Gender in Korean Language

In traditional society, Korean women often place themselves in a position of powerlessness, and this in turn is observed in their everyday speech patterns. Some examples of this can be seen in: (1) a woman’s use of softer tone in order to minimize conflict or aggression; (2) a married woman introducing herself as someone’s mother or wife, not with her own name; (3) the presence of gender differences in titles and occupational terms (for example, a sajang is a company president and yŏsajang is a female company president.); (4) and females sometimes using more tag questions and rising tones in statements, much like the way that young children talk.

In western societies, individuals will avoid expressions of power asymmetry, mutually addressing each other by their first names for the sake of solidarity. Between two people of asymmetrical status in a Korean society, people tend to emphasize differences in status for the sake of solidarity. Koreans prefer to use kinship terms rather than any other terms of reference. In traditional Korean society, women have long been in disadvantaged positions. Korean social structure traditionally consisted of a royal monarch, a patriarchically dominated family system that emphasizes the maintenance of family lines. This structure has tended to separate roles of women from those of men.

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