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Kisaeng (also spelled gisaeng), sometimes called ginyeo (기녀), were officially sanctioned Korean female entertainers or sometimes prositutes. Kisaeng are artists who work to entertain others, such as the yangbans and kings.

First appearing in the Goryeo Dynasty, kisaeng were legally entertainers of the government, required to perform various functions for the state. Many were employed at court, but they were also spread throughout the country. They were carefully trained, and frequently accomplished in the fine arts, poetry, and prose, although their talents were often ignored due to their inferior social status.

Women of the kisaeng class performed various roles, although they were all of the same low status in the eyes of yangban society. Aside from entertainment, these roles included medical care and needlework. In some cases, such as at army bases, kisaeng were expected to fill several such roles.

Kisaeng, both historic and fictional, play an important role in Korean conceptions of the traditional culture of the Joseon Dynasty. Some of Korea's oldest and most popular stories, such as the tale of Chunhyang, feature kisaeng as heroines. Although the names of most real kisaeng have been forgotten, a few are remembered for an outstanding attribute, such as talent or loyalty. The most famous of these is the 16th-century kisaeng Hwang Jin-i.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Kisaeng" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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