Yi I (Hangul: 이이; Hanja: 李珥, December 26, 1536 –
February 27, 1584) was one of the two most prominent Korean Confucian
scholars of the Joseon Dynasty, the other being his older
Yi Hwang (Toegye).
Yi I is often referred to by his
pen name Yulgok ("
Chestnut valley"). He is not only known as a scholar
but also as a revered politician and reformer. He was academical
successor of Jo Gwang-jo.
3 Selected works
5 Popular culture
6 See also
9 External links
Yi I was born in Gangneung, Gangwon Province in 1537. His father was a
Fourth State Councillor (jwachanseong 좌찬성) and his mother, Shin
Saimdang, the accomplished artist and calligraphist. He was the grand
nephew of Yi Gi, prime minister 1549 to 1551. early
years he was learn of Baik In-geol, successor of Jo Gwang-jo. late
years, It is said that by the age of seven he had finished his lessons
Confucian classics, and passed the Civil Service literary
examination at the age of 13.
Yi I secluded himself in Kumgang-san
following his mother's death when he was 16 and stayed for 3 years,
studying Buddhism. He left the mountains at 20 and devoted himself to
the study of Confucianism.
He married at 22 and a half, went to visit
Yi Hwang at Dosan the
following year. He passed special exams with top honors with a winning
thesis titled Cheondochaek (hangul:천도책, hanja: 天道策, "Book
on the Way of Heaven"), which was widely regarded as a literary
masterpiece, displaying his knowledge of history and the Confucian
philosophy of politics, and also reflecting his profound knowledge of
Taoism. He continuously received top honors on civil exams for a
consecutive 9 times. His father died when he was 26. He served in
various positions in government from the age of 29, and visited the
Ming Dynasty as seojanggwan (hangul: 서장관, hanja: 書狀官,
document officer) in 1568. He also participated in the writing of the
Myeongjong Annals and at 34, authored Dongho Mundap, an eleven-article
political memorial devoted to clarifying his conviction that a
righteous government could be achieved.
Due to his vast experience in different offices over the years, Yi I
was able to garner a wide vision of politics and with the deep trust
of the king, became one of the central figures of politics by the time
he was 40. His many documents and theses were presented to the royal
court but when political conflicts escalated in 1576, his efforts
proved fruitless and he returned home. Following his return, he
devoted his time to studies and education of his disciples and
authored several books.
He returned to office at 45 and while holding various minister
positions, produced many writings which recorded crucial political
events and showed his efforts to ease the political conflicts that
were rampant at that time. However, King Seonjo was noncommittal in
his attitude and it became difficult for
Yi I to remain in a neutral
position in the conflicts. He left office in 1583 and died the
According to legend, he had a pavilion built near the ford of the
Imjin River in his lifetime and instructed his heirs to set it ablaze
when the king had to flee northward from Seoul, to provide a guiding
beacon. This took place during Hideyoshi's invasions of
Korea at the
Yi I was not only known as a philosopher but also as a social
reformer. He did not completely agree with the dualistic
Confucianism teachings followed by Yi Hwang. His school of
Confucianism placed emphasis on the more concrete, material
elements; rather than inner spiritual perception, this practical and
pragmatic approach valued external experience and learning. Unlike
Yi Hwang, who suffered through tumultuous times and did not enjoy
being in politics,
Yi I was an active official who thought it
important to implement
Confucian values and principles to government
administration. He emphasized sage learning and self-cultivation as
the base of proper administration.
Yi I is also well known for his foresight about national security. He
proposed to draft and reinforce the army against a possible Japanese
attack. His proposal was rejected by the central government, his worry
was found to be well-founded soon after his death, during the Imjin
Yi I's published writings encompass 193 works in 276 publications in 6
languages and 2,236 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
Questions and Answers at East Lake (hangul:동호문답,
hanja:東湖問答) - Eleven articles about political reform.
