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

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to political authority. He wanted to use the state to support Confucian educa-
tion without having to acknowledge dependence on the state or king.
On the other hand, he was not happy with the private control over education
by the yang ban in his own time, and he probably hoped that a system of offi-
cial schools would help break the power of the hereditary elite. To break yang-
ban control over education with the aid of the state and still expect state schools
to preserve school autonomy presented a formidable, if not impossible, task for
the time. The control of education ultimately reflected the relative power of the
central government and the yangban, and since the yangban elite had become
so powerful by the seventeenth century, it was not surprising that the official
school system had atrophied, and institutionalized education had gravitated to
the private academies (sowon) and elementary schools (sodang).

Creation of an Official School System

In his "Proposals for Schools" (Hakkyo samok) Yu set out the details for a totally
reconstituted school system extending from a new National Academy in the cap-
ital down to district schools at the township level to meet the needs of students
older than fourteen se (12- 13 years). His plans for the establishment of this sys-
tem displayed his ambivalence toward the role of the state and the use of its
coercive power on the one hand and local scholar-gentry initiative, spontaneity,
and participation on the other. At the outset he wished the national government
to establish schools based on ancient models. The capital would be the locus of
a three-tiered system: the National Academy (T'aehak) which would house the
selected scholars (sonsa), the Middle School (Chunghak) which would accept
students promoted from the Four Schools (Sahak); and the Four Schools them-
selves, located at each of the four points of the compass in the capital.
This system was based on the description of the ancient school system in the
Book of Riles of Elder (Ta-tai Li-chih) and the T'ang system of a National
Academy (T'ai-hsiieh) and Schools of the Four Gates (Ssu-men-hsiieh). Each
of the Four Schools would be divided into an Inner House (Naesa) for the reg-
ular quota students (aengnaesaeng) and an Outer House (Oesa) for the extra-
quota students (chunggwangsaeng, or aeg'oesaeng in the current terminology). 148
At the provincial level the governors would establish Governors' Schools
(YOnghak) at the provincial capitals to house students promoted from the pre-
fectural (chu) and district (hyljn) schools. The prefectures and districts would
also have District Schools (uphak), divided into Inner and Outer Houses for reg-
ular and extra-quota students. '49
The new system would also consolidate the Confucian shrines with the schools
by locating them only in the National Academy and the Governors' Schools.
The district schools would only be allowed a lesser Shrine to the Sages
(Songmyo). an obvious attempt to take the powerful symbols of spiritual author-
ity away from both the private academies and the state and put them in the hands
of his presumed bona fide and independent scholars operating under state con-

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