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Choi Suk Bin – Mother of Princes

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As previously mentioned, Choi Suk Bin, as she’s commonly known, began working in the Palace at the age of seven. It’s written that Suk-Bin was of a mild, even temperament and a warm heart, and that she did not meddle in Court affairs. Furthermore, King Yeongjo was extremely close to his mother and wrote her many poems and said in one of them, “My father begot me, my mother fed me, led me, bred me, brought me up, reared me, kept her eye on me, tended me, at every turn aided me. Their goods deeds I would requite”.

Suk-Bin’s heritage is unknown, although some have given her a noble background. There is doubt that such a heritage for her exists since it’s well acknowledged that she came from the lowest class of Joseon society. Nevertheless, in the fourth lunar month (May) of 1693, Choi Suk Bin became King Sukjong’s concubine. That same year, Suk-Bin gave birth to Prince Yeongso, who died two months after being born.

It’s said his birth was either premature or he was, in fact, the son of a previous lover. Given that on September 3, 1694, Choi Suk-won gave birth to her second son, Prince Yeoning (future King Yeongjo), Prince Yeongsu had to have been born no later than November – or a month premature. However, it is possible he was mistaken for being full-term, thus sparking the claim that the infant prince was not the offspring of Sukjong.

Regardless of how the child died, it seems King Sukjong did not believe the infant was his son. The actual cause of the infant’s death remains a mystery, but it’s possible to imagine that the child died of natural causes as a result of a premature birth…or he was murdered. Both possibilities exist.

As mentioned before, Sukjong’s reign is noted for the extreme, and often bloody, Court factionalism as each faction vied for controlling power as well as all the wealth and perks that comes with controlling all governmental affairs and office. And both the Soron and Noron factions were obsessed with controlling the government, not for the sake of the nation but for their own power and wealth. As a result, the Soron faction, which then had power, would have perceived the infant prince as a threat to themselves, Queen Jang (Hui-Bin), and young Crown Prince Hwiso (King Gyeongjong). To them, it was best if he did not exist.

The next year, Choi Suk-Bin was raised to the rank of bin, the highest concubine rank. She remained Sukjong’s concubine and gave birth in 1698 to third son who died three days later. For reasons unknown, Suk-bin was evicted out of the palace in 1702 to live alone for several years until Prince Yeonging married, at which time he and his bride were allowed to move out of the palace and into her residence, Inhyeon Palace.

In 1716, Choe Suk-bin became quite ill. Later in that same year, Sukjong received a message from Yeoning Geum informing him that his mother’s health had worsened and asking for more medical help. Royal Noble Consort Choe Suk-bin died at the age of 49 in 1718.




Written by Valerie Curl

March 21, 2016 at 8:04 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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