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Abstract

This paper examines the economic activities of women in Choson Korea in an attempt to uncover the realities of their lives in terms of economic contribution and support of the well-being of their households. Despite the prevailing rhetoric of the "Confucianization" of late Choson, it is the belief of this writer that such a situation probably did not apply strictly to rural society or in matters of the necessity of economic strength. Rather I will argue that the economic realities of late Choson and farm life in general valued the labor and contributions of all members of a household, and such a situation would have been of benefit to women. The highest value of such a society was economic contribution, not necessarily adherence to Confucian standards. This study uses period records, aspects of folk practices, and other sources to demonstrate that much of what is assumed about Choson Korea in terms of women and their lives needs to be reconsideredl

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