Categories: Korean Notables.
Princess Deokhye of Korea (25 May 1912 – 21 April 1989) was the last princess of the Korean Empire.
She was born on 25 May 1912 at Changdeok Palace in Seoul. She was the youngest daughter of Emperor Gojong Yi Meong-bok and his concubine, then known as Yang Gui-in. Then, Emperor Gojong bestowed a loyal title, Boknyeong, to Yang when she gave birth to Princess Deokhye. Princess Deokhye was not formally recognized as a princess by Japan until 1917, because she was not a daughter of the queen. In 1917, her name was formally entered into the Imperial Family's registry. Her father, Emperor Gojong, loved her greatly and established the Deoksu Palace (덕수궁) Kindergarten for her in Junmyungdang (준명당), Hamnyeong hall. Girls her age from noble families attended the kindergarten. Princess Deokhye is called Deokhye Ongju in Korea, not Gongju. Gongju refers to the daughters of the queen, and Ongju refers to the daughters of the concubine.
In May 1931, after "matchmaking" by Empress Teimei, the consort of Emperor Taishō of Japan, she married Count Sō Takeyuki (武志; 1923-1985), a Japanese aristocrat. The marriage had in fact been decided in 1930; her brother had protested it, and it had been postponed because of her condition, but when she recovered, she was immediately given instructions that the marriage was to take place. She gave birth to a daughter, Masae (正惠), or Jeonghye (정혜) in Korea, on 14 August 1932. In 1933, Deokhye was again afflicted with mental illness, and after this, she spent many years in various mental health clinics.
With the defeat of Japan in World War II, Korea once again became independent and her husband lost his nobility title, as the peerage was abolished. The arranged marriage no longer made sense, and they became increasingly detached from one another, until they finally divorced in 1953. Takeyuki So is known to have remarried in 1955 to Japanese Yoshie Katsumura. Having suffered an unhappy marriage, her grief was compounded by the loss of her only daughter who disappeared in 1956, reportedly committing suicide due to the stress of her parents' divorce. As a result, her condition deteriorated at a slow yet considerable pace.
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