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Kisaeng (Hangul: 기생, Hanja: 妓生, RR: Gisaeng), also called ginyeo (Hangul: 기녀, Hanja: 妓女), were women from outcast or slave families who were trained to be courtesans, providing artistic entertainment and conversation to men of upper class. [1] [2] [3] First appearing in Goryeo, kisaeng were the government's legal entertainers, required to perform various functions for the state. Many were employed at court, but they were also spread throughout the country. They were carefully trained and frequently accomplished in the fine arts, poetry, and prose, and although they were of low social class, they were respected as educated artists. Aside from entertainment, their roles included medical care and needlework.


Kisaeng play an important role in Korean conceptions of the traditional culture of the Joseon. Although the names of most real kisaeng have been forgotten, a few are remembered for an outstanding attribute, such as skill or loyalty. The most famous of these is the 16th century Hwang Jini.

Social position

Throughout the Goryeo and Joseon periods, kisaeng held the status of cheonmin , the lowest in society. They shared this status with other entertainers, as well as butchers and slaves. Status was hereditary, so the children of a kisaeng were also of cheonmin status, and daughters automatically became kisaeng as well. [4] Beginning in the Goryeo period, the governing offices in each district kept a registry of kisaeng, to ensure thorough oversight. [5] The same practice was followed for conscripted slaves. Kisaeng could only be released from their position if a hefty price was paid to the government; this could only be done by a wealthy patron, typically a high government official. [6]

Many kisaeng were skilled in poetry, and numerous sijo composed by kisaeng have survived. These often reflect themes of heartache and parting, similar to poems composed by scholars in exile. [7] In addition, some of the most famous kisaeng poems were composed to persuade prominent scholars to spend the night. [8] The sijo style later came to be associated with kisaeng women, while women of yangban status focused on the gasa form. [9]

Kisaeng attached to a local government office were known as gwan-gi, and their status was differentiated from that of the common slaves also attached to the office. They were separately entered on the census rolls. The kisaeng were regarded as of significantly higher status than the slaves, although technically they were all of cheonmin rank. [10]

Though they were of low social class, the kisaeng held a unique role in ancient Korea's society, and were respected for their career as educated artists and writers. For this reason, they were sometimes spoken of as "possessing the body of the lower class but the mind of the aristocrat" [11] and as having a "paradoxical identity as a socially despised yet popularly (unofficially) acclaimed artist". [12] Not all kisaeng engaged in prostitution as different groups or tiers of kisaeng had different educations and roles. [3] Numerous accounts report individual kisaeng as specializing specifically in arts, music, poetry, and conversation skills.


A kisaeng girl of Joseon, in 1910 1910nyeondae joseon gisaeng.jpg
A kisaeng girl of Joseon, in 1910

The career of most kisaeng was very short, generally peaking at age 16 or 17, and over by age 22. [13] Only a few kisaeng were able to maintain their business for very long beyond this time. It may be for this reason that the kisaeng training institutes accepted entrants as young as eight. [14] All kisaeng were obliged by law to retire at age 50. The best prospect most kisaeng had for long-term support was through becoming the concubine of a patron. However, even this was not an option unless their patron first purchased them from the state, which few men of the Joseon period could afford. Thus, most former kisaeng went on to work in or manage a local tavern. [15]

In the later period of Joseon, a three-tiered system developed. [16] The highest tier was occupied by ilp'ae (Korean : 일패; Hanja : 一牌) who sang and danced at upper-class feasts. [3] [17] Ilp'ae kisaeng were not permitted to entertain after they turned 30. [18] However, they could continue working in other duties, such as dressmaking and medicine, until the age of 50. [19] They received guests only by choice. The haengsu (Korean: 행수; Hanja: 行首) of each district, who was the leader of the kisaeng, took charge of discipline and training new kisaeng.

