Empresses in the Palace

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Empresses in the Palace
Empresses in the Palace, Hong Kong version (後宮·甄嬛傳 香港版).jpg
Also known as The Legend of Zhen Huan
Hougong Zhen Huan Zhuan
Genre Romance, historical fiction
Written by Liu Lianzi, Wang Xiaoping
Directed by Zheng Xiaolong
Starring Sun Li
Chen Jianbin
Ada Choi
Jiang Xin
Li Dongxue
Tao Xinran
Lan Xi
Zhang Xiaolong
Leanne Liu
Sun Xi
Lee Tien-chu
Country of origin China
Original language(s) Mandarin
No. of episodes 76
Location(s) China
Running time 45 minutes per episode
Production company(s) Beijing TV Art Center
Original network Dragon Television
Original release 26 March – 2 May 2012

Empresses in the Palace, also known as The Legend of Zhen Huan and Hou Gong Zhen Huan Zhuan (simplified Chinese: 后宫·甄嬛传; traditional Chinese: 後宮·甄嬛傳), is a Chinese television series based on the Internet novel of the same name. It first aired in China on 17 November 2011.


The series is adapted from a novel of the same name by Liu Lianzi, and the story centers on the schemes between Emperor YongZheng’s concubines in the imperial palace during the Qing Dynasty. The pure and innocent 17-year-old Zhen Huan is chosen for the emperor’s harem, and after entering the palace, she finds herself caught in the fierce infighting between the empress and the concubines, realizing that the palace is actually a cruel and harsh place. Zhen has to learn to survive on her own, sometimes by unscrupulous methods. With her wits and talents, Zhen fights her way through and wins the emperor’s affection, ultimately becoming the most powerful concubine in the imperial palace; and ascending to unparalleled glory and wealth. However, she also becomes a woman with few true friends at her own side, even after she is rid of all her enemies.

Along the way she experiences a miscarriage due to mistreatment by Hua Fei, who is the second most powerful in harem and who is only below the Empress in rank. However, even though Hua Fei's mistreatment contributed to the miscarriage, the primary reason for the miscarriage was because of an ointment to heal wounds that she used regularly. The ointment had ingredients that could induce a miscarriage and was given her by a "friendly" sisterly concubine she thought was her friend and who Zhen Huan had once saved. Eventually Hua Fei is imprisoned in the "cold" palace for her many misdeeds. In the end, Hua Fei is given a death sentence and told to commit suicide. Although Hua Fei refuses to at first, Zhen Huan makes a visit and tells her that the emperor has not truly loved her for a long time and why so. She also tells her the reason for her infertility. In the end, Hua Fei commits suicide but refuses to do so in a way that was decreed

Due to a plot by the empress, Zhen Huan becomes disillusioned with the emperor and is transferred over to a nunnery where she becomes a nun. There she falls in love with the emperor's brother. However, she eventually comes back to the Forbidden Palace when she mistakenly believes that the emperor's brother is dead. In the palace, she gives birth to twins. However, even though she passes them off as the emperor's, the father is really the emperor's brother. Zhen Huan continues to fight with her enemies in the power struggle and the struggle for the emperor's affection.


  • Sun Li as Zhen Huan
  • Chen Jianbin as the Yongzheng Emperor (Yongzheng Emperor is the third Emperor of Qing Dynasty)[2]
  • Ada Choi as Ulanara Yi-xiu, the Empress (The fictional character as Chun-yuan's younger sister, the Empress Xiaojingxian)
  • Jiang Xin as Nian Shilan, Imperial Concubine Consort Hua (based on Imperial Noble Consort Dunsu)
  • Leanne Liu as Empress Dowager Renshou
  • Lan Xi as Shen Mei-zhuang (Zhen Huan's best friend, Emperor’s Consort)
  • Tao Xinran as An Ling-rong (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Li Dongxue as Yunli (Emperor’s 17th younger brother)
  • Zhang Xiaolong as Wen Shichu (Doctor in the Palace)
  • Li Tianzhu as Su Peisheng (Emperor’s top servant)
  • Li Yijuan as Consort Duan
  • Yang Ziyan as Consort Jing
  • Zhang Yameng as Consort Qi
  • Tang Yixin as Qi Pin (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Li Jiaxuan as Li Pin (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Chen Sisi as Cao Qinmo (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Re Yizha as Ye Lanyi (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Guo Xuan as Zhen Pin (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Wan Meixi as Xin Pin (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Lan Yingying as Huanbi (Zhen Huan’s servant, also Zhen Huan’s biological sister)
  • Zhan Qingyi as Liu-zhu (Zhen Huan’s servant from her home)
  • Sun Qian as Cui Jinxi (Zhen Huan’s servant from the palace)
  • Yang Kaichun as Jian-qiu (The empress’s servant)
  • Zhao Qin as Fucha Gui-ren (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Mao Xiaotong as Ying Gui-ren (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Yin Er as Xia Dongchun, Xia Changzai (Emperor’s Consort)
  • He Yanan as Kang Changzai (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Liu Yitong as Song-zhi (Consort Hua’s servant)
  • Cui Manli as Yu Yinger (Emperor’s Consort)
  • Yang Qi as Meng Jingxian (Aisin-Gioro Yunli’s consort)
  • Liu Yan as Shu Taifei (Aisin-Gioro Yunli’s biological birth mother)
  • Wang Wenjie as Aisin-Gioro HongLi (Emperor’s fourth son, Emperor Qianlong)
  • Wu Lipeng as Aisin-Gioro HongShi (Emperor’s third son)
  • Shen Baoping as Zhen Yuandao (Zhen Huan’s biological father)
  • Li Dan as Zhen’s Mother (Zhen Huan’s biological mother)
  • Xu Lu as Zhen Yurao (Zhen Huan’s younger sister, later married with Aisin-Gioro YunXi)
  • Kang Fuzhen as Aisin-Gioro YunXi (Emperor’s 19th younger brother)
  • Sun Ning as Nian Gengyao (Consort Hua’s older brother, also chancellor of the country)


