Joseon dynasty (also transcribed as Chosŏn or Chosun, Korean:
조선; also known as
Joseon of the House of Yi, Korean: 리조조선;
officially the Kingdom of Great Joseon, Korean: 대조선국) was a
Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries.
It was founded by
Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and was replaced by the
Korean Empire in October 1897. It was founded following the
aftermath of the overthrow of
Goryeo in what is today the city of
Kaesong. Early on,
Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to
modern-day Seoul. The kingdom's northernmost borders were expanded to
the natural boundaries at the rivers of Amnok and Tuman through the
subjugation of the Jurchens.
Joseon was the last dynasty of
During its reign,
Joseon encouraged the entrenchment of Chinese
Confucian ideals and doctrines in Korean society.
installed as the new dynasty's state ideology. Buddhism was
accordingly discouraged and occasionally faced persecutions by the
Joseon consolidated its effective rule over the territory of
Korea and saw the height of classical Korean culture, trade,
science, literature and technology. However, the dynasty was severely
weakened during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when the
Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98)
Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) and the first and second
Manchu invasions of 1636 nearly overran the Korean Peninsula, leading
to an increasingly harsh isolationist policy, for which the country
became known as the "hermit kingdom" in Western literature. After the
end of invasions from Manchuria,
Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year
period of peace.
However, whatever power the kingdom recovered during its isolation
further waned as the 18th century came to a close, and faced with
internal strife, power struggles, international pressure and
rebellions at home, the
Joseon dynasty declined rapidly in the late
Joseon period has left a substantial legacy to modern Korea; much
of modern Korean culture, etiquette, norms and societal attitudes
towards current issues developed during this period. The modern Korean
language, its dialects and Korea's majority ethnic group, which refer
to themselves as the "
Joseon people", derive from the culture and
traditions of Joseon.
1.1.2 Strife of princes
1.1.3 Consolidation of royal power
1.1.4 Sejong the Great
1.1.5 Six martyred ministers
1.1.6 Institutional arrangements and Prosper culture
1.1.7 Literati purges
1.2.1 Factional struggle
1.2.2 Early Japanese invasions
1.3.1 Emergence of
Silhak and renaissance of the Joseon
1.3.2 Government by in-law families
1.3.3 End of the dynasty
2.3 Central government
2.3.1 State Council
2.3.2 Six Ministries
2.3.3 Three Offices
2.3.4 Other offices
2.4 Local government
2.5 Administrative divisions
3 Foreign affairs
5.6 Buddhism and Confucianism
6 Science and technology
6.1 15th century
6.2 16th-19th century
8 Titles and styles during
9 House of Yi
10 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
Main article: History of the
Part of a series on the
History of Korea
Four Commanderies of Han
37 BC – 668 AD
18 BC – 660 AD
57 BC – 935 AD
Silla (Unified Silla)
Later Three Kingdoms
Taebong (Later Goguryeo)
Unitary dynastic period
Division of Korea
Science and technology
King Taejo's portrait
By the late 14th century, the nearly 500-year-old
in 918 was tottering, its foundations collapsing from years of war and
de facto occupation from the disintegrating Mongol Empire. Following
the emergence of the Ming dynasty, the royal court in
into two conflicting factions: the group led by General Yi (supporting
the Ming) and the camp led by General Choe (standing by the Yuan).
Goryeo claimed to be the successor of the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo
(which was later renamed Goryeo); as such, restoring
Manchuria as part
of Korean territory was part of its foreign policy throughout its
history. When a Ming messenger came to
Goryeo in 1388, the 14th year
of U of Goryeo, to demand that Goguryeo’s former northern territory
be handed over to Goryeo, General Choe seized the chance to argue for
an attack on the Liaodong Peninsula.
Yi was chosen to lead the attack; however, he revolted and swept back
to Gaegyeong and initiated a coup d'état, overthrowing King U in
favor of his son, Chang of
Goryeo (1388). He later killed King U and
his son after a failed restoration and forcibly placed a royal named
Yi on the throne (he became Gongyang of Goryeo). In 1392, Yi
eliminated Jeong Mong-ju, highly respected leader of a group loyal to
Goryeo dynasty, and dethroned King Gongyang, exiling him to Wonju, and
before he ascended the throne. The
Goryeo Dynasty had come to an end
after almost 500 years of rule.
In the beginning of his reign, Yi Seonggye, now ruler of Korea,
intended to continue use of the name
Goryeo for the country he ruled
and simply change the royal line of descent to his own, thus
maintaining the façade of continuing the 500-year-old Goryeo
tradition. However, after numerous threats of mutiny from the
drastically weakened but still influential Gwonmun nobles, who
continued to swear allegiance to the remnants of the
Goryeo and now
the demoted Wang clan, and the consensus in the reformed court was
that a new dynastic title was needed to signify the change. In naming
the new dynasty, Taejo contemplated two possibilities - "Hwaryeong"
and "Joseon". After much internal deliberation, as well as endorsement
by the neighboring Ming dynasty's emperor, Taejo declared the name of
the kingdom to be Joseon, a tribute to the ancient Korean state of
Gojoseon. He also moved the capital to Hanyang from Kaesong.
Strife of princes
The Throne Hall at Gyeongbokgung
Joseon dynasty monarchs
Sejong the Great
When the new dynasty was promulgated and officially brought into
existence, Taejo brought up the issue of which son would be his
successor. Although Yi Bangwon, Taejo's fifth son by Queen Sineui, had
contributed most to assisting his father's rise to power, the prime
Jeong Do-jeon and Nam Eun used their influence on King Taejo
to name his eighth son (second son of Queen Sindeok) Grand
(Yi Bangseok) as crown prince in 1392. This conflict arose largely
because Jeong Dojeon, who shaped and laid down ideological,
institutional, and legal foundations of the new dynasty more than
anyone else, saw
Joseon as a kingdom led by ministers appointed by the
king while Yi Bangwon wanted to establish the absolute monarchy ruled
directly by the king. With Taejo's support, Jeong Dojeon kept limiting
the royal family's power by prohibiting political involvement of
princes and attempting to abolish their private armies. Both sides
were well aware of each other's great animosity and were getting ready
to strike first.
After the sudden death of Queen Sindeok, while King Taejo was still in
mourning for his second wife, Yi Bangwon struck first by raiding the
palace and killed Jeong Dojeon and his supporters as well as Queen
Sindeok's two sons (his half-brothers) including the crown prince in
1398. This incident became known as the First Strife of Princes.
Aghast at the fact that his sons were willing to kill each other for
the crown, and psychologically exhausted from the death of his second
wife, King Taejo abdicated and immediately crowned his second son Yi
Banggwa as King Jeongjong. One of King Jeongjong's first acts as
monarch was to revert the capital to Kaesong, where he is believed to
have been considerably more comfortable, away from the toxic power
strife. Yet Yi Bangwon retained real power and was soon in conflict
with his disgruntled older brother, Yi Banggan, who also yearned for
power. In 1400, the tensions between Yi Bangwon's faction and Yi
Banggan's camp escalated into an all-out conflict that came to be
known as the Second Strife of Princes. In the aftermath of the
struggle, the defeated Yi Banggan was exiled to Dosan while his
supporters were executed. Thoroughly intimidated, King Jeongjong
immediately invested Yi Bangwon as heir presumptive and voluntarily
abdicated. That same year, Yi Bangwon assumed the throne of
long last as King Taejong, third king of Joseon.
