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Women at the Royal Court

Women's roles in the Joseon dynasty provide a revealing glimpse into the past and present of Korean culture.


Queens at the time (1392–1910) could not become official rulers but could acquire political power indirectly through their male relatives, especially their sons and grandsons, who could become heirs to the throne.

Ceremonies and celebrations demonstrated the legitimacy of their male heirs’ claims to the throne, and in this way reinforced the women’s power. 
 
A birthday banquet for Queen Sunwon, an elaborate wedding reception for Queen Hyojeong, jewel-encrusted accessories and other objects indicate the importance of women’s roles in celebration. Even while forbidden from direct participation in political affairs and made to attend meetings from behind screens, royal women managed to gain positions of political influence.