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The influences of Lee yeo-soon(李女順) scandal in 17th century and the patriarchal society’s response to this scandal

  • The Research of the Korean Classic
  • 2014, (30), pp.137-170
  • Publisher : The Research Of The Korean Classic
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature > Korean Literature > Korean classic prose

HONG NARAE 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Lee yeo-soon was the widow whose father Lee Gyi(李貴) was the famous aristocrat in 17th century. In 1614(the 6th year of king GangHae), she broke away from home for execution of Buddhism with her male-friend O Eon-kwan(吳彦寬). And this incident caused for them to be arrested on a charge of adultery. Because of this scandal, Mr. O Eon-kwan was beaten to death in the process of the inquisition and Lee Gyi lost his position of government official, but Lee yeo-soon was favored with amnesty without any good reason then stayed in the Jasoo Palace(慈壽宮). After this, she was not only welcomed from royal concubines and court ladies, but also she was recognized as the hidden contributor to depose king GangHae(光海君). For these kinds of reason, the character of Lee yeo-soon came to be complicated. In this thesis, I found that this scandal is not individual incident, but representative incident containing the desire of women in 17th century. and also I found that the differences of understanding of her characters(some people think of her as a living buddha, and some people think of her as a hidden contributor in political incident) make her a mysterious woman. Therefore I considered how the patriarchal society reordered the women’s problematic desire after enthronement of a new king. The rumor of Lee yeo-soon was very resistant to patriarchy. At that time Lee yeo-soon was well known as the living Buddha who has surpassed the traditional values, and many women were eager to meet her, even some of them joined her practicing asceticism. I inferred the women who spread the rumor and believed in her could have an influence on the judgment of Lee yeo-soon scandal. The women’s network was comprised of diverse class such as ladies of a court, nobleman’s concubines, even slaves. They related intimately with religious belief and economic ties. But after the enthronement of a new king, the Joseon Society established patriarchal order to criticize the sisterhood and to record that Lee yeo-soon had been anxious for her father and her brother-in-law supporting them confidentially in the palace. This point of view intended to emphasize women’s family identification excluding women’s desire for identity on those days. Through Lee yeo-soon scandal, I reconstructed 17th century that the women could form public opinions in sisterhood and develope the communal self. These women’s conduct had severe limits, for example they pursued power relying on the king and could not make ethical alternative. Nonetheless it was significant incident that the women in 17th century felt doubts about conventional value and attempted to change their life.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.