서 영 준 aka Eddie Sanchez The Yi Dynasty The Yi Dynasty, also called the Chosun Dynasty, is the last and longest-lived imperial dynasty of Korea. General 이 성 계 founded the Yi Dynasty when he overthrew the Koryo dynasty. It lasted until 1910 when Korea ceased to be an independent sovereign state after being annexed by Japan. During the Chosun Dynasty, Korea’s class system was very defined and social mobility was defined. Primarily, one could theoretically go up through Chosun’s education system, which was Confucian based. Commerce was controlled by the government, but as time went on, government loosened its grip over trading and commerce.
In 1392, General 이 성 계 , or King 태 조 as he was later known, became ruler of Korea. Confucian replaced Buddhism as the main ideological influence, and a rigidly structured, hierarchical social system evolved, dominating the kingdom for five centuries (Washam).
These measures effectively undercut the societal influence of both Koryo’s Buddhist hierarchy and the old aristocracy. This cleared the way for the new elite class that would dominate Korea for the next 500 years Great landowners and a Confucianist scholar-gentry, known 양 반 , dominated agriculture, politics, and foreign policy. The 양 반 was comprised of the literati, or educated, class. They monopolized civil and military posts in the new national bureaucracy.
... .yahoo.com/exploring-business-customs-south-korea-2851731.html Korea Legal System Overview. (2009, March). Retrieved December ... Learning, suffered persecution during the Choson Dynasty for renouncing their ancestral rites as ... white clothes reserving colors for the upper class or during festive occasions. Rubber shoes ... South Korea’s transition to democracy in 1988, the economy has been dominated to ...
The primary way into the bureaucracy was to be successful in the civil service examinations. Since 양 반 families were exempt from taxes and labor, they were able to fully devote their time to studying while those who were not born into 양 반 families generally did not move up in the social structure due to the fact that they needed to work to survive and pay taxes. Thus, social mobility was difficult and extremely uncommon. However, theoretically and ideally, one could escape the lower classes through mastering the civil service examination. Beneath them were the crafts people and artists who were highly esteemed because of their skills and talents. Astronomers and physicians were also included in this group.
During the Yi Dynasty, Korean landscape painting becomes popular. Also, the Korean ceramics industry is renewed. Craftsmen begin producing white porcelain as well as 분 청 자 기 . Craftsmen manufactured many 분 청 ceramic pieces for the government as well as for artistic purposes. Porcelain, on the other hand, was basically centralized. Porcelain was managed by the royal court.
Perhaps, that is why the craftsmen were highly regarded (Lee).
Below the craftspeople in the official order were the common people who made up 75 percent of the population. The class distinctions between the nobleman and the common person was very evident during the Chosun. Whenever a nobleman passed by in the street, all commoners had to go down on their knees and bow even if they were carrying a heavy load. If commoners had to bow every time noblemen crosses their path, it would take them a long time to get to where they were going.
Therefore, narrow alleyways, still present today, were created so that no horse could traverse them (Jongno-gu).
The common people worked the land, but few of them owned their own land. Most peasants worked for landowners and were not free to leave their landlord without permission from the king. Despite all this, the society regarded them as being “the foundation of the nation” (Smitha).
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Recognized as being below farm laborers were the merchants, fitting the Confucianism view of commerce as greed and dishonesty. Merchants were known as individuals who took money from hardworking people and in return gave them goods that they themselves did not make.
Farmers lived a harder life than merchants, but certainly had more prestige. However, below greed and dishonesty existed the low-born, 천 민 . This fifth class consisted of butchers, gravediggers, those who worked with leather, basket makers, those who peeled bark, sorcerers, and shamans. Those in public entertainment, such as female entertainers, along with Buddhist monks and nuns also comprised this last class. Slaves were also part of this last group. Slaves could not own property or even other slaves.
In fact, slaves themselves were considered property. Although numerous at the beginning of the Chosun Dynasty, their numbers had dwindled by the time slavery was officially abolished at the end of the nineteenth century (US Library).
Since performance on the civil service examinations determined position and position determined how much land one controlled, those who had long standing government influence usually amassed a large amount of land. Along with land came wealth which allowed the rich to get richer in the form of expansion by agricultural estates at the expense of small farmers. The changing times of the late Chosun dynasty and economic activity allowed some fluidity between the classes. Many 양 반 families fell into poverty, while other commoners amassed great wealth and even began to buy themselves into social ranking (Seoul Searching).
