Mongols and Western Asian in the Late Koryŏ Ruling Stratum

Mongols and Western Asian in the Late Koryŏ Ruling Stratum


  • Journal title: International Journal of Korean History
  • ISSN: 1598-2041 (print) 2508-5921 (online)
  • Publisher: Korea University, Center for Korean History
  • Country of publisher: korea, republic of
  • Date added to EuroPub: 2018/May/12

Subject and more

  • LCC Subject Category: History
  • Publisher's keywords: Mongols and Western Asian, Ruling Stratum
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF


    Peter Yun



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The Mongol conquests in the thirteenth century reached far outside the sphere of traditional Chinese influence and provided conditions for unprecedented large‐scale movements of people and ideas. The period also offered great opportunities for upward social mobility to those who had traditionally been excluded from the ruling stratum. As Koryŏ was fully incorporated into the vast multi‐ethnic Yüan Empire, composition of Koryŏ ruling stratum was further complicated by arrival of several Mongols and Western Asians (se‐mu jen). From the beginning of the Koryŏ dynasty, many foreigners, mostly Chinese, came and settled in Koryŏ. One such Chinese, Ssang Ki [Shuang Chi in Chinese], came in the seventh year (956) of King Kwangjong’s reign and was immediately appointed as a Hanlim Academician [4a]. 2 King Kwangjong’s preference for Chinese officials was so exceptional that it would invite native backlashes.3 In the eleventh century, several Sung Chinese also attained high government offices in Koryŏ.4 On the other hand, the presence of Mongols and Western Asians in the late Koryŏ ruling stratum was both unprecedented and unparalleled, and it was only made possible by the Mongol political hegemony. Through a preliminary examination of the Mongols and Western Asians in the Koryŏ ruling stratum, this paper hopes to shed some light on the Koryŏ aristocrats’ view of the foreigners and of their own social system and culture.

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