Queen Sunwon

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Queen Sunwon
Grand Queen dowager of Joseon
Tenure18 December 1834 – 21 September 1857
PredecessorGrand Queen Dowager Yesun
SuccessorGrand Queen Dowager Hyoyu
Queen regent of Joseon
Regency18 December 1834 – January 1841
25 July 1849 – January 1852
PredecessorQueen Jeongsun
SuccessorQueen Shinjeong
MonarchsKing Heonjong of Joseon
King Cheoljong of Joseon
Queen dowager of Joseon
Tenure14 December 1834 — 18 December 1834
PredecessorQueen Dowager Kim
SuccessorQueen Dowager Hyoyu
Queen consort of Joseon
Tenure1802 – 14 December 1834
PredecessorQueen Hyoui
SuccessorQueen Hyohyeon
Born8 June 1789
Kingdom of Joseon
Died21 September 1857 (1857-09-22) (aged 68)
Yangsimhab, Changdeok Palace, Kingdom of Joseon
SpouseKing Sunjo of Joseon (m. 1802–1834)
  1. Crown Prince Hyomyeong
  2. Princess Myeongon
  3. Princess Bokon
  4. An unnamed prince
  5. Princess Deokon
  6. Cheoljong of Joseon (adopted)
Posthumous name
HouseAndong Kim
FatherKim Jo-sun
MotherInternal Princess Consort Cheongyang of the Cheongsong Sim clan

Queen Sunwon (순원왕후; 8 June 1789 – 21 September 1857[1]), of the Andong Kim clan was the queen consort and wife of Sunjo of Joseon. She was known as Queen Dowager Myeonggyeong (명경왕대비) after her husband's death in 1834. She served as regent between 1834 and 1841 during her grandson, Heonjong of Joseon's reign, and in 1849–1852 during her adoptive son, Cheoljong of Joseon's reign. She was posthumously called as Sunwon, the Respectful Empress (순원숙황후, 純元肅皇后).


Early life and marriage[edit]

The future Queen Consort was born into the Andong Kim clan on 8 June 1789. She was the first daughter and third child of Kim Jo-sun and his wife, Lady Sim of the Cheongsong Sim clan. Through her mother, Lady Kim is a maternal descendant of Sim Ui-gyeom, Queen Insun’s younger brother, and Sim On, Queen Soheon’s father.

As her mother’s side was connected to the royal family since her maternal grandfather, Sim Geon-ji, was a 5th cousin of Sim Neung-geon (심능건, 沈能建; 1752 – 7 July 1817); who was the son-in-law of Yeongjo of Joseon as he was married to his daughter, Princess Hwaryeong. Sim Geon-ji was also close to Sim Hwan-ji (심환지, 沈煥之; 1730 – 18 October 1802); who was a member of the Noron Byeokpa faction. Because of this, Sim Hwan-ji was able to interfere with the final selection of who could become Queen Consort.

As Lady Kim was from the Andong Kim clan, which was under the leadership of her father Kim Jo-sun, who was also a member of the Noron faction and who served as Jeongjo of Joseon's closest aide, Lady Kim emerged as a powerful soon-to-be queen when she was selected among the young girls.

Life as Queen Consort and Dowager[edit]

In 1802 at the age of 13, Lady Kim married King Sunjo and became the Queen of Joseon. The Queen eventually bore 5 children; the future Heonjong in 1809, Princess Myeongon in 1810, Princess Bokon in 1818, and Princess Deokon in 1828—with only one son dying in infancy in 1820.

When her husband died in 1834, she became regent for her eight-year-old grandson, King Heonjong and the political power remained in the hands of her family, the Andong Kim clan until 1840, when it passed to the family of Heonjong's mother, Queen Sinjeong, the Pungyang Jo clan, following the Catholic persecution of 1839.

Prior to the death of her grandson in 1849 and becoming regent once again, the Queen had outlived her children as one of her remaining daughters, Princess Deokon, died in 1844. The Queen eventually became regent again during King Cheoljong’s reign in 1849. With her influence, she had the king marry a daughter from her clan in 1851, who was known as Queen Cheorin, and ruled as regent until his fourth year of reign in 1852.

Queen Sunwon later died in Changdeok Palace, on 21 September 1857. The Queen's clan power later diminished when Queen Shinjeong adopted Grand Internal Prince Heungseon’s son, Yi Myeong-bok, as her own to become the next king. The Queen Dowager stepped down and gave all power to the Grand Internal Prince Heungseon to help his son as regent; thus removing all power of the Andong Kim clan’s influence as well as the Pungyang Jo clan in the end.

Queen Sunwon is buried with her husband in Inreung located in Naegok-dong, Seocho District, Seoul.


