King Il (イル Iru?) is the late king of the Kouka Kingdom. He is the father of Yona, the second-born son of Emperor Joo-Nam and the younger brother of Yu-Hon. On the night of his daughter’s birthday, he was murdered by his nephew Soo-Won.
Il is a chubby man who has a gentle appearance. He has a pair of black eyes and short black hair covered by a black headgear with a red and yellow design pattern, and two extending cords that have yellow tassels hanging on each of them. He also has a short black mustache.
He dons a maroon overcoat with violet hemlines atop a dark purple robe. This robe has a red hemline and covers his white inner-wear. He also puts on a necklace with beads in various colors and a gold circular pendant.
Il is a bubbly person who governs his people with kindness and idealism. He dislikes violence and prefers to settle conflict peacefully. Because of this, he banned wars and forbade Yona from using weapons . Although many view him as cowardly and weak, he can be brave. For instance, he stopped a sword with his bare hands when Kan Tae-Jun tried to attack Hak .
Before he became king, Il was the docile and meek second prince of Kouka Kingdom. He was looked down upon by many people in the palace for his pacifistic nature. Although the two were opposites in almost every way, he seemed to share a close bond with his elder brother Yu-Hon. The fact that Yon-Hi didn't look down on Il was one of the reasons Yu-Hon chose her to be his wife.
As a young man, Il had great faith in the Dragon King. He firmly believed that the Dragon Gods protected Kouka Kingdom, and that failure to recognize this would bring ruin to the country. Consequently, Il spent much of his time in the shrine, praying to the Crimson Dragon King, which was a point of contention between the two brothers, as Yu-Hon resented the powers the priests of the shrine held over the monarchy.
In chapter 192, Il expressed his concern to Yon-Hi that the marriage between herself and his brother might not be confirmed if Yu-Hon refused to have the ceremony in the shrine. Along with Kashi (an apprentice shrine maiden at the time) and a young Ik-Soo (an apprentice priest), Il took Yon-Hi to the shrine in an attempt to persuade her. It was there that the high priest revealed the ancestry of Il's future sister-in-law. Il was delighted that blood descendants of the Crimson Dragon King existed and believed Yon-Hi's presence in the castle was the will of the heavens. However, when Yu-Hon berated Il for bringing Yon-Hi to the place he despised the most, Il became belligerent. He accused his elder brother of purposely hiding Yon-Hi's lineage, going as far as to suggest Yu-Hon wanted to monopolize her blood for himself. In a rage, Yu-Hon later burned the shrine to the ground and executed the priests in an attempt to keep Yon-Hi's secret safe. Il, who was in the shrine at the time, managed to save Kashi from the fire, although one side of her face severely burned.
A few years later, Il took Kashi to be his wife, even though she was a commoner. Many were surprised that King Joo-Nam gave his consent to the marriage. In chapter 193, Il is fiercely protective of Kashi and his then-unborn child, not allowing Yon-Hi or a young Soo-Won to get close to them. When Yon-Hi tried to talk to Kashi, Il angrily exclaimed, "that girl died in the temple that day!" Despite telling Yon-Hi that he wants to move on from that time because he was now happy, it is clear the Il still holds a grudge.
In chapter 194, Il returns Soo-Won to his mother's quarters after he snuck in to see a one-year-old Yona. Il tells Yon-Hi that he doesn't want Soo-Won to get close to Yona and that Soo-Won gives him an 'unpleasant feeling'. It is revealed in this chapter that Kashi can see the future and was able to promise Il a red-haired child. This suggests that Il knew his child would be a reincarnation of the Crimson Dragon King. And it explains why King Joo-Nam approved Il's marriage to Kashi. It is still unclear how much of his future Kashi has revealed to Il. If she has told him Soo-Won will one day kill and usurp him, it may explain his attitude towards his young nephew.
When the main story begins, Il was inaugurated as the King of Kouka Kingdom ten years previous . Many people were confused, some even angered, by Joo-Nam's choice to make his weaker second-born son king. Il's elder, and seemingly more capable, brother Yu-Hon was expected by many to inherit the throne. During his reign, Il was a renowned hater of weapons and war; he took the passive approach when he dealt with such matters. And had an overall passive leadership style. In effort to avoid conflict with neighbouring countries, he offered them small sections of land within the boundaries of Kouka kingdom . He was unable to unite the leaders of the four tribes and, as a result, corruption within the country flourished. These factors contributed to extreme poverty and illegal trading, especially in the Fire Tribe.
When Yona was still young, his wife was allegedly killed by rebels. Il did not marry again, fearing the same fate may await his new spouse . Around the same time, Yu-Hon was also killed. Most people were told that he had died in battle. In actuality, Il murdered Yu-Hon, the reasons for which are still unknown.
