Park Geun-Hye & Skirts: HATE this Double Standard

The Korea Times ran a piece "Skirt on inaugural day" yesterday, discussing what outfit President-elect Park Geun-hye should wear to her Feb. 25, 2013 inauguration. In the piece, Rachel Lee summarizes fashion tips from experts that “have come forth with suggestions on how to navigate the complex relationship between power and clothes.”
Since when is there a COMPLEX relationship between power and clothes? Who cares about this?  Earlier this year when U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was scrutinized for her fashion and cosmetic choices, Celinda Lake pointed out that:
“evaluation of women on their looks is driven by news media, not voters. "What is just absolutely amazing is how pervasive this is and how true it is even for women reporters and the degree to which even if women try to develop just a uniform for the job we can't seem to get off this topic," she says. In focus groups, "I haven't heard anyone mention her hair or her makeup for probably a decade. It's not the voters driving this at all. They could care less. It is reporters. It is both male and female reporters."
I wonder whether the average Korean citizen cares whether Park wears a skirt in the right color on Feb. 25, 2013? 

Thank you so very much, Korea Times, for telling us that “the president-elect, with her power suits and coiffed hair, portrays an image of veteran politician with aplomb in the male-dominated political arena.” I suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising given the Saenuridang slogan ‘Prepared Woman President” while critics have said she is a female political leader "only in biological terms" because "for the past 15 years, Park has shown little visible effort to help women in politics or anywhere else as a policymaker." This dialog about Park's performance of gender, criticism of her femininity and womanhood - all of this seems to create a mold and expected role for women in politics. Supporters and critics alike narrow-mindedly link gender and politics as if genitalia pre-disposed one to a policy agenda. 

I guess we couldn’t look to her long years of political office-holding to see that she is a veteran, her successful election, or her prominence within her party to see her confidence or aplomb as a politician… no we had better take a look at her fashion and hair style… or maybe we can do a little better and stop imposing an absurd double-standard on woman politicians.

Image credit: http://resources3.news.com.au/images/2012/12/20/1226541/173327-south-korea-park-geun-hye.jpg

가정폭력 Domestic Violence Awareness : Music & Media

In 2012 social debate and political battles over domestic violence, rape and gender equality repeatedly made headlines in both South Korea and the United States. In Korea, the rape and murder of kidnapped woman cast a spotlight on weak state and police enforcement of laws to protect citizens. In the U.S., politicians debated whether or not to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and a number of politicians embarrassed themselves into election losses with absurd statements about rape. Most disturbingly, some states cut their funding to domestic violence prevention and support programs.

Domestic Violence and Music 가정폭력과 음악

Two powerful music videos portray domestic violence in 2012. The vocalists Zia and P!nk highlight the complicated emotional and physical space we navigate when confronting or recovering from domestic violence.

2012년에 매우 힘이 넘치는 영화 같은 뮤직비디오에서는 지아와 핑크가 가정폭력의 복잡한 감정적이며 신체적인 고통을 보여준다.

Zia - For a year 지아 - 년째

P!nk – Try 핑크 트라이

Domestic Violence and History 가정폭력과 역사

Domestic violence is a major problem in contemporary society in Korea and the United States, and in regions all over the world. When I read Choson Court rulings on domestic violence, rape, adultery and spousal murder, I am reminded that centuries ago the legal system did not recognize women’s rights and we appealed to the patriarchal rule of the father or pre-modern state local officials to abide by virtues of justice and morality and requested that they not abuse the people. There wasn’t a strong social mindset that recognized the rights of women and children, nor adequate tools of state to enforce human rights.

