Kings of the Joseon Dynasty, National Palace Museum of Korea

In 1392 the Joseon dynasty was founded by King Taejo, the first king of the Joseon dynasty and the throne was succeeded by 26 kings for 519 years until Japanese occupetion in 1910. Kings of Joseon had sovereign power as rulers. A monarch’s virtuous rule would be benefit to the whole country and his achievements would be passed on to his descendants. For this reason symbols of the monarch, which were placed near the king, represented his dynastic legitimacy, political authority and ceremonial dignity. Among the royal symbols, people considered royal seals as the most important emblem. Besides the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, the Genealogy of the Royal Clan and the Royal Protocols were considered to be precious records.

Main Artifacts

Royal Throne
The throne was placed at the center of the main hall of the palace. The king was seated in his throne during state affairs and in audiences with his subjects. The throne depicted in the portrait of King Taejo(r.1392~1398), the founder of the Dynasty, has an almost identical design, evidencing that this design continued to be made over the course of the Joseon Dynasty. A screen of the sun, moon, and five peaks was placed behind the throne to evoke a sense of divinity and majesty.

Royal Proclamation to the Honorable and Loyal Subject Yi Seongyun
King Gwanghaegun (r. 1608~1623) granted this gyoseo to Yi Seongyun (1570~1620), for his resistance to the 1592 Japanese Invasions. Usually decorated with patternless blue and yellow silk, the pronouncements bestowed upon the king’s subjects were simple and neat, in contrast to the lavishly decorated investiture documents of the royal family gyomyeong.

Gold Seal of King Taejo
This seal which belong to King Taejo(r. 1392~1398) was inscribed when he was bestowed an additional posthumous title “Jeongui Gwangdeok ([your] Righteousness and Luminous Benevolence).”

Exemplary Accomplishments of the Monarch
Exemplary Accomplishments of the Monarch record the exemplary accomplishments and deeds of former kings that were worth emulating, and was considered to be an important record of Joseon Kings.

Six-Fold Screen of the Sun, Moon, and Five Peaks
Screens as the backdrop of the masters’ seats in their rooms traditionally signified their authority or implied their own tastes. A screen of the sun, moon and five peaks was a symbolic image of the universe which always backed the throne of the Joseon king. The components of the painting are natural, long-living things, used as metaphors of the royal benevolence in a poem ‘Tianbao’from Shijing (Book of Odes). The flat decorative depiction of the subjects in bright colors, and a panoramic symmetry, suitably present the divinity of the regime as the perpetual nexus between the earthly and heavenly realms.

Genealogy of the Royal Family
The Genealogy of the Royal Family, or Seonwon-Rok, records information on the royal clans under governm -ent administration. The early royal genealogies used to extensively list the names of King Taejo’s progenit -or and half-brothers. King Taejong (r.1400~1418), who was apprehensive of the futureconflict over the throne, split the genealogy in three separate types: Seonwon-Rok limited the royal lineage up to King Taejong’s direct family from the progenitor, Jongchin -Rok redefined rightful inheritors of the throne up to King Taejo and his legitimate sons, while Yubu-Rok listed the rest of the members of the royal clan. King Taejong set up the foundation of a stable dynastic regime by completely excluding King Taejo’s half- brothers from the succession of the throne and by narrowing down the legitimate competitors to the throne.

National Palace Museum of Korea
The National Palace Museum of Korea houses a magnificent collection of art and objects from the palaces of the Joseon Dynasty, representing the majesty and dignity of the 500-year history of the Joseon Dynasty. The Museum seeks to broaden public knowledge of the artistic and cultural legacy of the Joseon Dynasty by being active in research, exhibitions, and educational programs.

The National Palace Museum of Korea promotes and preserves the culture of the Joseon royal and Korean imperial court by collecting, conserving, researching and exhibiting the related relics and artifacts. You can see the permanent exhibitions by diverse subjects and special exhibitions based on in-depth stories related to the Joseon royal and Korean imperial court with multifarious display methods. Various learning programs and cultural events are available in the museum.

The museum also plays its role as a culturally core place within Gyeongbokgung Palace district in downtown Seoul. The Museum will stand as the place where the people can view the splendid royal treasures and artifacts, and be a leading institution for increasing the cultural wealth of Korea.