Il visits Yona in her room and compliments Yona's hair when she complains about how unruly it is. He ensures her it’s not weird and asks Hak for his opinion on the matter. The two youngsters engage in a playful fight when Hak insinuates that it's the princess' brain that weird not her hair. Yona soon leaves to meet Soo-Won outside after Hak tells her of his arrival. Il realizes why Yona is frantic about her hair, but is still confused as he thinks Soo-Won will not mind the matter. Hak tells him bluntly how oblivious he is about his daughter’s feelings.
The next day, he and Yona go to the training grounds to watch Hak and Soo-Won’s archery match. During the game, Yona says she wants to learn archery and Il instantly opposes the idea. After the duel, Soo-Won invites Yona to go horseback riding and Il gets worried. Later that day, Il learns of his daughter’s conversation with Soo-Won about a potential engagement. He tells her that her engagement will soon be tackled in the future, but Yona is opposed to the idea if its any but Soo-Won. Il disagrees with her because he doesn’t want his nephew to suffer the burden of being a king and also the fact his wife was killed by traitors which made him didn't want to remarry, and this what made Yona run out of her room in disbelief.
Five days later, Yona celebrates her 16th birthday and Il cries tears of joy. However, she is still preoccupied on her messy hair, much to his dismay. Later that night, Soo-Won meets him at his room and kills him for revenge.
Even after his death King Il continues to influence the plot, both directly and indirectly due to his extreme pacifist nature that caused a lot of trouble for both his family and his kingdom.
King Il loves Yona more than anything. As his only child, he spoils and dotes upon her. He is also very protective, keeping her within the palace walls at all times and forbidding her from holding a weapon. Despite giving Yona anything she asks for, he refuses to let her marry Soo-Won. Yona is absolutely devastated by his death at the hands of Soo-Won. She questions her ability to go on in this life without her father. King Il's death makes her realize how selfish she's been. He spent a great deal of time and effort to throw her a birthday celebration and she never even thanked him.
Even though Il attempted to achieve peace by refusing to go to war, the country's problems multiplied under his rule. Yona quickly realized that the citizens of Kouka hated her father. She learned that the majority of people and the generals had wanted his older brother Yu-Hon to be king. This series of revelations made Yona realized that her father was an unfit ruler. And while she does not condone it, she comes to understand why Il was murdered. And yet, when Yona discovers out how ruthless her uncle Yu-hon was to his enemies especially to the people of Xing Kingdom, she wonders if is why her grandfather chose Il to be king. It was later confirm by her own aunt's diary that her father Il was chosen to be king by her grandfather because he couldn't forgive the actions of what her uncle Yu-hon had did while he was general which was commit acts of cruelty on the priests that lived in the shrine temple in the castle.
Hak considers royals to be a bother, even saying it to the king's face on one occasion. Il seems unbothered by the insult and expresses his admiration for Hak's honesty nature . Because of Hak’s prowess in battle, Il personally asks him to be Yona’s bodyguard. Hak initially turns down the offer. But when he Hak and Kan Tae-Jun get into a confrontation, the king grabs a hold of Tae-Jun's sword with his bare hands in an effort to stop their fight. Il earns Hak's loyalty then and there and agrees to stay by Yona’s side. While Hak admits that King Il was an ineffective leader, he doesn't believe the king deserved to die the way he did.
In chapter 194, Yona's mother has a vision of Hak protecting Yona. It is possible that Kashi was able to see Hak protecting Yona the night Soo-Won killed King-Il. Kashi's visions may explain why Il was always kind to Hak and entrusted him with Yona's safety, even though there were more experienced soldiers capable of being her body guard.
Soo-Won and II were shown to have a neutral relationship in the beginning of the series. Yona believed, II loved Soo -won as his own child. However, when Soo-Won was nine, his father was murdered by Emperor Il, though the murder was covered up as an accident. Since then, Soo-won harbored a secret hatred for his uncle and plotted his revenge in order to fulfill his father’s dying wish to become the king.
When Yona discover's Soo-Won's mother's diary, it is revealed that Soo-Won and King Il's relationship has never been pleasant. King Il openly displayed his dislike for Soo-Won, even when his nephew was only a toddler. At that point, it is unclear if Il is pushing his hate for Yu-Hon onto his son or if Kashi's visions have influenced his behaviour.
- Akatsuki no Yona Fanbook
- Akatsuki no Yona Fanbook
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 44, Page 7
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 1, Page 24
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 3, Page 26
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 2, Page 11
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 44, Page 18
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 1, Page 33
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 2, Page 12
- Akatsuki no Yona Manga: Chapter 3, Page 8