As printed in A HANDBOOK OF KOREA, 9th, 1993;
Published by the Korean Overseas Information Service

Postwar Choson Period:

The postwar period of the 17th century in Korea witnessed a social and economic trans­formation. The rise of wealthy merchants con­tributed to the decline of the yangban society, while financial difficulty drove the government repeatedly to undertake tax reforms and sales of titles. Upward social mobility, almost unknown in the prewar period, began to take place. Rich peasants and merchants acquired yangban status, and nobi bondsmen were able to purchase freedom.

Neo-Confucian orthodoxy was called into question by a rising critical spirit which engendered distrust of the yangban. The impact of western culture entering through China gave further impetus to pragmatic studies which called for socio-economic reforms and readjustments. Factional strife intensified. Attention was drawn to agricultural problems as more yangban-dropouts from the struggle for power-became involved in cultivation of the land. As a result, agromanagerial techniques and pro­duction methods were steadily improved. Privately operated handicraft factories replaced government-operated ones, stimulating the production of goods for sale.

The increase in mercantile activities expedited the rise of commercial farming, which in turn began to transform rural life. The circulation of coin currency spread, providing a bridge between rural life and city economy. The rise of popular verse and fiction drew the attention of the people to abuses and encouraged participa­tion in social reforms.

Postwar Readjustment

The urgent tasks of the postwar period were reorganization of the defense forces and increase of state revenues. The Border Defense Council (Pibyönsa) was elevated to the status of a de facto decision-making body. A national defense council consisting of state councilors, ministers of the six boards and military staff generals made important decisions ranging from war to selection of a crown prince.

The arts of war which had proved to be effective in defense against Japanese pirates on the south China coast were given first priority in the postwar defense activity. This system of army training, however, required an additional budget which had to be collected as taxes from the peasants. Privately-owned bondsmen, who had previously been exempted from military service, were recruited for training, and had a new reason to consider themselves equal to commoners.

The reconstruction of palace buildings and the printing of lost books, such as duplicate sets of the Choson Wangjo Shillok (Annals of the Dynasty of Choson), land ledgers, and census records, all required extra funds. Wooden printing type was carved because of the metal shortage brought about by arms production. Books were sold to pay for expenses, contrary to the prewar practice. Efforts were made to revive the peasant economy, the main source of revenue.

Medical care for the disease-stricken populace was an urgent need and gave impetus to the compilation of medical treatises such as Ton gui Pogam (Exemplar of Korean Medicine), which was completed in 1610.

The system of recruitment for the bureaucracy by merit had long deteriorated, as both civil and military service examinations virtually became levers in the hands of powerful officials and the faction in power. The irregular special examination graduates created a pressing demand for land, at the same time the practice of holding unregistered land was draining state revenue. As some yangban sought control of tax-free school land, the number of private schools quadrupled during the 17th century alone, multiplying the school estates which sheltered an increasing number of literati and students.

The royal relatives and officials in power accumulated land deserted in wartime and converted it into tax-exempt holdings. Competition for office became intense, since a term in office could easily lead to economic advantage. The factional split in 1585 was between a younger and an elder group of scholars, called the Tongin (Eastern) faction and the Soin (Western) faction respectively and this rivalry was intensified under the postwar financial difficulties. Splits often occurred over issues such as the question of selection of the crown prince and rituals of royal mourning. The Tongin faction divided again into the Namin (Southern) faction and the Pukin (Northern) faction, and the latter gained power during the reign of Kwanghaegun (r.1608-23), who made efforts to restore the Confucian state. When the Manchus rose up against Ming China, who asked Korea for assistance, Kwanghaegun, mindful of the assistance rendered by the Chinese in Korea’s struggle against the Japanese, promptly sent an army of 10,000. However, when it became obvious the Manchus would be victorious, the Koreans quickly surrendered thus avoiding any retaliation.

In the aftermath of this switch, Kwanghaegun was deposed by the newly ascendant Söin faction which was pro-Ming. The insurrection which ensued demonstrated the necessity of strengthening the defense of the capital area. Accordingly, new camps were built around the capital city, and the fortress of Namhansansong was constructed for its protection.

