Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Choson Korea
Author: Jisoo M. Kim
Publisher: University of Washington Press
The Choson state (1392–1910) is typically portrayed as a rigid society because of its hereditary status system, slavery, and Confucian gender norms. However, The Emotions of Justice reveals a surprisingly complex picture of a judicial system that operated in a contradictory fashion by discriminating against subjects while simultaneously minimizing such discrimination. Jisoo Kim contends that the state’s recognition of won, or the sense of being wronged, permitted subjects of different genders or statuses to interact in the legal realm and in doing so illuminates the intersection of law, emotions, and gender in premodern Korea.
The social and economic rise of the chungin class (�middle people� who ranked between the yangban aristocracy and commoners) during the late Chos n period (1700�1910) ushered in a world of materialism and commodification of painting and other art objects. Generally overlooked in art history, the chungin contributed to a flourishing art market, especially for ch�aekk ri, a new form of still life painting that experimented with Western perspective and illusionism, and a reimagined style of the traditional plum blossom painting genre. Sunglim Kim examines chungin artists and patronage of the visual arts, and their commercial transactions, artistic exchange with China and Japan, and historical writings on art. She also explores the key role of men of chungin background in preserving Korean art heritage in the tumultuous twentieth century, including the work of the modern Korean collector and historian O Se-ch�ang, who memorialized many chungin painters and calligraphers. Revealing a vivid picture of a complex art world, Flowering Plums and Curio Cabinets presents a major reconsideration of late Chos n society and its material culture. Lushly illustrated, it will appeal to scholars of Korea and East Asia, art history, visual culture, and social history.
Although South Korea is widely heralded as a successful new democracy—buttressed by a politically engaged public—elections have done less than expected to force political parties to reorganize their elitist structures. In Top-Down Democracy in South Korea, Erik Mobrand demonstrates that political elites, contrary to theoretical expectations, have responded to freer and fairer elections by entrenching rather than abandoning exclusionary practices and forms of party organization. Exploring South Korea’s political development from 1945 through the end of dictatorship in the 1980s and into the twenty-first century, Mobrand challenges the view that the origins of the postauthoritarian political system lie in a series of popular movements that eventually undid repression. He argues that we should think about democratization not as the establishment of an entirely new system, but as the subtle blending of new formal rules with earlier authority structures, political institutions, and legitimizing norms.
Two issues central to the transition from the Kory to the Chos n dynasty in fourteenth-century Korea were social differences in ruling elites and the decline of Buddhism, which had been the state religion. In this revisionist history, Juhn Ahn challenges the long-accepted Confucian critique that Buddhism had become so powerful and corrupt that the state had to suppress it. When newly rising elites (many with strong ties to the Mongols) used lavish donations to Buddhist institutions to enhance their status, older elites defended their own adherence to this time-honored system by arguing that their donations were linked to virtue. This emphasis on virtue and the consequent separation of religion from wealth facilitated the Confucianization of Korea and the relegation of Buddhism to the margins of public authority during the Chos n dynasty.