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The Origin of Gogong and the Formation of Social Strata

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2013, (112), pp.205-236
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

강승호 1

1동국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The term ‘gogong,’ a concept of social status which was used in China, was formally accepted in the 14th century and started to be used since then. However, the standard of social status was not established yet, so a variety of labor forces were called ‘gogong,’ and this tendency continued even after the standard of social status was established. As ‘gogong’ indicated a variety of labor forces, various other names were used for it. These names are classified into four types: first, a legal expression used in law books or legislation; secondly, an expression of socioeconomic status of gogong; a third expression implies the one hired by others; and last but not least, an expression of labor forces with different characteristics. Among these four types, as the last expression deals with the one with different characteristics, only the first three expressions are included in the category of ‘gogong.’Meanwhile, the original type of ‘gogong’ traces back to hired hands in late Goryeo Dynasty in that they are most similar to the ones from China who were hired by others for a period. In late Goryeo Dynasty, hired hands, who were called ‘Yong,’ ‘Go-yong,’ ‘Go-in,’ were employed for small housework or as a substitute. These hands are seen as the original type of ‘gogong.’ In particular, Go-in is most likely to be the original type of ‘gogoing’ who is directly connected to ‘gogong’ in that Go-in is used as the most representing alias of ‘gogong’ in Chosun Dynasty. It is the 7th year of King Choonsuk of Goryeo Dynasty after his restoration (1338) that ‘gogong’ appeared in records of literature for the first time. The record of labor forces called ‘gogong’ did exist in the record of the process of reconstructing Bul-eun Temple. Moreover, in the late 14th century, Daemyungryul, a law book of handling legal codes relating to ‘gogong’, was adopted as a criminal law book; also, Go-in, the prime alias of ‘gogong,’ was in that law book. Thus, it is the 14th century that ‘gogong’ appeared in the literature for the first time. The ‘gogong’ in the 14th century gradually proceeded to form a social stratum, and it was regarded as a social stratum in the period ranging from Taejong to Sejong of the early 15th century. At that time, bureaucrats either considered applying ‘gogong’ law of the law book Daemyungryul or referred to a specific labor force as ‘gogong’ directly, which means ‘gogong’ was distinguished from other social strata and labor forces, and other criminal laws were comparatively applied to ‘gogong.’ Therefore, in the 15th century, it seems that ‘gogong’ was developed as a social stratum independently.

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