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Getting Married in Korea: Of Gender, Morality, and Modernity [Paperback]

Laurel Kendall
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 34.82 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

May 31 1996
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 issues—identity, romantic love, women’s work, marriage negotiations, and wedding ceremonies—Laurel 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 women’s 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.

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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).

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I attended my first Korean wedding in 1970 as a recently arrived Peace Corps volunteer. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Learn about Korean society July 3 2004
Format:Paperback
An at times funny read of the intersection of two cultures. One is the modern consumerist culture, that has taken firm hold in South Korea since the 1980s. The other is a traditional Confucian morality steeped in centuries of lore.
Kendall studies this through the ingenious choice of marriages. Here, the Confucian traditions often appear in the form of arranged marriages. Yet she shows how young couples persistently try to sidestep this format.
Along the way, a non-Korean reader is also rewarded by many insights into Korean society. Things that an outsider who does not speak the language would simply miss.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting Married in Korea May 11 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to learn more about Korean culture in general or is looking for info spacifically on weddings. It is easy to read and understand the concepts. Despite being packed with information, the book does not overwhelm.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learn about Korean society July 3 2004
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
An at times funny read of the intersection of two cultures. One is the modern consumerist culture, that has taken firm hold in South Korea since the 1980s. The other is a traditional Confucian morality steeped in centuries of lore.
Kendall studies this through the ingenious choice of marriages. Here, the Confucian traditions often appear in the form of arranged marriages. Yet she shows how young couples persistently try to sidestep this format.
Along the way, a non-Korean reader is also rewarded by many insights into Korean society. Things that an outsider who does not speak the language would simply miss.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting case study in sociology, not Korean culture Nov. 8 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
this book is not for someone who would be interested into a systematic and quick introduction to Korean wedding customs.
The elements presented are of the case study type, showing the evolutions over time of a Korean family sampled for a PhD thesis. interesting for another scholarly work, it isn't so much for someone interested in understanding Korean marriage customs. Bits and pieces can be collected and summarised by oneself. This book is about "sociology", not "culture" per se.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea June 27 2012
By Vickie Burns - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Just as a previous reviewer commented: The most boring book of an interesting class. This required reading with antropology as its main focus, seemed to creep along. I could not keep it up. As a required reading, I had to get through it, but it was not an easy task. Ordinarily I can find something redeeming in almost all books, but this just wasn't my cup of tea.

The 1980s forward became western style marriages in wedding houses like a cheap Vegas ritual. In, out and quickly leave. That was truly sad. I hoped the old eastern traditions were still in place.

Other sections of the book went through details of wedding rituals done before 1980, using example weddings the author observed, while doing a dissertation project.

I did not enjoy this book.
6 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars the most boring book i read in a really interesting class June 8 2001
By Joyce - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Getting Married in Korea was one of the 3 books my Cultural Antro professor mandated us to read. The book is excruciatingly boring. Unlike his other reading assignments, I couldnt see myself pass the first chapter (or even the first page!). Fortunately, I finished the book in a month. (woohooo). The content was in detail and the book with only few graphics. i thought it could have been better if the author stuck more pictures in their to at least entertain the reader while reading!
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