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A Study on the Characteristics of Seonggyungwan in Comparison with the Central Government School in Traditional China

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2019, (75), pp.135-176
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.075.05
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : September 23, 2019
  • Accepted : November 1, 2019
  • Published : November 30, 2019

HA, WONSOO 1

1성균관대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In light of the present difficulties faced by universities in Korea, this paper is aimed at examining the traditional institutions of higher education. To this end, I compared the Seonggyungwan (Sungkyunkwan) with the central government school in Traditional China, and the results are as follows. King Chungseon of the Goryeo Dynasty named the state-run school in the capital as Seonggyungam or Seonggyungwan under the pressure of the Yuan Dynasty. Though the common title ‘seonggyun (chengjun)’ was not chosen on a voluntary basis, the newly emerging literati attended to it as the ideal school name of the ancient time in an effort to reinterpret the Confucian classics anew. In other words, it was an excellent way of embracing a new academic and social trends while retaining traditional authority under the unavoidable conditions. Seonggyungwan remained in existence in the following Joseon Dynasty, which is thus far used as a byword of Korea’s traditional central government school. If we try to interpret this term more subjectively with deep consideration, there is a possibility that we can find core values and ideologies of education. Seonggyungwan not only educated students but also performed rituals for the Confucian sages and scholars, placing emphasis on ‘dotong (idealistic legitimacy)’ of learning as opposed toi ‘chitong (realistic hegemony)’ associated with political power. Such a school system, i.e. myohakje (miaoxuezhi), had been established in China in the eighth century and was instantly introduced to the Korean Peninsula. However, the system of Joseon was not the same as that of the Ming or Qing Dynasties. For example, Confucius’ eulogistic posthumous title and the persons enshrined with him in the Daeseongjeon (Dachengdian) were different from those in China. Sunggyungwan also had a very special shrine, named Sahyeonsa (Shrine for four sages), only for the students of the central government school. As the myohakje system cherished the independent value of learning distinct from political power, Korea’s neo-Confucian literati were able to pursue their own values in higher education regardless of the practical shackles of Chinese dynasties. Therefore, we can understand that the traditional central government school in Korea did not lose their own identity while actively absorbing foreign culture, and that many people worked hard to cope with the changes of the times so as to maintain their own values. Based on these facts, this paper has been written in order to help researchers have a longer-term perspective and subjectively respond to the present realities.

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