Photo of Park Ha-Sun playing the queen from the Korean historical Drama ‘Dong Yi’ (2012). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Holly Marsden

Queen Inhyeon was born in 1667 to a prince and princess of the Yeoheung Min clan. Per the dowager queen’s recommendation, she married King Sukjong in 1681 at the age of 14 after the death of his first wife. He was the nineteenth ruler of the Joseon dynasty in Korea.

They had a grand and highly political ceremony depicted in Banchado; illustrations reserved only for processions by the royal household. Factional conflicts threatened the king’s authority. His marriage to Inhyeon solidified the dominance of the Western faction.

Sukjong suddenly turned against the faction in 1689, banishing members of Inhyeon’s family and executing politicians. This influenced the deposition of the queen in favour of consort Jang Hui, associated with the Southern faction. Hui had recently given birth to the king’s son.

During her deposition, Inhyeon was exiled to a closed temple in the Cheongesuma Temple, where she practiced devout Buddhism. However, in 1694, Sukjong turned against the Southerners once again and Inhyeon was reinstated. Both queens were pawns in his political game.

Throughout the turmoil, Inheyon remained close to her ladies-in-waiting. One is thought to have written a novel based on the queen’s life, named Inhyeon Wanghu Jeon. Inhyeon is generally remembered as the pinnacle of virtue, aligning with traditional Korean ideas of womanhood.

Queen Inyeon died from an unknown disease in 1701, aged 34. She was given the posthumous title Inhyeon, translating to ‘benevolence manifested.’ Her life is depicted in biographical and fictionalised works such as the influential Record of the Virtue of Queen Inhyeon, Lady Min.

Recommended Reading

Jeong Choi, “A Study on the Cultural Role of Walking Court Ladies’ Hat in Queen Jeongsun’s Wedding Parade Illustration of Oegyujanggak Uigwe,” International Textile and Apparel Association (2018): 1-3

Kim Ji-young, “Politics of Royal Rituals and Banchado Illustrations of Uigwe in the Late Joseon,” Korea Journal (2008): 73-110

Minsoo Kang, “Introduction to the Translation of Record of the Virtue of Queen Inhyeon, Lady Min,” Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture 10 (2017): 263-274

Unknown author, Record of the Virtue of Queen Inhyeon, Lady Min, unknown date.

Unknown author, Inhyeon Wanghu Jeon, unknown date.

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