Nam Center Colloquium Series | New developments in 'Kongron politics' during the late Choson -18th and 19th Centuries: 'Local Councils' and 'People's Assemblies'
This paper aims at explaining how public opinion (kongron) was articulated in the public sphere of local Choson society, by examining ‘Local Councils’ (Hyanghoe) and 'People's Assemblies (Minhoe)', which were private organizations important for gathering popular opinion during late 18th- and 19th centuries. An examination of these organizations sheds new light on their significance, as well as their limits.
The situation of the late Choson was that of confronting gradual change in the source of Kongron or public opinion, from the literati class to 'all the people' who were out of political power. From the standpoint of the people of 18th and 19th centuries, we can value the building of a new foundation of Kongron politics through local councils and people's assemblies. However people’s opinions were not being accepted by the central officials, and Choson society could not attain the phase of being equipped with a new institutional system of collecting the public opinions in the national level: these were the limits of Choson dynasty politics.
In Geol Kim is the director of the Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies and professor in the department of Korean History at Seoul National University. Author of many books on early modern Korean history, his focus is on the rural society of the Choson dynasty.
Kim, In Geol, Director, Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies, Seoul National University