Beyond the Comfort Zone: Female Gugak Musicians Responding to 21st Century Korea
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While individuals in the gugak (Korean traditional music) scene have been predominantly females, traditional gendered barriers still persist, limiting women’s musical practices. Through historical and ethnographical analysis, I emphasize individual and collective endeavors of female gugak performers to claim their own voice in contemporary Korean society and explore how their identities have continuously challenged, negotiated, and transformed through those endeavors. Despite traditional gender normativity that has been long established and reinforced by ruling ideologies and power relations, these female gugak performers have blurred such boundaries employing gugak as a powerful means of creating new spaces. Women’s gugak, therefore, serves as a form of autonomy and resistance that further empowers female body and strengthen its agency. As it reconstructs power dynamics, their musical practice further reveals gugak’s new possibility in contemporary society.
Lee, Jeongin (2016). Beyond the Comfort Zone: Female Gugak Musicians Responding to 21st Century Korea. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from