Kisaeng of the lowest tier were called samp'ae (Korean : 삼패; Hanja : 三牌). [3] The samp'ae were forbidden to perform the songs and dances of the ilp'ae. [20] The three-tiered system, like other aspects of Joseon class division, broke down in the late 19th century. [21]

In the course of their careers, some kisaeng were able to amass considerable personal wealth. However, these were the exception. Kisaeng were required to meet their expenses, including food, clothes, and makeup, out of their own personal funds. [22]

Becoming a kisaeng

Young kisaeng receiving musical instruction, c. 1910 Gagokhunjang.jpg
Young kisaeng receiving musical instruction, c.1910

Women entered the kisaeng class through various paths. Some were the daughters of kisaeng, who inherited their mother's status. Others were sold into the wealthy by families who could not afford to support them. [23] Most such families were of cheonmin rank, but sometimes poor families of higher status sold their children in this fashion. On occasion, even women from the yangban aristocracy were made kisaeng, usually because they had violated the strict sexual mores of the Joseon period. [23]

As kisaeng were skilled workers from the beginning, the government took an early interest in ensuring correct education. This first emerged with the establishment of gyobang , training institutes for palace kisaeng during the Goryeo period. During the Joseon period, this became further codified, with instruction focusing on music and dance.

In the three-tiered system of later Joseon, more specialized training schools were established for kisaeng of the first tier. The course of study lasted three years and covered poetry, dance, music, and art. [24] The most advanced such school was located in Pyongyang. This system continued well into the Japanese colonial period, during which time the schools training kisaeng were known as gwonbeon (Korean : 권번).

Daily life

As slaves of the government, the lives of kisaeng were closely regulated. They were overseen by the officer in charge of kisaeng, known as the hojang . [25] The hojang was also in charge of maintaining the kisaeng register, and ensuring that none of the district's kisaeng had fled. Kisaeng were required to answer the requests of patrons, unless they had previously notified the hojang. [25] The kisaeng of the district were expected to appear for inspection twice a month and also when a new official arrived in the area. [25] In addition, they were required to report for continuing education, usually focused on music and dance. The frequency and content of this training varied from region to region. [26]

However, the detailed affairs of the kisaeng were not directly overseen by the state. Order was kept within each gyobang, which might include some tens of kisaeng, by the haengsu kisaeng, those of the highest tier. [27] When problems arose between a kisaeng and a client, or when charges of criminal conduct were made against a kisaeng, the haengsu kisaeng usually took the leading role in resolving the situation. [28]

In addition, most kisaeng had a gibu, or "kisaeng husband", who provided protection and economic support, such as buying them valuable things or granting them social status in return for entertainment. [29] Most gibu were former soldiers, government enforcers, or servants of the royal household. [30] At times, there was friction between would-be customers and possessive gibu, although the gibu was not the kisaeng's husband and had no legal claim to her. [20] The role of the gibu changed over time; at first, many kisaeng in government service had no such patron. [31] However, by the late Joseon dynasty, the gibu system was more or less universal. [32]

In the Joseon dynasty, kisaeng houses were typically located near the center of a town, often close to the marketplace. [33] They were laid out to create a welcoming effect; in many cases, a location was chosen with a fine view, [34] and the area around the house would be landscaped with ornamental pools and plantings. [33]

Politics and diplomacy

Kisaeng played a number of important political roles, as servants of the state and in their own right. They were employed to entertain visiting foreign dignitaries from parts of China, and to accompany them if they travelled through the country.

Thanks to their frequenting the taverns and guest-houses of the town, kisaeng were often among the most knowledgeable on local affairs. For this reason, they were at times a key source of intelligence. It was through information supplied by kisaeng that the rebel army of Hong Gyeong-nae was able to easily take the fortress of Jongju in the early 19th century.

When cities fell, as many of Korea's cities did during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) in the late 16th century, kisaeng were often made to entertain the generals of the victorious army. Some of Korea's most famous kisaeng, including Nongae of Jinju, are remembered today for their bravery in killing or attempting to kill leaders of the imperial Japanese army.

Some kisaeng were also active in the Korean independence movements of the early 20th century. In this they resembled other women of Joseon, who often took a leading role in the independence struggle. Aengmu, a kisaeng of Daegu, was a major donor to the National Debt Repayment Movement in the early 20th century. [35] Some fifty kisaeng of Jinju took part in a demonstration as part of the March 1st Movement in 1919. [36]

Regional differences

Jinju kisaeng specialized in the sword dance Hyewon-Ssanggeum.daemu-detail-01.jpg
Jinju kisaeng specialized in the sword dance

Kisaeng seem to have been relatively few in number, at the most a few thousand. They were spread throughout the country, with a few hundred in the larger centers and smaller numbers in the hyeon villages. [37] They were also found in the "stations" and inns which provided food and shelter to travelers along the country's arterial roads, such as the Great Yeongnam Road.

