Jokbo *Chokbo* Korean Family Tree

Yesterday my co-teacher and I were talking about Korea and Canada. He would tell me about Korea and I would tell him the Canadian perspective, or equivalent on the subject. But I was interested in one thing in particular 족보.  My teacher told me that most people (his words were 50%) of Koreans have a book called Chokbo or jokbo.

Jokbo is the western equivalent of the family tree. This genealogy chart was first created during the Joseon Dynasty, which lasted from 1392 – 1910. This chart was created so that others could easily trace ones liniage to the Yangban. The Yangban were the ruling class of the the time.  What surprised me was that people still carry on this tradition. Today being related to the  Yangban no longer holds the same advantages, but it is seen as something of interest. Kind of like saying, “I’m related to Norman Bethune.” It’s interesting, but it doesn’t really help me.

I didn’t really find a lot of information about this book, I assume most of it is in Korean. From what my teacher told me, he said that the book is passed down to the eldest son. I’m not sure what happens if you don’t have a son, does your family tree stop? He mentioned that the girls are written down in the book when they are born, but when they are married they are erased. I would like to know if they get to stay in the book if they do not have any brothers.

He also mentioned that it is a very big insult to say that someones family doesn’t have a Jokbo as this would mean that they came from a lower class. This leads me to wonder whether most people are decedents of the Yongban or did the lower classes begin to create their own family tree, regardless of association.

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