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So this is what i get from naver dict:

태자빈 太子嬪 [태자빈] - 황태자의 아내.

황태자비 皇太子妃 - 황태자의 아내.

Both mean the same but from the book where I found these words, it seemed they had different meanings. Even though they both mean the crown prince's wife, maybe they represent some kind of hierarchy which make them different? They also have different Hanja, but I don't know what that means.

More context from comments:

Ok, so.. this empire is having a festival and invited princesses from another kingdom to look for 태자빈 후보. But then there is a troublesome princess, so the duke thought to himself after seeing her doings "이건 뭐, 태자빈이 아니라, 마치 황태자비 후보로 온 것 같군그래." I'm not sure if that helps, there isn't much clue other than that

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    Would it be possible to post some sentences from the book for context? – user17915 May 17 at 4:21
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    Ok, so.. this empire is having a festival and invited princesses from another kingdom to look for 태자빈 후보. But then there is a troublesome princess, so the duke thought to himself after seeing her doings "이건 뭐, 태자빈이 아니라, 마치 황태자비 후보로 온 것 같군그래." I'm not sure if that helps, there isn't much clue other than that – Arin May 17 at 5:21
  • Please add such extra information to the question itself. You can edit the question by clicking on the text edit below the tags (if you are on a PC) – user17915 May 17 at 7:18
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    Please note that Korea has been an empire (대한제국) for only 13 years (1897-1910), and during that period it was basically an empire in name only. As a result, I don't think there was an established tradition for distinguishing, e.g., 태자빈 vs 황태자비, because people didn't have use for these terms. (Well, kings of the old 고려 (918-1392) dynasty might have called themselves as an emperor, but that's too old for royal jargons to survive today.) – jick May 18 at 23:59
  • I have just edited my answer. I think you should have provided the title and the author's name, at least. It is common for the author to use words with her or his own perceptions. – Klmo Aug 15 at 11:43
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I don't think it's a good sentence at all. Because most Koreans would think that candidate for 태자빈 and candidate for 황태자비 mean the same thing.

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Wife of prince or someone of same position is called 태자빈. Further, when the prince is promised to be a king, then the wife is called 태자비.

So the princess came as a candidate for 태자빈. But she made a problem so that the duke express indirectly. Since he has a noble position, then his talking is soft but in fact he criticized her (cf. satire) : For instance, her grandness is as much as a queen but others are absurd.

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The two are the same; the author deliberately differentiates between them.


태자빈 is a non-standard (and technically incorrect) word; it just means 태자비 (= 황태자비) according to 우리말샘.

As you know, 후보 means candidate(s) and nominee(s). Thus, "태자빈이 아니라, 마치 황태자비 후보로 온 것 같군그래." could be translated as "It does seem that (you) came here not as the Crown Prince's wife but as a candidate for the Crown Prince's wife." It may also indicate that to be the prince's wife, she should behave in the way the duke expects a princess to; in other words, it does not seem that she is suitable to be the prince's wife. It seems that the duke will not recommend her because she behaves improperly.

Since this question seems somewhat irrelevant to usual usages of words, I have searched the Web and skimmed over a lot of pages. You should have given the title of what you read. I assume that you read the second volume of "버림받은 황비" because I have found this there:

경에게 하는 양이나 아내 후보 운운하는 꼴을 보아하니, 태자빈이 아니라 황태자비 자리를 노리고 온 것이 분명하군.

(If it is not the case, please mention the correct title and quote the full paragraph in your question.)

This clearly indicates that the author deals with the two words differently. I have noticed more hints in Volumes 1 and 2 whereas you said "There isn't much clue." I wonder whether you did read the whole contents of these volumes.

The protagonist (모니크) says in Volume 1:

(...) 저는 어떤 형태로든 황태자 전하의 비가 되고픈 마음이 없습니다.

(...) 저를 태자빈, 즉 미래의 황비로 삼으려 하시는 것이 아닙니까.

황태자의 비 means the wife of the Crown Prince. 미래의 황비 means the wife of the emperor in the future. Basically, the author uses these phrases to mean 태자빈; however, the meaning changes a bit later.

She says in other parts:

저는 황태자 전하의 약혼녀, 이니까요.

