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

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sponsorship and supervision and budgeting all costs against state revenues or
income from school land, he hoped to insure the honesty of teachers and pre-
vent the corruption of the system by private interest. He did not, however, envi-
sion the immediate establishment by the state of schools below the district level,
the smallest area under the jurisdiction of a centrally appointed magistrate. "After
the [public] schools are flourishing, we will gradualy establish local sang and
so schools and Ward Schools [pangsang 1 in the capital."155
There were two reasons why he was willing to postpone the extension of the
school system below the district level: the existence of certain types of schools
and institutions that were already conducting elementary education, and the dif-
ficulty of mobilizing sufficient funds and manpower to carry out the project. Yu
was not prepared to extend the system of official schools to the subdistrict (hyang
in his system, myon in his own time), defined in his system as consisting of 500
families to be headed by an official called a hyangjong, who would be selected
by the district magistrate from the quota and extra-quota students of the sub-
He pointed out that in the capital there were six officials with the title ofInstruc-
tors of the Youthful Benighted (Tongmyong kyogwan) who gave instruction to
the youth of the city in their homes. These men were evaluated after six months
on the job and, if found meritorious. were then promoted to a sixth-rank offi-
cial post. Unfortunately, their homes were not located throughout the city to pro-
vide equal access to all inhabitants, they were not natives of the area and were
thus out of tune with the urban population, and their rapid promotion and turnover
deprived the students of continuity in education. Nevertheless, Yu felt that the
system should be maintained until it were possible to establish ward schools in
the capital from regular tax revenues. Service and staff personnel would be
recruited from the local population and their work at the ward schools would
be accepted in lieu of regular labor service. Eventually the capital ward schools
would provide a model that could be extended to provincial towns as well.
As we have seen, Yu was cri tical of the the existing village elementary schools
(sodang) as well as the private academies, but he did not call for their outright
abolition because he hoped that improvement of the mores of local scholars by
his program of institutional reform would eventually bring a halt to the prob-
lem. Furthermore, after his network of local schools (hyangsang) was estab-
lished, village granaries (sach 'ang) and village shrines (hyangsa) could be
established as well to improve the overall condition of the villages, in accor-
dance with precedents during the Chou and Han dynasties. Local worthies and
scholars could then carry out rites at these shrines to honor local teachers (hyang
si5nsaeng) - an arrangement that would conform "to the intentions of the
Despite his animus against the private academies he planned to encourage the
continued establishment of elementary schools by private initiative below the
district level but with government support and encouragement. Watanabe Man-
abu has argued in a recent study that even though Yu did not say so explicitly,

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