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Sung Sam Moon: The Unrecognized Hero
Transcript of Sung Sam Moon: The Unrecognized Hero
Sung Sam Moon
Born into a "Yangban" or noble family, Sung Sam Moon quickly excelled in his lower examination. After gaining the favor of King Sejong, he was appointed to the Hall Of Worthies or "Jiphyeonjeon" and participated in creating the "Hunmin Jeongmun" or the first publication of "Hangul", the phonetic Korean alphabet.
King Sejong, Korea's most famous king, is known for his invention of the phonetic Korean writing, "Hangul". Sung Sam Moon, although not largely accredited for his role, played a part in the process too.
Creation of Language
The creation of the "Hangul" alphabet was done in extreme secrecy. Due to the fact that many high officials opposed its development, scholars such as Sung Sam Moon were crucial in assisting King Sejong.
The invention of the new writing increased the literacy rate in Korea and is considered one of Korea's most prized treasures. This picture shows one of the first crude styles of "Hangul" that people wrote.
Sung Sam Moon was essential in making the alphabet. He and several other officials traveled to visit a Ming Chinese phoneticist several times. The ideas they brought back to their king were priceless in the development of the language. Without Sung Sam Moon, "Hangul" may have been developed very differently.
Death of King Sejong
After making many accomplishments in his life, King Sejong died in 1450. Fearing that his sickly son Munjong would not make a good king, he asked Sung Sam Moon and several other scholars to look after his grandson Danjong. Just as the king had predicted, Munjong died two years after his ascencion to the throne and 12-year-old Danjong was appointed to rule.
Due to the fact that Danjong was only a child at the time of his ascencion, King Sejong's second son, Sejo plotted to overthrow the rightful king and succeded in his usurpation. King Danjong was forced into exile. The video to the left depicts his life during exile.
Hall Of Worthies "Jiphyeonjeon"
During his reign, King Sejong had created a group of scholars known as the Hall of Worthies. These scholars served as the legislative system and advised the king at first, but grew to do important things such as compile the "Hunmin Jeongmun", become the nation's most well respected academic institute, and try to restore the rule of Danjong, the rightful ruler.
Six Martyred Ministers
It was out of scholars from the Hall Of Worthies that the Six Martyred Ministers or the "Sayukshin" formed. Dedicated to dethroning the wrongly placed King Sejo and bringing back the exiled Danjong, 6 ministers, including Sung Sam Moon remained loyal to the late King Sejong. This is a building in which the ministers regularly met to discuss their plot.
The Six Martyred Ministers, who had been appointed to protect Danjong, were enraged when Sejo usurped the crown. So, they planned to assasinate King Sejo when a Ming Envoy visited the kingdom and restore Danjong, but failed when the visit was canceled.
When the assasination plan failed, an insider betrayed the Six Martyred Ministers and reported the act of treason to King Sejo. With the exception of one minister, who commited suicide, all of the ministers were taken in to be tortured. The king was deeply hurt by the ministers' betrayal as he had valued them and given them high positions.
Loyalty to King Sejong
For countless days, King Sejo tried to make the Six Martyred Ministers admit tto heir crimes and accept that he was the rightful king. However, loyal to King Sejong, Sung Sam Moon and the other ministers refused.
Desperate for the ministers' loyalty, King Sejo tried to convince the ministers to repent using countless methods such as reading them poetry, offering them freedom, also extended to their families, and even threatened to kill every family member. This was possible because in ancient Korea, punishments could be extended onto their families as well.
Despite the all the bribes Sung Sam Moon and the other ministers were offered and the threats they received, the ministers stayed allegiant to the late King Sejong and his only heir, Danjong.
Sung Sam Moon's Poem
Sung Sam Moon even wrote a poem stating his loyalty to King Sejong, right before his death. The poem, which is still existent, can be found in the National Korean Historical Museum. His poem, written in Chinese calligraphic characters can be seen to the left.
Sung Sam Moon's Loyalty
Sung Sam Moon and the Six Martyred Ministers' loyalty is displayed in many Korean Dramas today. The video to the left depicts a Korean Drama scene in which Sung Sam Moon and his allies pledge allegiance to King Sejong forever and refuse to accept King Sejo as their king.
Dying With Loyalty
Eventually, losing patience, King Sejo ordered Sung Sam Moon and the other scholars to be executed. They were to be put to death by tearing the limbs apart from the body, the most severe of punishments.
Even until the last moments of their lives, Sung Sam Moon and the other ministers are known to be yelling praises to King Sejong. Never regretting their choice, the Six Martyred Ministers promised to deliver message of King Sejo's wrongdoings to his father and brother in the underworld.
After ordering Sung Sam Moon and the other ministers to be executed, King Sejo extended the punishment to the rest of their families. Due to this event occuring, the Sung family was nearly eradicated.
Luckily, some of Sung Sam Moon's family members were able to escape King Sejo's wrath and live in hiding. This picture shows the house that they were forced to live in for the rest of their lives. This just shows how commited Sung Sam Moon was to staying loyal to his king. He was willing to risk the lives of even his family members.
Spark of Rebellion
After Sung Sam Moon's death, there were many effects. Although he and his allies were unable to succeed in bringing back Danjong, their rebellion sparked a fire. Other ministers planned to bring back Danjong.
However, before the ministers could put their plan to action, King Sejo ordered Danjong to be killed, for he suspected some of his court was planning to bring back the exiled king. The ministers then decided to flee to the countryside and became known as the Six Living Ministers.ㅐThis is the countryside home of one of the ministers.
For the people who were loyal to King Sejong, Sung Sam Moon was a beacon of hope. He showed them that there was something worth fighting for and someone who was willing to fight. He became respected and grew to have a reputation of righteousness even after his death. This is a picture of his grave.
Although Danjong was never restored to the throne and Sejo's descendants ruled from that point forth, Sung Sam Moon and the Six Martyred Ministers' efforts were never forgotten. Even today, there are memorials, museums, and displays in rememberance of their valiant efforts. This is a picture of a Sung Sam Moon memorial stating his accomplishments
Thousands of years after Sung Sam Moon's death, people still remember and appreciate his effort. Multiple museums, memorials, and parks, exist in Korea today, honoring his memory.
Sung Sam Moon Museum Display
Six Martyred Ministers' Park
Today, many ancestors pf the Six Martyred Ministers hold ceremonies for the deceased relatives and performs rituals, honoring and thanking them for their efforts. This picture shows one such ceremony.
The memory of the Six Martyred Ministers lives on in modern displays such as the park dedicated to their efforts. The picture to the left shows one of the entrances to a section of the park.
Sung Sam Moon was a loyal and honorable scholar and official who fought for the rightful king of his time. His efforts, although not successful, left a lasting impression on the people of Korea. He made a bold change in history and sought to keep order for his country. Many people today do not recognize his efforts and effect today, but he leaves an ultimate presence.
Sung Sam Moon: The Unrecognized Hero