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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rough notes on Korean history

The Choson dynasty ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910. It replaced the Koryô dynasty of 918-1392. In the Koryô period Buddhism was supported by the royal court. Buddhism had a major impact on the production of art and many new temples were built. The early Choson monarchs distanced themselves from their predecessors by supporting Confucianism.

The Choson monarchs established a new governing elite, the yangban. The yangban remained important throughout this long period.
The term yangban refers to members of the "two orders" of civil or military officialdom. Whether his post was civil or military (the former was considered more prestigious than the latter), a yangban was, essentially, a literati. The yangban was expected to hold public office, follow the Confucian doctrine through study and self-cultivation, and help cultivate the moral standards of Chosôn society. As an elite class, the yangban enjoyed many privileges and actively sought to preserve the purity and exclusivity of their group—for instance, through marriage only among members of the yangban class. It was not a monolithic group, however. There were numerous internal distinctions, and the yangban strove to maintain a hierarchical order among themselves. Source
A wealth of information on Korean history can be found on the various pages of this timeline.

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