  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Kim Saeng-hae (김생해, 金生海)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Kim Geuk-hyo (김극효, 金克孝) (16 September 1542 - 3 February 1618)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Jeong of the Dongrae Jeong clan (본관: 동래정씨)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Kim Sang-gwan (김상관, 金尙觀)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Kim Gwang-chan (김광찬, 金光燦) (1597 - 24 February 1668)[2]
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Kim of the Yeonan Kim clan (본관: 연안 김씨)[3]
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Kim Su-hang (김수항, 金壽恒) (1629 - 9 April 1689)
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Na of the Anjeong Na clan (본관: 안정 나씨)[4]
  • Great-Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Kim Chang-jib (김창집, 金昌集) (1648 - 2 May 1722)
  • Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
    • Lady Park (박씨)
  • Great-Great-Grandfather
    • Kim Je-gyeom (김제겸, 金濟謙)[5]
  • Great-Grandfather
    • Kim Dal-haeng (김달행, 金達行)[6]
  • Grandfather
    • Kim Yi-jong (김이중, 金履中);[7] served as Prime Minister
  • Grandmother
  • Father
  • Mother
    • Internal Princess Consort Cheongyang of the Cheongsong Sim clan (청양부부인 심씨, 靑陽府夫人 沈氏) (1766 - 1828)
      • Grandfather: Sim Geon-ji (심건지, 沈健之)[10]
      • Grandmother: Lady Yi of the Jeonju Yi clan (증 정경부인 전주 이씨); Sim Geon-ji's second wife
      • Step-grandmother: Lady Song of the Eunjin Song clan (증 정경부인 은진 송씨)
  • Siblings
    • Older brother: Kim Yu-geun (김유근, 金逌根) (March 1785 - July 1840); became the adopted son of Kim Yong-sun (김용순, 金龍淳) and Lady Hong of the Pungsan Hong clan (정경부인 풍산 홍씨, 貞敬夫人 豊山 洪氏)
    • Older brother: Kim Won-geun (김원근, 金元根) (1786 - 1832)
    • Younger brother: Kim Jwa-geun (김좌근, 金左根) (1797–1869)
      • Sister-in-law: Lady Yun (윤씨, 尹氏)
        • Adoptive nephew: Kim Byeong-gi (김병기, 金炳冀) (1818 - 1875)
          • Adoptive niece-in-law: Lady Nam (남씨, 南氏); Nam Gu-sun's daughter
          • Adoptive grand-nephew: Kim Yong-gyun (김용균, 金用均)
    • Younger sister: Lady Kim of the Andong Kim clan
      • Brother-in-law: Nam Gu-sun (남구순, 南久淳)
        • Nephew: Nam Byeong-cheol (남병철, 南秉哲) (1817 - 1863)
        • Niece: Lady Nam (남씨, 南氏)
    • Younger sister: Lady Kim of the Andong Kim clan
      • Brother-in-law: Yi Gyeom-jae (이겸재, 李謙在)
    • Younger sister: Lady Kim of the Andong Kim clan
      • Brother-in-law: Yi Geung-woo (이긍우, 李肯愚)
    • Younger brother: Kim Son-geun (김손근, 金遜根)
  • Husband
  • Issue

Popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ In Lunar Calendar, the Queen was born on 15 May 1789 and died on 4 August 1857
  2. ^ Internal Princess Consort Yeongga of the Andong Kim clan, the daughter of his uncle, Kim Sang-yong (김상용, 金尙容) and a half-niece of Kim Jang-saeng, is the mother of Queen Inseon; making him first cousins of the queen
  3. ^ She is a niece of Queen Inmok and the cousin of Princess Jeongmyeong. She is also a distant relative of Kim Ahn-ro
  4. ^ Her brother, Na Myeong-jwa (나명좌), married Song Jun-gil’s daughter and Queen Inhyeon’s maternal aunt, Lady Song of the Eunjin Song clan. Another sister married King Sejong’s 8th generation descendant, Yi Sa-myeong (이사명, 李師命) (1647–1689)
  5. ^ His younger sister, Lady Kim of the (new) Andong Kim clan (신 안동 김씨, 新 安東 金氏), became the wife of Min Chang-su (민창수, 閔昌洙); the nephew of Queen Inhyeon
  6. ^ His younger brother, Kim Won-haeng (김원행, 金元行) (14 February 1703 - 5 August 1772), became the great-great-grandfather of Queen Cheorin. His youngest brother, Kim Tan-haeng (김탄행, 金坦行) (1714–1774), became the great-great-grandfather of Queen Hyohyeon
  7. ^ He is a second cousin of Lady Hyegyeong
  8. ^ His nephew, Kim Mun-geun, eventually became the father of Queen Cheorin
  9. ^ His second nephew, Kim Jo-geun, eventually became the father of Queen Hyohyeon
  10. ^ Grandson of Sim Taek-hyeon (심택현, 沈宅賢) who was a descendant of Sim Ui-gyeom (Queen Insun’s younger brother), Sim Kang (Queen Insun’s father), and Sim On (Queen Soheon’s father)
  11. ^ According to the tomb of Princess Myeong-on, written by Hong Seok-ju, it is recorded that she was pregnant twice, but lost both of them prematurely.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Queen consort of Korea
Succeeded by