Vision of Postcolonial Feminist Jurisprudence in Korea: Seen from the Family-Head System in Family Law

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Yang, Hyunah
Issue Date
BK 21 law
Journal of Korean Law, Vol.5 No.2, pp. 12-28
family-head (hoju)post-colonialismfamily register(hojok)reinvention of tradition(ka)custom
The family-head system as inscribed in the Family Law has had enormous significance since the system regulates virtually every legal relation within the family, for instance, through designating a amily-head usually an adult-male, or the eldest son of the previous family-head. Through this simple constellation, the institution has exerted strong and complex social effects: it defines the boundary of the family, endows a kind of atural rightto be the head to a family to every adult male in Korea, while it also naturalizes the inferior status as emberto almost every adult woman in Korea.

Although the right of family-head was often conceived as a ymbolicone rather than a substantive

one, the status of a family-head becomes real enough as it means headship in the family document, i.e.

family register, which is the identification system of Korean people as well.

The history of family law in Korea is a history of women movements. This article tries to interpret

the meaning of this change within the history of legal feminism in Korea. It will examine the critical

articles that treat the women in the family in discriminatory way, and presents how the separate

articles interrelate with each other as a system. Based upon this examination, it will introduce the

constitutional case regarding this family-head system. From the analysis of the constitutional case, the

essay will discuss the question of raditionand colonialism. This will be a critical effort for not only

interpreting legal history but also envisioning future change.
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College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원)The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) Journal of Korean Law (JKL)Journal of Korean Law Volume 05 Number 1/2 (2005)
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