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  • Widowed Household Heads and the New Boundary of the Family

    Sungyun Lim

    Chapter from the book: Lim, S. 2019. Rules of the House: Family Law and Domestic Disputes in Colonial Korea.


    This chapter examines widows’ lawsuits over inheritance rights against in-law family members in the first decade of the colonial period. (1910-1920) Contrary to the conventional notion that Korean women lost many legal rights under the colonial legal system, widows’ rights largely were protected in the colonial civil courts. This was a coincidental result of the colonial legal system; as the Japanese colonial government tried to implement the new family unit of the household, the widows who embodied its boundary received legal protection. The customary rights of widows to inherit the family head-ship worked hand in hand with the colonial household system and functioned to weaken the ties of the traditional lineage system. Under the colonial legal system, widows gained official backing for their customary rights against attempts of abusive extortion from their in-law family members.

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    Lim, S. 2019. Widowed Household Heads and the New Boundary of the Family. In: Lim, S, Rules of the House. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.60.c

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    Published on Jan. 1, 2019