Jin Yunying – The Princess who sold cigarettes on the street




Jin Yunying
(public domain)

(Not to be confused with Princess Yunying, the eldest of Emperor Puyi’s seven sisters).

Princess Jin Yunying was the third sister of Puyi, the Last Emperor of China. Before the fall of Manchukuo in 1945, Princess Jin Yunying lived a carefree and luxurious life. She married Runqi, Empress Wanrong’s younger half-brother. She taught Emperor Hirohito’s sister-in-law the Chinese language. After the fall of Manchukuo, Princess Jin Yunying went through a series of hardships. She was even forced to sell cigarettes on the street. Under the founding of New China, Princess Jin Yunying was gradually able to become a respected politician.

In 1913, Princess Jin Yunying was born in Beijing. She was the third daughter of Zaifeng, the Prince of Chun. Her mother was Gūwalgiya Youlan. She had two older brothers, two older sisters, two younger brothers, and four younger sisters. Her eldest brother, Puyi, was the deposed Emperor of China. She had a close relationship with Emperor Puyi, and he gave her the nickname of Binghao.[1]

In 1924, the imperial family was expelled from the Forbidden City. The eleven-year-old Princess Jin Yunying followed Emperor Puyi to Tianjin.[2] While her brother made plans with the Japanese to restore his throne, Princess Jin Yunying led a carefree childhood.[3] She played badminton and learned foreign languages with her brothers.[4] In 1932, Emperor Puyi moved to Changchun to become the head of the Japanese state of Manchukuo. He would later become the puppet Emperor of Manchukuo in 1934. Princess Jin Yunying followed him to Changchun.

Jin Yunying with her husband
Jin Yunying with her husband (public domain)

In 1932, Emperor Puyi arranged Princess Jin Yunying’s marriage to Empress Wanrong’s younger half-brother, Gobulo Runqi.[5] Princess Jin Yunying was nineteen years old, and Runqi was twenty. Her father, Prince Zaifeng, did not approve of the match because he believed his daughter was not yet ready for marriage.[6] However, Emperor Puyi ignored his father’s blatant opposition. Princess Jin Yunying and Runqi were married on the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival.[7] It was not a traditional Chinese wedding. Instead, it was a European-style wedding ceremony.[8] Runqi wore a Western suit, and Princess Jin Yunying wore a white cheongsam.[9]

Shortly after their wedding, Emperor Puyi arranged for Runqi and Princess Jin Yunying to study in Japan. Runqi studied military affairs and was an instructor.[10] Princess Jin Yunying became the honorary President of the Women’s Association in Japan.[11] She taught Emperor Hirohito’s sister-in-law Chinese.[12] However, she was very lonely and often felt restrained under the Japanese imperial family.[13] She began to long to return to Changchun.[14] Princess Jin Yunying and Runqi returned to Changchun in 1933. Runqi became an instructor at a military high school in Changchun.[15] The couple had two sons and one daughter.

On 18 August 1945, the state of Manchukuo collapsed. Runqi fled with Emperor Puyi. They were captured by the Soviet Union and became war criminals. Princess Jin Yunying would not see her husband again until a decade later.[16] Princess Jin Yunying took her three children and moved to Tonghua to live with her mother-in-law.[17] 

They were so poor that they often starved. In order to buy food, Princess Jin Yunying sold off her personal items.[18] When she ran out of items to sell, she began selling cigarettes on the street.[19] Her mother-in-law often looked down on her for selling cigarettes which she considered a horrible job for a princess.[20] However, Princess Jin Yunying became a popular cigarette seller because she was a member of the imperial family.[21] Many wealthy women bought her cigarettes, and Princess Jin Yunying made a large income.[22]

In 1949, Princess Jin Yunying and her children were finally given permission to return to Beijing. Princess Jin Yunying began to gain the people’s respect and became a local politician.[23] She became the leader of a local resident group.[24] In 1951, she became the Director of Public Security.[25] In 1954, she was recommended by Zhang Shizhao to become a member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in Dongcheng District.[26] In 1956, Princess Jin Yunying visited Runqi in prison. However, she would not see him again until nearly twenty years later, when he would finally be cleared as a war criminal.[27]

In the 1970s, Runqi was finally reunited with Princess Jin Yunying. The couple grew closer to one another and depended on each other.[28] He owned a small clinic for treating diseases.[29] They lived on the fifth floor, in an apartment in Beijing.[30] Before the couple could celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary, Princess Jin Yunying died of illness in 1992.[31]  She was seventy-nine years old. Runqi died on 6 June 2007. He was ninety-four years old.

Princess Jin Yunying went through a period of hardships. She was able to adapt to the current regime of China. Even though she was separated from her husband for nearly thirty years, they were able to form a strong and loving marriage. Princess Jin Yunying was able to gain the respect of her people and the government of China. Thus, she was able to live a peaceful and quiet life with her family.

