Confucian Statecraft and Korean Institutions. Yu Hyongwon and the Late Choson Dynasty - James B. Palais

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transition from the Koryn to Choson dynasties in the late fourteenth century.
The opportunity for Yu Hyongwon's message to be heard by the king and bureau-
crats at court, who were already Confucian in belief and practice, was nonex-
istent. The channels of communication between rusticated scholars and the central
bureaucrats were closed off and amateur advice on matters of statecraft was held
in low esteem.
This phenomenon was not the sole fault of the exclusive right of privileged
communication with the throne by regular members ofthe bureaucracy who had
sought to block opportunities for access for nonofficials to elevate their own pres-
tige. Fault also lay in the hereditary factionalism that had emerged in Korea after
1575 and served to further narrow access to the king. This was undoubtedly the
problem with Yu himself since he was a bona fide member of the yangban
Munhwa Yu clan living in Seoul. His father and grandfather had held office, he
had a prestigious ancestor in Yu Kwan who associated with Cho Kwangjo's dis-
ciples in the early sixteenth century, and his mother was the daughter of a high
official in the Yoju Yi clan. His wife was from the P'ungsan Sim clan, and her
father, Sim Sugyong, was a minister of the right - all of which should have qual-
ified him as a social equal of officeholding yangban. Unfortunately, his father,
a member of the Northerner (Pug' in) faction associated with King K wanghae-
gun, suffered disaster when the Westerner faction (S6in) deposed the king and
replaced him with King Injo in 1623. That same year his father was implicated
in a plot to restore K wanghaegun to the throne and was killed during interro-
gation under torture. Thereafter, the Northerners were excluded from opportu-
nities for important bureaucratic posts.
Yu passed the chinsa examination, but abandoned all interest in pursuing a
higher degree or an official post. He formed associations with members of fac-
tions out of power and was known by leaders of the Southerner faction (Nam' in)
like Yun Hyu and Ho Mok, who had their heyday from 1689 to 1694, and were
later purged from power for a hundred years until King Chongjo restored some
of them to the government in the late eighteenth century. Yu spent most of his
life as a recluse in the district of Puan in Chol\a Province, where in 1652 he
began work on his magnum opus, the Pan' gye surok. He finished it nineteen
years later in r670, only three years before his death. It is one of only three of
his twenty known works that remain, the other two include his recently discovered
survey history of Korea in the format used by Chu Hsi himself for China and
recently compiled short fragments. He wrote treatises on Neo-Confucian meta-
physics, a synopsis of Chu Hsi's writings, a Korean geography, a study of the
Chinese pronunciation of Chinese characters, works on military affairs and meth-
ods, and other studies of prose and poetry, medicine and acupuncture.^2
Some have argued that factional exclusion and the rustication of members of
minority factions were, in fact, the phenomena that created the great scholars
of practical affairs like Yu Hyongwon, but even if that were true, it did not serve
to provide an audience for their ideas at court. The transmission of Yu's ideas
was confined to his descendants, disciples, and intellectual heirs outside the

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