Women’s Life during the Chosŏn Dynasty

Women’s Life during the Chosŏn Dynasty


  • Journal title: International Journal of Korean History
  • ISSN: 1598-2041 (print) 2508-5921 (online)
  • Publisher: Korea University, Center for Korean History
  • Country of publisher: korea, republic of
  • Date added to EuroPub: 2018/May/12

Subject and more

  • LCC Subject Category: History
  • Publisher's keywords: Life, Chosŏn Dynasty
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF


    Hee-sook Han



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The Chosŏn society was one in which the yangban (aristocracy) wielded tremendous power. The role of women in this society was influenced greatly by the yangban class’ attempts to establish a patriarchal family order and a Confucian-based society. For example, women were forced, in accordance with neo-Confucian ideology, to remain chaste before marriage and barred from remarrying once their husbands had passed away. As far as the marriage system was concerned, the Chosŏn era saw a move away from the old tradition of the man moving into his in-laws house following the wedding (男歸女家婚 namgwiyŏgahon), with the woman now expected to move in with her husband’s family following the marriage (親迎制度 ch΄inyŏng jedo). Moreover, wives were rigidly divided into two categories: legitimate wife (ch΄ŏ) and concubines (ch΄ŏp). This period also saw a change in the legal standing of women with regards to inheritance, as the system was altered from the practice of equal, from a gender standpoint, rights to inheritance, to one in which the eldest son became the sole inheritor. These neo-Confucianist inspired changes contributed to the strengthening of the patriarchal system during the Chosŏn era. As a result of these changes, Chosŏn women’s rights and activities became increasingly restricted.

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