The number and characteristics of the kisaeng varied greatly from region to region. During the Joseon period, the city with the most kisaeng by far was Seoul, then called Hanseong, with perhaps 1000. [38] Many of these worked for the court, and helped to fill the vast number of trained entertainers needed for grand festivals. [39] Beautiful or talented kisaeng were often taken from the provinces to Seoul.[ citation needed ] The required training for kisaeng in Seoul was regular and very strict, with inattentive kisaeng sent home. [40]

There were also large numbers of kisaeng in the old capitals of Gaesong and Pyeongyang. The kisaeng of Pyeongyang were noted for their high level of skill and beauty. [41] The kisaeng school of Pyeongyang was one of the country's most advanced, and continued operating until late in the colonial period. [14] The kisaeng of Pyeongyang were also known for their ability to recite the gwan san yung ma, a song by the 18th-century composer Shin Gwangsu. [40]

Other large concentrations existed around military camps, particularly along the northern border. For instance, in the time of Sejong the Great in the 15th century, there were some sixty kisaeng attached to the army base at Yongbyon. [42] In these areas, kisaeng essentially filled the role of wives for the army and their role was commensurately more focused on domestic tasks than entertainment.

The kisaeng of other regions also maintained distinctive local identities. The kisaeng of Jinju were particularly adept at the Geommu, a traditional sword dance. [40] Those of Jeju were known for their equestrian prowess. [43] In many cases, the noted skills of a region's kisaeng corresponded with some other local claim to fame. The kisaeng of the Gwandong region on the east coast, home to many famous sights including Mount Kumgang, memorized the gwan dong byeol gok (Korean : 관동별곡; Hanja : 關東別曲), a poem recounting their region's scenery. [43] Those of the Honam region in the southwest were trained in pansori , [40] while those of the seonbi city Andong could recite the Great Learning (Daxue; Daehak) by heart. [44]


An overwhelming silence hangs over the official histories of Korea when it comes to the kisaeng. [45] They enter only occasionally into official records such as the Goryeosa or Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty . For example, the Royal Protocols, or Ǔigwe (Korean : 의궤; Hanja : 儀軌), records names of those who worked to prepare for important court rituals, and some kisaeng are listed as needleworkers. [46] Yet references to kisaeng are quite widespread in the yadam or "anecdotal histories" of later Joseon and Silhak thinkers such as Yi Ik and Jeong Yakyong, known as Dasan, who gave some thought to their role and station in society. A few records of kisaeng that exist are used in the study of their history, such as Joseon Haeeohwhasa (Korean : 조선해어화사; Hanja : 朝鮮解語花史), Nogpajapgi (Korean : 녹파잡기; Hanja : 綠派雜記), and Joseon miinbogam (Korean : 조선미인보감; Hanja : 朝鮮美人寶鑑), the last one being written in the Japanese colonial period. Even today, many formal histories of Korea pay little or no heed to the story of the kisaeng. For example, Lee Ki-baik's New History of Korea does not contain a single reference to the kisaeng.


There are various theories concerning the origin of the kisaeng. The first such theory was formulated by the scholar Dasan, and theories have multiplied as the kisaeng themselves have receded further into the past.

One theory actually places their origins in the Silla, among the wonhwa , female predecessors of the hwarang. [47] However, there is little to suggest a concrete link between Silla's wonhwa and the later kisaeng. Also, the wonhwa seem to have been chosen from among the aristocracy, whereas kisaeng were always members of the lower classes. [48] For these reasons, few contemporary scholars support this theory.

Many others trace their origins to the early years of Goryeo, when many people were displaced following the end of the Later Three Kingdoms period in 936. [49] [ citation needed ] At this time, a large number of Baekje people wandered the country. It is not clear whether this nomadic lifestyle was already established, or a consequence of the recent turmoil. In fact, a connection between these wanderers and the nomadic tribes of Manchuria has been conjectured. The first king of Goryeo, Taejo, considered these wanderers to be a threat to the stability of the state. He ordered that they be made into slaves of the government. Although no certain records exist, it is likely that the first kisaeng were drawn from these former wanderers.


