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Revealing truth behind traditional funeral wear : Researcher discovers that burial ritual began under Japanese

Aug 22,2017
이미지뷰
Left: Korean traditional funeral wear not made of hemp fabric was excavated from the tomb of military official Shin Kyeong-yu (1581-1633) in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, in 2006. Right: The cover of the Ritual Standards (1934) written by the Japanese Government-General of Korea. [DANKOOK UNIVERSITY]
이미지뷰
Choi Yeon-woo, right, a professor in the Korean Traditional Clothes department at Dankook University stands in front of traditional funeral clothes that have been restored. Most Koreans think that the hemp funeral clothes that shroud a corpse, as shown at left, are an intrinsic part of the funeral culture of Korea. [DANKOOK UNIVERSITY]
Most Koreans believe that shrouding a corpse with hemp clothes is a traditional Korean custom that has been practiced for generations. Under Japanese colonization, great care was taken in preparing the hemp clothing called sui, as death was not considered the end of life, but a continuation into the next world. However, a study by Choi Yeon-woo, a professor at the Korean Traditional Clothing department at Dankook University, revealed that hemp clothing is not a cultural tradition that originated in Korea - rather, the outfits were often worn by prisoners in the Japanese colony.

Under Confucianism, which places great importance on four ceremonies - coming of age, marriage, funerals and ancestral rites - not only royal families, but also commoners earnestly prepared hemp clothing for their parents to show their filial duty. However, according to Choi’s research paper, this was influenced by Japan, where the fabric symbolizes criminals, downgrading and distorting Korea’s funeral customs.

Choi’s paper looks into how hemp clothing was introduced to Korea and how it proliferated and became one of Korea’s important customs. The first reference to hemp clothing, or sambe, is in the “Encyclopedia on the Dressmaking of the Joseon Dynasty,” which was written in 1925 by a teacher named Kim Sook-dang at Sookmyung Girls’ High School.

Kim has long been known as the author of Korea’s very first encyclopedia on the dressmaking culture of the Joseon era.

However, Choi’s research paper revealed for the first time that Kim used to work as a part-time employee at Pyongyang Girls’ High School from 1916 to 1921. The school was an institution of the Japanese Government-General of Korea, which was at the forefront of colonizing the country. In the list of employees for the Japanese Government-General of Korea, Kim’s name is included, which states that she had received 15 to 50 won (1-4 cents) for her monthly salary. After five years working for the Japanese Government-General of Korea, Kim moved to teaching at the private Sookmyung Girls’ High School, where she wrote the encyclopedia on the Joseon Dynasty’s dressmaking culture. That was around the same time that Japan changed its method of ruling Korea, from using force to so-called culture ruling, after experiencing the March First Independent Movement in 1919.

Choi’s paper states that Kim, using her position at the school, introduced in the book the hemp funeral clothes, which had nothing to do with Korea’s previous funeral customs, as a front for the Joseon Dynasty’s funeral custom. A detailed reasoning as to why Kim, a Korean, reported the custom as fact was unavailable, but through Choi’s paper it became evident.

Previous research revealing that sambe funeral clothing was a vestige of Japanese colonialism had been conducted, but Choi’s paper gave clear explanations as to how and why Koreans came to use hemp clothing for funerals. Choi’s paper is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Korean Traditional Costume, which is published by The Society of Korean Traditional Costume.

The Japanese Government-General of Korea included Kim’s introduction of sambe funeral clothes in the Ritual Standards (1934) and promoted it, making it a custom among the people. It is not clear if Kim was collaborating with the Japanese, but it is a fact that she had laid the groundwork for the funeral ritual of wearing sambe to be written into the Ritual Standards, turning it into a custom for Koreans.

At the time, the Japanese Government-General of Korea tried every possible way to enforce such ritual standards by deploying government officials, organizing groups and holding lectures and conferences. Choi explained that introducing sambe funeral clothes to Koreans was one of Japan’s colonial policies to strengthen their power over the Korean people. The Ritual of Standards was written right before going into full-scale war, although then-Governor-General of Korea Ugaki Kazushige introduced it insisting the importance of improving old conditions. Two years after the promulgation of the Ritual Standards, the Japanese started the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, followed by the Pacific War in 1941.

The Ritual Standards was Japan’s way of getting Koreans to donate the goods they had saved rather than working to improve the lives of those under their rule, explains Choi. An article published in a daily newspaper on Nov. 28, 1938 states the names of those living in Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang, who donated their savings to the Japanese shrine in Daegu after carrying out a funeral ceremony according to the Ritual Standards.

“By generalizing sambe funeral clothes, which symbolized criminals, the Japanese devastated the minds of the people in its colony,” said Choi in a telephone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily. “It’s similar to the case where the Japanese introduced making straw bags as a profitable side job for farmers and forced them donate part of the profits to the Japanese government. Japan also took advantage of the proceeds from proliferating sambe funeral clothing. This is why it can be interpreted as an act of colonial exploitation.”