The opening theme of Empresses in the Palace is "A New Day Begins" sung by Yao Beina, also known as Bella Yao.[1] The ending theme music is "Farewell" and is sung by Zhang Yinxi.[2] Music composer and writer is Benjamin Wallfisch. Music producer is 'Ke Erqinfu. Voice producer is Liu Yutong.The series Music Department included Huan Liu and You Hongfei.


The drama was first aired in China in 2011 and broadcast on South Korea's CHINGTV.

The drama was split into three parts for its Japanese broadcast, was aired under the title Women Vying for Power in the Palace <宮廷の諍い女>. The name change was due to the hanzi and kanji characters for “zhen huan” (甄嬛), which are not frequently used in the Japanese language and are therefore unrecognizable to most Japanese viewers. However, some netizens complained that the new title was “too bare” and lacked the implicit appeal of the original.[3]

In April 2015, the series was added to US region of Netflix. It was edited down to six episodes, each with a ninety-minute duration. The original audio was kept intact with the addition of closed captions in English.

In Thailand, the series was aired in 2016 and broadcast on Channel 7.[4]


The drama has been praised for being one of the best historical dramas broadcast in Chinese mainland in recent years.[5]

In Taiwan, the drama achieved high ratings, and some Taiwan girls even request to accept plastic surgery in order to have the same eyes like Zhen Huan.[6]

In Japan, after just one week, Legend of Zhen Huan amassed more than 39 million Japanese viewers. A Fuji TV employee revealed that after the first episode aired, the number of hits for their Legend of Zhen Huan website multiplied five-fold, and that they also received many phone calls inquiring about the drama. Since the series airs at 5 p.m. on weekday evenings, it is particularly popular among housewives and students. Taka Tsukazaki, the CEO of Asia Republic Entertainment, perhaps said it best when he called Legend of Zhen Huan “an immortal masterpiece that will still give rise to discussion even after five or ten years.”[3]

Through the thrilling story, audiences can also learn much about ancient Chinese poetry, fashions, court etiquette, and herbal medicine. The show also features intensely sophisticated dialogue that has sparked trending quotes among its followers on the internet.[5][7]

Social Influences[edit]

The Style of ZhenHuan

After Empresses in the Palace became popular, audiences began to imitate the way people spoke and behaved during the Qing Dynasty, just for fun. A lot of people discuss problems or issues by using the language of this drama in some forums. This drama promoted interest in classic Chinese philosophy.

Controversial Values

The drama elicits a controversial debate that divided two sides. The newspaper of People’s Daily points out good people cannot fight against with bad people only become more evil than bad guys then can defeat bad guys. Furthermore, when evaluating the production of historical themes, the most significant critique standard should focus on the values standard instead of authenticity standard. Social media enable to shape people’s mind in visible and invisible ways, incorrect values would lead the audience to the survival of the incorrect ideas into real life. Conversely, the article of Seeking Truth holds an opposite viewpoint that they assert this drama reveals the decadent essence of ancient Chinese feudal society and traditional and outdated lifestyle obstructs the development of society. It also praises and appreciates the brave women constantly pursue their happiness and fight against with the forces of evil.


List of Accolades
Award / Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
China TV Golden Eagle Award Best Television Series Won
International Emmy Award[8] Best Actress Sun Li Nominated
Shanghai Television Festival[9] Best Director Zheng Xiaolong Won
TV Drama Awards Made in China[10] Best Supporting Actress Jiang Xin Won


  1. ^ Touro (2013-01-29), Empresses In The Palace OST | Yao Bei Na - Bodhisattva (Female Version), retrieved 2016-02-11 
  2. ^ Ena (2015-12-29), Farewell - Zhang Yingxi, retrieved 2016-02-11 
  3. ^ a b ""Legend of Zhen Huan" Becomes Smash Hit in Japan". jaynestars.com. July 16, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ ""ภ.จีน ชุด "เจินหวน จอมนางคู่แผ่นดิน" (THE LEGEND OF ZHEN HUAN)"". Channel 7 (in Thai). Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Top 10 Chinese entertainment events in 2012". 21 December 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Empresses in the Palace?". travelchinaguide.com. Jan 31, 2013. Retrieved Jan 31, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Zhenhuan-speak". thechinastory.org. 27 January 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "International Emmy Awards Nominees". iemmys.tv. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  9. ^ "Winners of 18th STVF Magnolia Award". stvf.com. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "Women of China". womenofchina.cn. Retrieved 1 September 2015.