Life as A Joseon Queen: an Introduction

(1) A Queen’s Dignity? Hiding Behind is a Life Lived by Treading on Thin Ice. 

Queen Sinjeong of Pungyang Jo clan, portrayed by Chae Soo-bin in the drama Moonlight Drawn by Clouds. She did not get to become the Queen Consort in her lifetime because of her husband, Crown Prince Hyomyeong (posthumously honoured as King Munjo)’s death.

We are always served with the splendid life of Joseon queen on the screens, big and small alike. From the elegant poise and the beauty to all the fancy court robes donned by them, they seemed to be the subject of envy among women. A few years back, the author was invited to give a special lecture on making the housewives as great figures, encouraging the housewives to live like( queens of their homes. However, the author requested to change the topic to ‘living as a queen’ and he did deliver the talk with that topic. From the author’s point of view, the life of Joseon queens is straight out of a fairy tale; it is not as splendid as what it is portrayed, and the author thought that they had to live with their freedom restricted. Perhaps, the Joseon queens lived extreme lives doing an extreme job, stuck beneath the stifling palace walls.

The most basic route in becoming a queen is through becoming a Crown Princess, by being selected to be the Crown Prince’s consort and naturally crowned queen when her husband ascends to the throne as the king. A Crown Princess selection usually takes place when the prospective bride was in her teens and the selection process includes three stages of screening. But then, there were only six queens who made it to the position of Queen Consort through this route: Danjong’s Queen Jeongsun, Prince Yeonsan’s Deposed Queen Shin, Injong’s Queen Inseong, Hyeonjong’s Queen Myeongseong, Sukjong’s Queen Inkyeong, and Gyeongjong’s Queen Seonui. Out of a total of 27 kings who ruled Joseon, why there was so little amount of queens who took the basic route to become one?

Sejo’s coup, Danjong’s dethronement, Jungjong and Injo Restorations are among the various political variables which caused the change in the succession of the throne. Sometimes, the second son or the grandson ended up taking over the throne instead of the firstborn son of the king, not to mention the possibilities of having the illegitimate son as the successor. There was also Grand Prince Yangnyeong and his consort Grand Princess Suseong, who were demoted from their original positions of Crown Prince and Crown Princess respectively; and Seongjong’s birth mother Queen Dowager Insoo who lost her position as Crown Princess after Crown Prince Uigyeong passed away. As for Crown Prince Sohyeon’s consort Crown Princess Minhoe, pursuing the cause behind the suspicious death of her husband led to her own death by poisoning. Lady Hyegyeong also had to let go of the Crown Princess title following Crown Prince Sado’s death.

Even if one did become the Crown Princess, that position itself was not a guarantee for her to become the queen in the future. Hyeonjong’s consort and Sukjong’s mother Queen Myeongseong was the only consort in Joseon history who acquired the title of Crown Princess, Queen Consort, and Queen Dowager in her lifetime. That proves that the route of a Crown Princess to become the Queen is not that smooth.

In order to ensure the continuity of the royal lineage, a king would be encouraged to take in concubines, and it would be heart-wrenching for a queen to have the king’s affection taken away by the concubine. Seongjong and Deposed Queen Yoon’s relationship was ruined because of this very reason when Queen Yoon was jealous of the attention given by Seongjong towards his concubines. There was also the issue of the queen’s family becoming sacrificial lambs in the name of politics. Taejong put this in practice by executing Queen Wongyeong’s brothers and Queen Soheon’s family, who were his in-laws. One’s family could be in grave danger once she becomes the queen because it was difficult to guarantee their safety at that time.

Once someone becomes the queen, she might also be deposed as a result of coup d’etat. After Sejo’s takeover of the throne, Danjong had to abdicate, and his consort Queen Jeongsun eventually had to dye clothes to support herself after Danjong was demoted to a mere prince and died in exile. Although her status was restored some 230 years later by Sukjong, the young queen led a life full of hardship as a commoner after she turned 20. Deposed Queens Shin and Yoo changed completely after their respective husbands Prince Yeonsan and Prince Gwanghae were deposed; the only consolation for them was perhaps to be buried together with their husbands, and their shared tombs are still intact until today.

