One Woman’s Take on Life in Chosŏn Korea
The Kyuhap ch’ongsŏ [The Encyclopedia of Daily Life] was compiled by Lady Yi Pinhŏgak (1759-1824) in the early years of the nineteenth century. The work was meant to be a guide to knowledge that womenfolk needed to properly manage a household and was passed on to her daughters and daughters-in-law. This translation covers two of the five volumes of the work that cover food and drink, and prenatal care, medicine, and first aid. The work gives great insight into what upper status women held to be important during this period and how they sought to achieve their goals. Lady Yi used various sources for her work including those written in Literary Chinese, Korean, and also oral knowledge that must have circulated widely at the time. The result is a work unlike any other that gives readers a small glimpse into the lives of upper status women during this time.
Michael J. Pettid is a Professor of Korean Studies at Binghamton University where he has taught since 2003. Prior to that, he received his doctorate from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and taught in Korea at the Academy of Korean Studies and Ewha Women’s University. The focus of his research and teaching is premodern Korea's history, literature, religion, and culture. His most recent books are the co-edited volumes of Premodern Korean Literary Prose (Columbia University Press, 2018) and Death, Mourning, and the Afterlife in Korea: Critical Aspects of Death from Ancient to Contemporary Times (University of Hawaii Press, 2014); he also has monographs of Unyŏng-on: A Love Affair at the Royal Palace of Chosŏn Korea (Institute of East Asian Studies, UC Berkeley), and Korean Cuisine: An Illustrated History (Reaktion Books, 2008) among numerous other publications. His most recent publication is a co-authored an annotated translation of a nineteenth century guidebook for women, the Kyuhap ch’ongsŏ [The Encyclopedia of Daily Life] (University of Hawaii Press, 2021).