Consolidation of royal power
In the beginning of Taejong's reign, the Grand King Former, Taejo,
refused to relinquish the royal seal that signified the legitimacy of
any king's rule. Taejong began to initiate policies he believed would
prove his qualification to rule. One of his first acts as king was to
abolish the privilege enjoyed by the upper echelons of government and
the aristocracy to maintain private armies. His revoking of such
rights to field independent forces effectively severed their ability
to muster large-scale revolts, and drastically increased the number of
men employed in the national military. Taejong's next act as king was
to revise the existing legislation concerning the taxation of land
ownership and the recording of state of subjects. With the discovery
of previously hidden land, national income increased twofold.
In 1399, Taejong had played an influential role in scrapping the
Dopyeong Assembly, a council of the old government administration that
held a monopoly in court power during the waning years of the Goryeo
Dynasty, in favor of the
State Council of Joseon (Hangul: 의정부
hanja: 議政府), a new branch of central administration that
revolved around the king and his edicts. After passing the subject
documentation and taxation legislation, King Taejong issued a new
decree in which all decisions passed by the State Council could only
come into effect with the approval of the king. This ended the custom
of court ministers and advisors making decisions through debate and
negotiations amongst themselves, and thus brought the royal power to
Shortly thereafter, Taejong installed an office, known as the Sinmun
Office, to hear cases in which aggrieved subjects felt that they had
been exploited or treated unjustly by government officials or
aristocrats. However, Taejong kept Jeong Dojeon's reforms intact for
most part. In addition, Taejong executed or exiled many of his
supporters who helped him ascend on the throne in order to strengthen
the royal authority. To limit influence of in-laws, he also killed all
four of his Queen's brothers and his son Sejong's father-in-law.
Taejong remains a controversial figure who killed many of his rivals
and relatives to gain power and yet ruled effectively to improve the
populace's lives, strengthen national defense, and lay down a solid
foundation for his successor Sejong's rule.
Sejong the Great
A page from the Hunmin Jeong-eum Eonhae, a partial translation of
Hunminjeongeum, the original promulgation of the Korean alphabet
In August 1418, following Taejong's abdication two months earlier,
Sejong the Great
Sejong the Great ascended the throne. In May 1419, King Sejong, under
the advice and guidance of his father Taejong, embarked upon the Gihae
Eastern Expedition to remove the nuisance of waegu (coastal pirates)
who had been operating out of Tsushima Island.
In September 1419, the daimyō of Tsushima, Sadamori, capitulated to
Joseon court. In 1443, The
Treaty of Gyehae was signed in which
the daimyō of Tsushima was granted rights to conduct trade with Korea
in fifty ships per year in exchange for sending tribute to
aiding to stop any Waegu coastal pirate raids on Korean
On the northern border, Sejong established four forts and six posts
(Hangul: 사군육진 hanja: 四郡六鎭) to safeguard his people
from the Jurchens, who later became the Manchus, living in Manchuria.
In 1433, Sejong sent Kim Jong-seo, a government official, north to
fend off the Jurchens. Kim's military campaign captured several
castles, pushed north, and restored Korean territory, roughly the
present-day border between
North Korea and China.
During the rule of Sejong,
Korea saw advances in natural science,
agriculture, literature, traditional Chinese medicine, and
engineering. Because of such success, Sejong was given the title
"Sejong the Great". The most remembered contribution of King
Sejong is the creation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet, in 1443;
everyday use of
Hanja in writing eventually was surpassed by
the later half of the 20th century.
Six martyred ministers
After King Sejong's death, his son Munjong continued his father's
legacy but soon died of illness in 1452, just two years after
coronation. He was succeeded by his twelve-year-old son, Danjong. In
addition to two regents,
Princess Gyeonghye also served as Danjong's
guardian and, along with the general Kim Jongso, attempted to
strengthen royal authority. However, Danjong's uncle, Sejo, gained
control of the government and eventually deposed his nephew to become
the seventh king of
Joseon himself in 1455. After six ministers loyal
to Danjong attempted to assassinate Sejo to return Danjong to the
throne, Sejo executed the six ministers and also killed Danjong in his
place of exile.
King Sejo enabled the government to determine exact population numbers
and to mobilize troops effectively. He also revised the land ordinance
to improve the national economy and encouraged publication of books.
Most importantly, he compiled the Grand Code for State Administration,
which became the cornerstone of dynastic administration and provided
the first form of constitutional law in a written form in Korea.
However, he undermined much foundation of the many systems including
the Jiphyeonjeon which his predecessors
King Sejong and Munjong had
carefully laid down, cutting down on everything he deemed unworthy of
the effort and thus caused countless complications in the long run.
Much of his own adjustments were done for his own power, not regarding
the consequences and problems that would occur. Furthermore, the
relentless favoritism which he showed towards the ministers who aided
him in the taking of the throne led to much corruption in the higher
echelon of the political field.
Institutional arrangements and Prosper culture
Sejo's weak son Yejong succeeded him as the eighth king, but died two
years later in 1469. Yejong's nephew Seongjong ascended the throne.
His reign was marked by the prosperity and growth of the national
economy and the rise of neo-
Confucian scholars called sarim who were
encouraged by Seongjong to enter court politics. He established
Hongmungwan (hanja: 弘文館), the royal library and advisory council
Confucian scholars, with whom he discussed philosophy and
government policies. He ushered in a cultural golden age that rivaled
Sejong's reign by publishing numerous books on geography, ethics, and
various other fields.
He also sent several military campaigns against the
Jurchens on the
northern border in 1491, like many of his predecessors. The campaign,
led by General Heo Jong, was successful, and the defeated Jurchens,
led by the Udige clan (hanja: 兀狄哈), retreated to the north of
the Yalu River. King Seongjong was succeeded by his son, Yeonsangun,
Main article: Korean literati purges
Portrait of the neo-
Jo Gwang-jo (1482–1519)
Yeonsangun is often considered the worst tyrant of the Joseon, whose
reign was marked by
Korean literati purges
Korean literati purges between 1498 and 1506. His
behavior became erratic after he learned that his biological mother
was not Queen Junghyeon but the deposed Queen Lady Yun, who was forced
to drink poison after poisoning one of Seongjong's concubines out of
jealousy and leaving a scratch mark on Seongjong's face. When he was
shown a piece of clothing that was allegedly stained with his mother's
blood vomited after drinking poison, he beat to death two of
Seongjong's concubines who had accused Consort Yun and he pushed Grand
Queen Insu, who died afterward. He executed government officials who
supported Consort Yun's death along with their families. He also
executed sarim scholars for writing phrases critical of Sejo's
usurpation of the throne.
Yeonsangun also seized a thousand women from the provinces to serve as
palace entertainers and appropriated the
Sungkyunkwan as a personal
pleasure ground. He abolished the Office of Censors, whose function
was to criticize inappropriate actions and policies of the king, and
Hongmungwan. He banned the use of hangul when the common people wrote
with it on posters criticizing the king. After twelve years of
misrule, he was finally deposed in a coup that placed his half-brother
Jungjong on the throne in 1506.
Jungjong was a fundamentally weak king because of the circumstances
that placed him on the throne, but his reign also saw a period of
significant reforms led by his minister Jo Gwang-jo, the charismatic
leader of sarim. He established a local self-government system called
hyangyak to strengthen local autonomy and communal spirit among the
people, sought to reduce the gap between the rich and poor with a land
reform that would distribute land to farmers more equally and limit
the amount of land and number of slaves that one could own,
promulgated widely among the populace
Confucian writings with
vernacular translations, and sought to trim the size of government by
reducing the number of bureaucrats. According to the Annals of the
Joseon Dynasty, it was said that no official dared to receive a bribe
or exploit the populace during this time because as Inspector General,
he applied law strictly.
