The last remaining Korean royal with direct links to the ancient Choson dynasty, who died alone in a hotel room in Tokyo, is to be buried tomorrow in a full and elaborate ceremony. The body of Lee Gu, the grandson of one of Korea's last reigning monarchs and scion of a dynasty dating back to 1392, was returned to Seoul earlier this week in a coffin draped with the national flag. He is thought to have died of heart failure. Among those who have sent their respects is South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, while former presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang, who is a member of the same Lee clan, described Lee Gu as being 'a symbol of our tragic history'. Lee Gu's life was overshadowed by one of the most tumultuous episodes in modern Korean history, as well as being marred by personal tribulation. He was born in 1931 in Japan where his father, the crown prince Yongchin was held hostage by the Japanese who had annexed the Korean peninsula 19 years earlier. By some accounts Mr Lee's own birth was something of miracle. Some Korean historians claim his mother, Japanese noblewoman Masako Nashimoto, was specially selected for his father as part of a Japanese bid to end the royal bloodline as she was thought unable to bear children. The heir to the Korean throne spent his childhood in Japan, where his family were reportedly so poor they made clothes from old curtains. Even after Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945, and despite the fact that his father had nominally been designated king after the death of his brother-monarch, the family were prevented from returning to their homeland by the first president of the newly-created South Korean republic, Syngman Rhee, who was anxious about possible challenges to his authority. Instead, with the help of US General Douglas MacArthur, who was in charge of the allied occupation of Japan after the second world war, the young Lee went to the United States and studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the States, he met his American wife Julia Mullock, shortly after joining the celebrated architectural firm of I.M. Pei. He only returned to his homeland in 1963, where the new president, Park Chung-hee, allowed the royal family to live in a small residence in the corner of a palace in central Seoul. With only a smattering of Korean, Lee was more comfortable speaking Japanese or English, but he insisted on his Korean identity, despite having to live down the criticism that his ancestors had been responsible for the collapse of the Korean nation. But he failed to settle in South Korea, suffering a series of business failures and personal setbacks. In 1982 he divorced his American wife, it is said partly under pressure from his family because of her failure to produce children. He eventually chose to return to Japan, only making trips to South Korea to lead important ancestral rites. 'Prince Lee Gu, who was born during the Japanese colonial era learning to be Japanese, had no choice in his life. He lived his life like a refugee,' said Lee Hyung-yul of the society for the preservation of royal ceremonies. Stripped of their wealth and status, Lee and many members of the extended royal family found themselves overwhelmed by the modern, capitalist Korea. Periodically stories appear in newspapers describing the hard times which have befallen the blue-bloods, from homelessness to selling noodles from a street stall to make ends meet. 'Many of the family members did not know how to earn money. They were innocent and credulous, which some people just exploited,' a relative of Lee Gu said. In 1996, Lee returned to South Korea, with the aim of settling permanently, but again his plans ended in his eventual return to Japan 'From now on, I am just Lee Gu, with no connection to the royal family,' he said at the time.