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Posthumous Appointment to government positions in Korea


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Kim, Young Yoon
Term Paper, History of Historiography Class, July 2009



Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. Definition of posthumous title
II.1 Choo-jeung
II.1.1 Who was Choo-jeung-ed ?
II.1.2 What did jeung-jiks look like ?
II.2 Shi-ho
II.2.1 Who received shi-ho's ?
II.2.2 What did shi-ho's look like ?
II.2.3 Who gave the shi-ho's ?
II.3 Why were posthumous appointments and titles granted ?
III. History of posthumous appointment and titles
III.1 History of choo-jeung
III.2 History of shi-ho
IV. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography



I. Introduction
            In East Asian countries, especially those within Chinas sphere of influence, it is easy to find historical figures who were appointed to government positions after their death. This unique custom was started in China but soon spread to Korea, and Japan, and became very common throughout each countrys history. The Chinese characters that refer to such posthumous appointment are [], which in Korea are pronunciated as "choo-jeung [()]". Besides posthumous appointment to government positions, sometimes people would be awarded with special titles after their death. These posthumous titles are called "shi-ho [(ȣ)]", also a Chinese-derived custom (original Chinese name: []). In this paper I will organize the facts about shi-ho that were included in my presentation and also explore the system of choo-jeung, which was not mentioned in the presentation.

II. Definitions of posthumous appointments

II.1 Choo-jeung

II.1.1 Who was Choo-jeung-ed ?
            Choo-jeung, used as a verb, is derived from the word Choo-eun-bong-jeung [()]. The original Chinese characters that denote Choo-eun-bong-jeung, [], meaning "to praise one's goodness and to present one with a gift". As the meaning of its name implies, to be choo-jeung-ed means to be praised by posterity and to be presented with a great honor for ones good deeds or morality. The position that a dead official was awarded with through the process of choo-jeung was called jeung-jik [()]. Jeung-jiks were awarded to both government officials who had been in a certain position before death and to people who had not been in any government position before death. It was also given to the previous three generations of high ranking government officials (1). Members of the royal family, such as the present king's dead father or the family of the queen were also awarded with jeung-jiks, though obviously they received much higher-ranking positions than did the common officers. The rules regarding which type of position should be given to officers of different rankings were meticulously recorded in Gyeongguk daejon, the code of laws that comprises every law, acts, customs, ordinances that have been released since Goguryeo period, written in 1485 CE under the orders of King Seongjong. Later the laws were renewed and updated in Daejeon hoetong, in 1865 CE.
            Variant forms of Choo-jeung existed as well. Ga-jeung [(ʥ)] referred to the act of rewarding a jeung-jik to an officer who had already been posthumously appointed to a position once before. Choo-jon [()] referred to the elevation of royals who died before ascending the throne and the ancestors of kings to the position of kings and queens.

II.1.2 What did jeung-jiks look like ?
            A position title that had been awarded posthumously would have the Chinese character "Jeung []" in front of it, in order to differentiate the title from positions the person may have held while he was alive.

II.2 Shi-ho

II.2.1 Who received shi-ho's ?
            Shi-ho's, like jeung-jiks, were given to the deceased who had contributed to the nation by sacrificing himself or setting moral examples. Unlike the jeung-jik, however, the shi-ho was originally intended to praise the good and condemn the wrongdoers. Those who had sacrificed for the country or had been a good model for posterity would be awarded with "good" shi-ho's, comprised of characters with positive meanings. The immoral and wicked, on the other hand, would be branded with "bad" shi-ho's that included characters with negative meanings. Because one could not change his ancestor's shi-ho's easily, the bad shi-ho was a heavy, lasting disgrace for the officers descendents. As the custom developed over time, however, the "bad-shi-ho-giving" gradually died out. Also unlike the jeung-jik, a shi-ho was only awarded to an officer who had already served in government before death. In early Chosun the people who could receive shi-hos were restricted to members of the royal family, such as the kings, queens, and the kindred of kings, and high-ranking officers (higher than Jung 2 Poom). However, later on the range of candidates was broadened to officers of lower ranks.
            Shi-ho's also had variant forms. A myo-ho [()] was a title given only to kings and emperors. After the king deceased, the next king consulted his subjects and selected a suitable title for his predecessor. The deceased king would thereafter be called by his myo-ho; kings were never called by these titles, such as King Sejong or King Taejo while they were alive. The tradition of myo-ho lasted from the Goryeo Dynasty to the Chosun Dyansty.
            Myo-hos ended with either the letter jo [()] or jong [()], depending on how the nation had been during the kings regime; kings who had been creators or initiators of novelties, or had usurped the throne were given titles that ended with "jo", while those whose regime had been relatively peaceful and had achieved their work step by step instead of radically creating or initiating anything were given titles that ended with "jong". For example King Sejo was given a myo-ho that ends with 'jo' because he usurped his nephew's throne. King Taejo, who initiated the Yi dynasty, was also given a myo-ho that ends with 'jo'.
            This system changed slightly after the Imjin War. After the Imjin War, 'jo' was given to kings who had overcome a difficulty (such as wartime), and 'jong' was given to those who had been legitimate successors to the throne.