The Manchus thus felt the need to eliminate any threat from Korea. The peace treaty concluded after the first Manchu invasion stipulated that Korea would come to the aid of the Manchus, not the Ming. Upon King Injo’s (r.1623-49) refusal to acknowledge a suzerain-vassal relationship in 1636, the Manchu ruler, now enthroned as the Ch’ing Emperor of China, invaded Korea. King Injo fled to Namhansansöng, then capitulated to the invaders on a bank of the Han-gang River. He agreed to break relations with the defeated Ming and to send princes as hostages.

This personal surrender of King Injo was a double blow to the monarchy and yangban, as the nation had to acknowledge subservience to the “pagan” tribes of the Manchu. Distrust of the orthodox Neo-Confucian yangban began to grow in the minds of the people, who had been denied an opportunity to resist the Ch’ing army.

A deep sense of humiliation and disgrace was felt, and sympathy toward Ming was strong. The peasants and bondsmen openly ridiculed the yangban, and offspring of interclass mating, mostly between yangban male and non-yang-ban female, became a serious social problem. These included sons of prominent officials, who never theless were considered outcasts and banned from governmental service.

Resentment of the rigid social stratification as described in the previously mentioned Tale of Hong Kil-tong spurred the rise of revolutionary ideas. The basic theme in the novel-that all men were created equal-gave encouragement to the people and undermined the prestige of the yangban society.

Tax Reforms

During this period, there was a gradual rise of subordinate agents of the tribute-tax collector who collected extraordinary additional amounts. This practice, started in the prewar period, became so rampant that peasants often turned over their land to powerful yangban, who would then help them to withdraw the land from regis­tration so that the yangban could collect the tax themselves.

Attempts to convert the tribute-tax to an additional tax on land were partly successful. An additional tax on land, Taedongbop (Uniform Land Tax Law), was vigorously advocated by Kim Yuk, the chief minister of King Hyojong (r. 1649-59). Its implementation proved highly advantageous both to state revenues and to the lot of the peasants. Such an outcome was especially valuable to King Hyojong, whose aim was to strengthen the army and increase national revenue so as to oppose the Ch’ing. As a further revenue measure, he decreed a universal tax in exchange for exemption from military service to be paid by all males, even monks.

Hyojong’s anti-Ch’ing ideas came to naught, as in 1654 and 1658 he was forced to send trained military men at the request of Ch’ing China to help them fight in Manchuria against Russian invaders. His economic policies were more effective and the population more than doubled in the ten years after his death.

The increase in the national population from 2,290,000 in 1657 to 5,018,000 in 1669 was remarkable. The Seoul population grew from 80,572 to 194,030 in the same period. The national increase was largely due to the enforcement of tax reforms and the improvement in agromanagerial and agricultural techniques. The increase in the Seoul population can be attributed to the influx of merchants dealing in goods no longer paid to the government as tribute-tax.

After the Taedongpop (Uniform Land Tax Law) was implemented in most parts of the country the governmental demand for local products in kind was met by merchants who became purchase agents for that purpose. Acquiring the privilege of monopoly, they set the pattern for the guilds which spread nation­wide. The decline of government-operated workshops and manufacture stimulated artisans and technicians to create private workshops and to go into business as dealers in their own products, often forming into guilds.

In the provincial towns, markets were held every five days, serving as channels between producers and Seoul merchants. The licensed suppliers of local products in Seoul gradually accumulated capital with their lucrative and guaranteed transactions.

Thus a new notion of wealth came into being: that of mercantile wealth, consisting no longer of land and bondsmen but of commodities for quantitative trade in money. Commercial capital was given a foundation on which to grow, as trade flourished and currency circulated. However, these efforts, whose purpose was to preserve the Confucian yangban society, led to the erosion of that same society.

