Julia Lee – Ukrainian Princess of Korea

DOI: 10.46493/2663-2675-2020-4-4


Roman Pyrih , first secretary Embassy of Ukraine in the Republic of Korea


The article “Julia Lee – Ukrainian Princess of Korea” is researching largely unknown historical page of marriage between Yi Gu, the last crown prince of Korean royal Choseon dynasty, and American woman of Ukrainian origin Julia Mullock (Lee). The research is aimed to draw attention to the historical events ushering the formation of modern Korea. It points out that some Ukrainians played remarkable role in this process, acting as important agents of Westernization. Historical and cognitive aspects of the research also serve as a tool to extend humanitarian dimension of the contextual playground of Ukrainian – Korean relations. Apart from complicated relations between the members of the Last Korean royal family, the article draws attention towards humanitarian mission of princess Julia aimed at solving one of the most tabooed problems in Korea – social integration of persons with disabilities and adoption of orphans. It also depicts Julia’s artistic talents. The “last princess” and paradoxically the first Caucasian woman in the House of Choseon was not fully acknowledged as the member of the dynasty. Thus, her portrait is illustrating the final page of one of the chapters of Korean history, while opening another one, still ongoing. Her personal drama is also archetypal to larger Ukrainian psyche, with its narrative of searching happiness in the foreign land. In this context another Ukrainian – Afanasy Seredin-Sabatin is mentioned, while being famous as the architect for Korean Emperor Gojong and pioneer-designer of some of the first European style buildings in the country, including landmark Independence Gate and recreational pavilion in Deoksugung palace in fused colonial/oriental style. Story of Julia Lee requires further in-depth study and professional analysis. Among the first researchers to highlight this topic in Ukraine was journalist Uliana Skytska, who produced a video for 24 Channel, and published a few articles, one of them included into her book «#Наші на карті світу» (Lviv, The Old Lion Publishing House, 2019). Short article about Julia Mullock was published by Valentyna Lantrat in «Селянська правда» newspaper (#1 (671), 17.05.2016). Important sources for analyzing the subject are “Julia’s Last Letter” documentary produced by Korean MBC channel, as well as memories of professor Lee Nam-Ju («Korea JoongAng Daily», 07.12.2017). Due to the sensational nature, the article is of interest not only for researchers in history and international relation, but also for the wide public. Bringing to Ukraine the memory about the descendants, which played remarkable role in different parts of the world, is aimed to enrich understanding of Ukrainian character and scale of its global contribution. Taking geographically distant Korea as an example, the author foresees further discoveries in the most unexpected places.

Keywords : Julia Lee, Yi Gu, Yi Bangja, Choseon, Afanasy Seredin-Sabatin

Language of the article : Ukrainian

References :


1. Уляна Скицька “#Наші на карті світу». Львів, Видавництво Старого Лева, 2019”

2. Sheila Michaels “My Five Ginza Bar Hostesses, My Korean Crown Princess: Travel Tales”, www.academia.edu

3. Jung Jae-Sook “Mullock, ‘Last Princess’ of Korea, Dies at 94”. Korea JoongAng Daily, 07/12/2017

4. Nam Sang-so “The Last Prince of Korea”. The Korea Times, 03/06/2012

5. Gary Ledyard “Testimony of the Russian citizen Seredin-Sabatin, in the service of the Korean court, who was on duty the night of September 26, 1895”. Center for Korean Research, Columbia University

6. Т.М. Симбирцева, С.С.Левошко “Архитектор Его Величества Короля Кореи» А.И. Середин-Сабатин (1860-1921)”. Вестник Центра корейского языка и культуры. Выпуск 12