Sejong: A Ruler for His People and for Education

King Sejong works in a field in Episode 5

King Sejong works in a field in Episode 5


Throughout Tree with Deep Roots, King Sejong demonstrates that his two main concerns as a king are the well being of the common people and education. These concerns tie into one another to define his as a ruler for the common people who struggles to improve their lives through education.


King Sejong makes it abundantly clear that his first concern is the well being of the common people. Despite the obvious power of the bureaucracy, King Sejong is concerned about the slaves and commoners. In Episode 5, he is shown in a field working with slaves and interacting with some of them. Even prior to his reign as king, Sejong is concerned with people whose status is very low. For example, when the prison break occurs and Ddol Bok has escaped, it is Sejong who not only spares him but also swears to protect him (Episode 2). Sejong even goes as far as disobeying his father, King Taejong, in order to protect a boy he does not even know. Sejong tells his father that his vision of Joseon is one of patience and words rather than violence. He hopes to construct a Joseon that is most favorable to all of his people. As his father lies dying, he questions if Sejong is still hoping to achieve his goal and Sejong says that he is. Despite always doubting Sejong’s vision, the dying king says that he better succeed so that his greatest accomplishment can be putting Sejong on the throne (Episode 4). In the end, even the person most against his plans encourages Sejong to do all that he can to create a Joseon that will help the people.


King Sejong’s dedication to education is another main concern of his ruling and it is the means by which he plans to help his people. His dedication is clear early on as he devotes his time to playing Sudoku (Episode 1) and his decision to create Jip Hyun Jun, the library for the scholars (Episode 3). The creation of the library takes power from the bureaucrats, which creates continuous tension during Sejong’s reign. His use of both the scholars and the assembly divides power in a way that frustrates the bureaucrats. Sejong’s emphasis on education is most clearly seen in his development of the Hangul alphabet. Hangul was conceived in order to be simple enough for the uneducated, common people to learn without difficulty. Sejong relies on a small group of select slaves and scholars to make his alphabet possible. The process for creating the letters requires him to draw from many academic pursuits such as autopsy and the study of existing alphabets. His inspiration for the language comes from a failed attempt to help people during a plague (Episode 13). In this way, his devotion to education ties in very deeply with his devotion to his people.


Sejong’s two pursuits, his people and education, are combined in a single endeavor with his creation of the Hangul alphabet. As king of Joseon, he spends his time benefitting the country by pursuing the well being of his people and fostering education.


Kim, Young-Hun, and Sang-Yeon Park. Tree With Deep Roots. Seoul Broadcasting System. South Korea, 5 Oct. 2011. Television.
“Tree With Deep Roots: Episode 5.” Drama Beans, 27 Oct. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
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