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Rural Society and Zhu Xi’s Community Compact

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses how the Zhu Xi's community compact replaced the yuhyangso by the mid-Joseon period and how both came to serve as an instrument of class domination, despite their original intentions. During the Joseon period, members of the yangban class were commonly called sajok. The term sajok referred to families that produced high-ranking government officials. The sajok and the hyangni also came to live in separate areas. Community compacts enabled rural villages to maintain autonomy over their affairs. Around the time of the Imjin War, however, the provincial sajok gradually implemented the community compact system, making adjustments in each region to suit its particular conditions. Through the yuhyangso and the community compact, the yangban served as the leading figures in rural society, but in the late Joseon period, their status underwent a general decline. The yangban were unable to prevent the decline of the autonomy of rural villages.

Keywords: hyangni; Imjin War; Joseon period; rural society; sajok; Zhu Xi's community compact



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