About Korea > Customs and Traditions

Traditional Role of Women

Traditional Role of Women

The traditional role of a Korean woman was one of submissiveness. The Korean culture was (and to a large extent still is) hierarchical and the woman’s role is one of maintaining harmony in the household and avoiding conflict. Her primary goal was to be a good daughter, a good wife and a good mother. She was expected to sacrifice herself for her family, similarly to almost all cultures around the world in the not so distant past.

Although increasingly less frequently over the last 20 or so years, when a woman married, she accompanied her husband to live in her in-laws house and spent much of her life caring for her in-laws and her husbands’ needs. These days the in-laws may come and live in their son’s home or even a daughter and her husband, but many are opting to live on their own and visit their children/grandchildren as opposed to living together.

A woman was expected to produce sons and even today may be held responsible if the children are all girls.  To have many sons was highly regarded because they brought wives (workers and breeders) into the family. Since parents lived with their sons’ until their death; power was equated with the number of sons in a family and it was considered "shameful" to depend on daughters.

"Blessed with boys" was a familiar refrain to those that had only daughters. It was common practice for a man who had no sons to take a concubine, whose children would become assets to the 'first wife'. The conbines name would not be listed in the family register, only that of her children should their father decided to register them.

K4E Editor: Korea4Expats.com tries to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and complete, so should you notice any errors or omissions in the content above please contact us at info@korea4expats.com.

Last Updated on 2015-03-23

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