Queen U of Goguryeo

Queen U or romanized as Queen Woo (Hangul: 왕후 우씨, Hanja: 王后 于氏; d. 234), was a queen consort of Goguryeo as the wife of King Gogukcheon (Go Nammu) and later his younger brother, King Sansang (Go Yeonu) after his death.[1] She was famous for maintaining her supreme position and power there, which even the king couldn't easily control it. Also, despite her action that is very different from others, she is recognized as an independent-minded woman who successfully lives according to her own desire and gave an example of a levirate marriage custom in Goguryeo.[2] Due to this, she became one of the few women in the past who left a name and lifetime story in Korean history.

Queen U
Queen Consort of Goguryeo
Tenure180–197 (16 years)
197/8–227 (30 years)
Queen Dowager of Goguryeo
Reign228–234 (6 years)
MonarchGo Uwigeo, King Dongcheon
Bornaround 160–5
Jenabu or Yeonnabu, Goguryeo
SpouseGo Nammu (m. 180)
Go Yeonu (m. 197/8)
HouseU clan (by birth)
Go clan (by marriage)
FatherU So


During King Gogukcheon's reignEdit

Lady U, as the daughter of U So (우소, 于素) from an unclear region (it might be Jenabu (제나부, 提那部) or Yeonnabu (연나부, 椽那部))[3] was married to Go Nammu, King Gogukcheon in 180 AD and became his queen consort not long after that.[4] However, a rebellion started when the king tried to stop her relatives (include Eobiryu and Jwagaryeo) from abusing their power and their children were rude and arrogant by believing their authority and plundering other children with took their houses in 190.[5] Beside this, no significant story about Queen U during Gogukcheon's reign.

During King Sansang's reignEdit

After King Gogukcheon died without issue in 197, Queen U met his brother–Prince Balgi to discuss the throne's successor while kept silent about the king's death. Yet, due to Balgi's optimistic thinking that he would ascend the throne, she then completely ignored him and visited his other brother–Prince Yeonu. Unlike Balgi, Yeonu greeted Queen U politely and courteously, making she liked his behavior and plotted Balgi for a treason, even asked Yeonu to take her with him.[6]

The historical sources Samguk Sagi pointed out that, Yeonu who served U, cut the meat but his finger was injured by a knife, then U loosened her skirt strap and covered his wound. The two then returned to the palace by holding hands with each other. Meanwhile, the anger Balgi fled to Liaodong and requested support from Gongsun Du, head of the Gongsun clan in Liaodong by borrowed 30,000 troops to invade Goguryeo.[7][8] Knowing this, Balgi's youngest brother–Prince Gyesu subdued it, defeated him, and then rebuked him. Balgi then committed suicide due to his guilt for bringing a great crisis to his royal family and country.

After Balgi's death, Yeonu ascended the throne as King Sansang with Queen U's help and eventually made her as his primary spouse or the queen consort in the same year.[9] However, as they couldn't have any children, the king then had a prophecy that he could have a son through the other woman after praying in a mountain at night, but didn't dare to hire other consorts due to his respect for Queen U.[10]

Upon knowing that her husband had a relationship with the other woman, Queen U became very angry and sent many soldiers to kill the woman he slept with. However, for the king's unborn child's sake, the soldiers didn't kill the woman and tell this to the king, which he then formally made this woman a concubine under the title "Little Queen" (소후, 小后). Not long after this, the little queen gave birth to a son in 209 under Queen U's pressure and threatened. Four years later, this boy formally became the crown prince.

During King Dongcheon's reignEdit

Meanwhile, after King Sansang died in 227, his son–Prince Uwigeo ascended the throne as King Dongcheon although planned to be killed by Queen U since young. She, who was anxious to test his generosity, once had him cut the mane of his horse and on the other occasion, ordered a servant to spill soup on his clothes.[11] Even so, Dongcheon was never angry and instead made her clan hold the most political influence by appointed them to the highest position of state minister, also honoured her as the queen dowager (왕태후, 王太后).[12]

U still became the queen dowager until her own death in 234 (8th years reign of King Dongcheon). Just before her death, she told her will by wrote a letter requesting that she should be buried next to Sansang tomb instead of Gogukcheon tomb. When King Dongcheon read this, he planted seven layers of pine trees around Gogukcheon tomb to hide and cover it.

In popular cultureEdit

Queen U appears as Woo Seo-ran (우서란) in the 2020 manhwa "The Queen's Empire" (왕후의 제국) by Hyuneung (현응).[13]


  1. ^ Hyun-seol, Cho. "King Sansang(山上王) - Folklare". Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture (in Korean). Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  2. ^ Pae-yong, Yi; Chan, Ted (2008). Women in Korean History 한국 역사 속의 여성들 (in Korean). Ewha Womans University: Ewha Womans University Press. p. 122-125. ISBN 978-8973007721.
  3. ^ Ki-hong, Kim (2021). 삼국사기 바로알기 5: 차대왕, 신대왕, 고국천왕 [Get To Know About History of the Three Kingdoms 5: King Chadae, King Shindae, King Gogukcheon] (in Korean). ePurple. p. 2.
  4. ^ "우씨를 왕후로 삼다 (180년 02월(음))". Samguk Sagi (in Korean). Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  5. ^ "왕후의 친척인 어비류와 좌가려가 4연나와 함께 반란을 도모하다 (190년 09월(음))". Samguk Sagi (in Korean). Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  6. ^ Lee, Hyun-hee (2014). 한국의 역사. 02 삼국의 성장과 발전 [Korean's History. 02 Growth and Development of the Three States] (in Korean). ChungAh Publishing House.
  7. ^ Gong Mi-ra, Choi In-soo, Go Jong-hoon (2017). 생방송 한국사 02. 삼국 ․ 가야: 수능 한국사 강의 1인자 고종훈의 동영상 강의 수록 (in Korean). Owlbook.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Patricia Buckley, Ebrey; Anne, Walthall (2013). East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Cengage Learning. p. 102.
  9. ^ "우씨를 왕후로 삼다. (197년 09월(음))". Samguk Sagi (in Korean). Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  10. ^ "산상왕이 왕위에 오르다 (197년 05월(음))". Samguk Sagi (in Korean). Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  11. ^ "동천왕이 왕위에 오르다 (227년 05월(음))". Samguk Sagi (in Korean). Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  12. ^ "우씨를 왕태후로 삼다 (228년 03월(음))". Samguk Sagi (in Korean). Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  13. ^ "왕후의 제국 - 만화". bufftoon (in Korean). Retrieved June 13, 2022.