The queen’s position does not guarantee power and stability; in fact, a queen was expected to devote herself to womanly duties, especially supporting the King inside the stifling royal palace. In her spare time, she could either spend her time strolling in the artificially built garden huwon and Amisan Hill behind her residence Gyotaejeon or burying her face in books. That kind of life sounds suffocating, and the queen herself might have felt like that too. The palace might a spellbinding space when we visit it, but in reality, the huge place probably held the sad memories of Joseon queens living there at one time.

(2) Send in an Application if You Are Joseon’s Eligible Bachelorette.

The first hurdle towards becoming a Joseon queen is the selection process. Although one would usually acquire the position of a Crown Princess after the wedding ceremony, they could become a queen straight away if the king was young, just like Danjong and Gojong, who married Queen Jeongsun and Empress Myeongseong respectively when they were already king. There were also instances where a new queen was selected after the death of the first consort; Sukjong’s Queen Inhyeon and Yeongjo’s Queen Jeongsun were some of the examples.

Most of the time, the selection process for a royal wedding would involve three steps. Once the wedding was scheduled for the king or the crown prince, the court would be issuing an edict of marriage prohibition (geumhonryeong) and the potential maidens from the whole country would be sending in their cheonyeodanja, which can be described as a marriage resume. If it still exists today, the resume is the same as a written application of the candidates for the position of the queen. Maidens who were daughters of the royal relatives, Yi family, widows, and concubines were exempted from sending in their details. Preferred candidates would be those who were 2 or 3 years older than the prospective groom (the King or the Crown Prince), with both parents still alive. Because of this factor, most of Joseon Queens were actually older than their spouses.

A selection with the chosen one able to acquire the highest position of a female in the country as a Queen would surely attract in a lot of applications, but it was nothing like that; only 25 or 30 applications were sent in at most. This was because of the expenses that would come with the formalities required when attending the selection for the chosen ones; money spent on formal clothes and carriages would ultimately become a financial burden to ordinary families. Plus, if the daughter happened to succeed in becoming the Queen, the is a huge possibility of the whole family being known as the one setting a political storm in the court through the hands of a woman. Thus, most would be reluctant to let their daughters join the selection.

Usually, the preliminary screening would have 6 candidates picked out, then 3 candidates from the second screening would advance to the final stage before having one decided for the position of Queen. By having the three-stage selection process, it served as a challenge for the candidates, as well as a way of putting emphasis on the fairness of the process itself. In order to ensure fair selection taking place, all the candidates attending the screening sessions were put on the same level of judgment – at least physically – by the attire required for the event. The first stage required the candidates to wear the same yellow samhoejang jacket over a red skirt. As they progressed into the other two stages, they would be allowed to adorn themselves with slightly more ornaments.

The selection process also took into great consideration of the prospective bride’s wisdom, which was evaluated through the interview with the candidates. During Queen Jeongsun (Yeongjo’s second Queen Consort)’s own selection, she was asked, “What is the deepest thing in the world?” The other candidates answered the mountains and the water, but Queen Jeongsun gave a very different answer. “A human’s heart is the deepest,” she said. “An object’s depth can be measured, but it is impossible to measure the depth of someone’s heart.” When asked about her favourite flower, she answered with cotton flower. Her reason: “Others flowers’ goodness is only temporary; the cotton flower has the advantage of giving warmth to the people of this country.” Those answers gave a clear insight into her intelligence, and she was ultimately chosen as the Queen.

In her personal records Hanjungnok, Crown Prince Sado’s wife Lady Hyegyeong also detailed out the great deal of effort put in by her parents during her selection process.

