Lee Hyo-jae

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Lee Hyo-jae
Born(1924-11-04)November 4, 1924
DiedOctober 4, 2020(2020-10-04) (aged 95)
Known forSocial activism, women's rights advocacy
Korean name
Revised RomanizationLee Hyojae
McCune–ReischauerLee Hyochae

Lee Hyo-jae (November 4, 1924 – October 4, 2020) was a South Korean social activist who advocated for women's rights. She is noted for pioneering gender studies and campaigning for gender equality in South Korea.


Lee was born in Masan, South Gyeongsang Province, Chōsen (Japanese occupied Korea), later part of independent South Korea. Her father, Lee Yak-shin, was a church minister and her mother, Lee Oak-kyung, was a social worker whose career included running an orphanage.[1]

She completed her bachelor's degree in Alabama, and a master's degree in sociology from Columbia University.[1][2] On her return to South Korea following her studies, she helped found the department of sociology in Ewha Womans University in 1958. She also established the first course at the university on women's studies in 1977, which went on to become South Korea's first graduate program on women's studies.[1]

Campaigns advocated by Lee included the reexamination of patriarchal customs in South Korea including male denomination of heads of households as well as discrimination against women in property inheritance. She was also noted for her advocacy for quotas for female employment as well as actions towards wage equality for men and women.[2] Her actions led to abolishment of the country's patriarchal naming system, allowing for people to use both parents' surnames.[1] She also helped establish a rule that required half of the candidates for South Korea's National Assembly to be women.[1]

Her campaigns also led to a demand for Japan to pay monetary compensation to comfort women, who were sexual slaves for Japanese armed forces during the Japanese occupation of Korea.[3]

Lee died on October 4, 2020 from sepsis, in Changwon, South Korea, aged 95.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Astor, Michael (November 14, 2020). "Lee Hyo-jae, Champion of Women's Rights in South Korea, Dies at 95". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Herald, The Korea. "The Korea Herald". www.koreaherald.com. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  3. ^ "Feminist Lee wins YWCA award". koreatimes. April 17, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2020.