Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - Between Morality and Crime: Filial Emotion and Vengeful Violence in Eighteenth-Century Korea

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Marriott Balcony A, Mezzanine Level

The historiography of the Korean family has not spotlighted women’s relationships with their natal families, but has instead defined a married woman’s primary identity in terms of her position within her husband’s family. The promotion of the patriarchal system and its subsequent effects weakened both ritual and economic ties between a woman and her natal family during the Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910). Yet as unveiled in many women’s writings to their natal family members, a woman’s relation to her natal family is a most intimate one that cannot be severed by the institution of marriage. Careful observation of women’s lives as they appear in legal cases also reveals that not only did a woman’s natal family sometimes emerge as a key mediator at times of crisis in her life, but a woman’s natal ties continued to be crucial throughout her marriage.


By examining an eighteenth-century crime of vengeance committed by a married woman on behalf of her father, this paper reconsiders the complex nature of women’s filial emotion toward their parents. This analysis of a daughter’s violent revenge illuminates the wide range of women’s relations to their natal families, which complicated the orthodox boundaries between a married woman and her natal family prescribed by the Confucian state. In doing so, this paper further explicates the meaning of filial revenge in late Chosŏn society, as demonstrated by acts of violence situated within one of the most contested cultural-legal-emotional realms in eighteenth-century Korea.  

Jungwon Kim

Columbia University, New York

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3 - Between Morality and Crime: Filial Emotion and Vengeful Violence in Eighteenth-Century Korea



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