The Yangban’s Perception of the Ideal Economic Life During the Mid-Chosŏn Era

The Yangban’s Perception of the Ideal Economic Life During the Mid-Chosŏn Era


  • 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: Mid-Chosŏn Era, Economic Life, Perception of the Economic Life, Yangban, Neo-Confucianism
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF


    Uk Lee



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Chosǂn sought to implement a state management system that was based on Neo-Confucianism. In this regard, the lifestyle of the yangban class that belonged to the ruling elite of Chosǂn was one that was also geared towards the achievement of the tenets of the Neo-Confucian ideology. The members of this class were expected to focus on selfcultivation and the moral betterment of their families (᜙៕ᱢ๟, sushin chega) while furthering their knowledge of the classics. In addition, they were presumed to live a life of poverty and abstain from the amassment of private fortunes and pursuit of personal interests.1 To this end, a look at the individual travelogues and essays written after the 17th century, when the Yigi simsǂnghak (፜ხ៟ᚽ῀, study of principles, material force, and nature) and myǂngbunnon (Ꮩᕰጁ, theory of justification) were emphasized, reveals that the majority of these individuals lived a life of poverty and were devoid of any economic basis. In their works, these individuals expounded on their lack of any interest in the amassing of family fortunes, while expressing a desire to maintain their standing as Neo-Confucian scholars. Although obviously detached from reality, this appears to have been regarded by the yangban of Chosǂn as the ideal lifestyle.

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