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[Opinion] Sung Kyun Kwan and Women

Posted January. 13, 2005 23:01,   


Sung Kyun Kwan is associated with manhood. This is because the words that symbolize it such as Confucius, Confucianists and Confucian have a male image. There are scenes in historical dramas where Confucian scholars, after being rejected with group appeal or requests for political issues of the time, refused to learn. It was a place to teach and spread Confucianism, not a place for women.

However, even Sung Kyun Kwan could not escape from worldly changes. There has been a noticeable increase of women participating recently. Women are participating in Sung Kyun Kwan’s semi-annual festival in honor of Confucius. Out of 234 Confucian temples countrywide, many of them have women as board members. Director Choi Kyun-duk promised last year that he would employ a female as a vice director. A Sung Kyun Kwan source told us that this promise might come true this spring.

New Minister of Gender Equality Jang Ha-jin sat face-to-face with director Choi while visiting Sung Kyun Kwan. Their meeting was surprising in that Sung Kyun Kwan criticized pro householder system abolishment Ministry of Gender Equality as an “unnecessary department.” Choi and Jang conversed, “Although women’s participation in society is increasing, the responsibility for children is only on them. The society has to take over the role.” “The two sexes have to unite in families as well as in society,” (Choi) “We will take note of traditional family’s advantages while making family policies. We want to cooperate with you.” (Jang).

However, on the issue of the householder system abolition, none of them can give in. While saying “If the householder system is abolished, the names of families and families of the same clan will be abolished too. Furthermore, families will be separated,” Sung Kyun Kwan looks depending on the judgement from the constitutional court. On the other hand, the Ministry of Gender Equality is saying that this decision cannot be changed as it was performed under the agreement of both the government and opposition party. In their meeting, the phrase “living together” popped up several times. However, it might take time to reach the real Sung Kyun Kwan, in which perfect togetherness of male and female can be seen.

Editor Song Young-eon youngeon@donga.com