Traditionally, even until today, education is and has remained the single most important factor affecting social mobility. Confucianism was a core ideology in order to produce bureaucrats who could lead the people and to edify those who were able to follow Confucian ethics and values. People of power and significance require top educational backgrounds not only because education gives them the cultural sophistication and technical expertise needed to manage large, complex organizations, but also because subordinates will not work diligently for an uneducated person (Chung).
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Throughout the Chosun dynasty, a belief in education prevailed among Korea’s elite. Korea had five universities which were mainly for males from noble families. King 세 종 , however, motivated largely by the intent to further the education of the entire Korean populace, introduced 훈 민 정 음 in 1446.
This simple phonetic alphabet, known today as 한 글 , was perfectly designed for the writing of spoken Korean and was an ideal way for many who, unlike 양 반 males, have neither the opportunity nor reason to become proficient in the more difficult Chinese writing system (Metropolitan).
The best of the elite universities was 성 균 관 , otherwise known as the National Confucian Academy. 성 균 관 students studied to pass the과 거 , the state examination that was used to recruit ranking officials. The 과 거 system was the backbone of Confucian elite education during the Chosun period. The Confucian education system that depended on the 과 거 examinations was maintained until the late 19 th century (Lee).
Eventually, the과 거 system was discontinued due to foreign influence.
The Confucian traditions, even though they are not formally taught, are evident even today in Korea. When General 이 성 계 took power in 1392, he moved the capital to present-day Seoul. A long wall was built around they city, linking the four mountains for protections. The wall had four main gates (North, South, East, West) and four smaller gates (Kim).
At the main gates, commerce has always been strong. Its presence can be felt nowadays as well. Doing business was a lowly occupation during the Chosun dynasty. Merchants were considered a vulgar if not greedy bunch of people. The Chosun government’s suppression of commerce was, in fact, more than mere prejudice against merchants. On top of it not being in accord with Confucian ethics, the government found that people bound to land through farming were easier to control.
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Commerce during this time was heavily monitored and restricted. Merchants who were fortunate enough to secure a license to sell from the government were allowed to trade good in Seoul. In smaller districts, peddlers and local traders survived but commerce was predominantly controlled by the license-bearing merchants (Yang, “Seoul… .” ).
The prime location for trade was downtown Seoul. If an unlicensed trader was found, merchants were formally allowed to punish those who broke the exclusive sales license.
Merchants forced the person to sell the product at half the original price or took it by force, citing their exclusive license. Towards the end of the 18 th century, the Chosun government undertook a reform measure that allowed everyone to freely trade their goods. King 정 조 announced, “Peddlers and hawkers alike have nothing to feel ashamed of. Whoever wants to conduct trade and commerce should feel free to do so. In the past, the government arrested and expelled those who wanted to sell their goods in the market, which is far from appropriate.” (Yang, “Chosun… .” ) Three large-scale markets emerged in 동 대 문 , 종 로 , and 남 대 문 .
Needless to say, they are currently flourishing markets in Seoul. The three markets traded both Korean products and goods from China and Japan. The booming business in Seoul spread into the countryside, which also saw the establishment of numerous markets in the 18 th century. Imports and exports were mainly to and from China and Japan until the 19 th century when the Europeans began to take much interest in Asia. The groundwork was laid for solid economic growth. As more and more merchants gained wealth, they became more powerful.
When the opportunity appeared, the began counterfeiting their “양 반” lineage and were able to enter the ranks of nobility. The extremely rigid social order was coming to an end. During the 1880 s, Western missionaries began to establish universities. One of these is the famous and very prestigious 연 세 University. Bibliography Chung, Tae Hoon. “South Korea.” web Jongno-Gu Office.
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“Pimatgol.” 2004. web Kim, Yong Jin (Director).
“Birth of a City (14 th – 15 th Centuries).” 2000. web curriculum/HS/2/2-text/2 189. htm Lee, Jeong Kyu (PhD).
“Confucian Thought Affecting Leadership and Organizational Culture of Korean Higher Education.” web 3/5-lee.
html Lee, So Young. “Choson Punch ” ong Ware: Between Celadon and Porcelain.” 2005. web punch. htm Metropolitan Museum of Art, The.
“Korea, 1400 – 1600 AD.” 2005. web Seoul Searching. “Korean History.” 2005. web Smitha, Frank E. “Korea’s Yi Dynasty, to 1700.” 2001. web US Library of Congress.
“South Korea: Traditional Social Structure.” web Washam, John. “History of Korea Part II.” 2002. web Yang, Sung Jin. “Chosun Government Tightly Controlled Trade, Commerce, Marketplaces.” web Yang, Sung Jin. “Seoul Merchants Enjoy Absolute Monopoly.” web.