These radical reforms were very popular with the populace but were
fiercely opposed by the conservative officials who helped to put
Jungjong on the throne. They plotted to cause Jungjong to doubt Jo's
loyalty. Jo Gwangjo was executed, and most of his reform measures died
with him in the resulting Third Literati Purge of 1519. For nearly 50
years afterward, the court politics was marred by bloody and chaotic
struggles between factions backing rival consorts and princes. In-laws
of the royal family wielded great power and contributed to much
corruption in that era.
Jeong Cheol (1536-1593), head of the Western faction
The middle period of
Joseon dynasty was marked by a series of intense
and bloody power struggles between political factions that weakened
the country and large-scale invasions by
Manchu that nearly
toppled the dynasty.
Main article: Political factions in
Sarim faction had suffered a series of political defeats during
the reigns of Yeonsangun, Jungjong, and Myeongjong, but it gained
control of the government during the reign of King Seonjo. It soon
split into opposing factions known as the
Easterners and the
Westerners. Within decades the
Easterners themselves divided into the
Southerners and the Northerners; in the seventeenth century the
Westerners as well permanently split into the Noron and the Soron.
The alternations in power among these factions were often accompanied
by charges of treason and bloody purges, initiating a cycle of revenge
with each change of regime.
One example is the 1589 rebellion of Jeong Yeo-rip, one of the
bloodiest political purges of Joseon. Jeong Yeo-rip, an Easterner, had
formed a society with group of supporters that also received military
training to fight against Waegu. There is still a dispute about the
nature and purpose of his group, which reflected desire for classless
society and spread throughout Honam. He was subsequently accused of
conspiracy to start a rebellion. Jeong Cheol, head of the Western
faction, was in charge of investigating the case and used this event
to effect widespread purge of
Easterners who had slightest connection
with Jeong Yeo-rip. Eventually 1000
Easterners were killed or exiled
in the aftermath.
Early Japanese invasions
Main article: Japanese invasions of
A turtle ship. While the spikes are known to have been made of iron,
the historical existence of the ironclad roof is disputed.
Throughout Korean history, there was frequent piracy on sea and
brigandage on land. The only purpose for the
Joseon navy was to secure
the maritime trade against the wokou. The navy repelled pirates using
an advanced form of gunpowder technologies including cannons and fire
arrows in form of singijeon deployed by hwacha.
During the Japanese invasions in the 1590s, Toyotomi Hideyoshi,
plotting the conquest of Ming
China with Portuguese guns, invaded
Korea with his daimyōs and their troops, intending to use
Korea as a
stepping stone. Factional division in the
Joseon court, inability to
assess Japanese military capability, and failed attempts at diplomacy
led to poor preparation on Joseon's part. The use of European firearms
by the Japanese left most of the southern part of the Korean Peninsula
occupied within months, with both
Hanseong (present-day Seoul) and
However, the invasion was slowed when Admiral
Yi Sun-sin destroyed the
Japanese invasion fleet. The guerrilla resistance that eventually
formed also helped. Local resistance slowed down the Japanese advance
and decisive naval victories by Admiral Yi left control over sea
routes in Korean hands, severely hampering Japanese supply lines.
China intervened on the side of the Koreans, sending
a large force in 1593 which pushed back the Japanese together with the
During the war,
Koreans developed powerful firearms and the turtle
Joseon and Ming forces defeated the Japanese at a deep
price. Following the war, relations between
completely suspended until 1609.
First Manchu invasion of Korea
First Manchu invasion of Korea and Second
Manchu invasion of
A Korean painting depicting two Jurchen warriors and their horses
After the Japanese invasions, the
Korean Peninsula was devastated.
Nurhaci (r. 1583–1626), the chieftain of the Jianzhou
Jurchens, was unifying the Jurchen tribes of
Manchuria into a strong
coalition that his son
Hong Taiji (r. 1626-–1643) would eventually
rename the "Manchus." After he declared
Seven Grievances against Ming
China in 1618,
Nurhaci and the Ming engaged in several military
conflicts. On such occasions,
Nurhaci required help from Gwanghaegun
Joseon (r.1608–1623), putting the Korean state in a difficult
position because the Ming court was also requesting assistance.
Gwanghaegun tried to maintain neutrality, but most of his officials
opposed him for not supporting Ming China, which had saved Joseon
during Hideyoshi's invasions.
In 1623, Gwanghaegun was deposed and replaced by
Injo of Joseon
Injo of Joseon (r.
1623–1649), who banished Gwanghaejun's supporters. Reverting his
predecessor's foreign policy, the new king decided to openly support
the Ming, but a rebellion led by military commander
Yi Gwal erupted in
1624 and wrecked Joseon's military defenses in the north. Even
after the rebellion had been suppressed, King Injo had to devote
military forces to ensure the stability of the capital, leaving fewer
soldiers to defend the northern borders.
In 1627, a Jurchen army of 30,000 led by Nurhaci's nephew Amin overran
Joseon's defenses. After a quick campaign that was assisted by
northern yangban who had supported Gwanghaegun, the
Jurchens imposed a
treaty that forced
Joseon to accept "brotherly relations" with the
Jurchen kingdom. Because Injo persisted in his anti-Manchu
policies, Qing emperor
Hong Taiji sent a punitive expedition of
120,000 men to
Joseon in 1636. Defeated, King Injo was forced to
end his relations with the Ming and recognize the Qing as suzerain
instead. Injo's successor
Hyojong of Joseon (r. 1649–1659) tried
to form an army to keep his enemies away and conquer the Qing for
revenge, but could never act on his designs.
Despite reestablishing economic relations by officially entering the
imperial Chinese tributary system,
Joseon leaders and intellectuals
remained resentful of the Manchus, whom they regarded as
barbarians. Long after submitting to the Qing, the
and many Korean intellectuals kept using Ming reign periods, as when a
scholar marked 1861 as "the 234th year of Chongzhen."
Silhak and renaissance of the Joseon
Kim Yuk (1570–1658) an early
Silhak philosopher of the
Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon
After invasions from
Japan and Manchuria,
Joseon experienced a nearly
200-year period of peace.
Joseon witnessed the emergence of Silhak
(Practical Learning). The early group of
Silhak scholars advocated
comprehensive reform of civil service examination, taxation, natural
sciences and the improvement in agromanagerial and agricultural
techniques. It aimed to rebuild
Joseon society after it had been
devastated by the two invasions. Under the leadership of Kim Yuk, the
chief minister of King Hyeonjong, the implementation of reforms proved
highly advantageous both to state revenues and to the lot of the
Factional conflict grew particularly intense under the reigns of the
kings Sukjong and Gyeongjong, with major rapid reversals of the ruling
faction, known as *hwanguk* (換局; literally change in the state of
affairs), being commonplace. As a response, the next kings, Yeongjo
and Jeongjo, generally pursued the Tangpyeongchaek - a policy of
maintaining balance and equality between the factions.
The two kings led a second renaissance of the
Yeongjo's grandson, the enlightened King Jeongjo enacted various
reforms throughout his reign, notably establishing Gyujanggak, a royal
library in order to improve the cultural and political position of
Joseon and to recruit gifted officers to run the nation. King Jeongjo
also spearheaded bold social initiatives, opening government positions
to those who would previously have been barred because of their social
status. King Jeongjo had the support of the many
Silhak scholars, who
supported his regal power. King Jeongjo's reign also saw the further
growth and development of Joseon's popular culture. At that time, the
Silhak scholars encouraged the individual to reflect on state
traditions and lifestyle, initiating the studies of
addressed its history, geography, epigraphy and language.
Government by in-law families
After the death of King Jeongjo, the
Joseon faced difficult external
and internal problems. Internally, the foundation of national law and
order weakened as a result of "Sedo" politics (in-law government) by
royal in-law family.
