7 Interesting Facts About Kisaeng "Korean Geishas"


What's a kisaeng? Watch the latest episode of KWOW above. Then learn some more little known facts below!

1. Confucian scholars tried to get rid of the kisaeng class. However failed because, as one theory states, government officials feared that other men would steal their wives.

2. Yeon San Gun, the 10th King of the Joseon Dynasty, was infamous for capturing 1,000 females nationwide to serve as his palace kisaeng. He turned the Seonggyungwan Hall of Study into a house of personal pleasure. Yeon San Gun was eventually dethroned, exiled, then died within the same year. His young sons were beheaded.

Left: Kisaeng performing at the court of King Seonjo. Right: close-up of palace kisaeng in dance attire.

Left: Kisaeng performing at the court of King Seonjo. Right: close-up of palace kisaeng in dance attire.

3. The most renowned kisaeng training institute was once located in Pyongyang, which today is the capital of North Korea. Those of kisaeng descent are highly frowned upon in North Korea.

4. Kisaeng had gibu. Gibu were men who protected kisaeng, as well as assist with finances. Some jealous gibu created tension with their kisaeng's patrons. Sounds like a real-life Korean drama!

5. Some wealthy patrons went broke after spending too much money on kisaeng entertainment. They lost their status and became gibu (see #4).

Above: Pyongyang kisaeng wearing dancer's hanbok.

Above: Pyongyang kisaeng wearing dancer's hanbok.

6. When kisaeng had children and the biological father was from the royal family, the son would inherit his father's status while the daughter would inherit her mother's.

7. Medical kisaeng studied well and passed exams were rewarded. Those who failed were punished and assigned to be tea brewers.



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