Royal Noble Consort of Korean Kings
Royal Noble Consort was the title of royal concubines of Korean kings (including the Three Kingdoms, Unified Silla, Goryeo and Joseon Dynasty periods). During the Joseon Dynasty (not including the Korean Empire at the end of Joseon), they were part of the ne-goong (내궁) and ranked beneath the queen, but above low-ranked concubines and court ladies (rank 5a and below). This meant that Royal Noble Consorts from rank 1 to 4 were considered part of the Royal Family.
Thus, the Queen Consort (joong-jeon 중전) was followed by 4 categories of high-ranked royal consorts, with 2 levels each. Level a (jeong, 정) ranked above level b (jong, 종):
1a. Bin 빈 (嬪): Royal Noble Consort rank 1
1b. Gui-in 귀인 (貴人)
2a. So-ui 소의 (昭儀): Royal Noble Consort rank 2
2b. Sook-ui 숙의 (淑儀)
3a. So-yeong 소용 (昭容): Royal Noble Consort rank 3
3b. Sook-yeong 숙용 (淑容)
4a. So-won 소원 (昭媛): Royal Noble Consort rank 4
4b. Sook-won 숙원 (淑媛)
For the rank of Bin, the King or Queen consort would attach a prefix in association with the character/personality of the Royal Consort, such as Hee Bin (Hee = Radiant), Sook Bin (Sook = Clarity/Purity), Ui Bin (Ui = Appropriate/Fitting), and so forth. However, they are all of the same rank "Bin" so they are all of equal rank.
5a. sang-goong (상궁 or 尙宮) and sang-ui (상의 or 尙儀) Court Ladies who served directly under the royal family members, and the head manager of their assigned department. Depending on their role and department, there would be internal ranking within the sang-goongs. For example, a sang-goong who served the Queen has higher authority and ranking than a sang-goong who serves a prince, princess, and/or concubine. A sang-goong could also become a "Royal Concubine" if the King showed favor. They would be called "Favored Sang-Goong" and would be considered the highest rank of the 5a. However, since they are still in the rank of 5, the "Favored Sang-goong" would not be considered a member of the royal family, part of the ne-goong, and considered a Royal Noble Consort. Instead, they would just be known as a concubine of the rank of "Sang-goong." However, the Favored Sang-goong would have a sang-goong of her own to serve her.
5b to 9b. Rankings of the "working class" palace ladies and girls. Palace ladies are usually admitted into the palace from a young age. Therefore, the palace becomes their primary residence. They are not allowed to leave the palace except on special occasions with the permission of the "higher-ups."
Notable Queens and Royal Noble Consorts
- Lady Mishil(540-600)
- Queen Jeheon of the Ham-an Yoon clan(1445-1482)
- Queen Jeonghui of the Papyeong Yoon clan(1418–1483)
- Queen Munjeong of the Papyeong Yun clan(1502-1565)
- Queen Inhyeon of the Yeoheung Min clan (1667-1701)
- Queen Inwon of the Gyeongju Kim clan (1687-1757)
- Royal Noble Consort Hui of the Indong Jang clan(1659–1701)
- Royal Noble Consort Suk of the Haeju Choi clan (1670-1718)
- Queen Jeongseong of the Dalsung Seo clan (1692 - 1757)
- Queen Jeongsun of the Gyeongju Kim clan (1745 – 1805)
- Royal Noble Consort Ui of the Seong clan (1753-1786)
- Royal Noble Consort Su of the Park clan (1770-1822)
- Queen Sunwon of the Andong Kim clan (1789 - 1857)
- Queen Cheonin of the Andong Kim clan (1837 - 1878)
- Empress Myeongseong of the Yeoheung Min clan (1873-1895, as Queen Consort)
- Empress Sunjeong of the Haepyeong Yun clan (1894 – 1966)