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So Bigamy is ok in Korea?

 
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inexhile



Joined: 18 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2003 7:21 pm    Post subject: So Bigamy is ok in Korea? Reply with quote

Whilst lunching last week, with an ajumma friend, she told me the fascinating story of her life. What hit me was when she said her father had 2 legal wives. She assured me this was ok and normal as he was a man of high standing (major in the army). Now it gets interesting.........she said that this was still a common and normal practice here in Korea.
I know she would not lie, but this is the first I heard of it.
Who has any info on this?
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anae



Joined: 13 May 2003
Location: cowtown

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2003 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a common practice for men to have multiple wives. My husband's grandfather had three. Today there are still men with multiple "wives", but polygamy is not legal. There are men with two households in my husband's village. However, only the first wife is legal - registered on the hojuk. The other ones are just kept women with no legal standing.
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desultude



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Location: Dangling my toes in the Persian Gulf

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2003 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was a more common practice prior to the Chosun Dynasty, according to one book I have been reading. What is interesting about that is that multiple marriages were more common- men with multiple wives, because women had the right to inheritance. The more wives, the greater the husbands possibilities of inheritance. The woman often had their own homes and a great amount of autonomy.

Quote:
Women were so valuable that men wanted several. . .. Plural wives were not dependent on one man; often living apart, they had their own economic underpinnings. Detailed ritual did not surround the act of marriage, not the relations between the sexes: "the general free and easy contact between the sexes amazed. . . Chinese observers (in 1123)." Women took serial husbands, if not several at the same time, there being no restrictions on widows remarrying.
(Cummings, 1977)

This was ascribed to the dominance of Buddhism, according to the book, but was completely undone by the Chosun Dynasty and neo-confucianism. I think that the strict hierarchical patriarchy of neo-confucianism is similar to that of Christianity, and fundamental islam.


I haven't looked closely at this in comparison to European history, but I am sure that such a comparison would be interesting. Prior to modernity and the reformation, there was not a lot of regulation of such relations within the lower classes, and sexual mores were pretty loose. Also, I have heard that the same can be said of Islam- there was a time when women had a lot more freedoms than today.

The more interesting point is how much gender relations are subject to changing regimes, and cultural norms are relative. Whats the problem with bigomy? It is practiced in many places in the world, and from the perspective of a woman in a traditional society where her fate is generally reproductive, sharing that load with other women is maybe not so bad.
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inexhile



Joined: 18 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2003 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting desultude: She is not very old though (thirty-eight). What was sad is that for 2 years she had to live with the other wife and her half brothers and sisters, and was treated like a slave. Very cinderella, but I could see the pain as she relived it.
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desultude



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Location: Dangling my toes in the Persian Gulf

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2003 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, from what I have seen and heard, marriage can be a nightmare for some women here in Korea. I can imagine being "second wife" could be even worse.

I have a friend here whose childhood friend committed suicide because she could not take it anymore. The dead woman's husband deposited her at the hospital and didn't attend the funeral. Apparently infidelity is rife, and abuse all too common. Its tragic.

I hope that women's lot here improves as their education and subsequent financial independence does. It may improve also as the male-female ratio worsens due to abortions of female fetuses.

But it is always good to understand history before getting too critical, and the history of the treatment of women in the west is none too great.
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rapier



Joined: 16 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2003 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I knew a guy in Zimbabwe with 7 wives and 37 children. He was only a mechanic, but many of his kids were employed and helped support eachother. Multiple wives is a common fact of the Shona tribes of Zimbabwe.
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weatherman



Joined: 14 Jan 2003
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2003 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I have heard of two stories myself where a man had two wives here. Very interesting I must add.
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whatthefunk



Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Location: Dont have a clue

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2003 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, would it would suck to have two wives. All the nagging and bitching would drive me nuts. Besides, you would have to work twice as much to feed all the kids and wives and what not.
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