Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Royal Profile: Bangja, Crown Princess Euimin of Korea
The Korean Royal Family was maintained by the treaty through which Korea became part of the wider Japanese Empire, only renouncing their briefly held “imperial” rather than “royal” status. However, because of the situation, her husband was never given the formal “coronation” and so most continued to refer to the couple as Crown Prince and Crown Princess rather than King and Queen as they legally were. During this time the Crown Prince was serving in the Imperial Japanese Army, eventually rising to the rank of general and, after transferring to the army air force, as commander of the First Air Army. However, the couple had time for a more settled domestic life after he took a position teaching at the Military Staff College and serving on the Supreme War Council during World War II. Through it all, the Crown Princess was a devoted and supportive wife, never forgetting her own background of course but, because of her marriage, taking a special interest and having a special care for the people of Korea who, like so many others, endured a great deal of suffering and hardships in those difficult times. As the devoted wife that she was, Korea was very much her own country as well.
It would be little consolation that after a long and controversial presidency, Syngman Rhee himself would end up living out his final years in exile himself in the U.S. state of Hawaii. However, these were hard years for the Crown Princess and her husband and son. Japan had been ruined by the war, all those who had formerly held some status found themselves with none. The country was also under American occupation and because, legally, Korea had always been separate from Japan, the couple did not even have the status of citizens but were simply regarded as Koreans residing in Japan even though, at that time, the Korean government was denying them as well. Still, the Crown Princess and her family endured, despite living in extremely modest conditions (some would even say impoverished conditions) and she never lost her kind attitude and compassionate nature. Considering the misfortunes that had been heaped on this couple, through no fault of their own and because of circumstances far beyond their control, anyone would have forgiven them for showing at least a little bitterness at their grossly unfair situation. However, they refused to give in to such attitudes and longed only to return to Korea to be of service in any way.