ABSTRACT

During the Koryŏ (918–1392) to Chosŏn (1392–1910) transition, constructing a patrilineal society was one of the state’s primary goals. From the early Chosŏn, the state implemented the Confucian style of marriage and allowed men to have one legitimate wife from the same social status and take lower status women as concubines. As women of different status came to live in the same household, the new marriage practice generated tensions between wives and concubines. The concubinage system was already an intrinsic part of the social fabric in Korean history, but the meaning of conjugal relations shifted during the Chosŏn period and the tension between women of different status became more visible. By using marriage as a site, the aim of this article is to examine how the state intervened in intimate domains such as emotions, sexuality, and familial virtue and how the state emphasized and regulated gendered emotions such as jealousy to embrace Confucian patriarchal values in the domestic space. By examining wives’ jealousy that often led to brutal violence against concubines, this article unveils the cultural meaning of jealousy between partners in the context of Confucian patriarchal and hierarchical society. Furthermore, it demonstrates the power dynamics in conjugal relations and the vulnerability of concubines and how the Confucian style of marriage manifested tensions among Confucian ideals, the law, and social practice.

KEYWORD

marriage, Confucian patriarchy, jealousy, wife, and concubine

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