Synopses & Reviews
This work explores what it means to be modern and what it means to be Korean in a culture where courtship and marriage are often the crucible in which notions of gender and class are cast and recast. Touching on a number of important issuesidentity, romantic love, womens work, marriage negotiations, and wedding ceremoniesLaurel Kendall gives us a new appreciation for how Koreans have adapted this pivotal social practice to the astounding changes of the past century.
Kendall attended her first Korean wedding in 1970, soon after she arrived in the country with the Peace Corps. Years later, as a seasoned anthropologist, she began interviewing both working-class and middle-class couples, matchmakers, purveyors of dowry goods, and proprietors of wedding halls. She consulted etiquette handbooks and womens magazines and analyzed cartoons, photographs, and weddings themselves. The result is an engaging account of how marriage matches are made, how families proceed through the rites, how they finance ceremonies and elaborate exchanges of ritual goods, and how these practices are integral to the construction of adult identities and notions of ideal women and men. The book is also a reflection on what it means to write Korea” in a complex and ever changing social milieu.
This book is and is not about Korean weddings. It explores the meaning and importance of getting married in late-twentieth-century Korea, but it is also concerned with weddings as flash points of argument about the past and the present, about the desirability of women and men, and about what it means to be Korean in a shifting and intensely commodified milieu.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 231-248) and index.
About the Author
Laurel Kendall is Curator of Asian Ethnographic Collections at the American Museum of Natural History. Her previous books include Shamans, Housewives, and Other Restless Spirits: Women in Korean Ritual Life (1985) and The Life and Hard Times of a Korean Shaman: Of Tales and the Telling of Tales (1988).