Sources:

DayDayNews. (May 10, 2020). “The last princess set up a street stall to sell antiques, Ma Weidu took out the best official kiln, but she didn’t even give one”. Retrieved on 14 November 2022 from https://daydaynews.cc/en/history/amp/558769.html.

iMedia. (n.d.). “After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, who did the Grids marry?”. Retrieved on 14 November 2022 from https://min.news/en/history/eac5239ca183e9f1f4d82dc168e8706e.html.

iMedia. (n.d.). “Japan was defeated, Puyi’s sister fled everywhere, and could only sell cigarettes to survive”. Retrieved on 14 November 2022 from https://min.news/en/history/6e8d3f020d686fae12205c2c72f682e6.html.

iNews. (n.d.). “What happened to the seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi?” Retrieved on 14 November 2022 from https://inf.news/ne/history/6ba8b7d02467d0430951d4307a8d09ac.html.

Laitimes. (December 17, 2021). “The last emperor Puyi had seven younger sisters, and what was the final fate of these sisters?”. Retrieved on 14 November 2022 from https://www.laitimes.com/en/article/1a79d_1bjoj.html.

Turner, M. (February 8, 2000). “The Odyssey of a Chinese Imperial Favorite”. The New York Times. Retrieved on 14 November 2022 from https://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/08/style/IHT-the-odyssey-of-a-chinese-imperial-favorite.html.


[1] DayDayNews, 10 May 2020, “The last princess set up a street stall to sell antiques, Ma Weidu took out the best official kiln, but she didn’t even give one”

[2] DayDayNews, 10 May 2020, “The last princess set up a street stall to sell antiques, Ma Weidu took out the best official kiln, but she didn’t even give one”

[3] DayDayNews, 10 May 2020, “The last princess set up a street stall to sell antiques, Ma Weidu took out the best official kiln, but she didn’t even give one”

[4] DayDayNews, 10 May 2020, “The last princess set up a street stall to sell antiques, Ma Weidu took out the best official kiln, but she didn’t even give one”

[5] iMedia, n.d., “After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, who did the Grids marry?”

[6] iMedia, n.d., “After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, who did the Grids marry?”

[7] iMedia, n.d., “After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, who did the Grids marry?”

[8] iMedia, n.d., “After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, who did the Grids marry?”

[9] iMedia, n.d., “After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, who did the Grids marry?”

[10] iNews, n.d., “What happened to the seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi?”

[11] iNews, n.d., “What happened to the seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi?”

[12] iNews, n.d., “What happened to the seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi?”

[13] iNews, n.d., “What happened to the seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi?”

[14] iNews, n.d., “What happened to the seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi?”

[15] Laitimes, 17 December 2021, “The last emperor Puyi had seven younger sisters, and what was the final fate of these sisters?”

[16] iNews, n.d., “What happened to the seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi?”

[17] DayDayNews, 10 May 2020, “The last princess set up a street stall to sell antiques, Ma Weidu took out the best official kiln, but she didn’t even give one”

[18] iMedia, n.d., “Japan was defeated, Puyi’s sister fled everywhere, and could only sell cigarettes to survive”

[19] iMedia, n.d., “Japan was defeated, Puyi’s sister fled everywhere, and could only sell cigarettes to survive”

[20] iMedia, n.d., “Japan was defeated, Puyi’s sister fled everywhere, and could only sell cigarettes to survive”

[21] iMedia, n.d., “Japan was defeated, Puyi’s sister fled everywhere, and could only sell cigarettes to survive”

[22] iMedia, n.d., “Japan was defeated, Puyi’s sister fled everywhere, and could only sell cigarettes to survive”

[23] iMedia, n.d., “Japan was defeated, Puyi’s sister fled everywhere, and could only sell cigarettes to survive”

[24] Laitimes, 17 December 2021, “The last emperor Puyi had seven younger sisters, and what was the final fate of these sisters?”

[25] Laitimes, 17 December 2021, “The last emperor Puyi had seven younger sisters, and what was the final fate of these sisters?”

[26] DayDayNews, 10 May 2020, “The last princess set up a street stall to sell antiques, Ma Weidu took out the best official kiln, but she didn’t even give one”

[27] DayDayNews, 10 May 2020, “The last princess set up a street stall to sell antiques, Ma Weidu took out the best official kiln, but she didn’t even give one”

[28] Turner, 8 February 2000, “The Odyssey of a Chinese Imperial Favorite”

[29] Turner, 8 February 2000, “The Odyssey of a Chinese Imperial Favorite”

[30] Turner, 8 February 2000, “The Odyssey of a Chinese Imperial Favorite”

[31] Turner, 8 February 2000, “The Odyssey of a Chinese Imperial Favorite”






About Lauralee Jacks 189 Articles
I am a former elementary teacher in Tennessee. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal and Civic Studies from St. Mary’s College of California, a master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the College of Saint Mary. Because my family are from East Asia, I have a passion for historical Chinese and Korean television shows. I always wanted to separate fact from fiction in dramas. Writing articles from History of Royal Women gives me a chance to dig deeper and explore these royal women as they might have been in real life. Also, it gives me a chance to look at the history and culture of where my family originated. I love researching East Asian royalty because they rarely get enough attention in the West often being overshadowed by European royalty. I find these royal women to be just as fascinating and their stories deserve to be told. Thus, I am excited to write for History of Royal Women!

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