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Hou-Ting was the 53rd sovereign of the Earth Kingdom and daughter of Earth King Kuei. Wielding absolute power over the Earth Kingdom,[1][2] Hou-Ting was more concerned with her personal comfort and possessions than with the welfare of her people.[3] Her reign was marked by revisionist, conservative, and absolutist politics.[1] She employed the Dai Li to round up dissidents and detained them without trial in her dungeon.[4]

In an effort to capitalize on the changes brought on by Harmonic Convergence, Hou-Ting ordered the capture of Ba Sing Se's new airbenders and conscripted them into her army, training them in a base underneath her temple. When this was discovered, Team Avatar freed the airbenders, leading the queen to label the team as wanted criminals throughout her kingdom.[5][6] She was assassinated in 171 AG by Zaheer during the insurrection of the Red Lotus, resulting in the collapse of the Earth Kingdom.[4][7][8]


Early life

Hou-Ting was born to Earth King Kuei following the Hundred Year War and eventually succeeded him as Earth Monarch. However, she was critical of her father's decision to cede Earth Kingdom land to form the United Republic of Nations.[1] Having a fondness for rare meats,[9] Hou-Ting ate her father's beloved pet bear, Bosco, following her ascension to the throne.[10]

Despite their treachery during the Hundred Year War, the Dai Li were retained by Hou-Ting as bodyguards and enforcers, preferring them over the royal guards. Unlike her father, Hou-Ting took a more active role ruling the Earth Kingdom, but many of her rulings proved unpopular. Active uprisings sprouted across the Earth Kingdom, making administrative tasks such as tax collection difficult, and inequality in the city increased, with the lower ring of Ba Sing Se deteriorating even further into decay and poverty. The bureaucrats of the kingdom were also stripped of their power, reducing many of them, including the position of Grand Secretariat, to mere figureheads.[1]

Airbender conspiracy

Following the emergence of new airbenders after the Harmonic Convergence of 171 AG, Hou-Ting ordered the Dai Li to capture them so she could conscript them into an army of her own.

Although she never intended to keep her end of the deal, Hou-Ting agreed to help Korra find the new airbenders if the Avatar retrieved her tax payments from a village plagued by bandits.

Hou-Ting met Avatar Korra for the first time when the latter requested an audience with her to ask for help to track down the emerging airbenders. When Gun presented the Avatar to her, the queen ignored them and continued to shout orders at her servants to properly construct the royal garden in her desired image. Eventually turning to acknowledge Korra, she immediately deduced that she wanted something from her. When Korra started to formulate her request, the Queen dismissed her right to ask her for any favors, since she blamed Korra's predecessor, Aang, for stealing Earth Kingdom land to form the United Republic. She also chastised Korra herself for not caring that the remainder of the Earth Kingdom was falling to ruin, with roving bands of barbarians raiding villages in the countryside and some of her subjects refusing to pay their taxes. After Korra finally managed to ask for help finding the new airbenders in Ba Sing Se, Hou-Ting declared that Korra needed to bring her a vault full of tax money sitting in a town south of Ba Sing Se before she would even consider helping the Avatar.

After Korra completed the task and asked the monarch about the airbenders, Hou-Ting denied their existence and insisted that Korra and her party leave the city. However, the Avatar did not believe her and criticized her for extorting her own subjects. Annoyed by Korra's remarks, Hou-Ting ordered her to leave her presence, which the Avatar did, but not before warning the queen that she was not leaving the city until she found the airbenders.[1]

The next day, Hou-Ting approached Korra and her friends and had Gun deliver claims of airbenders in the Yang Province before she reminded them that it was exactly the news they sought. Just as Hou-Ting began to wonder if they would be leaving, she began sneezing in mid-sentence and demanded that Gun tell her if animal was in her presence, as it would be "[his] head" should one be in the vicinity. Afterward, she told the team that Gun would provide them any assistance in packing for an evening departure but was told by Asami that the airship needed repairs, which would be completed by the next day. The queen walked away, continuing to sneeze.

Hou-Ting threatened Korra with "the force of [her] entire kingdom" when the Avatar freed the airbenders.

