Political factions in Joseon Dynasty

Political Factions In Joseon Dynasty

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Political factions in Joseon Dynasty

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The Bungdang (Hangul: 붕당, Hanja: 朋黨) refers to political factionalism that was characteristic of Middle and Late Joseon Dynasty. Throughout the dynasty, various regional and ideological factions struggled for dominance in the political system. Village Seowon, which combined the functions of Confucian shrines with educational institutions, often reflected the factional alignment of the local elite.

During the earlier period of Joseon in 15th and 16th century, tension between the Hungu faction in the Capital and the Yeongnam-based Sarim faction dominated national politics, which culminated in a series of four bloody purges between 1498 and 1545, in which Sarim faction was persecuted by the Hungu faction. Following these setbacks, the Sarim faction withdrew to rural provinces where they maintained power base and idealogical continuity through Seowon and Hyang'yak (a system of social contract that gave local autonomy to villages). Eventually, Hungu faction declined without ideological successor to replace it while Sarim faction emerged as the dominant faction during the reign of Seonjo.

In the 16th century, a nationwide split occurred within the Sarim faction between the Western faction (Seo-in) and Eastern faction (Dong-in), composed mainly of younger generation. Political divisions intensified even further as the Eastern faction in turn split between the hard-line Northern faction (Buk-in) and the moderate Southern faction (Nam-in)Lee (1984), p....
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