Queens selected on basis personality rather than good looks
Posted : 2014-01-23 17:40
Updated : 2014-01-23 17:40
Queens during Joseon Kingdom were selected on basis of their personality rather than exterior beauty. / Courtesy of OBS
By Kim Su-mi
If you expect queens of the Joseon Kingdom to be stunningly beautiful, you are mistaken.
During the period, kings valued a good-hearted and well-behaved woman as the most ideal type for a queen figure instead of going for her exterior beauty.
This finding was published in an academic journal, "Private lives of queens and concubines during the Joseon Kingdom."
It explores the lives of queens and concubines, especially shedding light on their Confucian norms and beliefs.
Kings of the Joseon Kingdom had to strictly abide by monogamy but as long as only one woman was enthroned as the Queen Consort, they could welcome as many concubines as they desired.
Aside from their Queen Consort, King Tae-jo kept 19 concubines, Gwang-hae 15, Sung-jong 14 and Dan-jong two.
Queens had to be of noble blood but concubines' backgrounds were less important as many of them were once slaves and widows.
Personality and codes of conduct were appreciated the most during the selection of a queen who was also expected to fulfill the role of a head figure for all women in the palace.
After dethroning Queen Dan-gyeong, Jung-jong of 1506 selected his new Queen Consort on the basis of the two traits.
The Queen Consort could exercise some political power by becoming regent on behalf of her young son.
Living in the palace for the queen and concubines were strict and exhausting.
They were obliged to fully submit themselves to a hierarchical order of Grand Royal Queen Dowager, Royal Queen Dowager, Queen Consort, Crown Prince, and concubines, with obedience and patience for the head figures as the most praised Confucian values.
They kept about 30-100 maids of honor but preferred to bring their own nannies and maids who were the only people they could confide in at the palace.