Rise of a Reformist School

With the death of Hyojong, the yangban no longer paid the universal military service tax, and were once again virtually exempted from military service. A critical attitude developed among the out-of-power yangban as an obstacle to social progress. Yun Hyu and Pak Se-dang were among the prominent scholars who attacked the idolized system of Chu Hsi. Conservative yangban branded them as heretics, but the time was ripe for the rise of a new school of thought committed to criticism of the traditional order.

To the new generation of scholars, the living conditions of the people meant more than the problems of legitimacy and ritual so dear to the literati of the Neo-Confucian bureaucracy. “No nation can survive without the well-being of the peasant, whereas the people can flourish even without a monarch.” Such was the modern thinking that underlay the reformist school’s pragmatic studies.

Yu Hyong-won in his Pan‘gye-surok (Essays on Social Reform) suggested the following measures: the establishment of a land system under which benefits could be shared equitably by all; the institution of the recommendation system, replacing civil service examinations; the establishment of equal opportunities for all men; the reform of government organization; and the adoption of new learning. His proposals found no official acceptance, but his reformist school of thought became the mainstream of pragmatic studies. Emphasis was given to agriculture, since the success of the suggested reforms depended upon the solution of agricultural prob­lems. The need for pragmatic studies was keenly felt by scholars who were removed from the bureaucracy. The latter, on the other hand was preoccupied with internal power struggles, and factions clashed over differing interpretations of Neo-Confucian rites.

During the latter half of the 17th century, the struggle for power among the factions became fierce and more factions split off, among which the Noron faction, or the elder group, and the Soron, the younger group, were prominent. Such factional strife had nothing to do with the life of the peasant or the national interests. The majority of the younger group began to show concern over the well-being of the peasants, whose condition was closer to their own, since many of the yangban engaged in farming and could not even afford to hold bondsmen.

It was in this process of social-economic change that the reformist school confronted the demands of society. Mercantile activities con­tinued to grow with the development of government-licensed supplier guilds on a nationwide scale as, their transactions accounted for 60 percent of the total government revenue. Government revenues were constantly growing during this period, and some wealthy farmers converted their status to that of yangban. The population growth kept pace as well, increasing by almost two million in the 48 years from 1669 to 1717.

King Yongjo’s Reforms

Realizing its detrimental effects on state administration, King Yongjo (r. 1724-76) attempted to end factional strife as soon as he ascended the throne. To reinstate the short-lived universal military service tax, he even came out of the palace gate and solicited the opinions of officials, literati, soldiers, and peasants. He reduced the military service tax by half, and ordered the deficiency supplemented by the tax­es on fisheries, salt, vessels, and an additional land tax. Yöngjo also regularized the financial system of state revenues and expenses by adopt­ing an accounting system. His realistic policies allowed the payment of taxes in grain in the remote Kyongsang-do province to nearby ports, and payment in cotton or cash for grain in mountainous areas. The circulation of currency was encouraged by increased coin casting.

His concern for the improvement of peasant life was manifest in his eagerness to educate the people by distributing important books in Korean script, including books on agriculture.

The pluviometer was again manufactured in quantity and distributed to local offices, and extensive public works were undertaken. Yong­jo upgraded the status of the offspring of com­moners, opening another possibility for upward social mobility. His policies were intended to reassert the Confucian monarchy and humanis­tic rule, but they could not stem the tide of social change.

Mercantile activities increased in volume at a rapid rate in the 18th century. There was accumulation of capital through monopoly and wholesaling that expanded through guild orga­nization. Many merchants were concentrated in Seoul. The traditional divisions of government-chartered shops, the licensed tribute-goods sup­plier, and the small shopkeepers in the alleys and streets, were integrated into the fabric of a monopoly and wholesale system. The temporary shops were originally set up to meet the demands of the people on special occasions, such as civil service examinations, royal pro­cessions, and other national events, but they continued after the events to supply the general populace with groceries and sundry items. Operated by poor shop-keepers in temporary huts, they were for the most part dependent on the wholesale merchants. As a result, the wholesale merchant’s price policies had direct impact on the life of the populace of Seoul.

