Yi Hwang (1501–1570) is one of the two most prominent Korean
Confucian scholars of the Joseon Dynasty, the other being his younger
Yi I (Yulgok). A key figure of the Neo-Confucian
literati, he established the Yeongnam School and set up the Dosan
Seowon, a private Confucian academy.
Yi Hwang is often referred to
by his pen name Toegye ("Retreating Creek"). His courtesy name was
3 Selected works
3.1 Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning
4 In modern culture
5 See also
8 External links
Yi Hwang was born in Ongye-ri, Andong, North
Gyeongsang Province, in
1501. He belonged to the Jinseong Yi clan, and was the youngest son
among eight children. A child prodigy, he learned the
Confucius from his uncle at age twelve and admiring the poetry of Tao
Qian, started writing poetry. His poem Yadang (hangul:야당,
hanja:野塘, "Pond in the Wild"), written at the age of eighteen, is
considered one of his major works. Around the age of twenty, he
immersed himself in the study of
I Ching and Neo-Confucianism.
He came to
Seoul when he was 23 years old and entered the national
Sungkyunkwan in 1523. In 1527 he passed preliminary exams to
become a government official, but re-entered
Sungkyunkwan at the age
of 33 and socialized with the scholar Kim In-hu. He passed the civil
service exams with top honors in 1534 and continued his scholarly
pursuits whilst working for the government. He returned to his
childhood home at the death of his mother at the age of 37 and mourned
her for 3 years. He was appointed various positions from the age of 39
and sometimes held multiple positions including secret royal
inspector, or Amhaengeosa (hangul:암행어사, hanja:暗行御史),
in 1542. His integrity made him relentless as he took part in purges
of corrupt government officials. On numerous occasions he was even
exiled from the capital for his firm commitment to principle.
Yi Hwang was disillusioned by the power struggles and discord in the
royal court during the later years of King Jungjong's reign and left
political office. However, he was continuously brought out of
retirement and held several positions away from the royal court and in
rural areas. He was the governor of Danyang at 48 and governor of
Punggi afterwards. During his days at Pungi he redeveloped and
improved the private
Neo-Confucian academy Baekundong Seowon
established by his predecessor Ju Se-bung.
He was named Daesaseong (대사성, head instructor) of Sungkyunkwan
in 1552 but turned down other prominent offices later on. In 1560, he
established the Dosan seodang and engrossed himself in meditation,
study, and teaching his disciples. King Myeongjong tried to coax him
back to political office, but he was steadfast in his devotion to
study. He finally returned to the royal court at 67 upon the king's
request when envoys from the
Ming Dynasty came to Seoul. When King
Myeongjong suddenly died, his successor King Seonjo appointed Yi Hwang
as Yejo panseo(hangul:예조판서, hanja:禮曹判書, minister of
rites) but he declined and returned to his home once again.
However, the king continuously called
Yi Hwang back and unable to
refuse further, he resumed office at the age of 68 and wrote many
advisory documents including Seonghak sipdo (hangul:성학십도,
hanja:聖學十圖, "Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning"). He also gave
lectures from the teachings of
Song Dynasty Confucian scholars Cheng
Yi and Cheng Hao, I Ching, Analects, and
Zhang Zai in royal presence.
He finally retired from politics at the age of 70 and died in 1570.
During forty years of public life he served four kings (Jungjong,
Injong, Myeongjong and Seonjo). On his death,
Yi Hwang was
posthumously promoted to the highest ministerial rank, and his
mortuary tablet housed in a Confucian shrine as well as in the shrine
of King Seonjo. His disciples and followers reorganized the Dosan
Dosan Seowon in 1574.
Yi Hwang was the author of many books on Confucianism. He followed the
Neo-Confucianism teachings of Chu Hsi, which views i
(Chinese "li") and gi (Chinese "qi") as the forces of foundation of
Yi Hwang placed emphasis on the i, the formative
element, as the existential force that determines gi. This school of
thought contrasted with the school that focused on the concrete
element of gi, established by Yi Hwang's counterpart Yi I.
Understanding the determinative pattern of i would be more essential
in understanding the universe than recognizing the principles that
govern individual manifestations of gi. This approach of placing
importance on the role of i became the core of the Yeongnam School,
where Yi Hwang's legacy was carried on by prominent figures such as Yu
Seong-ryong and Kim Seong-il.
