Traditional Korean society confined women to the domesticity as Confucianism was the prevailing social ideology, especially during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), resulting in pronounced male domination. Girls were taught the virtues of daughterhood, wifehood, and motherhood, with primary roles designated within the space of the home. With the opening of the country to the outside world in the late 19th century and as modern schools were introduced to the peninsula, women began to engage in the arts and education, and in turn, public life.

With the establishment of the Republic of Korea in 1948, women achieved constitutional rights for equal opportunities to pursue education and public work. The female labor force contributed significantly to the rapid economic growth that Korea achieved during this time, as increasing numbers of women engaged in professional fields.

With economic development of Korea as a whole, participatory democracy, and expansion of welfare policies, women showed significant contributions to society. In 1998, the Presidential Commission on Women’s Affairs was established and in 2001 expanded to become the Ministry of Gender Equality.