The HISTORY of KOREA IN modern TIMES

Chapter 1. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHANGES IN KOREA, THE SEVENTEENTH AND EIGHTEENTH CENTURIES

In modern historiography, in most cases the XVII century is defined as the beginning of a new history of Korea.

In Soviet historical literature of the new countdown time in Korea is from the XVII century. Any special discussions on this occasion, despite the fact that in the early 1970s, several authors have related the time until the mid-nineteenth century to the “late feudalism”.

In the Korean historical science approach to a new periodization of Korean history is more complex. In South Korea, the time from the beginning of the XVII century until the 1860s, called the period of “transition to a society of the new time”. Meanwhile, the popular reference edition of the mid-1990s, it belongs still to the period of the middle ages. A similar North Korea and the approach to the periodization of the new history of Korea: from one side, until the mid-nineteenth century historians North Korea date from the middle ages, and on the other they celebrate in Korea in XVII-XVIII centuries, the development of commodity-money relations and the emergence of capitalism.

Relative to the upper turn of the new history of Korea in world historiography has been controversial. In the Russian historical science is still the modern history of Korea starting from 1917[182] In North Korea the beginning of new and newest time determine the beginning of the anti-Japanese revolutionary activities of Kim Irene[183]. ie 1910-1920-ies. In South Korea, as a starting point take recent history 1945 — the year of both happy and tragic. Happy because Korea gained independence from Japanese colonial rule, and tragic — because in that year it was divided into Northern and southern parts, where he eventually formed two independent States.

In this monograph the author adheres to the South Korean approach to determining the boundaries of the new and newest time. There are several reasons. First, we can say that Japanese colonization for some time hindered the development of Korean culture, artificially “zakonservirovat” its individual elements at the new time level. Secondly, the beginning of the independent statehood of a new type, replaced the old order of Lee dynasty and Japanese colonial administration, is connected with 1945.

Reviewing the history of Korea a new time, you should consider several important points. First and foremost is the heterogeneity of the qualitative content of the various historical strands in the framework of the new time. So, for the nineteenth century dominance of the two processes: 1) formation of Korea on the path of modernization; 2) its gradual subordination to external forces, among them for influence in Korea fought Japan, China, Russia, the countries of the West, but the winner was Japan. In this context, becomes a highly productive search of Korean history in the XVII-XVIII centuries the answer to the questions why the country embarked on the path of modernization, and why was subordinate to Japan.

In Russian historiography the modern history of Korea has actively been studied since the 1950s and 1960s, which, in particular, has seen the publication of several monographic studies. To name but the most famous authors. Yuri V. Vanin has been studying socio-economic changes in Korea XVII-XVIII centuries. Tyagai G. D. — the history of social thought of Korea new time, B. D. Pak — a history of Russian-Korean relations, F. I. Sabrina of the national liberation movement of Koreans during Japanese colonization[184] .

So, the XVII-XVIII centuries was for Korea peace time when the country was rocked by war or any large-scale internal dynamics. At the same time it was a time of great changes in the Korean economy, politics, and social thought. We will consider these processes in more detail.

§ 1. The transition to a new agricultural technology, its socio-economic consequences

The most important change in the sphere of economic life of Korea in XVII-XVIII centuries, which had a huge impact on many spheres of social and economic life of the country began the transition to a new agricultural technology. Since the XVII century the rice is not sown the seeds were planted and seedlings, which, in turn, was cultivated in advance on the specially designated areas. On the one hand, given the earlier opportunity to start managing agricultural activities, and provided a higher level of germination landings. The result was a significant increase in the yield.

About this agronomic innovation Koreans became known in the XV century But the widespread transition of planting rice seedlings occurred in the XVII century. Perhaps one reason for this was the severe economic situation in Korea after two devastating wars with the Japanese and manchurians, who demanded more efficient methods for a speedy recovery.

Starting from the XVII century, Koreans began to actively grow new kinds of crops, got to Korea from Europe and America via Japan or China. In 1763 in Korea was imported Yam, in 1824 — the potato. Yam is cultivated mostly in the southern provinces, and potatoes in the North. Among imported to Korea cultures can also be called are common in the modern Korean diet of vegetables such as peppers and pumpkin. The cultivation of new crops helped to increase the real area of agricultural land at the expense of involvement in the trafficking of slopes of hills and mountains that are not suitable for rice cultivation occupying much of the area of the Korean Peninsula.

The transition to the new technology of rice planting and cultivation of new crops resulted in significant crop growth, i.e. growth in the quantity of the food produced. The consequence was a rapid increase of the population of Korea (see tab. 1).

Thus, only in the XVII century the population of Korea has increased in 6 times! Population growth had major consequences for the entire Korean society, identifying primarily processes of social stratification, the description of which will be devoted a separate paragraph of this Chapter.

Rapid growth of labor productivity in agriculture (and, as a consequence, population growth) contributed to another important point — the new agrarian policy of the state.

Table 1. The growth of the population of Korea in XVII—XVIII centuries (number of people)*

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