II.2.2 What did shi-ho's look like ?
            A shi-ho was a title comprised of two Chinese characters that signified the officers particular achievement or moral characteristic, and usually the character "gong []" (similar to "sir" or "lord" in English) was added behind the characters. For example, Admiral Yi Sun-shin was awarded with the shi-ho "Chung Moo" or []. The two letters each meant "loyalty" and "martial arts/ military accomplishment"; stringed together, Chung Moo signifies the admiral's patriotic death in war against Japan and his military contributions to defending Korea. Ever since he received the title, Admiral Yi Sun-shin has been called as Chung Moo Gong Yi Sun-shin, as a commemoration of his deeds and achievements.
            The letters that could be used to create shi-ho's were strictly limited to the 197 (later expanded to 301) characters specified in "rules of shi-ho appointment". Each letter had multiple meanings. For example, one of the most popular letters "Moon [()]" had all of the following meanings - to govern the whole world; to enjoy learning and asking questions; to be a morally learned man; to love others as a faithful man; to be respectful, honest, and wise; to be clever and have a love of education, etc. Consequently, it was the most honorable letter for civil officers to receive. Other letters popular among civil officers' shi-ho's included Jung ([] ? rectitude), Gong ([] ? modesty, respectfulness), and Yang ([] ? to help, to accomplish). Some of the characters that were more common among military officers' shi-ho's were Choong ([] ? loyalty), Moo ([] ? martial arts/ military accomplishments), and Eui ([] ? faithfulness, righteousness)
            Shi-ho's given to kings and royalty, on the other hand, consisted of eight letters, all chosen carefully according to the rules of Shi-ho appointment recorded in Daejeon hotong.

II.2.3 Who gave the shi-ho's ?
            Shi-ho giving was a long and tedious process. A temporary government office called Shi-ho-do-gam was created for the occasion, and officers from various different branches assembled to examine and evaluate the deceased in question. In case of royalties, the Shi-ho-do-gam consulted special rules of Shi-ho appointment, in order to decide on the best shi-ho that would suit the deceased member of the royal family. Shi-ho's were rarely changed once they were given, and the Shi-ho-do-gam was meticulous on its decision making. Giving shi-ho's to ordinary officers were even more complicated, and it took nearly ten years just to reach the second stage of the process. The descendent of an officer would first fill out an "application form", called haeng jang [()], that lists the officer's accomplishments while he was alive and proves the officer worthy of a shi-ho. The descendent would then submit the form to a bureau office called Yae-jo, which examined the form and if approved, sent it to Bong-sang-si, another government office. The Bong-sang-si would select three suitable shi-hos, while consulting the rulebook of Shi-ho appointment, and sent them to Hong-mun-gwan, the kings secretary office. The officers of Hong-mun-gwan discussed and consulted themselves before sending the form to the king. Finally, the king would refer to the rules of Shi-ho appointment once more before granting the title. The whole process would often take decades. II.3 Why were posthumous appointments and titles granted ?
            The goal of such posthumous appointment to government positions and titles were to set an example for the posterity and also to encourage such sacrifices as the recipients had made. Chosun people valued shi-hos greatly, for they considered a shi-ho as a second name, and thus the influence shi-ho's had on people was great. Civil officer Kim Gook-gwang, for example, received a shi ho that included a letter with a negative meaning during King Seongjeong's regime. His son Kim Geuk-yoo protested for 4 years, appealing to the king and his court for a reevaluation. The dishonor that prompted Kim to protest for so long and so tenaciously shows how great a shi-ho's significance was in Chosun society.

