Remembrance in the Making: The King’s Father and the Construction of Collective Memories of Crown Prince Sado in Late Eighteenth-Century Korea

  • Florian Pölking (Autor/in)


The study of collective memory, cultures of memory, collective identity, and the
relationship between memory, identity, and power has gained importance in recent
years. In the Korean context, a growing number of studies primarily focus on issues
and phenomena of the period since the end of the Second World War. However,
research on premodern Korean cultures of memory has not only revealed major
insights into developments in the past, but maybe more importantly has established
a connection between Koreas past and present. This study focuses on the memory
of Crown Prince Sado, and particularly on its construction by his son, King Chŏngjo.
From the beginning of his reign, Chŏngjo followed a specific policy to restore the
reputation and status of his father with the aim of reconciling his personal and the
official memory — thereby securing his own legitimacy. Carefully navigating the
political landscape as well as the Confucian principles of his time, Chŏngjo managed
to follow up on his policy through the establishment of a variety of tangible as well as
abstract sites of memory. The article shows how these sites were entangled and
invested with a specific meaning for Chŏngjo’s contemporaries, but also how they are
still meaningful in present-day Korea too.


Chǒngjo, Hwasǒng, Sado, collective memory, sites of memory, ǔigwe