약혼녀 means fiancée, which indicates that she will be his wife in the future. Some other paragraphs say that she does not want to be his wife, though.

And she is said in other parts:

황태자비.

그 지위를 한 단계 내려 태자빈으로 삼는 것이 안전하겠지만, 네 가문이 그동안 바쳐 온 충정을 보아 그리하지는 않겠다. 되었나?

The author differentiates between 황태자비 and 태자빈 here. In this novel, 태자빈 is a lower position than 황태자비. The narrator (actually, the protagonist) adds:

정비의 지위를 유지해 주는 것. 그는 내가 후비가 될까 두려워한다고 생각한 모양이었지만, (...).

Thus, the author regards 황태자비 as 정비(正妃) and 태자빈 as 후비(后妃); she/he thinks that 정비 is higher in position than 후비. If dictionaries are correct, using 정비 and 후비 is technically incorrect because 황태자 is not the king. Standard Korean Language Dictionary defines relevant terms as the following:

정비: 정실인 왕비를 후궁에 상대하여 이르는 말 (queen who is 정실 as opposed to 후궁).

정실: 본처 (아내를 첩에 상대하여 이르는 말; a word used to mean a wife as opposed to a concubine).

후비: 임금의 아내 (wife of the king).

후궁: 제왕의 첩 (제왕's concubine).

제왕: 황제와 국왕 (emperor or king).

정궁: 황후나 왕비를 후궁에 상대하여 이르는 말 (empress or queen as opposed to 후궁).

A princess is said in Volume 2:

왕녀께서는 태자빈 후보로 오셨음에도 장차 황태자비가 되실 모니크 영애께는 아무런 인사나 양해를 구함도 없이 황태자궁을 들락날락하셨습니다. 아닙니까?

This indicates that 모니크 will be 황태자비 whereas the princess is just a 태자빈 candidate. It also implies that the princess attempts to be 황태자비 in place of 모니크, so in the novel, 황태자비 and 태자빈 are different in position. Now we can say that part of LJLee's answer is correct. Therefore, "태자빈이 아니라 황태자비 후보로 온 것 같군그래." means "It does seem that (you) came here as if (you) were a candidate of the primary wife of the prince not that of his secondary wife." It is understood as "(You) came here in order to become the secondary wife of the prince, but I think (you) are trying to become his primary wife."

In conclusion, 황태자비 means the main/primary wife of the Crown Prince whereas 태자빈 compared with 황태자비 refers to his secondary wife or concubine, in the novel that you read.


As you might have noticed, people do not always use words as defined. In numerous books, you can even find words coined by the author. I believe that a careful aberration from the fixed definition is an attempt to express something efficiently and effectively.

  • Apparently she's not the prince's wife either, she's also one of those candidate.. that's why i think he was thinking that her act seems like someone with higher position than 태자빈 후보 – Arin May 24 at 5:40
  • @Arin I edited the answer corresponding to your comment. Technically, 후보 is not a position; there are no higher ones. 황태자비 후보 will not become 황태자비 if she is not chosen. – Klmo May 24 at 8:58
  • Well, I have found that 후보 has a position in the novel, but I do not understand why. It seems to be one of the author's ways to develop a story for an imaginary world. – Klmo Aug 15 at 11:51
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They are not the same. 비 means she is the main wife of a king/prince and 빈 means she is not the main wife, but a concubine. 태자 or 황태자 means the prince who are promised to be the next king. So "태자빈이 아니라, 마치 황태자비 후보로 온 것 같군 그래." would mean "It seems that you came here as if you were candidate of main wife not of a concubine."

  • I claim this answer is factually wrong. The Standard Korean Language Dictionary(표준국어대사전) lists two meanings of 빈(嬪), one for a concubine of a king, and the other for a wife of a crown prince. The entry 태자빈(太子嬪) also says nothing more than "the wife of a crown prince." The word 태자빈 does not imply anything about being a concubine. – Taegyung Aug 7 at 8:40
  • 세자빈 is a standard word and both 세자 and 태자 refer to the son of a king (the only difference between 세자 and 태자 is that 세자 relates to 제후국 and (황)태자 to 황제국), so 태자빈 should be almost the same as 세자빈. 태자빈 is defined here. – Klmo Aug 7 at 18:31

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