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ISSN : 1229-9618(Print)
ISSN : 2671-7506(Online)
Chinese Studies Vol.83 pp.71-94

‘Singing Woman’ in Ancient East Asian Literature

Lee Kyung-Mi
동서대학교 중국어학과 부교수


This paper delves into songs of women in the ancient Korean, Chinese and Japanese literature. Their lives under patriarchy made them voiceless. Yet, they left their traces in history in the world of literature where restrictions were gradually being removed. They sang songs about their lives sometimes serenely and sometimes loudly. Though patriarchal societies regarded these songs as expressions of grief and despair and portrayed them in a negative light, women courageously showed their repressed emotions, strong will and hidden desires through their songs. These songs functioned as ways of revealing their identities and bridges that connected the women with their loved ones. On the other hand, these songs consoled the difficult lives of women under polygamy and healed their emotional wounds. Last but not least, songs these women sung about religious transcendence with all their heart and soul brought miracles to their anguished present lives. Ultimately, their efforts were paid off as they realized their dreams of enjoying endless bliss and eternity in paradise.