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

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of equality. Human beings, after all, shared an aspect of similitude: "What we
have in common is that we are all Heaven's people [tong si chonmin]." But at
the same time, "'There is a distinction between scholars and common people [yu
Some of his statements did appear to favor universal education: "Even
though education may be widely extended, there is still the fear that there might
not be enough talented people. If there are too many of them, it is not a matter
of concern."
But he did not mean that all men were to be educated through the level of the
National Academy, rather that it was better to have a surplus in the supply of
educated men relative to the number of bureaucratic slots to make sure there
was no shortage. They would simply have to wait for an opening, but it would
not be right to increase the quota of officials because of a surfeit of scholars, or
increase the quota of scholars because of an increase in the population.^8 Even
though too many unemployed educated men might create too many discontented
intellectuals, the purpose of education was to guarantee a sufficient supply of
talented men for the state, not to fulfill the needs of the mass of individuals.
His quotas for schools based on his quota of bureaucratic posts and the life
expectancy and average length of career of government officials was actually
less than the current figures of examination candidates. He estimated that at the
time there were about nine hundred civil and military regular official posts from
ranks one to nine in the government bureaucracy. Assuming the average age of
first appointment at forty, the average age of retirement about seventy, and deduct-
ing ten years to account for some early retirements and death in office, he esti-
mated an average career at twenty years. He then set the quota for the number
of scholars to be promoted from the highest of his new schools to office at thirty-
five per annum, producing seven hundred officials over a twenty-year period.
The extra two hundred slots could be filled by special recommendations made
by court officials of rank three or higher, or by local magistrates.^9 Tn short, the
masses were to be given only an elementary education, and the opportunities
for higher education would be limited to quotas reflecting estimated needs for
a drastically reduced central bureaucracy.

Quotas to Eliminate Regional Discrimination

Despite the criticism in the Tang dynasty against the use of quotas because
they limited opportunities for advancement (see chap. 4), Yu sympathized with
the complaints of many Chinese scholars about the disparity of opportunity
between the capital and the provinces and between one geographic region and
another. The Chinese writers had complained that the examination system itself
was responsible for this because it attracted scholars to the capital in the hope
of a better chance of passing the examinations. Increased quotas for the dynas-
tic capital to reflect the increase in population only continued to drain the coun-
tryside of talented men.!O Yu agreed that in Korea as well current discriminatory
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