Regardless of their origins, kisaeng first emerged as a class and rose to prominence during the Goryeo dynasty, 935–1394. They are first mentioned in the early 11th century. [50] At this time, they were primarily engaged in skilled trades such as needlework, music, and medicine. The female entertainers of the court during this period filled a role similar to that later filled by almost all kisaeng. [51]

Due to the growth of the kisaeng class, during the reign of Myeongjong the state began to keep records (called gijeok ) of the kisaeng living in each jurisdiction. Around this time, the state also made its first efforts to set up educational institutions to train kisaeng entertainers. These academies were known as gyobang , and first appear in history with their abolition by King Hyeonjong in 1010. However, they were re-established in the reign of Chungnyeol. The gyobang provided training in the dangak and sogak musical styles. [14]

The women trained in the gyobang were exclusively court entertainers. Their role in the affairs of the court became increasingly important as the dynasty progressed. They entertained both the king and visiting dignitaries, a role which continued into the Joseon period. In addition, beginning in the reign of Munjong, they performed at official ceremonies of the state. [52]

Just as the origin of the kisaeng is unclear, so is their precise relation to other strata of society. The female entertainers who appear in records are exclusively kisaeng of the court, and are recorded as slaves of the government. [53]

Joseon dynasty

Kisaeng, 1890 Pyongyangkisaeng.gif
Kisaeng, 1890
A Kisaeng girl c. 1910 Korea-Kisaeng-01.jpg
A Kisaeng girl c. 1910

Goryeo was succeeded by the Joseon dynasty, which lasted from 1394 to 1897. During the Joseon dynasty, the kisaeng system continued to flourish and develop, despite the government's deeply ambivalent attitude toward it.

Joseon was founded on Korean Confucianism, and these scholars of the time took a very dim view of professional women and of the kisaeng class in particular. There were many calls for the abolition of the kisaeng, or for their exclusion from court, but these were not successful—perhaps because of the influence of the women themselves, or perhaps because of fear that officials would take to stealing the wives of other men. [31] One such proposal was made during the reign of Sejong the Great, but when an advisor of the court suggested that the abolition of the class would lead to government officials committing grave crimes, the king chose to preserve the kisaeng. [54]

During the brief and violent reign of Yeonsangun, 1494–1506, kisaeng became symbolic of royal excess. Yeonsan-gun treated women as primarily objects of pleasure, and made even the medicinal kisaeng (yakbang gisaeng) into entertainers. [55] Yeonsan-gun brought 1,000 women and girls from the provinces to serve as palace kisaeng; many of them were paid from the public treasury. [31] He may have been the first to institute a formal hierarchy among them, dividing the kisaeng of the palace into "Heaven", those with whom he slept, and "Earth", those who served other functions. [13]

In 1650, all kisaeng were made slaves of the government. [56] The kisaeng attached to a government office were known as gwan-gi, or "kisaeng of the office". Their role did not, by law, include sexual service to the officeholder; in fact, government officials could be punished severely for consorting with a kisaeng. However, in practice kisaeng were often forced to serve the officeholder. [57] A distinction was sometimes made between those gwan-gi who were obliged to sleep with the officeholder, and those who were not. [58] This distinction was featured in the popular play Chunhyangga . [59]

The Gabo Reform of 1895 officially abolished the class system of Joseon dynasty, and slavery as well. From that year forward, all kisaeng became nominally free, and the gwan-gi no longer belonged to the government. In practice, many kisaeng, like many other slaves, continued in servitude for many years. In addition, many of those who were freed had no alternative career; they continued as entertainers, now without the protections afforded by kisaeng status. During the subsequent decade, many of these kisaeng went to elsewhere to work.

Japanese colonial period

In 1908, the Japanese police enacted the Kisaeng Tansongnyŏng (Korean : 기생 단속령; Hanja : 妓生團束令), which required all kisaeng to register under a 'guild' called chohap with a permit from the police to continue their occupation. [3] Later, these guilds were changed to gwonbeon, which not only was a group of kisaeng under registration but was also a school to teach young kisaeng mainly traditional art, such as calligraphy, dance, and songs. During the colonial period, the preexisting tiers or structures of kisaeng disappeared, and they were more viewed as relevant to prostitution than before. [60] [61] [62] Most of the kisaeng of this time performed in restaurants or entertainment houses to earn a living, and they were often seen as a tourist attraction for the Japanese in Korea, especially Seoul. [3]