The artisans often became self-employed pro­ducers. Some even developed into factory own­ers and obtained charters of monopoly for the sale of their products. In some cases, it proved more lucrative simply to be a wholesale dealer in certain commodities than to engage in the production of goods. It was becoming a fashion among merchants and artisans to obtain charters by creating a new commodity through minor refinement of goods already chartered. The charter ensured monopoly and the protection of the government.

The so-called estuary merchants monopolized commodities from the provinces of Kyonggi-do and Ch’ungch’ong-do, and other wholesale merchants had nationwide networks for the sale of ginseng. The merchants of Kaesong or Songdo competed vigorously with their Seoul counter­parts in wholesale activities, conducting tripartite international trade between Japan and China; they traded ginseng and other Korean products for Japanese silver and Chinese books and silk. They even accompanied the envoy missions to China in their quest for gain. They went into the business of buying up paper for trade to China from the original producers in Buddhist temples, horse hair for hats from the remote southern island of Chejudo, and otter fur from hunters on the east coast.

The constant movement of trading ships between and among these remote ports is described in Yi Chung-hwan’s T’aengnichi (Ecological Guide to Korea) and depicted in Yi In-mun’s painting, the Inexhaustible Rivers and Mountains.

The monopoly and wholesale activities creat­ed a larger demand for silver and copper, which in turn gave impetus to the mining industry. Under strict control of the government in pre­war times, mines were turned over to private operators. In the 17th century, 68 silver mines were in operation but copper mining was not well developed, as copper was supplied by Japan. In the 18th century, however, copper mines were also developed when the Japanese stopped exporting copper and Ch’ing demanded great supplies of it.

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The constant rise in price of commodities would have threatened the livelihood of the populace of Seoul had they not been involved one way or another in mercantile activities. Regardless of status, many yangban and com­moners engaged in some kind of merchant activity.

Thus Seoul made great strides as a commer­cial and industrial city in the 18th century. The popular demand for handicraft goods such as knives, horse hair hats, dining tables and brass-ware was ever increasing. Restrictions on the wearing of the horse hair hat, originally a sym­bol of yangban status, virtually disappeared.

The increase in the number of yangban had been the cause of their impoverishment, as their land-holdings had to be divided equally among the sons at the least, and often the daughter too, whether married or not. The yangban of declin­ing fortunes had the choice of either engaging in agriculture as owner-cultivator, or in lucra­tive enterprises indirectly. Money-lending was another field they entered as trade and currency circulation expanded.

The notion that commerce and industry were marginal occupations needed changing, and the necessity for learning from Ch’ing China was urged. Pak Chi-won, Pak Che-ga, and others who had traveled to Ch’ing with the Korean envoy missions witnessed the development of commerce and manufacturing industry there. Upon returning to Korea they proposed positive policies for the development of commerce, metallurgy, fishing, stock farming, horticulture, and mining.

Even the pirating of books became commer­cialized, as competition developed among well-to-do yangban in the publication of collected literary works of renowned ancestors. This led to the printing of popular fiction and poetry. The people especially appreciated satire and social criticism. The Story of Ch’unhyang, telling of the fidelity of an entertainer’s daugh­ter, was widely read as it was full of satire directed against the greed and snobbery of officials.

Development of Agriculture

The development of trade and manufacturing stimulated agricultural diversity. Commercial farming of ginseng, hemp, tobacco, and medici­nal herbs was practiced in various parts of the country. Improved agricultural techniques increased yields. For example, transplantation of rice, which had been common only in the fields of Chólla-do, Kyongsang-do, Kangwon­do provinces, now spread northward to the provinces of Ch’ungchong-do, Kyonggi-do and Hwanghae-do. This technique not only yielded more rice, but allowed two crops a year, barley and rice.

The improved ratio between productivity and labor gave peasants incentive to revolutionize agromanagerial procedures, since it was possi­ble for them to rise to wealth through manageri­al expansion. The wealthy yangban and peas­ants gradually enlarged their farm lands by renting other land. This drove the poor peasants elsewhere for employment in cities, mining, and manufacturing. Some became mountain recluses, living by slash-and-burn agriculture practices.

