Essay title: Use your chosen ethnography to examine ways in which the ordering of relatives may reveal information about spiritual, political or economic life among the people you have studied. Kinship in Korea Traditionally Korean culture is a collectivist and hierarchical society. These structures are reflected everywhere in Korean life which helps to make sense about how Koreans have strong kinship, respect and obedience to their elders. Many anthropologists suggest that among Koreans there is a strong bond between relatives and clan members.
Traditionally Koreans have family centred principles and the extended family is the first place to which people turn when they find themselves in trouble. Kin groups are very important to Korean people’s daily life in many ways. It is important to know who has got what surname, because it can be defined whether they are from the same clan or not. Haviland, W (2002) defined clan as a non corporate descent group whose member claim descent from a common ancestor without actually knowing the genealogical links to that ancestor.
Even if there are a hundred, or a thousand people who have the same surname, they all believe they all come from same ancestor. Quote from Brandt, V. S. R. (1971) ‘In its ideal form the Korean kinship system is integrated, coherent, and elaborately documented all the way from single households in the village to lineage organizations or sibs that exist on a national scale and can include more than a million members. ‘ (p. 109) In western culture, family means father, mother and siblings which can be described as the nuclear family structure.
In Korea however, family means something much wider. It includes grand parents, parents, siblings, uncles, aunties, and cousins in the extended family structure. And some people still live as an extended family or live with their elderly parents after marriage. Even though, the nuclear family became a very common family structure in Korea , family members often reside in the same neighbourhood and maintain frequent contact and those who live far away tend to get together on special occasions such as traditional holidays, a relative’s marriage and the birth of a new born baby.
So if kinship is one of the significant parts of Korean culture then it could show off in their life in many ways such as spiritual, political or economic life. Now I am going to present my essay about kinship in South Korea; kinship on spiritual perspective and economic perspective. First of all, let me explain Korean family kinship and spiritual life. As I mentioned from the beginning, Koreans have strong kin relationships with relatives and they believe that this kinship goes on even after death.
They think the ancestors take care of all descendants and if descendants do not worship their ancestors, there will be a misfortune for descendants and even the next generation. Many practice Ancestor worship (we call ‘Che-sa’) to remember their ancestors and to give thanks for them blessing us. Even though ‘ancestor worship’ comes from Chinese culture, Korean people have been keeping and developing the practice. As I was born in and grew up in Korea, in my experience, I do not think it is something to do with religion or shamanism. I think it is a Korean custom to just respect their ancestor.
Brandt, V (1971) suggests that ancestor worship in Korea is not superstitious or on cosmic principles, although there is a superstitious element involved in that ceremony, they just ask for their ancestors help to ensure the happiness, success and health of the living. For as long as I can remember, my family does ancestor worship three or four times, or even more, every year. It usually happens at night between ten and twelve o’clock on national holidays and the day of an ancestors’ death. It is now common to hold ancestral rituals for only two generations of ancestors, and in some cases, people only hold rituals for their deceased parents.