Modern Kisaeng

The 1970s onward saw kisaeng dances and vocabulary partially preserved in the contemporary Korean dance and theatre scene observed in the gwonbeon, kisaeng schools, that predominated during the Japanese colonial period, between 1910 and 1945. Although true gwŏnbŏn no longer existed, an academic convention developed where students would study privately with former kisaeng or gwŏnbŏn entertainers. [63]

Very few traditional kisaeng houses continue to operate in South Korea, and many traditions and dances are considered to be lost forever. Some South Korean businesses continue to escort visiting foreign business people to a kisaeng house, but these locations are mostly modern interpretations of old kisaeng houses. The oldest traditional kisaeng house in Korea, Ohjinam (오진암), was closed in 2010. Today, the kisaeng's evolution and impact on Korean society is receiving new attention as Koreans increase efforts to rediscover and revitalize their cultural and historical heritage. However, this interest is focused almost entirely on the historical kisaeng of the Joseon period, and not on the traces of the kisaeng which endure today.[ citation needed ]

In North Korea, all kisaeng descendants were labelled as members of the 'hostile class' and are considered to have 'bad songbun', i.e. "tainted blood". [64]

Literary and artistic depictions

Chunhyang before the magistrate, from an anonymous Joseon dynasty painting Unknw13t.jpg
Chunhyang before the magistrate, from an anonymous Joseon dynasty painting

Kisaeng have played important roles in Korean popular literature since the mid-Joseon dynasty. As popular literature such as novels and pansori emerged, kisaeng often took a leading role. This was in part due to their unique role as women who could move freely in society. Kisaeng appear as heroines in stories such as Chunhyangga , and as important figures in many other Joseon-era narratives.

Kisaeng also began to appear in the vernacular art of later Joseon. They are particularly common in the work of the famed early 19th-century painter Hyewon, whose work focused on both the life of the cheonmin, including kisaeng, and erotic themes.[ citation needed ] During the colonial period, kisaeng were a popular object to Japanese and Korean painters, and postcards with the picture of Korean kisaeng were circulated in Japan. [65]

Kisaeng continue to be central to the understanding and imagining of Joseon culture in contemporary South and North Korea. For example, the female lead in the film Chi-hwa-seon was a kisaeng, the companion of painter Owon. Fresh treatments of popular kisaeng stories, including the fictional Chunhyang and the historical Hwang Jin-Yi, continue to emerge in popular novels and cinema. There was a modern re-telling of Kisaengin the Kdrama Tales of a Kisaeng.

Literary and artistic works by kisaeng

Not very many works by kisaeng are extant this day. While many were accomplished artists in their time, it is likely that their work was not deemed valuable enough to keep or store. A large amount of their poetry survive, Hwang Jin-I being one of the most famous kisaeng poets (Book: Songs of the Kisaeng: courtesan poetry of the last Korean dynasty). While very little of their painting survive, the National Museum of Korea has thirteen of Juk-hyang's paintings of plants and flowers. [66] In the Japanese colonial period, though the education of gwonbeon still focused on traditional music and performance, the scope of their art expanded along with the cultural changes of society to include both folk genres and Japanese music. [3] The transmission of many songs and dances, albeit some with modification, were through the kisaeng of this period.

Famous kisaeng

Notable kisaeng include:

See also


  1. Seth, Michael J. (2010). A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 164. ISBN   978-0-7425-6717-7 . Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  2. "Life and role of gisaeng courtesans". The Korea Times. 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Lee Insuk. "Convention and Innovation: The Lives and Cultural Legacy of the Kisaeng in Colonial Korea (1910–1945)" (pdf). Seoul Journal of Korean Studies. Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies. 23 (1): 71–93. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  4. Hwang (1997), Ahn (2000b).
  5. Lee (2002), p. 90.
  6. Lee (2002), pp. 89–90; Ahn (2000b), p. 82.
  7. McCann (1974), p. 42.
  8. These include Hwang Jin-i's "I will break the back of this long winter night" and Han-u's "You will freeze to death". See McCann (1974), Kim (1976).
  9. Kim (1963), p. 34.
  10. Ahn (2000b), p. 83.
  11. Kisaeng [ permanent dead link ]
  12. Songs of the Kisaeng : courtesan poetry of the last Korean dynasty. Translated by Contogenis, Constantine; Choe, Wolhee. BOA Editions. 1997. ISBN   978-1-880238-53-0. OCLC   1158687750.
  13. 1 2 Hwang (1997), p. 451.
  14. 1 2 3 Song (1999), p. 35.
  15. Lee (2002), p. 90; Ahn (2000b), p. 82.
  16. Hwang (1997), p. 452.
  17. "기생(妓生) - 한국민족문화대백과사전". Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  18. Lee (2002), p. 89; Hwang (1997), p. 452.
  19. Lee (2002), p. 89.
  20. 1 2 Kim (1976), p. 140.
  21. So claimed by Kim (1976, p. 140); but Song (1999, p. 35) seems to state that the system continued into the early 20th century.
  22. Ahn (2000b), p. 86.
  23. 1 2 Ahn (2000b), p. 82.
  24. Song (1999, p. 35).
  25. 1 2 3 Ahn (2000b), p. 98.
  26. Ahn (2000b), pp. 99–100.
  27. Ahn (2000b), pp. 98–99.
  28. Ahn (2000b), p. 99.
  29. Ahn (2000b), pp. 91–92.
  30. Ahn (2000b), p. 92–93.
  31. 1 2 3 Kim (1976), p. 139.
  32. Kim (1976), pp. 139–140; Ahn (2000b), pp. 91–92.
  33. 1 2 Ahn (2000b), pp. 89–90.
  34. Ahn (2000b), p. 94.
  35. Daegu Gyeongbuk Historical Research Society (1999), p. 219.
  36. "진주기생들의 만세의거". 경남문화사랑방. Archived from the original on 2006-02-16. Retrieved 2006-02-02.
  37. Hwang (1997), p. 450; Ahn (2000b) notes that some estimates place the total as high as 20,000, but ultimately concurs with Hwang that the total was probably less than 10,000.
  38. So estimated by Hwang (1997), also Ahn (2000b, p. 101).
  39. This practice was at its height under the reign of Yeonsan-gun, but continued in other periods.
  40. 1 2 3 4 Ahn (2000b), p. 100.
  41. Kim (1976), p. 142.
  42. Ahn (2000b), p. 102.
  43. 1 2 Ahn (2000b), p. 100; Kim (1976), p. 144.
  44. Kim (1976), p. 144.
  45. Remarked upon by Ahn (2000b), p. 79.
  46. Horlyck, Charlotte (2017-01-01). 7 Questioning Women's Place in the Canon of Korean Art History. Brill. pp. 224–250. doi:10.1163/9789004348950_009. ISBN   978-90-04-34895-0.
  47. This was asserted by Yi Neung-hwa, author of the first history of the kisaeng (Hwang 1997, p. 449).
  48. Hwang 1997, loc. cit.
  49. The Silhak scholar Dasan traced the origin of the class to Myeongjong's creation of the gijeok , but most contemporary scholars believe that the class had already emerged earlier in the dynasty (Hwang 1997, p. 450).
  50. Specifically during the reigns of Hyeonjong and Munjong (Hwang 1997, p. 450).
  51. Kim (1976), p. 54.
  52. Kim (1976), pp. 54–55.
  53. Kim (1976), p. 55.
  54. Hwang (1997), p. 450. The advisor was Heo Jong.
  55. Kim (1976), p. 138.
  56. Breen (2004), p. 88.
  57. So asserted by Ahn (2000a), p. 94.
  58. Hwang (1997), p. 452. According to Hwang, he terms used were 겉수청, or "surface government servants", and 살수청, or "flesh government servants".
  59. Hwang (1997). However, according to Ahn (2000a, p. 298), Chunhyang could refuse the magistrate's advances because her body-price had already been paid and her name had been removed from the gijeok , meaning she was no longer a kisaeng.
  60. Hwang, Mi Yeon (June 2011). "일제강점기 기생의 사회적 활동과 그 역사적 의미" [The Social Activities and Historical Meaning of the Gisaeng in the period of Japanese Colonialism]. Korean Journal of Folk Studies. 28: 135–158.
  61. Middleditch, Carrie (2019-01-02). "Recoding the chaste kisaeng in Yi Hae-jo's Kang myŏng-hwa chŏn". Asian Journal of Women's Studies. 25 (1): 30–46. doi:10.1080/12259276.2019.1573945. ISSN   1225-9276. S2CID   166697676.
  62. Maliangkay, Roald (2017). Broken voices : postcolonial entanglements and the preservation of Korea's central folksong traditions. Honolulu. ISBN   978-0-8248-6668-6. OCLC   1007823156.
  63. Loken-Kim, Christine; Crump, Juliette T. (Autumn 1993). "Qualitative change in performances of two generations of Korean dancers". Dance Research Journal. Congress on Research in Dance. 25 (2): 13–14. doi:10.2307/1478550. JSTOR   1478550. S2CID   191455169.
  64. Demick, Barbara (2010). Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea (UK ed.). Granta Publications. ISBN   978-1-84708-141-4.
  65. Kim, Yŏng-na; 김영나 (2005). 20th Century Korean Art. Laurence King Publishing. ISBN   978-1-85669-485-8.
  66. Choi, Youl (December 2013). "Women of Oblivion : Women Gisaeng Artists from the 1910s". Journal of Korean Modern and Contemporary Art History. 26: 69–96.

