The Origins of the Choson Dynasty

John B. Duncan

  • Published: 2000
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies
    Political Science
  • Bibliographic information: 400 pp., 26 tables, 10 charts, notes, glossary, bibliog., index
  • Territorial rights: World
  • Series: Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
  • Contents

Scholars have long held that Korea’s Choson dynasty (1392-1910) was established by a new socioeconomic class of scholar-officials of local-landlord origins who overthrew the capital-based aristocracy of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392). The Origins of the Choson Dynasty refutes that view, showing that a key feature of the dynastic transition was continuity in the structure and composition of the central ruling class and arguing that the main force behind the establishment of the Choson was the need to revamp institutions to protect aristocratic interests. The change of dynasties thus was less a revolution than a culmination of a centuries-old effort to create a centralized bureaucratic polity.

Drawing on a wealth of data compiled from primary sources and presented here in 26 tables and 10 genealogical charts, The Origins of the Choson Dynasty provides an exhaustive analysis of the structure and composition of the central officialdom of the Koryo-Choson transition and offers a new interpretation of the history of traditional Korea.

John Duncan is an associate professor in the Departments of History and East Asian Languages and Culture at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“A landmark study . . . an original and mature work of research.” - James B. Palais, University of Washington

“Duncan has assembled the fullest evidence to date.” - Martina Deuchler, University of London
List of Tables
List of Genealogical charts
The Koryo Political System
The Rise of a Central Bureaucratic Aristocracy
The Yangban in the Change of Dynasties
Institutional Crisis in the Late Koryo
Reform and Dynastic Change
The ideology of Reform
Some Final Considerations
Korean Dynasties and Kings
Glossary of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese Terms

"Duncan's book has quickly and rightly won itself a solid place in the field." - Korean Quarterly