“That year, a royal edict was sent out requesting the names for the candidates of the Crown Prince’s consort. My father (Hong Bong-han) said like this,’As a subject who received a stipend from the country for many generations and has a daughter who is also the Prime Minister’s granddaughter, I do not dare to deceive the throne.’ He sent in my name, but my family was extremely poor at the time and there was no money for the clothes. My skirt was made from the fabric originally saved for my sister’s dowry, while the linings underneath were made from old clothes. I can still vividly recall my late mother’s great lengths to make the preparation for me.”

Based on Lady Hyegyeong’s account, she already became the center of attraction in the preliminary screening stage, receiving special love and care from the royal elders. “King Yeongjo praised my humble attire, treating me favourably, while Queen Jeongseong observed me with interest. As for Lady Seonhui (Crown Prince Sado’s birth mother and Yeongjo’s concubine), had me summoned to her quarters before I went to the screening process. Her face was gentle and she was loving. The palace maids bickered with each other to sit beside me, causing my body and mind to feel uncomfortable.” She provided a peek into the atmosphere of the process itself. She also highlighted the effect of power in determining one’s social standing: “After the selection, many relatives poured in for a visit, including the old servants who cut their contact with us. It is easy to see how acknowledgment is closely related to one’s social standing.” Nothing has changed much these days as compared to the past.

The selection made it possible for a woman to rise to the highest position of the Nation’s Mother as a Joseon Queen. But ultimately, life as a Queen was not as smooth as what we expected it to be.

(3) Wedding Rituals and Processions according to the Six Rites…the Carriage Parade of the King, Followed by the Queen.

The final round of the selection process would end with a prospective bride chosen to become the future Queen; however, the selected lady would not be returning to her home. Instead, she would be taken to a placed known as the Detached Palace or Byeolgung 별궁 (別宮). The palace would be the first residence of the future Queen, where she would be receiving lessons regarding how to familiarize herself with the royal household’s etiquette and the virtues a Queen should have. It would be her place of staying from the day of the final round until the wedding ceremony begins, which would usually last for about 50 days or sometimes less than that. The Detached Palace was a place built for the purpose of preparing its occupant for the impending wedding ceremony, which included complicated order and process, with meticulous preparation needed beforehand. It also acted as the future Queen’s natal home, with its dignity and prestige matched that of the royal household’s, thus reducing the burden of the bride’s family when receiving the King during the ceremony.

The places used as the detached palace changed a few times throughout the dynasty, according to the time period. Taepyeonggwan, Eouigung Palace, Unhyeongung Palace, and Andong Detached Palace were among of them. Empress Myeongseong’s wedding ceremony took place in Heungseon Daewongun’s private mansion, Unhyeongung Palace.

There were six steps or etiquettes in wedding ceremony, also known as the Six Rites (Yukrye), which included: the King’s formal wedding proposal (napchae); sending wedding gifts as a token of the marriage (napjing or nappye); choosing the coronation date for the Queen (gogi); then the coronation ceremony of the Queen (chaekbi); the King’s journey to the detached palace to escort the Queen into the main palace (chinyoung); and finally, the celebration of the returning King and Queen in the form of royal banquet in the main palace (dongroe). The highlight of the wedding ceremony was no other than chinyoung, which could be said to be similar to modern day’s wedding march at the wedding hall. It was a procession in which the Queen, who had received various lessons for her future days, would be escorted to the main palace from the detached palace.

These processions and rites were immortalized in the form of written records and drawings in an official document known as the Garyedogam Uigwe, and scenes of the wedding ceremony were vividly shown through the Banchado paintings. The term banchado itself carried the meaning of ‘a painting detailing the rank and task of the people in it’. The first part of the banchado showcased the troop of army marching in front of the King’s retinue and the flag alerting the presence of the king or dukgi. The focus of the painting would be on the main attraction of the ceremony that was the royal couple and their respective royal carriages. The splendid yet solemn king’s retinue signaled the presence of the king through the special flag carried by a guard of honour, accompanied by a band of the court musicians and the royal bodyguards. The civil and military officials, together with the military commanders, were included in the king’s entourage, symbolizing their act of serving and protecting the king.

