Women and East Asian Art

Secret Meeting Under the Moon

Secret Meeting Under the Moon, Sin Yun Bok, 18th Century

Secret Meeting Under the Moon is a genre painting drawn by Shin Yun Bok in the 18th century. It depicts an illicit moonlight tryst with an subtle observer from a distance. [1]

In Joseon, the color and garments are symbolic of the person’s status and position. The blue uniform and a blue belt imply the man is a guard. The helmet and his staff imply his high-class status as an official. Thus, the man is most likely a guard of some royal or high-class family. The blue pants of a woman’s hanbok implies that she is married and the blue edge around the wrist of the hanbok implies having a son. Thus, the woman being hugged is most likely a proud mother due to her evident choice of clothing. The other woman is observing the intimate couple from a distant. From her calm and satisfied expression, she is most likely a middleman who arranged the tryst. The observer, from her hairstyle, is mostly a kisaeng. Hence, the woman interacting with a man is a lower class due to her association with a kisaeng.

The interaction between the couple is obviously a tryst because they are meeting illicitly under the moonlight. Furthermore, the interaction is intimate and sexual; the man and the woman’s lips are closing in, the man is grasping the woman, and the woman’s right hand is on her breast.

Taking account the man’s high position, he is depicted unscrupulous. Though it is unclear if the relationship is genuine or purely sexual, the interaction is mutual. Regardless the man has more to lose. The man is risking his reputation, men’s most priceless asset, by indulging himself with the fantasy of women that is supposedly romanticized.


[1]“http://Www.designersparty.com/Entry/A-Secret-Meeting-under-the-Moon-Shin-Yun-Bok.” Designers Party : A secret meeting under the moon : Yun-bok Shin. Accessed December 1, 2019. http://www.designersparty.com/entry/A-secret-meeting-under-the-moon-Shin-Yun-bok.

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