가정폭력은 한국, 미국, 세계적으로 커다란 이슈이다.  조선시대에 처를 살해한 사건자료를 읽으면서  현대사회의 인권문제에 대한 제도가 퇴보되어간다고 생각됐다. . 옛날에 우리나라는 국가나 경찰대신 가장의 도덕와 공평성을 통해   가정의 삶의 질이 결정되었다. 이러한 관습은   없는 사람들은 자비를 구해야했다

                For example, Choson royal court records include the case of Lee Geun-Bin. In this case a wife was beaten to death with the heavy cast-iron style lid from a cookery. The case shows obvious domestic violence. She may have been beaten not only by her husband, but her father-in-law and brother-in-law whom lived in the same home. The unnamed wife attempted to flee to her natal home, but she lost strength and died. A pattern of violence had already existed in the home, but in those days a wife was isolated from society and there were few opportunities for a wife to appeal for help and the private home was ruled by the father. The Choson records reveal a number of other cases in which wives were murdered by their husbands, with rare and light punishments ordered by the royal court.

이군빈의 재판에 보면 실망스럽게도 너무나 명백한 가정 폭력이다.[1] 그 자료에 따르면 부자의 공초에, “부축하여 앉혔다는 말로 미루어보면, 그녀가 힘이 빠져서 집에 다다르기 전에 인사불성명되었음을 알 수 있다고 이군빈의 거짓말로 가정폭력의 사실 보여준다: “솥뚜껑으로 때렸다고 말했다.[1] 조선시대의 가부체제 아래에 있는 학대의 희생자들은 도움이 받는 것이 힘들었고 가장은 자신의 집안에서 왕처럼 통치했다.

However, we have since developed state-managed systems to improve the enforcement and protection of the rights of all people, such as police, courts and public education. In some regions, there is not a functioning system to protect or enforce these rights and societies still rely on patriarchal benevolence, for example when raped women or women who have sex outside of marriage are murdered, so-called  ‘honor killings’ by relatives to ‘preserve’ the family ‘honor’ that was supposedly tarnished by her ‘impurity.’

하지만 근대 국가 아래 우리는 국가관리의 인권, 경찰, 병원, 편파적이지 않은 재판, 사회 복지를 향상시킨 체제가 만들어졌다. 그러나 인권존중이 되지않는  몇몇 국가에서는 지금도 성폭행 피해자와 간통했던 여성이   명예살인이나 공개처형당하지만   전세계사회는  변화되고 있다.

Domestic Violence and Society 가정폭력과 사회 

In Korea, society still struggles to overcome the hierarchical power of the patriarch when the police do not enter the home without his permission. We can see in the Sokcho case last year that a woman could be raped and murdered while the police are ineffective. Society did not pay adequate attention to the problem of domestic violence, and individually we might ‘look the other way’ and ignore violence in our communities. However, in December 2012 the Korean National Police Agency granted new powers, “the new rule now allows police to enter even if a home owner denies the police request. The police expect the measure will help save victims who are afraid of revenge attacks after calling for help.

 현대 한국사회에서도 가정의 가부적인 계급 사회을 위해 발버둥 치고 있다. 작년의  속초 성폭행 사건에서 보면 효력 없는 경찰들이 가장[아부지]부터의 허가 없는 경우에  집을 들러가지 않았고 여자가 살해 일어났다. 비단 그뿐 아니라 우리는 자주 가정 폭력을 무시했다.

Meanwhile, in the United States, several states have already cut their budget for domestic violence programs, and more will do so next year:
“Domestic violence calls are second only to burglary for law enforcement. Police regard them as among the most dangerous in terms of officer safety because of the violent emotions often in play when they arrive at the scene. Arrests and prosecution are part of the picture, but only a part. Victims need options, shelter, counseling, financial assistance, and education. Victims who want desperately to leave violent domestic situations without police intervention often need those resources even more. It is in this context that states across America, faced with mounting budget crises, are slashing domestic violence programs and funding. The most widely reported has been the use of the Governor’s veto pen in California. But domestic violence prevention and service funding has also met the budget ax in states like Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Arizona, Missouri and others.”[2]
Worse, some states such as Kansas have cut response calls by police, putting many people in danger of abuse and death from domestic violence:
“Busted budgets have forced tough decisions by governments and law enforcement officials nationwide, but the Shawnee County district attorney's move to stop investigating domestic abuse and other misdemeanor cases has angered victims' advocates who say austerity has gone too far.”[3]
In the United States, some conservative politicians call for ‘small government’ but the consequence could be a return to ‘rule by the father’ wherein women must once again plead for health and life, rather than know these are enforced and protected rights.

