Status of Women in Choson Dynasty Term Paper

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Choson Women

Status of Women in Choson Dynasty

The status of women in the Choson dynasty is not worthy of discussing but of pitying. Women used to have two ranking in this dynasty, one that of a sex slave, and the other one, if the woman has brains and is lucky, was that of a power manipulator (Park, 4). Either women were highly regarded due to their social status or the relationships with that of high ranking officials or the royals or they were taken up as things that need not be cared but used, as many sex scandals and coercive seductions in the history of the Choson dynasty represents.

To cite briefly, women were the most repressed in this dynasty, many restrictions, though still prevail today, they are the outgrowth of the older laws and rules that binds women to obey the laws that are today proclaimed as against the rights of human. One such law is that of remarrying, where the women were not allowed to remarry in the Choson dynasty, and at present the women are still not allowed to remarry till six months have passed after the death or separation from the husband (Kendall and Peterson, 30).

With in the Choson dynasty, sex discrimination and laws against women are quite common and many laws still are in the legal books that speak of the patriarchal tradition.

The Choson dynasty prevailed and the rulers from this dynasty ruled over for more than five hundred years. All thorough this period, remarriage was lawfully prohibited. The reason give for this law is the preservation of the Choson women chastity within the ruling dynasty. Another law that speaks of discrimination was that the children of those who violated the law were not permitted to appear in any state led examination. Hence, sex discrimination in the Choson dynasty appears to be one form of law of the ruling class. These sex discriminations comes from the aged held belief of the Choson people that the universe is the composition of yin and yang, the two opposing forces having negative and positive poles making the heaven and earth. This same belief was applied to the discrimination of men from women. Nevertheless, this division of men and women did not make the men and women stand at equal levels with one another, rather the positive pole of the belief was attributed for men while the negative applied to the women. Men enjoyed the status comparable to heaven, making them the masters and the commanders and also putting them at a high status, while the women, being the negative and of the lower status from the heaven, as they were attributed as earth, were considered lowly from men and were mostly given jobs and assignments that made them more like slaves than partners. To put it briefly, men were considered the core of the universe that enjoyed privileges in abundance where as women were considered mostly as having trivial role in the society. This belief was poured in the ears of both the male and female children right from the birth till the death. Like, if a male child is born in the family he was placed on an able and was given a piece of emerald to play symbolizing the piece as that of in the role of governance, while if a female baby is born, it was often neglected and was given a reel to play with.

Even in the childhood, girls and boys had different status and ranking where the boys were taught and educated, like mathematics, from the age of ten that helped them in their future years, while any girl at the same age of ten was told to stay at home and lead a secluded life from then on. At home, the only activity for the little girls was to rear silkworms and after than spin cloth from the thread produced. In fact this was the only available employment for the Choson women in that era.

This division of male and female was made stronger in the later years in their lives, making the society more male oriented where social hierarchy was followed rather strictly. In fact, without any exception, this discriminating and segregation was followed in every aspect of life, outside and inside a home, in civility and chastity and in governance matters. For instance, a home in the Choson dynasty was divided in two parts, one was called 'an chae' or the inner part of the home where women resides, while the other was called 'sarang chae' or the part where men lived. A separate door that was used merely on particular occasions liked the separation or the division. Women were not allowed to discuss matters that were proclaimed as being of men's while at the same time men were not suppose to engage in household matters. Where men used to look in to matters that pertained to outside, women were not allowed to go outside the house without a complete covering of their body including face, so that they may not be recognizable by anyone, where even going out in the day time was not permitted. But the most interesting aspect of this covering and restriction is that these limitations were only applicable on the women from the royal or high-ranking lineage, not to the common women. Women who belonged to the lower class of the society, as such, had to obligation to go out just in the evenings or night. Rather, they could freely move about, without veils and used to work side by side with men in fields and in working areas.

This restriction and freeness made the working or lower class women far more different in status from the women who belonged to the ruling class or the upper class. However, one thing that was similar for the women from both the classes were the set of three rules that applied to every woman of the Choson dynasty, irrespective of the class. Named as samchong chido, or the rules for women, these defined the ethical and moral standards that the women of the Choson dynasty had to observe no matter what. The one common denominator of these rules was obedience, while the numerator were father, husband and son, where the women had to obey their fathers before marriage, their husbands after marriage, and their sons when their husbands dies.

While there were restrictions and limitations for a woman in Choson dynasty, there was some liberation that emerged as a result of these restrictions and led to a degree of freedom for Choson women. The most important one is that of the complete control of the household matters in the hands of women of the house. No man was given authority to interfere in the household matter, may that be the management of the household, may that be the preparation for ritual ceremonies or festive, or else may that be the decision for the education of the children, men were barred from taking part in the internal affairs of a household, that led the women enjoy a kind of freedom at the heart of all these limitations. Further, women who were wives of high-ranking officials were also regarded and given titles in status with their husbands, and many women in the upper class did take advantage of these honorary titles.

Furthermore, women status after giving birth changed to that of a mother and was highly regarded, particularly after the death of the husband, where the mother emerges as performing the role of a leader in the household and resolving the matters pertaining to the inheritance and marriages of her children. However, the matters of inheritance were also full of discrimination as daughters were not give the right in inheritance of their fathers neither were the wives entitled to receive any, where the eldest son get the majority of the portion in inheritance in the Korean law a few decades back. Nevertheless, within the Choson dynasty, women received inheritance from their fathers' possession in equal proportions as the sons would receive, even in the situation when the daughters were married. This, in fact was the good part in the Choson dynasty that at least made women, in one aspect, having equal standing to that of men.

Also, one important privilege that the women enjoyed in the Choson dynasty was the management of the affairs of the matters pertaining to the inherited property and things. Women, married or unmarried, had the sole right to look after and manage their inheritance. Furthermore, the money and property that the women would take with her at the time of marriage would also be at her sole privilege and in no way be transferable to her sons or her husband, and in case of her death the property would go back to her previous home, the home before marriage. However, this privilege given to women to manage and control her own property had a background too, as nothing was bed…[continue]

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