Empress Sunmyeong

Empress Sunmyeong of the Korean Empire (Hangul: 순명효황후, Hanja: 純明孝皇后) (20 November 1872 – 5 November 1904) was the first wife and Princess Consort of Emperor Yunghui, the last emperor of the Joseon Dynasty and Korea.

Empress Sunmyeong
Crown Princess of Korea
Empress Consort of Korea (posthumously honored)
Crown Princess of Joseon
Reign6 April 1882 - 13 October 1897
PredecessorCrown Princess Jo
Crown Princess of Korea
Reign13 October 1897 - 5 November 1904
PredecessorTitle established
SuccessorCrown Princess Yun
Born(1872-11-20)20 November 1872
Yangdeokbang, Gyedong District, Hanseong, Joseon Korea
Died5 November 1904(1904-11-05) (aged 31)
Deoksu palace (Gyeongun Palace)
(m. 1882⁠–⁠1904)
Posthumous name
경현성휘순명효황후 敬顯成徽純明孝皇后
HouseYeoheung Min
FatherMin Taeho
MotherLady Jinyang of the Jincheon Song clan


Lady Min was born in 20 November 1872 into the Yeoheung Min clan to Min Taeho, leader of the Yeoheung Min clan, and his second wife, Lady Song of the Jincheon Song clan. It was said that her family was poor when she was young until her older brother, Min Yeong-ik, became the adoptive son of her adoptive uncle, Min Seung-ho.

This was because Min Seung-ho was the adoptive son of Min Chi-rok; the father of Empress Myeongseong. Thus making her adoptive uncle the adoptive older brother of Empress Myeongseong who became Queen in 1866 which helped her family thrive.[1] Because the only son of her father was adopted, he adopted another son from a relative of their clan.

Lady Min also became the adoptive niece to Grand Internal Princess Consort Sunmok. Making her be adoptive cousins with Min Yeong-hwan, Min Yeong-chan, Prince Heungchin, and Emperor Gojong. Through her 4th great grandfather, Min Jin-won, she was also a distant niece to Empress Myeongseong, Queen Inhyeon, and descendant to Queen Wongyeong.

She became Crown Princess Consort when she married Crown Prince Yi Cheok on 6 April 1882 at the age of 11. This granted her parents royal titles, her father was given the title of “Internal Prince Yeoeun” (여은부원군, 驪恩府院君), and her mother was given the title of “Internal Princess Consort Jinyang of the Jincheon Song clan” (진양부부인 진천 송씨, 鎭陽府夫人 鎭川 宋氏). Her father’s other wives were also given royal titles as well since Lady Min was their stepdaughter.

The princess, aged 22, was a witness to her mother-in-law's assassination in 8 October 1895, when she stood in front of the Empress, attempting to protect her.[2] This may have contributed to her early death, as she was plagued by severe depression thereafter.[2]

Although the Crown Princess and Crown Prince were at the age and stage to have a heir, they did not have children of their own. This was probably due to the Coffee Poisoning Plot that might have gotten her husband infertile from the poison.[3][4]

She died on 5 November 1904 in Kangtaeil, Gyeongun Palace (now known as Deoksu Palace), before her husband was enthroned.[5] She was given the posthumous title Empress Sunmyeong of Korea (순명비, 純明妃), and was eventually given another posthumous title, Empress Sunmyeonghyo of Korea (순명효황후, 純明孝皇后) when Sunjong became emperor on 19 July 1907.

Empress Sunmyeong was first buried in Nae-dong, Yongmasan, Yangju, Gyeonggi Province where the Neungho at the time was called Yugangwon. She was then moved to Geumgok-dong, Namyangju where the Neungho was changed to Yureung when Sunjong died in 1926. The empress is buried with her husband and his second wife, Empress Sunjeong.[2]


  • 20 November 1872 - 1882:

1. "Lady Min" (민씨, 閔氏)

2. "Daughter of Min Tae-ho" (민태호의 딸)

