June 2, 2020

Journal Article: The Historical Background of the Popularity of Genealogies in Korea

Sangwoo HAN. “The Historical Background of the Popularity of Genealogies in Korea”, Journal of Family History. First Published June 1, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0363199020928364


The widespread trend for compiling genealogies in Korea is known to have emerged around the seventeenth century. To explain this, scholars have pointed to the influence of neo-Confucianism and similarities with Chinese genealogical traditions. However, this study focuses on the inclusionary and exclusionary forces within Korean genealogy with the former drawing more members into the genealogy and the latter resulting in fewer family members being included. In particular, this study draws attention to the selective recording of patrilineal family members and to the frequent inclusion of relatives-in-law in Korean genealogies. The social hierarchy system of premodern Korea appears to have been the most crucial factor in determining the particular features and popularity of Korean genealogies, and in this article, I draw attention to how this accounts for the differences between Korean genealogy and the genealogical traditions of other East Asian societies.