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Layers of Representation in Yŏak (Female Musicians): Artist-kinyŏ in the Chosŏn period

  • The Research of the Korean Classic
  • 2021, (54), pp.197-234
  • DOI : 10.20516/classic.2021.54.197
  • Publisher : The Research Of The Korean Classic
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature > Korean Literature > Korean classic prose
  • Received : July 26, 2021
  • Accepted : August 11, 2021
  • Published : August 31, 2021

Jiyoung Suh 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article focuses on the yŏak system as part of the rites and music policy in the Chosŏn period and explores the specific role of yŏak as one of the obligatory duties assigned to kinyŏ, who served the royal court and local governments as maidservants. In particular, this attempts to trace the trajectory of yŏak as musicians in the royal ceremonies and banquets and the process of gaining recognition through musical competence, while reading against the grain of the dominant representation of kinyŏ as courtesans tied to “improper sexuality” or “improper tunes” in the Confucian discourses. This article suggests that the kinyŏ’s repetitive music performances were a way of fulfilling the physical labor of the maidservant for the government while paradoxically resulting in building the contexture of the artist-kinyŏ’s life history more than just the marginalized other.

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