  • 1882 - 13 October 1897: Her Highness, Crown Princess Consort Min of Joseon (왕세자빈 민씨, 王世子嬪 閔氏)
  • 13 October 1897 - 5 November 1904: Her Imperial Highness, Crown Princess Consort Min of Korea (황태자비 민씨, 皇太子妃 閔氏)
  • Posthumous title: Empress Sunmyeong of Korea (순명효황후, 純明孝皇后)


  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Min Hyo-son (민효손, 閔孝孫)[6][7]
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Yun of the Papyeong Yun clan (본관: 파평 윤씨); daughter of Yun Ji-kang (윤지강의 딸)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Min Se-ryu (민세류, 閔世瑠)[8]
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Lee of the Jeonui Lee clan (이씨, 李氏); (본관: 전의 이씨, 이인석의 딸) daughter of Lee In-seok (이인석, 李仁錫)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Min Gi (민기, 閔機) (1504- 18 January 1568)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Kim of the (old) Andong Kim clan (김씨, 金氏) (본관: 구 안동 김씨, 舊 安東 金氏); (김택의 딸) daughter of Kim Taek (김택, 金澤)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Min Gwang-hun (민광훈, 閔光勳) (1595–1659); scholar during the reign of King Injong
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Yi of the Yeonan Yi clan (이씨, 李氏)[9]; (본관: 연안 이씨, 이광정의 딸) daughter of Yi Gwang-jeong (이광정, 李光庭)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Min Yu-jung (민유중, 閔維重) (1630 - 29 June 1687); Queen Inhyeon’s father
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Internal Princess Consort Eunseong of the Eunjin Song clan (은성부부인 은진 송씨, 恩城府夫人 恩津 宋氏); Min Yu-jung’s second wife; (본관: 은진 송씨, 송준길의 딸) daughter of Song Jun-gil (송준길, 宋俊吉), Yeonguijeong during the reign of King Hyojong.
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Min Jin-won (민진원, 閔鎭遠) (1664 - 1736); Queen Inhyeon’s second older brother
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Yun of the Papyeong Yun clan (윤씨) (본관: 파평윤씨); daughter of Yun Ji-seon (윤지선, 尹趾善) (1627 - 1704)
  • Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Min Hyeong-su (민형수, 閔亨洙)[10][11]
  • Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Yi of the Jeonju Yi clan (본관: 전주 이씨); daughter of Yi Se-hang (이세항)
  • Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Min Baek-sang (민백상, 閔百祥) (1711 - 1761)[12]
      • Adoptive Great-Great-Grandfather - Min Baek-heung (민백흥, 閔百興) (1714 - 1774)[13]
  • Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Lee of the Ubong Lee clan (이씨) (본관: 우봉 이씨); daughter of Lee Gu (이구)
  • Great-Grandfather
    • Min Hong-seob (민홍섭, 閔弘燮)
      • Adoptive Great-Grandfather - Min Sang-seob (민상섭, 閔相燮)
  • Grandfather
    • Min Chi-oh (민치오, 閔致五)
  • Grandmother
  • Father
    • Min Tae-ho (민태호, 閔台鎬) (1834 - 1884)
      • Uncle - Min Gyu-ho (민규호, 閔奎鎬) (20 August 1836 - 15 October 1878)
        • Aunt - Lady Song of the Eunjin Song clan (은진 송씨, 恩津 宋氏)
          • Cousin - Min Yeong-so (민영소, 閔泳韶) (1852 - 1917)
      • Adoptive Aunt - Grand Internal Princess Consort Sunmok (순목대원비, 純穆大院妃) (1818 - 1898)
        • Adoptive Uncle - Heungseon Daewongun (흥선대원군) (1820 - 1898)
          • Adoptive Cousin - Prince Imperial Heungchin (흥친왕) (1845 - 1912)
          • Adoptive Cousin - Lady Yi of the Jeonju Yi clan (전주 이씨) (? - 1869)
          • Adoptive Cousin - King Gojong (고종) (1852 - 1919)
          • Adoptive Cousin - Lady Yi of the Jeonju Yi clan (전주 이씨) (? - 1899)
      • Adoptive Uncle - Min Seung-ho (민승호, 閔升鎬) (1830 - 1874)[14]
        • Adoptive Aunt - Lady Kim of the Gwangsan Kim clan (본관: 광산 김씨, 光山 金氏) (? - ? 23 April)
          • Unnamed adoptive cousin (? - 1874)
        • Adoptive Aunt - Lady Kim of the Yeonan Kim clan (본관: 연안 김씨, 延安 金氏) (? - ? 11 February)
        • Adoptive Aunt - Lady Yi of the Deoksu Yi clan (본관: 덕수 이씨, 德水 李氏) (? - ? 1 July)
      • Adoptive Uncle - Min Gyeom-ho (민겸호, 閔謙鎬) (1838 - 10 June 1882)
        • Adoptive Aunt - Lady Seo (서씨, 徐氏)
      • Adoptive Aunt - Lady Min of the Yeoheung Min clan (본관: 여흥 민씨, 驪興 閔氏) (1859 - 1942)
        • Adoptive Uncle - Jo Eung-seon of the Sinan Ju clan (주용선) (본관: 신안 주씨) (1853 - 1925)
          • Adoptive Cousin - Ju Yang-gyu (주양규) (1904 - 1999)
  • Mother
    • Stepmother - Internal Princess Consort Paseong of the Paepyeong Yun clan (파성부부인 파평 윤씨, 坡城府夫人 坡平 尹氏)
    • Biological mother - Internal Princess Consort Jinyang of the Jincheon Song clan (진양부부인 진천 송씨, 鎭陽府夫人 鎭川 宋氏); (본관: 진천 송씨) Min Tae-ho’s second wife
    • Stepmother - Internal Princess Consort Uichang of the Uiryeong Nam clan (의창부부인 의령 남씨, 宜昌府夫人 宜寧 南氏)
  • Siblings
    • Older brother - Min Yeong-ik (민영익, 閔泳翊) (1860 - 1914); adoptive son of Min Seung-ho
    • Adoptive younger brother - Min Yeong-rin (민영린, 閔泳璘) (1873 - 1 June 1932); son of Min Sul-ho (민술호, 閔述鎬)
  • Husband

