 when he was serving in a mid-ranking post in the Ministry of Civil Affairs that the Manchu forces invaded Joseon. The king and his cabinet members sought refuge in the Namhansanseong Fortress, but soon became enveloped by formidable Manchu forces. The besiegement of the fortress by the enemy forces led to a heated discussion about whether they need to surrender or fight on. A group of officials led by Choe Myeong-gil strongly advised that the dynasty should get over the crisis through negotiation while others, including Yun Jip, O Dal-je and Hong Ik-han, fiercely opposed the Choe’s position. The latter party even advised the king that he kill the leader of the peaceniks as a symbolic action to save the dynasty’s civilization from the barbarism of the enemy.
  • In a memorial sent to the king, Yun Jip vehemently criticized his opponent Choe Myeong-gil for tricking the king into making a wrong, sinful decision and warned the king that he could lose the country and people if he would follow vice rather then virtue and wrong that than right. Their sincere advice, however, could not turn the tide as the king chose the views seeking peace even with some humiliation. The Manchu leaders wanted to punish the hardliners and pressed the Joseon king to point at them. Yun Jip, along with O Dal-je, volunteered to step forward and be taken to the land of the Manchus as their hostage. In Shenyang where they were kept, Qing officials tried all their efforts to change the belief and attitude of the noble scholar-statesmen but with no success. The Three Scholars (Samhaksa), Yun Jip, O Dal-je, and Hong Ik-han, were executed outside the West Gate of Shenyang. After his death, Yun Jip was given a title of Prime Minister (Yeonguijeong), and his spirit tablets are enshrined in several Confucian shrines across Korea, including Hyeonjeolsa in the Namhansanseong Fortress, Pouisa in Pyeongtaek, Changnyeol Seowon in Hongsan, Jeongeom Seowon in Yeongcheon, and Uncheon Seowon in Goryeong.

Yi Jip

  • 1314~1387
  • A man of letters and civil official of late Goryeo
  • Yi Jip was born in the Gwangju Yi Clan as a son of Yi Dang, a local functionary in Gwangju. Also known by several different names, such as Wollyeong, Hoyeon, and Dunchon, he passed a state examination held under King Chungmok (r. +82-2-1344-1348), and maintained a friendly relationship with a group of great Confucian scholar-statesmen of late Goryeo including Yi Saek, Jeong Mong-ju and Yi Sung-in
  • Yi Jip was admired by his contemporaries as a distinguished man of letters and of integrity. In 1368, he had to flee the court to save his life after his criticism against Sindon, a Buddhist monk then wielding unfettered power. He and his family found a hiding place at the house of Choe Yeong-do in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsang-do and stayed there until 1371 when Sindon was murdered. He returned to Gaegyeong, the capital of Goryeo, and was after a while given an opportunity to serve the government. He became tired of the power struggle in the court, however, retired, and built a house in a village called Andungol of Gwangju where he relished a peaceful, idyllic life until the end of his life. It is said that his descendants were very successful in their political careers as there had been among them five Chief Ministers (Jeongseung), six Ministers (Panseo), and seven Meritorious Officials (Gongsin).
  • According to the Newly Enlarged Geographical Survey of the Eastern State (Sinjeung Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam), the descendants of Yi Jip who left distinguished legacy include Yi Ji-jik, Yi Ji-gang, Yi Ji-yu, Yi Jang-son, Yi In-son, Yi Ye-son, Yi Geuk-bae, Yi Geuk-gam, Yi Geuk-jung, Yi Geuk-gyun, Yi Se-pil, Yi Se-gwang, Yi Se-u, and Yi Se-jwa. His writings were collected posthumously and published under the title, Posthumous Collection of Writings by Dunchon (Dunchon Yugo), and his spirit tablit was enshrined in Gwiam Seowon in Gwangju. Historical significance of his life has left clear marks in the area as shown by some place names originated from his pen name Dunchon, such as Dunchon-dong, a district of Gangdong-gu, Seoul, and Dunchon-ro, a 3,870-meter-long street linking the address numbered 522-6 of Dunchon-dong to San 11-4 of Myeongil-dong. Finally, it must be pointed out that both Gangdong-gu and Songpa-gu of Seoul today had been part of Gwangju in the past and that Yi Jip made himself the founder of the Gwangju Yi Clan.

Jo Un-hyul

  • 1332~1404
  • A civil official of late Goryeo and early Joseon
  • Jo Un-hyeon was born in the Pungyang Jo Clan as a 31st-generation descendant of the Manager of Affairs (Pyeongjangsa) Maeng
  • Jo Un-hyeon was introduced to Confucianism as a pupil of Yi In-bok, and started his career in the government after passing a state examination held in 1357.
  • Since then he served in various mid and high-ranking government posts serving in and outside the capital, including a Lecturer of the State Academy (Gukjagam Jikgang) and a Governor of Three Provinces (Samdo Allyeomsa). He retired from the public service in 1374 to lead a hermit’s life at a remote place under Noumsan Mountain in Sangju.
  • It was during this period that local people saw him sitting on the back of an ox and reciting poems which would later be “Ode on the Ox Rider’s Painting” (Giudochan) and “Song of Rocky Valley” (Seokganga). He was brought to the court by King U (r. +82-2-1374-1388) in 1377 but retired again three years later. This time, he settled in a village in Gwangju, opened two guesthouses, Pangyowon and Sapyeongwon, for the travelers making a journey around the area.
  • His career in the public service resumed in 1388 by an order from King U and then from his successor King Chang (r. 1388-89), and served as a Magistrate (Dogwanchalsa) of Seohae-do, Mayor (Buyun) of Gyerim and Governor (Busa) of Gangneung. After the fall of Goryeo, the newly established dynasty of Joseon also wanted his service which he declined eventually. He returned to the riverside village in Gwangju and led a hermit’s life until his death in 1404 at the age of 73.

