Description

Confucian Statecraft and Korean Institutions

Yu Hyongwon and the Late Choson Dynasty

James B. Palais

  • Published: May 2014
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies, Political Science
  • Bibliographic information: 1288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25 in.
  • Series: Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
  • Contents

Seventeenth-century Korea was a country in crisis-successive invasions by Hideyoshi and the Manchus had rocked the Chosśn dynasty (1392-1910), which already was weakened by maladministration, internecine bureaucratic factionalism, unfair taxation, concentration of wealth, military problems, and other ills. Yu Hyśngwśn (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 Hyśngwśn's mammoth, pivotal text to examine the development and shape of the major institutions of Chosśn 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
James B. Palais was professor of history at the University of Washington and the author of Policy and Politics in Traditional Korea.ńˇýMarks 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 and required reading for specialists and students alike who are interested in Confucian statecraft and institutions in East Asia.ńˇ? ńˇ"Journal of Asian Studies
Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction
PART 1: THE EARLY CHOSON DYNASTY, 1392-1650
Confucian Statecraft in the Founding of Choson
The Disintegration of the Early Choson System to 1592
Post-Imjin Developments in Military Defense and the Economy
PART 2: SOCIAL REFORM: YANGBAN AND SLAVES
Introduction
Remolding the Ruling Class through Education and Schools
New Schools: Conservative Restraints on Radicalism
Slavery: The Slow Path to Abolition
Conclusion
PART 3: LAND REFORM
Introduction
Land Reform: Compromises with the Well-Field Model
Redistributing Wealth through Land Reform
Late Choson Land Reform Proposals
Conclusion
PART 4: MILITARY REFORM
Introduction
The Royal Division Model: Rotating Duty Soldiers and Support Taxpayers
The Debate over the Military Training Agency, 1651-82
The Search for Alternative Modes of Military Finance
Military Reorganization, Weapons, and Walls
The Military Service System, 1682-1870
Conclusion
PART 5: REFORM OF GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION
Introduction
The King and His Court
Reforming the Central Bureaucracy
Personnel Policy
Provincial and Local Administration
The Community Compact System (Hyangyak)
Yu Hyongwon's Community Compact Regulations
Conclusion
PART 6: FINANCIAL REFORM AND THE ECONOMY
Introduction
Tribute and the Taedong Reform
The Taedong Model for Official Salaries and Expenses
Copper Cash and the Monetary System
Yu Hyongwon's Analysis of Currency
The Cycle of Inflation and Deflation
Cash and Economic Change after 1731
Conclusion
Epilogue: The Complexities of Korean Confucian Statecraft
Notes
Glossary
List of Kings of the Choson Dynasty
List of Names
Bibliography
Index
Reviews