Young King Sunjo succeeded King Jeongjo in 1800. With Jeongjo's death
the Intransigent Patriarch faction seized power with the regency of
Queen Dowager Jeongsun, whose family had strong ties to the
Intransigents, and initiated a persecution of Catholics. But after the
retirement and death of the Queen Dowager, the Intransigents were
gradually ousted and the Expedient faction, including the Andong Kim
family of Kim Jo-sun, the father of the queen, gained power. Gradually
the Andong Kims came to dominate the court.
With the domination of the Andong Kims, the era of *sedo politics* or
in-law rule began. The formidable in-law lineage monopolized the vital
positions in government, holding sway over the political scene, and
intervening in the succession of the throne. These kings had no
monarchic authority and could not rule over the government. The
yangban of other families, overwhelmed by the power exercised by the
royal in-laws, could not speak out. As the power was concentrated in
the hands of the royal in-law lineage, there was disorder in the
governing process and corruption became rampant. Large sums were
offered in bribes to the powerful lineages to obtain positions with
nominally high rank. Even the low-ranking posts were bought and sold.
This period, which spanned 60 years, saw the manifestation of both
severe poverty among the Korean population and ceaseless rebellions in
various parts of the country.
Joseon became increasingly isolationist. Its rulers sought
to limit contact with foreign countries.
End of the dynasty
In 1863 King Gojong took the throne. His father, Regent Heungseon
Daewongun, ruled for him until Gojong reached adulthood. During the
mid-1860s the Regent was the main proponent of isolationism and the
instrument of the persecution of native and foreign Catholics, a
policy that led directly to the French Campaign against
Korea in 1866.
The early years of his rule also witnessed a large effort to restore
the dilapidated Gyeongbok Palace, the seat of royal authority. During
his reign, the power and authority of the in-law families such as the
Andong Kims sharply declined. In order to get rid of the Andong Kim
and Pungyang Cho families, he promoted persons without making
references to political party or family affiliations, and in order to
reduce the burdens of the people and solidify the basis of the
nation's economy, he reformed the tax system. In 1871, U.S. and Korean
forces clashed in a U.S. attempt at "gunboat diplomacy" following on
General Sherman incident
General Sherman incident of 1866.
In 1873, King Gojong announced his assumption of royal rule. With the
subsequent retirement of Heungseon Daewongun, the future Queen Min
(later called Empress Myeongseong) became a power in the court,
placing her family in high court positions.
Japan, after the Meiji Restoration, acquired Western military
technology, and forced
Joseon to sign the
Treaty of Ganghwa
Treaty of Ganghwa in 1876,
opening three ports to trade and granting the Japanese
extraterritoriality. Port Hamilton was occupied by the British Navy in
Koreans despised Japanese and foreign influences over their land
and the corrupt oppressive rule of the
Joseon Dynasty. In 1881, the
Byeolgigun, a modern elite military unit, was formed with Japanese
trainers. The salaries of the other soldiers were held back and in
1882 rioting soldiers attacked the Japanese officers and even forced
the queen to take refuge in the countryside. In 1894, the Donghak
Peasant Revolution saw farmers rise up in a mass rebellion, with
Jeon Bong-jun defeating the forces of local ruler Jo
Byong-gap at the battle of Go-bu on January 11, 1894; after the
battle, Jo's properties were handed out to the peasants. By May, the
peasant army had reached Jeonju, and the
Joseon government asked the
Qing dynasty government for assistance in ending the revolt. The Qing
sent 3,000 troops and the rebels negotiated a truce, but the Japanese
considered the Qing presence a threat and sent in 8,000 troops of
their own, seizing the Royal Palace in
Seoul and installing a
pro-Japanese government on 8 June 1894. This soon escalated into the
First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) between
Japan and Qing China,
fought largely in Korea. [*The king made a deal with
out of isolationist views and conservative-misogynistic distrust of
the queen's support for open trade policies towards the Western
civilizations and China. He ended up preempting a specific
disadvantageous, exclusive negotiation with
Japan previous to the
Queen's decision, which was later used as a political premise for
Japan to wage military action. Scholars particularly during the Joseon
era were touted for expressing allegiance to the king]
Empress Myeongseong (referred to as "Queen Min") had attempted to
counter Japanese interference in
Korea and was considering turning to
Russian Empire or to
China for support. In 1895, Empress
Myeongseong was assassinated by Japanese agents. The Japanese
minister to Korea,
Viscount Miura, almost certainly
orchestrated the plot against her. A group of Japanese agents
Gyeongbokgung Royal Palace in Seoul, which was under
Japanese control, and Queen Min was killed and her body desecrated
in the North wing of the palace.
The Qing acknowledged defeat in the
Treaty of Shimonoseki
Treaty of Shimonoseki (17 April
1895), which officially guaranteed Korea's independence from China. It
was a step toward
Japan gaining regional hegemony in Korea. The Joseon
court, pressured by encroachment from larger powers, felt the need to
reinforce national integrity and declared the Korean Empire, along
Gwangmu Reform in 1897. King Gojong assumed the title of
Emperor in order to assert Korea's independence. In addition, other
foreign powers were sought for military technology, especially Russia,
to fend off the Japanese. Technically, 1897 marks the end of the
Joseon period, as the official name of the empire was changed; however
Joseon Dynasty would still reign, albeit perturbed by
In a complicated series of maneuvers and counter-maneuvers, Japan
pushed back the Russian fleet at the
Battle of Port Arthur
Battle of Port Arthur in 1905.
With the conclusion of the 1904–1905
Russo-Japanese War with the
Treaty of Portsmouth, the way was open for
Japan to take control of
Korea. After the signing of the
Protectorate Treaty in 1905, Korea
became a protectorate of Japan.
Prince Itō was the first
Resident-General of Korea, although he was assassinated by Korean
An Jung-geun in 1909 at the train station at
Harbin. In 1910 the
Japanese Empire finally annexed Korea.
Joseon Dynasty politics
Joseon dynasty was a highly centralized monarchy and neo-Confucian
bureaucracy as codified by Gyeongguk daejeon, a sort of Joseon
See also: List of
Joseon kings family tree, and Royal
titles and styles during the
Phoenix Throne of the king of
Joseon in Gyeongbokgung
Royal standard of the King of Joseon
The king had absolute authority, but his actual power varied with
political circumstances. He was bound by tradition, precedents set by
earlier kings, Gyeongguk daejeon, and
Confucian teachings. The king
commanded absolute loyalty from his officials and subjects, but the
officials were also expected to persuade the king to the right path if
the latter was thought to be mistaken. The natural disasters were
thought to be due to the king's failings, and therefore,
were very sensitive to their occurrences. When there was severe
drought or a series of disasters, the king often formally sought
criticism from both the officials and citizenry, and whatever they
said or wrote were protected from prosecution in such cases (although
there were few exceptions).
Direct communication between the king and the common people was
possible through the sangeon (상언; 上言) written petition system
and the gyeokjaeng (격쟁; 擊錚) oral petition system. Through the
gyeokjaeng oral petition system, commoners could strike a gong or drum
in front of the palace or during the king's public processions in
order to appeal their grievances or petition to the king directly.
This allowed even the illiterate members of
Joseon society to make a
petition to the king. More than 1,300 gyeokjaeng-related accounts are
recorded in the Ilseongnok.
The government officials were ranked in 18 levels, ranging from first
senior rank (정1품, 正一品) down to ninth junior rank (종9품,
從九品) based on seniority and promotion, which was achieved
through the royal decree based on examination or recommendation. The
officials from 1st senior rank to 3rd senior rank wore red robes while
those from 3rd junior rank to 6th junior rank wore blue and those
below wore green robes.
