A Royal Certificate of Meritorious Subject issued by King Seonjo of the Joseon Dynasty to his horseman who accompanied him when he fled from the palace to Uiju upon the Japanese invasion of Korea has been revealed in Japan for the first time.
The Center for Overseas Resources on Korean Studies under the Research Institute of Korean Studies at Korea University has announced that during an investigation into the library of Kyoto University in Japan from Feb. 18 to Feb. 24, around 500 literary treasures were discovered including a Royal Certificate of Meritorious Subject issued to Oh Yeon, King Seonjo’s horseman, and a book published in “Gyeongoja,” metal type blocks cast in the calligraphy of Prince Anpyeong, also a treasure of great rarity.
In 1604, King Seonjo honored 86 of his subjects who guarded him on his way to Uiju as “Hoseonggongsin,” a meritorious retainer. Currently, only nine Royal Certificates of Meritorious Subject remain in Korea, with six of them having been designated as treasure. The certificates earlier discovered were issued to either civil servants (eight) or a medical officer (one), so this is the first time that a certificate received by a horseman, a miscellaneous government post, has been found out.
In the certificate most recently discovered, King Seonjo praised the exemplary loyalty shown by Oh Yeon despite his low rank, saying, “Whereas most retainers and subjects have already hidden themselves or fled like animals and birds, you did not leave a king behind even in your low rank and performed the meritorious deed of leading a horse of the king and crown prince.”
Jong-Yeob JO firstname.lastname@example.org