The Progeny of Fallen Royals: The Gaeseong Wang in Joseon Korea

Eugene Y. Park
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
10,000 won for non-members and 5,000 won for students (with student ID); free for members

<Statue of Taejo Wang Geon>

As the descendants of the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) supplanted by the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), the Gaeseong Wang braved a new sociopolitical terrain in early modern Korea. Once the Joseon state ended a bloody persecution (1394–1416) which virtually exterminated the Wangs, the lucky survivors and their descendants performed the government-sanctioned ancestral rituals (bongsa) to select Goryeo monarchs. Also, many passed the government service examinations, entered officialdom, commanded armies, and constituted local elite lineages in various parts of Korea. The most privileged among the Wangs were no different from the general aristocracy, yangban, pursuing classical Chinese education, and adhering to Confucian moral norms such as the cardinal virtue of a subject’s loyalty (chung) to the ruler. All the same, a growing number of subversive accounts, written and oral, began expressing sympathy toward Goryeo and its progeny as victims of Joseon. The Wangs themselves, however, refrained from openly dissenting until after the end of the Joseon dynasty.



About the lecturer: 

Eugene Y. Park graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in History, from Harvard with an A.M. in Regional Studies East Asia, and again from Harvard with a Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. He is currently Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History and director of the James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Interested in history of early modern and turn-of- the twentieth-century Korea, Park is the author of Between Dreams and Reality: The Military Examination in Chosŏn Korea, 1600–1894 (Harvard University Asia Center, 2007) and A Family of No Prominence: The Descendants of Pak Tŏkhwa and the Birth of Modern Korea (Stanford University Press, 2014).

Currently he is completing Progeny of Fallen Royals: The Koryŏ Wang in Chosŏn Korea (to be published by Stanford University Press), which examines positions occupied by the descendants of the Koryŏ dynasty in Chosŏn and modern Korean society. With Kirk W. Larsen and Yi Tae-Jin, Park is editing Peace in the East: An Chunggŭn's Vision for Asia in the Age of Japanese Imperialism (Lexington), featuring contributions by American, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean scholars examining potentials, impact, and limitations of a visionary Pan-Asianist. With George L. Kallander and Michael J. Pettid, Park is also editing The Cambridge History of Korea, Volume 3: The Chosŏn Dynasty, 1392–1910 (Cambridge University Press). Overall fascinated with origins, relationships, and representations, other areas of his interest include genealogy, portraiture, and religion.

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