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Levirate Marriage and Kinship Groups

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the widespread practice of levirate as a preferential form of marriage in early Koguryŏ society, with attempts to understand the historical characteristics of levirate as an aspect of that period, while also delving into the transformations of early Koguryŏ society which were organically linked with its demise. In cases of enslavement or dispersed resettlement, the kinship groups would disintegrate so that levirate marriage was impossible or limited to brothers in the immediate family. Along with the gradual disappearance of levirate marriage came the breakdown in kinship groups, which was hastened by the concentration of royal power and wealth on the one hand and the subordination of groups such as POWs and slaves on the other, causing the levirate to die off even faster. Among royalty, the custom was passé, it was all downhill in the rest of society as wholesale deterioration set in.

Keywords: early Koguryŏ society; kinship groups; levirate marriage; passé; slaves



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