The Dynamics of Confucianism and Modernization in Korean History

Paperback
This volume makes available for the first time in English a collection of the work of historian Yi Tae-Jin. Over the course of his career, he has done path-breaking research that covers virtually the entire Choson period (1392-1910) from the Koryo-Choson transition to the Kojong period and Korea's takeover by Japan in 1910. One of the focal points of his scholarship has been to reinterpret Neo-Confucianism as a dynamic force in Korean history.The first half of this volume is devoted to his seminal work on the historical factors behind the founding of the Choson dynasty. He has shown how the rise of Neo-Confucianism during the Koryo-Choson transition was tied to unprecedented advances in agriculture and medicine that led to a fundamental socio-economic transformation of Korea. A new social class emerged that became a leading force behind the new dynasty and adopted Neo-Confucianism as its ideology. One of the underlying concerns of his scholarship has been to overcome the legacy of Japanese colonial scholarship on Korean historiography. His work refutes the notion of Korea as a Hermit Kingdom that was stagnant for centuries before its opening to the West. The second half of the volume includes some of his work on modernization efforts in the late Choson period, as well as some of his more direct critiques of the continuing influence of Japanese historiography in Korea.