Gwiin Jo (Injo)

Royal Consort Gwi-in (Korean귀인 조씨; Hanja貴人 趙氏; died 24 January 1652),[1] of the Okcheon Jo clan [ko], widely known as Royal Consort So-yong Jo, was a concubine of King Injo of Joseon. She is one of the best-known femme fatales in Korean history.[2]

Gwiin Jo
귀인 조씨
Royal Noble Consort of the First Junior Rank
Tenure1649 – 24 January 1652
Kingdom of Joseon
Died24 January 1652
Hanseong, Kingdom of Joseon
SpouseInjo of Joseon
IssuePrincess Hyomyeong
Prince Sungseon
Prince Nakseon
ClanOkcheon Jo clan (by birth)
Jeonju Yi clan (by marriage)
DynastyHouse of Yi (by marriage)
FatherJo Gi
MotherHan Ok, Lady Han of the Cheongju Han clan
ReligionKorean Buddhism
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGwiin Jossi
McCune–ReischauerKwiin Chossi


Early lifeEdit

She was initially arranged to become the maid of a lord's daughter, but instead became a palace woman. She used to serve Queen Inryeol's brother-in-law, and the Queen was the one who arranged for her to enter the palace.

Royal favoriteEdit

She caught King Injo's eye, and became his favourite consort overnight; her rank also changed rapidly, from the lowest Suk-won to So-won, So-yong, So-ui, and was finally declared as a royal consort of the first junior rank, Gwi-in.[3]

No one could beat her in terms of receiving the King’s affection; both Queen Jangryeol of the Yangju Jo clan and Royal Consort Suk-ui Jang failed to receive Injo’s love.

Her personality was described as that of a sensual but cunning woman, and those who were in her bad book would not be safe in front of the King. Because of this, people inside the palace were very afraid of her. It was rumored that Lady Jo disturbed the relationship between Injo and Queen Jangryeol, with the intention to tear them apart.

Feud with the crown princessEdit

Lady Jo harbored hatred towards the family of Yi Wang, Crown Prince Sohyeon, particularly Crown Princess Minhoe. Since the day she reached the rank of So-yong, she would badmouth them in front of Injo and it became a common thing for her to slander them with false accusations. Although there was no record of her involvement with Crown Prince Sohyeon’s death, her slanders did not stop after the prince passed away. Because of that, Crown Princess Minhoe suspected Jo of poisoning her husband.[4]

Lady Jo accused the Crown Princess of attempting to poison Injo, leading to the princess’ execution. The acupuncturist who treated Prince Sohyeon before his death was Yi Hyeong-ik, who was rumored to be in a relationship with Lady Jo's mother. There was even a record about this.

Later lifeEdit

After Injo's death, she was discovered to be involved in an attempt to put a curse on Queen Jangryeol and on the Queen's niece. Kim Ja-jeom, the grandfather of the princess’s husband, was her accomplice and was executed. King Hyojong decided to spare the life of Princess Hyomyeong, his younger half-sister, since she was not involved in the incident. Lady Jo was sentenced to death by poisoning and her mother, who was also an accomplice, died before she could receive her punishment. There were officials suggesting for Jo to be stripped of her position as a royal consort but out of respect for his father, who treasured her, King Hyojong did not go through with the idea.[5]

She had a daughter and two sons with King Injo.


  • Father: Jo Gi (1574 – ?) (조기)
  • Mother: Han Ok, Lady Han of the Cheongju Han clan (? – 1652) (한옥, 청주 한씨)
  • Husband: Yi Jong, King Injo of Joseon (7 December 1595 – 17 June 1649) (이종 조선 인조)
  • Daughter: Princess Hyomyeong (1637 – 1700) (효명옹주)[c]
    • Son-in-law: Kim Se-ryong, Prince Consort Nakseong (? – 1651) (김세룡 낙성위)[d]
  • Son: Yi Jing, Prince Sungseon (17 October 1639 – 6 January 1690) (이징 숭선군)
    • Daughter-in-law: Princess Consort Yeongpung of the Pyeongsan Shin clan (1639 – 1692) (영풍군부인 평산 신씨)[e][f]
      • Granddaughter: Lady Yi (이씨)
      • Granddaughter: Lady Yi (이씨)
      • Granddaughter: Lady Yi (이씨)
      • Granddaughter: Lady Yi (이씨)
      • Grandson: Yi Hang, Prince Dongpyeong (동평군 항) (1660 - 1701)
      • Grandson: Yi Kang (동성정 강)
  • Son: Yi Suk, Prince Nakseon (9 December 1641 – 26 April 1695) (이숙 낙석군)
    • Daughter-in-law: Princess Consort Dongwon of the Gangneung Kim clan (동원군부인 강릉 김씨) (? - 1722)
      • Adoptive grandson: Yi Hwan, Prince Imyang (임양군 이환) (1656 - 1715)[g]

In popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ As the sixth illegitimate son of King Seonjo, he was titled Prince Jeongwon (or Jeongwongun). In 1623, he was posthusmously elevated to Daewongun, as the birth father of King Injo. After considerable opposition, he was posthusmously honoured as King Wonjong, in 1632.
  2. ^ Daughter of Gu Sa-maeng (구사맹).
  3. ^ After her husband’s death, she was then known as “Kim Se-ryong’s wife” (김세룡의 처)
  4. ^ He was the grandson of Kim Ja-jeom
  5. ^ Her mother is the older sister of Queen Jangryeol, thus making her the niece of the queen, and a paternal niece of Princess Jeongsuk (a daughter of King Seonjo and older half-sister of Princess Jeongmyeong) through her uncle
  6. ^ Her family eventually married into the royal family and became a part of Queen Inhyeon’s, Crown Princess Minhoe’s, and Queen Myeongseong’s family
  7. ^ He was the second son of Yi Jeon, Prince Cheongpyeong (청평군 이전)


  1. ^ In lunar calendar, the Royal Consort died on 14 December 1651
  2. ^ 신명호 (2009-05-30). 조선공주실록: 화려한 이름 아래 가려진 공주들의 역사 (in Korean). 역사의아침. ISBN 978-89-93119-09-1.
  3. ^ 이한우 (2012-01-01). 왕의 하루 - 실록과 사관이 미처 쓰지 못한 비밀의 역사 (in Korean). 김영사. ISBN 978-89-349-6069-0.
  4. ^ 저, 신봉승 (2007-10-31). 실록대하소설18. 북벌 (in Korean). Kumsung Publishing. ISBN 978-89-07-05128-8.
  5. ^ 인조 제16대 조선의왕 보고서 [Report of King Injo, the 16th King of Joseon]. 씽크존. p. 19. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  6. ^ "효명옹주 '파란만장한 삶' 창살없는 감옥서 산 눈물의 64세월". 코리아데일리 (in Korean). 2016-07-04. Retrieved 2022-03-22.