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I lost the story title but remember the story vividly. It’s a typical reincarnation manhwa but she gets reincarnated as the empress (set in the Joseon dynasty) and has to deal with an emperor who dislikes her concubines who want his attention.

Her personality does a complete 180 and the people around her see her now as confident and knows self-defense and evades attacks. The emperor has a certain concubine who is a childhood friend/maid I think and hates the fact that she and the empress get along because he thinks the empress will hurt her. She actually protects her from attacks.

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  • is "her concubines" a typo of "his"? Additionally, Dowager would (afaik) mean that her husband the emperor is dead. Is this the case and the emperor in the question is the emperor of some other land? Or is she the ruling monarch and her living husband is the emperor consort? Do you have any idea when you read this? (How) was she badass in her first life? Was she a regular modern woman that knew kendo or a similar martial art, or was she a powerful warrior in a different fantasy world?
    – qazmlpok
    Nov 2, 2022 at 22:08

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This is likely Girl Jock Empress, aka College Student Empress. It is licensed by Pocket Comics.

Wild and carefree by day, heart breaker by night. The beautiful Hae-sul one day wakes up in the body of an empress of an unfamiliar world. As she navigates her new life in the palace, she must stay alert to stave off assassination attempts on her life while also juggling the temperamental and childish emperor who has no love for her.

The main character wakes up as the empress of another world based on ancient China - not the Joseon era, but a historical manhwa either way. The emperor has no love for her, and instead loves another woman who couldn't become empress.

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Reincarnating completely changes the empress's personality. There are assassination attempts, which she deals with;

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Throwing a rock at an assassin is very different from the refined beauty the original empress was.

She is not the dowager empress, as her husband is alive, but early on she does meet her husband's mother, the dowager empress. I assume that's the source of the mixup there.

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