Statue of Shin Saimdang > Ojukheon

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Statue of Shin Saimdang

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Shin Saimdang (December 5th, 1504 ~ June 20th, 1551; or October 29, 1504 ~ May 17th, 1551 by lunar calendar) or Shin Saim, or Saimdang Shin was a writer, confucian scholar, painter, calligraphist, and poet in the mid-Joseon period.

She is a mother of Yulgok Yi I, the confucian scholar and government officials, and the painter Yi Maechang.

She si from Gangneung, Gangwon province and the family clan is pyeongsan. 

It is said that her real name is Shin In-seon but it is not definite, and Saimdang is her penname.

She received Neo-Confucianism education from her grand father Yi Sa-on, and her father Shin Myeong-hwa who has forgone the public office due to the massacre of scholars. After her father died without leaving any son, she divided her time between the in-laws’ house in Paju, Gyeonggi province and her mother’s house in Gangneung, Gangwon provinc, faithfully serving her mother.

Her father Shin Chinsa(garrison commander) believed that the first thing to look for in son-in-law must not be the family or wealth, but man’s capability of encouraging the development of Saimdang’s art works.

His main concern was to find the man who could guarantee his daughter’s road of becoming a excellent artist who already possesses enough natural talent.

Saimdang’s father Shin Myeong-hwa thought that family of high ranking will not acknowledge newly wedded daughter-in-law’s art works, and family with difficult financial situation will occupy her time with needy household, she will not be able to continue with her art.

After a careful selection, he chose a man named Yi Won-soo.

Yi Won-soo is a only son who was raised by a single mother so he did not have many family members to bother daughter-in-law with housechores. . Shin Myeong-hwa even foresaw that Saimdang may be able to live with her family in Gangneung just like her mother lady Yi.

Following the tradition of staying at the woman’s family house, Saimdang stayed in Gangneung until she had to move to Seoul, and had 5 sons and 3 daughters. Yulgok Yi I is her third son.

As she is compared with the women of same time period such as Queen Munjeong, Jeong Nan-jeong, and Hwan Jini, she was held in honor as the symbol of female virtue and good wife during her lifetime. Moreover, she is revered as a respected model of mother figure because of the political and academic success of her son Yulgok Yi I.

She not only had outstanding talent in painting, calligraphy, poetry, but also was well equipment with knowledge on Neo-confucianism, and she had good sense of cloth making and embroidery.

She has embraced Neo-confucianism knowledge, ethnography, poetics, classics, and history.

To follow the model of wise wife Tai Ren who had put the best effort since prenatal education and nurtured King Wen of Zhou, she decided her pen name to be Saim.

To definitively show her female identity, later generation added ‘dang’ at the end of her pen name which is the letter referring to a house. Her nick name is Inimdang or Imsaje.

In 2007, the government appointed and designed her figure to appear on the 50,000 KRW bill. Shin Lip who died in the Tangeumdae Terrace of Chungju during the Japanese invasion of Korea is her nephew, and Korean politician Haegong Shin Ik-hui is her 14th descendent.
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