Here a government official refers to one who occupied a type of office
that gave its holder a yangban status - semi-hereditary nobility that
was effective for three generations. In order to become such an
official, one had to pass a series of gwageo examinations. There were
three kinds of gwageo exams - literary, military, and miscellaneous,
among which literary route was the most prestigious. (Many of key
posts including all Censorate posts were open only to officials who
advanced through literary exam.) In case of literary route, there was
a series of four tests, all of which one had to pass in order to
qualify to become an official. 33 candidates who were chosen in this
manner took the final exam before the king for placement. The
candidate with the highest score was appointed to a position of 6th
junior rank (a jump of six ranks). Two candidates with the next two
highest scores were appointed to a position of 7th junior rank. Seven
candidates with next highest scores were assigned to 8th junior rank
while the remaining 23 candidates were given 9th junior rank, the
lowest of 18 ranks.
The officials of 1st senior rank, 1st junior rank, and 2nd senior rank
were addressed with honorific "dae-gam" (대감, 大監) while those
of 2nd junior rank and 3rd senior rank were addressed with honorific
"yeong-gam" (영감, 令監). These red-robed officials,
collectively called "dangsanggwan" (당상관, 堂上官), took part
in deciding government policies by attending cabinet meetings. The
rest of ranked officials were called "danghagwan" (당하관,
Portrait of The Chief State Councillor Chae Jegong (1720~1799)
State Council (Uijeongbu, 의정부, 議政府) was the highest
deliberative body, whose power however declined over the course of
dynasty. The Chief State Councillor (Yeonguijeong, 영의정,
領議政), Left State Councillor (Jwauijeong, 좌의정, 左議政),
and Right State Councillor (Uuijeong, 우의정, 右議政) were the
highest-ranking officials in the government (All three were of 1st
senior rank). They were assisted by Left Minister (Jwachanseong,
좌찬성, 左贊成) and Right Minister (Uichangseong, 우찬성,
右贊成), both of 1st junior rank, and seven lower ranking
officials. The power of State Council was inversely proportional to
the king's power. There were periods when it directly controlled Six
Ministries, the chief executive body of
Joseon government, but it
primarily served in advisory role under stronger kings. State
councillors served in several other positions concurrently.
Six Ministries (Yukjo, 육조, 六曹) make up the chief executive
body. Each minister (Panseo, 판서, 判書) was of 2nd senior rank
and was assisted by deputy minister (Champan, 참판, 參判), who was
of 2nd junior rank. Ministry of Personnel was the most senior office
of six ministries. As the influence of State Council waned over time,
Minister of Personnel was often de facto head of ministers. Six
ministries include in the order of seniority.
Ministry of Personnel (Ijo, 이조, 吏曹) - was primarily concerned
with appointment of officials
Ministry of Taxation (Hojo, 호조, 戶曹) - taxation, finances,
census, agriculture, and land policies
Ministry of Rites (Yejo, 예조, 禮曺) - rituals, culture,
diplomacy, gwageo exam
Ministry of Defence (Byeongjo, 병조, 兵曺) - military affairs
Office of Police Bureau (Podocheong, 포도청, 捕盜廳) - office
for public order
Ministry of Justice (Hyeongjo, 형조, 刑曺) - administration of
law, slavery, punishments
Ministry of Commerce (Gongjo, 공조, 工曹) - industry, public
works, manufacturing, mining
Three Offices, or Samsa (삼사), is a collective name for three
offices that functioned as major organ of press and provided checks
and balance on the king and the officials. While modeled after Chinese
system, they played much more prominent roles in
than their Chinese counterparts. In their role as organ of press, they
did not have actual authority to decide or implement policies, but had
influential voice in the ensuing debate. The officials who served in
these offices tended to be younger and of lower rank compared to other
offices but had strong academic reputation and enjoyed special
privileges and great prestige (For instance, censors were permitted to
drink during working hours because of their function of criticizing
the king). To be appointed, they went through more thorough review of
character and family background.
Three Offices provided the fastest
route of promotion to high posts and was almost a requirement to
becoming a State Councillor.
Office of Inspector General (Saheonbu·사헌부) - It monitored
government administration and officials at each level in both central
and local governments for corruption, malfeasance, or inefficiency. It
was also in charge of advancing public morals and
and redressing grievances of the populace. It was headed by Inspector
General (Daesaheon·대사헌), a position of 2nd junior rank, who
oversaw 30 largely independent officials.
Office of Censors (Saganwon·사간원) - Its chief function was to
remonstrate with the king if there was wrong or improper action or
policy. Important decrees of the king were first reviewed by censors,
who could ask to withdraw them if judged improper. It also issued
opinions about the general state of affairs. It was composed of five
officials, led by Chief Censor (Daesagan·대사간), of 3rd senior
While the primary focus for Office of Inspector General is the
government officials and Office of Censors is focused on the king, two
offices often performed each other's functions, and there was much
overlap. Together they were called "Yangsa," (양사) which literally
means "Both Offices," and often worked jointly especially when they
sought to reverse the king's decision.
Special Advisors (Hongmungwan·홍문관 弘文館) - It
oversaw the royal library and served as research institute to study
Confucian philosophy and answer the king's questions. Its officials
took part in the daily lessons called gyeongyeon (경연), in which
they discussed history and
Confucian philosophy with the king. Since
these discussions often led to commentary on current political issues,
its officials had significant influence as advisors. It was headed by
Chief Scholar (Daejehak·대제학), a part-time post of 2nd senior
rank that served concurrently in another high post (such as in State
Council), and Deputy Chief Scholar (Bujehak·부제학), a full-time
post of 3rd senior rank that actually ran the office. There was great
prestige attached to being Chief Scholar in this deeply Confucian
society. (The office was established to replace Hall of Worthies
(Jiphyeonjeon·집현전) after the latter was abolished by King Sejo
in the aftermath of Six martyred ministers.)
The major offices include the following:
Royal Secretariat (Seungjeongwon, 승정원) served as a liaison
between the king and Six Ministries. There were six royal secretaries
(승지), one for each ministry, and all were of 3rd senior rank.
Their primary role was to pass down royal decree to the ministries and
submit petitions from the officials and the populace to the king, but
they also advised the king and served in other key positions close to
the king. In particular Chief Royal Secretary (도승지), a liaison
to Ministry of Personnel, served the king in the closest proximity of
all government official and often enjoyed great power that was derived
from the king's favor. Hong Guk-yeong (during Jeongjo's reign) and Han
Myeong-hwe (during Sejo) are some examples of chief royal secretaries
who were the most powerful official of their time.
Capital Bureau (Hanseungbu, 한성부) was in charge of running the
capital, Hanyang or present-day Seoul. It was led by Paanyoon
(판윤), of 2nd senior second rank equivalent to today's mayor of
Royal Investigation Bureau (Uigeumbu, 의금부) was an investigative
and enforcement organ under direct control of the king. It chiefly
dealt with treason and other serious cases that concerned the king and
royal family and served to arrest, investigate, imprison, and carry
out sentences against the suspected offenders, who were often
Office of Records (Chunchugwan, 춘추관) officials wrote, compiled,
and maintained the government and historical records. It was headed by
State Councillors, and many posts were held by officials serving in
other offices concurrently. There were eight historiographers whose
sole function was to record the meetings for history.
Seonggyungwan or Royal Academy (성균관) prepared future government
officials. Those who passed first two stages of gwageo examinations
(literary exam) were admitted to Seonggyungwan. The class size was
usually 200 students, who lived in the residential hall and followed
strict routine and school rules. (Tuition, room and board were
provided by the government.) It also served as the state shrine for
Confucian and Korean
Confucian sages. The students' opinions on
government policies, especially collective statements and
demonstrations, could be influential as they represented fresh and
uncorrupted consensus of young scholars. The official in charge was
Daesaseong (대사성), of 3rd senior rank, and 36 other officials
including those from other offices were involved in running the
Park Mun-su (1691-1756), a secret royal inspector of the
The officials of high rank were sent from the central government.
