Enforced ascension, a forced trip and forceful abdicationOct. 20, 1980
Kim Jong-il on this date was appointed the heir to Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s first “Dear Leader.” Touting the slogan, “Let’s keep our faith over the generations,” Kim Jong-il donned the invisible crown. Kim Il Sung withdrew from state affairs by the early 1980s, but stayed involved in diplomatic circles until his death in 1994. Kim Jong-il has not yet designated the future third “Dear Leader.”
Oct. 21, 1997
Daeseong is the only village in the southern part of the Demilitarized Zone where civilians reside. Life in this community within the Joint Security Area can be dangerous. In 1975, North Koreans abducted one of the villagers, Kim Se-yu, then 23; he has never returned. Among the luckier ones were Hong Seung-sun and her son, Kim Yong-bok, who were sent back home on this date after being kidnapped to the North.
Ms. Hong and her 37-year-old son were out picking acorns on Oct. 17, taking a breather from their work in the rice paddies. Their fateful acorn hunt took place in some hills 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) northeast of Panmunjeom. At 11:45 a.m., 12 armed soldiers in North Korean uniform crossed the military demarcation line into the South and absconded with Ms. Hong and Mr. Kim. Later that day, the North announced that their soldiers had maintained order over their territory by capturing two South Korean invaders. Because of pressure from United Nations forces, and South Korea’s decision to send back North Korean soldiers who had drifted to the South, North Korea returned Ms. Hong and Mr. Kim.
Oct. 21, 2002
Ancient kingdoms, colonization followed by an independence movement, the Korean War and division into two countries: Korea is second to none in having a long, eventful history. One sunny day last year, staff at the Joong-Ang Daily, the leading English newspaper in Seoul, agreed there was insufficient information on Korean history in English. And on this date, “This Week in Korean History” was born.
Oct. 24, 1457
Danjong, sixth king of the Joseon Dynasty (1392 to 1910), was killed on this date at age 16. Danjong is remembered as one of the most unfortunate kings in Korean history, a victim of power struggles.
From the time he was appointed crown prince at age eight, Danjong was doomed. His father, King Munjong, died after only two years, which caused Danjong to ascend the throne at 12. King Munjong had some ambitious half-brothers, among whom Prince Suyang was the most outspoken about his dream. Danjong held the throne ― in name only ― for three years, until being usurped by Prince Suyang. After handing the Royal Seal to his uncle in tears, Danjong was abducted and Prince Suyang was appointed King Sejo. Happy to be adorned with the crown, yet pressured by Danjong’s faithful, Sejo banished Danjong to Yeongwol, an isolated town in Gangwon province. On this date, King Sejo had Danjong poisoned.
In the early 20th century, the novelist Lee Gwang-su penned “Sad History of King Danjong”; another writer, Kim Dong-in, countered with “The Great Suyang,” describing King Sejo as an achiever against all odds.
by Chun Su-jin