[Hallyupedia] Cheoljong(철종)

윤지현 / 차민경 인턴 기자 / 기사승인 : 2021-02-20 07:00:08
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Historical comedy series 'Mr. Queen' calls attention to the forgotten King

​by Yun Ji Hyun / Cha Min Kyung 

The 25th king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea.
Reigning period : from 1849 to 1863. 

▲ Portrait of King Cheoljong (Joseon, 1861 / Treasure No.1492). This photo provided by The National Palace Museum of Korea. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

▲ Birth and childhood

King Cheoljong was a distant descendant of the Joseon Dynasty. He was born as the grandson of Prince Euneon, who was the son of Crown Prince Sado's concubine. Sado himself was the second son of the 21st King Yeongjo of Joseon.

He spent his childhood in Ganghwado Island, where his family had been in exile, and suddenly ascended to the throne at the age of 19 when the direct lineage of the Joseon Dynasty was cut off. His name was originally Yi Won-beom, but upon ascending the throne his name was legally changed to Yi Byeon.

He was also called "Ganghwa Doryeong(bachelor)" because he lived like a farmer in Ganghwa Island until he ascended to the throne. 


▲ Yongheunggung Palace (용흥궁) on Ganghwa Island in Incheon. The house where King Cheoljong lived until he was 19 years old before he ascended to the throne.

▲ Reign and death

As a distant relative of both the recently deceased King Heonjong and King Yeongjo, Cheoljong was selected to be adopted by the Senior Dowager Queen Sunwon(King Sunjo's widow) and allowed to ascend to the throne.

In 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. Senior Dowager Queen Sunwon, who crowned King Cheoljong, was also a member of the Andong Kim Clan. As part of consolidating their power, in 1851, the clan married Cheoljong to Kim Mun-geun's daughter, known posthumously as Queen Cheorin.

Cheojong attempted various reforms in the early days of his reign, but most of them failed due to opposition and non-cooperation from the Andong Kim Clan and other officials. In his later years, he was almost out of politics and indulged in women and wine. He died at a young age of 32.

He had five sons and six daughters between the Queen and the concubines, but most of them died when they were young and only one princess survived. Eventually, the lineage of the Joseon Dynasty was cut off again after his death.

▲ Related Issue : TV drama "Mr. Queen"

"Mr. Queen," a historical comedic drama series, is about a fictional character based on King Cheoljong and Queen Cheorin.

Starring Shin Hye-sun and Kim Jung-hyun, "Mr. Queen" tells the story of a man named Bong-hwan, a senior chef in present-day South Korea's presidential office, who finds himself trapped in the body of Queen Cheorin after a mysterious accident.

Due to King Cheoljong's background, he is often portrayed foolishly or as weak in most creations. But this drama portrayed him as a reformer and the ending of the drama was different from real-life.


▲ TV drama "Mr. Queen". This image provided by tvN.(PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

"Mr. Queen" gained popularity and ended with high ratings, making it the fifth most-watched drama among tvN's drama series, but also faced criticism for distorting Korean history. In one episode, Bong-hwan refers to "The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty" as a tabloid, sparking public disapproval that the remake of a Chinese TV series neglected the country's cultural asset and UNESCO's Memory of the World heritage.


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