Sometimes a secret royal inspector (Amhaeng-eosa·암행어사) was
appointed by the king to travel incognito and monitor the provincial
officials. These undercover inspectors were generally young officials
of lower rank but were invested with the royal authority to dismiss
Provinces (Do·도) - There were eight province, each of which was
governed by Governor (Gwanchalsa·관찰사), a position of 2nd junior
Bu(부) - administrative offices in charge of major cities in
provinces. Each bu was led by Buyoon (부윤), which was equivalent to
Governor in rank.
Mok (목) - There were twenty moks, which governed large counties
named 'ju'(주). They were run by Moksa (목사), of 3rd senior rank.
County (Gun·군) - There were eighty counties in Joseon, each
governed by Gunsu (군수), a 4th junior rank.
Hyeon (현) - Large hyeons were governed by Hyeongryeong (현령) of
5th junior rank while smaller hyeons were governed by Hyeonggam
(현감) of 6th junior rank.
Main article: Eight Provinces of Korea
During most of the
Korea was divided into eight
provinces (do; 도; 道). The eight provinces' boundaries remained
unchanged for almost five centuries from 1413 to 1895, and formed a
geographic paradigm that is still reflected today in the Korean
Peninsula's administrative divisions, dialects, and regional
distinctions. The names of all eight provinces are still preserved
today, in one form or another.
After establishing new dynasty, Yi requested the new nation to enter
the Imperial tributary system under the Ming Dynasty in order to
establish economic relations. Later,
Joseon requested the Ming to
fight together against Japan. The relationship with Ming was sustained
Main article: Society in the
A portrait of a civil bureaucrat in the
The population of
Korea is controversial. Government records of
households are considered unreliable in this period. One recent
estimate[by whom?] gives 6 million at the start of the dynasty in
1392, growing irregularly to a peak of near 19 million by about 1750.
Between 1810 and 1850, the population declined approximately 10% and
remained stable. Before the introduction of modern medicine by the
Korean Empire government in the early 20th century, the average life
expectancy for peasant and commoner Korean males was 24 and for
females 26 years.
Korea installed a centralised administrative system[when?]
controlled by civil bureaucrats and military officers who were
collectively called Yangban. By the end of the 18th century, the
yangban had acquired most of the traits of a hereditary nobility
except that the status was based on a unique mixture of family
position, gwageo examinations for
Confucian learning, and a civil
service system. The family of a yangban who did not succeed to become
a government official for the third generation lost their yangban
status and became commoners. For most part, the only way to become a
government official was to pass a series of gwageo exams (One had to
pass "lesser gwageo" exam (소과) in both of two stages to qualify
for greater gwageo exam, which again one had to pass in both of two
stages to become a government official.) The yangban and the king, in
an uneasy balance, controlled the central government and military
institutions. The proportion of yangban may have reached as high as
30% by 1800, due to the later practices of transaction of yangban
status to peasants, although there was considerable local
variation. As the government was small, a great many yangban were
local gentry of high social status, but not always of high income.
Another portion of the population were slaves or serfs (nobi), "low
borns" (cheonmin) or untouchable outcastes (baekjeong). Slavery in
Korea was hereditary, as well as a form of legal punishment. The nobi
were socially indistinct from freemen other than the ruling yangban
class, and some possessed property rights, legal entities and civil
rights. Hence, some scholars argue that it's inappropriate to call
them "slaves", while some scholars describe them as serfs.
There were both government- and privately owned nobi, and the
government occasionally gave them to yangban. Privately owned nobi
could be inherited as personal property. During poor harvests, many
sangmin people would voluntarily become nobi in order to
survive. The nobi population could fluctuate up to
about one-third of the population, but on average the nobi made up
about 10% of the total population.
Joseon slaves could, and often
did, own property. Private slaves could buy their freedom.
Joseon painting which represents the
Chungin (literally "middle
people"), equivalent to the petite bourgeoisie
Many of the remaining 40-50% of the population were surely
farmers, but recent work has raised important issues about the
size of other groups: merchants and traders, local government or
quasi-governmental clerks (Chungin), craftsmen and laborers, textile
workers, etc. Given the size of the population, it may be that a
typical person had more than one role. Most farming was, at any rate,
commercial, not subsistence. In addition to generating additional
income, a certain amount of occupational dexterity may have been
required to avoid the worst effects of an often heavy and corrupt tax
During the Late Joseon, the
Confucian ideals of propriety and "filial
piety" gradually came to be equated with a strict observance to a
complex social hierarchy, with many fine gradations. By the early 18th
century the social critic Yi Junghwan (1690–1756) sarcastically
complained that "[W]ith so many different ranks and grades separating
people from one another, people tend not to have a very large circle
of friends." But, even as Yi wrote, the informal social
distinctions of the Early
Joseon were being reinforced by legal
discrimination, such as Sumptuary law regulating the dress of
different social groups, and laws restricting inheritance and property
ownership by women.
Yet, these laws may have been announced precisely because social
mobility was increasing, particularly during the prosperous century
beginning about 1710. The original social hierarchy of the Joseon
Dynasty was developed based on the social hierarchy of the
In the 14th–16th centuries, this hierarchy was strict and stable.
Since economic opportunities to change status were limited, no law was
In the late 17–19th centuries, however, new commercial groups
emerged, and the old class system was extremely weakened. Especially,
the population of
Yangban class was expected to reach
nearly 70 percent in 1858.
In 1801, Government-owned slaves were all emancipated, and the
institution gradually died out over the next century. By 1858 the
nobi population stood at about 1.5 percent of the total population of
Korea. The institution was completely abolished as part of a
social plan in the
Gabo Reform of 1894.
Joseon Dynasty presided over two periods of great cultural growth,
Joseon culture created the first Korean tea ceremony,
Korean gardens, and extensive historic works. The royal dynasty also
built several fortresses and palaces.
Men's (right) and Women's (left) clothes (Hanbok) of
Joseon Dynasty. A
portrait painted by
Shin Yun-bok (1758-?)
Male dress of a Seonbi. A portrait painted by
Yi Jaegwan (1783-1837)
Joseon Dynasty, jeogori of women's hanbok became gradually
tightened and shortened. In the 16th century, jeogori was baggy and
reached below the waist, but by the end of
Joseon Dynasty in the 19th
century, jeogori was shortened to the point that it did not cover the
breasts, so another piece of cloth (heoritti) was used to cover them.
At the end of the 19th century,
Daewon-gun introduced Magoja, a
Manchu-style jacket, to Korea, which is often worn with hanbok to this
Chima was full-skirted and jeogori was short and tight in the late
Joseon period. Fullness in the skirt was emphasized round the hips.
Many undergarments were worn underneath chima such as darisokgot,
soksokgot, dansokgot, and gojengi to achieve a desired silhouette.
Because jeogori was so short it became natural to expose heoritti or
heorimari which functioned like a corset. The white linen cloth
exposed under jeogori in the picture is heoritti.
The upper classes wore hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other
high-grade lightweight materials in warm weather and of plain and
patterned silks the rest of the year. Commoners were restricted by law
as well as resources to cotton at best. The upper classes wore a
variety of colors, though bright colors were generally worn by
children and girls and subdued colors by middle-aged men and women.
Commoners were restricted by law to everyday clothes of white, but for
special occasions they wore dull shades of pale pink, light green,
gray, and charcoal. Formally, when Korean men went outdoors, they were
required to wear overcoats known as durumagi which reach the knees.
