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Contesting and Competing the Merit for the Status during Goryo Myungjong’s Early Reign

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2022, (148), pp.5-36
  • DOI : 10.31218/TRKH.2022.12.148.5
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History
  • Received : November 15, 2022
  • Accepted : December 1, 2022
  • Published : December 30, 2022

Kim, Wootaek 1

1인하대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper investigates the new phenomenon that occurred during Myungjong’s early reign in 13th century Goryo, regarding contesting and competing for the merit for the status. The worthiness to hold a certain status had been linked to the contribution to the dynasty since its foundation. Contribution-reward mechanism consisted of the core principle of the official election system of the Goryo dynasty. This paper argues that this principle was basically observed also after the 1170’s Military Officials’ Revolt. Jung, Joongboo and the revolt leaders had themselves invested as the most meritorious subjects, which justified their act as a huge contribution to the dynasty. Other officials were also bestowed rewards by their or even their descendants’ status according to their contributions. However, this principle led to a grave question: Were Jung, Joongboo and his colleagues worthy of the meritorious subjects? The worthiness of status always had been an important political agenda, but it was more so since Injong’s reign. Kim, Bodang, a high-ranked official, raised an army against the Military Regime first, claiming they were traitors and not worthy. It failed, but the wave spread wider, generated from diverse social points. As time went, more people, not just high-ranked officials, involved themselves in the matter of the proper merit and worthiness for the status in the public realm. Military officials in power pulled the contribution-reward principle to their interest. They counted the contribution to their interest, not to the dynasty, and rewarded it by the status. Many lower-ranked military officials actively offered their contribution to the regime and were rewarded, in many cases involving violence. Furthermore, they claimed their merit and worthiness for certain status themselves, publicly announcing their demand. The standard of contribution was pluralized by diverse members of society for their own interests.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.