Gyeongjong of Joseon
Lady Yun, Jang Hyeong
Sukjong of Joseon
December 1686 - April 16881694 - November 1701
May 1688 - 1694 (6 years)
King Gyeongjong of Joseon, Prince Yi Seongsu of Joseon
Sukjong of Joseon, Queen Inhyeon, Suk‑bin Choe, Gyeongjong of Joseon, Yeongjo of Joseon
Place of burial
Goyang, South Korea
3 November 1659 (age 42), Eunpyeong, Kingdom of Joseon
9 November 1701 (aged 42) Hanseong, Kingdom of Joseon
Royal Noble Consort Hui of the Indong Jang clan (3 November 1659 – 9 November 1701), also known as Jang Ok-jeong, is one of the best known royal concubines of Joseon. She was mother of King Gyeongjong of Joseon.
- Early life
- As royal concubine
- As queen consort
- Later years
- Jangs Tomb Daebinmyo
- Her full posthumous name
- In popular culture
Her personal name was Jang Ok-jeong (張玉貞; 장옥정). She was the daughter of Jang Hyeong (張炯) and his second wife Lady Yoon of the Papyeong Yun clan (坡平尹氏). She is widely thought to be one of the most beautiful women in Joseon, and her charm was mentioned in the Annals. She belonged to the chungin class or middle class and came from a long line of interpreters. Ok-jeong became a lady-in-waiting to Grand Queen Dowager Jaui (King Injo's second queen) at the recommendation of Prince Dongpyeong (King Sukjong's first cousin once removed).
As royal concubine
After a visit with his step-great-grandmother (Grand Dowager Queen Jaui), King Sukjong saw her and gave her the rank of favored sang-gung, which meant she had been favored for the king but since she and her family belonged to the contrary faction, Soron, the Queen Mother Hyeonryeol (mother of King Sukjong), who belonged to Noron, afraid of the influence she could have on the king, expelled her from the palace. She stayed out of the palace until 1683 when the Queen Mother died and Queen Inhyeon (Sukjong lawful wife) allowed her to come back.
In 1686, she became Sukjong's concubine with the title of Suk-won (숙원, 淑媛). In 1688, she was elevated to So-eui (소의, 昭儀) after giving birth to a son (the future King Gyeongjong), the same year Queen Inhyeon was exiled. After this, in 1688, she was elevated again to the rank of Bin (빈, 嬪), with the prefix "Hui", meaning "beautiful". She was then elevated to the position of queen consort. It created a bloody dispute and upheaval known as the Gisa Hwanguk.
Sukjong had been relieved to have an heir to his throne; hence, Sukjong wanted to give Gyeongjong, his eldest and Jang Hui-bin's son, the title of Crown Prince. However, this was impossible since Gyeongjong was born from a concubine. Sukjong therefore asked Queen Inhyeon to adopt Jang Hui-bin's child, a common procedure at the time. Because Queen Inhyeon was still young at 21 years old at the time of Gyeongjong's birth, this action was opposed by the court as being an inappropriate promotion.
Queen Inhyeon refused to adopt Gyeongjong as her own son and was demoted from her position due to the political machinations of the time. This dispute led to not only the queen's removal, but also a purge, by banishment and poisoning, of government officials of the Seoin, the killing of the Noron leader, and the banishment and later death of the Queen's father. This upheaval became known as the Gisa Sahwa. Consort Jang Hui-bin was promoted to the position of queen consort as a result of these changes and as the Namin faction came to power in the court.
As queen consort
Later, in 1694, Jang Hui-bin lost the favor of the King. The King, disgusted by the Namin faction and the power the Jang family was gaining, tried to drive Jang Hui-bin out. He had also started favoring Lady Choi (later Choi Suk-bin), mother of Prince Yeoning (future king Yeongjo of Joseon) and an open supporter of Inhyeon. He began to take steps to depose Jang. First, he banished the brother of the queen consort and leaders of her party. Then, to save face, he brought Queen Inhyeon back. Queen Inhyeon was first moved to a small palace in Andong and then to the Mulberry Palace before finally returning to the main palace itself.
Jang Ok-jeong, formerly the queen consort, was demoted back to the rank of Hui-bin. One of her servants stole a name tag used for identification purposes during the Joseon from the Noron leader's slave and buried it next to Jang Hui-bin's father's grave to suggest that witchcraft, by use of a fetish, had been involved in the Noron's rise to prominence. After some investigating, the King discovered the ruse and had several court advisers killed or banished.
In 1701, Queen Inhyeon died of an unknown disease. The registers show that Sukjong found Jang Hui-bin in her room with a shaman priestess cursing the Queen and making merry over having caused her death with black magic. In spite of her being the mother of the Crown Prince and the many pleas of her faction for forgiveness, the King sentenced her and all of her companions to death, including her brother and mother. In his rage, the King investigated and killed her relatives and supporters. Her party petitioned the King to forgive her, but the King killed the leaders of Soron (her political faction) in response; 1700 people died as result of the incident.
The courtiers who were against Jang Hui-bin's sentence of death by poison for the sake of the Crown Prince were exiled. Subsequently, on the seventh day of the tenth month in the twenty-seventh year of his reign (7 November 1701), Sukjong passed a decree prohibiting concubines from being allowed to become Queens Consort in the future. Jang Hui-bin died by poison on November 9 (the 10th day of the 10th lunar Month), 1701 at Chwi Seon Dang, her royal residence inside Changdeok Palace. She was 42 years old.
Jang Hui-bin was known for her greed for power, wanting the queen consort title. Some would argue that she was the victim of political struggle present during this time. As a member of the losing party her story might be tampered with. One such story revolves around her son. In the story it was said that she severely wounded her son (the Crown Prince (future King Gyeongjong)), making it impossible for him to produce an heir.
She was buried in Daebinmyo tomb in Seooreung (Address: 334-92, Seooreung-ro, Deogyang-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do). Originally entombed in Munhyeong-ri Opo-myeon Gwangju-gun Gyeonggi-do, she was moved to Daebinmyo in June 1969. Her memorial tablet was enshrined in Daebingung at Chilgung or "Palace of 7 Royal Concubine".
Nevertheless, as the mother of the Crown Prince, she was given the posthumous title "Lady Oksan, Great Concubine of the Palace; Prefectural Great Concubine of the Indong Jang clan" (대빈궁옥산부대빈장씨 大嬪宮玉山府大嬪張氏).
Jang's Tomb: Daebinmyo
Daebinmyo is a myo type tomb. She was originally entombed in Munhyeong-ri Opo-myeon Gwangju-gun Gyeonggi-do but was moved to its current location in June 1969, because the government was trying to expand the city and her tomb was in the way. Jang Hui-bin's tomb, Daebinmyo, was relocated at Seooreung tombs where Myeongreung is (명릉; reung refers to Kings and Queens tombs) and contains the tombs of King Sukjong, Queen Inhyeon, and Queen Inwon. Behind the tomb is a large rock and a pine tree has broken through the rock to grow. There is speculation that this reveals that Jang Hui-bin's ki (energy) was, and still is, very strong. Some Korean websites report that because Jang Hui-bin was such a strong woman there is a belief that if young single women who want a boyfriend visit Jang Hui-bin's tomb and pay a tribute, they will soon find love.