미국에서 어느 지방 등에서 가정 폭력 예방하는 프로그램의 예산을 삭감했고 내년에 더 다른 지방에서도 예산을 절감하려고한다. 더군나 미국 캔자스나 다른 지역에서 예산절감때문에 가정폭력을 신고하여도 경찰은 출동할수 없고 도움을 받을 수 없게되었다. 집에서 가정 폭력 당하는따라서 시민들의 건강와 안전 위험에 직면해서 가정 폭력으로 부터 피살될 수 있다. 미국에서도 보수적인 사람들이 ‘작은 국가’가  필요로 하다고 주장하고 있다. 가정폭력예방 예산 삭감이나 국가의  인권에 관한 무관심은 그러나  이는  가부장제의 통치로 되돌아가는 결과를 나을 것이다. 그래서 여성들이 다시 건강, 안보, 삶을 위해 가장에게 의지하고 무가치한 존재로  보일 것이다
Here in Korea, resources for domestic violence and sexual violence are available, please reach out if you are need of support: Seoul Rape Medical Treatment and National Police Hospital (located on Line 3, exit 1)

[1] 처를 살해한 , p. 238-241.
[2]Sweete, Elijah. April, 2010 athttp://themoderatevoice.com/68729/domestic-violence-victims-endangered-by-budget-cuts/#A3v80pyzPBYZQzZT.99
[3] AP Topeka Kansas, Oct. 12, 2011, http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-20119017.html


Sexual Assault and Harassment, Child Self-defense, Domestic Violence Shelter Volunteer

Sexual Assault Statistics for 2012

Inadequate prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace:
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family surveyed 7,957 employees at schools, government agencies and local administrations, “3.8 percent [Note: 7.7% of female and 0.5% of males interviewed] responded that they had experienced sexual harassment over the past year and 7.4 percent said they had either witnessed or heard about such incidents.” However, 90.8 percent [Note:92.2% of females and 66.7% of males] of the respondents did not take any measures after incidentsof sexual harassment.

Meanwhile... Courts fail to punish pervy photographer
The Seoul Appellate Court rules that the lack of a pertinent law prevents criminal charges against a pervert who snaps photos of himself without pants behind female college student clients at his studio. [Note: Although legislation has been getting tougher on sex crimes recently, the Courts are still sorting out sentencing and attempting to define the scope of legislation.]

Congrats to Jeff Kuo for receiving an award for volunteer service from the National Institute for International Education. “Twice a week Kuo visits “Nurimter” [Note: a domestic violence shelter in Busan] after his regular classes to provide English tutoring for middle and high school students there.” 

And… self-defense tips for children ran in the Korea Herald last week, reposting to share:

There are only a few techniques children can use to defend themselves, mostly because children are vulnerable. Children have less strength than a full-grown adult and can easily be overcome.

Therefore, self-defense for children should focus on escaping the situation as quickly as possible rather than trying to stand up against a powerful opponent. This is the safest way for children to protect themselves from harm.

Here are several techniques for children to defend themselves from strangers.

How to escape from a grip (1)

Stay calm and take the following steps to get away from a situation in which an opponent has a firm grip on your wrist.

1. The most important point in escaping from a firm grip on your wrist is to check which direction the opponent’s hand grabbing your wrist is open to. The opening of the grip is the direction of where the opponent’s fingers are overlapped. The opponent’s hand will be wrapped around your wrist. Usually it is close to the palm but open at the fingers. In pictures 1 and 2, the opponent’s hand grabbing the child’s wrist is open towards the left.

2. Once you check where the opponent’s fingers unfold, combine the strength of both arms by clasping your free hand on the forearm that is seized by the opponent.

3. Joining your free hand with the bound wrist, you can force your bound wrist free from the opponent’s grip by pushing both arms through the opening of the grip.

