NPMK shines light on short-lived crown prince of Joseon, ‘patron of arts’

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Jun 30, 2019 - 14:03
  • Updated : Jun 30, 2019 - 14:03

An ongoing exhibition at the National Palace Museum of Korea shines a light on the life and accomplishments of Crown Prince Hyemyeong, a 19th century regent of the Joseon era (1392-1910) considered a patron of the arts who was gifted in poetry and literature.

Opened last week, “Hyomyeong: Crown Prince and Patron of Arts” is being held through Sept. 22 at the museum located inside Gyeongbokgung in Seoul. The exhibition is themed around how Hyomyeong (1809-1830) worked to promote the arts, architecture and other fields during the three years his father, King Sunjo, appointed him regent for the kingdom.

Chung Jae-suk (right), chief of the Cultural Heritage Administration, looks around the exhibition “Hyomyeong: Crown Prince and Patron of Arts” during a press event at the National Palace Museum of Korea in Seoul on Thursday. (Cultural Heritage Administration)

The first segment introduces the prince’s life until his untimely death at the age of 22. On display are “Dunggung-Ilgi (records of the crown prince)” and “Daecheongsiillok (daily journal for regency by King Ikjong),” which show records of Hyomyeong’s activities, along with portraits of him, King Sunjo and other relics.

Hyomyeong was posthumously crowned King Iksong, with the name later changed to Munjo. Records show that the appointment of Hyomyeong was welcomed by his subjects and that he was a wise and fair ruler as well as a reformist for the brief period of his regency.

A portrait of Crown Prince Hyomyeong (Cultural Heritage Administration)

A character inspired by the prince appears in the 2013 hit drama “Love in the Moonlight.” He was called Lee Yeong and played by Park Bo-gum.

The second segment of the exhibition displays poems and writings that display his literary talent. The exhibition hall has been modeled after Hyomyeong’s study, to give the illusion of stepping into his work station. One of Hyomyeong’s poems, “Sipgyeong,” was inspired by his study.

The next section features a video that focuses on traces of Hyomyeong’s personal and public life hinted at in “Donggwoldo (Painting of Easter Palaces),” which depicts the two royal palaces, Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung, during Hyomyeong’s time.

The poster for the exhibition “Hyomyeong: Crown Prince and Patron of Arts” (Cultural Heritage Administration)

Another section focuses on accomplishments. Gungjungjeongjae refers to a music performance in the palace consisting of instruments, songs and dance, and the exhibition features a 3D animation of one such performance at Jagyeongjeon Hall in Gyeongbokgung in 1829.

An actual reenactment of the performance will be held at the sublevel one lobby of the museum at 3 p.m. on July 14, featuring performers from the National Gukak Center.

The National Palace Museum of Korea opens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except Wednesdays and Saturdays, when it opens until 9 p.m. The museum is closed on Lunar New Year’s holiday, Chuseok holiday and New Year’s Day.

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By Yoon Min-sik