Women and Confucianism in Chosǒn Korea

New Perspectives

Edited by Youngmin Kim & Michael J. Pettid

Subjects: Asian Studies, Korean Studies, Confucianism, History, Asian Religion And Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438437767, 178 pages, July 2012
Hardcover : 9781438437750, 178 pages, November 2011

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Table of contents

List of Tables
List of Illustrations
1. Introduction
Michael J. Pettid and Youngmin Kim

2. Portrait of Two Women: Multiple Layers of “Confucianism” in Late Chosŏn Korea
Youngmin Kim

3. The Exemplar Wife: The Life of Lady Chang of Andong in Historical Context
Lee SoonGu

4. Confucian Educational Works for Upper Status Women in Chosŏn Korea
Michael J. Pettid

5. Neo-Confucianism as Free-floating Resource: Im Yunjidang and Kang Chŏngildang as Two Female Neo-Confucian Philosophers in Late Chosŏn
Youngmin Kim

6. The Rights of the Eldest Daughter-in-Law and Strengthening of Adoption of Lineage Heirs in the Mid-Chosŏn Period
Lee SoonGu

7. Questions Concerning Widows’ Social Status and Remarriage in Late Chosŏn
Jung Ji-Young

8. Devalued Bodies, Revalued Status: Confucianism and the Plight of Female Slaves in Late Chosŏn Korea
Milan Hejtmanek


A new, multifaceted look at Korean women during a period of strong Confucian ideology.


This volume offers a fresh, multifaceted exploration of women and Confucianism in mid- to late-Chosoán Korea (mid-sixteenth to early twentieth century). Using primary sources and perspectives from social history, intellectual history, literature, and political thought, contributors challenge unitary views of Confucianism as a system of thought, of women as a group, and of the relationship between the two.

Much earlier scholarship has focused on how women were oppressed under the strict patriarchal systems that emerged as Confucianism became the dominant social ideology during the Chosoán dynasty (1392–1910). Contributors to this volume bring to light the varied ways that diverse women actually lived during this era, from elite yangban women to women who were enslaved. Women are shown to have used various strategies to seek status, economic rights, and more comfortable spaces, with some women even emerging as Confucian intellectuals and exemplars.

Youngmin Kim is Associate Professor of Political Science at Seoul National University. Michael J. Pettid is Associate Professor of Premodern Korean Studies at Binghamton University, State University of New York. He is the author of Korean Cuisine: An Illustrated History and cotranslator (with Kil Cha) of Unyoáng-joán: A Love Affair at the Royal Palace of Chosoán Korea.