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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Korean Folklore and Implications for Korean American Women

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 3.0 license

We are shaped by what our parents and grandparents impart to us through story.  Our very identity formations rest upon traditions embedded into collective memory.  Korean folklore, the shaman’s sacred text, once celebrated feminine power, but through patriarchal reinterpretations and the emergence of new Confucian folklore traditions, the shaman and the women who resemble her in independence, influence, and sexual liberation are no longer venerated but vilified.  Though the primordial shaman is long forgotten, Korean folklore remains a part of Korean American women’s patriarchal recollection.  By examining the narratives of Korean American women and the folk traditions of the filial woman, spirit, and fox, this paper argues that Korean folklore continues to disseminate Confucian and patriarchal values into the lived experiences of Korean American women, warning against the emulation of her shaman counterpart.

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