On the 23th last month, the Suwon local court ruled against five women from Lee family originated in Yong-in who claimed the right to the ownership of the property belonging to Lee clan in a lawsuit against the clan authorities.
The judge said, the clan rules stipulate that all adults are entitled to be its members, but considering the nature and traditional practices of this group, it is hard to interpret that such clause is intended to include women as its members. Despite the ruling, the plaintiffs, who are married women, are firmly determined to fight against the clan authorities, arguing that it revised the clan membership qualifications without the presence of female members.
Previously, all adults regardless of gender could become the clan members, but the changed clause limits its membership to male adults. To the plaintiffs, it is unfair to be denied the right to family property just because they are married to other families when even sons aged under 20 or daughters-in law are entitled to.
Baehee Gwak, head of a family affairs law institute said, “In the past, contribution to the clan community was one of the considerations in allocating its property, but this time it was equally distributed to all male members. This shows that its operation follows the changes of the times, but applying discriminatory principles to married women is something that goes against the times.”
Joohyun Park, a lawyer, pointed out that the clan should grant equal membership to women and work together with women in order to justify its existence. Sticking to anachronistic and unfair practices not only compromises the spirit of the law, but hampers the growth of a society.
Wonsun Park, a lawyer and famous advocate for civil rights, contends that the case hurts the equal rights guaranteed on the Constitution, allowing for filing against the unconstitutionality of the ruling.
In response to the current development, women circle voiced their all-agreed opinion that such reactionary conventions are problematic. The civil laws based on patriarchal system need to be revised. Also they argued for the abolition of a clause in question stating that a son follow the family name and origin of his father and be registered in the father’s side.