BY KIM MIN-WOOK [sharon@joongang.co.kr]



[단독] 일제가 정착시킨 삼베 수의 … “수탈 강화하려 풍습 왜곡”

일제가 죄인을 상징하는 삼베로 짠 수의(壽衣)를 어떻게 식민지 조선에 등장시키고 확산해 왔는지 등을 확인시켜주는 연구결과가 나왔다.
관혼상제(冠婚喪祭)를 중시하는 유교 사상 속에서 왕실뿐만 아니라 민간 역시 비단 등으로 수의를 마련해 부모의 시신을 감싸는 것을 ‘효’로 여겼지만, 일제에 의해 ‘죄인’ 등이 입던 삼베 수의로 상례문화가 격하·왜곡된 과정을 설명해 주는 연구다.

최연우 단국대(전통의상학과) 교수가 최근 발표한 ‘현행 삼베수의의 등장 배경 및 확산과정 연구’ 논문에 따르면 삼베 수의는 1925년 숙명여자고등보통학교 교원 김숙당(金淑堂·여)이 쓴 『조선재봉전서(朝鮮裁縫全書)』를 통해 본격 등장한다.

김숙당은 그동안 한국 최초의 재봉 교재인 『조선재봉전서』의 저자로 알려졌는데 이번 논문에서 1916년부터 1921년까지 평양여자고등보통학교 촉탁직 교원으로 근무한 사실이 처음 확인됐다. 평양여고보는 일제의 식민통치·수탈기관인 조선총독부 직속 기관이다. 조선총독부 직원록을 보면, 김숙당은 월 급여로 15~50원을 받은 것으로 기록돼 있다. 김숙당은 이후 사립학교인 숙명여고보로 옮겨 『조선재봉전서』를 쓰기에 이른다. 당시는 일제가 3·1독립운동의 영향으로 식민정책을 무력에 의한 무단통치에서 ‘문화통치’로 바꾼 시기다.

그는 교원이라는 신분을 활용해 현실과 동떨어진 수의를 전면에 내세웠다. 그동안 학계에서는 조선인 김숙당이 왜 삼베 수의 정착에 발벗고 나섰는지 명확히 설명되지 않았는데 과거 조선총독부 직원 신분이 드러난 것이다. 삼베 수의가 일제 잔재라는 연구는 기존에도 있었지만 삼베 수의의 등장 배경과 확산 과정은 최 교수를 통해 이번에 밝혀졌다. 최 교수의 논문은 ㈔한복문화학회의 학술지 『한복문화』 최신호(여름호)에 실렸다.

최 교수에 따르면 우리 민족은 죄인을 상징하는 삼베 수의를 꺼렸다. 임진왜란 때 피란 중인 선조를 문안하지 않았다는 이유로 죄인이 된 성리학자 성혼(成渾·1535~98)은 자신의 유서에 “나는 군부에게 죄를 얻었으니 (중략) 옷은 삼베옷으로 하고 염은 삼베 이불로 하며 (중략) 나의 뜻을 어김이 없도록 하라”고 한 기록이 광해군 일기(3권)에 전해진다. 부모를 여읜 자식은 ‘죄인’이라는 의미로 삼베로 만든 상복을 입었다.

조선총독부는 김숙당이 내세운 삼베 수의를 ‘의례준칙(儀禮準則·1934년)’에 담아 공포, 조선사회 내 정착·확산에 본격적으로 나선다. 김숙당이 친일반민족행위를 한 근거는 전해지지 않지만 결과적으로 의례준칙 속 삼베 수의의 토대를 마련해 준 셈이다. 조선총독부는 공무원 조직을 활용하는 것은 기본이고 각종 단체, 이동 강연회 등 모든 수단을 총동원해 의례준칙 뿌리내리기에 나선다. 삼베 수의는 수탈을 더욱 공고히 하려 한 식민정책의 일환이라는 게 최 교수의 설명이다. 의례준칙 공포 당시 우가키 가즈시게(宇垣一成) 조선총독은 구태의 개선을 내세우고 있지만, 본격적인 전시체제를 앞두고 이뤄져서다. 일제는 공포 2년 후인 1937년 중일전쟁을, 1941년에는 태평양전쟁을 일으킨다.

의례준칙을 통해 식민 조선인의 궁핍한 삶을 개선하려는 게 아닌 절약한 물자를 국방금(물품)으로 헌납하게 하려는 속셈이 깔려 있다는 게 최 교수의 설명이다. 1938년 11월 28일 경북 김천의 상가에서 준칙에 따라 상례를 치른 뒤 절약한 현금을 대구신사(神社)에 헌납한 인물을 알리는 내용의 기사가 일간신문에 실렸다.

최 교수는 14일 중앙일보와의 통화에서 “죄인을 형상화하는 삼베 수의를 보편화해 식민지 조선인들의 정신을 피폐화시켰다”며 “농가 부업으로 장려해 놓고 수익금의 일부를 국방금으로 헌납하게 한 ‘가마니 짜기’처럼 삼베 수의 확산으로 얻은 잉여 자산이나 물자를 수탈하기도 했다. 식민정책의 일환으로 해석할 수 있다”고 말했다.

한편 단국대는 지난해 ‘땅으로 시집가는 날’이라는 전통 수의 전시회를 여는 등 복원사업을 벌이고 있다.


용인=김민욱 기자