III. History of posthumous appointment and titles

III.1 History of choo-jeung
            The utilization of choo-jeung dates back to the Three Kingdom period, although it became customary only during the Koryeo Dynasty in 988 CE. In 1391 CE, during King Gong Yang's regime, one of the government offices enacted a specific set of rules for choo-jeung; the rules included awarding jeung-jik to previous three generations of Jung 2 Poom officers or higher, to two generations of Jung 3 Poom, and to the parents of Jung 4 to 6 Pooms.
            During the Chosun Dynasty, the rules of choo-jeung were continued while the range of people who could receive the jeung-jiks was expanded. Not only the officers who had served the government before death but also famous scholars, frugal government subjects, those who had passed the administration exam but passed away before earning a position in court, and even sons who had been respectful toward their parents became eligible candidates for choo-jeung.

III.2 History of shi-ho
            The shi-ho system was first introduced to Korea during the Three Kingdom period as well, through Goguryeo. The first twenty eight Goguryeo kings received shi-ho's, although it is unverified whether the titles were not merely sound imitations of their Korean names, instead of signifying their accomplishments. There are exceptions, such as the sixth, seventh, and eight kings whose shi-ho's clearly represent their achievements in life. The famous 19th and 20th kings, Great King Gwanggaeto and King Jangsu also received shi-ho that represent their relative accomplishments.
            It is difficult to tell whether Baekje kings used shi-hos or not, because even most of their actual names are unknown. Only from the 24th king, King Dongsung does any of the Baekje kings show signs of having shi-ho's, but unlike China's or Goguryeo's at the time the title has no meaning at all. Thus it is difficult to tell whether the titles really were shi-ho's or not.
            In Silla, King Jijeung was the first to receive a shi-ho. The use of shi-ho in his case is a combination of sound imitation and meaning value. From the 23rd to the 28th kings the shi-ho's were created according to Buddhist rules, but the 29th to 56th kings received shi-ho's created in accordance to the Chinese shi-ho appointment rules. Later on in the Unified Silla Kingdom, shi-ho appointment that followed the Chinese rules of giving two letters to deceased government officers was actively utilized.
            During the Goryeo Dynasty, shi-ho appointment was expanded to include more government officers as well as the kings. And finally, during the Chosun Dynasty Korean sets of rules for shi-ho appointment were established, including ones that restricted which letters could be used for shi-ho's and what meaning they must hold. Shi-ho's in Chosun were created according to these Korean rules, instead of Chinese ones.

IV Conclusion
            The customs of Choo-jeung and Shi-ho reflect the values Korean society held for a long time. By receiving such honors the officers were widely praised for their integrity and patriotism, and that they were rewarded after their death served as an encouragement for future generations to act in similar ways. Though giving government positions and titles to the deceased may seem strange in some ways, the essence of the acts was the fact that the posthumous honors and awards meant more to the posterity than to the deceased themselves.


Notes

(1)      "High ranking" here means having a position higher than Jung 2 Poom. The Chosun court was comprised of two kinds of officials: the civil officers, who received titles starting with Jung (), and the military officers, whose titles started with Jong [()]. The number-Poom combination signified the rank of each official; if the numbers between two officers were different, the officer with the lower number had the higher rank. Jung officers always held higher ranks than Jong officers which meant that a Jung 4 Poom title was higher ranking than a Jong 4 Poom title. A Jong 4 Poom title would still be higher than a Jung 5 Poom title.



Bibliography

Note : websites quoted below were visited at the end of June 2009. All information from Korean sites used in the paper were translated by me
1.      Article: ѱ ȣ() Ž, from ¥ʴ´(), http://ikgu.com/tt/1214
2.      Article: ȣ()?, from , http://www.surname.info/word/si_ho.html
3.      Article: ȣ, from Wikipedia Korean Version, http://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%EB%AC%98%ED%98%B8
4.      Article: , from Wikipedia Korean Version, http://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%EC%B6%94%EC%A6%9D
Title Name Contemporary Correspondent Job
Jung 1 Poom Prime Minister
Jung 1 Poom Deputy Prime Minister
Jung 2 Poom Cabinet Minister, Undersecretary, Provincial Governor
Jung 2 Poom Cabinet officer, Lieutenant officer
Jung 3 Poom Top Public Official Major General
Jung 3 Poom Chief Director of bureau, Commodore
Jung 4 Poom Vice Director of bureau, Colonel

5.      Article: ȣ, from Wikipedia Korean Version, http://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%EC%8B%9C%ED%98%B8
6.      Article: ȣ ȣ ? () () ٸ?, from ʷϺ дٽ, http://orumi.egloos.com/257021
7.      Article: Gyeongguk daejeon, from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyeongguk_daejeon



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