Memorial in Ten Thousand Words (hangul: 만언봉사, hanja:
萬言封事) - Suggestions about
self-cultivation, and application to government administration.
The Essentials of the Studies of the Sages (hangul: 성학집요,
hanja: 聖學輯要) - Fundamentals of
self-cultivation and statecraft.
The Secret of Expelling Ignorance (hangul: 격몽요결, hanja:
擊蒙要訣) - Systematic guide of learning.
Daily Records of Lectures before the Throne (hangul: 경연일기,
hanja: 經筵日記) - Record of political events and happenings.
The Complete Works of Yulgok (hangul: 율곡전서, hanja:
栗谷全書) was compiled after his death on the basis of the
writings he bequeathed.
Yi I on the currently circulating 5,000 won note
Yulgongno, a street in central Seoul, is named after him, and he
is depicted on the South Korean 5,000 won note. The Taekwondo
pattern Yul-Gok was also named in his honor. This is the pattern
required to advance from 5th Kup Green Belt with Blue Tag to 4th Kup
Blue Belt. The 38 movements of this pattern refer to his birthplace on
the 38th degree latitude. The "Yulgok Project", a modernization
project for the South Korean military, is named after him as well.
Portrayed by Jung Joon-won in the 2017 SBS TV series Saimdang, Memoir
List of Korea-related topics
Joseon Dynasty people
History of Korea
^ Daehwan, Noh. "The Eclectic Development of Neo-
Statecraft from the 18th to the 19th Century," Archived June 14, 2011,
at the Wayback Machine.
Korea Journal. Winter 2003.
^ a b c d (in Korean)
Yi I at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ a b (in Korean)
Yi I at The Academy of Korean Studies
^ a b c (in Korean)  at Encyclopedia of Korean Culture
^ Lee Eunjik(이은직) translated by Jeong Hongjun(정홍준), Great
Joseon Masters Vol.2 (조선명인전 2) p35, Ilbit Publishing, Seoul,
2005. ISBN 89-5645-087-0
^ a b (in Korean) Dongho Mundap at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ Choi Beomseo (최범서), Unofficial History of Joseon Vol. 2 p52,
Garam Publishing, Seoul, 2003. ISBN 89-8435-143-1
^ Lee Hyun-hee, Park Sung-soo, Yoon Nae-hyun, translated by The
Academy of Korean Studies, New History of
Korea p393, Jimoondang,
Paju, 2005. ISBN 89-88095-85-5
^ "WorldCat Identities". www.oclc.org.
^ (in Korean) Maneon Bongsa at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ (in Korean) Seonhak Jibyo at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ (in Korean) Gyeokmong Yogyel at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ (in Korean) Gyeongyeon Ilgi at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ (in Korean) Yulgok Jeonseo at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ (in Korean) Yulgongno at Doosan Encyclopedia
^ (in Korean) Money bill designs at
Taekwondo pattern". [permanent dead link]
^ Cha Yeonggu (차영구), Theory and Actuality of National Defense
Policies (국방정책의 이론과 실제) p86, Oruem, Seoul, 2002.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yi I.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Chung, Edward Y. J. (1995). The Korean Neo-
Confucianism of Yi Tʻoegye
and Yi Yulgok: a Reappraisal of the 'Four-Seven Thesis' and its
Practical Implications for Self-Cultivation. Albany: State University
of New York Press. ISBN 9780791422755; ISBN 9780791422762;
Daehwan, Noh. "The Eclectic Development of Neo-
Statecraft from the 18th to the 19th Century,"
Korea Journal. Winter
Haboush, JaHyun Kim and Martina Deuchler. (1999). Culture and the
State in Late Chosŏn Korea. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
ISBN 9780674179820; OCLC 40926015
Lee, Peter H. (1993). Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, Vol. 1. New
York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231079129;
ISBN 9780231079143; ISBN 9780231104449; OCLC 26353271
Gangneung Municipal Museum
Yulgok and the Logic of Li and Qi
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