Joseon white porcelain
Joseon landscape painting by Seo Munbo in the late 15th century
Joseon dynasty painting styles moved towards increased
realism. A national painting style of landscapes called "true view"
began - moving from the traditional Chinese style of idealized general
landscapes to particular locations exactly rendered. While not
photographic, the style was academic enough to become established and
supported as a standardized style in Korean painting.
Joseon dynasty is considered the golden age of Korean
painting. It coincides with the shock of the collapse of Ming dynasty
links with the
Manchu emperors accession in China, and the forcing of
Korean artists to build new artistic models based on an inner search
for particular Korean subjects. At this time
China ceased to have
pre-eminent influence, Korean art took its own course, and became
increasingly distinctive to the traditional Chinese painting.
Joseon dynasty, Korea.
Blue and white porcelain
Blue and white porcelain jar with
plum and bamboo design.
Ceramics are a form of popular art during the
Joseon Dynasty. Examples
of ceramics include white porcelain or white porcelain decorated with
cobalt, copper red underglaze, blue underglaze and iron underglaze.
Ceramics from the
Joseon period differ from other periods because
artists felt that each piece of art deserved its own uniquely
Beginning in the 10th century, white porcelain has been crafted in
Korea. Historically overshadowed by the popularity of celadon, it was
not until the 15th and 16th centuries that white porcelain was
recognized for its own artistic value. Among the most prized of Korean
ceramics are large white jars. Their shape is symbolic of the moon and
their color is associated with the ideals of purity and modesty of
Confucianism. During this period, the bureau that oversaw the meals
and court banquets of the royal family strictly controlled the
production of white porcelain.
White porcelain jar, 18th century,
Water Dropper in the Shape of a Peach, late 18th century, Brooklyn
Blue and white porcelain
Blue and white porcelain artifacts decorating white porcelain with
paintings and designs in underglaze by using natural cobalt pigment
are another example of popular wares of the
Joseon period. Many of
these items were created by court painters employed by the royal
family. During this period, the popular style of landscape paintings
is mirrored in the decoration of ceramics. Initially developed by
the Chinese at the Jingdezhen kilns in the mid-14th century, Joseon
began to produce this type of porcelain from the 15th century under
Chinese influence. The first cobalt imported from
China was used by
Korean artists. In 1463 when sources of cobalt were discovered in
Korea, artists and their buyers found the material was inferior in
quality and preferred the more expensive imported cobalt. Korean
porcelain with imported cobalt decoration contradict the emphasis of
an orderly, frugal and moderate life in Neo-Confucianism.
Strikingly different from cobalt, porcelain items with a copper-red
underglaze are the most difficult to successfully craft. During
production, these items require great skill and attention or will turn
gray during the process of firing. While the birthplace of ceramics
with copper red underglaze is widely disputed, these items originated
during 12th century in
Korea and became increasingly popular during
the second half of the
Joseon period. Some experts have pointed to the
kilns of Bunwon-ri in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, a city that played a
significant role in the production of ceramics during the Joseon
period, as a possible birthplace.
Porcelain was also decorated with iron. These items commonly consisted
of jars or other utilitarian pieces.
Media related to Architecture of the
Joseon Dynasty at Wikimedia
See also: Joseon—Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910) architecture; and Five
Gyeonghoeru is a hall used to hold important and special state
banquets during the
Joseon Dynasty. It is registered as Korea's
National Treasure No. 224
An interesting reference is "Brief History of Korean Architecture", by
Yoon, Chang Sup (Member, National Academy of Sciences),
Main article: Annals of the
Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (also known as the True Record of the
Joseon Dynasty) are the annual records of the
Joseon Dynasty, which
were kept from 1413 to 1865. The annals, or sillok, comprise 1,893
volumes and are thought to cover the longest continual period of a
single dynasty in the world. With the exception of two sillok compiled
during the colonial era, the Annals are the 151st national treasure of
Korea and listed in UNESCO's
Memory of the World
Memory of the World registry.
Main article: Uigwe
Uigwe is a collection of royal protocols of the
Joseon Dynasty, which
records and prescribes through text and stylized illustration the
important ceremonies and rites of the royal family.
Main article: Education in the
Buddhism and Confucianism
Joseon dynasty was noted for having
Confucianism as its main
philosophy. However Buddhism actually was a part of the Joseon
dynasty. When studying literary exchanges between
Buddhist it is showing that Buddhism was not cast out.
There literary exchanges show a middle ground of both philosophies.
"scholar-officials - Some who in public castigated Buddhism as a
heresy and deluded tradition, in private visited temples and
associated closely with monks." This shows that while in public some
scholars shamed Buddhism their exchanges with Buddhists show that in
the very least it was not cast outside of their dynasty.
One example of this is a famous
Joseon scholar official Pak Sedang
(박세당, 朴世堂, 1629–1703). He argues against Buddhism with
the following "People say that
Han Yu and
Ouyang Xiu have harshly
criticized Buddhism and therefore have only discussed what is aberrant
and have not fully investigated what is profound. People say, their
understanding is lacking and they have not fully examined it [its
profoundness]. I, myself, don’t think that is the case… The
heresies under heaven, they are also rather foul. Among them, Buddhism
is the worst. If a person is inclined to Buddhism then he is of the
kind that pursues what is foul. Is it not clear that there is nothing
further to discuss? It is like Mencius who [also felt no need to argue
in detail when he] criticized
Yang Zhu and Mozi.11Surely, he did not
argue further than to say
Yang Zhu and
Mozi did not respect their
fathers and their emperors.12 [End Page 64]". However writes a poem
that seemingly supports Buddhism.
For long, I have left the mundane world whose innumerable conditions
I have but travelled here and there, finding no enjoyment in settled
Tomorrow once again I leave for Changhae;
The old, pure and simple hut of Okju province looks lonely.
Buddhism was a part of the
Joseon dynasty. While not supported
publicly, privately it was very prevalent in Confucian-scholar
Science and technology
See also: Science and technology in Korea
Korean celestial globe first made by the scientist Jang Yeong-sil
during the reign of King Sejong
Joseon Dynasty under the reign of
Sejong the Great
Sejong the Great was Korea's
greatest period of scientific advancement. Under Sejong's new policy,
Cheonmin (low-status) people such as
Jang Yeong-sil were allowed to
work for the government. At a young age, Jang displayed talent as an
inventor and engineer, creating machines to facilitate agricultural
work. These included supervising the building of aqueducts and canals.
Jang eventually was allowed to live at the royal palace, where he led
a group of scientists to work on advancing Korea's science.[citation
Some of his inventions were an automated (self-striking) water clock
(the Jagyeokru) which worked by activating motions of wooden figures
to indicate time visually (invented in 1434 by Jang), a subsequent
more complicated water-clock with additional astronomical devices, and
an improved model of the previous metal movable printing type created
Goryeo Dynasty. The new model was of even higher quality and
was twice as fast. Other inventions were the sight glass, and the
The highpoint of Korean astronomy was during the
Joseon period, where
men such as Jang created devices such as celestial globes which
indicated the positions of the sun, moon, and the stars. Later
celestial globes (Gyupyo, 규표) were attuned to the seasonal
The apex of astronomical and calendarial advances under King Sejong
was the Chiljeongsan, which compiled computations of the courses of
the seven heavenly objects (five visible planets, the sun, and moon),
developed in 1442. This work made it possible for scientists to
calculate and accurately predict all the major heavenly phenomena,
such as solar eclipses and other stellar movements. Honcheonsigye
is an astronomical clock created by Song I-yeong in 1669. The clock
has an armillary sphere with a diameter of 40 cm. The sphere is
activated by a working clock mechanism, showing the position of
celestial objects at any given time.
