Getting to know… Ji Young JUNG


A series introducing the Visiting Scholars & Fellows in residence at HYI this year

Ji-Young JUNG (Professor of Women’s Studies, Ewha Womans University; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2023-24)
“Refiguring the Virtues of Women: Gender Politics and the Concept of ‘Nation’ in Late Chosŏn Korea”

What got you interested in your research topic?

I remember first learning about the Japanese colonial period in junior high school, and deciding to become a historian. I eventually majored in history in college and advanced to graduate school. When I was in the Ph.D. program, my then advisor was working on inputting information from Chosŏn-era household registers to the database. I took part in the project, then discovered that lots of women were “head of the household” in 17th and 18th century household registers. In previous scholarship, they had been classified as “other.” In my Ph.D. dissertation (2001), I explored the process by which gender relations got newly constructed, centering on women heads of the household. It happened that there was a women’s rights movement to abolish the androcentric “heads of the family” system at the time. The system was eventually abolished in 2008. My research, which demonstrated that androcentric “head of the household” system of the 20th century was, in fact, not a continued tradition inherited from the Chosŏn period, provided the movement with academic groundwork. The belief that my research could bring about actual social change, and the resolve to carry out that kind of research, has been the driving force behind my research.

Outside of work, where can we find you?

At the Boston Symphony Orchestra Concert Hall. I like orchestral concerts; I have been to about ten so far. I like to listen to the music from the third floor balcony. You can also find me walking along the walking paths by the Charles River, or staring into the sunset on the John W. Weeks Footbridge.

What would you want to do most as a career if you were not in academia?

I used to want to be a musician or a tour guide before, but that has changed recently. Now I want to do work related to flora or fauna. I want to understand what the animals are trying to communicate and facilitate the communication between non–human animals and humans (which I believe to be possible), or grow plants. Perhaps my head is too heated from the life as a researcher. I find solace in nature.

Read Prof. Jung’s bio on our website!

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