The land-tax burden was shifted to the tenant farmers. As in other decaying medieval soci­eties, this sort of socio-economic change drove the poor peasant further into poverty. The well-­to-do peasants on the other hand were able to purchase yangban titles which increased their prestige and power in the local society.

Rules were set for sale of titles, and there was a gradual rise in such sales as the government was often faced with a shortage of revenue. Bondsmen were emancipated and often became owners of land and other bondsmen. The increase of yangban from the 1690s to the 1850s was fantastic. In these years, the number in some sectors increased from 9.2 to 70.2 per­cent of the population, whereas the commoners, mostly peasants, decreased from 53.7 to 28.2 percent, and bondsmen from 37.1 to 1.5 per­cent. This upward social mobility was a result of the exploitation of newly created wealth by a chronically deficit-ridden government. The forging and purchase of genealogies conferring social recognition on members of the non yangban class was prevalent in the 18th century.

There was, however, another side to the pic­ture. Some yangban actually descended to the status of commoner, and began to intermarry with peasants and other lower classes. Government offices, unable to afford the sup­port of bondsmen, gradually freed them in return for tribute or a lump-sum tax payment. The number of office-owned bondsmen decreased from 190,000 in the 17th century to 27,000 in the mid-l8th century. Bondsmen pri­vately owned by yangban numbered 400,000 in 1623, but decreased sharply in the course of social change, and many of the yangban could not afford to hold even a single bondsmen. Under such conditions some private bondsman became part-tenant and part-free cultivators. Finally, in 1801, all bondsmen registers of gov­ernment offices and palaces were destroyed by the government to assure their emancipation.

Pragmatic Studies

The urge to learn about Ch’ing China was basically oriented towards the well-being of Korea. The rise of pragmatic studies continued, as many scholars attempted to seek the solution to social problems by administrative reforms in land distribution and agricultural improvement, emphasizing limitation of landholding and application of egalitarian principles in land tenure. Yi Ik proposed the creation of an open society by abolishment of class distinctions and emancipation of bondsmen. Pak Chi-won wrote stories ridiculing the idle, unproductive and pretentious way of life of the yangban. For the social advancement of Korea, he advocated improvement of agricultural equipment, irriga­tion systems and new cultivation techniques. There were scholars like Pak Che-ga, Yi Tök-­mu and Hong Tae-yong who recommended that Korea import western techniques and participate in international trade along with Ch’ing China. They were the vanguard of a movement that was destined to destroy the traditional yangban attitude toward technology and commerce.

Even while absorbing western culture and techniques by way of China, concern for Korea’s identity began to revive as Koreans began to study their own history, geography, language, and epigraphy. Painters departed from traditional China-oriented painting styles and began to paint the scenery and life of Korea. An Chong-bok asserted an independent Korean line in Korea’s historiography by emphasizing Tan-gun and Kija as the first legitimate rulers. This reinterpretation can be seen as parallel to Chu Hsi’s legitimation by Shu Han of China’s three states period. An’s contribution to the his­toriography of Korea was his emphasis on the role of the people who expelled foreign invaders. He reprimanded the ruling classes for having mainly concerned themselves with how best to exploit the people.

His book Tongsa Kangmok (Annotated Account of Korean History) made a lasting impression on such modern historians as Pak Un-shik and Shin Ch’ae-ho. Han Ch’i-yun paid great attention to the states of Koguryo and Parhae, viewing the latter as an integral part of Korean history. In the same vein, Yü Tuk-kong, another historian, wrote a monograph on Parhae.

Historical geography kept pace with other branches of historical study, and wood block cartography developed. Chong Sang-gi’s inge­nious scaling device stimulated Korean cartog­raphy. Kim Chong-ho created a scale map of modern cartographic precision on the basis of his indefatigable travels throughout the peninsula.

