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  • Consolidating the Household across the 1945 Divide

    Sungyun Lim

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


    This chapter examines the reform discourse in the 1940s following the 1939 Civil Ordinances Reform (implemented in 1940), and the persistence of its influence in post-colonial reforms. The new Civil Ordinances, notorious for the Name Change Policy (sōshi kaimei), aimed at completing the assimilation of Koreans to Japanese under wartime exigencies yet ended up maintaining and fossilizing what had been deemed unique features of Korean family customs, spawning a continuing production of scholarly discussion of Korean family customs and how to reform them. These discourses left an important legacy that naturalized the assimilatory reforms as a rational and progressive solution to the perceived problems of family dissolution and conflicts in colonial Korea. Despite strong anti-Japanese sentiments in the immediate wake of the Liberation in 1945, reform discourses from the 1940s continued to exert a strong influence on the writing of the new Civil Code of South Korea in 1960. Hiding behind the façade of recapturing Korean tradition, much of reform measures entertained during the 1940s designed to strengthen the patriarchal small family made its way into the new Civil Code.

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    Lim, S. 2019. Consolidating the Household across the 1945 Divide. In: Lim, S, Rules of the House. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.60.f

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    Published on Jan. 1, 2019