All posts tagged: History

Why Confucianism Is Alive And Kicking

   Toegye Yi Hwang and Yukgok Yi-i considered to be the greatest Joseon scholars Neo-Confucianism was adopted by the ruling class as a combination of political doctrine + religion + social norms in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). As opposed to the Buddhism-centered Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), the Yi ruling clan of Joseon chose Confucianism, mainly because of its weight on the intelligent and honourable ruler and general focus on the class system. The king was a well-read scholar, and it is documented they spent every day reading Confucianist texts and discussing them with the court officials. They also passed a large part of their youth reading, analysing and discussing Confucianism. Confucianism is known for its strict hierarchy between: ruler-courtiers, husband-wife, father-son, and so on. The society was divided into Yangban (scholars), farmers, artisans, and merchants, in that order. The very bottom class was composed of slaves, shamans, butchers and the children of concubines, who were barred from civil service exams. Buddhism in Goryeo grew more and more corrupt in Goryeo and enabled the elite to amass fortunes. Additionally, Yi …

Uigwe, The 8-Day Festival (KBS, 2013)

Original title: 의궤, 8일간의 축제 Release date: April 17th, 2014 (Korea, 3D) Jeongjo, the 22nd monarch of the Joseon dynasty, is one of the most revered Korean rulers of all time. Politically, he successfully managed to balance factionalism between the many parties. Diplomatically, he opened up to Western powers for their technology while repressing Christianity  (the Joseon Sillok records that Jeongjo wore glasses in his forties due to his deteriorating eyesight). Socially, he paved the way for equality: Seo-eol, sons of concubines, were recruited in key government positions; efforts were made to abolish the slavery system. Culturally, advances were made in the printing press & The Suwon Fortress was built using modern technologies such as pulleys. In 1762, Jeongjo’s father, then crown prince Sado, was sentenced to death. His mental illnesses escalated in killing and raping sprees. Yeongjo, Sado’s father, eventually sentenced he be locked up in a wooden box without any food or drink. He died after 8 days. Although Jeongjo did not avenge political figures who supported his father’s death (and who subsequently argued that Jeongjo had no right to …

No You’re Not Allowed To Talk About Colonization

Koreans rejoice on August 15th, 1945. Unless you come from a country that was once colonized. It’s like this: I had Stage 4 cancer, and miraculously came back to life after extensive surgery and chemo that took all my hair, health, and life. My boyfriend of 5 years also left me because he couldn’t handle the pain I was in. And then you say “Hey, you used to be overweight, now you’re all thin! Looking great, mate, you should totally get a better guy now, forget about that loser!”. I now reserve the right to slap you with my hand, which is studded with metal rings. You can’t say “Yes, but Japan did bring modern law and railways, which really helped the Korean economy”. You can’t say “But now that Indians all speak English well and all, isn’t it better? You guys can all go to Silicon Valley and work, as soon as you get a job and a visa!”. You can’t say “You have French nationality even though you’ve never been to France? That is …

Answer 1. Do (South) Koreans Really Want Reunification?

Photo source: Yonhap News (Feb 22nd, 2014) Short answer: No. To be precise, it’s “Don’t really care“, not “Don’t want”. Reunification doesn’t carry the note of passion it used to in my parent’s generation – back then, if you were asked “Do you want tongil?”, and you said no, you were a complete treacherous, unpatriotic, heartless brat. But now, we’re too busy thinking about other things, the memories of having once been a single nation are fading, and most of all, Koreans most definitely do not want to carry the economic burden reunification will entail. Despite the avid propaganda from the South Korean government – Reunification will allow us to tap into the North’s invaluable mineral resources, we will gain direct access to cheap and disciplined (disciplined, for lack of a better word…) labour force, we are of the same blood and are one people – People’s enthusiasm has grown thin with the crazy outbursts of “We will see Seoul burst in flames if you don’t give us what we want and respect us” tantrum …