Compilation of books increased in the 18th century. Tongguk-munhon pigo (Reference Compilation of Documents on Korea) was sup­plemented; Taejon-t‘ongp‘yön (Comprehensive National Code) and the Compendium of Korean Music were compiled, as were diplomatic archives. King Chöngjo (r.1776-1800), himself a scholar, employed young scholars of mixed origin in his newly-established Inner Royal Library for such projects.

For the economical publication of fine edi­tions, movable metal type was repeatedly cast, and the carving of wooden type continued. The printing of fiction developed into a business enterprise in the l8th-l9th century.

Korean typographical enterprise gave stimu­lus to developments in Ch’ing. The famous Chinese encyclopedia Kuchin Tushu Chich‘eng was printed for the first time with movable cop­per type in 1772. Ssuk’u Ch’uanshu, the great Chinese bibliography, was printed with wooden type when a Korean Manchu, Chin Chien, sug­gested this economical method to the Ch’ien­lung Emperor.

The people were strongly motivated to learn and import things for practical use in response to felt needs.

Emergence of Modern Culture

The most significant change in this period was the rise of the critical spirit and a new phi­losophy, which made deep inroads into the tra­ditional Confucian outlook. The rise of popular novels and mass participation in cultural activi­ties presaged the decline of traditional society.

In his popular novel, The Tale of Hong Kil-­tong, Ho Kyun (1569-1618) advocated popular revolt against misrule. His hero Hong Kil-tong, like the virtuous outlaw Im Kkok-chong, was enraged by governmental corruption and rose up against it. Ho Kyun realized that the lower class, if provoked to action, would become a powerful force, particularly since the peasant class would join in struggle for social justice. In his vision of needed social change, he saw in passion between man and woman the dispensa­tion of heaven itself, superseding the rigid rela­tionships dignified as the Confucian norms.

Like the Renaissance philosophers, he made a bold departure from traditional norms and val­ues, basing his morality on the true nature of man. It was Ho Kyun’s conviction, eloquently expressed in his pioneer egalitarian novel, that every man was endowed with particular talents to survive, and ought not to be exploited by others. He found the class-divided, traditional society abominable.

In the Tale of Ch’unhyang, an unknown author exposes the corrupt magistracy and the decaying yangban ethos. Giving a happy end­ing to an interclass mating, he held out the promise of a brighter society characterized by equality and justice. This popular novel was also dramatized in quasi-operatic style.

Yi Su-gwang (1563-1628), probably the earli­est Korean thinker to have contact with Catholic and European culture, stressed the idea that knowledge is of no value unless it results in action, just as enforcement is an essential part of the substance of law. His Chibong-yusol (Topical Discourses of Chibong) published in 1614, is an encyclopedic effort similar in inspiration to the work of French encyclopedists. It greatly expanded the knowl­edge available to Koreans of the countries of Europe and Southeast Asia, and explained the nature of Catholicism for the first time.

Pak Chi-won (1737-1805), a thinker compa­rable to Ho Kyun, declared that Heaven bestows unique talents on all men. His Tale of the Yangban describes a yangban who had done nothing but read while subsisting on govern­ment provender. To reimburse the government, the yangban sold his status to a merchant, but the latter discarded it when he realized that the essence of yangban life was idleness, corrup­tion, and hypocrisy. The discrediting of the tra­ditional yangban values left a void that was keenly felt, and it was in response to this need that pragmatic philosophy developed.

Hong Tae-yong (1731-83) in his scientific quest declared that “nothing is substantial with­out a sincere mind.” He saw in natural science the essence of all spiritual activities, and refut­ed the traditional concept that science and tech­nology were marginal branches of knowledge. The earth’s rotation, the cause of eclipses and the nature of the rainbow were included among his scientifically valid findings, and his work in mathematics was no less noteworthy. He rated Western science and technology superior to anything T’ang or Sung civilization had to offer, and advocated the pursuit of such learning for the good of society.

Remarkable scientific achievement was made by Chong Yag-yong (Tasan, 1762-1836), who also was known for his deep concern for the peasants and people. His construction plan for the fortifications of Hwasong as Korea’s emer­gency capital included the use of his own appli­cations: cranes, windlasses, pulleys and special­ly designed vehicles. Yi Kyu-gyOng as well compiled works on various branches of natural science. A collective work on astronomical and meteorological development in Korea was pub­lished in 1818.

