The Emotions of Justice

Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Choson Korea

Jisoo M. Kim

  • Published: 2016. Paperback August 2017
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / Korea; History; Law
  • Bibliographic information: 224 pp., 15 illus., 1 map, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
  • Contents

The Choson state (1392-1910) is typically portrayed as a rigid society because of its hereditary status system, slavery, and Confucian gender norms. However, The Emotions of Justice reveals a surprisingly complex picture of a judicial system that operated in a contradictory fashion by discriminating against subjects while simultaneously minimizing such discrimination. Jisoo Kim contends that the state's recognition of won, or the sense of being wronged, permitted subjects of different genders or statuses to interact in the legal realm and in doing so illuminates the intersection of law, emotions, and gender in premodern Korea.
Jisoo M. Kim is Korea Foundation Assistant Professor of History, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Literatures at George Washington University.

"The Emotions of Justice is well written . . . [and] provides an illuminating analysis of the relationship between the state and its subjects before the modern era. This is a sophisticated addition to our understanding of gender roles in Choson."
-Donald Baker, University of British Columbia

"Its focus on gender and social status makes The Emotions of Justice a significant contribution to the study of Korean legal history. That women, even women slaves, were treated as legitimate legal subjects opens up fascinating tensions in our understanding of the highly stratified and status-conscious Choson society."
-Maram Epstein, author of Competing Discourses: Orthodoxy, Authenticity, and Engendered Meanings in Late-Imperial Chinese Fiction


"In this original and thought-provoking study of Choson Korea's legal practices, Jisoo M. Kim offers a multilayered analysis of petitions submitted by women of both elite and non-elite status throughout the dynasty. . . . The Emotions of Justice will be a crucial text when teaching this period in Korean history and should attract a wide interest also from scholars of cognate disciplines."
-Anders Karlsson, Journal of Asian Studies