Free and open to the public. Please RSVP here.
A talk by Sungyun Lim, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Colorado, Boulder
How did the Japanese colonial rule influence the status of women in Korea? In the wake of the “househead system (hojuje)” debate in the 1990s, which culminated in the 2005 abolition of the patriarchal family system in South Korea, a new historical narrative emerged that attributed the low status of women in Korean society to the Japanese, the originator of the househead system, and who were now believed to have deprived Korean women certain rights that they enjoyed before the onset of the colonial rule. In this presentation, I explore the impact of the Japanese colonial rule on women’s legal rights in Korea through a close examination of civil court records. Contrary to the public belief, Korean women were actively present in the colonial courts to defend their customary rights and most of these women were successful. What does this tell us about the nature of the Japanese colonial rule and how women fared under them? These historical records defy a simple quantitative conclusion about women’s status under the colonial regime, and inspire us to delve deeper into the more complex dynamics between the colonial power and the marginalized sector of the colonized society.