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[Opinion] Royal Concubines

Posted January. 14, 2004 22:51,   


Lives of royal concubines of the Josun Dynasty were not easy. Although they have an opportunity to live in wealth and prosperity if they are fortunate enough to bear a son of the king, if not, they have to waste away their whole lives longing for one night with the king. In case of the king’s death, they could never marry again, which led most of them to become Buddhist monks simply for remaining faithful to their king and praying for the repose of his soul. There was even a Buddhist temple named “Jeongeopwon” where they had lived together.

Lawmaker Kim Jeong-suk of the Grand National Party made a sarcastic remark to see each party’s eagerness to recruit woman members by asking, “Are you selecting royal concubines now?” She implies, “They recruit renowned women as if a king selects concubines and then use and throw them away.” She also pointed out that “They are looking for new faces even though there is an overflowing number of women already in the party,” and added, “Those new faces will soon be old ones in a six-month timeframe.” There must have been a meeting for censure if those remarks were made by male members, but it is not certain when made by women members like Ms. Kim.

This recruitment would receive the eye from women’s circles, too. For those who spent their whole youth realizing gender equality, it would not be very pleasant to see each party’s favoritism toward those who are too young to be worldly-wise and even not verified in spite of their fame through broadcasting. But they are in a position of hardly stopping such recruitment simply because the priority is increasing the number. The number of woman members of Korean National Assembly is only 16 out of 173, 5.9 percent. It is such a small number, in fact 104th out of 181 countries in the world.

Another concern is their ability. There are rare cases of those who join a party in this way to succeed in being independent and performed greatly to remain. There is even an assessment saying no remarkable female politicians have been found since Park Sun-cheon, who was the supreme representative in the 1960s and was also said to favor former presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung in their 40s. Fortunately however, it does not seem to be entirely hopeless regarding the fact that woman lawmakers excel men by having a mark of 74.4 out of 100 while men were 73.32 in a 16th lawmaker’s parliamentary politics assessment conducted by a newspaper early this year. Some of them ranked at the top. Even though women are recruited like concubines, it is all up to them to survive.

Editorial Writer Lee Jae-ho, leejaeho@donga.com