Choe Myeong-gil

  • 1586~1647
  • A civil official of mid Joseon
  • Clan seat: Jeonju
  • Courtesy name: Jagyeom, Pen name: Jicheon and Changnang
  • His father Choe Gi-nam was the Governor (Busa) of Yeongheung and his mother a daughter of Yu Yeong-lip, a vice minister
  • He started his career in the government in 1614 by serving in a minor post in the Ministry of Military Affairs. His meritorious service during the Coup of 1623 (Injo Banjeong) led to the investment with the title of the Meritorious Subject for the Stabilization of the Dynasty (Jeongsa Gongsin) and a range of high-ranking posts in the government such as the Vice Minister of Civial Affairs (Ijo Champan), First Counselor (Bujehak) in the Hall of Extensive Writings (Hongmungwan), Inspector-General (Daesaheon), and the Ministers of Civil Affairs (Ijo Panseo, 1632) and Finance (Hojo Panseo, 1635).
  • His support for those seeking after a friendly settlement with the Manchu invaders in 1636 aroused severe criticism among the opponents, but it did not stop him from serving King Injo in the top ministerial post (Yeonguijeong). He died in 1645.
  • Following the Joseon’s surrender to Qing in 1637, he was taken to Shenyang in Manchuria as a hostage. The situation was direful, but he never lost his brevity and noble attitude. It was then when he was caught in the hands of enemy that Kim Sang-heon, an anti-Qing hardliner and hence one of his main opponents, was greatly moved as the latter now realized that his support for the doves came from his truthful loyalty to the country.
  • It is said that Kim Sang-heon sent his descendants his dying wish that they should cooperate with the Choe family through generations to better handle the affairs of the world. Choe Myeong-gil had expert knowledge on Neo-Confucianism, and was a great writer and calligrapher. He left a 19-volume book, Writings of Jicheon (Jicheonjip) and a 2-volume book titled Jicheon’s Memorials to the Throne (Jicheon Jucha). His posthumous title is Munchung, and his spirit tablet is enshrined in Jicheonsa Shrine in Bakcheon.

Hong Ik-han

  • 1586~1637
  • One of the Three Scholars (Samhaksa) along with O Dal-je and Yun Jip
  • Clan seat: Namyang / Courtesy name: Baekseung / Pen names: Hwapo and Unong / Born as a son of a Confucian scholar Hong I-seong and a daughter of Kim Lim, and adopted to his uncle Hong Dae-seong
  • His career as a government official started after he passed the state examinations held in 1615 and 1624. It was in 1636 when he was serving as a mid-ranking official in the State Academy (Seonggyungwan) that the newly established Manchu dynasty of Qing sent a letter, demanding that Joseon should be a Qing’s vassal state. The letter burned the Joseon court with anger, and drove Hong Ik-han among others to demand that they should kill Manchu messengers to express their fury and disapproval. The invasion of the Manchu forces later the same year forced King Injo and his government to find a shelter in the Namhansanseong Fortress and urged serious discussions about whether they should fight or surrender. Hong Ik-han, who had already had many of his family members killed by the enemy, fiercely opposed the idea of surrender even after the decision was made for a peace agreement and to accept all the conditions enforced by the enemy.
  • Following the surrender, Qing wanted the leaders of hardliners who opposed a peaceful agreement with Qing, such as Kim Sang-heon, O Dal-je and Kim Jip. As for Hong Ik-han, the government advised him to leave the capital and work in a minor post in Pyengyang until the critical moment passed. Qing, however, pointed him as the leader of the anti-peace group and took him to Shenyang as hostage along with O Dal-je and Yun Jip. Threats and conciliations followed to turn him into a pro-Qing supporter, but he insisted that only he himself wanted to “cut your [i.e. Lungkuta who commanded the Manchu invaders] head off.”
  • Details of the execution of the Three Scholars (Samhaksa, i.e. O Dal-je, Yun Jip, and Hong Ik-han) had been veiled for quite a long while. It was during the reign of King Hyojong (r. +82-2-1649-1659) that their heroic deaths were honored with posthumous titles, the First Royal Secretary (Doseungji, to Hong Ik-han), First Counselor (Bujehak, to Yun Jip), and the Second Royal Secretary (Jwaseungji, to O Dal-je). Then all the Three Scholars were bestowed the top government position, the Prime Minister (Yeonguijeong) in 1663. Their spirit tablets are enshrined in several Confucian shrines across Korea, including Hyeonjeolsa in Gwangju, Chungnyeolsa in Ganghwa, Pouisa in Pyeongtaek, Changnyeol Seowon in Hongsan, Dodong Seowon in Buan, Jeongeom Seowon in Yeongcheon, and Uncheon Seowon in Goryeong, and Seosan Seowon in Pyeongyang. He left books titled The Collected Writings of Hwapo (Hwapojip), Journey to the North (Bukhaengnok), and Exploration of the West (Seojeongnok).