Heungseondaewongun was a royal family member and a politician of the Joseon Dynasty. His nickname was Sibaek and penname was Seokpa while his real name was Haeung. He was a fifth generation descendent of King Yeongjo and father of King Gojong, the 26th king of Joseon Dynasty. In 1843 (9th year of King Heonjong), he became Heungseongun. In 1846, he was promoted to Daejongwan of Sureungcheonjangdogam and then, appointed as Yusadangsang of Jongchinbu and Dochonggwan of Owidochogbu. As the royal family experienced greater pressure from the power of the Andong Kim family, he pretended to be crazy, kept company with rogues, and became a beggar. He was jokingly called "Gungdoryeong", meaning 'green youth'. After King Cheoljong died without an heir, his second son, Myeongbok, was appointed king by the power of Queen Mother Jo and he himself became Daewongun. He reformed the government, rooted out nepotism, and hired anyone with talent regardless of their backgrounds through the regent. Also, he reformed the Seowons (private Confucius schools), which were reasons for political disputes. He reformed the tax system of "hwangok" to a "sachang" system to prevent tax benefits for the ruling class and to charge them the same gunpo that was charged to the commoners. He simplified the clothing and prevented lavish living on the part of the ruling elite. He established legal laws through his writings Daejeonhoetong, Yukjeonjorye, and Yangjeonpyeongo,but he also came under complaint by the people for levying heavy taxes and enlisting people to build Kyeongbok Palace.
He established a "swaegukyangi" policy that prohibited exchange with western powers. He executed nine French priests and 8000 Catholics in the year of Byeongin. This incident is called "Byeonginyangyo", which is the historical crackdown against Catholicism. The French army invaded the Joseon Dynasty because of this incident, but the Joseon Army destroyed the French battleships. Another incident, known as the "Battleship General Sherman" incident, with the U.S. trying to force the Joseon Dynasty to open its doors to the West. Although he eventually won this war as well, he lost political power due to an appeal on the part of Confucian scholars including Choi Ikhyeon, who was in a political power conflict with Queen Myeongseong. In 1882 (19th year of King Gojong ), an Imogunran (military coup) helped him to regain power, but with Qing Dynasty's intervention, he was exiled to Tianjin, China for three years. In 1886, he tried to put his eldest son, Jaemyeon, on the throne with the help of Wianseukai, an attempt which had failed. In 1895, he regained power again through the Eulmisabyeon that Japanese Ambassador Miura started. Afterwards, a pro-Russian government was formed through Aguanpacheon and so, he retired. In 1907 (1st year of King Sunjong), he was appointed as Dawwanwang. His appointed name was Heonui.