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The Gachon Herald
The annals of the Joseon princesses.Finding out the history of the Joseon Dynasty through the princesses.
Byun Eun Mi  |  bem3897@hanmail.net
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Updated : 2012.02.03  16:22:48
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The protagonists of the book are the daughters of the kings during the Joseon dynasty. We learn about Princess Kyunghye through the Korean TV drama ‘The Princess’s Man,’ but not many else. How much do you know about the princesses of the Joseon dynasty? Do you know their stories and histories?
  Back during the Joseon era, women led a hard life compared to that of men. At that time, Confucianism was very strict and there was lots of discrimination against women. Compared to the kings and princes, who were given every single delight they could possibly want, the princesses were forced into marriages and often became victims through conspiracies and slander. This book embodies the stories of the most representative princesses.

1) Princess Jeongseon : Daughter of King Teajong (1404~1424)
  Princess Jeongseon was the fourth daughter of King Teajong and Queen Wonkyung. Being born late, she was born during the time when the king and the queen did not get along well and grew up without receiving much love from her family. Because of the king’s political greed, the princess was not able to secure a good marriage compared to other princesses and was miserable even with her marriage life. Her own husband did not show her the love and compassion that a husband should. Even the king was shocked by this outcome. A princess living a happy life can only be seen in fairy tales.

2) Princess Kyunghye : daughter of King Moonjong (1436~1473)

  Princess Kyunghye is known from the TV drama ‘Princess’s Man’, and her real life was unhappy and gruesome. She was the only daughter of King Moonjong, but her father was killed by Prince Suyang (who later became King Sejo); her brother (King Danjong) was also dethroned of his crown and killed by Suyang through the prince’s uprising. Her husband (Jungjong) was killed by Suyang as well and his body was hacked to pieces. The princess’s misfortunes did not end there, as she became a lower class citizen. One day she directly encountered King Sejo, and even though she wanted to avenge her family, she remained calm for the sake of her children. She began going to the temple frequently and always asked about King Sejo. She later reclaimed her status as a princess.



3) Princess Hyomyung : daughter of King Injo (1637~1700)
  Princess Hyomyung was the daughter of King Injo and she was loved very much by her father. Injo went through an extremely difficult time as he had lost three of his sons and his queen. But then Princess Hyomyung was born and Injo became happy once more. He was very affectionate towards his daughter as he handpicked her clothes and showed enormous love---after losing his queen and sons, he could not bear to lose his daughter. On the other hand, even though Injo was a good father, his behavior was out of line as an emperor. When the time came for her to get married, her mother, concubine Cho, wanted the princess to marry the grandson of the most powerful man, Ja Jum Kim. However, the horoscopes of the princess and Kim’s grandson Se Ryong did not agree, so Cho and Kim forged the marital compatibility. After the death of Injo, King Hyojong rose to power and Ja Jum Kim was exiled. Then a chain of misfortunate events occurred as Se Ryong died, and Princess Hyomyung was exiled for seven years.
  Even after returning to Hanyang, she never regained the title of princess. She was called “Haedo woman” and put under surveillance. She never gave birth to a child and lived a long lonely life.

4) Princess Uisun : daughter of King Hyojong (1635~1662)
  The story of Princess Hyomyung leads to the life of Princess Uisun, who lived during the time when China’s Qing (Chung) dynasty was in a hostile situation with Joseon. Princess Uisun was the adopted daughter of King Hyojong. She was born the daughter of Kumrimgoon (Kaeyoon Yi), one of the royal princes, but when Dorgon, Qing dynasty’s regent, wanted concubines from the direct Korean royal family, Princess Uisun was adopted by Hyojong to be sent to China. She fell deeply in love with Dorgon, but he was later executed after being branded as a rebel. She later was remarried, but her love was once again taken away as her second husband died early. Her father had been heartbroken by his daughter’s misfortunes, so he asked the Qing dynasty’s king to return her back to Joseon. When she returned home, however, she was criticized for having two husbands. She died at the young age of 26.












5) Princess Hwawan : daughter of King Youngjo (1737~1808)
  Princess Hwawan was the daughter of King Youngjo and Youngbin Lee; she was also Crown Prince Sado’s younger sister and King Jungjo’s aunt. She is well known from the Korean TV drama ‘Isan’. She was beloved by her father Youngjo and married Chidal Jung, and after her husband died she adopted Hukyum Jung. Unlike other princesses, Princess Hwawan was greedy for political power---she was exiled when her adopted son Hukyum was executed for being a rebel. She returned to her nephew King Jungjo after 23 years, but she was against her nephew’s political order and partnered up with Younjo’s wife, Queen Mother Jungsoon to bring down the King. The drama ‘Isan’ depicts Queen Mother Jungsoon as a villain, but truth be told, Princess Hwawan was the worst. Despite his aunt’s actions against him, Jungjo forgave her numerous times and didn’t listen to his legislator’s advice. She will always be remembered as the princess who opposed her family.

6) Princess Duckhye : daughter of Emperor Gojong (1912~1989)
  Princess Duckhye was one of the last people to be a big part of the end of the Joseon dynasty. She was born at her mother’s house, “Boknyungdang,” and was called Boknyungdang; After Emperor Gojong’s death she was renamed Duckhye. She was greatly loved by her father, but could not live a comfortable life because the Japanese spies kept an eye on her. At the age of 14, she was forced to go to Tokyo, Japan, to study abroad, and this made the emperor very sad, and later brought him depression. After the death of her mother, Princess Duckhye was diagnosed with a mental disorder (Dementia Praecox) and could not keep up with her school work either. She married a wealthy man in Daemado and had a daughter, but her husband abandoned her as her illness got worse. She also lost her daughter and her mental state deteriorated due to the constant chain of misfortunate events. She spent her days at a mental institution and lived a miserable life in Japan; when Joseon became independent, Princess Duckhye finally returned home. When she came back to Korea, she received her Korean citizenship, and she was named Lee Duck Hye. She died of old age living in ChangDeok palace. 

  The book introduces history that we don’t generally know about. Princesses did not live the happy and luxurious lives we all pictured them to be---In fact, they lived harder lives than the common citizens did. This book teaches us about the hardship that princesses had to go through during the Joseon dynasty. It teaches us history in a never before seen perspective.

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