BY Julie Jones | Apr 30, 2015 08:19 AM EDT
"Hwajung," also known as "Splendid Politics" blends historical facts with fiction. But how important was the real-life princess Jungmyung in the story of Prince Gwanghae's time on the throne?
If you are not up to date on your Korean history and want to be surprised by the end of the drama, don't read any further.
For those who already know some of the story or plan on watching anyway, here are five facts about the princess.
1. Princess Jungmyung's father had two queens, Queen Ulin, who had no children, and Queen Inmok, who had the princess and Prince Yeongchang. But he also had six Royal Noble Consorts and three concubines. Altogether he had 25 children, of whom 11 were princesses. The king married Queen Inmok because his first queen did not have any children. So, before the princess was born, Prince Gwanghae, the son of his royal consort was destined to be his heir.
2. If you were not the heir apparent when it came time to decide on the next king, you were probably in trouble. Talk about dysfunctional family feuds. It can't have been fun growing up in the palace as the other children were your direct competition for survival. And many of the princess' siblings were decades older. Prince Imhae was 31 when she was born. In real life, Prince Gwanghae was 28 when the princess arrived so the age gap was greater than it is in the drama. In the drama Cha Seung Won, 44, plays the prince. Lee Yeon Hee, who plays the grown-up princess, is 27. Jung Chan Bi, who plays the runaway younger princess, is 13, so that's closer to the true age gap.
3. Princess Jungmyung was exiled from the palace. She didn't run away. However, she was falsely reported to be dead and then turned up alive.
4. She did eventually return to the palace. Prince Gwanghae was not very popular, partly due to his progressive views but also because he was the son of a royal consort and not a queen. And many people did not care for the way he treated Queen Inmok and the princess. Once Prince Gwanghae's nephew gathered enough support, he overthrew the prince and became King Injo. Queen Inmok and the princess returned to the palace. History records that she subsequently stayed far away from any political involvement.
5. After the queen and princess returned to the palace, King Injo, played in the drama by Kim Jae Won, treated them with great respect and listened to the Queen's counsel. However, when King Injo became worried about others plotting against him, it was reported that he suspected the queen and princess of practicing magic to influence policy. But King Injo did a few things that make historians question his mental stability. And the princess lived happily and safely to the old age of 82.
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