That night, Hou-Ting caught Korra, Tenzin, and Bumi attempting to leave the city with her airbending regiment, which had been kept in custody beneath her temple. She declared that because the airbenders were the kingdom's citizens and thus under her control, taking them would be considered an act of war, and also threatened the Avatar with "the force of [her] entire kingdom". Upon Korra's refusal to turn over the airbenders, Hou-Ting ordered the Dai Li to attack, but the agents' efforts proved to be unsuccessful as Team Avatar escaped with her army. As they flew away, Hou-Ting again ordered the airships brought to her, but was left sneezing as Oogi's fur fell from the sky.[5] After this, Hou-Ting branded Team Avatar as outlaws, issuing wanted posters for them and putting a price on their heads.[6]

Dealing with the Red Lotus and death

Sometime later, Hou-Ting received word that the Avatar had been captured and she impatiently demanded from Gun to know when Korra's arrival was scheduled. After being informed that it would take a couple of hours, she was displeased to find out that there were four people who wanted an audience with her in order to personally deliver a captured Mako and Bolin. Although she did not want to deal with bounty hunters, she ordered Gun to let the group in regardless, after being informed that they had information regarding the whereabouts of "her" airbenders. Unaware of the true identity of the people she was dealing with, Hou-Ting struck a deal with Zaheer: information about the airbenders in return for Korra, as the Avatar's imprisonment in the Earth Kingdom would lead to a world war.

Hou-Ting was suffocated by Zaheer, who used his airbending to remove all the air from her lungs.

After later being told by a Dai Li agent that the airship bringing Korra had crashed in the Si Wong Desert, Hou-Ting grew angry and promptly ordered the deployment of another airship to collect the Avatar. She grew even more indignant when the Red Lotus barged into her throne room unannounced and revealed that they had eavesdropped on her conversation. Stating that the Avatar was still in her custody and that the act of spying on her would land them in prison, Hou-Ting gave them the option to trade their freedom for the information in regards to the airbenders. When Zaheer refused, she ordered her Dai Li agents to take them down, though her bodyguards were swiftly taken care of themselves and Gun fled the room in terror. Being left alone, she faced Zaheer herself, boldly saying that he would not dare to attack a queen. However, Hou-Ting was quickly overcome with fear when the Red Lotus leader announced that he did not believe in queens and subsequently used his airbending to remove the air from her lungs, suffocating her.[4]


Hou-Ting berated her great nephew in his swamp-induced vision for his failures as king.

Three years after her death, Hou-Ting appeared in a swamp-induced vision to her great nephew, Earth King Wu, berating him for his failures as king and telling him that stability was more important to the Earth Kingdom than the democratic changes he was trying to bring to the nation. Her appearance was used by Wu and Korra to convince Toph Beifong to enter the State of Gaoling's elections as a candidate.[11]


Hou-Ting became easily angered when things did not go the way she wanted.

Hou-Ting was temperamental, rude, and demanding, with a somewhat sour demeanor. Unlike her father, she held a low opinion of the Avatar due to Aang's involvement in transforming the old Fire Nation colonies on Earth Kingdom soil into the United Republic of Nations, which she regarded as stolen Earth Kingdom territory. She was also deceptive, manipulative, and extremely possessive of anything she saw as hers, from her government's tax money[1] to the captive airbenders, the latter of which she saw not as free individuals but as property of the Earth Kingdom. She considered her opinion the sole truth that needed to be respected at all times and was willing to execute those who committed high treason, regardless of their age. Hou-Ting was also volatile, displaying outbursts of rage at the slightest provocation, from simple things like topiary placement or the presence of animals to more serious matters such as the escape of the Ba Sing Se airbenders from beneath her temple.[5] Hou-Ting was also quite short-sighted and ignorant of wider issues and the consequences of actions she undertook, as evidenced by her decision to outlaw and attempt to imprison the Avatar, an action that would have caused the other nations to rise up against the Earth Kingdom if successful.

In spite of this, Hou-Ting was pliant enough to listen to those who humbled themselves before her and supplied her with sufficient logic to sway her opinion. This convinced her to hand Korra over to the Red Lotus under the pretext of avoiding an international incident, though she later reneged from the deal when the Red Lotus violated protocol by eavesdropping on her conversations with the Dai Li and barging into her throne room.

