So if all goes well, Dong Yi will soon move up the ranks to become a concubine.
Dong Yi, MBC
At the moment she is a court lady, sang-gung, rank 5, (top rank for a court lady but below the concubines). But of course she is different to the other sang-gung. First of all, she’s different because she hasn’t worked her way up the ranks like the other court ladies have had to do. Dong Yi has gone from no rank to sang-gung thanks to her relationship with the king and so her title is not just sang-gung but sung-un sang-gung 승은 상궁 承恩尙宮. This is a special title for sang-gung who are intimate with the king and are likely to move up to concubine status. Jang Hee bin (currently the queen) was this level at the beginning of the drama and we saw her ceremony when she became a concubine, hu-gung 후궁 後宮, rank 4 Sook-won.
Lady Jang becomes concubine Jang Sook-won, episode 17, Dong Yi, MBC source
Because of this special status, the sung-ung sang-gung doesn’t have to work like the other sang-gung do. The regular sang-gung have jobs to do around the palace – in the drama we see sang-gung leading the court lady investigation bureau. It seems that all that the sung-un sang-gung has to do is look nice and wait for the king!