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Acta Koreana is published semi-annually on June 15 and December 15 by Academia Koreana, Keimyung University.
Volume Vol. 18 No. 2
Pages pp. 583~618 (all 35 pages)
Publication Date DECEMBER, 2015
Keyword Confucian politics, civil service examination, hojok (powerful local families), Chinese characters, documentary administration
Abstract Early Koryŏ was the period in which Confucianism began to be perceived as a political ideology and Confucian politics were introduced. Many scholars have argued that this was made possible by the Confucian scholars who promoted it. Meanwhile, the powerful local families (hojok) are considered to have played a limited role in the spread of Confucianism. The introduction of Confucian politics during early Koryŏ, however, was not solely the result of the activities of Confucian scholars.
Although they were not Confucian scholars, Wang Kŏn as well as the generals and meritorious retainers who contributed to the foundation of the Koryŏ dynasty and many other officials possessed Confucian knowledge. The enthronement of Wang Kŏn and the founding of the Koryŏ dynasty were rationalized based on the notions of the mandate of Heaven and revolution. In addition, several elites who belonged to powerful local clans who participated in central politics at the beginning of the Koryŏ dynasty and who ruled local areas were well-versed in the Confucian classics, histories and works on military stratagem. Therefore, the powerful local families cannot be perceived as a class unrelated to Confucianism.
Members of the ruling class during early Koryŏ used their local bases as a springboard for entrance to the central and provincial levels of government. They learned Confucian teachings and various Confucian classics during their youth, im-plemented documentary administration in their capacity as the ruling class in local areas, and perceived Confucianism as their political ideology. The implementation of the civil service examination during the reign of King Kwangjong and the full realization of Confucian politics during the reign of King Sŏngjong were made possible by the nationwide presence of these social groups.
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