Pince SaDo was born in 1735, after the death of his older brother, Prince HyoJang in 1728. As Korea needed a crown prince, King YeongJo (21st King of Korea) decided to have another son, and that’s how the Prince SaDo. At the age of two, SaDo was named heir to the throne and was known for his academic achievements and interest in politics.
He began to rule as Prince Regent at the age of 15. Unfortunately, he soon distanced himself from the Old Doctrine faction, and this led to his downfall. At first he received an education similar to that of his older brother as crown prince, but at the age of 27 his father cruelly executed him.
Here’s what happened to Prince SaDo.
During the 18th century, the political situation in the Joseon court was unstable. King YeongJo has attempted to resolve these issues through his efforts to improve ties between his people and the various political families in the region. However, Prince SaDo, who was appointed to reign, was wrongfully accused by the different court clans. According to the memoirs of SaDo’s wife Princess HyegYeong, which were written during the period of court instability, the different clans tried to force King YeongJo to consider his son mentally ill.
During his lifetime, the prince was accused of many actions such as the murder of several eunuchs, assault on women, tantrums, etc. Despite these accusations, Princess HyegYeong claimed that Prince SaDo was a loving father who couldn’t do those kinds of things. However, after rumors that the prince wanted to kill his father, he was sentenced to death by the latter.
King YeongJo decided to execute him according to his wife. His death was carried out in 1762, in disguise. in fact, tThe king did not want to kill his son with his own hands. SaDo was kept in a wooden chest used to store rice for a week, until he finally died of starvation and dehydration. In 1899, King GoJong, who was a descendant of SaDo, elevated Prince SaDo to the posthumous title of King of Joseon, alongside his wife.
During his reign, King JeongJo, son of Prince SaDo, wanted to move his father’s tomb to a site near Hwaseong Palace, built between 1794 and 1796. He built a small mausoleum there to honor his father. His mother, Princess HyegYeong, kept his memories a secret. She also passed them on to her children until the truth about their father’s death came out. As for the Hwaseong Palace, it has a particular historical connection with Prince SaDo.
The construction of Hwaseong was undertaken to reinvigorate the military technology of the Joseon Dynasty. During the 18th century, it was considered the most militarized fortress in the entire kingdom. It also served as the main residence of the king, who had fled Seoul due to internal political conflicts at court. He believed that there were many advantages to living in Hwaseong and urged people to settle there without paying taxes.
It served as the main residence of King JeongJo and his mother, HyegYeong, who visited Prince SaDo’s tomb several times a year. We can say that, in fact, Hwaseong’s construction was carried out to protect his family’s royal tombs. The construction of Hwaseong was influenced by the concept of practical studies, which was referred to as “silhak.” This movement criticized the traditional Confucian approach to education.
Regarding Prince SaDo, a movie was made in 2015 about his life, called “Sado The Throne”. Starring kangho songYoo Ah In e Moon Geun Young, tells the story of ruler Kim YeongJo’s struggle with his son SaDo and the extreme measures he takes to deal with the prince. Acclaimed, the film received 47 nominations and 28 wins, including Best Film at the Asian Film Festival in Barcelona (2016), KOFRA Film Award (2016) and Korean Association of Film Critics Awards (2015), and Best Actor for Will Ain at the Blue Dragon Awards (2015) and Chunsa Film Art Awards (2016).
A K-Drama was also dedicated to King JeongJo, SaDo’s son, called “The Red Sleeve”, in 2021, starring Lee JunHo and Lee SeYoung of 2PM as the main cast. King JeongJo, traumatized by his father’s death, was an ambitious king who believed that a strong monarchy was necessary to ensure the development of his society. He was also motivated by the ideals of making Joseon an “eternal empire” focused on equality and justice. SaDo, on the other hand, was considered a dangerous individual due to his uncontrollable and unpredictable behavior, which could endanger the safety of the royal family.
However, more historians began to place more emphasis on the various factors that influenced SaDo’s behavior. This includes your personality, your problematic ideas and your tastes. He also didn’t like his father, who didn’t like to have his decisions questioned by his son. SaDo was a young man sensitive to the art of handling the bow and sword. Due to his tastes, he failed to meet his parents’ expectations. He was carried away by an internal spiral, which eventually led to his downfall.
In “Sado The Throne”, mMost of the evolution of the story revolves around the relationship between King YeongJo and SaDo, with some notable moments being flashbacks that help contextualize the events that occurred in their lives. These are also intended to help identify the various conflicts and disagreements that would have caused the separation at the time of the crime. Yoo AhIn portrays a prince who is tortured and sensitive.
Have you ever watched that movie? What do you think of Prince’s tragic story in SaDo? Let us know in the comment below!