Confucian Statecraft and Korean Institutions: Yu Hyongwon and the Late Choson Dynasty

Paperback | April 17, 2014

byJames B. Palais

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Seventeenth-century Korea was a country in crisis—successive invasions by Hideyoshi and the Manchus had rocked the Chosòn dynasty (1392-1910), which already was weakened by maladministration, internecine bureaucratic factionalism, unfair taxation, concentration of wealth, military problems, and other ills. Yu Hyòngwòn (1622–1673, pen name, Pan’gye), a recluse scholar, responded to this time of chaos and uncertainty by writing his modestly titled Pan’gye surok (The Jottings of Pan’gye), a virtual encyclopedia of Confucian statecraft, designed to support his plan for a revived and reformed Korean system of government.

Although Yu was ignored in his own time by all but a few admirers and disciples, his ideas became prominent by the mid-eighteenth century as discussions were underway to solve problems in taxation, military service, and commercial activity. Yu has been viewed by Korean and Japanese scholars as a forerunner of modernization, but in Confucian Statecraft and Korean Institutions James B. Palais challenges this view, demonstrating that Yu was instead an outstanding example of the premodern tradition.

Palais uses Yu Hyòngwòn’s mammoth, pivotal text to examine the development and shape of the major institutions of Chosòn dynasty Korea. He has included a thorough treatment of the many Chinese classical and historical texts that Yu used as well as the available Korean primary sources and Korean and Japanese secondary scholarship. Palais traces the history of each of Yu’s subjects from the beginning of the dynasty and pursues developments through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He stresses both the classical and historical roots of Yu’s reform ideas and analyzes the nature and degree of proto-capitalistic changes, such as the use of metallic currency, the introduction of wage labor into the agrarian economy, the development of unregulated commercial activity, and the appearance of industries with more differentiation of labor.

Because it contains much comparative material, Confucian Statecraft and Korean Institutions will be of interest to scholars of China and Japan, as well as to Korea specialists. It also has much to say to scholars of agrarian society, slavery, landholding systems, bureaucracy, and developing economies.

Winner of the John Whitney Hall Book Prize, sponsored by the Association for Asian Studies

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Seventeenth-century Korea was a country in crisis—successive invasions by Hideyoshi and the Manchus had rocked the Chosòn dynasty (1392-1910), which already was weakened by maladministration, internecine bureaucratic factionalism, unfair taxation, concentration of wealth, military problems, and other ills. Yu Hyòngwòn (1622–1673, pen n...

James B. Palais was professor of history at the University of Washington and the author of Policy and Politics in Traditional Korea.‰ÛÏMarks a watershed in East Asian studies on Confucian statecraft and Korean studies on the Choson dynasty (1392-1910) in particular.... Will remain for decades to come a cornerstone of Korean Studies an...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:1288 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:April 17, 2014Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295993782

ISBN - 13:9780295993782

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionPART 1: THE EARLY CHOSON DYNASTY, 1392-1650Confucian Statecraft in the Founding of ChosonThe Disintegration of the Early Choson System to 1592Post-Imjin Developments in Military Defense and the EconomyPART 2: SOCIAL REFORM: YANGBAN AND SLAVESIntroductionRemolding the Ruling Class through Education and SchoolsNew Schools: Conservative Restraints on RadicalismSlavery: The Slow Path to AbolitionConclusionPART 3: LAND REFORMIntroductionLand Reform: Compromises with the Well-Field ModelRedistributing Wealth through Land ReformLate Choson Land Reform ProposalsConclusionPART 4: MILITARY REFORMIntroductionThe Royal Division Model: Rotating Duty Soldiers and Support TaxpayersThe Debate over the Military Training Agency, 1651-82The Search for Alternative Modes of Military FinanceMilitary Reorganization, Weapons, and WallsThe Military Service System, 1682-1870ConclusionPART 5: REFORM OF GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONIntroductionThe King and His CourtReforming the Central BureaucracyPersonnel PolicyProvincial and Local AdministrationThe Community Compact System (Hyangyak)Yu Hyongwon's Community Compact RegulationsConclusionPART 6: FINANCIAL REFORM AND THE ECONOMYIntroductionTribute and the Taedong ReformThe Taedong Model for Official Salaries and ExpensesCopper Cash and the Monetary SystemYu Hyongwon's Analysis of CurrencyThe Cycle of Inflation and DeflationCash and Economic Change after 1731ConclusionEpilogue: The Complexities of Korean Confucian StatecraftNotesGlossaryList of Kings of the Choson DynastyList of NamesBibliographyIndex