The queen’s entourage would be right behind the king’s; the first in line would not be the queen herself but her investiture document gyomyeong carried in a special small carriage, the precious jade investiture book okchaek in its own carriage, and her gold seal geumbo in a carriage draped with silk cloth. The commoners would have the chance to see the king’s visage on this day since the king’s royal carriage would have its four panels wide open for everyone to catch a glimpse of him, but it would not be the same for the newly crowned queen, as hers would not be opened. The long wedding procession would have the king’s royal bodyguards marching at the end of the line.

A royal wedding ceremony would be a good platform to give the public a glimpse into the royalties’ splendour and dignity. The king’s special flag with the painting of sun, moon, mountains, and creeks; the mythical animals drawn on the accompanying flags; and the flag of a fairy riding a turtle or gaguseonin is among the paintings featured on the flags held by the flag bearers on that day. There was also equipment which symbolized both practicality and the spiritual influence, such as the big blue fans or buchaeseon, parasols or yangsan, and the pot lids or gae. The court musicians created the ambiance for the parade, as well as carrying the function of matching the movement of the procession. Those who participated in the event wore special formal robes according to their respective status and roles in the parade. The distinct colours and design of the robes showcased the personality of the wearers and their roles in the event, at the same time showcasing the unique fashion of the court, such as the veil or noul worn by the court ladies. The horses and the rides also became a subject of interest, because horse riding was reserved for the noblemen; however, the eunuchs and the palace maids were mostly seen riding the horses in the parade, and the different colours of the horses – white, black, and brown –  made it even more interesting for the public to see. We owe it to the hard work of the past people who recorded it in the uigwe together with the accompanying paintings, making it possible for us to see how the procession took place back then. The vivid banchado paintings made it as if we travelled back in time to witness the event ourselves with our own eyes.


40 thoughts on “Life as A Joseon Queen: an Introduction

  1. What an excellent work!
    I pity the queen consorts of Joseon. As a modern woman, I can’t imagine to live behind the palace walls and to follow the rules. If you don’t mind, I would like to ask some questions.
    1. Were the candidates of crown princess aware that someday the crown prince will have concubines?
    2. Were there any regulations to divorce your royal spouse?
    3. I watched Dong Yi some years a go, do you know how many times the royal women (queen, crown princess and royal concubines) were allowed to meet their relatives or politician supporters in their residence?
    Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Thank you for dropping by to leave a comment and some questions! I really love it if you have anything you’re curious of, because I learn a lot from the questions 😀
      1. Yes. Noblemen were allowed to have concubines to moderate their marriage. Weird, but that’s how it was back then. It was better to have the men having an outlet to ‘have fun’ rather than restricting them, which could possibly lead to frustrating men terrorizing other’s wives, contributing to the disruption of the marriage institution. They knew and they could nothing about it, plus it was even worse for the crown princess/queen because they would have to manage the concubines as part of her duties..if not, she would be considered failing in her duties as the nation’s Mother.
      2. Confucian teachings have this basic concept called ‘Seven Sins’ serving as a guide to divorce. It included: disobeying in-laws, failing to produce son, having an affair, stealing, contracting a disease, extreme jealousy, and talking rudely. Marriage was something one did to stay together until the bitter end, till death came to separate them. Royal household did not really promote divorce because it would be a source of gossip and it would become an issue among the aristocrats as well. Only in several instances did divorce take part among them: Munjong’s two crown princesses (extreme jealousy/extreme belief in shamanism and lesbian affair) and King Jungjong divorcing his first consort Dangyeong because of potential political conflict. Others ended up in death, such as King Seongjong sentencing his consort Deposed Queen Yoon to death by poisoning because of her extreme jealousy, or King Sukjong and Jang Hee-bin’s eventual fallout.
      3. The higher one’s status was, the more stringent the rules would be. One needed special permission to meet the royal women because they were the king/crown prince’s women, and they resided in the Inner Palace. Even with the family members going in and out of the palace every day to carry out their duties, that did not give them the freedom to simply walk into the quarters. Apart from permissions and invitations to visit, family members would send letters to their relatives inside the palace, and the replies would be written on the same letters because outside letters were not allowed to be kept inside the palace.
      Hope these answers will be of help 😉

