Journal List > Anat Biol Anthropol > v.32(2) > 1129908

Anat Biol Anthropol. 2019 Jun;32(2):53-59. Korean.
Published online Jun 30, 2019.
© 2019 Korean Association of Physical Anthropologists
A Life and Death of the Leprosy Patients in Joseon Society Considered from the Anthropological Perspective
Dong Hoon Shin,1 and Eun-kyoung Shin2
1Department of Anatomy, Seoul National University, Korea.
2Department of Social Welfare, Dankook University, Korea.

Correspondence to: Email:
Received May 06, 2019; Revised Jun 10, 2019; Accepted Jun 10, 2019.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Leprosy is an important topic in the research field of bioanthropology and paleopathology. In this study, by reviewing historical documents, we are to investigate the life and death of leprosy patients during Joseon period. In historical records of Korea, though many leprosy patients suffered from being casted out of the Joseon society, some lucky patients spent the rest of life at home, fully supported by their family and relatives. Although these cases might not represent the entire leprosy patient, when they died, the family buried them politely according to the Confucian ritual commonly practiced at the time. Actually, very few leprosy cases in Korean history have been reported from anthropological studies so far. The present review shows that the discovery of leprosy patients from ancient human skeletons in Korea is not entirely hopeless.

Keywords: Leprosy; Joseon period; Paleopathology; History

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