Filed Under Comic

The Friendship of a Scholar and a King

This comic provides a visual representation of the relationship between Jeong Do-Jeon and Yi Songgye based on the evidence offered by David M. Robinson in his introduction to his translation of Seeking Order in a Tumultuous Age: The Writings of Chŏng Tojŏn, a Neo-Confucian, and the subsequent chapters that zoom in on Jeong Do-Jeon's text. From this context, it focuses on three instances spanning over about a decade of friendship and coordination that aided in the establishment of Joseon and the enthroning of General Yi Seonggye as Taejo.

It aims to present elements of Korean history in an attractive and engaging manner to a wide audience and highlight a very interesting and transformative moment in history that position two men and their friendship at the forefront of a new dynasty.

I opted to use Revised Romanization to imitate English translations of Korean comics (manhwa).

Although I draw inspiration from Joseon hanbok and architecture, it is not to be treated as an accurate representation of historical aesthetics. Many elements involved in this visualization are stylized to fit the medium, including hairstyles, the characters' apparent ages, and conversations. Also, I opted for Joseon fashion despite the first story taking place before its establishment.


The Characters

Jeong Do-Jeon

Passed the infamously strict service exam in 1362.

As a supporter of the former King Gongmin, he actively opposed the Yuan.

Held a post at the Royal Academy of Confucianism.

Was exiled twice.

My imagination made Jeong Do-Jeon slightly socially strange and very by-the-book.

Yi Songgye

Yi Songgye, also known as Taejo, was a prominent military general. Would become the first King of Joseon. Some evidence that he took the throne reluctantly, after succession turmoil following the assassination of King Gongmin.


The Friendship of a Scholar and a King, Webcomic filepdf / 60.93 MBDownload


Erin K. Hermann, “The Friendship of a Scholar and a King,” UCLA Korean History and Culture Digital Museum, accessed July 12, 2024,