A Psychotic Prince
In 1762, Korea’s king Yeongjo had a difficult question to answer: what to do with his son and heir, Crown Prince Sado? When Sado was born in 1735, his arrival had been greeted with great joy. The infant was set up in his own palace, with an army of maids and governesses and servants. Unfortunately, king Yeongjo dropped the ball by failing to personally supervise his son’s upbringing, so Sado was spoiled rotten.
The king was a distant father, figuratively and literally: he spent little time with his son as he grew up. On the rare occasions when the king visited, he was irritable and grew angry at his son’s slightest missteps. Sado thus grew up terrified of his father, and desperately trying to please him. Pleasing his father was difficult, however, and whenever sire and son met, the king was far more critical than affectionate.
Between his daddy issues, absence of fatherly supervision, indulgence and flattery by courtiers, and other neuroses, something went seriously wrong, and Sado became a monster, given to violent mood swings. One day, he would be the decorous and dignified prince who embodied all that his father had ever wanted in a son and heir. The next, he would run around in a mad frenzy, raping and murdering servants and courtiers. What is known about his conduct indicates that he was probably schizophrenic.
Alcohol was forbidden at court, but that did not stop Sado from turning into a raging alcoholic. When he became depressed, nothing cheered him up or lifted his depression quicker than murdering servants. On many days, several corpses were seen being carried out of the palace. Sado also liked raping court ladies, and after murdering his concubine, he started sexually stalking his own sister.
The Crown Prince’s depravities made him widely feared throughout Korea as an all-around monster. Eventually, king Yeongjo concluded that he could not allow his criminally insane son to succeed him on the throne. So on July 4th, 1762, Sado was summoned to the throne room by his father, who ceremonially disinherited and disowned him. The king was prevented by taboos from outright executing his son, so he ordered Sado locked inside a strong wooden, and kept him there until he starved to death.