This book introduces important contributions in the humanities by a select group of traditional and modern Korean women, from the 15th through the 20th centuries. The literary and artistic works of these women are considered Korean classics, and the featured artists and writers range from a queen, to a courtesan, to a Buddhist nun, to unknown women of Korea. Although women's works were generally meant only to circulate among women, these creative expressions have caught the attention of literary and artistic connoisseurs. By bringing them to light, the book seeks to demonstrate how Korean women have tried to give their lives meaning over the ages through their very diverse, yet common artistic responses to the details and drama of everyday life in Confucian Korea. The stories of these women and their work give us glimpses of their personal views on culture, aesthetics, history, society, politics, morality, and more.

chapter 1|23 pages


chapter 3|20 pages

Sin Saimdang

The Foremost Woman Painter of the Chosŏn Dynasty

chapter 5|26 pages

Demythologizing Hwang Chini

chapter 6|20 pages

Private Memory and Public History

The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng and Testimonial Literature

chapter 7|21 pages

Kyubang Kasa

Women's Writings from the Late Chosŏn

chapter 8|11 pages

A Celebration of Life

Patchwork and Embroidered Pojagi by Unknown Korean Women

chapter 9|18 pages

Kim Iryǒp's Conflicting Worlds

chapter 10|24 pages

Dialectics of Life

Hahn Moo-Sook and Her Literary World