Works cited

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Korean monarchy existed in Korea until the end of the Japanese occupation and the defeat of Japan. After the independence and the installation of the Constitution that adopted republic system, the concept of nobility has been abolished, both formally and in practice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joseon</span> Korean dynasty (1392–1897)

Joseon, officially the Great Joseon, was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea, lasting just over 500 years. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and replaced by the Korean Empire in October 1897. The kingdom was founded following the aftermath of the overthrow of Goryeo in what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul. The kingdom's northernmost borders were expanded to the natural boundaries at the rivers of Amrok and Tuman through the subjugation of the Jurchens.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jeonju</span> City in North Jeolla, South Korea

Jeonju is the 16th largest city in South Korea and the capital of North Jeolla Province. It is both urban and rural due to the closeness of Wanju County which almost entirely surrounds Jeonju. The name Jeonju literally means "Perfect Region". It is an important tourist center famous for Korean food, historic buildings, sports activities, and innovative festivals.

<i>Sijo</i> Traditional Korean poetic form

Sijo is a Korean traditional poetic form that emerged in the Goryeo period, flourished during the Joseon Dynasty, and is still written today. Bucolic, metaphysical, and cosmological themes are often explored. The three lines average 14–16 syllables, for a total of 42–48: theme ; elaboration (3,4,4,4); counter-theme (3,5) and completion (4,3).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sungkyunkwan University</span> Private university in Seoul and Suwon, South Korea

Sungkyunkwan University is a private comprehensive research university in Seoul and Suwon, South Korea. The institution traces its origins to the historic Sungkyunkwan, founded in 1398 in central Seoul. As the foremost educational institution of the Joseon Dynasty, it was governed by the great code of the state administration with royal assent. It was restructured as a comprehensive university in the late 19th century, and has since greatly expanded its courses.

<i>Hanbok</i> Traditional Korean clothing

The hanbok, also called Chosŏn-ot is traditional Korean clothing. It is worn not only by South and North Korea, but also by the joseon-jok (Korean-Chinese), a minority group in China. The term hanbok literally means “Korean clothing.” Hanbok is also depicted in detail on murals from the Goguryeo period in Korea. Due to the isolation from each other for about 50 years, the styles of hanbok in South Korea, North Korea, and joseonjok, worn by the Korean ethnics from these three countries have developed separately from each other. Since the 1990s, the South Korean-style and the North Korean-style have been looking more and more similar to each other. Similarly, since the Chinese economic reform of China, there have been more exchanges with both Koreas leading to both the development and changes in joseonjok-style Chosŏn-ot in China; some of designs of the joseonjok-style Chosŏn-ot have been influenced and inspired by both South-Korean and North Korean hanbok designs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Korean dance</span> Type of dance

Dance in Korea began with shamanistic early rituals five thousand years ago and now ranges from folk dance to newly created and adopted contemporary dance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Korean literature</span> Literature produced by Koreans

Korean literature is the body of literature produced by Koreans, mostly in the Korean language and sometimes in Classical Chinese. For much of Korea's 1,500 years of literary history, it was written in Hanja. It is commonly divided into classical and modern periods, although this distinction is sometimes unclear. Korea is home to the world's first metal and copper type, the world's earliest known printed document and the world's first featural script.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Religion in Korea</span> Religion by country