Yi Hwang was also talented in calligraphy and poetry, writing a
collection of sijo, a three line poetic form popular with the literati
of the Joseon period.
Yi Hwang's published writings encompass 496 works in 764 publications
in 4 languages and 5167 library holdings 
This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular
standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably
1599 — 退溪全書
1681 — The Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning (hangul:성학십도,
1746 — 退溪集
Outline and Explanations of the Works of Zhu Xi
Commentary on the Scripture of the Heart (hangul:심경석의,
Neo-Confucianism in the Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties
The Four-Seven Debate (hangul:사칠속편, hanja:四七續篇):
discusses Mencius's philosophy with Gi Dae-seung
Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning
Neo-Confucian literature of Seonghaksipdo was composed by Yi Hwang
in 1568 for King Seonjo. It is a series of lectures for rulers through
examples of past sages. Traditional Confucians had affirmed that
any man could learn to become a sage; the new Confucians made the
ideal of sagehood real and attainable, just as enlightenment was for
Yi Hwang intended to present that path by starting each
chapter with a diagram and related text drawn from
Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi) or
another leading authority, and concluding with a brief commentary. He
intended for “Ten Diagrams” to be made into a ten paneled standing
screen, as well as a short book, so that the mind of the viewer could
be constantly engaged with its contents, until it totally assimilated
In modern culture
Yi Hwang on the currently circulating 1,000 won note
Toegyero, a street in central Seoul, is named after him, and he is
depicted on the South Korean 1,000 won note. The
Toi-Gye was named in honor of Yi Hwang.
Many institutes and university research departments devoted to Yi
Hwang have been established. The Toegye Studies Institute set up in
Seoul in 1970, Kyungpook National University's Toegye Institute opened
in 1979, and an institute and library in
Dankook University in 1986.
There are research institutes in Tokyo, Taiwan,
Hamburg and the United
List of Korean philosophers
^ Daehwan, Noh. "The Eclectic Development of
Statecraft from the 18th to the 19th Century," Archived June 14, 2011,
at the Wayback Machine.
Korea Journal. Winter 2003.
^ a b (in Korean)
Yi Hwang at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ a b c d e f g h i j (in Korean)
Yi Hwang Archived 2011-06-10 at the
Wayback Machine. at Encyclopedia of Korean Culture
^ a b c d (in Korean)
Yi Hwang at The Academy of Korean Studies
^ (in Korean) 君子有終,
Seoul Sinmun, 2005-05-18. Retrieved
^ (in Korean)
Yi Hwang Archived 2011-06-10 at the Wayback Machine. at
^ Lee Hyun-hee, Park Sung-soo, Yoon Nae-hyun, translated by The
Academy of Korean Studies, New History of
Korea pp 392–393,
Jimoondang, Paju, 2005. ISBN 89-88095-85-5
^ WorldCat Identities: 李滉 1501–1570; Yi, Hwang 1501–1570: May
^ Michael C. Kalton et al., The Four-Seven Debate. An Annotated
Translationnof the Most Famous Controversy in Korean Neo-Confucian
Thought, SUNY Press, Albany, 1994
^ (in Korean) Seonghaksipdo at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ Ten Diagrams, Michael C. Kalton, Columbia University Press, 1988
^ (in Korean) Toegyero at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ (in Korean) The new 1,000 won bill, Maeil Business News, 2006-01-17.
^ (in Korean) Historical names in Taekwondo, Yonhap News, 2005-07-10.
Daehwan, Noh (Winter 2003). "The Eclectic Development of
Neo-Confucianism and Statecraft from the 18th to the 19th Century".
Korea Journal. Archived from the original on 2011-06-14.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yi Hwang.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Yi Hwang
To become a sage, translation of Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning,
Michael C. Kalton, Columbia University Press, 1988.
Cyber Dosan Seowon, general information on
Yi Hwang and his teachings
The T'oegye Studies Institute, Busan
The T'oegye Research Institute, Kyungpook National University
Dosan school (in Korean)
Toigye Academic researchers (in Korean)
Toigye Academic Business Association (in Korean)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2122 3367
BNF: cb12166572j (data)