Welfare Programs

The ideal of a Confucian welfare state was conceived and implemented by King Sejong in the 15th century, but it was Yi Su-gwang who elaborated on the philosophy of welfare in the period following the Hideyoshi invasions. He propounded the idea that the way was to be found among the people, and its noblest real­ization was to feed and clothe the people prop­erly.

Pak Se-dang said he would go to the country and engage in manual labor, since Confucius endured labors more onerous than farming. Since such men espoused egalitarian principles, their concerns were more and more centered upon public welfare programs.

Yi Ik stated that learning or knowledge should not be sought unless it was of benefit to the daily life of the people in general. His sharp analysis of the causes of factionalism stemmed from a deep concern for a welfare policy.

Kim Yuk, who is known for his implementa­tion of the Taedongbop, or Uniform Land Tax Law, recommended the increased use of vehi­cles. Hong Tae-yong and Pak Chi-won also saw increased vehicular traffic as promising great advantage for the national economy. Pak made a farsighted statement: “The ruler will be blamed by future generations for not having learned from pragmatic studies.”

Chong Yag-yong was outstanding among the scholars who analyzed the evils of society and made positive proposals for reform. He saw the paramount importance of agriculture, stock-rais­ing, fisheries, and sericulture. He advocated a system of land distribution based on egalitarian principles, and the placement of people in pro­fessions in accordance with their ability.

Exploitation continued, however, and dis­tressed people sought salvation. Catholicism met the needs of many, since its tenets accord­ed with the new egalitarian principles in addi­tion to stressing salvation. Some scholars were converted to Catholicism, and others benefitted from the scientific learning that accompanied the religion. The number of Catholics in Korea gradually increased.

Since Catholicism was opposed both to Confucian ancestral rituals and to rigid social stratification, Catholics were termed criminals by the state. Many of them, including prominent scholars such as Chong Yag-yong and his broth­ers, were punished or even executed.

Catholicism prospered secretly nonetheless, especially among artisans such as pottery mak­ers. The negation of traditional values in a quest for salvation was an enigma to the Confucian-oriented yangban officials, and they resorted to various means of suppressing the alien faith. It was evident that the men in power were far behind the people in their social and intellectual consciousness.

For the welfare of the people, medical jurisprudence was emphasized in order to ensure fair practice of medicine. Other signifi­cant studies relating to the welfare of the people included work on therapeutic practices based on the physical features of mankind. Yi Che­ma (b.1837) classified man into four different physical types and developed different thera­peutic treatment for each.

Equality, human dignity, opportunity, public welfare, and the advancement of the national economy were conspicuous principles in the philosophy that emerged in this period. This development of the l7th-l8th centuries is in some respects reminiscent of the Renaissance period of Western Europe.

In the literary scene, love stories were popu­lar and sold well. Since books printed from metal type were too costly for commoners, readers, popular demand was met by the use of the cheaper clay-carved plates, in addition to wood-type printing. Anthologies of sijo poems by two intermediary class men were notewor­thy. Kim Ch’on-t’aek assembled 580 poems, from the Koryo period on, in his Ch‘óng guyóng­on (Enduring Poetry of Korea), and Kim Su­jang (b. 1482) compiled a similar anthology enti­tled Haedong kayo (Songs of Korea). Chong Ch’ol (Songgang, 1534-1593) and Yun Son-do (Kosan, 1587-1671) were talented yangban poets whose individual anthologies were also published.

Korea-centered painting also came into vogue. Chong Son (Kyomjae, 1676-1759), unlike his predecessors, depicted the landscape of Korea, while Kim Hong-do (Tanwon, b.1740) and Shin Yun-bok (Hyewon, b.1758) concentrated on themes of the daily life of the masses. White porcelain with underglaze blue line-drawings was produced in quantity to meet public demand. Modern intellectuality dawned in all sectors of 18th century Korea.