07/25/2005, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Chosŏn dynasty's last descendent laid to rest in a ceremony attended by 3,000 people

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young

Seoul (AsiaNews) – About 3,000 people, including Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan and a Japanese delegation, attended the funeral of Yi Ku, last descendent of the Chosŏn, which was held yesterday after nine days of mourning.

Son of Yongchin, the last Korean King to be crowned, Yi Ku died of a heart attack on July 16 in a Tokyo hotel. He was 73-year-old.

Yi's remains arrived in the South Korean capital on July 20 from Japan. His coffin was placed at Naksonjae residence in Changdok Palace where his father passed away in 1963.

Yi Hwan-ey, head of the Chosŏn's Royal Family Association, and Yoo Hong-joon, head of the Cultural Heritage Administration, led the funeral.

"I express my sorrow to the late Yi, and hope he will enjoy happiness with his parents in the other world forever," Prime Minister Lee said.

After the funeral service, family members and participants moved the coffin, which was draped in the national flag, to Chongmyo, the ancestral royal shrine of the Chosŏn Kingdom in downtown Seoul, for a ritual service. He was then laid to rest at the cemetery compound of King Yongchin in Namyangju, Kyonggi Province.

Another rite for Yi's soul will be held at Naksonjae today.

Yi Ku did not have any heir and although Yi Won—son to one of Yi Ku's uncles—was appointed as his adoptive son, some royal family members opposed the decision.

Yi lived alone in Japan after his family forced him to divorce his US wife Julia Mullock in 1982 because she could not bear children.

Yi's ex-wife Julia Mullock could not participate in the funeral due to the royal family's opposition, but watched the ritual service at Chongmyo on the other side of the street.

She has been in Seoul since last May working with CJ Entertainment to write a script for a movie about her life. 

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