4. As soon as you are free from the grip, run away as fast as you can from the situation and request help from the nearest police station or adult nearby.

Children cannot break away from an adult’s grip by just pulling on the clasped arm because children are naturally weaker than adults. But by using both arms children can effectively escape from situations that can easily become dangerous.

By Seo Gyo-sun (selfdefense777@gmail.com)

Seo Gyo-sun, an internationally certified Taekwondo Grand Master, judge and coach, holds a B.A. in taekwondo from Kyung Hee University. ― Ed.


Park Geun-hye: [Female] Presidential Candidate

Park Geun-hye: Female Presidential Candidate

Read other posts by Tamara Gater here. 
“The time is ripe for the nation to have a strong female leadership as the harsh economic reality facing grass-root citizens calls upon a leader who can sacrifice herself like a mother for the sake of people’s livelihoods.” - Park Geun- Hye[1]
In the bid to become Korea’s first female president, Park Guen Hye has been type cast in a double role of leader and mother. In politics, everyone has a role to play and this year, the theatre of Korean presidential elections offers a unique performance of Shakespeare’s renowned Merchant of Venice. While a tragedy of comedies it may have been in the late 16th century England; this week in Seoul, the curtains are being drawn for the final act. 

[Scene 1] Enter, the merchant Antonio artfully played by DUP’s very own – Moon Jae In. Like Antonio, Moon Jae In is happy to help his friends but unfortunately like Antonio’s ships, Moon Jae In’s policies are lost at sea. So he willingly sings a contract with Shylock promising things he, himself is not quite sure he can give, since all his good intentions may very well be a shipwreck. Since Shylock asks for no interest on repayments, this alliance between them seems most advantageous to Antonio who intentionally fails to acknowledge the ‘pound of flesh’ clause.

[Scene 2] Lights dim, a giant ‘Ahn lab’ logo flashes up on stage. Young students in the audience jeer and clap. Enter Shylock, the moneylender who despite his business success is treated as an outsider, played by the independent Ahn Cheol Soo. Like Shylock, Ahn’s grievance is against a system which sees people like Antonio flourish while he himself is barred from furthering his ambition. So he agrees to support Antonio in the hopes of getting something in return. Where Shylock wants a pound of Antonio’s flesh, Ahn wishes the alliance with Moon to propel his own political career. Yet in the end, Shylock walked away with less than what he started out with and at present Ahn too has little to show for his efforts.

[Scene 3] Sombre songs from the 70’s resonate through the auditorium. Those from the Gyeongsang in the audience sing along. Enter Portia, the daughter of a man long dead whose memory lives on with his daughter, played by the solitary figure of Park Geun Hye. Indeed, this solitude is where the characters of Portia and Park Geun Hye differ. Unlike Portia’s father who chose a husband for her from his grave through the use of a clever riddle, Park Chung Hee’s sudden assassination prevented him from arranging his daughter’s marriage. Today 33 years later, Park Geun Hye is as much criticised for being unmarried as she is for being her father’s daughter.

