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

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he has passed by and then bow and go on your way. If both parties are on horses,
then if [the other party] is a tsun elder, you get out of his way. If a chang elder,
you stand by your horse by the side of the road, bow, and wait for him to pass,
then bow, and proceed on your way. If you are walking and the tsun or chang
elder is riding a horse, then you get out of his way. J 23

In similar fashion the seating arrangements and etiquette required at village
assemblies were treated with great importance. Places of honor were to be
res'erved far royal ar imperial relatives, men with afficial rank, and finally men
of advanced age. Regulations for the offering of wine, genuflecting, and kow-
towing were equally precise and also governed by official status or age.^124
The respect hierarchy that Chu described was by no means confined only to
the single criterion of age because he included imperial relatives and men with
official rank at the top of his list. Since moral worth was hardly a necessary req-
uisite for members ofthe imperial family or holders of high office, Chu was obvi-
ously making his accommodation with the reality of the Sung social system.
Although Chu Hsi's emphasis on age categories as a basis for respect appear
commonplace, in the context ofYu's thought, however, they take on special sig-
nificance as a principle of social organization because age criteria or status posed
a direct challenge to the existing Korean principle of hereditary and ascriptive
social rank. This might appear strange to those who think of seventeenth-cen-
tury Korea as the epitome of the Confucian social system, but from Yu's point
of view contemporary Korea was a far cry from the Confucian ideal in social
In summary, the Sung writers provided a number of ideas essential to Yu's
own plan for the reform of the educational and recruitment systems of Choson
Korea. The most fundamental included the continuation of the attack on the exam-
ination system and the idea of replacing it with a system of official schools. This
was accompanied by an assertion of the importance of utility in the education
of youths and the selection of officials, practical utility in the case of Wang An-
shih, and moral utility in the case of Chu Hsi and the Ch'eng brothers. Wang
and Ch'eng Hao provided concrete plans for the establishment of official
schools, but Ch'eng Hao's plan, though never adopted, had the endorsement of
Chu Hsi, and provided the basis forYu's own proposal. Finally, Chu Hsi's empha-
sis on the importance of age as a criterion for respect, and Ch'eng I's notion of
the school as a community for scholars separate from the common herd for the
training of a moral elite, both played important roles in Yu's plans for reform.


Recommendation over Examination

At the end of his essay, Yu concluded that the governments of ancient China had
provided adequate economic support for students and scholars by regulating the
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