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The Life and Political Activities of Yi Jik, a Contributor to the Early Joseon Dynasty

Yunjoo Kim 1

1충남대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper analyzes the life and political activities of Yi Jik(李稷, 1362∼1431), Gaegukgongsin(Dynastic Foundation Merit Subject), Jwamyeonggongsin(Taejong Merit Subject) in the early Joseon Dynasty. Yi Jik faced a political crisis in the late Goryeo Dynasty due to the fall of his uncle Yi In-im and the Yun Yi·Yi Cho incidents, but after Jeong Mong-joo was assassinated, he was incorporated into the Yi Seong-gye faction. After the founding of the Joseon Dynasty, he played an active role in diplomacy and capital relocation and construction as a Gaegukgongsin. However, during the First Prince’s Rebellion, he was in Jeong Do-jeon’s faction, and after the uprising ended, he cooperated with King Taejong’s regime. After King Taejong ascended the throne, he was active in various fields, including government administration and ceremonial maintenance, as a Jwamyeonggongsin. However, after Min Mu-hyul’s death in 1415, his father-in-law, Yi Jik, was also expelled from politics for nearly seven years. In addition, his return to politics during the reign of King Sejong was carried out according to Retired King Taejong’s wishes, and it is believed that this was because he was a suitable person to take charge of Uijeongbu(Board of Supreme Council) in the reign of King Sejong. He had long experience in the management of diplomacy, rituals, and legislation, and was familiar with government administration as he served as a minister of Uijeongbu during the reign of King Taejong. Afterwards, he played an important role as an facilitator in establishing the political foundation of King Sejong. During the period of political change from Goryeo to Joseon, Yi Jik was active in politics for quite a long time. However, the process of being in the opposing faction of Yi Seong-gye in the late Goryeo Dynasty and being appointed as a Gaegukgongsin after the founding of the Joseon Dynasty, and the process of being a member of Jeong Do-jeon’s faction during the First Prince’s Rebellion and being appointed as a Jwamyeonggongsin after King Taejong came to power, are not clearly explained. In this regard, it is noteworthy that when Yi Jik was involved in the Min Mu-hyul incident, King Taejong evaluated his past actions as ‘Banryongbubong(Grab the dragon’s scales and climb on the phoenix’s wings to achieve success; Pursuing a great king and making achievements)’. It is believed that he wanted to fulfill his duties as a bureaucrat rather than leading a change in power. On the one hand, he can be seen to have responded very flexibly to changes in power at the time. He also played a leading role in the process of establishing a political system at the beginning of the founding of the nation. His political capabilities were most actively displayed in the process of establishing Joseon’s political system during the reign of King Taejong. In addition, after returning to politics in 1422, he became a great helper in establishing King Sejong’s political foundation and also played a role in continuing the political system previously planned by King Taejong.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.