Perhaps ‘criticised’ is too light of a word. She is downright ridiculed on two ends of the spectrum. On the one side, Hwang Sang-min, a professor of psychology at the prestigious Yonsei University, has publicly dehumanised[2] Park Geun Hye by saying on a talk show, that:
“[In Korean society, the role of a woman] is defined by marrying a husband, giving birth and raising a child. That’s someone you call a woman. Just because her reproductive organs are different from a man’s, you don’t call her a woman…Park never played the role of woman, although she has female genitals”[3]
Moreover, according to Professor Hwang’s definition of a woman’s role in Korean society, Park Geun Hye is prevented from making a contribution to Korean society through her failure to fulfil her duty as a woman, by which he means wife and mother. So in basic terms, Professor Hwang’s argument is founded on the premise that Park Geun Hye’s involvement in the public domain is made void by the fact that she has not created a life for herself in the private domain.
While on the other end of the spectrum, Park Geun Hye’s own campaign manager, Kim Soon-joo has proclaimed that:
Her[Park Guen Hye] [virginal] life has been dedicated to the state and as such it is no exaggeration to call it ‘marriage to the state.’[4]
So the flipside to Professor Hwang’s argument is that that Park Geun Hye has compromised a life in the private domain in order to be involved wholeheartedly in the public domain. So in other words, if a woman is not married with children, then she is either altogether not a woman, or she should make a sacrifice to the public domain in order to compensate for her deficiencies in the private sphere. So Park Geun Hye, 60 and single, has only but one choice - to become ‘married to the state’ and to ‘sacrifice herself for the people’.[5]
A message clearly conveyed by the ad campaign released by the Park Geun Hye’s team last week. If I could offer words to the images of this 60 second video clip, they would read “my solitude is my sacrifice.”
Simply put, a woman may enter the public sphere so long as she excels in the private sphere. Do you remember when you were in high school and asked your parents if you could join the sports team? Their answer would usually go something like ‘yes, but only if it doesn’t distract you from your studies and you keep your grades up.’ The same principle applies here. Because in the eyes of society, a woman’s career is an extracurricular activity, in order to gain admission, she must first pass the preliminary requirements of successfully managing the private sphere. In this case, Park Guen Hye is especially disadvantaged because being unmarried means that there are no photo ops where her husband is snapped with a ‘Vote Park Geun Hye’ badge pinned to his business suit which translates into an A+ in the private to public sphere entrance exam.

The lines between the private and public sphere are as clearly marked today as they were in Shakespeare’s time, when only men were allowed to act on stage. Luckily, in the Korean theatre of presidential elections, we have both men and women up on centre stage. Yet, although the candidates are auditioning for the role of President, the audience are judging the women’s, and here namely Park Guen’s Hye’s talent on how well she plays her role of woman. In the play of Merchant of Venice, the character of Portia removed this judgement and forced the audience to focus on her skill as a lawyer by appearing in court in a disguise of a man. So maybe there is a lesson in that and in the play for the top job at the Blue House, Park Geun Hye should be encouraged to come without a disguise, not without her womanhood.

[1] Kang, Hyun-kyung, ‘Ice Princess’ finally plays gender card’ The Korea Times, 30 October, 2012
[2] The Collins Dictionary online defines ‘dehumanise’ as ‘1. to deprive of human qualities’ and ‘2. to render mechanical, artificial, or routine.’ By debasing Park Geun Hye as a woman, yet having made an anatomical distinction between her and a man, Hwang Sang-min has deprived Park Geun Hye of human qualities and has rendered her neither man nor woman due to the fact that she has neither husband nor children. [Online at] http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/dehumanize
[3] Ser Myo-ja, ‘Park plays the gender card to draw contrast’, Korea Joongang Daily, 08 November 2012, [online at] http://koreajoongangdaily.joinsmsn.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2962007
[4] Justin C ‘Presidential Candidate Park Geun-hye is ‘Married to the State’, Korea Bang, 9 November 2012, [online at] http://www.koreabang.com/2012/stories/presidential-candidate-park-geun-hye-is-married-to-the-state.html
[5] Interestingly enough, a man’s claim to be ‘the father of his nation’ or even the term ‘fatherland’, traditionally implies left wing patriotism. Think Francisco Franco in Spain, Stalin in Russia and of course Kim Il Sung in North Korea. 