Throughout the ages, there have been various popular religious traditions practiced on the Korean peninsula. The oldest indigenous religion of Korea is the Korean folk religion, which has been passed down from prehistory to the present. Buddhism was introduced to Korea from China during the Three Kingdoms era in the fourth century, and the religion pervaded the culture until the Joseon Dynasty when Confucianism was established as the state philosophy. During the Late Joseon Dynasty, in the 19th century, Christianity began to gain a foothold in Korea. While both Christianity and Buddhism would play important roles in the resistance to the Japanese occupation of Korea in the first half of the 20th century, only about 4% of Koreans were members of a religious organization in 1940.

Hwang Jini or Hwang Jin-yi, also known by her gisaeng name Myeongwol, was one of the most famous gisaeng of the Joseon Dynasty. She lived during the reign of King Jungjong. She was noted for her exceptional beauty, charming quick wit, extraordinary intellect, and her assertive and independent nature. She has become an almost myth-like figure in modern Korea, inspiring novels, operas, films, and television series.

Cheonmin, or "vulgar commoners", were the lowest caste of commoners in dynastical Korea. They abounded during the Goryeo (918–1392) and Joseon (1392–1897) periods of Korea's agrarian bureaucracy.

The gwonbeon were institutions set up for the training and oversight of kisaeng and other entertainers in the early 20th century. They were the successors of the gyobang, government-supported institutions which had provided such education and oversight in the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties.

The history of the kisaeng covers the entire second millennium from the Goryeo dynasty to modern South Korea. The kisaeng system first emerged in the early Goryeo period and was at its height in the middle Joseon Dynasty. The kisaeng contributed to the entertainment of others such as the Yangbans and kings. Some kisaeng also held positions of importance in the court and in the literary culture.

Ahn, also romanized An, is a Korean family name. 109 Korean clans are named 'Ahn', but with different origins. In 2000, there were 637,786 people bearing this surname in South Korea, making it the 20th most common family name in the country, with roughly 2% of the country's population. North Korea does not release figures for surnames, but the percentage is expected to be more than in South Korea.

Han is the typical romanized spelling of the Korean family name. Other alternate spellings for 한 include Hahn and Haan. In hanja, it translates to "King”, “Kingdom”, “country" and/or “Korean people”. Han is the oldest name in Korea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gwanbok</span>

Gwanbok is a Korean term which was borrowed from the Chinese terms guanfu and/or the Chinese term guanfu. The term gwanbok is a collective term which refers to historical official attire, which was bestowed by the government court, including Chinese courts of various dynasties. The Guanfu (冠服) system was a court attire system in China which also formed part of the Hanfu system. This system was them spread to neighbouring countries and was adopted in Korea since the ancient times in different periods through the ritual practice of bestowal of clothing. Acknowledgement through bestowed robes and crowns (冠服) from the Emperor of China, who held hegemony over East Asia, would give support to Korean Kings and successors, as being the authentic rulers of their country as well as confirmed the political status of the Korean kingdom in the rest of the Sinosphere. The Gwanbok system in Korea was different for each kingdom and changed throughout different periods. For example, initially given by the Chinese court in ritual practice, successive gwanbok were more often than not locally manufactured in Korea with different colours and adopted into Hanbok. The gwanbok, which was used as the uniform of the court officials, formed part of the Gwanbok system and was used like how the suit is used in nowadays.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Society in the Joseon dynasty</span>

Society in the Joseon dynasty was built upon Neo-Confucianist ideals, namely the three fundamental principles and five moral disciplines. There were four classes: the yangban nobility, the "middle class" jungin, sangmin, or the commoners, and the cheonmin, the outcasts at the very bottom. Society was ruled by the yangban, who constituted 10% of the population and had several privileges. Slaves were of the lowest standing.

Korean clan names of foreign origin are clans that claim descent from a progenitor of foreign origin, based on genealogical records.

Imperial titles were used in various historical Korean states before the 14th century and at the turn of the 20th century: Early Korean states used "great king", "greatest king", and "holy king"; later Korean states used "emperor". Korean monarchs who used imperial titles had political and religious authority over a realm or domain. The Chinese concept of tianxia, pronounced "cheonha" in Korean, was variously adopted and adapted to Korean views of the world from period to period.