Kangnido, a Korean-made map of the world was created in 1402 by Kim
Sa-hyeong (김사형, 金士衡), Yi Mu (이무, 李茂) and Yi Hoe
(이회, 李撓). The map was created in the second year of the reign
of Taejong of Joseon. The map was made by combining Chinese, Korean
and Japanese maps.
The scientific and technological advance in the late
was less progressed than the early
16th-century court physician,
Heo Jun wrote a number of medical texts,
his most significant achievement being Dongeui Bogam, which is often
noted as the defining text of Traditional Korean medicine. The work
China and Japan, where it is still regarded as one of the
Oriental medicine today.
The first soft ballistic vest, Myunjebaegab, was invented in Joseon
Korea in the 1860s shortly after the French campaign against Korea
Heungseon Daewongun ordered development of bullet-proof armor
because of increasing threats from Western armies. Kim Gi-du and Gang
Yun found that cotton could protect against bullets if thick enough,
and devised bullet-proof vests made of 30 layers of cotton. The vests
were used in battle during the United States expedition to Korea
(1871), when the US Navy attacked
Ganghwa Island in 1871. The US Army
captured one of the vests and took it to the US, where it was stored
Smithsonian Museum until 2007. The vest has since been sent
Korea and is currently on display to the public.
Korea had a healthy trade relationship with
the Japanese, Chinese, and Manchurians. An example of prosperous,
international trade port is Pyongnam.
Koreans offered brocades,
jewelries, ginseng, silk, and porcelain, renowned famous worldwide.
But, during the
Confucianism was adopted as the
national philosophy, and, in process of eliminating certain Buddhist
Goryeo Cheongja porcelains were replaced by white Baekja,
which lost favour of the Chinese. Also, commerce became more
restricted during this time in order to promote agriculture. Because
silver was used as currency in China, it played an important role in
Titles and styles during
Main article: Styles and titles in the
Titles and styles used inside the royal family were stratified along
the generations and relative to the current King.
House of Yi
Main article: House of Yi
See also: The family tree of
Japanese illustration of King Gojong and Queen Min receiving Inoue
This compilation photo, taken about 1915, shows the following royal
family members, from left:
Prince Ui (Ui chinwang 의친왕), the 6th
son of Gojong; Sunjong, the 2nd son and the last monarch of Joseon;
Prince Yeong (Yeong chinwang 영친왕), the 7th son; Gojong, the
former King; Queen Yoon (Yoon daebi), Queen Consort of Sunjong;
Deogindang Gimbi, wife of
Prince Ui; and Yi Geon, the eldest son of
Prince Ui. The seated child in the front row is Princess Deokhye
(Deokhye ongju 덕혜옹주), Gojong's last child. (This is a
compilation of individual photographs since the Imperial Japanese did
not allow them to be in the same room at the same time, and some were
forced to leave Korea.)
Emperor Gojong (1852–1919) – 26th head of the Korean Imperial
Household, adoptive great-great-great-grandson of King Yeongjo of
Emperor Sunjong (1874–1926) – 27th head of the Korean Imperial
Prince Gang (1877–1955)
Prince Geon (1909–1991) – renounced the Imperial title and
heritage by becoming a Japanese citizen in 1947
Prince Wu (1912–1945)
Prince imperial I-Un married Nashinomiya Masako Meiji emperor's
grand daughter of
Yi Chung (1936–) – de jure genealogical heir of Emperor Gojong
Prince Gap (1938–2014)
Prince Imperial Won (1962–) – claims to be the 30th
head of the Korean Imperial Household
1st son (1998–)
2nd son (1999–)
Haewon, Princess of
Korea (1919–) – claims to be the 30th head of
the Korean Imperial Household
Prince Seok (1941–)
Yi KiHo (1959–)
Yi Hong (1976–)
1st daughter (2001-)
Yi Jin (1979–)
Yi Jeonghun (1980–)
Prince Uimin (1897–1970) – 28th head of the Korean Imperial
Prince Jin (1921–1922)
Prince Hoeun (1931–2005) — 29th head of the Korean
Princess Deokhye (1912–1989)
History of Korea
Annals of the
List of monarchs of Korea
Kings family tree
Joseon Dynasty politics
^ Now Seoul, South Korea.
^ Lee, Jun-gyu (이준규) (2009-07-22). (세상사는 이야기)
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1910년까지 한반도 전역을 통치하였던 조선(朝鮮)은
일반적으로 조선 왕조(朝鮮王朝)라 칭하였으며,
어보(御寶), 국서(國書) 등에도
대조선국(大朝鮮國)이라는 명칭을 사용하였었다.
Joseon which had ruled from 1392 to 1910 was commonly
referred to as the "
Joseon dynasty" while "Great
Joseon State" was
used in the royal seal, national documents, and
others. [permanent dead link]
^ Choi, Sang-hun (27 October 2017). "Interior Space and Furniture of
Joseon Upper-class Houses". Ewha Womans University Press. p. 16
– via Google Books.
Joseon was an absolute monarchy
^ a b 권태환 신용하 (1977). 조선왕조시대 인구추정에
^ a b c d 이헌창 (1999). 한국경제통사 52쪽.
^ "조선". 한국민족문화대백과.
^ Lee,, Seokwoo (2016). The Making of International Law in Korea: From
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^ Kim, Hyunjin (May 21, 2009). Ethnicity and Foreigners in Ancient
Greece and China. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 140.
^ Kang, Jae-eun (2006). The Land of Scholars: Two Thousand Years of
Korean Confucianism. Homa & Sekey Books. p. 177. Retrieved
August 7, 2015. "
Yi Seong-gye issued a royal edict to proclaim
the name of the new dynasty to "Joseon" and issued amnesty to all
criminals who opposed the transition in dynasty. The statement by
Taizu about "only the name of
Joseon is beautiful and old" naturally
refers to Gija Joseon."
^ Richard Rutt.; et al. (September 1999). Korea. Routledge/Curzon.
^ John W. Hall.; et al. (April 27, 1990). The Cambridge history of
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^ 박영규 (2008). 한권으로 읽는 세종대왕실록. 웅진,
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Sejong the Great
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^ An, Seung-jun (4 April 2014). "Forgotten story of Princess
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Korea and Attempt to Conquer China. Seoul: The Royal
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^ Ebrey, Walthall & Palais 2006, p. 350.
^ Lee & de Bary 1997, p. 269.
^ Larsen 2008, p. 36; Ebrey, Walthall & Palais 2006,
^ Kim Haboush 2005, p. 132.
^ "탕평책". 한국민족문화대백과.
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세도정치: 숙종조~고종조. 아름다운날.
^ A Brief History of Korea. Ewha Womans University Press.
ISBN 9788973006199. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
^ Beirne, Paul. Su-un and His World of Symbols: The Founder of Korea's
First Indigenous Religion. Routledge. ISBN 9781317047490.
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^ 오영교 (July 25, 2007). 세도정권기 조선사회와
대전회통. 혜안. ISBN 9788984943131.
^ Characteristics of Queen of Corea
The New York Times
The New York Times November 10,
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Moscow State University (2002-01-01). 일본인 폭도가 가슴을
세 번 짓밟고 일본도로 난자했다 (in Korean) (508). Dong-a
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Korea Creative Content
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from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century: A View Suggested by
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the average life expectancy for
Koreans was just 24 for males and 26
for females." Lankov, Andrei; Kim EunHaeng (2007). The Dawn of Modern
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Five Grand Palaces
Five Grand Palaces of Korea
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List of monarchs
House of Yi
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Hyehwamun (Northeast Gate)
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Fortress Wall of Seoul
Coordinates: 37°32′N 126°59′E / 37.533°N 126.983°E