Seoul Rape Medical Treatment and National Police Hospital (Located on Line 3, exit 1)

Sharing information about rape kit in Seoul from:

You Are Not Alone

First, thank you to youarenotaloneseoul for sharing this experience with us all so that we can be better informed about how get medical treatment and report rape in Seoul. This is a repost:

Where To Go: If you are raped you first instance after the shock has settled in might want to go straight to the shower to wash the filth of away, but DO NOT DO THAT! You need to go straight to the police so that they can take you to a hospital to have the DNA of the perpetrator collected from vaginal secretion cultures, clothing and saliva.  I personally, skipped the part of going to the police, because I went straight to the hospital. The hospital that I went to told me that in Seoul when these things happen (RAPE IS EXTREMELY COMMON IN KOREA BUT IS ALSO EXTREMELY UNDER REPORTED IN THE MEDIA) the place to go to is the National Police Hospital. This hospital is located on line 3 heading towards Ogeum. It’s one stop before the end of the line and the stop is called National Police Hospital. This hospital has a section that deals with sexual violence called the “One Stop Center”. You can get to the “One Stop Center” by going out of exit 1 of the National Police Hospital station and make a left walking towards a tiny bridge that takes you directly into the hospital. The hospital has an emergency room connected to it and the doctors speak enough English to help you.
How Are You “Helped”: Once in the One Stop Center inside that National Police Hospital you will have a network of people helping you. You will have detective assigned to your case who will come and question you to get your statement. If you cannot speak Korean a translator will be brought in to translate. After getting your account of what took place you will be taken into an small hospital room to be examined by the resident OB/GYN who will conduct all tests for sexually transmitted diseases and infections ,cultures will be taken to be sent to a crime lab and you will provide two urine samples. After these exams have been taken you will be given Plan B (the morning after pill), 4 antibiotic tablets to be taken at once and an antibiotic shot on the buttocks to prevent infections/diseases. This process is a bit traumatizing but needs to be done. After this you will questioned in an interrogation room which will be recorded. Police officers will be dispatched to collect the rape kit and start looking for the perpetrator. If you need to speak to councilor, because of such a traumatic experience one will be provided to you for as long as you need. Everything is kept confidential. Your school, parents, boyfriend/girlfriend shall not be contacted unless you give the staff and/or police officers permission.
How You Might Feel: You will be grateful for having such a network of people to help you, but also exhausted from the questioning and exams. Other feeling such as shock , disgust, fear, nausea, self-loathing, hate etc. I suppose will vary from person to person. Personally, I was shocked, angry, nauseous and in tears 98% of the time. Never once did I blame myself for what happened and you shouldn’t either. Rape is never the victims fault! 
How Much Will This Cost You in Medical Bills?: Everything I mentioned above is FREE. The government covers the cost. All you need to do is get yourself to this hospital.
The Outcome of My Experience: This happened to me 1 month ago so nothing is settled. I am still going to doctors visits, working with detectives to try to retrace my steps and getting all of help and support I need from the hospital staff and friends. I am extremely worried that this person might have given me HIV/Herpes/HPV, but  I won’t have peace of mine for that until 5 months from now when I would have been tested twice reaching the 6th month mark. So for now everything is pending.


Fashion: Regulating the Inner/Outer in Choson Korea

The Choson philosophy of 내외법 law governing inner and outer, or private and public life introduced new regulation of women’s movement, dress and social life in the mid and late Choson Dynasty. These changes were brought about in connection with the ranking of officials and families into a class hierarchy:
초기에 법제적 신부은 양인과 천인으로 규정되었지만 현실적으로 분화되어 16세기경에는 양반, 중인, 평민, 천인으로 계층이 형성되었다.” “중인은 대체로 고려말 조선초에서부터 양반에서 돼되거나 양인에서 상승한 자들로서 형성되기 시작하여 조선시대 중엽에 이르러 하나의 계층으로서 확연히 모습을 드러낸 중간신분층이었다. 3품까지 승진할 있는 역관, 의관, 산원, 율관 상급 기술관과 7품이 한품인 천문관, 도류, 화원, 등의 하급 기술관, 그리고 녹사, 서리들이 이에 속했다 (한국고문서학회, 208).”
This post presents two issues for analysis: the regulation of women’s bodies in the public sphere, and the increasingly politically-oriented responsibilities assigned to women in the private sphere.  

