S-Space College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원) The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) Journal of Korean Law (JKL) Journal of Korean Law Volume 05 Number 1/2 (2005)
Aspects of Nineteenth-Century Choso˘n Society As Observed through a Legal Proceeding - Analysis of the 1816 Soji filed by the Munhwa Yu Descent Group in Kurye
- Jung, Geung-Sik
- Issue Date
- BK 21 law
- Journal of Korean Law, Vol.5 No.2, pp. 97-120
- soji ; legal culture ; trials in the Choson dynasty ; ch'ongsong ; litigation ; the Great Code of Choson (Kyongguktaejon)
- Conventional wisdom on the East Asian legal culture is that East Asia, including Korea, has been non-litigious, generally avoiding legal proceedings. It is often argued that the traditional legal culture of Korea was averse to trials, rendering customs and propriety (ye禮) more significant than laws (po˘p法), mediation (chocho˘ng 調停) and compromise (thyo˘p 妥協). Recently, a contrary view is put forward forcefully, not in the least buttressed by the fact that the rate of legal proceedings is, in actuality, higher in Korea than that in most other countries.
According to the findings from the field of history, the Choso˘n dynasty was actually congested with legal proceedings to the point of the district magistrates (heretofore suryo˘ng 守令) not being able to accomplish much else. This paper delves into this question by conducting an empirical analysis of a lawsuit filed in 1816 by a family in Kurye, a district in the Cho˘lla province (全羅道). This study shows that the nineteenth-century Choso˘n society went through a general transformation. At this juncture in time, an individual was becoming more of an independent person rather than the merely passive subject of the monarch at the mercy of the government officials that one had been up to this point in time. The nineteenth-century individual no longer resembled the mid-Choso˘n one who spent their life furthering the cause of Neo-Confucian ideology, the individual in the nineteenth century had become one who actively pursued their rights, capable of maneuvering through the legal channels in the pursuit of their self-interest.
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