- Category : 1901-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Four Ways 3
Japanese princess by birth and Korean princess by marriage. Born Princess Masako Nashimoto, she was the first daughter of Japanese aristocrat Prince Nashimoto Morimasa, the seventh son of Prince Kuni Asahiko and his wife, Princess Itsuko.
Princess Masako was a leading candidate to wed the crown prince of Japan, the future Emperor Hirohito. The possibility of infertility and the feeble political influence of her family were among the reasons she was removed from the list of candidates. However, Princess Masako was selected instead to wed Crown Prince Euimin of Korea who had been held by Japanese government under the pretense of studying abroad in 1917. The wedding was held on 28 April 1920, at Korean King's Palace in Tokyo. Princess Masako was still a student at the Girls' Department of the Gakushūin Peers' School at the time and her new title became Her Royal Highness Bangja, Crown Princess Euimin. Despite an unfavorable fertility diagnosis prior to her marriage, she gave birth to a son, Prince Jin, on 18 August 1921. However, Prince Jin died under suspicious circumstances when she visited Korea with her husband on 11 May 1922.
On 24 April 1926, Crown Princess Bangja received the formal title Her Majesty Queen Lee when the Emperor Sunjong, the elder brother of Crown Prince Euimin, died. Under the terms of the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty, the Korean royal title was demoted from that of "Emperor" to "King" and Crown Prince Euimin was never formally crowned as king; therefore Princess Masako continued to be styled "Bangja, Crown Princess Euimin". On 29 December 1929, she gave birth to a second son, Prince Ku/Gu.
After the end of World War II, all former royal and peerage titles were abolished by the American occupation authorities. Republic of Korea President Rhee Syng-man's fear of Crown Prince Euimin's popularity prevented the family's homecoming, and they lived in destitution as Korean residents in Japan. In November 1963, Crown Princess Bangja and her family came back to Korea at the invitation of President Park Chung-hee and were allowed to live in Changdeok Palace in downtown Seoul. However, by this time, Crown Prince Euimin was already unconscious from cerebral thrombosis and was rushed to Seoul Sungmo Hospital where he remained bedridden for the rest of his life.
Thereafter, Princess Bangja devoted herself to the education of mentally and physically handicapped people. She successively became the chair of various committees including the Commemorative Committee of Crown Prince Euimin, and the Myeonghwi-won, an asylum for deaf-and-dumb persons or patients suffering from infantile paralysis and she founded the Jahye School and the Myeonghye School, which helps handicapped people become socially adapted. She was adored as the "mother of the handicapped in Korea" and despite lingering anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea she was a widely respected Japanese woman in Korea.
Crown Princess Bangja died on 30 April 1989, aged 87, at the Nakseon Hall, Changdeok Palace from cancer.