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Gender issues and Confucian scriptures: Is Confucianism incompatible with gender equality in South Korea?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 June 2008

Eunkang Koh
Affiliation:
The University of Oxford, email: eunkangkoh@yahoo.co.kr

Abstract

Korean Confucianism has been described as “the enemy of feminism”: feminists often argue that Confucianism is the source of the patriarchal society. Feminist scholars have produced significant works about Confucianism's role in preserving the idea of women's subordination to men; they argue that the idea of men's superiority to women is embedded in Confucian philosophy. In this article I will examine whether Confucian philosophy is responsible for women's subordination to men in such Confucian texts as Naehun, The Book of Change, The Book of Poetry, and The Analects. Naehun was written by the mother of King Sǒngjong in 1475, for the purpose of the Confucian education of Korean women; I will look also at other, related, Confucian texts used for Korean women's education. Confucian classics such as The Book of Change, The Book of Poetry and Confucian Analects will be included in the analysis to investigate whether Confucianism legitimizes women's subordination tomen. In the analysis of these Confucian classics, I will focus on the ongoing debate between scholars of Confucianism and feminism in Korea today.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 2008

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