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|Military Leader of Goryeo|
? - 1174
Myeongjong of Goryeo
Yi originated from the Jeonju Yi clan (?; ?). He subsequently joined the military and rose in ranks, becoming a minister in the scholar dominated government.
In August 1170 (Uijong 24th year), he joined the Goryeo warrior rebellion, which occurred in defiance against the typically scholar/minister ruled Korea. Primary leaders of this rebellion was Jeong Jung-bu and Yi Go who found that warrior-class treatment was truly unfair and planned a coup e tat to establish a warrior government.
The King of Goryeo, Uijong was soon disposed and the new warrior-class ministers set up a puppet king Myeongjong. Yi was named as one of the key figures in the new regime with the title of High Merit Minister (?) and given special privileges along with the other ministers. When Yi Go tried to plot a coup and get hold of a dictatorship in 1171, Yi, under the orders of Chung Jung-bu purged and murdered Yi Go.
With Jeong, Yi increased the size and power of the military and attracted military-class administrators to the regime and appointed these men to national offices which were previously reserved for scholar-class ministers. In 1173, when a scholar-class minister Kim Bo-dang ( ) attempted to restore disposed king Uijong to the throne, Yi decisively slew the former king, preventing any further restoration attempts. With this merit, he was further promoted to Commander of Land Troops.
During his co-governance with Jeong, Yi also faced a series of Buddhist Monk uprisings from different shrines around the nation. As Goryeo was officially a Buddhist nation since Wangkon's unification of Korea, the Buddhists had great influence upon the government and most Goryeo kings appointed official Buddhist Great Monk advisors to assist in national administration. Due to the increasing Buddhist uprisings, Yi himself commanded his forces to put down these rebellions and raid Buddhist shrines. With his powerful forces, he swept the nation and raided and pillaged these shrines.
At this time, Jo Wi-chong (, ), a general of the North-Western border attempted to start a rebellion. Yi responded by murdering favorers of this rebellion such as Yun In-mi (, ), who was of Seogyung birth. Due to this action, Yi lost support and favors from the people, and when he attempted to put down this rebellion, he failed.
Yi, attempting to put down Jeong and gain more power, tried to appoint his daughter as Royal Princess consort, an action which did not fulfill objective but instead further endangered Yi's political situation. Due to this action, the 2nd Jo Invasion force, led by Jeong Jung-bu's son Jeong Gyun subsequently murdered Yi Ui-Bang and his supporters and removed his daughter from the royal family. However, soon enough, Jeong Jung-bu was also murdered and the young and righteous dictator Gyeong Dae-seung took power.
General Yi Ui-bang's main legacy remains in the balance that was achieved through the purging of scholars during his co-governance with Jeong. Before the arrival of Yi, the scholar class had more influence in the government to the extent that the warrior-class was greatly mistreated. With the changing of kings and shifting of power from scholar-class to warrior-class, Goryeo faced a new era. A final and very important legacy is his connection with the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, Yi Songgye. Yi Ui-Bang's younger brother Yi In was a 6th generation ancestor of Yi Songgye, thus connecting Yi Ui-Bang and Yi Songgye together.