In Popular CultureEdit


  1. ^ 민영익 등 보빙사 큰절로 禮 갖춰[깨진 링크(과거 내용 찾기)] 중앙일보 2009.05.16일자
  2. ^ a b c "Daum 카페". Cafe.daum.net. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Did you know that ...(22) The coffee plot". m.koreatimes.co.kr. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  4. ^ "September 11, coffee and Russia in 19th century Korea (part 1)". m.koreatimes.co.kr. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  5. ^ "조선왕조실록 : 요청하신 페이지를 찾을 수 없습니다". Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  6. ^ Min is an ascendant of Queen Wongyeong’s grandfather’s older brother, Min Yu (민유, 閔愉)
  7. ^ His daughter became a concubine for King Yeonsangun
  8. ^ Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Yeoheung Min clan is his sister who became a concubine for King Yeonsangun
  9. ^ Lady Yi is a maternal cousin of Heo Jeok; their grandmother, Lady Min, was the aunt of Royal Noble Consort Jeong of the Yeoheung Min clan (a concubine of King Seonjo) and the granddaughter of Princess Gyeongsuk (a daughter of King Seongjeong)
  10. ^ His eldest daughter married Lady Hyegyeong's older brother; thus becoming an aunt-in-law to King Jeongjo
  11. ^ His younger brother, Min Tong-su (민통수, 閔通洙), married Lady Song of the Eunjin Song clan (은진 송씨, 恩津 宋氏). Lady Song was the maternal great-granddaughter of Kim Gwang-chan (김광찬, 金光燦); the 5th great-grandfather of Queen Sunwon and Kim Jwa-geun, and the 6th great-grandfather of Queen Cheorin and Queen Hyoheyon
  12. ^ His older sister married Lady Hyegyeong's older brother
  13. ^ The younger brother of Min Baek-sang
  14. ^ Became Min Chi-rok’s adoptive son and Empress Myeongseong’s adoptive older brother