      1. Thank you for sharing your answers. Those help me a lot to understand about those women’s life more. If you don’t mind, I would like to ask some questions again.
        1. Were it mandatory for the late king’s wife and concubines to live in temple as nuns?
        2. Many of queen consorts of Joseon came from the same noble clan, I wonder if the kings just married their distant relatives, is it one of causes why there were so many royal babies died as infants?
        I hope you don’t mind about those questions. Thank you 🙂

        1. Sure do!
          1. For the concubines, it used to be like that in early Joseon since it was heavily influenced by Ming Dynasty and there was a special temple called Jeongeobwon, where they would stay after leaving the palace to pray for the wellbeing of the departing king’s soul. But then, those with sons would leave the palace to stay with their princes until their passing. As for the queens, they would live inside the palace as Dowagers until their death.
          2. Although the majority of the queens came from the same clans (Yeoheung Min, Papyeong Yoon, Cheongju Han, Andond Kim, just to name a few), they were not closely related to the king’s clan, Jeonju Yi. Joseon did not prefer close kin marriages and even forbid those with the surname Yi (although there were various clans with the same surname) to be considered as candidates for a queen’s position. The high rate of children mortality back then was caused by harsh weather and also lack of protection from diseases. Those babies born in scorching hot summer and freezing cold winter would have a hard time surviving their early years. Even when they grew up, there were many who did not pass the teenage phase because of diseases topped with lacking immune system. They were living in a controlled environment and did not develop decent antibodies, so when they contracted infectious diseases like measles, they would easily succumb to death.

  2. Hello! I hope you dont mind im asking few questions here? 1. Which episode the first picture {queen shinjeong) was? Is the red & blue jeokui (corret me if i made mistake) same? 2. Why dont you make a reviee of goryeo/shilla clothing & tittles as well XD cause im so interested on it. It would be great if you answer my curiosity and thankyou

    1. That’s quite interesting. Also im working on a fanfiction project which is sageuk, i wonder what do they call/refer to the prince & his consort, the princess & her consort (?), the queen & the king? Does “prince” tittle a.k.a the king’s son is similar to the king’s nephew? Or is it different tittle like joseon system? Thank you very much

        1. Hello Jiji!

          I haven’t had any chance to properly read on the royal titles used in Silla and Goryeo Dynasties, and part of it is due to the limited resources available on the internet. There were differences since both dynasties based their systems on the older Chinese Dynasties, while Joseon borrowed the titles of Tang and Ming, as well as their own tinkering around making in into the titles adapted throughout the dynasty.

    2. Hello candy! Sorry for the late reply.

      The capture was from Episode 16 of Moonlight Drawn By Clouds.
      I’m not sure what do you mean by the ‘same’, but the red jeokui (or chijeokui) preceded the blue jeokui. The designs for both were also different, but both were used by the consorts of those in the line of succession such as the Dowager, the Queen Consort, and the Crown Princess.
      I do have interest in Goryeo and Silla clothing as well, but the lack of correct representation in dramas and movies makes it tricky for me to make use of the screencaps. Maybe I should think of another way to visualize the details of the clothes? 😀

  3. I’m curious, why is the priority for the Crown Princess candidate is 2-3 years older than the Prince? Is there a particular reason for this which I found interesting wherein the old age women usually got married very young compared to their male spouses who got married at a later age?

