She was born in Yeo-heung as Yeosung Buwongun, Min Chi-rok's daughter (1851 ~ 1895). At 8 years of age, she lost her father and suffered greatly as her family became impoverished, but amongst the Min family, she was known for being a precocious child. In 1866 (3rd year of Joseon's Gojong), Heungseon Daewongun sought to eliminate the power base that was built on nepotism surrounding the throne. At the recommendation of Daewongun's wife, Min, Daewongun's search for a suitable wife for his son, King Gojong, resulted in her becoming queen at age 16. Although Gojong was in love with his courtesan, Lee, and cared little for Queen Myeongseong, Myeongseong was praised by those around her for her outstanding manners. When Courtesan Lee gave birth to a son, Wanhwa Gung, the child of a concubine, Heungseon Daewongun, Lee Ha-eung was very pleased. As a result, Queen Myeongseong, became motivated by feelings of discontent and jealousy to hone her political acumen.
While Heungseon Daewongun ruled the country, the general public ignored Queen Myeongseong and she used this opportunity to gather the opposition to Heungseon Daewongun's power and to amass her own influence. In 1874 (Joseon's Gojong 11th year), she gave birth to Prince Chuk and the rise of Queen Myeongseong's party gained the notice of Heungseon Daewongun, causing him to make plans for Wanhwa Gung to be named the only successor to the throne. This plan was uncovered by Queen Myeongseong and started the beginning of a race for the throne. She sent Senior Lee Yu-won to Beijing in order to receive approval for Prince Chuk to be the successor. She took the opportunity of the civic unpopularity of Heungseon Daewongun's domestic policy and ordered Min Seung-ho to collude with Jo Sung-ha, nephew of Queen Jo, and with the Kim Byeong-kuk party, who opposed Heungseon Daewongun. She extended her power by allying with Heungseon Daewongun's oldest son, Lee Jae-myeon, and Heungseon Daewongun's older brother, Lee Choi-eung, as well as with Jo Doo-soon and Lee Yu-won.
Finally in 1873 (the 10th year of Joseon Gojong), Heungseon Daewongun stepped down from his position and Gojong alone ruled the country. Gojong created a Treaty of Peace and advocated an Open Door Policy for the country. He started to change the domestic affairs of Heungseon Deawongun from within. The main supporters of Queen Myeongseong gained position within the palace, resulting in an increased hostility with Heungseon Daewongun. This tension eventually led to a military rebellion in 1882, Imo year. Queen Myeongseong barely escaped to safety in the house of Chungju Mok. Min Eun-sik and Heungseon Daewongun was able to reclaim his position. He mistakenly believed that Queen Myeongseong had been killed in the event and even arranged a funeral for her, but Chinese intervention resulted in a limiting of the army and eventually the forced removal of Heungseong Daewongun to their country.
After the 1884 Gapsin Coup, the Min clan forced out the Enlightenment Party and restored the balance of power to the conservative faction. Ten years later, pressure from Japan resulted in the Gabo Reform as Queen Myeongseong lost power again. Three countries intervened, putting Japan in an unfavorable position, and resulting in a partnership with Russia that threatened Japan's control. In September 1895, Miura was appointed as the Japanese Envoy after Inoue and he was set on a collision course with Queen Myeongseong and her partnership with Russia. The Myeongseong partnership with Russia irritated Japan and in October 8th, 1895, Queen Myeongseong was assassinated by a pro-Japanese group along with 20~30 men sent by the Japanese Envoy. Her corpse was wrapped in a royal blanket and dosed with gasoline before it was set aflame. This incident was called the Eulmi Incident.
In the year 1897 (Korean Empire Gwangmu 1st), she was officially given the title Queen Myeongseong, and her remains were kept at South Cheongyangni until 1919, when King Gojong was dethroned, she was moved to Hongreung. Deep within Gyeongbok Palace near the Korean Folk Village (for a while the Jeonseung Craft Hall was used) on the right side, resides Queen Myeongseong's Memorial Tomb, alone throughout the years.