First, the laws regulating women’s public sphere participation increasingly limited the roles of women in the public, and even affected the visual representation of women. According to Lee, upper-class women were required to wear a hood when they left home, while middle or lower class women should don a shawl in public:
“조선후기로 오면서 여자들은 외출할 때 남자들과 내외하기 위해 서울윗대의 양반들은 장옷을 쓰게 되었는데 중인 이하는 치마를 대신 쓰게 되었다 (한국고문서학회, 210).”
The practice of wearing a hood (yangban women) or shawl (middle class) held some women from public view, and also restricted their choices in dress. This also clearly delineated the socio-economic status of women and their husband’s political position, “조선시대 의식주와 여로 격식은 신분과 직업에 따라서 다르게 규정되었다 (한국고문서학회, 210).” 
In addition,
“yangban women were forced to get around on horseback or in a palanquin and assure that their faces were never exposed to passersby. Such palanquins were also used by female entertainers whenever they left the house and palace women when the king would set out on a journey or get married (Han, 117).”
The regulation and demarcation of class, marriage status and gender has been a feature of many societies throughout history, always requiring the internalization of and conformity to a hierarchy. Thus, these laws not only regulate what is outside or inside the home, but also what is inside and outside the body or one’s mindset.  

One comparison is contemporary debate over some Islamic traditions that require women to wear a veil. However, this practice has common roots throughout history and across many societies. According to Susan W. Schneider, in the Jewish faith a veil signified nobility and high social standing, so women of middle class background would don the veil to model elite Jewish society. Likewise in many Christian faiths there are traditions of head-covering. According to St. Paul, “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head" (I Corinthians 11:3-10).” In the church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) some Mormons don a special undergarment that covers parts of the body to keep them from view. The common basis between Confucian, Islamic, Jewish, LDS and Christian thought is that the veil symbolically regulates women’s virtue, and also places them in a position subordinate to men.

Second, due to the philosophical link between a harmonious home life and public prosperity, the everyday life and responsibilities of yangban and some countryside posts or lower level official’s mothers, wives and daughters transformed to conform to high expectations of morality and hospitality for the social advancement of the family. Within the home, hosting guests and performing with skill in culinary preparation and overseeing entertainment held symbolism beyond merely rubbing elbows with high ranking officials, but represented the harmony and success of the household. Outside the home, strict conformity to one’s class status was demanded, with transgressions bringing shame to one’s family if not appropriately attired:
여자들은 남편의 벼슬이나 본가의 신부에 따라 역시 복장을 달리했다. 또한 양반여자들은 치마를 왼쪽으로 여며 입었는데 만일상민이 그렇게 입으면 망신을 당하고 쫓겨났다고 한다 (한국고문서학회, 210).

At the same time, conformity to the law would benefit one’s family:
“Women who preserved their chastity were rewarded in many different ways. For example, while women from the yangban class saw their families designated as honorable families, commoner families found themselves exempt from corvée labor. Meanwhile, in the case of the lowborn women, these were given the opportunity to gain commoner status (myŏnchŏn). Such awards placed extra pressure on women to maintain their virtue and to obey their parents and parents-in-law (Han, 118).”
Thus, women’s virtue could affect family prosperity, and a woman highly skilled in household management might project a powerful image of her spouse and family, extending into the public sphere by hosting guests. 

The legacies of private-public division of men and women still resonate in politics today, in Korea and around the world. For example, how does the symbolism of the First Lady in America compare with the Choson philosophy toward inside-outside representation of the household head in political affairs? How (or rather, why) do Michelle Obama and Ann Romney reflect on their husband’s image, campaign success and leadership?

한국고문서학회 엮음. 조선시대 생활사, 역사비평사 [3 신분별 생활상], 1995.

Han, Hee-sook. Women’s Life during the Chosŏn Dynasty. International Journal of Korean History (Vol.6, Dec. 2004)

Susan W. Schneider, Jewish and Female (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984) p. 237.

Sherif Abdel Azim, Ph.D. - Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, posted at http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/w_islam/veil.htm

얌전한 옛사진속의 조선 미녀, http://blog.joinsmsn.com/media/folderlistslide.asp?uid=eskang&folder=1&list_id=12568176

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