Hou-Ting believed that it was her servants duty to lay down their lives for her.

However, first and foremost was her belief in her own self-preservation above all else that even at times bordered on self-worship. As queen, she was untouchable in her mind and brushed off any possibilities of regicide as inconceivable. This caused her to confront and mock the Red Lotus even after they disabled all of her Dai Li bodyguards, secure in the belief that they would not dare attack her due to her royal status, an ignorant decision that would prove fatal for her.[4]

Obsessed with excessive opulence, Hou-Ting was unashamed to flaunt her wealth and power, wearing many pieces of jewelry, and ensuring her lawns and topiaries were nothing short of perfection.


Main article: Hou-Ting dynasty

46th Earth King
51st Earth King


The Legend of Korra

Book Three: Change (易)

Book Four: Balance (平衡)

Graphic novels


  • Unlike her father, Hou-Ting did not tolerate any animals in her presence as she was allergic to their fur, even going so far as to threaten the life of the Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se if he allowed them within fifty feet of her.[5]
  • Hou-Ting's tyrannical behavior is a reaction to her ancestor's past weakness.[12]
  • The concept of an Earth Monarch that would act as an antagonist for Korra was conceived during the development of Book One: Air.[13]
  • Hou-Ting's initial design by Ki Hyun Ryu and Angela Mueller had six ornamental flowers on the queen's hairpiece. However, Bryan Konietzko reduced this to two to lessen the work of Studio Mir, who already had to animate other difficult design elements such as the hairpiece's tassels.[13]
  • Hou-Ting's character was inspired by Empress Dowager Cixi,[13] who ruled China and controlled its government from 1861 to 1908. Hou-Ting's portrayal in the series echoes the general opinion of her in the West as well as in modern China, which mainly resulted from stories spread by individuals who visited the Forbidden City during a time when it remained a mystery to the Western populace.
    • Hou-Ting also wore ornate finger jewelry to support and protect her long fingernails, a symbol of status and wealth in ancient China that mostly came to be associated with the Empress Dowager.
  • Hou-Ting was the first known character to be killed by a non-Avatar airbender.[4]
  • Hou-Ting was the fifth person to die on screen in The Legend of Korra. The others were, in chronological order, Amon, Tarrlok, Wan, Unalaq, P'Li, Ming-Hua, Ghazan, and Hiroshi Sato.
Preceded by
Kuei (as Earth King)
Earth Queen
Unknown - 171 AG
Succeeded by
Kuvira (as Interim President of the Earth Kingdom)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian. (June 27, 2014). "The Earth Queen". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  2. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (July 11, 2014). "The Metal Clan". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  3. Legend of Korra: The New Faces of Korra Photo Album. Nickelodeon UK (30 June 2014). Archived from the original on November 8, 2014. Retrieved on July 1, 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Melchior (director). (August 8, 2014). "Long Live the Queen". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 10. Nick.com.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Zwyer, Melchior (director). (July 11, 2014). "In Harm's Way". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  6. 6.0 6.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (August 1, 2014). "The Stakeout". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 9. Nick.com.
  7. Hamilton, Joshua and Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Mel (director). (August 22, 2014). "Venom of the Red Lotus". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 13. Nick.com.
  8. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (October 3, 2014). "After All These Years". The Legend of Korra. Book Four: Balance. Episode 1. Nick.com.
  9. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Mel (director). (July 18, 2014). "Original Airbenders". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  10. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Hedrick, Tim & Hamilton, Joshua (March 10, 2015). "The Coronation" commentary. Book Four: Balance Blu-ray.
  11. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer), Wong, Michelle (artist), Ng, Killian (colorist). Ruins of the Empire Part Two (November 12, 2019), Dark Horse Comics.
  12. The creators of The Legend of Korra look back at the prescient series. Polygon (31 August 2020). Retrieved on August 31, 2020.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Hedrick, Tim & Hamilton, Joshua (December 2, 2014). "The Earth Queen" commentary. Book Three: Change Blu-ray.