Is Under The Queen’s Umbrella Based On A True Story?
Set during the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, Under The Queen’s Umbrella centers on the life of Queen Im Hwa-Ryeong, a fiercely loyal woman who does what she can to survive in a male-dominated arena, raising her troublesome princes to take over from the King’s reign. All the while, she does her best to try and thwart the evil Queen Dowager, who will stop at nothing to see the Queen fail.
If you’ve finished watching this one, you may be wondering if the events and characters are real or fictional. Let’s find out:
Please Note: The information on this page provides information about the main characters and may contain spoilers.
Queen Im Hwa-Ryeong
Queen Im Hwa-Ryeong is a fictional character, although one could argue that she is loosely based on Queen Ingyeong, who was a real historical figure who lived during the Joseon Dynasty.
She was the queen consort of King Sukjong, who ruled from 1674 to 1720. Queen Ingyeong was born in 1687 and became the queen consort in 1701 at the age of 14. She had a significant influence on the politics of the time and was known for her intelligence and diplomatic skills.
There are definitely similarities there to Hwa-ryeong’s journey, although within the show our Queen is much older and has to battle against the evil Queen Dowager and other political schemers within the palace.
The Queen Dowager is the main antagonist in Under The Queen’s Umbrella and plays the villainous mother-in-law to the King, doing what she can to thwart Hwa-ryeong and keep her stranglehold over the throne.
While she is a fictitious character, Queen Dowagers (the mothers of deceased kings) in the Joseon Dynasty held significant power and influence in the royal court. It is possible that some used their power to manipulate or plot against the reigning queen or queens consort, although it’s worth noting that historical records aren’t always clear on this matter.
King Lee-ho is a fictional King and while the drama is based on real historical figures and events, King Lee-ho is definitely not one of them. Several different Kings of the time period are revered as having had the greatest influence over the Joseon period though; men who fought hard to push through reforms in the Royal court.
King Sejong the Great (1418-1450) is perhaps the most famous and beloved king of the Joseon Dynasty. He is known for his supports of the arts and sciences, as well as for his creation of the Korean alphabet, Hangul. He also oversaw significant military victories against the Mongols and Jurchens.
While the Crown Prince is a fictional character, his storyline and the manner of his poisoning and scheming against him becoming King could be a nod toward several real Crown Princes during the Joseon period who also died in this way, although they were very different ages to that of our Crown Prince in Under the Queen’s Umbrella!
Grand Princes Ilyoung & Muan / Prince Hodong
These troublesome Princes are used for comedy relief in the show, and are, like many of the characters in Under The Queen’s Umbrella, completely fictitious. However, some of the misadventures and issues that befall them are based on real events that used to occur during the time period.
For example, the drama includes several methods that were used by the palace for the Crown Prince to help him study better, such as dipping his face under salt water for more than 150 seconds.
Grand Prince Gyeseong
While Grand Prince Gyeseong is a fictional character, his cross-dressing is certainly an interesting point of exploration to look into within the Joseon Period.
The Joseon Dynasty was extremely patriarchal. Having a girl cross-dress as a men was a familiar sight during entertainment such as sword dancing, of which there are several different paintings depicting women part of the entertainment.
Outside of these events though, it was very uncommon to see crossdressing from either sex, especially with the threat of death hanging over anyone found doing so. This explains why there was such drama and shock from the Queen when this occurred.
Chief State Councilor Hwang
While Chief State Councilor Hwang was a fictional character in Under the Queen’s Umbrella, his high position in the Royal Court is very much real and a force to be reckoned with. The Chief State Councilor was one of the most powerful officials in the Joseon Dynasty and played a crucial role in the functioning of the government and the administration of the state.
As the highest-ranking advisor to the King, the Chief State Councilor played a key role in decision-making, policy formulation, and implementation. He advised the king on matters such as appointments, promotions, demotions, and dismissals of government officials, as well as matters related to foreign affairs, military strategy, and economic policy.
This explains why the Queen Dowager worked so hard to keep the Chief State Councilor on her side, intending to swing the balance of power in her favour.
Although all the characters in Under the Queen’s Umbrella are fictional, the events they’re based on can be loosely tied back to real events and incidents that occurred within the Joseon Dynasty.
It’s also worth noting that the show did come under fire while airing in Korea, with many netizens unhappy with the lack of historical accuracy for characters and events.