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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 Sinjeong
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
Died21 September 1857 (1857-09-22) (aged 68)
Yangsimhab, Changdeok Palace, 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 (Korean순원왕후; 8 June 1789 – 21 September 1857), 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[edit]

The future Queen Consort was born into the Andong Kim clan on 8 June 1789. She was the eldest daughter and third child of Kim Jo-sun and his wife, Lady Sim of the Cheongsong Sim clan. Through her father, Lady Kim was a 5th great-grandniece of Queen Inmok, the second wife of King Seonjo and mother of Princess Jeongmyeong. She was also a first cousin twice removed of Princess Jeongmyeong through her paternal grandmother, Lady Shin.

Through her mother, Lady Kim was a maternal descendant of Sim Ui-gyeom, Queen Insun’s younger brother, and Sim On, Queen Soheon’s father.

Her mother’s side was already 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 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.

Queen consort[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; Hyomyeong 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.


  • Father
  • Mother
    • Internal Princess Consort Cheongyang of the Cheongsong Sim clan (청양부부인 심씨; 靑陽府夫人 沈氏; 1766–1828)
  • 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 sister - Lady Kim of the Andong Kim clan (김씨; 1792–?)
    • Younger sister - Lady Kim of the Andong Kim clan (김씨; 1794–?)
    • Younger sister - Lady Kim of the Andong Kim clan (김씨; 1795–?)
    • Younger brother - Kim Jwa-geun (김좌근; 金左根; 1797–1869)
    • Younger brother - Kim Son-geun (김손근; 金遜根)
  • Husband
  • Issue
    • Son - Crown Prince Hyomyeong (효명세자; 18 September 1809 – 25 June 1830)
    • Daughter - Princess Myeongon (명온공주; 1810–1832)
      • Son-in-law - Kim Hyeon-geun (김현근; 金賢根) of the Andong Kim clan (1810–1868)
        • Granddaughter - Lady Kim of the Andong Kim clan (김씨; 金氏); died prematurely
        • Unnamed grandchild; died prematurely
        • Adoptive grandson - Kim Byeong-chan (김병찬; 金炳瓚)
    • Daughter - Princess Bokon (복온공주; 1818–1832)
      • Son-in-law - Kim Byeong-ju (김병주; 金炳疇) of the Andong Kim clan (1819–1853)
    • Unnamed son (1820–1820)
    • Daughter - Princess Deokon (덕온공주; 1822–1844)
      • Son-in-law - Yun Ui-seon (윤의선; 尹宜善; ?–1887)
        • Adoptive grandson - Yun Yong-gu (윤용구; 尹用求)
    • Adoptive son - King Cheoljong of Joseon (철종대왕; 25 July 1831 – 16 January 1864)

In popular culture[edit]


Queen Sunwon
Andong Kim clan
Royal titles
Preceded by
Queen Hyoui
of the Cheongpung Kim clan
Queen consort of Joseon
1802 – 14 December 1834
Succeeded by
Queen Hyohyeon
of the Cheongpung Kim clan
Preceded by
Queen Dowager Hyoui
of the Cheongpung Kim clan
Queen dowager of Joseon
14 December 1834 – 18 December 1834
Succeeded by
Queen Dowager Hyoyu (Sinjeong)
of the Pungyang Jo clan
Preceded by
Grand Queen Dowager Yesun (Jeongsun)
of the Gyeongju Kim clan
Grand queen dowager of Joseon
18 December 1834 – 21 September 1857
Succeeded by