[THIS WEEK IN HISTORY]Taking a stand but paying the price of lifeMarch 15, 1646
Not much is known about Crown Princess Kang of the mid-Joseon Dynasty, who met a tragic death on this date. To this day, even the age of the wife of Crown Prince Sohyeon remains unknown. Born to a high-ranking state official, she was lucky to be chosen by the court as a consort to the crown prince of King Injo. Ten years later, however, misfortune began.
The first misfortune that befell her was the Chinese invasion of 1636. Following its victory, the Ching Dynasty required a hostage to stay in China. King Injo sent Crown Prince Sohyeon and his wife.
Once in China, however, the young and bright crown prince started to play the role of representative of his dynasty, making close ties with the Ching Dynasty. It did not please his father back home. King Injo grew suspicious that his son might be asking for China’s support for his accession to the crown.
When he came back home at the age of 34, Crown Prince Sohyon was not welcomed. Strangely enough, the healthy prince fell ill two months after returning. Only three days after he became bedridden, the crown prince died.
The crown princess and court officials mourned over his sudden death, but not King Injo. Instead of following the formalities required of a royal funeral, he hurriedly had his son’s body buried despite opposition from the princess.
No proper investigation into what killed his son was held. Soon after, King Injo made another son crown prince, depriving the son of Sohyeon his right to be the successor to the throne.
Everything seemed to go smoothly for King Injo, although rumors persisted that he poisoned his son. But the former crown princess was not a feeble woman and refused to give in that easily. Every day, she went near the king’s quarters and wailed over the death of her husband, crying out loud. She started to skip the morning and evening greetings to the king, an important court ritual.
A court official named Jo So-yeong, who was antagonistic toward the former crown princess, started to spread rumors that she was planning to poison the king. Without checking the authenticity of the rumor, the king ordered her death by poisoning.
Her misfortune, however, did not end there; her elderly mother and four brothers were executed by beating while her three young sons were banished.
She was later given another name, Crown Princess Minhoe, whose Chinese characters mean “grudge and remorse.”
March 15, 1960
Kim Ju-yeol was a teenager who knew right from wrong. Born in Namwon, North Jeolla province, the 16-year-old was spending time in Masan, South Gyeongsang province, with his elder brother waiting to take a high school exam. Despite his young age, he was aware that then-President Syngman Rhee’s desire for a continuing dictatorship was wrong.
Following his election to become the first president of the Republic of Korea in 1948 after the 1945 liberation from Japan’s colonial rule, Mr. Rhee, once a respected independent activist, grew into a politician blinded by his power. He was not afraid to fabricate election results to stay in power, inspiring Mr. Kim and others on this date to rally.
This of course did not please Mr. Rhee, who, with his close aid, Vice President Lee Kee-bung, sent a police squad to deal with the rallies.
The riot police used all means to stop the protests. It ended with eight deaths, six of whom were minors, including Mr. Kim.
Mr. Kim’s body was found on April 11, floating in the sea near Masan. It was too awful to view, as a hand grenade had exploded in front of his face. The black-and-white photograph is too atrocious to publish in the newspaper.
The death of this innocent teenager brought about the April 19 Revolution, which eventually led Mr. Rhee leaving South Korea and taking exile in Hawaii.
Mr. Lee committed suicide.
by Chun Su-jin
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