Map of the Three Kingdoms, c. 476. Image Credit: WikiCommons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:History_of_Korea-476.PNG.

Korea encompasses the Korean peninsula alongside several smaller islands, and like its neighbours, has an intriguing and diverse history of female rulership. During the first half of the first century AD, Korea was divided into three kingdoms, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla. Silla later conquered the other two kingdoms, leading to a unified Kingdom of Silla. Silla later collapsed, leading to the restoration of the three kingdoms, alongside the emergence of Balhae in the north. At the end of the first century Goryeo established itself as a kingdom from the former Goguryeo and took control of the peninsula. This rule lasted until the ascension of the Joseon kingdom from 1392-1897, which was succeeded by the Korean Empire. The Korean Empire was short-lived, with a Japanese protectorate being established and Japanese control being largely maintained until 1945, whereby Korea was divided into North and South Korea. The division saw the end of any monarchical rule in the area.

You can find out more about empresses throughout Korea’s history below!


East Asian History Sourcebook

Han, Seokyung. “Dowager Queens and Royal Succession in Premodern Korea.” In A Companion to Global Queenship, edited by Elena Woodacre, 195-208. Leeds: ARC Humanities Press, 2018

Milledge Nelson, Sarah. “The Queens of Silla: Power and Connections to the Spirit World.” In Ancient Queens: Archaeological Explorations, edited by Sarah Milledge Nelson, 77-92. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press, 2003

Myung-ho, Shin. Joseon Royal Court Culture: Ceremonial and Daily Life. Translated by Timothy V. Atkinson. Korea: Dolbegae Publishers, 2004.

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