    1. Hi!

      The position of Crown Princess is also the seat for the future Queen of the Nation, so of course, the spotlight is always on the occupant of the position. The regulation of the age is probably for the sake of the heavy duties to be shouldered by the Crown Princess. She needs to be matured and able to support her husband the Crown Prince (and later the King), but at the same time, she needs to lead the Inner Palace, consisting of her husband’s concubines and the palace maids. Having someone who is younger than the Crown Prince as a Crown Princess might invite problem with jealousy and such (rather than level-headed reaction) when a concubine appears in their lives. Also, she needs to be wise for many possibilities, such as the King passing unexpectedly and her becoming the Dowager who needs to be the Regent in her young son’s stead.

    2. Wow seems like Joseon was really into those sexist stereotypes on “jealous women” when it comes to age. Even though not all women (and not all men) are jealous people.

  4. Hi! Great Blog! I have a few question though:

    Is there a reason why they wanted woman who were 2-3 years older than the king?
    If you haven’t already, can you tell us about retinues and how they varied depending on someone’s rank?

    1. Hello Maimouna! Glad you find the blog to your liking 🙂 As for your questions:

      1 – It probably has something to do with the duties of the queen. She would have to manage the inner palace, which includes the royal concubines, the court matrons, the court ladies, and even the wives of the government officials. Sometimes, they had to shoulder the responsibilities from a young age, so maturity would play an important role. Having a queen younger than the king might result in jealousy towards the concubines. However, this practice of having a queen who was older than the king only applied for the first queen; the subsequent queen chosen after the first queen’s death would not exceed 20, the oldest being 19.

      2 – If the retinues you are referring to are the court matrons and court ladies, I have written a bit about them here: The numbers of court servants varied according to the royal family members staying inside the palace. During King Gojong’s reign, the numbers for palace attendants were as follow:- 100 for the residence of the King, Queen, and Dowager respectively; 60 for the Crown Prince, 40 for the Crown Princess, 50 for the Young Crown Prince, and 30 for the Young Crown Princess. No exact number was given for the concubines.

      Hope this helps!

  5. Sincere thanks to this Blog, I learned a lot. I’m curious about something, though:

    1) If a Royal Concubine gave birth to King’s first son, does that mean that her son was the crown prince?
    2) Can that same Royal Concubine become a Queen if it were the King’s wishes?
    3) If it is possible for the Royal Concubine to be a Queen, is her wedding rituals and processions similar to the one described in this blog?

    Hope you don’t mind answering my questions. Have a nice day!

    1. Hello Luxx! Thanks for visiting and the questions as well!
      1- If the Queen failed to produce any son, most probably the first son by the Royal Concubine would be installed as the Crown Prince. Technically, there should be no problem as the Crown Prince would be considered a child of the Queen as well; he would have the Queen as his legal mother while the Royal Concubine would be regarded only as his birth mother.
      2- The Queen’s seat had to be vacant first for the birth mother of the Crown Prince to become one, even when the King wished for it. There were instances where Royal Concubines became the Queen after the previous Queen passed away or was deposed.
      3- The wedding rituals for the Concubine-turned-Queen would possibly omit the selection and exchanging gifts steps; instead, the ceremony would begin with the coronation of the Queen and the subsequent steps being adjusted accordingly, probably to be smaller in scale compared to normal royal wedding.

  6. Hi! I have a question about the selection process. How long does the selection process lasts? The duration between the 30 candidates up to the final stage where one was chosen to be queen, out of the three remaining ladies?

    1. Hello!

      From the records, it takes about two weeks between the first and second stage, and 15-20 days between the second and the final stage, so it might take place over a month or less in normal cases. There were selections which took shorter (less than two weeks overall) or longer (about five months).

      Check out this post if you wish to get to know more about the royal wedding:

      Happy reading! 😉

  7. I am curious. Is the king required to have sex with his queen and concubines? Can he have favorites and forget the others?

    1. Hi Diana,
      Unlike Chinese emperors, the private life of Joseon kings were not documented in detail as a way of respecting the privacy of the king. The way to judge how favoured a concubine was would be through the number of children and her rise through the ranks. Of course, the kings were humans too, so they were bound to have favourites and dislikes, so it was natural for them to have concubines they prefer and despise. There was no exact rule which prohibit a king from displaying his affection, but being excessive in doing so might invite scorn and criticism from the courtiers.

