Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Famous Justice Bao Cases

Switching Wildcat for Crown Prince (狸貓換太子)

One day, Justice Bao comes across an old lady named Li who claimed to be the birth mother of the currently reigning Emperor Renzong. She explains that many years ago, she had been a palace maid and was impregnated with (the previous) Emperor Zhenzong’s child. However, the jealous Concubine Liu (now the Empress Dowager) bribed the eunuch Kwok and the midwife to substitute the baby for a wildcat. A maid, Kou Zhu, was ordered to drown the baby in the river, but she secretly bought the baby to the 8th imperial uncle’s mansion. Meanwhile, Emperor Zhenzong, believing that Li had delivered a bad omen, banished her to the cold palace. Concubine Liu ordered Kwok to set fire to the cold palace, but luckily, Li was able to escape. Later, Emperor Zhenzong, with no heirs of his own, adopted the 8th imperial uncle’s “son”, who, while unknown to him, was actually his real son. That prince would inherit the throne as Emperor Renzong.

After hearing this story, Justice Bao set up a hoax to trick Kwok into giving a confession. Justice Bao disguised himself as the god of death* and had the sister of Kou Zhu pretend to be the spirit of the maid. That night, they appeared before a drunken Kwok and threatened him with death if he did not atone for his hideous crime. An extremely superstitious person, Kwok immediately confessed to the conspiracy.
*A common folklore was that Justice Bao went to the underworld at night to pass judgment on the dead.

With evidence in hand, Justice Bao took Li to see Emperor Renzong. The Emperor was initially in disbelief that Empress Dowager Liu could be so cunning and evil, but the 8th imperial uncle stepped forward to confirm the story. Finally, Emperor Renzong recognized his birth mother with the proper title of Empress Dowager. Kwok was beheaded with the tiger-headed guillotine and Liu was given a white ribbon to commit suicide.

The Truth

In Always and Ever, the son of Emperor Renzong (KK Cheung) is switched for a wildcat, but in the traditional story, it is Renzong himself that gets switched.

Executing Chen Shimei (鍘美案)

Chen Shimei (陳世美) was a scholar living with his wife Qin Xianglian (秦香蓮) and two children. When it was time for the imperial examination, he had to leave his family behind and travel to the capital city to take the test. His years of studying paid off as Chen placed first in the examinations. As per custom, he was invited for a tour of the palace. It had been rumoured that the Empress Dowager wanted to find a husband for the princess, so when the Empress Dowager asked Chen about his family, he lied and said “My parents have died and I am unmarried.” The Empress Dowager was delighted and promptly arranged for Chen to marry the princess.

Meanwhile, Qin waited at home for three years without any news of her husband. Finally, she decided to go search for him. Arriving in the capital with her children, she quickly learned that Chen had become the new prince consort. She went to his mansion and requested to meet with him, but was rebuffed three times. Qin eventually managed to sneak into the house. When she saw Chen, she begged him to at least help his own children. Chen refused to even acknowledge that he knew them and kicked them out.

Chen became worried that his lies would be exposed, so he sent his servant to kill Qin and the children. The servant found them in an abandoned temple, but when he learned of the truth, he could not bear to kill them. Instead, he told Qin about Chen's orders to kill them and then committed suicide.

Angered by Chen’s heartlessness, Qin decided to expose his misdeeds. She went to Justice Bao, who was the only official who would agree to hear the case. Justice Bao asked Chen to appear in court to answer to the charges. Chen, confident that he would walk free because of his royal status, turned around and accused Qin of lying. But Qin was able to produce concrete evidence of Chen's crimes. Justice Bao sentenced him to death according to the law. When the Empress Dowager and princess heard of this, they rushed to the courtroom and tried everything they could to stop the execution. However, Justice Bao was unwavering and ordered the execution of the Prince Consort using the dragon-headed guillotine.

The Truth

Nowadays, the term "Chen Shimei" is used to refer to a heartless, unfaithful man.

1 comment:

  1. I am dissapointed that those famous cases are merely fictional! Any real famous case?