  8. Were concubines required to pay their respects to the main wife every day (both royal ones and the concubines of noblemen)? This happens in almost every Chinese drama Ibsaw, but the only time I came across it in a sageuk was in Cruel Palace. Also, both Gyeongbok and Chandeok Palaces were huge, but you almost always see those royals walking around. Very few dramas use sedan chairs and palanquins inside the palaces. Was it not common or the production team simply doesn’t use them?

    1. Hello!

      Since those of lower status were required to respect the higher ones, it was only appropriate for them, including the secondary wives, to treat the primary wife as their superior, which included paying morning and evening greetings. I think dramas omit it to give way to more important(?) scenes where conflicts arise, for the sake of the plot of the drama. The same goes for the usage of palanquins and sedan chairs, which is done probably to cut the cost and time. It might not be feasible for the real royals to walk due to the distance between two places in the palace, but for dramatization purposes, it might seem more romantic (and dramatic?) for the king to walk (or even run) from one place to another inside the wide palace.

  9. Thanks for the information and I would love it if you’ll put the names of the dramas in the picture

  10. Hello
    What a wonderful historical blog. So many of the questions about the lives of female royalty and nobles are answered.
    I have been trying to understand the transparent curtain hung in front of queens and queen dowagers as well as kings in the TV K Dramas. They are like a transparent fabric hung between the royal and a visitor. They view each other through the transparent curtain which seems to be there to separate the visitor from the royal. Can you tell me what that curtain was called and is that an authentic concept? What was the purpose? Thank you!

    1. for example Episode 14 on Netflix Under the Queen’s Umbrella between minutes 15-20. As the Queen has a meeting. Or other episodes showing the Crown Princess selection process.

    2. Hello Peg!
      Thank you for the question. I happened to read about that recently, and your question arrived at the right time 😀

      The curtains or blinds were generally called bal (발) or ryeom (렴, 簾), but for those blinds used in the palace of Joseon, red blinds or juryeom (朱簾) were usually used. They were used for various purposes in different places: in royal quarters for privacy and custom and in royal banquets for ceremonial purpose. Juryeom also showcased the difference in hierarchy between people in the palace. Even the term used for the Dowager Regency in Joseon, suryeomcheongjeong, literally means ‘ruling behind the screen’, since the blind would be hung in front of the Dwager as she attended the court assembly to help the young king.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Thank you! So it was a social hierarchy practice. I wondered it is was also protecting their health…as we often do not give enough credit to ancient and antique practices for keeping well and curing illness. I love the blog and thank you for the reply and names of the screens!

  11. Hello, I was wondering why could the crown prince not select his own princess, instead of having the princess selection process? I’ve been researching this. Thank you.

    1. Hello tina 😀

      A Crown Princess would not only become the Crown Prince’s wife and companion, but in the future, she would become the mistress of the Crown Princess’ palace. In the far future, should the Crown Prince ascend to the throne as the King, she would become the Queen consort, which would entail more responsibilities for her: leader of the Inner Court, Mother of the Nation, and mother of the future king, not to mention having to serve the elders of the palace (the Dowagers) and being a companion for the Nation’s King. Hence, there was the need to select someone who would be right for the role instead of picking someone based on the Crown Prince’s preference.
      He could take in women of his choice to be made his concubines if he wanted to, but for his wife, there was no way of escaping the selection. Maybe for lucky ones, they would select a Crown Princess whom the Crown Prince could fall in love after marriage, but for most cases, the husband and wife would exist in harmony with the husband taking in concubines from time to time. Even for royal couples who were blessed with marital harmony and lots of children, the King would be urged to select concubines to further increase the numbers of his offspring in the name of prosperity of the nation.

Rant Out, Souls!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s